July 17, 2001 - Tuesday
A most wonderful day began in the very most wonderful way.
the old moon
in a arrow of escort
Out of a deep sleep the combined light woke me. It was so breathtakingly marvelous the way the old moon lay, with brightest Venus at her feet, perfectly centered in the truthful triangle of Saturn and Jupiter. All the other stars had already faded so this constellation was alone in the freshness of the arriving day.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY WERNER!
Yes, another year for Werner. He wears them so well that no one believes he is 76! Not a gray hair on his head – which really makes me look old! So he gets to knock six years off his age and I add six to mine so we share 70 very companionably. The cat was waiting to be let in as if he had expected us to come down earlier. There is not much in our house that happens without his knowing. He could not leave the packages alone on the breakfast table. Before the coffee was made we heard a crash. One gift (the biggest one) had gone to the floor. After our oatmeal, Werner opened his gifts and I solemnized the day with his portrait.
We had talked about going to Mendocino for the day and the weather was absolutely perfect. No fog, just sun without the usual accompaniment of wind. Most years we have to drag his birthday out of a deep blanket of fog, but this time the day came forward to greet us. The ocean seemed freshly washed and dyed its deepest blue for a celebration.
the tourists swing
As much as I enjoy seeing the marvelous scenery I was very, very glad to get out of the car onto the sidewalks of Mendocino. For the first time, here, I saw a beggar sitting by the split rail redwood fence. He even had a politically correct straw hat as begging bowl.
the beggar’s cup
The age of plastic being upon us, he had more coins in his pockets than we did. I resolved to pay him back for the haiku as soon as we got some cash, but by the time we came back this way, he had disappeared.
One of the jobs we had was to get my wedding band resized and we felt we should get that started first. I had remembered a jewelry store up the hill and off on a side street. When we got there the store was gone, but another one was in its place. A huge store of only hats. Twenty years ago Werner had bought a hat in San Francisco that he has loved and worn nearly every day. I have mended it, but has gotten so threadbare that it now needs patches. Ah, here was surely a chance to find a new one for him. And we did. One sewn here in Mendocino and made of, what else here in the marijuana triangle? but hemp. I found one of those goofy plush birthday top hats with a ring of felt candles on crown. I presented it to him as his birthday gift, took his photo and put the hat back on the rack. He looked so good in his new hat all day long.
We finally found the jewelry shop (I was on the wrong street) but they refused to size a ring unless "it was one of their rings". My ring was older than their shop and all the chic girls set like models among the cases. At least they were kind enough to tell us of the one person in town who does this kind of work and whose shop was at the other end of the village. As we strolled along we spotted another jewelry store but they could only send the ring to San Francisco where it would take up to two weeks to get it back. We continued our walk over cement blocks that seemed to remember an earthquake. The town was crowded because of the Music Festival so we often had to go single-file along the edges. We could hear the rehearsals going on in the big white tent set up in the meadow before the bay. I asked Werner if he wanted to stay until evening for the concert but he cocked his head toward some really weird, modern trumpet solo and said, "no.".
At Studio Two was a white-haired man with great sad eyes who, after ascertaining that the band was really gold, said he would add in a piece to make it fit the years which I have added to my finger. And he would have the ring done by 3:00, he said. Feeling greatly relieved, we walked to a bench before a wild and marvelous garden. Being on a hill, it was as if the flowers were spilling down into our laps.
stopped by beauty
the shoppers stare into
I found it interesting that while we sat there admiring the riot of colors and forms, shoppers on the sidewalk would walk back to the garden to see what they were missing. It was almost a game – to offer the flowers our admiration and to see who would be attracted by this passage of loving enough to come across a porch to see what we were looking at. People came and photographed the garden, tossed coins in the wishing well and admired these flowers that were beyond price.
When hunger pushed us off the bench we walked slowly, with many stops for shops, back up to Brannon’s (I see it is now called Bayview) for lunch. I was surprised there was a table available on the porch and it was the best one in the corner. It seemed as if it had been reserved for us. Werner had clam chowder (good but very thick) and we shared turkey sandwiches, salad and a few French fries as frivolity. On each table was a giant bottle of magic wand bubbles to entertain while waiting on the food that came so fast I never even got the cap off.
I asked Werner what he wanted to look at next; where he wanted to shop. I laughed as he got out his list: a new sink stopper, a bush to scrub the shower, bags for the vacuum cleaner. We drove to Mendosa’s the general store where the locals shop because they have everything. There we found everything we wanted plus some Newton and Windsor gold ink, a chamois for washing windows, a new basket pot for the poinsettia that refuses to die. We wandered the aisles of this country store with more peace and purpose than any of the fancy shops. And our bill was bigger here.
