Sunday, May 31, 2009

as april whispered to june

.. May Be (I love that line)

Not that I don't read a lot but sometimes I go all non-verbal. Although you'd never guess it by looking at me I'm intoxicated by color and here are a couple of new examples of my personal peculiarity. Sometimes I wonder if I'm painting portraits of disembodied spirits since each and every one of them arrives with a way of seeing the world and occasionally, if I listen closely enough, something to say. Of course, this may also have something to do with what the artist has been reading..

this is sophia:

I think it will take at least a thousand years to attain socioecological metamorphosis on this planet - and we may not have that much time; the current civilization certainly doesn't. Secular human activity occurs on a stage so far removed from its unconscious source that we can't know whether present awful events portend a coming quantum leap or total catastrophe.

Yet conscious acts aren't a measure of real consciousness; they're the outcome of all that's working through the unconscious. They notify the psyche, not men and women who really don't get it, but the psyche that always gets it and is always capable of sudden radical shifts. Truly screwed up behavior, whether participated in or simply witnessed, has a way of blowing out the accumulated garbage.

We can all envisage trite, simplistic ideas about how everything could improve (if only so and so would stop doing whatever) but we need to start getting radical (yes, it could be fun) because the tidal wave of change will come. In full understanding our utopian visions can only be part of a larger whole we must be willing to dare to think about alternatives.


I only know those people I've met, the ones I see daily and those I remember. I know people who've taught me things I needed to know whether I felt like learning those things or not.

I know the people I've shared thoughts with including all of you I've met here on teh internets. We may not know one another well but we share some beliefs and interests.. sense of humor too.

I neither know nor believe in people I haven't met - the ones who exist in the news. At an existential level I know they're there but for me it's only hearsay. I know them no better than I know Mt. Everest. To know a person or a place you have to experience them yourself.

But I do like this. Sometimes all you can do is laugh :-)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

dreaming worlds

Dreams are weird things but I once had one, a night time sleeping dream, that was so real I remember it now better than I do the faces of some long lost old friends. We lived on the top floor of an elegant house on Providence's Benefit St., a spacious aerie with many windows looking over the city. The floors were polished golden parquet and between the front and back parlors was an arched and pillared colonnade. Not that any of this matters but I wanted to let you visualize the setting.

In my dream I was sitting on the chesterfield in the front parlor watching as the city lights met the starry night sky in the distance when I heard the chime of a tiny bell to my right. The door of the vestibule opened and three ladies dressed in pitch-black robes stepped into the room as though from a little elevator descended from another world. Their faces and hands sparkling with tiny points of colored luminescence, they walked into the room ignoring me and laughing between themselves. I tried to talk to them, wanting to know where they were going and if I could join them, but they deliberately pretended not to see me. Somehow I knew it was a considered strategy of theirs and I watched helplessly as they walked through the next room to another door which opened to a radiant though otherwise indescribable vista. They passed through but before the door closed the last one turned and whispered, 'Not yet'. They were the dark angels of a vision I've never forgotten.

Years later, two months before my birthday, I decided to make gifts for the ladies in my office and a couple of other special friends. It took most of that time to make their little embroidered, quilted faces, bodies of black velvet filled with rice, antique silk head-dresses and little black wings. There were 2 dozen ladies in that office, some whose company I enjoyed more than others, and on the morning of my birthday I carried 2 dozen little rice angels to work. Each was wrapped like a bouquet in thick red film and each had an individual special message inside a heart shaped tag. When you think about it there's always something good to say to everyone.

Not long after that birthday I suffered a grand mal seizure which led to surgery and months away from work. I've wondered now and again if that little tribe didn't help with the good results that ensued. We never really know anything.

