18 December 2009

Thanks, Mel.

"Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing."

look i find some of what you teach suspect....

11 December 2009

24 November 2009

a sermon

i "preached" at a friend's church this past sunday. I needed to address John 18:33-37 and speak to my farm life. Now, I'm no biblical scholar, but here's some bits of what I came up with:

In preparing for today, I was particularly struck my Jesus’ response to Pilate's question if he is king: “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

From the get go, there are a couple of things that the word truth reminds me of. My first thought is usually that earlier passage in John where Jesus says he is the way, truth, and life. It's a verse I memorized in my childhood church (http://www.ghfc.org/).

My second thought is this Thich Nhat Hanh song I like to sing. The second verse goes:

Breathing in, breathing out

I am water reflecting what is real and what is true.

And I feel there is space deep inside of me

I am free.

I only heard of Thay last summer when I stayed at http://www.taize.fr/and then this past Christmas break I spent at http://www.deerparkmonastery.org/.

My third thought is my meditation group. It meets at the http://www.centerfortheworkingpoor.org/ in Echo Park on Tuesday nights at 7. We practice “Centering Prayer” which is a twenty minute time period set aside to focus on a “sacred word” and to let all other distractions go. My sacred word happens to be “true.”

As you might be able to tell, the word “truth” or “true” is complicated for me. The above references to truth have very different contexts. As I paused again to reflect on the readings for today and on how to incorporate in my farm life, I think Ive been able to break it down even a bit further. I came to the conclusion that the meaning of the word truth has changed even more since I’ve become a “farmer.”

Last year I was a CSU, Long Beach English Instructor and Chaplain, and at least in the world of academia, "truth" is something objective and is grounded in tradition. A conversation from an academic point of view meant persuading through rhetoric using Aristotle's Ethos, Pathos, Logos toward a TELOS, or end. This is what I taught in English 100. I used my head mostly and saw life as a ladder to climb from lowly adjunct instructor toward being more "king like" -- the top, the head, tenured professor, leader, etc. My sense was that we are climbing toward truth and helping others to climb as well.

However, now I a "farmer" and truth is so much more physical and embodied. Conversation is about sharing our experiences and coming to an understanding of the truth in each of our lives through relationship. The end goal is the process of understanding. In my farm life world, I use my head so much less and instead, I use my hands, my body, and my heart more now. Life seems much more weblike and is about interconnectedness, empathy, understanding, love. The difference between last year in academia and this year at the farm seem to speak so directly to the reading today -- a
movement away from a hierarchical conversation to what I see as a process-relational conversation .

Moreso, Jesus' words reminds me of Laura Riding's Unposted Letters to Catherine. Riding talks about a “muddle” of "doing," and this looks like what Pilate and the people are all about. Riding asserts that we cannot fight the muddle of do-ers by "doing." Instead, we must step outside of the muddle and just be ourselves.

Jesus appears to be just that and refuses to become a part of the oppressive muddle that would call him King or crucified. It's about something more I hear him say.

21 November 2009

Running on lawns

Although I feel rather "off" for liking lawns so much (knowing that sod is such a water waster in our so cal desert), I can't help myself. I particularly like running on them! Both of these are in Santa Barbara.

11 November 2009

04 November 2009

Been thinking about Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Thank you, Dan Callis, for introducing me to Annie so long ago in Baja.

The difference between the two ways of seeing is the difference between walking with and without a camera. When I walk with a camera I walk from shot to shot, reading the light on a calibrated meter. When I walk without a camera, my own shutter opens, and the moment’s light prints on my own silver gut. When I see this second way I am above all an unscrupulous observer.

Do I substitute the photographs for the real deal? The virtual relationship for the intimate one? Am I doing it with this blog?

Found a cool blog today . http://tiakramer.blogspot.com/2007/11/contextualized-language.html. with Annie Dillard quotations on random items.

"risking sticking my face in"
Seems appropriate for this post.