Now needing coffee and finding the locals more interesting than the tourists, we went to Lu’s Kitchen where we could sit among the roses and lilacs as if in someone’s side yard. Across the street was the boarded up Buddhist temple where guys and one woman sat to share a bottle and a toke. There was just enough of a breeze so that it was cool enough to allow us to sit in the sun. With still a half hour to enjoy we drove out to the headlands where Werner got to try out his new binoculars. Somehow, this place that has given me so many great photographs looked shopworn and tired. Maybe it was the low tide and the low point of energy for my afternoon that tinted the scene with disinterest. Maybe I was just eager to see how my ring was turning out.
The guy was sitting there waiting on us, waiting to close up shop to go home. Evidently this one job was enough for his day. He had done a beautiful job.
resizing the ring
wedding vows renewed
with the years
He handed the ring to Werner so he could put it back on my hand. It was the highpoint of my day.
We were tempted to stop for a walk on the beach because the river had made a marvelous lagoon that looked warm and inviting, but we both realized we still a drive of one and one-half hours ahead of us so we drove on by. We have given unofficial names to various places along the road. There is "Kodak Korner" the wide place in the road were tourists stop to photograph the sea stacks by Elk. And before that is "Coke Cola Corner" where we once rounded a curve to find a coke truck had lost its load of bottles across the whole highway. And by Irish Beach was a tree that will not let me pass without my noticing it.
leaning toward earth
the great cypress tree seems
to want to say something
On the whole drive I only saw two new houses; so changes, thankfully, are coming very slowly to this stretch of pristine landscape.
where trees once grew
The redwood weathers to a silver gray that also can look to be granite gray. These three stumps had been here as long as we have been driving this road. For years, on the fence beside them was a sign that said "watch out - viscous bulls" but it had fallen away with its joke.
We stopped at the store in Manchester for turkey breasts. We will have Werner’s birthday dinner tomorrow. Tonight we both only wanted vegetables for dinner. Later I got into a fight with the new computer about whether it would accept the new ‘card reader’ for the camera. I was too tired to troubleshoot it. I probably had enough energy to shoot it, but I am already addicted to its speed.
I still have the old computer in the corner so I was able to download the photos out of the camera. The first photo came out mostly green! I was worried that the ‘smart card reader’ had damaged the chip but it was only a stuck jet in the printer that finally cleared itself when the right buttons it wanted me to push were touched. Now I need to see if I can get the photos into this document. There is so much to learn! I wish I could stay up all night as I did when I was younger. Sometimes I feel Werner’s birthdays make me older!
July 16, 2001- Monday
My morning will be revealed in a couple of weeks. What a lot of thought goes into mundane answers which seem to come off the top of one’s head. And what thoughts rise up as one stirs the seemingly clear waters of the past to discover swirling patters of silt and guilt, and the small fishes of hope and joy. I have been thinking of compiling a set of questions, rather like an interview to give myself each New Year’s Day to see where I am and where I am going. It would be a good exercise and fun to compare the various years.
Of course, now as I think about it, the practice of writing haiku on the first day of the new year does this in a much better way. When I read haiku written long ago, I am always amazed how that moment, that day, that situation reappears so completely before me. I do not think there is a haiku that does not bring back a time for me. I guess that is why I titled one of my early books Thumbtacks on a Calendar – because haiku pin down at least a portion of a day long ago. Maybe the haiku are holes that let me look backward into the past. I do feel the past streaming toward me with a rush of colors, smells and even feelings as if coming through a tunnel. Though people often say haiku should be cool, subjective, merely observant, yet we humans cannot help (mostly through the use of our verbs) coloring our haiku in with our emotions. The great advantage to the haiku’s ability to transport one back in time is the experience of being able to re-enter a past moment with today’s emotion. Am I still, today, so much the same person that I would assess that moment with the same emotion? I do not think so, and yet the elements that my emotions combined, at that time, were so directed by the emotion of the moment, that I couldn’t change the elements of the ku without destroying the whole thing.
lips to a shell
the sound of the sea
in the conch's breath
a call to prayer
in the conch's voice
lips to a shell
the voice of the sea
whorls the conch
a round mouth
on whorls of a conch
a round mouth
on whorls of a conch
the depths of the sea
to the conch shell's whorls
voice of the sea
the voice of the sea
whorled by a conch
whorls of an ear
loaned to the conch shell
voice of the sea
I also had an interesting experience with haiku – one I am sure I have had but never so clearly observed the process. I felt, yesterday when writing up the day before, that I wanted to hold the moment with the golden eagle cloud in a haiku, but felt too rushed to get quiet enough to find the haiku within. I copied down a similar haiku
over golden sea meadows
and then began to change out this and that factor. Soon I had a completely new haiku that spoke of the moment I had in mind and I still had the original one.
blessing the feather wand
It is a bit like the computer when you save a file under ‘save as’ and make revisions. The original remains pristine and the morphed version stands alone even though you have used the crutch of the first one in its shaping.
