Thursday, August 27, 2009

Metaphor and Art

"Metaphor allows us to explain things to people in indirect ways, sometimes avoiding confrontation, sometimes helping another to see that which she has difficulty understanding.

"Art allows us to focus another's attention on aspects of a feeling or a perception that he might not otherwise see, literally framing the point of interest in a way that it becomes separated from a background of competing ideas of perceptions."

--Daniel Levitin, The World In Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature (2009, p 21).

He also wrote This Is Your Brain On Music

I strive to be more clear in my communication, to more fully and thoroughly express my observations, my emotions. I strive to use my artistic talent, my creativity, to focus clearly on framing my chosen point of interest, so that my thoughts and my message can be more precisely and openly expressed and voiced.

And,I will do this in my writing, in my music, in my painting, and in all my creations. And, in that work, I will improve and I will be more clear, more expressive, and, ultimately, more creative. After all, I am an artist.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

On The Edge

Down to the earth and up to the sky---

here, on the boundary, I waiver

wanting to dig deeper

wanting to fly higher---

Yet, from where I am at

I have both worlds.

Sometimes the sun

and sometimes the moon

and sometimes just the stars, or the clouds

sometimes fading to dark

and sometimes slowly adding light,

and I am of both worlds.

Sometimes I plant and

sometimes I weed

and sometimes I stand and just watch.

Sometimes it’s hot and sometimes it’s cold

and sometimes it’s dry and

sometimes it’s wet, and

I am just part of all that.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Five Years

Digging deep, spreading roots,
new soil, compost on top, around the sides,
a bucket of water, two sturdy stakes, twine;
my hands dirty, my shovel muddy---
And I wait.

More water when its hot, pulling a weed or two,
Retying the twine, after the storm--
And I wait.

Spraying copper and sulfur, a clear winter day
until the bark almost shines, a dusty, metallic blue green
I smile, knowing the buds will be ready
when spring comes--
And I wait.

Taller, more branches, bigger leaves
More spray, this time diluted
summer strength,
more water, and it grows
and I wait.

This summer, more leaves,
now taller than I am, finally
three apples,
dark red, not yet big enough
but almost


Monday, August 10, 2009

Books I've Read, Am Reading, or Have Piled Up Next To My Chair to Read, 2009

Writing to Change the World, Mary Pipher

Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell (he also wrote Blink, The Turning Point)

any book by Michael Pollan (nature, our food supply)

Hot, Flat and Crowded, Thomas Friedman (he's a columnist for the New York Times and writes on current affairs, foreign relations, and the environment)

The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why, Phyllis Tickle

Law of Connection: The science of using NLP to create ideal personal and professional relationships, Michael Losier (he also wrote the Law of Attraction)

The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris

Amazing Grace, Kathleen Norris ( I also loved her memoir, Dakota)

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten metaphors to awake the spiritual masculine, Matthew Fox

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the writer within, Natalie Goldberg

any poems by Ted Kooser, Mary Oliver

The Wonder of Boys: What parents, mentors and education can do to shape boys into exceptional men, Michael Gurian

What Could He Be Thinking?: How a man's mind really works, Michael Gurian

The Purpose of Boys: Helping our sons find meaning, significance, and direction in their lives, Michael Gurian

Finding Sanctuary in Nature: Simple ceremonies in the Native American tradition for healing yourself and others, Jim Pathfinder Ewin

Rare Encounters With Ordinary Birds, Lyanda Lynn Haupt

The Elder Within: The source of mature masculinity, Terry Jones

The Third Chapter: Passion, risk, and adventure in the 25 years after 50, Sara Lawrence Lightfoot

Here Comes Everybody: The power of organizing without organizations, Clay Shirky

The World in Six Songs: How the musical brain created human nature, Daniel Levitin (he also wrote This Is Your Brain On Music)

Writing the Life Poetic: An invitation to read and write poetry, Sage Cohen

Sunday, August 9, 2009


this is my time
to do what I want,
for me.

Now, what I do must be for me.
Not selfish, but self full, self benefit, self fulfilling.
Meeting my needs;
achieving my goals.

Still giving to others, helping, alongside, hand in hand.
“Being the change you want to see in the world,”
As Gandhi said.
And sometimes change in yourself
comes from putting yourself first, doing work on yourself

Now is the time--
my time.
Moving ahead, one step at a


Monday, August 3, 2009

As Far West As I Can Go

At the western most edge of Oregon, the wind holds forth, blasting and shaping trees into distorted shapes, pushed away from the steady forces of the summer northwesterlies, and usually dwarfed into toughened, misshapen trees nearly forced against the earth by the 100 mph gales of the sou’westers of the rest of the year. Most of the plants here are brave grasses and herbs, or simply the bare rock.

It is a calm day here, by Cape Blanco standards, and the fog flies along, parallel to the ground, before disappearing again as it heads back over the sea. I look at the logs of the lighthouse keeper, written with a firm hand and a steel nib back in 1885, and nearly every day’s entry has the word “gale” and “fresh”, with an occasional storm and reports of damage to a shed, or the breaking of a window.

I climb up the spiral stairs of the lighthouse, surrounded by a tower of brick, fired from native clay less than a mile away, and marvel at its strength, holding up against everything the Pacific Ocean can throw at it, for 139 years. Several generations of lighthouse keepers have come and gone now, the lard fueled lamps replaced by kerosene, and then electric bulbs. The 1000 watt bulb today burns on, still warning mariners of the perils of the reefs and shoals dotting the waters for several miles out to sea. Volunteers now tell us about the life of the lighthouse keepers and their families, and the supply ship that came just once a year, bringing the lard, the salt pork, and the precious box of books to keep one’s mind occupied for another year, while the wind howled and the fire was tended, keeping the lard liquefied, keeping the lamp lit, every night. Every night.

You can’t go farther west than this, and still be in the continental United States, and the narrow paved road out to the cape has narrowed down to barely the width of my car. This is the end of the road.

We visit the 1893 farm house of the nearby Irish dairymen, marveling at its indoor hot water system, its large cooking stove, brought in by sea from San Francisco. One son became the assistant lighthouse keeper, and built a house across the river, where he could see the lighthouse beam every night, on his days off. But, perhaps he turned away, instead looking at the river, or the herd of cows, or peered deep into the thick forest of Port Orford cedar, spruce, and hemlock. He lived a long life here, never really leaving, and I only stay for a few hours, pondering the solitude, the beauty of this place, feeling the cool wind against my face.

Soon, we head back to Bandon, looking at the large brown gulls crowding several offshore rocks. We pore over several bird books, trying to find their name, finally settling on Heerman’s gulls, who only come here in the summer, flying north from their usual haunts south of San Francisco. Like the lighthouse supply ship, they may not stay long. They keep to two rocks, leaving the others for the cormorants or the other gulls. Bird real estate is segregated here, limited. Everyone knows their place.

We walk the beach, enjoying the light, the rhythm of the waves, the amazing shapes of all the various rocks, the hauling out of the sea lions, and the black crookneck silhouettes of the cormorants, and, as the fog moves in, the moaning of the fog horn on the jetty.