The two I kept live on a shelf nearby and are pictured here. They look nothing like the angels in my dream but serve as a hint and a reminder of deeper mysteries.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

please bear with me...

mornin'... susan's having a little holiday lie-in, crow's already meandered off, so here you are, stuck with myself...

today's post: is 'the bear' ('l'ours') one of the greatest movies ever made? (& no, i don't think 'greatest movies ever made' is over-doing it - there are indeed such things as 'greatest movies never made')...

yeah, i know, 'fuck lists!' - they always strike me as silly & useless, &, tho, like everyone, i have favorite bands, authors, video game boss battles, dinosaurs, sound effects, etc, i don't really have any ready-made lists of favorites of these that i'm ready to whip out when conversations come 'round to such things... except for one, which i made up, somewhat spontaneously, a few years ago when emailing our son: my '13 greatest movies ever made' list. &, tho the actual list itself doesn't really have any relevance to what i wanted to write about, here it is (in no particular order) if you're curious:

the gold rush
king kong
the maltese falcon
dr. strangelove
legend of drunken master
the meaning of life
dawn of the dead
blade runner
orgy of the dead (yes, being my choice for 'most completely awful movie ever' qualifies it for this list)

like all such lists, utterly subjective (& a bit tilted toward more recent stuff), amazingly useless, but there you go...

anyway,... i made this list a few years back, &, what's kinda been interesting (if you're me, that is) is that, in the intervening years, what with all the movies, old'n'new, we've seen since, it's never once occurred to me that anything we've watched has been so good that it actually merits a re-thinking of my list (&, while we only watch movies on weekends, we've definitely seen at least a few very good ones over that time)...

well, a couple nights ago, we watched 'the bear' (for the second time, actually - we'd originally seen it maybe 10 years ago), & i find myself thinking this morning that, you know, i just might, for the first time, have to revise my little list...

i'm not going to insult the movie by attempting to describe it in words. but i can say that, yes, it does contain all those elements that just about all the greatest of movies contain: stunning cinematography, solid, timeless story (which never drags, even when it slows), humor, suspense, violence, sex, tragedy, tenderness, redemption, multiple memorable moments, perfect ending, &, of course, excellent performances - particularly by the 2 leads - who are both bears!...

if it was possible to forward everyone a copy of 'the bear', i would. i'd strongly suggest not youtubing it, as the stuff i've found, while not so bad if you've already seen it, doesn't really begin to do it justice (widescreen!). hard to say why 'the bear' has, quite out of the blue, so completely blown me away - maybe, what with the proliferation of special effects nowadays, it's the number of times i was completely flabbergasted realizing that what i was watching was a couple of real bears actually doing this stuff, &, in turn, appreciating the skill & patience demonstrated by the director & crew in so successfully capturing it (6 years in the making, all sound recordings genuine)... or, maybe, it's the other number of times i was just too floored by the beauty & simple truth of what i was seeing (& feeling) to really realize anything...

otoh, maybe, in this strange-verging-on-hallucinogenic future we find ourselves wandering in, it was just a personal need on my part for some kind of penultimate, transcendental 'feel good' movie :) . in any case, my '13 greatest movies ever made' list now contains 14 movies...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

growing up

Crow here. As you may know I've lived in this world for a good many centuries, have seen lots of changes and met many creatures both human and not. All in all it's a lovely place and it seemed there would always be space for all of us to share. Now I'm getting worried, really worried, about how the human race seems to feel justified in taking up not only too much of the space but misusing what was given to all of us. Mountains have had their peaks cut off so coal can be scooped out; thousands of square miles of tar sands in Canada are being dug up to extract heavy oil; water is being pumped into old oil wells to keep what's left of light crude oil rising; watersheds have been paved over for shopping malls and factories; slash and burn farming is still being practiced in poor countries where the newly uncovered ground is soon infertile. I could continue with examples but it should be clear things are a mess and not just for people. My main concern has always been for all my fellow beings but for now we should consider one problem at a time.

Not just in this country, but all over the world farming is failing because of climate change, the overuse of pesticides and artificial fertilizers, water shortages and plain old worn out soil. For instance, the worst drought in 70 years has decimated northern China's winter wheat crop and the soybean harvest was down 40% in South America. Two huge hurricanes hit the US within the past five years. The world food crisis continues to expand while the demand for plant based biofuels strains agricultural land. According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization there are nearly a billion undernourished people in the world and although it's getting worse there are some people who've been thinking and planning for some big changes.

