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Monday, March 31, 2014

JEALOUS DONKEY

jenny turns on jack
 
Last night I stayed up til after 4, and woke around 9:30. I did not see the donkeys when I looked out the window. They were in the shed staying out of the thirty degree bold wind. I didn't feel like setting self into motion yet. Made some coffee, called Carole and we talked  until we wore out. The donkeys started grazing. I went out and put seed in the bird feeders. Donkeys saw me and both set to braying. Jenny made her loudest attempt yet. She's getting close. I'd waited until about 11. I went to them, gave a chunk of carrot to Jenny first. They were happy with the carrot. It made Jenny jealous when I talked to Jack. She ran him off. I gave them carrot chunks until I ran out. Jack got the last one and it made Jenny mad. She bit at me to show her displeasure. It wasn't a serious attempt, just a showing of the teeth to express her displeasure. It made her so mad she tore into Jack, kicking him, biting at him, running him off again. She kept at him with her ears back. I picked up some hay to take to the meadow. She reached her head across the fence and snatched a bite of some hay, aggressively, with an attitude that said, You piss me off. I stepped into the meadow between them, them prancing around me, Jenny swinging her rear end around on Jack and kicking at him. I went on into the meadow a ways, Jenny beside me. She started getting antsy with me, swung her rear end around, it hopping up and down and she let go a couple kicks in my direction. She got me on the leg a little. Barely a sensation, just enough to say, "I kick you," like her attempt to bite before was saying, "I bite you." I said, "It's on, baby." I dropped the hay and turned on her and gave her a good kick in the rump to say, "I kick you." She jumped a few steps away and looked at me like to say, I didn't know you could kick.
 
jenny kicks at jack
 
I have to say that before I put the hay down, I questioned if I really wanted to up the ante and join the kicking fest as a participant. Would I be saying it is ok now to kick me, because I kick too? This was unusual behavior for Jenny. I was two hours late with morning carrots and hay. Both donkeys were so anxious when I went out the door that Jenny came the closest to a full bray she ever has. Her jealousy came forward with conviction around Jack. By now, an hour later, they are munching hay side by side. My learning this morning is to be more consistent in the time I take carrot to them. They come to count on my timing being the same every day when it is the same for months at a time. It wasn't that they had nothing to eat. It was the two hour delay. Stretching their patience made them anxious. I like to believe I am conscious of habits in myself and have them under control. Nonsense. Awareness of habits means I allow them. It doesn't change anything. I know when something happens to bypass a habit, I get odd acting. Like if I don't have my coffee in the morning, I'm anxious, not because I feel like I need the coffee, it's that I skipped a morning habit. It cracked me up to see the look in Jenny's eye after I kicked her. It made Jenny so mad when I gave the last carrot chunk to Jack that she tore into him with serious intent. I had camera in pocket. She spent so much time tormenting Jack that I had plenty of time to take camera from pocket, open camera, push the buttons I have to push to get it ready. I got several pictures of her pushing Jack, biting at him, kicking him, even going after him when he was trying to get away from her. I won't try to train Jenny away from her jealous streak. It's mine to learn to live with it, work around it, not excite it. It was a good learning for me to see why it is important to be consistent with them. I make them dependent on me, so I need to be more conscious of my own training. I have trained them to anticipate carrot and hay at a certain time every morning. It makes them nervous when I go against pattern.   

jenny tells jack to scram

I made the decision to kick Jenny back immediately. I took it as a personal event between us. I wanted to tell her in her language I don't accept being kicked. She didn't really kick me, but it was close enough I wanted her to know I don't appreciate it. On the other hand, I may have been telling her I want to play the kick game now. We'll see. This morning's rampage was such an exceptional circumstance, me late, donkeys anxious. Jenny starts acting up when they get anxious. She's become jealous of me talking to Jack now. I talk to her while she's munching carrot. I turned to Jack to talk to him and Jenny put her ears back, her head down and she lit into Jack, running him off. Just for talking to him. When Jack got the last chunk of carrot, she cut loose. It would have been a good chance to run the video in the camera to get a moving picture of Jenny's antics. I had the chance to see close up what I'd been dreading, a Jenny kick. Her rump was between a foot and two feet from me when she started hopping up an down in back and kicked a couple times. They didn't really connect, though they touched. I know she was not aiming to hurt me. She was having a donkey moment with Jack and I just happened to be there, but she knew what she was doing. And, like I said, they were not real kicks, just gestures. Still, I wanted her to know ice cream man is not going to take her kicks passively. I remembered a few months ago when Justin's neighbor was hit in the head with a golf club by a "friend" while he was at the sink washing some dishes. We asked him what he did about it. He said he didn't do anything. He was several days recovering. Justin said, If somebody hit me with a golf club, I might not be able to get up right away, but when I'm up, he better run. We both lectured him that you don't just let somebody hit you in the head with a golf club. He said he's nonviolent. We laughed. I laughed because I saw myself in another time of my life. Nonviolent is one thing, but taking whatever shit comes your way is quite another. A month or so later he told a little more that was behind it. He'd asked for it. First telling, it came from out of the blue.

jenny's ears all the way back
 
I don't know that I would have kicked Jenny back a few years ago. It has been recently my favorite color changed to red, and I'm feeling it. I find I have an aggressive attitude I never had before. I've never been of an aggressive mind. I'm finding in this time that I'll stand up to about anybody. This morning's aggression came from knowing I had to do something to let Jenny know my displeasure, in language she could understand a little better than, "Cut that out!" She's quick to tell me her displeasure. Now that we're communicating, I felt it necessary to give her the payback immediately, not wait a minute. Jenny and I are still getting to know each other. I believed it important to tell her what I had to say, "I kick you." They understand symbolic gestures, which is all my kick amounted to. I'll learn soon how Jenny took my gesture. I'm learning Jenny wants focus of attention on herself. Alpha donkey. I'll work with her. I can see when she starts getting anxious while I'm talking to Jack. I'll pay more attention to her jealousy and not provoke it. I continued talking to Jack after she started showing her feelings. That's what provoked her. She's taught me she wants to be first. Now she's telling me she wants to be last too. I'll go easy with her. I know she has a jealous nature, and I know I can't change it in her. I can, however, adjust my behavior to provoke her jealousy as little as possible. Later in the day, an hour or so before dark, I took them a couple of carrots. Jack's face looked like he'd been kicked in the head several times. The whites in his eyes were red. He looked like Mike Tyson. He had a rough day. It arouses Jack when Jenny gets frisky. I went away for the afternoon to watch the race. I imagine Jack spent the day trying to mount Jenny and she kicked him all over the meadow. He doesn't let up when he's aroused. He'll take all the kicking she can give him. I felt a little bit bad being responsible for Jack taking so many head  kicks. We are still learning each other. I will be more mindful of Jenny's jealous nature.