30 October 2009

Oliver's Travels: Summer and Autumn 2009

The New Mexico road trip: Wade in the water at the Ranch
Climbing the Secret Mountain
On top of the world
Running through the fields with kitty, donkey, and Chris
Lounging in the hammock
Birthday party with the fam

New home: the Farm

Visiting Papa
Traveling to Santa Barbara dog beach
Romping about Ventura County

Honoring the women in my life

Today I'm feeling it. Sweat lodge tonight, my moon cycle begins soon -- I'm in that vulnerable and powerful place where I feel things more deeply than normal, where I have the potential of being in tune with the world and with myself. And, this morning, I want to recognize the women who influence my life and the cycle of birth and death. Here's a start:

I held Mel's baby after our Dia De Los Muertos Celebration at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

I wore the earrings of my ancestors.

22 October 2009

From Katie who said "I thought you would kind of love this"

The Invitation
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon...
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life's betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn't interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Katie and I've had some lovely times together. These pictures come from a glorious day!

07 October 2009

Peeps' thoughts on porn

What is with the incredible pull of pornography? What's with it, I think, is the human ache to know and be known and the simultaneous terror of knowing and being known. We want the wonder, the joy, the piercing grief even, of knowing another person to the depths of her being; we want someone to seek out those depths in us. This is arousal, this is desire. It is love. It is what we most want.

It is also what we most fear. Pornography keeps the viewer safe, because it keeps the viewer anonymous and unknown. The problem is that being unknown is precisely what the viewer, ultimately, doesn't want. This pull between what the viewer feels that he desires, and then arriving at what he really doesn't desire, is what keeps the viewer temporarily satiated, and it's what keeps the viewer coming back. Hence: addiction. It evokes some kind of desire, and seems to meet the desire. The craving to be known and loved--and to know and love--is so powerful and pervasive. But the problem is obvious. The porn addict is like a starving man who does not know he is starving. He eats dirt, handful after handful, but he still feels so hungry. Instead of finding nourishing food to eat, he keeps eating more dirt, convinced that if he just eats more the gnawing hunger will subside.....

But pornography is an extreme (though a very common extreme) and it is a distortion. What about simple and ordinary desire? What about how sexuality is part of who we are all the time, what about how most relationships include some element of sexuality? Desire, intimacy, being known, loving.....what the heck are we supposed to do about these things?

...perhaps only when we can acknowledge to ourselves that we loathe and fear sex, and that we crave and love sex, that our desires are many and extraordinary (and utterly ordinary)--only when we are completely honest with ourselves--will we find ourselves. And we will find ourselves known, undressed, loved, desired, encompassed, taken, whole.
-Tamie http://owlrainfeathers.blogspot.com/2008/08/eros.html


01 October 2009

A week of merriment!

catching the sunset
...with oliver
extreme bowling

80s house party
beach afternoon

24 September 2009

A visit from a friend

Denise is visiting from Suiza! We've been having a ball out here on the farm. She came with me to capoeira yesterday after we spent the morning in Santa Barbara. We first visited the labyrinth, then stopped to eat Our Daily Bread, walked about the museum, ate at El Bahio, and drove home with the music loud. We sing together mucho, and one such song is:

16 September 2009

Autumn is near!

The coming of autumn is so delicate in Southern California, but it's beautiful. It's a chill in the bones, the smell of a burning fire, the need to wear a sweater, and remembrances of good old friends.

It's a blessed discontentment to me, a longing for things of old to be happening all the time.

10 September 2009

"You called me beautiful when you saw my shame. "

Finished a Midrash the other day. Here are my favorite parts:

My dear daughter…

And already I would see tears in her eyes.

My dear daughter, how can I describe the love in which I made you.

I started by giving you part of my heart.

I would touch Her heart and then I would touch my heart. She would nod.

Yes. And, then I took the precious earth in my hands, and I molded your body, your cells, your skin. You were the earth.

“And you kissed them?” I would ask.