In the afternoon the disorder in my photos suddenly seemed to be the one thing that needed to be done. How delighted I was, how cared for I felt when I found that the Netscape program I downloaded just yesterday had attached itself to my photo files. Now that bewildering list of numbers could get a click and I could see the photo! I was able then, to arrange them back into their various files. Somehow, in the disorder, the files have reproduced themselves, like clothes hangers in the back of a closet or haiku in my mind! The job went into the dark hours of the night floating on the melodies of the Grail Singers.
July 15, 2001- Sunday
We decided to clean house today, instead of yesterday as we normally do. Werner cleans his part – the upstairs, while I clean the downstairs. This way the noise and disruption ends at about the same time for both of us and we can get back to work on other things. However, I have often found that the rubbing of surfaces with cloth, mop or vacuum cleaner seems to have the same effect as rubbing a piece of amber with a cloth. A certain energy or electricity is generated.
Many times while sweeping the floor with a broom, I will get a feeling that this energy manifests as my Grandmother Styer. She will stand just ahead of me, off to my left, while she quietly watches. Sometimes she is just there, but if I were sweeping because I am worried or upset (and not just because the floor is crummy) I would get a deep sense of peace from that direction. Over the years I have learned to greet her, welcome her and honor her so that now she is able to give me advice, comfort and even ideas. She always claimed her family was distantly related to Robert Louis Stevenson family (his own line died with him as he was an only child and died childless) so maybe she still has a connection she uses for me.
the family gathers
as fruit salad
with ear plugs and sealed eyes
and only half-loved peers
Today, of course, I had the many interview questions from Susumu (Takiguichi) on my mind, so as I cleaned I worked them over. By the time the water was drying on the kitchen floor I was back at the computer typing up the many thoughts I had been given.
Late in the afternoon Werner and I sat down to discuss, to go shopping for, new sheets. The Eddie Bauer catalog had a sale and there was one pattern I liked. We easily agreed on what to get. Usually I order by telephone, but because my computer was still fired up from the questionnaire so I decided to order online. Imagine my surprise when the sheets, which were listed as normally costing $119.00 had been marked down to $69.99 in the catalog, yet online were priced at $49.99. And the comfort covers had gone from $99.00 to $74.99 each in the catalog were available online for $44.99! Good deal. I was able to navigate through the ordering part of the sale up to the point where my purchase was to be confirmed. Bam! MS Internet Explorer exploded. There was a dim message that if my browser was too old (yeah, one week) I should download Netscape. I had been fighting with MS Explorer all week, wanting Netscape again, but dreading the online download hassle. It now seemed that if I wanted those good prices this was included. So I began that process. It took an hour and 13 minutes for their newest and best version to download over our string-and-tin-can internet connection. During that time I cooked the rice, heated up the leftover turkey, sliced tomatoes and we had dinner. Calmed and satisfied, I was able to place my order again using Netscape – which really did a great job of making itself at home in my computer. I had no idea how much it had taken over.
One of the promises one makes for the free download of this beta version is that one will report the ‘bugs’. Sure, I thought, I wouldn’t know a computer bug if it bit me. So I was clear of that obligation. This time I got the order confirmed and then! Netscape blew out like a candle. I think the order is in, if it is, it will appear in my email and so what if Netscape came apart at the seams already. Woop. Up came a window, a message from Netscape saying it had detected that I had had a problem with it and would I tell where I was and what I was doing when the problem occurred? These programs are getting a bit too smart for me. A tiny flame of paranoia began to flicker. I think we should sleep on the old sheets and just mend the rips.
now light appears
taking our whole freedom
joy loses precedence
in the instant inside the mind
the faces are mysterious
July 14, 2001- Saturday
It has always seemed that when I had exciting evenings, I was worthless for good work the next morning, but now that I have given myself the job of writing up such times of experience, the morning goes into writing. That is what happened to today.
In the afternoon I received the questions from Susumu for the "Dialogue with a Poet" for the World Haiku Review and could not resist starting to work on them. The results of the afternoon will appear as reality after the first of August.