jenny wants a kiss
 
 
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

NO PROBLEMS, ONLY SOLUTIONS


the large glass
marcel duchamp
 

 
The picture book of the works of Marcel Duchamp is finished. I found it an informative read. Thought I might turn to Brancusi next, but instead went to the bookshelf for a book of two long essays on Duchamp by Mexican poet, Octavio Paz, a paperback I've had since late 1970s, Marcel Duchamp, the title. It has a few markings of mine in the early pages. Didn't get far in it the first time around. At the time, I did not understand Duchamp enough to be able to read the Paz book with comprehension. Paz was over my head, around my head, bypassed my head, in that I simply did not get what he was writing about. Many years have passed since then, I've read a few articles and seen everything Duchamp has done multiple times. The Pierre Cabanne picture book gave me the best understanding of Duchamp I've had. I went to the Paz a little reluctantly, sat down with it and flowed right into it, read several pages delighted. I was with him all the way. In fact, this time it is an easy read. A good measure of my inner growth as a reader. It wasn't Paz's writing as much as it was Duchamp being opaque for me at the time. I'd bought the Paz book around the same time as the big book of Duchamp's complete works by Arturo Schwartz. It is too big to enjoy sitting with for any length of time. It's something you look at on a table. I see at amazon it is out of print and has some value now. I may put it up for sale and pay some bills with it. It is so big and heavy, the shipping would be a lot. I'm glad to be getting some understanding of what Duchamp was doing. I felt I had some sort of understanding, but not much. Cabanne filled in my blanks that needed filling in. I don't feel like I have solved a mystery, but Duchamp is no longer the enigma he once was. I think Duchamp is noted for a saying, "There are no problems, only solutions."
 
bicycle wheel
marcel duchamp
 
It is good to be coming to an understanding of Duchamp in my advanced years. Better than not at all. I feel a satisfaction that I seem to get Duchamp a little bit. It's not all that's happening in my old age. A few minutes ago I sneezed. It took a bounty towel to wipe the front of my sweater. It is outside the usual to be at the summing up time of one's life and find self in a summing up mind. Most curiously, I'm finding I don't have concern for what is said about me or thought about me after I'm gone. A few times peers have brought up the subject of legacy. I say, "I don't care about legacy." I don't think I'll be remembered as the asshole of the year or just plain chickenshit. Some will say that for sure. They say it now. I don't think about it, don't care, can't care. Some will mourn the loss, most will not. We know who will mourn us and who will not, allowing for surprises. Friend Jr Maxwell did not want to leave this lifetime with anyone having hard feelings about him. Interjecting my own point of view, I said, "It doesn't matter." He said, emphatically, "Yes it does." He was a whole lot friendlier a person than I am. He didn't want anybody disliking him. I see it inevitable and don't worry myself over being disliked. I found in one of Meher Baba's discourses his reasoning for why it is not so bad to be hated. It turns out it's such a good thing, I have to watch myself for encouraging it. The deal is, when somebody hates you, they are a bar of soap washing you clean of what it is about you they hate. The hate energy draws the objectionable quality in self out of self and onto the one doing the hating. I am not above being hated, and can name at least three, without even thinking, who I know for certain hate me, want me dead. I laugh inside like crazy when I see them. I know they never see me with a sour face, because I light up with mirth when I see them. It cracks me up to see who it is and know what they're pulling to themselves. I think, Here, let me give you something else to hate me for, and break out laughing. 
 
dalai lama
 
Aware of the magnetic power of hate, I consciously choose not to hate. I recall a time a decade ago when I wished I could allow myself to plot a murder to get away with it. I wanted to hate, but couldn't allow it. Didn't want what I knew it would draw to me. I just let it go and projected to other party: hate me with all your might. Gimme the best you got. I have to say I appreciate the liberation from concern about being hated. It's a similar feeling to discovering my fear of dying is gone and the other side looks so interesting, and I'm so curious about it, I have to be mindful not to slip into an accident that would take me to the other side. I tell myself I am the same consciousness on this side and the other side. One side or the other, it is the same as long as I have some inner peace on this side. I find I do have peace within. Didn't know what all that Bible talk about peace meant. Didn't have enough experience with inner peace since maybe one week old to even intuit what it was. Like imagining no mind. It takes mind to imagine no mind. I noticed I'd come into inner peace quite a long time after it came over me. Like I was saying yesterday about favorite color changing. Both times it changed, it was years before I noticed. One of my keys to inner peace is Don't worry ~ Be happy. At first, it felt frivolous. I can't be that irresponsible. Then it turns easy. It gets so easy it becomes automatic. Perhaps the greatest liberation of all I received from Meher Baba was the sage counsel, "Don't take anything seriously, not even God." Immediately, I intuited the truth in this. Ever since seeing it the first time, I have felt remarkably free of worrisome burdens. Not even God. I love that. Especially not God. The worst crimes against humanity were done taking God seriously. Worry is only good for the bank accounts of heart surgeons. I listen to cement-heads like that guy from Westboro Baptist in Topeka, Kansas, spewing hate everywhere he went, I think of what he pulled to himself over the bridges of his hateful projections onto others, and I understand his conflicted face in the photographs. I'm glad I don't have his mind. I was raised with the same influences, easily could have. Ego would have loved it. My mother would not have been so disappointed in me if I'd turned out more like him.
 
 
Like the Hank Williams song, Mama Tried. "I turned 21 in prison, doing life without parole." Mama tried. Alas for my mama, she does not have what it takes to make her boy subservient to  Kansas fundamentalism. It spit her boy out like the human cannonball. It went boom. I saw the film, Black Swan, yesterday and enjoyed it much more than anticipated. The reviews of it when it was new I felt were misleading. It was a brilliantly made film. It made me aware of director Darren Aronofsky, wanting to see whatever else he made. It brought to mind Carlos Saura's, Carmen, Spanish, an unforgettable film. Both are stories of dancers taking on a powerful role and the role seeping into and taking over their lives. The dancer's story brought my mother to mind, who wanted to be a ballerina when she was a little girl, and when she couldn't, she projected the dream onto her little boy it never stuck to. The dancer was stiff as a marionette from being so uptight wanting to be perfect. There again, mommy wanting to be perfect so much she squeezes life out of herself and goes about stiff as if made of wood. Often I felt I was watching my mother's story in symbolism. She needed the black swan for balance, could not let go enough to relax into the sensuous. Daddy was noted for saying, "She don't have angel wings." Seeing the woman in the film torment herself unto agony wanting to be perfect, I have a strong feeling my mother was something like a Buddhist nun or monk in a recent lifetime. This time around she's a Fundamentalist nun. I took her to the Nelson Art Museum in Kansas City about 20 years ago. She was drawn to the Chinese room. I found that curious. I followed her, seeing her drawn to the people and interiors in different paintings. A life-sized carved head of a Chinese Buddha on a pedestal. Mother's hand automatically reached out to it. An inch or so from its face, she drew her hand back, "I'm not supposed to touch it." This moment taught me something that helped understand mother's need for perfection. Possibly a carry-over from a lifetime seeking perfection through meditation. I don't hold perfection for a goal. I think of perfection as nonexistence. Nonexistence is coming my way, anyway. I don't need to meditate toward it.    
 