A couple of years ago I was sharing a branch in a favorite banyan tree restaurant with a guy you've probably never heard of, Dickson Despommier, and we talked about soil erosion occurring from wind blowing it away during droughts or from flooding. Topsoil isn't just plain old dirt you can find anywhere. It takes the world a thousand years to make a decent foot deep batch of the stuff and using current methods developed in the 40's, it hasn't taken long to ruin lots of it. To make things even worse farms near cities have been rezoned and sold to developers. Even if you don't have wings you do know when you leave your house for a country drive you'll be lucky to find any before you run out of gas or get tired and go home.

Anyway, Dickson came up with an idea that might eventually become a solution to feeding city people where, in 30 years or so, most people will live. It's called vertical farming, which doesn't mean growing cabbages on top of lamp posts (although I wouldn't mind flying by for a nice juicy cabbage), but actually building high rise farms in cities. Now that sounds pretty fine to me and even though there would be complications it certainly sounds not only doable but in the long run cost effective for everybody. No more huge transport costs for one thing, jobs, fresh food produced very locally even in the biggest cities and tall greenhouses would not only be beautiful but could be liveable. There are some nice pictures here.

It's a big topic and one that deserves some thought and discussion but if even the land now devoted to growing strawberries and vegetables could be returned to growing trees and grass then I know my fellow non-human creatures would once again have a chance to thrive. There's nothing better than a forest to help rid ourselves of all the extra carbon that's heating the place up faster than you can make thermometers. Why not take advantage of the growing mechanisms developed by the indoor marijuana entrepreneurs?

As we enjoyed another glass of brandy and watched the sun set over the suburbs of Detroit, Dickson mused, "For the first time in human existence, farming won't have to rely on soil types. You'll be able to build a farm in the middle of the desert or on the tundra. You'll put it wherever you want and people will live there as a result. You don't need a lot of water for hydroponic farming."

In the meanwhile, how about a little retrofitting of the now bankrupt sky-rise banks? I can think of a few people we could use as compost starters.

(Note - No obscenely wealthy bankers, humans or animals are part of hydroponic farming methods. That was just my little joke. Now I'll have a tumbler of Bailey's Irish Cream before climbing up to the sleeping perch.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

got a money hole?

Crow has locked himself away in his library with a fresh case of Remy Martin and a brand new antique fruit cake. He told me he's working on a new post but needed to get his notes in order and I was being too much of a distraction. Me? Never.

While I grumbled about needing something to offer my friends since everybody was still a bit upset after his last escapade he threw this video out the door after me telling me to not get my knickers in a bunch and to keep my hair on. I wonder what he meant by that?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

when work is fun

The new sewing machine arrived last weekend allowing me to finish the scarves I'd been painting in the meanwhile. It's so smooth the next thing I did was go shopping for fabric to make myself some new clothes.. just a few things that will allow me to not have to wear more when I go outside in summer than I do on the average winter day. I'm not so shy as all that but I have become more prudent as I've aged about what's showing when I'm in public. Short skirts require I wear stockings and see through ones mean wearing a slip. Skirts with no waistbands sitting near my navel tend to swing around backwards or sideways whenever I walk and I don't like that. Neither do I like the short skirts that are too short and long ones that are too long. I'm pretty much average in height among the women I know and a 35" long skirt comes close to dragging on the ground and is certain to get caught under the wheels of my chair at work. I've missed serious injury or accidental disrobing more than once while scooting across my office.

Long ago I got a summer job as a model in a bridal/evening gown shop in Toronto. At 5'4" I was too short for runway work and was smaller than the size 8 required for catalog/magazine work. Even though it was flattering to be considered attractive enough to get dressed up for customers, my favorite part was spending time with the chief seamstress in the basement workrooms. She was French and had worked with Balenciaga in Paris for many years. She could look at the measurements of someone she'd never seen and make a perfect dress for her. The summer job turned into evenings and weekends for a year while I speed learned couture, enthralled and happy to learn everything that lovely woman was inclined to teach. Even though I'd already learned to sew she made me unafraid of seeing and cutting.

For years afterward I designed and made all my own clothes and some for friends too. I didn't like what was available then and now I can't afford the things of quality I might like to wear. Besides, I hate fashion when it's geared toward 20 year olds. I haven't been that age in nearly 40 years and there's no going back. Now I've learned to paint silk and there's a beautiful little jacket I have in mind as a project but I'll make it first in a less flashy fabric for daily use.