By evening I was exhausted but there was still daylight left over. Finally I got up enough energy to be jealous of Kay’s feather bundle that she had used for our smudging. Hmmm. I had never thought of putting my assorted collected feathers together with beadwork. But the longer I thought about what I wanted to have, how it would look, I began to realize where I had the various items that needed to come together. While living in Hamburg, I had once bought two strange bundles of parrot feathers woven into a rope that I had tied to earrings to wear to the openings of art exhibits. These feather ornaments were almost a foot long, a fact that assured me that I would have the biggest earrings at the party. I began by tying the two together. Then I added a hawk feather I had been saving because of its size and perfection. Most of the feathers I find, usually from the crows that keep us as their pets, end up as cat toys for Buddha, but the hawk feather was special so I had hidden it from him. Recently I had gotten an order of beads of jade, jasper, turquoise and tiger-eye. These I wound around the joint. In contrast to the mass of the parrot feathers, the hawk feather seemed a bit ‘thin’. While searching for the right thing to add, I found four pheasant feathers, also hidden from Buddha, that were perfect. Just as I finished the feather wand, and was trying it out by dancing it, I happened to glance outdoors at the sunset. Again there were those low-flying puffs of sea fog racing from the north, but behind them, and much higher and huge was a pearl white cloud formation that was very spectacular. I looked at it thinking maybe it was an angel. There were definitely wings, but angel was not the right word to describe it. I called upstairs to Werner to take note of the unusual cloud and he said that to him it looked like a bird. I still could not see it as a bird but thought it very interesting. The luminous quality of it fascinated me as much as its shape. I continued to stare at it, to watch it, as the sun sank into a cloudbank. Though the cloud stayed in the same place in the sky, a section of the middle of it began to droop, to swing downward. Just as the sun gave the cloud a deep golden color I saw the middle of the cloud was now a curved beak with a blue eye. Werner called again from upstairs: "Can you see now that it is really a bird?"
blessing the feather wand
July 13, 2001 - A Friday the 13th
I was living with a very small group of persons in a harsh environment. Daily we saw how we were being decimated, weakened, and dying off. We sat together to discuss what was happening to us. It seemed that the rains had stopped and the water we had lived on was no longer coming to us. We felt abandoned. We felt that our lives were being slowly snuffed out. It was painful watching one after another of our families die of starvation. Many times we talked about what to do and how best to do whatever we decided. Finally we agreed on a plan of how the whole village could commit suicide at once to stop this slow dying. Somehow we were very concerned that some of us might lack the courage at the very last second to complete the act. We worked a long time on devising a ritual, a method, a plan so that once the suicide action began no one could stop it or escape.
On the last night we assembled together, expressed our love to each other, made promises for our next lives and felt how very sweet life was even when it was extremely hard. We felt that such a time together should be held with food but we simply had none. The bitter sweetness of our good-byes almost weakened our resolve. Still, we felt that what we had to do was right for us and proceeded to the place on a high hill where we had planned to do the final process that would leave not one of us alive.
When everything was made ready for this last act, something happened. I blacked out.
When I came to I saw that others of my village were scattered around on the ground. Some lay as if dead, but others were like me. They were trying to sit up, trying to figure out if they were alive or dead, trying to figure out what had happened. The ones who came to more quickly began to move among the others, touching them, calling to them, rubbing their bodies, breathing into their mouths. As we moved around we saw how very wet everything was. The rain that had been missing, the lack of rain which had caused the drought which had brought us to the edge of existence had thoroughly soaked us and the earth. It took all of our meager strength to pull those who were most affected under a shelter, but we suddenly felt every being was very valuable to us and none could be just left to die.
Our shock had been very great and it took us quite some time to recover enough to be able to go down the mountain, back to our old village. There, we could see how terrible the rainstorm had been. Our homes had all been washed away. The area of our common ground was swept clean of the smallest twig or stone. Huge gullies had been carved out across the land where houses had stood. We saw that if any of us had been here during the storm we would have been swept away. As our eyes followed the ravines downward we saw that the small stream that had once been our thread of life was now flowing again in its old size and shape.
We were so glad to find that it had returned to us, was again our lifeline, we ran and stumbled down the steep sides to stand in its refreshing wetness. From the stream we seemed to take on new life, new vigor and an eagerness to make life work again in this area. We stood there in the water up to our ankles discussing what had happened. All we could think was that at just the time we were ready to begin the suicide, lightning must had struck us down and senseless. We also realized that by our being on the mountain, lying senseless flat on the ground and not in our houses, we survived being washed away.
We walked out of the water on the opposite side of the stream and began to climb that hill that had some low trees growing on it. As we went around a small gravel bank, I noticed a large, black tooth-like cone of a stone protruding up among the rest of the water-smoothed pebbles. As I made a slight detour to walk around the stone, I noticed that on one side of it was a large roundish white patch as if a mushroom or fungus was growing on it. It flashed on my mind that in our stories had been one of someone else who had found such thing. I knew I needed to know what that person had done, I knew the story told how to handle this gift and yet my mind seemed still to be too fogged for true memory.
