Monday, February 29, 2016

I've been thinking of works by a famous artist of the 1930s, Escher. The public is probably most familiar with his clever sketches of stairways with people walking on both sides of the lines forming the steps, a kind of 'trompe d'oeil'. There's a sense of plain methodical logic that carries the viewer into a fantastical state of existence. He also created numerous works of wildlife, such as birds, frogs, fish. Like his stairway art (which has a touch of art deco architecture about it) the creatures he draws are simple and precisely drawn. He creates patterns that play with the perceptions of the viewer - the fishes visually fold into birds and back into fishes, depending on what parts of the art you focus on. What entrances me is that something as concrete and straightforward as his sketches can capture the flow of qi or soul, as though the essence of a school of fish might transform into that of a flock of birds, and back again into that of fish.

Sunday, February 28, 2016


I made zucchini and hash browns tacos today.

It's pretty easy. Put about a cup and a half of frozen hashbrowns to sit and thaw in your skillet. Meanwhile, cut up a medium-small fresh zucchini squash into pieces about the size of a Lego. (If you  want, you can cut up some onion and/or tomato.) Combine the ingredients in the skillet with some salt/season salt to taste. Fry on medium high heat, turning over once or twice. Tastes best if the potatoes turn golden brown. (My cooking oil smells a little rancid, so I fried the ingredients without using oil. Ideally, a teaspoon or two to coat the pan would have worked well.)

In another skillet or griddle, heat up tortillas, a couple of minutes on each side, and place on a plate. Put a generous scoop of the zucchini-potato filling in the middle of the tortilla, then fold. I like this with Pace Picante Sauce - Mild - but any favorite salsa is great.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

tree circles

I lived in California for awhile, and learned something about the great Redwood trees and Sequoia. These are truly giant trees, of a magnificence hard to imagine. They are life forms so much bigger than us humans, that the energy of their stillness can bring us to a mystic halt. I learned that they multiply as many trees do, via seeds and fallen limbs, but that they also multiply beneath the ground. You will see a very ancient tree with a ring of younger trees around it, propagated via the roots.

This got me to wondering about the trees of my childhood. On either side of our house stood clusters - circles, really - of very tall pines. I wonder if southern pine trees propagated in ways similar to the trees far west.

These days, yards are maintained using equipment such as lawn mowers. Tiny saplings that might once upon a time have grown into giants are often mown with the grasses, wildflowers, and new shrubbery every month - or even every week - so such phenomena might not be as evident today as fifty years ago.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

looking 4 u

send me
the pitch
the chord -
the space & time.
what key r u in?
what speed r u living?

Dan Rather wants to know:
'what's the frequency, Kenneth?'

A strange passion is moving in my head.

My heart has become a bird which searches in the sky.

Every part of me goes in different directions.

Is it really so that the one I love is everywhere?

(attributed to Rumi -

Looking for Love)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Pick three notes in a chord -
1 - 2 - 3
each note stands alone -
together they become a harmony
usually pleasant to the ear

there is a kind of formula for that -
notes that are a specific distance apart
fit together
create a wholeness
notes that don't fit in the formulae
can make cacaphony -
people put their hands to their ears to block the sound

when your instrument is in tune
the formulae work
the notes you play
have the intended spacing
and they sound good together

since we've been recording
on records and disks
we have frequent examples
of how sounds are affected
by speed
i can't explain it all

but when we were kids
we could take records designed to be played at 36 revolutions per minute
and play them at 45 revolutions per minute
or perhaps faster

anyone remember the cartoon Chipmunks?
their high pitched voices singing
'want a plane that loops the loop -
me I want a hula hoop'
I'm pretty sure their voices were achieved
by playing regular voices at higher speeds

Chipmunks -
that's what we heard
when we played records at speeds
faster than they were intended
sounds become higher pitched
(like when you tighten the strings
of a guitar)

sometimes these days
compact discs (CDs)
are recorded or copied
and they can turn out
slightly off from the sounds
the original performers made,
or slightly different
from each other
but still can stand on their own

some people mix and match
- edit -
to make new recordings
and they may not work
my point is
three notes from a chord
taken from 3 different discs
might not fit the formula
for a chord

then we get to the term
off key

(by the way
why did the term 'key'
come to be applied
to a concept in music?)