I'll try not to overdo all this but it's nice to rediscover an enthusiasm I thought was gone for good.. and all because of a little sewing machine that can do tricks and runs smooth as silk. Isn't she pretty?

In case you wondered these are the new scarves just finished although I still haven't figured out how to photograph their nearly 9 foot length. I suppose I could go out to the woods and wrap them around trees and bushes but it doesn't sound like fun.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

holy Crow!

Can you imagine my dismay coming home from work this afternoon to find this? I called out to Crow as I usually do once I get in since it's his habit when he's around to join me for a cup of tea and a snack. This time all was quiet but he never leaves the house in spring without his tall black umbrella and it was still there in the stand. I crossed the marble foyer, opened the double doors to his library and saw his boots upside down in the air. Naturally, I thought the worst. Crow has been my friend most of my life but he's been around for centuries and has been a friend to many more than me. How could he croak on my watch? Life couldn't be that unfair, could it? Well, maybe it could.

I dashed to his side to see if I could revive him, noticing as I got close he was shaking and trying to catch his breath. Great, there was still time. Did I remember my emergency medical training and how do you practice CPR on a 6' tall elderly Crow? Just as I was getting ready to give him the kiss of life he opened his eyes and said, "Where the heck were you all day?" Obviously, this wasn't a Crow lingering near death's door waiting, hope against hope, for his friend to arrive in time to cradle his feathery head and whisper a tender good-bye.

Instead, he rolled over on the antique Persian carpet he'd received as a gift from Kubla Khan, reached out for the bar of his ancient hand-carved perch, stood and picked up his Lalique crystal goblet to enjoy a beak-full of Remy Martin before taking his Cuban cigar from the 11th century Ming ashtray to enjoy a deep draught of relaxing smoke. Leaning back on the bookcase devoted to the foibles of man he told me how he'd spent the day perusing the news.

First he told me about the 22,000 green jobs that have been outsourced to India since January. Now I have nothing against anybody anywhere finding non-destructive work but you'd think that with millions of unemployed people in this country it might be time to keep some of that work available here. Then he told me about the people in this country who are spending their unemployed time pretending that looking for a job actually is a job. It may well be but it appears to us that manning the barricades might be a better idea right now.

Then he told me the last thing, the one that had made him laugh so hard he fell off his perch. I'd tell you about it too but maybe you'd better watch it yourself:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

making friends

New friends can arrive unexpectedly as delightful surprises bearing the gifts of mutual experience and understanding. More often we have to work on making new friendships. In our sterile culture we're careful about giving too much information about our thoughts and deeper feelings. A lifetime of subjective lessons doesn't translate easily between acquaintances of short duration but we try and that can only be good.

This is a picture of a friend I made in the purely literal sense of the word. His name is Baba Ganoosh and he required more effort than I've had the time or inclination to spend on most people in recent years. Of course, most people would object to having their skeleton twisted of sculpture wire, their head and hands moulded and baked from polymer clay, muscles made from cotton balls and gauze, joints of wooden beads and all covered in the blue skin of a favorite spandex camisole. Baba didn't mind at all and only seemed to become more pleased with each enhancement. His braids and wild long hair were glued and sewn on bit by bit; his eyes and smile lit up with a little paint. His boots were fashioned from the fingers of an old pair of gloves given to me by my mother (thanks, Mam), pantaloons from a dress I bought one afternoon on Thayer St. in Providence and his jacket from a bookmark a friend brought home from Turkey. Best of all, nestled deep inside, is the pink amethyst heart pendant I wore as a child. It's a little cracked but Baba is healing it for me. That's what friends are for.

I met another friend recently at yes is red where I discovered this beautiful little painting. When I asked if I could have it to show you Rene spoke of having painted it a few years ago and I was triple delighted. It's always good to have friends who are confident of their talents and willing to share.

Happy Mother's Day to all my friends.

Friday, May 8, 2009

gyrating Crow

Cousin Fred has been visiting the past few days telling us more about the North Pacific gyre than we really wanted to know. For those who haven't heard it's become known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch," or "trash vortex" - essentially a floating expanse of waste and debris in the Pacific Ocean now covering an area as big as the US and Canada combined. Best guesses are it contains almost 100m tons of flotsam, a vast "plastic soup" stretches 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan.