 
 
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Saturday, March 29, 2014

DONKEYS AND RED

 
 
 
maxwell equipment
by tj worthington
 
Justin came by today on his day off to pick up five bales of hay from the barn and bring them up to the fence where I feed the donkeys. I could get my car into where the barn is, but couldn't get it out. The barn stands on a flat place at the bottom of a pretty good hill. Water washes down the hill in rain and snow and settles in the bottom. Most of the time it is dry, but seldom in winter. A heavy four-wheel drive pickup with big tires can do it easily. Justin visited with the donkeys across the fence, noting how gentle they are and easy to be with. He said, "You spoiled em." Maybe so. I hope so. When Vada wants to come see the donkeys, I want them so I won't have to be afraid they'll hurt her. I want her to be able to walk around their legs freely in the meadow and them be happy to see her. A day or two ago the grown daughter of my friend Lynn Brooks, Erica, stopped here on the way to the waterfall to meet the donkeys. I took her inside the meadow to be in there with them. I told her they don't like being touched and they'll be cautious of her hands. They just don't like hands all over their faces like people tend to do with horses. It gives the donkeys the creeps to have hands rubbing their faces. I was struck by how gentle Jenny was with Erica. She ran her upper lip over Erica's hand and jacket feeling the textures. I told Erica that's what Jenny was doing so she wouldn't be alarmed that Jenny might be wanting to bite her. Jenny took to her. Never threatened the first time to bite. I feel like Jenny recognized the feminine. Her previous human caretaker was a woman. That's my own projection. I don't really know. Jenny kept Jack away. So I petted on Jack and talked to him while Jenny and Erica had their communication. I like the donkeys to meet my friends. I want them to meet gentle people who don't regard them as stock. They like everybody I've taken to them. They love connecting with humans who appreciate that they are conscious.

maxwell equipment
by tj worthington

During the visit with Jack I put my forefinger inside Jack's mouth to see what he'd do, just under the teeth. He bit down gently holding the finger like with pliers, then he started gently squeezing, very gently, bearing down to see where he could make me yelp. I yelped and he let go. It tickled him. He was checking me out. It was like the time he ran at me full speed and stopped with his nose a few inches from my chest. He wanted to make me jump. I didn't jump and it bewildered him. I like them to pull tricks on me. It tells me they are comfortable with me, comfortable as with another donkey. I connect with them, consciousness to consciousness, and it doesn't matter that they can't talk and don't understand my language. We communicate by paying attention to one another. I feel both Jack and Jenny are comfortable here and comfortable with each other. They don't kick so much anymore, and when they do kick it's a symbolic gesture that doesn't even connect, like saying, Don't make me have to kick you. Jenny appears to be content with Jack, even acts like she likes him ok. They spend all their time together, so they surely get bored with each other from time to time, but their focus is on each other at all times. They might be as much as a hundred feet apart grazing, aware at all times where the other is. The farthest I've seen them apart is when one walks to the creek to get a drink. Mostly, I see them just outside kicking distance of each other. Most of their issues are around Jack's libido. Jenny is on rape alert at all times. Jenny appears to have Jack more under control as time goes by. She's not a controlling woman by nature, it's just that she has to control him in self defense. He's a serial rapist. She has to kick the shit out of him to stop him, and he doesn't feel a thing. They are much calmer together than ever before, though all Jenny has to do is go pee, Jack goes and sniffs of it, then he's ready to get his jaws kicked some more. Pain is no distraction when Jack's focus is zoomed in on his curly-haired baby doll.
 
maxwell equipment
by tj worthington
 
All week I've had colors on my mind from the question Monday about favorite color. It's not something I think about. I wrote in one sitting that I was partial to all three primary colors, red, yellow and blue equally. That didn't feel completely right. I felt a leaning toward one, but couldn't find it. Reading what my facebook friend Darlene wrote, she was saying her favorite color has changed along the way between red, yellow and blue, I realized then that mine had changed too. This may be why I have not taken the question seriously, never thinking about it changing. I can see in my early years a clear preference for blue. Then it switched to yellow and stayed yellow for several years. It seemed a while before I caught on yellow was coming forward. I see now it has changed to red. This is why I said I like all three equally. Each one has held the title of favorite in its time. I find myself drawn to red in color selection often in this time. In the West, in Christendom, red is a brazen color, scarlet, and it symbolizes blood. In the East, red is an important color. Chinese artists use red consciously. Red also is the color of the base, the "lowest," chakra, thus not considered a spiritual color. Red is the color of Mars, anger and aggression, both of which are frowned upon by ones on their own spiritual path. There is a self-consciousness about liking red, an underlying belief that red is not a spiritual color. I entertained that notion for a time, until I saw there was nothing to it. None of that is my concern in terms of visual art. Red is a dynamic, bold color that makes its own statement. It has its own vibration that I prefer to see without Christian symbolism, the blood of the lamb, sacrificing sheep, Jesus on the cross. I refuse to let that symbolism have a place in my head. I am free now to see red for itself, it's embracing vibration, its ability to stand out in front of other colors and hold its place indisputably. The Jet Li of colors.
 
 
 
maxwell equipment
by tj worthington
 
I use color for depth in everything I paint. Kandinsky's book, Concerning The Spiritual In Art, approaches colors scientifically. He discovered wonderful things like red, yellow and high-contrast juxtapositions come forward; blue, green and low-contrast juxtapositions recede. I've found I'd rather give the illusion of depth by way of colors than by perspective. I can counter perspective with colors too. It's more challenging and more fun. I've been with this Daily Creative Practice bunch over a month, having turned my attention away from politics and bogus news to the people involved in the DCP group. Everything that appears there is true, from an individual's imagination. No deception going on. No propaganda. No coercion. Plenty of support, flowing with support. I've connected with some awfully interesting people there. The writing is my primary art form in this time, though I like to do some visual art as well. I'm letting the influence of these people actively working on art projects of whatever sort stir up inspiration inside self to search for something new in my own painting, something totally new, something more in line with my present aesthetic. One's aesthetic sense changes all the time. Not fast, but it's constantly including something new or letting go of something old that didn't work. One thing I'll do soon and document with photographs: take a spray can to the tunnel where Air Bellows Gap Road goes under the Blue Ridge Parkway. Two cement walls covered in spray can graffiti by local teenagers. I call it the Air Bellows Outdoor Art Museum. It constantly changes. No addition is ever put on with the thought of its relation to the whole, in color or placement. The two walls are covered up in words, colors and shapes placed randomly that have nothing to do with each other, but the whole makes a mosaic of colors flowing in and out of each other in layers over time and unpredictable compositions. I want to add something to it, now that the temperature is warming. Next week is looking like reasonable temperature every day.    
 
