Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Light emerges

© Nicole Raisin Stern
Watercolor and black fountain pen ink on hanshi.

This is teapot no. 44 (444) in my 5th set of 100 Teapots
View Set 5 here


Light emerges
as it always does

Just trust
and wait

The Light is always here
even when all seems dark

~ Nicole Raisin Stern

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Longing to disconnect

"Before laptops" [I snapped this photo of a scene in the movie, "Kundun", while watching the dvd on my old laptop. In this scene, Kundun is playing with his music box]

* * * * * * * *

All this electronic equipment that has become an integral part of my life is feeling like too much lately - laptop, digital camera, cord to connect camera to laptop, cell phone (with camera), USB mini-chip reader for the cell phone camera, scanner-copier-printer, external hard drive, and the international plug adaptor set for my laptop. I am longing to go back to writing mostly with pen and paper, to spending more time sketching than snapping photos, and more time in real, real-time conversations with friends, than the bits and pieces of conversations via the internet.

A mere ten or eleven years ago, I only occasionally wrote an email. I first discovered blogging in the summer of 2005. Soon after, I found flickr, the photo sharing site, as a way to upload my scanned in artwork. At the time, blogger did not accept images from Macs. I would upload to flickr first, then transfer the image from flickr to blogger. Also in 2005, I was given my first digital camera, a Nikon Cool Pix E990, which was a cast-off from a friend who thought it was about to die. I resisted joining Facebook until the summer of 2009. I had received numerous Facebook invitations from friends which required signing up in order to even view their pages to see if signing up would be something I'd be interested in doing.

I like the show-and-tell aspect of the social media sites. Show-and-tell was a favorite time for me in grade school, along with recess, art, lunch, and gym. Flickr soon became a place to post my writing alongside my artwork and photos. It was also fun to receive comments from friends in many parts of the world. I enjoyed reading positive feedback on my art from other artists and photographers, often in the languages I read and write (Spanish, Japanese, French, and to a lesser degree, a few others).

On flickr, I made many new friends. On several occasions, a few of my new flickr friends visited me, Yuki, Jesse, and Bodhi at our home in Tucson. I was invited to visit a few flickr friends in their homes, too, in different states and countries. Writing and reading comments via the internet in my other languages has contributed to my ongoing acquisition and use of these languages at times when I am not actually surrounded by Spanish, French, or Japanese. I also benefit from the cyber-store function of the internet that enables me to sell my artwork via PayPal.

Now, however, I am longing to connect more with the earth. I need to hold a pen and pencil in my hands and to write in full sentences again. I want to do more face-to-face connecting than interfacing. I know, I know, the internet is convenient, has so many benefits, and a computer is thought to be indispensable. But can a laptop plant seeds in the earth to grow vegetables? Can a laptop prepare delicious wholesome food? Can a laptop emit scents that spark deeply connected human memories? Or hold a baby?

I know that the internet can plant ideas with the zillions of pieces and pages of available information to us. I can speedily find what I want to learn - I just google it. Yet, I miss the tactile looking up of things in big dictionaries, feeling the paper, smelling the moldy books, and I miss consulting with the live person (a librarian) in real-time. I prefer reading books whose covers I can hold in my hands rather than scrolling through electronic versions. And, I don't text.

What to do? I don't know. I am not looking for an answer, really. I think I will just live into the answer and experiment with short periods of disconnection to the internet on the one hand and reconnection to my more desired real-time, physical entities on the other. Or, maybe I'll google "how to disconnect from the internet and still be human" and go from there....

* * * * * * *

The Seven of Pentacles

Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the ladybugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.

Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.

Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: Make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.

Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after
the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.

~Marge Piercy

Saturday, November 27, 2010



Then stay with me, for I'm not.

A thousand naked amorous ones dwell in ancient caves
Beneath my eyelids.

Here's a pick,
My whole body is an emerald that begs,
"Take me."

Write all that worries you on a piece of parchment;
Offer it to God.
Even from the distance of a millenium

I can lean the flame in my heart
Into your life

And turn
All that frightens you
Into holy

~ The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the great Sufi master
Translations by Daniel Ladinsky

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thank you, apples.

Yesterday I went apple picking with friend Josh of Neighborhood Harvest here in Ashland. We picked the remaining yellow apples from a good climbing tree using ladder and apple pickers with extension handles. We ended up with 2 boxes of sweet apples. This afternoon, I made apple sauce - just apples cut into small pieces cooked in water and sprinkled with a pinch of pink himalayan salt and a little powdered cinnamon. Such a warm feeling to be out in the fresh air harvesting fruit with friends. I like seeing how things grow.

Yellow apples with their green tomato, potato, and onion buddies

Friday, November 12, 2010

Renshuu 練習

A friend from taiko class came over this afternoon to practice taiko with me. She brought her bachi (drum sticks for taiko) and her practice drum made from PVC pipe (with real cow skin head). I used my djembé and bachi because that is the drum I have. The djembé's diameter and height are both smaller and shorter than the practice taiko we use in class, but is fine for simple rhythm practice. We practiced the song "renshuu" over and over, smiling with delight as we produced the rhythms together. We spoke the special taiko words - kuchishowa - for the sounds that are made on the drum and laughed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Golden Leaf Gym

An invigorating romp through the leaves
and standing-like-a-tree exercises at the park.

Membership in this golden leaf gym: free; benefits: priceless!

Monday, November 08, 2010

getting darker earlier now

Today I saw a three-legged deer on my way to taiko class. It was already getting dark in the late afternoon when I was bicycling, bicycling and making up songs as I rode. She was standing quietly under a yellow-leafed tree, this deer who walked gracefully on three. I saw that her fourth leg, which resembled a curled tree branch, was tucked high beneath her chest. After a few moments, a deer with antlers appeared behind her and they walked across the street to where the raspberry bushes edge a wide field of grass.

Don doku don don.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Why All This Talk?

Why all this talk of the Beloved,
Music and dancing,

And Liquid ruby-light we can lift in a cup?

Because it is low tide,
A very low tide in this age
And around most hearts.

We are exquisite coral reefs,
Dying when exposed to strange

God is the wine-ocean we crave--
We miss

Flowing in and out of our

~ The Subject Tonight Is Love: 60 Wild and Sweet Poems of Hafiz; Daniel Ladinsky, translator

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

This tree shared its light with me
today, as I stood under it, quietly, like a tree.

Monday, November 01, 2010

dear deer

I saw deer in the darkness tonight as I came to the part of the hill where I hop off my bike. Three of them. I could see their long ears parallel to the ground as they grazed alongside the houses on the hill. I was still repeating don doku don doku, kara kara kara kara from taiko class, exhilarated from the rhythms and the bicycle ride home.