Monday, February 22, 2016

walking shoes

I walk a lot and run through shoes pretty fast. Asphalt, gravel, and broken concrete can be hard on the soles. Sometimes, I replace the broken shoes by purchasing used shoes - shoes that are already a little scuffed up and worn.  There are no blisters while breaking them in.

I never know who first wore the shoes I find: taupe linen slip-ons, colorful canvas shoes splashed with oranges and yellows. Who has feet so much like mine? The fit can be amazingly comfortable, a happy match.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

- Greetings! Anybody down there? i hear noises but can't see you -

- I am nearby, I hear you too...

- i'm climbing across a great field of long, strong, stringy things right now. Maybe you are on the other side?

- I don't think so - I'm standing in a barn. I don't see anybody. How come you sound so loud and clear?

- and you sound so very near? (pause) maybe you are a ghost?

- Neigh! said the horse. I'm alive and big as you please! Maybe you are blind?

- Nope. i've crossed the field of long, long stringy things and am resting between two huge pointy peaks with dark ground cover. There are bits of hay and hayseed here. It's very warm and safe - i'm quite content, said the ant.

- You are quite loud now! A mystery, said the horse.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

unseen map

at a big grocery store
or a museum
or a park
someone sneezes -
a buzzer beep beep beeps -
perhaps a truck
is backing up
people rise
as though for musical chairs
all in motion
up and down the aisles.
Paths intersect
in perfect time
the skipping little girls
in bright clothes
meet the determined trails
of old ladies
with squeaky carts.
2 cars a block apart
cross the same street
like mirror images
as i cross on foot
a third block away
we share a point
on a timeline,
a few beats
on a drum
a synchrony
a link
and intersections
fine lines
on the unseen map
of space and time

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Cotton is soft and it is strong. Gardeners and farmers grow it in rows of small shrubs - it's not very hard to do. When the cotton is ready to be picked, the shrubs look festive, adorned with balls of white fluff. There are numerous fabrics made of cotton, many clothing industries based on cotton. But even the gardener at home can make fabric I suspect. Wouldn't a spinning wheel work to make the threads and yarns? Certain plants can be used to make natural dyes. One could create cloth with a small loom - or something as simple as two sticks (known as knitting needles). I've written before of the researchers who produced varieties of cotton in different colors, but unfortunately, have never again seen any references to their work, or what happened to the dusty blue, mossy green, tan, and dusky gold bolls of cotton.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

pill bug, roly-poly bug, doodle bug

With segmented shells, this little third-of-an-inch critter is somewhat related to millipedes and centipedes. The doodle bug is even better armored and can roll into a tight little ball in self-defense.

My question today was whether they have antennae or not. I didn't find a clear answer. The appendages from the head area do perform sensory functions, but instead of waving upward they stretch forward and downward. Not sure of these details, though.

Looking this up at the library, it became clear doodle bugs - who very much enjoy fungus and rotting vegetation - could be called composting bugs. They play an important role in the transformation of plant and other matter into soil.

Friday, February 12, 2016

twinkle twinkle

a wee little kid
is singing far away
i hear the familiar melody
but not what he's saying

A - B - C - D
E - F - G
H - I - J - K
L - M - N - O - P?


Twinkle, Twinkle
Little Star
How I Wonder
What You Are?


never heard before?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday

the details
are cumbersome.
the words -
did what
why -
fill the
page of day.
'no more words.'
'talk outside.'
in the empty
of subsequent quiet
like a fist
full of ash
like motes
of dust
float up
and scatter

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

work of art

every piece of art
one throws together
pores over
scribbles over
out of scrap, time,
passion, paint,
charcoal, paste,
popsickle sticks
is an adventure
from blank canvas
weary mind
to portrait
totem pole
opened doors

Monday, February 8, 2016


We lived on land in Louisiana that, if you dug down a few feet, you came to a layer of clay. I liked messing with the clay. We had no kiln or anything like that, but I did experiment with shaping things. The clay was muddy looking, but it behaved differently than mud. It held together. It had a glossy look to it. And instead of absorbing water like dirt did, it tended to block water. Parts of the yard that had clay beneath stayed soggier after rains, the layer of clay preventing some of the drainage.