Of course. And, then I placed the rain water—mixed with a little molten lava— in your veins, and you became water and fire.

And then, I asked the wind to give you breath, and you were wind.

Last, I whispered your name.

“But, how is this possible, Mother? How can I be all these things and still me?”

Because we are everything and we are unique. We are in constant relationship with each other.

And, they ate of each other
And of the fruit of the land,
And they were good.

Female and Male (S)he was good.

02 September 2009


And, I'm in love with potential and Neil Young. But, who isn't? I've always been a late-bloomer.

And, we're back.

It's been an amazing summertime of travel and travel and new experience and new experience. And, I'm glad to be back to the ole techo world...somewhat. I have no computer, and I'm trying to keep it that way. Ok. I have a blackberry and an external storage device, but I have no ipod. I have no cd or tape player, but I have a record player. I have no job, but I have a purpose. I own no home, but I have a community. I also now live on a farm.

Random Morning Tunes; Thank Goddess for Jane-Alice's Record Player

01 June 2009

Songs I think of while hiking...

I watched the documentary about Leonard Cohen today -- I'm Your Man -- and still I thought of this song.

27 May 2009

Finished: The History of Love --"life defined by a delight in the weight of the real"

Some final words from the text:

"But now she seemed different to me. I became aware of her special powers. How she seemed to pull light and gravity to the place where she stood .. I half expected that in another moment I'd be able to make out the cells of her skin as if under a microscope ...But it didn't last long, because at the same time I was becoming conscious of her body, I was becoming aware of my own. The sensation almost knocked the breath out of me . A tingling feeling caught fire in my nerves and spread. The whole thing must have happened in less than 30 seconds. And yet, when it was over, I'd been initiated into the mystery that stands at the beginning and end of childhood. It was ten years before I'd spent all the joy and pain born in me in that less than half a minute."

"i stood on the street and let the rain trickle down my neck. I squeezed my eyes shut. Door after door after door after door after door after door swung open""

"He learned to live with the truth. Not to accept it, but to live with it. It was like living with an elephant. His room was
tiny, and every morning he had to squeeze around the truth just to get to the bathroom. To reach the armoire to get a
pair of underpants he had to crawl under the truth, praying it wouldn’t choose that moment to sit on his face. At
night, when he closed his eyes, he felt it looming above him."

"My own father, who had great respect for nature, had dropped each of us into the river soon after we were born, before our ties to the amphibians, so he claimed, were cut completely. ... I'd like to think that I would have done it differently. I would have held my son in my arms. I would have told him, Once upon a time you were a fish. A fish? he'd have asked. That's what I'm telling you, a fish. How do you know? Because I was also a fish. You, too? Sure. A long time ago. How long? Long. Anyway, being a fish, you used to know how to swim. You loved the water. Why? What do you mean, why? Why did I love the water? Because it was your life! And as we talked, I would have let him go one finger at a time, until, without his realizing, he'd be floating without me."

"as i looked into her face, it was him i thought of, the boy who would grow up without knowing how forgive himself."

"I lost the sound of laughter. I lost a pair of shoes, I'd taken them off to sleep... and when I woke they were gone, I walked barefoot for days and then I broke down and stole someone else's. I lost the only woman I ever wanted to love. I lost years. I lost books. I lost the house where I was born... So who is to say that somewhere along the way, without my knowing it, I didn't also lose my mind?"

It "was a lie, but by the way she was looking at me I knew she hadn't really heard, since it wasn't me she saw."

"I thought my heart would stop. But it was true. It was just like that."

"During the time I waited, a whole species of butterfly may have become extinct, or a large, complex mammal with feelings like mine."

"'You have to stop talking about God, OK?' He didn't say anything, but I was pretty sure he was awake now. 'You're going to be twelve soon. You have to stop making weird noises, and jumping off things and hurting yourself.' I knew I was pleading with him, but I didn't care. 'You have to push you feelings down and try to be normal...You have to make some friends..'"

