Thursday, September 28, 2006

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

teapot no. 92

drawn with my non dominant left hand using a Kaimei brush pen, sumi ink and watercolor on hanshi.

For the benefit of all sentient beings

I fell off my bike on Friday morning, or more correctly, my bike and I fell together. I really don't know how it happened or who fell first, my bike or I. I arced around a corner turn I always take onto the smooth bicycle route in front of the UA Main Library. The turn is in the last few hundred yards of the 5-mile ride from home, just before I lock up my bike. I remember how blue the sky was that day and that I stupidly wore my blue wool felt clogs (and I'll tell you why stupidly, below). The next thing I remember, my bicycle and I were laying on the ground together. I looked up at the blue sky, then a passing student stopped to ask if I was alright and righted my water bottle which was hanging out of its cage. I said yes, even though my right arm was in trauma. Actually, I could get up and move quickly because of the trauma. It's when we are first in trauma that we can say everything is alright and do what we need to do, that is, if we aren't dead yet.

So, without analyzing the situation I got my bike over to the grassy area, flipped it over and removed the chain which had lodged between the rear derailleur, the chainstay, and the rear dropout. If I had waited to feel my right arm, I probably couldn't have flipped over my bike and pulled the chain out; I really had to tug hard. Of course, I was wearing a very white linen long sleeved blouse that day. Amazingly, I put the chain back on the middle cog of my freewheel without getting black on anything except my hands which were totally covered. I washed most of the grease off with the slimy green detergent-y hand soap in the library bathroom.
It wasn't 'til I sat down at my usual table in the reference section that I noticed my right arm hurt and that it did not have its normal range of motion. So, now I get a chance to write more with my left hand while the right arm heals. And, thanks to my childhood trampoline & tumbling coach, coach GiLombardi, for teaching me how to fall by rolling, because I am sure I rolled rather than blocking my fall with my outstretched arms (a common way people fall). The body always remembers; my body knows how to fall.
Later, when I was walking with Yuki at sunset time, enjoying the sunset sky and singing, I had my right arm in a sling and was limping down the road. I looked like I had a worse fall than I had had. I was limping because of the blisters from my blue wool felt clogs, meanwhile telling my story to a couple of neighbors and dogs (dogs like stories). About the clogs: wearing wool felt clogs without socks is fine when sitting inside the freezing cold UA Library, but not good at all for walking five miles in the 90-something degree heat while pushing your bike with your non dominant left hand all the way home.


Yesterday, my friend Kalo (not his real name) happened to write me this email message (excerpted):

Hi Nicole,

I hope you're doing well (for the benefit of all sentient beings :-) ).
Last month I visited my native place. I kept a kind of Buddhism-inspired diary (about eight pages). I would like to share it with you, if you have time and energy to read through it and give me your feedback.

Here's my reply:

Hi Kalo,
I would like to read it.... I fell off my bicycle on Friday (for the benefit of all sentient beings! :))
and cannot type well at the moment since my right arm is hurt, so may not be able to respond much for now.

Then Kalo's reply to my reply.

Hi Nicole,

I like your reply (y'know: when we feel that we fall off our bicycles for the benefit of all sentient beings, that is thusness :-).


Those of us who often use the phrase, "for the benefit of all sentient beings" usually intend the phrase for good outcomes, for benefit. But you never know, really, if an event that we consider to be unfortunate might not turn out to be a fortuitous occurrence and vice versa. That's what I feel about this bicycle event (and the streak of phthalo green color on my wrist)....

For the benefit of all sentient beings. :)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Chicken soup, books, lox & bagels....

What could be better?

I met Aliika at the public library last night. She was with her dad who was using one of the computers. I was seated behind them. She saw my desktop wallpaper as I opened up my laptop, a colorful watercolor of Yuki & Jesse having tea with prickly pear in the background. Aliika came over and stood by my left shoulder. I smiled. She said, "how do you do that?" referring to the way I moved my index finger on the track pad to operate the cursor arrow. "Would you like to try?" I asked. Within moments she had coordinated her finger on the track pad with her little thumb on the clicker piece that you push down, and she was using the arrow to scroll down the page on the blue scroll down thing (on a Mac). Then she asked if she could spell her name for me. So, we opened up a blank TextEdit doc for her to play in. She spelled her name: a-l-i-i-k-a. I laughed and asked if she used a capital letter for the first "a". I showed her how to do capitals with the shift key, how to use the delete key, and how to back space over a letter. She smiled and tried it all. She said, "now you spell your name", and I typed it in. She read it quickly, turning to me as she said "Nicole!" and then exclaiming, "I can read!" I smiled. Just then her dad turned around and said, "Aliika don't bother the lady." It's okay, I said to him. Really it was.