It's not like a big island of plastic junk and can't be seen by people who just sail across the region. It's way more insidious than that since most of the garbage is underwater from the surface to a depth of 40ft but not tightly compacted. It's there to strangle, trap or suffocate wildlife with the natural effect of killing millions every year. That's why Fred looks so worried. His family has known about it for years but the toxic soup of refuse was discovered by people in 1997 when Charles Moore, an oceanographer, decided to travel through the center on a whim. (picture from Greenpeace)

He found bottle caps, plastic bags and polystyrene floating with tiny plastic chips. Discarded plastic worn down by sunlight and saltwater disintegrates into smaller pieces. In subsequent trawls Mr Moore discovered that the chips outnumbered plankton by six to one. Does that sound healthy? The tiny fragments are the worst since they act as sponges for heavy metals and pollutants until mistaken for food by small fish. The toxins then become more concentrated as they move up the food chain through larger fish, birds and marine mammals. Guess who's at the tippy top?

In June a Japanese ship called Kaisei (meaning Planet Ocean), along with a decommissioned fishing trawler carrying special nets, will travel to the zone to see what they can do to begin a cleanup. It's being funded by the Scripps Oceanographic Foundation and the Brita Company which makes me wonder if they're planning to fill a really big jug and pour clean water out of the other end.

I know there's a lot of bad stuff going on right now and you probably don't want to be reminded of more. Television people have been trying to convince you this country practices a kinder and gentler torture than the Japanese in WWII or the Spanish Inquisition. Don't listen to them! I met Torquemada and you really don't want to go down that road. Then there's the bombing being carried out by stealth drones operated by guys sitting in military virtual reality game centers outside Las Vegas. Why are first person shooter games funded by the government? So they can train your children to kill without remorse, that's why. I'm not even going to talk about the continuing economic crisis other than to mention it makes no sense for a car company to get $35 or whatever billions and fire 80k employees just to save the company name and wealthy stockholders. I mean if they'd said they were going to retool and start building wind powered trains or something I'd probably agree it was a good idea. What is a car czar and why do you need one?

Anyway, Cousin Fred has his new heavy weather supplies and is on his way back out to sea. The one thing he did mention on his way out the door was that it might be a good idea for companies to start making plastics from hemp. It has lots of cellulose and really does break down but it would be best not to throw it in the sea. Please.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

after 42 yrs warranty runs out

No, not me, not yet anyway, but it's a close thing. Instead, it was the sewing machine my parents gave me when I was in highschool. Except for the few years I spent in Europe it went everywhere with me and was the only mechanical device I've ever been able to repair.. but not this time.

The foot pedal has been getting really hot the last few years but my response for that was to stop using the machine while I took a break. My other solution was to sew the early scarves by hand but the hours it took spoiled the fun so after a while I got the machine adjusted for the silks and all has been well until now. I think a spring has broken because no matter what I try the stitches won't loop. There's a line of thread on top and one underneath but they never meet in the middle. I'd take it to be repaired but there's nobody around old enough to know how to fix it or have the parts in stock.

So I shopped for a new one and while I wait for delivery I'll do other things. Did you know they can cost thousands of dollars? If I spent $3k for a sewing machine I'd expect to be able to leave a pile of cloth on the table, close the door and return later to find my new outfit finished and a perfect fit. Damn. The one I chose cost $300, was marked down 50% and has a 25 year warranty but I'm still going to miss the old one. We were attached.

The picture is a close-up of a new scarf with one of my wrist cuffs sitting on top that says 'Quantum Mechanic'. Aren't we all?

(ps - It's not your eyes - they're intradimensional beads that don't like to be photographed.)

Friday, May 1, 2009

it's called gallerivanting

I had to put a little makeup on today in honor of being given the okay (order) to let you know susan finally got off her lazy behind and wrote another story where she talks about her less than stellar career as a commercially viable artist. Now I'm going to remove the lipstick before the stellar jays in the back woods catch sight of me. They can be very rude.