Many Native American Indian tribes have been renowned for their skilled and beautiful pottery work. The color of the materials typical of specific tribes likely were affected by the mineral makeup the clays of their locations.

Before we had such easy, far-reaching means of transportation, and before we had big box construction material franchises like Home Depots and Lowe's, one might have noticed that various towns and locations had buildings and walls of brick that were mostly of the same color. In south Louisiana, we had quite a few churches, school, and hospital buildings in the 1950s that were of a particular shade of red brick. That might have been because the bricks used were of a local clay.

Friday, February 5, 2016

I was driving for coffee the other morning, and stopped at a red light. One of the street signs at the intersection was half blocked by a truck, and my mind played word games with the three letters I could see. n-i-g : nigh is near; night is dark. The socially complicated word for negro came to mind. Negro is a word that means black in Spanish. Niger, was it there? My mind then got caught up then with the word benign. It's a  word I like to associate with God.  Benign-ness, I thought. Benign, I thought, nine. Be nine. I drove into the parking lot, and got my coffee and a muffin. I was eating at the counter, and there in front of me was my receipt and I found myself looking at its transaction number in big print, the number used to call a customer when his or her order is ready. B-9

How are thought and physical reality entangled and interconnected?

Thursday, February 4, 2016


of the early scientists
there are some whose names we know
some who learned and shared
without any degree
or publication
some who taught
and never saw
their field or thoughts
as territory

we know of Newton
and the falling apple
of Thoreau and his pond
Carver with
an endless list
of the agricultural and other gifts
of peanuts

western scientific method
has several steps
but many of those folk
whose efforts we admire
focus on the first step
as though it were the only:
then, there are those folk
and other kin
who just live fully
without pencil or notes
the great puzzle of life

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

'A Midsummer Night's Dream is a 1935 American romance fantasy film of William Shakespeare's play, directed by Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle, and starring Ian Hunter, James Cagney, Mickey Rooney, Olivia de Havilland, Joe E. Brown, Dick Powell, and Victor Jory. Produced by Henry Blanke and Hal Wallis for Warner Brothers...the film is about the events surrounding the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta. These include the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors, who are controlled and manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest in which most of the story is set. The play, which is categorized as a comedy, is one of Shakespeare's most popular works for the stage and is widely performed across the world. Felix Mendelssohn's music was extensively used, as re-orchestrated by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. The ballet sequences featuring the fairies were choreographed by Bronislava Nijinska.'

(quote above is from m.wikipedia)

Some 80 years have passed since this movie was made. The bit of the film I've seen, only a few minutes long, shows the wonders of a summer night in ancient times, as the producers imagined it.

Movie making was still new 80 years ago; this is a silent movie in black and white. The scenes I saw were wondrous and magical. They take place in the night - lovely, surreal effects. Light twinkles from the moonlit trees; dozens of tiny fairies emerge and frolic along a forested path.

Before computers, and before 'talkies', these movie makers created a work of art using film. What is ironic and impressive is that Shakespeare's centuries old blithe and poetic dialogue is successfully translated into a movie with no spoken words and only a few captions. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

bells jingle

sun is glowing
all is bright
sidewalk roses,
cats black and white
bells jingle
like water, light
tumbling over rock

Monday, February 1, 2016

digging roots

hands in the
dark earth
fingers digging
tugging at roots
a beet, round and solid,
a turnip, or a carrot
so orange and long
brush off a little beetle here
dirt clinging to the carrot there
hands cradle food
for body and soul
oh the arousing smell
the sun and rain blessed earth
warm and rich with life