maxwell equipment
by tj worthington
 
 
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Friday, March 28, 2014

LOOKING FOR A PAGE-TURNER

bodyguards and assassins
all-star cast

Big alarm today. I had a long string of messages from friends saying they'd had a friend request from me, knew it was not me, saying: You've been hacked. My head went blank. I couldn't do anything. A Hong Kong film in the mail today, Bodyguards & Assassins. It rides the borderline between historical drama, year 1906, and kung fu excess, which wasn't so bad. Plenty of blood-letting, but quietly with knives and swords. Hong Kong films before Hong Kong went back to China, year 2000, had more gunshots than words in the script. They had become ridiculous. You can only do so much dramatically with continuous guns going off. Mainland China isn't a place to encourage guns. Seldom see guns in a mainland film unless it is military. I liked Hong Kong films somewhat before 2000, for the hyper-action that transcended plot. Who ever heard of a plot? Hong Kong thrillers have changed dramatically for the better since 2000. They have become more involved with mind. You have the gangsters and the detectives playing mind games, saving guns for punctuation. I've seen some that have remarkably complex mind games going back and forth. It's like they have become chess games of the mind. This film today had a number of current Hong Kong actors. Andy Lau is a superb actor, just as good a director, has made countless films. He played in The House of the Flying Daggers, among the most beautiful films of my life, with mainland actress Zhang Ziyi, who was also in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, another of the great ones made by Ang Lee. A mainland director, Zhang Yimou, has made a string of what I put up there among the most beautiful films ever, allowing that there are many. He made Raise The Red Lantern with Li Gong, an actress who steals my heart in every film I see her in.
 
li gong
in raise the red lantern
 
I sat in my home entertainment chair holding Caterpillar wondering what to do about the facebook hacking. That kind of thing puts my head in a knot and it feels like a bale of cotton between my ears. I needed Time Out. A couple hours of jumping, kicking, fighting, stabbing, slashing, mixed with beautiful Chinese clothes, a hyper-dramatic telling of an historical event I'm interested to know about, to see dramatized. It was the time of the end of the dynasty and China reduced to nothing after the Japanese, Europeans and Americans bled it dry. It was the time of revolution all over China. This was a failed attempt in Hong Kong in 1906, maybe notable for being the first of a long string of failed revolts that eventually succeeded with Mao. It was the right movie to see for the moment, an escape movie when I wanted to escape from, delay going through figuring out how to change password on facebook. It's all I can do to surf the thing. Getting down into all those boxes of doing this and that, I'm a slow learner because it's too much. I clicked here and there, all of it leading me to nowhere, except finding by chance I could not repeat, there are several people on facebook with my name. I had no idea. Even using the lower case j. Mine happened by mistake. When I saw later what I'd done, I said leave it. Stumped, I called friend Lynn, who had sent notice of the hacking and recommended changing password. She told me the trick, I thanked her, and it was easy from there on. She suggested making it complex so a robot can't find it easily and changing it every other month or so. I dislike complex passwords. It's time to get over it and join the modern world one more step. I don't mind. I feel like I have some understanding of the changes going on and embrace the changes. The changes I don't like so much have to do with how everything is done in detail now, minute, exacting, complex detail. It gets tiresome.
 
zhang ziyi and andy lau
in the house of the flying daggers
 
It makes me want to turn off the computer and read some more about Marcel Duchamp. Yesterday, driving into town for groceries, I dropped a couple of books in a plastic bag into the library's outdoor return box. They were selling a large table full of books, a dollar for as many as you can get in a bag. I'd been wanting to find something to read that is a page-turner. I wanted to dive into something that became obsessive until it's finished. I tried a Tom Clancy and John LeCarre. All I learned from first page of each one is why I've never read them. I could not read 700 pages of Tom Clancy prose unless I was in jail and there was nothing else but a Billy Graham book. I dropped them off in the return bin. Give Doug something to wonder about in the morning. I did not want to throw them away. An awful lot of people like reading these two writers, so let one find it. So much for my page-turner. I started reading in the Duchamp book by Pierre Cabanne, and it is my page-turner. I've read a little bit about Duchamp, none of it really satisfying. I like Cabanne's writing, he gives an understanding of Duchamp the man, the individual human being, people he knew, places he went. I dive in when I open it and stay there until a good stopping place. Every page has fabulous color pictures. My ultimate picture book. It really is a plus to have such good reading illustrated so profusely and profoundly. Next I'll get into a big picture book about Constantin Brancusi, Romanian artist in Paris. This book I can sit and look at pictures in without end. The text is by two Romanian artists whose apartment was above his in Paris. They painted and he did sculpture. They knew him better than anybody they knew. He was the same as family with them, expats in a foreign language. They could talk their home language together. This book, too, has good, interesting text. I've read around in it, though not yet straight through.
 
constantin brancusi
bird in space
black marble
 
I can get used to reading texts in art books. I have several I bought for the pictures and paid the text no mind, all of them. I did read the text in The Art of Zen, by Stephen Addis. Great big Wow. Again, illustrated with sublime art on every page. I can get used to this. I have plenty I know will be excellent reading. One I know has good text is about Kurt Schwitters, whose art I love, and I know I'll love the text. One about Larry Rivers. Two about David Hockney, one by Hockney himself. I'm looking at the future of my reading. I've come to a place that fiction doesn't really do it for me like it used to. Non-fiction doesn't draw me anymore either. Even history reading doesn't draw me much in this time. Brancusi next. Every time I have laid eyes on a Brancusi in a museum I have felt in touch with the holy. I feel in touch with grace, like walking behind a good dog on deer trails through mountain forest. I've been wondering what to do about my malaise with being bored by reading largely. Feeling that way with movies too, waiting for one to astonish me and it seldom happens anymore. At this time in the life I have no interest in anything but art, to appreciate it. Another good art book I love is Minimalism, by James Meyer. No extensive text, but very informative paragraphs with each work and artist. Beautiful book. Yes, it is time to dive into my art book collection for good page-turning reading with beautiful pictures on every page. One on Robert Motherwell too. This solves my reading issues. It would be interesting to read a history of Persia, but I believe I'd like reading about Robert Motherwell's art a bit more, now, in this present mind. I've always, until today, seen my art books as picture books, uninterested in the text. I wanted the images raw without art-crit in my head. A little bit of reading, for context, Harold Rosenberg, biography of Whistler. Never even considered reading the text in the art books. I've suddenly learned they can be quite good reading, and just like in first grade, lots and lots of color pictures.      
 