What was interesting, is that I had come to the library to return an ILL, but also to check out some Alice Walker books; Aliika looked a lot like a miniature Alice Walker. She was beautiful and glowing, with little dreads framing her smiling face. I was just opening up my laptop to get the call numbers when Aliika came over. Before Aliika and her dad left, she typed her mom and dad's name, too, which prompted her dad to turn around again to say, "I'm going to have to get you a computer, Aliika." A future Alice Walker, tapping out her stories, looking for the letters on the keyboard with her little index finger stretched out, one at a time, so happy that she could spell. What could be better?

The photo below is from 1996 when I was in Eatonton, Georgia, childhood home of Alice Walker.

As it happened, I met Alice Walker's sister-in-law that very day. Synchronistically, I was assigned to collect data in the classroom of a Ms. Deborah Walker for my researcher job with a Head Start grant project. I asked if she was any relation to Alice Walker and she said yes. All I could do was beam for the rest of the day. I had asked her a few silly questions about Alice Walker that I can't even remember now. Before I left the classroom, she gave me driving directions to Alice Walker's childhood home. I wanted to see where all that lushness began.

It's really green in Eatonton, Georgia--humid, hot summers, tall pine trees, red earth, blue blue sky. I remember seeing black birds, too. You can find good pie in Eatonton, smoky barbecue, sweet tea and yummy collards with cornbread. And, like a lot of the deep south, you see wisteria dripping from the trees and wild curling kudzu wrapped around tree trunks and pulling rotting old houses back into the earth again. That's where Alice Walker was born and lived until she moved away for college. Joel Chandler Harris lived there, too.

So, last night, I got to go home from the library with a pile of fun books. I started reading Alice's Now is the Time to Open Your Heart in bed, while eating a late night bowl of home made chicken soup & rice from a wooden tray. Yuki & Jesse were a bit overcome--they've rarely seen me eating meat, and in bed!! They did not just sit there placidly watching me. I had to fend them off, but I did give them some choice pieces of chicken, which they gobbled up in seconds. Eating chicken soup in bed with a good book--what could be better?

Then this morning, with a panoramic view of mesquite, creosote, bamboo, tamarisk, and prickly pear surrounding me, I sat in the back room eating lox & bagels (only one bagel) with cream cheese and a tomato slice and drinking black coffee. I laughed out loud as I read a different book, Maira Kalman's Smarty Pants: Pete in School. Again, what could be better?

Actually, the bagel could have been better... The bagels I grew up on did not crumble when you sliced them; they were hard, firm, and freshly made. The bagels of my childhood were not made of sprouted whole wheat either, they were egg bagels, onion bagels, poppy bagels, plain bagels, or my favorite favorite, pumpernickel bagels. Even so, I enjoyed my lox & bagels and Maira Kalman story. Really, there is nothing better.

And, finally, a photo of me in front of Graceland just because I found it with my Eatonton photo.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Computer wisdom

Here's some wisdom i gleaned from my computer today:

This afternoon when my flash drives weren't reading, I decided my MacBook needed to rest--to be shut down. But, it was taking a really longgg time to shut down. So, in the end I forced it to quit by pushing the on/off button. Afterwards, I let it rest in blackness for a few minutes. When I restarted it--VOILA--everything was working fine; my flash drives were reading.

Nicole's points of wisdom:
When you aren't "reading", shut yourself down. Push the off button and rest in the darkness for a few. When you eventually restart, you will be fine.

teapot no. 90

The scene this morning outside my window (okay, I made up the lizard-and-hummingbird-having-tea-part.) This is a seven-minute drawing I made while seated at my drafting table with a toothbrush hanging out of my mouth. Drawn with my Kaimei brush pen on hanshi (Japanese calligraphy paper) with colored pencil.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

teapot no. 89

Cut from a genmaicha (brown rice tea) pouch from Japan.