"We sat together on the porch of Isaac Moritz's house, swinging on a bench and watching the rain.... I asked him if he'd ever heard of The Little Prince and he said he thought he had. So I told him about the time Saint-Ex crashed in the Libyan desert, drank the dew off the airplane's wings which he'd gathered with an oil-stained rag, and walked hundred of miles, dehydrated and delirious from the heat and cold. When I got to the part about how he was found by some Bedouins, Herman slipped his hand into mine, and I thought, An average of seventy-four species become extinct every day, which was one good reason but not the only one to hold someone's hand, and the next thing that happened was we kissed each other, and I found I knew how, and I felt happy and sad in equal parts, because I knew that I was falling in love, but it wasn't with him."

"After that day when I saw the elephant, I let myself see more and believe more. It was a game I played with myself. When I told Alma the things I saw she would laugh and tell me she loved my imagination. For her I changed pebbles into diamonds, shoes into mirrors, I changed glass into water, I gave her wings and pulled birds from her ears and in her pockets she found the feathers, I asked a pear to become a pineapple, a pineapple to become a lightbulb, a lightbulb to become the moon, and the moon to become a coin I flipped for her love, both sides were heads: I knew I couldn't lose. And now at the end of my life I can barely tell the difference between what is real and what I believe. For example, your letters in my hands- I feel it between my fingers. The paper is smooth except in the creases. I can unfold and fold it again. As certain as I am sitting here now, these letters exists.

And yet. In my heart, I know my hand is empty."

Conducting a person's silence.

"So many words get lost. They leave the mouth and lose their courage, wandering aimlessly until they are swept into the gutter like dead leaves. On rainy days you can hear their chorus rushing past: IwasabeautifulgirlPleasedon’tgoItoobelievemybodyismadeofglassI’veneverlovedanyoneIthinkofmyselfasfunnyForgive me…

There was a time when it wasn’t uncommon to use a piece of string to guide words that otherwise might falter on the way to their destinations. Shy people carried a little bundle of string in their pockets, but people considered loudmouths had no less need for it, since those used to being overheard by everyone were often at a loss for how to make themselves heard by someone. The physical distance between two people using a string was often small; sometimes the smaller the distance, the greater the need for the string.

The practice of attaching cups to the ends of the string came much later. Some say it is related to the irrepressible urge to press shells to our ears, to hear the still-surviving echo of the world’s first expression. Others say it was started by a man who held the end of a string that was unraveled across the ocean by a girl who left for America.

When the world grew bigger, and there wasn’t enough string to keep the things people wanted to say from disappearing into the vastness, the telephone was invented.

Sometimes no length of string is long enough to say the thing that needs to be said. In such cases all the string can do, in whatever its form, is conduct a person’s silence."

History of Love

26 May 2009

A great dream

Last night, I dreamt a dream that ranks among the top 5. It was one of those dreams that begins dark and sad and becomes liberating and wonderful.

I'm on a retreat walking in a field around a lake. I'm talking on my phone with a former partner, and I'm trying to convince the person to see things from my perspective, and the person hangs up on me. I enter a nearby elevator (!) that has two other people in it I don't recognize. The elevator goes up and suddenly goes faster and faster till we burst through the roof and into the sky. As it reaches the top of its climb, I realize I'm wearing a backpack as are the others, and we jump out of the elevator as it falls down. We skydive out of the elevator (!), and I land in the middle of what looks like central park at an outdoor concert. I sit next to someone I think was a friend, and I have a fortune cookie in my hand. The fortune reads, "today begins your life." I look up, and my sister is at the concert too as are some of my other friends.

25 May 2009

More love, more real: a history of feelings

"One day my father laughed and corrected me. Everything snapped into focus. It's one of those unforgettable moments that happen as a child, when you discover that all along the world as been betraying you."