zhang ziyi
in the house of the flying daggers
 
 
 
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Thursday, March 27, 2014

EVERYDAY LIFE AS SPIRITUAL PATH

michael heizer

My friend Carole and I were talking on the phone this morning, as we do every morning, and, as usual, we talked freely in a free-flowing way, whatever comes up. We have nothing to hide from one another, no hesitations about trust, and where our belief systems are concerned, she is the only one I know with mine, and I'm the only one she knows with hers. I believe I can say I know her higher self and she knows mine. I use higher self because it is even hard to find in oneself, let alone somebody else. Our spiritual interior lives are both educated from the East, India in particular. Yet India is only the present location of ancient wisdom that goes all the way back to Neolithic times. I point out that our higher selves look to the East, noting there is nothing in the West to look to for anything having to do with one's interior life, like wisdom. I once told a zealous fundamentalist baptist that I looked to the wisdom of the East, even had a guru. It was all over the place next day that I'm a devil worshipper. That's no big deal. Anybody who knows me, knows it's not so, and people that don't know me, I don't care. Just another anonymous name to gloat in self-righteousness over. I knew that would be next, and said it just to see. He was not somebody I have ever spoken to with anything near the word trust, a preacher's husband, and my respect for this guy is an empty bag. I do things like that to amuse myself when a moment arises. When my buddy Justin was in high school running with a rowdy bunch, more like a crowd, he told everybody to stay away from that old man at Air Bellows, "He'll shoot your ass! He don't care!" Justin didn't tell me what he'd done until a decade later. His dad and I were friends, and Justin had been my friend since he was his baby's age. He said he told them this to keep them from doing shit to me. He said, "I knew the shit they got into, I wanted to keep them away from you." I thanked him, sincerely. I knew the kind of shit they got into, too, though not from the inside like he did.
 
michael heizer
 
Carole and I agree daily that we like not having much future in this world. We tend away from the news and more toward the spiritual, meaning the spirit in everyday life, living in relation to the spirit, the flow of the spirit. Neither of us meditates or goes to workshops or anything to do with "spirituality" and certainly have no involvement with religion. She watches no tv and listens to NPR radio seldom, same as I do. She reads historical novels, mostly, from the library. Every couple weeks she takes home a stack of books. And she reads books having to do with Meher Baba, as do I. My reading is all over the place. I've been interested in contemporary fiction and art films from mainland China over the last decade or more, and the history of China. I like reading American, French and Chinese poetry, as well as American and world fiction. Poetry is the only source I've found in the West that concerns one's interior life, the life we really live. That started changing with the New Age period of the 1980s. I worked in bookstores from 1965 to 1975. Very little spiritual kinds of books were available. What was available was largely out of print and hard to find. Since 1975, spirituality has become a whole new genre of American writing. Some of it is nonsensical and some of it has very practical relevance. It's good to have the whole spectrum to pick from. At the time I fell in with Meher Baba, I was most interested in American poetry, the Twentieth Century, and for the first time realized poetry had been my source for spirituality through the time of the life I rejected all that. Brought up in the belief system of Kansas fundamentalism, which makes Southern fundamentalism look logical, I see the bozo Westboro preacher that died recently from Topeka is a good example of the fundamentalism I came up in. I left that mind like an arrow pulled all the way back as far as it can go and let go. I feel like my life in that time amounted to an arrow being held at full tension until the string almost broke with frustration, anger, confusion, depression, suppression. The arrow took off like a rocket and sent me as far away from that mind inside myself as the full strength of the bow could push it, full speed.  
 
michael heizer
 
The problem I had that I did not know I had in that time of brow-beating religion was not understanding yet that God and religion are about as equal as a flame and a rock. I was rejecting false religion believing it the nature of God. It was fifteen years of peeling away the onion layers of bullshit I'd been fed in the name of God. Getting down to the core of that kind of thinking, it comes from ego, not God. I had to wash my mind of about everything I'd been taught by way of religion, threw the baby out with the bath water. It all had to go. I needed to get myself down to neutral. About the time I had convinced myself to my own satisfaction "God is dead," I learned it is not God that's dead, but religion. Meher Baba taught me that in a very short time, a couple days. God is alive and well and very much active in our everyday lives. That's where God lives, in our everyday lives. Our everyday lives is what all the gospels are about, not wearing a tie to church. God takes a human voice and explains the real thing is in our hearts, our attitudes toward life, extending ourselves to the benefit of others. Not because it's God's commandment. It's simply sound counsel. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is as much a natural law as gravity. What we put out into the world comes back. Donkeys are the first example to come to mind. They return what they get right now, like cats and children. It is automatic behavior in all living beings to return what we receive immediately. You might say it's the nature of life. I feel like Jesus was saying, use this principle to make your life better, use it for a path to inner peace. Be conscious of words and behavior, mindful. Like Melvin told a friend who is on his way to prison, First one that disrespects you in any way, knock him on his ass. That tells everybody you'll fight and they'll leave you alone. In other words, you give back what you receive right now. It works the other way too. Regard others with inner peace, no hidden agendas, respect, and everything that comes back is of the same nature. If you want to be respected, respect the people around you in every interaction. Soon you'll live in a world full of respect and wonder what happened that changed everybody.
 
michael heizer
  
 I'm thinking about  friend I've not seen in a lot of years. She'd been hanging with an odd bunch of people that kept her on the verge of bonkers all the time. Something changed in her. She came to some new understandings of her relationship to the world around her. Friends started dropping away, so fast and so many she became a little bit hysterical. She was telling me about this on the phone, and I felt I had insight into what was happening, because I'd noticed in myself that when I change within, the people around me change, some fall away and new ones come in. I suggested she wait and see what happens. I said those old friends have to go with your old way of thinking; they're interwoven. With patience, you'll see new people coming in and new circumstances. It was the biggest change of her life. Right away, circumstances started changing for her and more reliable people came into her life. At the time, I wasn't sure that what worked for me would work for her too, but it was all I had to offer. I find in myself, I have cycles too. From one cycle to the next, a rather remarkable change occurs in that some people fall away and others come in. My cycles tend to seven years. In one cycle, I did the radio show at the local AM station of mountain music for seven years. In that time, about all my life had to do with the music in the area. Next cycle I started making videos at regional music venues for YouTube and writing articles about the music of the region for an old-time music magazine. Had the inspiration for the next one today. It won't be until October, giving plenty of time to consider how I want to approach it. I want to write about the Hillbilly Show, an annual event in Sparta for the last 20 years, this the 20th. Theme this year will be music of the county.  I will be the one making video of the whole show to put on dvd for sale to the people that want them. The one we've used in the past to make video of the show puts the equivalent of a cell phone on a tripod and lets it run. I will be doing some hand-held and tripod some, move around, different angles, lively images. Use the zoom. This cycle has about two more years. I went into this cycle curious to see if I'd make it through it. Made it this far.  
 