I picked up the stone to look at it more closely. To my amazement, the flat white patch began to foam up, swell, bubble out long finger-thick threads. These writhed and extended, expanding and multiplying right before our eyes. Before I could stop staring and lay the stone back down there was a mat of this white substance wider than my arms could reach. With a cry the others ran forward to break off chunks of the white stuff which they began to eat with much joy and lip-smacking. I realized that there was ‘a something’ out there that wanted life here to continue.
I do not know from where that dream came, I am only very grateful to have received it. But the very end of it was surely a response to my fears about being capable of ‘having people to dinner’. When I agreed that our little group could meet at my house before going to the beach to visit the spirit boat, I had thought: fine, I only need to open the door. That I can do. Then later I began to think of offering something to drink. And then I moved to the idea of us sitting around the table talking and noshing on corn chips and salsa. Then I found out that others are bringing ‘dishes’. All my alarms and fears of how to serve food to others kept nagging me. I would try to forget about this factor, to concentrate on the joy of seeing new people, getting acquainted with persons I admired, but the fears were like dust balls that appear or disappear without reason and just when you think you have scooped them all up, another sails out into view.
All morning I was proud of myself for not thinking about the coming events of the evening as I took care of the mail and web site. I had good news from ai li. She has forgiven me for whatever I did to make her angry four years ago and we have decided to work together again. If I can, I would like to make her poet of the month instead of Kenneth Rexroth. I did a male last month and would like to have a female this time and I certainly admire her poetry more than I do Rexroth’s – no matter how famous he is.
the court is far away
when I have seen the sun emerge
over and over like a tune
the wind took up the northern things
those finial creatures whoever they are
In the afternoon the sun came out, which felt like a good omen. I sat out in my little porch garden; seeking some sort of peace from the light and flowers.
we pray to heaven
bloom is result to meet a flower
a first mute coming
it was my host; it was my guest
I staked the petals to gain an arc
The exercise certainly raised my spirits but delighting sun had the effect of highlighting the dust in the house. I rearranged some of it and cleaned off the table. As soon as I spread the tablecloth Buddha was right there observing the unusual activity. I could read his little mind (by watching the end of his tail). He was biding his time until my back was turned to pull the cloth (flowers, salt cellar and shell) off on to the floor. I talked to him about letting my stuff alone, how I needed this arrangement for the coming company and how important it was for me that I not have to clean up mess when I was already deep into company nerves. He looked me straight in the eye and thought: does she really think her whining will affect me? I tucked up the corners of the cloth so it would not be so tempting to him and went on about my other chores. Then from the laundry room, not the dining room, I heard a crash. He had gotten into the basket of staplers and hole punchers, pulled out a box of staples and dropped them on the floor. Did you know there is no way to get all the staples back into box in which they came? It had the quieting effect of putting a puzzle together. By then a car was pulling into the driveway.
While Roberta and I were still by the car talking Kay arrived, so we all went into the house together. Roberta and Kay seemed happy to chat together while I put the corn on to cook and set the table. It was a very strange experience to do my ordinary kitchen work to the sound of voices coming from the living room. I liked that. It filled up some space in me that I usually keep covered up with a dark cloth.
With Roberta’s homemade potato salad, and Kay’s rice and shrimp casserole we shared our food When we began eating much more slowly, and taking very small second servings, I heard another car arrive. Tish was able to come after all. She had come at exactly the right moment. Now Kay was able to tell her story of her experience with the spirits at the boat. Perhaps she will not mind my retelling it here:
She, knowing much about Guatemalan numerology had waited until 20 days after the launching of the boat, to return to visit it. When she arrived on the beach there were several other people there so she felt she could not do any sort of ceremony. So she merely spoke quietly to the boat and then walked on farther down the beach, crossed the creek and found a comfortable place to sit. She simply sat there, watching the waves roll in, soaking up the atmosphere – a comfortable ‘just being there’. When she glanced down at the beach she noticed some dirt-covered shells. Hmmm. Usually shells on a beach are sea-scoured and spotlessly clean. Her old instincts from days of being an archeologist kicked in to tell her that these shells are old ones which have been buried. Midden. There must be a midden somewhere. She turned around to look at the cliff wall behind her and there it was. The perfect place for a tribe to live – just up the hill from the stream. She realized that the ancestors of this place had showed their place to her. Now she began her prayers in earnest with tears rolling down her face. They were here; it was not her imagination or a wish.