"Just as there was a first instant when someone rubbed two sticks together to make a spark, there was a first time joy was felt, and a first time for sadness. For a while, new feelings were being invented all the time. Desire was born early, as was regret. When stubbornes was felt for the first time, it started a chain reaction, creating the feeling of resentment on the one hand, and alienation on the other. It might have been a cirtain counterclockwise movement of the hips that marked the birth of ecstasy; a bolt of lightning that caused the first feeling of awe. Contrary to logic, the feeling of surprise wasn't born immediately. It only came after people had enough time to get used to things as they were. And when enough time HAD passed, and someone felt the first feeling of surprise, someone, somewhere else, felt the first pang of nostalgia.

It's also true that sometimes people felt things, and, because there was no word for them, they were unmentioned. The oldest emotion in the world may be that of being moved; but to describe it-just to name it - must have been like trying to catch something invisible.

(Then again, the oldest feeling in the world might simply have been confusion).

Having begun to feel, people's desire to feel grew. They wanted to feel more, feel deeper, despite how much it sometimes hurt. People become addicted to feeling. They struggled to uncover new emotions. It's possible that this is how art was born.
New kinds of joy were forged, along with new kinds of sadness. The eternal dissapointment of life as it is; the relief of unexpected reprieve, the fear of dying.

Even now, all possible feelings do not exist. There are still those that lie beyond our capacity and our imagination."


I don't mean just physically.

" You tell me that you are in love with a beautiful woman, but when I ask you, ' What is the color her eyes? What is her name? What is the name of her town? you cannot tell me. I don't believe you are really in love with something real.' Your notion of God may be vague like that, not having to do with reality.
Thich Nhat Hanh

Reading Julian of Norwich in the morning

God is the ground and the substance, the very essence of nature;
God is the true father and mother of natures.
We are all bound to God by nature,
and we are all bound to God by grace.
And this grace is for all the world,
Because it is our precious mother, Christ.
For this fair nature was prepared by Christ
For the honor and nobility of all,
and for the joy and bliss of salvation.

20 May 2009


Growing up is so hard these days; I'm taking solace in those writers who revel in that in-between growthness -- even though there may be a wallowing in the mire of co-dependency and coping mechanisms. Whatever.


How funny you are today New York
like Ginger Rogers in Swingtime
and St. Bridget’s steeple leaning a little to the left

here I have just jumped out of a bed full of V-days
(I got tired of D-days) and blue you there still
accepts me foolish and free
all I want is a room up there
and you in it

and even the traffic halt so thick is a way
for people to rub up against each other
and when their surgical appliances lock
they stay together
for the rest of the day (what a day)
I go by to check a slide and I say
that painting’s not so blue

where’s Lana Turner
she’s out eating
and Garbo’s backstage at the Met
everyone’s taking their coat off
so they can show a rib-cage to the rib-watchers
and the park’s full of dancers with their tights and shoes
in little bags
who are often mistaken for worker-outers at the West Side Y
why not
the Pittsburgh Pirates shout because they won
and in a sense we’re all winning
we’re alive

the apartment was vacated by a gay couple
who moved to the country for fun
they moved a day too soon
even the stabbings are helping the population explosion
though in the wrong country
and all those liars have left the UN
the Seagram Building’s no longer rivalled in interest
not that we need liquor (we just like it)

and the little box is out on the sidewalk
next to the delicatessen
so the old man can sit on it and drink beer
and get knocked off it by his wife later in the day
while the sun is still shining

oh god it’s wonderful
to get out of bed
and drink too much coffee
and smoke too many cigarettes
and love you so much

19 May 2009

Baja and Poems

I've corresponded with a poet I met in Baja. I met her almost 10 years ago. Her words sometimes floor me. Today I received a poem in the mail:

But is it this: that the ocean is blue,
very blue
and the fishes,
aren't they pretty creatures?
So wear the ocean, I say,
because I can't change the facts.

Paula Yup

I love snorkeling. Although I didn't do that today, I do feel that I wore the very blue ocean.

I hear my ancestors whisper...

Great Grandmother