michael heizer
 
 
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

SPRING SNOW

jack left, jenny right
 
I woke this morning, looked out the window and saw snow, snow stuck to branches and twigs, snow a couple inches deep on the ground. Sunday morning I woke a little after 7:30, looked at the clock, glanced out the window and saw a white haze over the landscape. I said my eyes are unreliable, it was the way the light was glancing off the ground. Later, riding to Justin's with Melvin to see the race, Melvin mentioned it snowed at his place at 7:30, groundcover, and then it was gone. When I woke an hour or so later, no trace of snow. My eyes still play tricks on me. I wonder sometimes if it might be the result of experience during which I learn repeatedly I really don't get what's going on, whatever it is. I've learned to live with limited perception such that I don't dare trust my assessments of what is going on inside my head any more than I dare trust my assessments of another individual, whoever it may be. Like Jack's color, I look at it as brown and it's gray, look at it as gray and it's brown. In my first years in the mountains, coming from a totally different culture that believed itself superior to all others, I'd get something in my mind about old man Tom Pruitt as a part of his character or nature, and next time I saw him, the conclusion I'd drawn was disabled within the first five  minutes, like something had told him I'd come to a certain conclusion about him, so make city boy jump, show him something totally different that deletes what he walked in the door thinking. I did that so many times in the years I knew Tom, pigeonholing him, compartmentalizing him in my mental index. Every time I drew a conclusion about him, he showed me, first thing, I'd misread him. It was uncanny. I finally caught on, stop trying to "figure out" somebody. Allow him the inner complexity I allow in myself, self-contradictions and all.
 
 jack's breakfast in the snow
 
Seeing the snow this morning caused a double-take. It has been relatively warm the last few days. I look at weather forecasts very seldom, don't care what is going to happen tomorrow, unless a major storm is headed this way, preferring to allow each day its own character, personality, without projecting expectations onto it. The media weather people are becoming more hysterical every year about the weather. A few weeks ago the temperature went down to zero. My friends from other places were concerned for my welfare at zero. Lord have mercy, I've been through 24 below (once). I've lived close to the weather the whole time in the mountains, and zero is tiresome to be outside in, but I don't go out in it except to feed donkeys and birds. Thirty, forty years ago, the weather people talked about it more or less objectively. Now, even on pubic radio, the weather report is told dramatically, like OMG it's gonna snow! I think of it as plain silly and pay it no mind anymore. I hear a dire forecast: rain for the next three days! Yeah, every once in awhile a damp sprinkling and overcast about all the time. It's told like it is three days and nights of driving monsoon ahead, get out your boats, you're gonna need em. My personal experience with the weather is that it's mostly benign. Snow is tiresome in the machine age, but I stay home when the snow is a foot deep and wait for it to melt. Living close to the world of nature as I do, I am happy to see the rain and happy to see the snow. They keep the world of green things growing. Cold winters keep fleas down in the summer. Precipitation keeps the ravages of drought from taking over. I've a feeling with the crust of our continent being fracked, the western half of the USA may be desert in a few generations. The Appalachian Mountains, source of water for the eastern half of the continent, are being systematically destroyed from one end to the other. What can I do? I look out the window at donkeys in the snow, marvel that I have heat and my world is in good shape for now.
 
 
 
calf 21

 A slight cause for alarm this morning. The calf was gone. I looked everywhere in the meadow for a white calf in snow landscape while taking hay to Jenny and Jack. Took enough for calf too. No calf. After putting down the hay, I followed some donkey hoof prints out into the meadow to see if I could find maybe some calf prints. None. The donkey tracks turned around at a certain point and walked back. I went on to look the length of the creek, hoping the calf had not fallen into the creek on its back before the snow started. No calf in the creek. Only one thing left: Jesse must have been here yesterday while I was having a nap and took the calf to its next world. I called Jesse and, sure enough, he had been here to pick up the calf. He said he might bring three more calves in a few days. I did not get any sense from the donkeys they missed the calf. They had a quiet manner about them that suggested to me they were feeling the loss. I know they do, because when calf 23 went out, the donkeys and the calf mourned a few days. It's a certain stillness they have this morning that suggests to me they wonder about it. I'm thinking about asking Jesse to put the calves in the half of the meadow across the creek where the donkeys don't go for not liking to cross the water. I thought it might give donkeys and calves a chance to see each other across the creek, maybe  become curious and eventually want to be acquainted. More than likely, my guess would be the donkeys would become territorial about their half of the meadow and keep the calves on the other side. There is no telling what kind of social dynamic will go on between them. One thing for sure, the calves will learn to stay away from Jenny, she kicks.
 
my friend jenny
 
I felt like it was a good time for 21 to move on to next home because the calf had become afraid of Jenny, stayed back from her all the time. At hay feeding time, calf would wait in the distance for me to feed Jenny and Jack, then I'd put down a pile of hay and call the calf. It would come to the hay dancing. I suspect Jenny has been tormenting the calf, so it is good for it to go into its next social setup, probably a small herd. The calf has so little experience with other cows, not even memory of another cow, except what memory is left of calf 23, I wonder how it will do. One thing about this calf in a herd, it will be comfortable with solitude, may even be the cow in the herd that stays off to itself. Every herd has one. In my herd, I'm that cow. The calf may even take up with the herd's donkey. Or be afraid of it. This picture above of Jenny is the Jenny I know, the Jenny I look at when I talk to her. This is Jenny's face. To my eyes, she has a beautiful face. I tell her every day she is a beautiful donkey. She has a very complex personality. She's aggressive and quick to let the others know who rules. I don't challenge her role as Alpha Donkey. I don't want the role. I'm told over and over, "They're gonna getcha, they'll kick ya." I don't say they will never kick me, because I don't know. But I have near complete confidence I'll never be kicked by either one of them, unless it's a mistake like the time Jack kicked the back of my hand, but merely a touch I barely felt. He corrected his error before he connected. Jenny's rear end was on the other side of me. Jenny is a feisty donkey. I like that in her. She is different almost every day. Ice cream man gives them carrots every morning, talks lovey-dovey to them, tells them every day they are loved, and ice cream man can be counted on not to hurt them or surprise them. I know that both Jenny and Jack have an affection for me. I see it in their eyes and their behavior. They treat me as good as I treat them. I'm gentle with them, they're gentle with me. I treat them like I care about them and they regard me the same. It's the old thing, you get what you give. They know the difference between caring and not caring.    
 