Later, when she walked back to the path, she had a sudden feeling she was not ready to leave the beach. So she turned her footsteps to the left, beyond the path on the tiny walkway between the cliff and the rocky beach. Suddenly a rock sticking out of the earth caught her eye and she pulled it loose. It was a worked stone. She could see it had been chipped to have a sharp edge – could this be a scraper? Again she wept her thanksgiving for the manifested gift. Later she asked her friend who is a professional archeologist if she too saw this as a humanly worked stone. (Kay would laugh her deep throaty chuckle at herself for being unable to accept the magic of the gift.) The archeologist easily agreed that the stone had surely been a scraper. It was not perfect and probably had been abandoned before it was totally finished, but someone had surely started working the stone.
Hearing Kay’s story and feeling the slide of the sun made us eager to get to the beach, so we stacked the dishes, put away the food and gathered up our things. Kay smudged each of us to the shake of rattles and we were off. I was shocked to find the parking lot almost half full with cars, pick-ups and vans. Most of the time when we have come here I have the beach alone for myself. I had a moment of wondering if we would have the courage to do any sort of ceremony among that many strangers. I knew Kay had doubts about the rightness of my taking photographs so I asked her if she minded if I brought the camera with me. She hesitated a long time before she said "okay".
As we walked down to the path, Kay sang as she swung the prayer stick Martin had given her, Roberta drummed and Tish and I shook our rattles and bells to let the ancestors know we were coming. At the log pass to the beach Kay stopped to sing out our request to advance. All the occupants of all those cars were far out to sea sitting on their surf boards. So the beach was open to our meeting the ancestors. The sun had already set behind the cliff but low-flying puffs of fog sailed overhead. These caught the rosy glow of the setting sun on their undersides which they reflected on the sea. As the smooth sides of the waves raised up, a shiny crimson curve briefly appeared on each. There was such a golden warmth to the red that it felt full of energy, warmth, light and a pinkish love.
We advanced to the place where the boat lies buried in sea weed. It looked very much as it did when I was there on Tues. The only change was that my gifts were missing from the large offering stone and someone else had placed a beautifully marked pebble there. Kay sang the remembering song as the rest of us stumbled along behind her. She had brought a bowl of cornmeal. She offered it to each of us to add our breath and then knelt to pour it into a perfect hollow beside the stone figure. Then she put the marks into the offering and sang our gift out of the world. As she waved her feather wand, one yellow/blue feather fell from it and fluttered to the ground. My first impulse was to pick it up to hand it back to Kay and then I realized that it, and Kay’s song and offering, had been taken. Still, it seemed wrong for the feather to just lie there on the bare stones. Then Roberta stepped out of our line to stand closer to the ship to drum for it. The waves came crashing on shore with their own rhythm like a giant counterpoint accompaniment. One truly had the feeling that the waves were playing with her and she with them.
When she finished, I got out the flute. At one point I felt a movement behind me, but was too taken to pay any attention. Then Kay led us in more songs. I made a prayer in thanks for my dream. Kay stepped forward, picked up the fallen feather and tucked it in by the cornmeal. Ah, that action was so right and I was greatly relieved she had done this. Roberta drummed, rattles shook and we swayed in the wind as the sky grew darker and darker. We became caught in a web we were reluctant to break. None of us wanted to stop sending out our love. Finally of one accord we turned so we were facing one another and drew in our spirits. Then Kay said to Tish, "You heard it too, didn’t you?"
"Heard what?" asked Tish.
"You heard the flute music repeat from over there." Kay was pointing to the area above the creek.
"I don’t know what I heard." Said Tish.
"But you heard something because you turned to look in the same place as I did at the same time."
Tish worked to acknowledge that she had heard whatever Kay had heard, but she was not as sure as Kay was that there had been ‘answer’.
I took this as my gift and thanks that my gift had been taken. I had no desire to also ‘take’ a photograph. The pile of now sacred cornmeal had put a hand over my lens. As we started to leave the beach, still very reluctant to go, Kay offered to show us the midden. Like children romping across the stones the three ran ahead. I followed, stopping to greet the creek with its smear of pond scum at the corner of its mouth as it now runs slower and lower each day.
At the midden we found more the limpet shells and black turbans which had been washed out in the solstice rain. Looking up at the cliff we could see that just this one storm had washed down 4 – 5 inches of soil. One cow parsley plant had lost all the earth around its carrot-like root. I wandered off to go to the sea water and the rest looked for shells. Later Tish showed us what she had been given. It was a tooth fang or claw – none of us could really identify it. But this was her gift from the evening.
With the last of the nautical light we went back up the flower path. In the parking lot we simply could not part. So we stood there, not feeling the cold wind, sharing our stories of teachers and teachings. We felt that a sense of community was building within us and we promised to do whatever it took to care for this tiny flame.