 
my friend jack
 
 
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Monday, March 24, 2014

DONKEY COLOR

donkey jen in landscape

I see Donkey Jen out the window rubbing her neck in the fork of the dogwood tree. The woman who took care of Jenny before Jen came here told me donkey liked having her neck rubbed, but no place else and definitely don't touch her legs. I put my hand on Jenny's back and she moves away. I touch her leg and she pulls back. She doesn't even like me to touch her neck until after she's seen me petting Jack. Then she wants to be touched. Every time I've seen her at the dogwood tree, she rubs both sides of her neck in the tree's fork, scratching herself. I keep my hands off both the donkeys mostly. It's how they are with each other. When they reach out to touch, they kick. I talk to them and leave them their own rights to their bodies. Their color is so enigmatic to me, I look at them in awe sometimes for the colors they are. Closest I can find a name for is Taupe, a tan color. The name taupe doesn't tell me anything. It could be every shade between dark tan to light tan. I tend to think of their color as "landscape." Their color fits well especially in a semi-desert landscape of their origin, something like south Texas desert. Here, they blend into winter landscape of the grass turned light brown, the leaves on the ground a darker brown, rocks, a kind of pointillist landscape of varieties of brown from light to dark. Browns are often difficult colors to use painting as brown has such a tendency to look flat, lifeless, dull. Yet, when an artist like Neil Jenney paints dirt, the brown is vibrant and still looks like dirt. Marcel Duchamp's series of cubist/futurist paintings, Nude Descending the Staircase, Bride Stripped Bare By Bachelors Even, were painted in shades of yellow between raw yellow to dark brown, and they are retinally vibrant staying in the range of yellows, which I see brown the darker end of same color.
 
donkey jack in landscape
 
The meadow, in effect, is yellow now with a haze of green shoots slowly changing the meadow's color to yellow-green and eventually green, half of which is yellow. The taupe or beige color that the donkeys are has no name as far as I know. Their color is an enigma to me because I cannot find the foundation color to start from. One way of looking at them, I'd want to start with Paynes Gray. Another way of looking at them I'd want to start with raw umber. Another way, I'd want to start with white. Each one of those ways would not be it. It's brown, it's gray and it's off-white. I suppose it is what we call a neutral color, a color that doesn't appear to be a color, colorless. To complicate it further, Jack and Jenny are not the same color. Jack's color leans to gray, but when I look at it as gray, it's brown. When I look at it brown, it's gray. Jenny's variation of donkey landscape color leans very slightly toward cocoa. Seen individually, they seem like the same color, and side by side the difference is radical. Deer carry a variation of the same landscape color. It's the original camouflage. Hunters wear clothes with complex camouflage patterns, largely because hunters shoot from trees in this time. On the ground, it seems like the natural camouflage or black would work best. I'm not a hunter, so I can't say. The donkeys have made for themselves a place to roll in the dirt. Jack scratched at the grass in the place he wanted to use until the grass is gone from a circle with the circumference of a donkey body. They keep one spot in the meadow for dust bathing. The dust keeps fleas and other bugs down. When I put my hand on Jack's back, a cloud of dust rises the same color as his back. I wonder how much of his color is determined by all the dust in his hair. 
 
jack left, jenny right
 
The woman I bought Jenny from told me when she got Jenny (Daisy), she was eat up with fleas. She covered Jenny with used motor oil. It worked. I don't question any further for Jenny's reluctance to be touched. That oil stayed in her hair until weather eventually cleared it away or it was washed off with soap, equally terrible for the donkey. I know Jenny hated it. I choose not to push her beyond her will, knowing she's been through a torment from hell. Animals are as vain about their hair as we humans are. I tell her she has beautiful hair. Jenny loves being talked to so much, I get my interaction thrill from talking to her, speaking into her nostrils like they are ears. She is smelling my breath and feeling the exhalation from every word. Jack isn't particular about being spoken to into his nostrils. He just likes being talked to. This morning I found his braying note. I've sought it for some time. This morning I went out the door and he started singing. I found his note and sang it back to him. It was cold this morning making puffs of breath cloud with his every bray. I loved it that I'd found his note. He sang a note, I sang the note. We went back and forth like this, Jack looking at me like to say this is really fun. He walked to me singing and it seemed like he couldn't stop, he fluttered his lips and made grunt sounds winding down. I handed him a chunk of carrot. It was fun for me that I finally found his note, though am unable yet to get it without Jack's lead. This morning in slanted light they appear darker than later in the day. Photos I get of them in full sunlight, the side of the donkey in shade is almost black and the light side nearly white. The color lightens with sunlight. If the color lightens in the sun, it must darken in the night for round the clock camouflage. I'm recalling that I cannot see them in the night, even when I know I am looking at one of them. I find donkeys with the flashlight and when I turn the light away, they vanish. The hair must have a reflective quality to it, mirroring both light and dark.
 
 barnett newman
who's afraid of red, yellow and blue?
 
That's where I would start trying to mix a color for either one of them, a light color and a dark color. I've not even made one attempt to mix their colors. For me, no color is the hardest color of all to mix. I've begun making sketches of the donkeys, painting them dark red. I want to make basic, simple images of them red, outlined in blue, on green below and blue above, colors straight out of the tube. I'm out of white now, so thought I'd not use white. Enough is left in the tube to take care of the noses and bellies. I want basic, simple, red, yellow, blue, green, orange, purple. No blacks, no whites. Three small ones are in progress. I want them to be about red, yellow and blue. I think of Barnett Newman's magnificent work I had the great good fortune to see before it was destroyed, Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue? It is among my very most favorite works of art I've laid eyes upon. I love its bold red. It seemed like about twenty feet long. I slowly walked the length of it feeling the red. It was powerful. Brings to mind the time I had only ten minutes to see a whole Vuillard show, which I wanted to spend all day with. I nearly ran, no time to spend with any one piece, so I opened up, put mind into hyper-drive and felt it. It was every bit as memorable as the Newman. Memory of Vuillard is dark sage green. It feels like I got more of Vuillard in those ten minutes than if I'd spent three hours. It would be forgotten by now if I'd received the show leisurely. I'm choosing to reduce the colors I use to red, yellow and blue, primarily, basic, raw colors. From years of buying tubes of paint, I have plenty, no need to buy more. If I don't already have it, it will not to be necessary. Whatever paper, canvas, canvas paper, wood I have is what I'll use. No buying anything except turpentine, dammar varnish and linseed oil. I could use some new brushes, but the ones I have still work. Who says I need to use a brush? All I want to paint now is red donkeys very simply.
        