Back home I made sure Roberta got her gift for the evening – a copy of The Land of Seven Realms. As she looked at the cover photo, she cried out, "That is exactly where I stood when I made my decision to move here." It was too. She and I (to take the photo) had been at the edge of the parking lot outside of the Gualala Point Park.
July 12, 2001 -Thursday
I had a young baby which I wanted to take to this church for a blessing. It took me so long to find the church that I arrived very late and the service was already in progress. I slithered into the last seat in the last row, giving my neighbor a quick look of apology for bothering her and her slightly larger baby that was also about 3 – 4 months old. As I listened to the service, trying to orientate myself into what was happening, I found out that there were actually two services. One was for everybody in the room where I was and there was another more valuable service, the real blessing ceremony, that was to be held next in a smaller building outside of this church. Only the members could attend. I stared around in disbelief as a few mothers got up to go next door. Then and only then did I realize that the whole thing had been a ruse to get new members. If we really wanted our babies blessed we had to join this church. But by just coming to this assembly, the church fathers (!) could get an idea of who had children and who to pressure into membership. The woman next to me was as angry as I was over the trick that had been used on us. Together, we sat down outdoors under a tree to talk to each other. She showed me a time-line she had made of her pregnancy. It was made of a five foot strip of felt in green and yellow with pockets for each of the events. She seemed to get a great deal of pleasure of reliving her recent past and I was glad to be hearing of how someone else had weathered pregnancy and birth. She had saved reports and even the empty bottles of the vitamins she had taken. I thought her idea to save all this, and to give to it all the time she had (the dates of her doctor’s visits were done in a fancy embroidery!) showed how much she had wanted her child.
We talked so long and so much we were thirsty so we walked over to a supermarket across the road. While we were buying some juice, several men came up to us and started talking to us about houses they were trying to sell. The deals sounded so good: every house had an ocean view, all the services one needed were right here at the road, the houses came equipped with everything one needed and the monthly payments were very low. The pictures they showed us of these new houses looked so much better than the places where we were living. We just could not help being interested. Just as we decided that we would let the man take us down (we were at the top of a cliff overlooking the sea) to show us the houses, some of the other women came from the ‘real’ church service. As soon as these women arrived, we were pushed aside. Before the man left with his carload of these women, I tried to find out the price of the houses so I could decide if this was something to pursue. He refused to give me a price and only insisted that I tell how many bedrooms we needed. I tried to explain that the amount of space I wanted depended on the price, but he refused to answer me. I followed him to his car, watched him help the other women and their children get into his rather dirty, messy car.
Left to ourselves, the other woman (who I had found out had came all the way from Stanislaw county) decided to investigate more on our own. We wondered if we could somehow get to the edge of the cliff, to look over it and perhaps in the distance, see the houses. We tried to find a way around the big supermarket. It actually was several miles long! There were doors to go in and inside was a regular supermarket but it was so gigantic that one could inside from store to store (something like the Walmart I was in New Mexico). We found this to be rather scary so we went outside. We found that somehow we had gotten turned around in the store and had actually exited on the backside. We walked over to the cliff and could see a terrible dirt road winding down a steep logging disaster zone. Even we knew that as soon as the roots of the trees which had been cut rotted away this whole cliff would slide down on those new homes at the bottom. Scared at how much we wanted such a house, and how dangerous this huge commercial operation was we turned back into the store, determined to find the way out the front doors
Here I was surprised to find that the planners had been smart enough to put a small plaza out here under a tree. To keep people from parking their cars in the area, it was surrounded by a fence made of lead pipe. But the circle arrangement, the tree and the protected area gave the people a place to gather to talk and rest which felt right. As we sat there holding our babies, an older man came up to us and began to try to sell us one of the houses. He was very persistent and his hard sell frightened us so much we walked away. As I looked to the right I noticed that the sky was unusually dark shade of blue. I pointed it out to the woman and we decided that we should get out of here. When I got into my car (it was red) I realized that other cars had parked around me and there was no way to get out until one of them moved. I wondered how long my baby and I would have to live in this car.
The month of July is skidding past me so fast, I cannot keep the dates straight in my mind. I have had July 10th for several days in a row. At least my down time yesterday has restored my body, ending all the weird symptoms and filled me up with new ideas.
I am finding that when I have both a dream and the diary to type up, a big chunk of my morning had flown. I am not complaining, just explaining to myself why I seem unable yet to get to work on a larger project – like revising the Basho translations. By the time I had finished these two write-ups, done my mail, mailed off a book order, Werner was deep another call from Germany. Afterwards he ‘needed to get out’ so we went off to Gualala to get groceries. This way I was able to shop for some food I wanted to have especially for the meeting on Friday evening: roasting ears, real butter, chips, hummus, salsa and guacamole.
Back home I laid down to read the ICO and the day dribbled away as if it was sucked down a drain. In with this week’s newspaper was the literary section done by Stephen Kassler. As I read each of the five articles I would think, "That is good, or interesting or okay" and yet when I finished I had such a wrong feeling about the combination. There was a strong subliminal message that one should live alone or without marriage. That love, marriage and partners could or would harm or hurt us (it does!) but that is not the whole story. There was not one author in the whole eight pages who offered one positive or affirmative thought. I felt so depleted, so down, so depressed as I refolded the print-smeared sheets. I was a bit shocked that just reading a collection of varied bits of literature could so completely guide my own thoughts into the rut in which this work was rooted. I realized how one must constantly be on the alert for messages that are harmful for one’s being. Even the idea that the work is literary does not insulate it from bringing a small depressive harm to the reader.
In the evening I did find the energy to finish the Rexroth book. Took lots of notes on how he translated his later books of tanka and was comforted to read that he and I work in basically the same way: going to the mind of the native author, catching the vision from the words, and then working forward, with a poetic technique of that time, until arriving at the place where the poem stands on its own. Some could almost say it is a mystic experience; I definitely would say that. I hate finishing biographies because they all end the same way – with the death of the main character. I guess the change in this factor is what makes the New Testament so popular.
July 11, 2001- Wednesday
"Giant Jupiter and Mercury the messenger meet in Gemini today. . . Watch any health problems to do with extremities or the nervous system." Astrology on the Web for July 12th.
If I had read my horoscope tomorrow instead of today I would have better understood what was going on with me. In the middle of the night I had awakened several times with chest pains but knew they meant nothing and had gone back to sleep. By the middle of the morning the pain was so great my arm was numb and my neck ached. My first impulse was to rehearse how to call for an ambulance. But as I talked to myself I knew that they were no help. Other times I have been carted off only to find that all my symptoms were only ‘nerves’. And that was what all this was. The old body was just asking (in rather harsh terms) for some down time after all the emotional excitement of yesterday. So I gave in to it. I laid on the couch to read. My e-book needs new downloads and I was in no condition to try to hassle the new computer into getting them for me, so I grabbed an already-read book off the shelf. It was the biography, another biography, of Kenneth Rexroth which I had read a couple years ago. I am always amazed how much of a book I remember and what I forget. Some parts of it were so clear I felt I had written them and yet there were other pages I had the feeling I had never read. Perhaps I had read it when I was in a nervous state as I was today and so some pages got turned even though I had not really read them? Scary.
As I read though pages and pages of famous names, people who he supposedly had met, I got the feeling, one I have often had, that as soon as I meet someone they instantly become an unknown – destined to never be famous or a household name! Rationally I think the situation is because he, in his insecurity, ran around meeting well-known people to make himself famous. Somehow this seems rather ‘dirty’ and not something I would give any energy to. As I watch others doing just this, I know it helps them, but somehow I simply cannot push myself forward onto ‘names’.
If Ty does not get an apartment soon and remains unable to do the Poet’s Profile, I am thinking of doing the next one on Rexroth. He did do some early translations of tanka even though his methods were terrible. He simply took an English version of the Japanese and rewrote it without knowing a word of Japanese or having a native speaker help him. Still, his book, One Hundred Poems from the Japanese, has served as introduction to tanka for so many Americans. Later, his methods did improve so that in The Burning Heart – Women Poets of Japan his work is slightly more credible. He did write tanka himself but published it as a translation of a Japanese woman’s work under the title The Love Poems of Marichiko. That is so typical of his methods of handling his work and females. Shall I be another woman who forgives him his roguish ways and give him a write-up? Hopefully, Ty will rescue us all by taking up the reins of his job again before the end of the month.
In the evening I was finally able to retrieve my own life and sat down to go over the haiku Rosa Clement, from Brazil, sent for her new book. I had been putting the job off for several days because it is hard enough to revise my own work without getting into the problems someone else has written. It is so hard to know what to say. I know, easily!, how I would change the ku if they were mine, but does she really want to write exactly as I do? Or does she just want to hear that I think her work is ‘fine’? Perhaps the light of tomorrow’s dawn will reveal to me exactly how to answer her. Tonight the gray fog of a wild cat is on the porch lapping up the water I set out for her (along with some of Buddha’s Friskees). Our weather stays the same day and night: no wind, overcast, a damp fog, a sea as smooth as a lake. Why can I not be so calm?
an hour is a sea
with a circumference of awe
herein a blossom lies
perhaps you see me stooping but
a wounded deer leaps the highest
my river runs to you
the heart with many doors
to be forgotten
now when I lie down to sleep
as summer into autumn slips