edouard vuillard
 
 
neil jenney
 
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

A FOOL IN THIS WORLD

masahisa fukase

It's been a lazy day, a couple of naps, no reading, nothing. I fed the donkeys, the birds, the cat and that was it. Anything remotely productive I don't want to do today. I allow myself such days, calling them days of rest. I believe in a day of rest as simply good sense. It's not like I do a whole lot, but mind runs all the time. On a day like today, even mind is at rest. I go around feeling blank like the home movie theater is closed for the day. It has only been in the last few years I've  been able to have time without mind front and center. I like that place of no-thought. I'm recalling when Jr Maxwell was in the time after his mind shut down. One night in his wheelchair rolling about the house, he said, "I need to go to the doctor!" emphatically. I asked why, "My mind isn't working. Something is wrong with my mind." This showed me for certain we are of two minds. His mind that did the active thinking shut down, but the mind that did the observing continued. In the time his mind was slipping away, I could still communicate with him. Allowed to flow of its own, he could carry on conversation, that is do the talking. When somebody else talked, he couldn't follow it. Asked a question, his mind fell down a dark hole he couldn't find his way out of. When somebody dropped by to see him, I advised them not to ask him any questions. First thing everybody did was ask him a question and shut him down. Once asked a question, there was no getting back with him for a while. He went out like snuffing a candle. I couldn't really talk to him, but I could listen when he talked. He was in dream mind, lived in dream reality. I thought that's a good place to be and I allowed it by not saying, "You really didn't fall through a hole in the roof." I'd say something like the roof is ok now and it settled his concern. He thought his car was still on the roof, when he stepped out of it he fell through a hole and landed in his bedroom. I assured him the car is now in its parking place, no longer on the roof. That was the end of it.
 
masahisa fukase
 
He had a niece who, fortunately, did not drop by very often. "Uncle Junior! Yer losin yer mind!" I'd say, "He knows that very well." She'd cook a big meal, pile mounds of food on a plate and put it on the table in front of him. "Ya gotta eat, Uncle Junior!" He couldn't eat that much. He said he couldn't eat it. She lectured him on the body's need for nutrition. He tried to please her. In a little bit, he was running to the bathroom to throw up. He'd hang over the toilet and heave in agony a long time. Then he was ruined for the rest of the day. Had to go to bed because he was ill. I allowed him his flow and went with it. When she came in the house, she shattered his flow every time, and mine. I had to come home a couple hours in the middle of the night while he was sleeping to take care of my own home life. She said, "I wish you wouldn't go off and leave Uncle Junior alone every day." I asked if she was offering to drop by a couple hours a day to sit with him while I'm out, "I don't like leaving him alone, either." No, she wasn't offering. End of subject. At his funeral, she said to me, "I know what you been through. I know how difficult Uncle Junior is to do anything for." I told her he was not the least bit difficult, "If he had been difficult, I could not have done it." She was the one difficult. First thing she said to me after he died, "Where'd Uncle Junior hide his money?" I haven't seen her since, and every time she comes to mind, I rejoice. I knew Jr awfully well, knew the story of his whole life, knew him well enough to find the wisdom I suspected in him was indeed there. He was a wise man. He never let it show, but he lived by it, understood by it. He called himself a fool, said his life is the life of a fool. He was right. I was also right. I think of him the wise fool. Later, I came to realize a wise man could only be a fool in this world.
 
masahisa fukase
 
Now, five years after his death date, my fondest memories are from the time his mind was gone. It makes me smile to remember him rolling the wheelchair around the house, getting stuck in doorways. The adventures in that time were unpredictable, except that they would happen. Many of them were funny, like the time he went into the bathroom and never came out. Eventually, I went to look. He had sat on the toilet with the seat up and was down inside the bowl, stuck. I was unable to pull him out. I called the hospice office, a nurse was there in five minutes. She eased him up out of there, cleaning him as she went while I looked on in awe that she had raised him up out of there without any effort, and when he was out he was clean. I felt I had a front row seat to the show that is the human mind. It helped me a great deal realizing he had fallen into dream reality. I could deal with that, because I suspect dreams are the closest we are able to come to "reality." In hindsight, the only thing I can think of that I'd do differently, I'd hold his hand more. At the time, I did not realize the immense importance of that small act. In the time his mind was fading, he was self-conscious about it and did not like to be seen so vacant. I learned to cover for him. When somebody was visiting and he was talking, he'd go blank mid sentence, I'd toss him a key word the moment I saw he'd drawn a blank, and it brought him back every time. It became so automatic nobody could even see what we were doing. Toward the end I felt a great deal of stress, down to soaking a popsicle sponge in water to get water to him and to keep his mouth wet. No matter how much sorrow I was feeling, a joy accompanied the sorrow until they became one, like a two-sided coin flipping in the air, a blur.
 
masahisa fukase
 
Looking back at the time in the past and other friends in the past, I see the time of looking after Jr the very best time of my life. No close second. I did not realize it at the time. I took care of him as I would the Master, as though he were the Master himself. In that light, it became devotion. The nurses at hospice would tell me from time to time what a good job I'm doing with him, and I never said it, but would think, I'm serving my Master. This is the opportunity of my lifetime. That was how I felt about it, how I thought about it, how I believed it. And it was indeed the opportunity of my lifetime. I came home to my own momentum at home in stasis. I thought I'd relax and let things fall into place as they will. I found an inner peace afterward that I never had before. It continues. I find my mind can fall blank and I enjoy the peace. Observer mind continues. My memories of Jr in that time when his mind was going and gone have a golden glow about them. I believe he was a gift to me as much as I was a gift to him. The time he said, I wish I could pay you for what you've done for me, I could only think, money would ruin it. I had what I wanted. He wanted to die at home in his own bed and I wanted that for him. He was too honorable a man in my way of seeing to end his life treated like lumber with nothing but a television. I did not want anybody messing with him who did not understand him. He was not of media mind in any way. Not many people in this time can understand somebody who is not of media mind. It's a different world. I was about to say I prefer it, but that's not so. I appreciate media mind to some degree too. Both in moderation. The  troubles I was going through then are as nothing now. Important now is that I earned his trust unto the very most vulnerable last breath. I never call what I did selfless. Looking at how deeply I've benefitted from the experience, I call it self-centered.    
 
masahisa fukase
 
 
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Saturday, March 22, 2014

OLD TIMES / NEW TIMES

jessica stockholder

I'm back from a couple hours with my friend Debi I've not seen in a few years. She's been through it and came out the other end. I've known Debi since she was sixteen, worked with her dad and her uncle on the farm putting up hay in the summers. Debi was a fire-haired hillbilly girl then, and now the fire has gone from her hair, but she's still a hillbilly and wouldn't be anything else. It's odd to see her aging. I see her taking on the look of about all her relatives past a certain age. I could have put several names to the face I saw this evening, all of them her cousins, aunts or uncles. She's a Pruitt and a Crouse by birth. Pruitts are special people to me. They are the first people I knew, the ones who taught me mountain ways and my way around. Debi is one of the last of the Pruitts I know, as the generations I have known are largely dead. The younger ones went to cities for work. She has become my thread that keeps me connected to her kin. And similarly, I am her thread to her relatives that are gone. I'd been in the hills about six months when I decided to check out a nearby church. I went a couple times. The third time, I was talking with two men out front before the meeting. One came over and one of the ones I was talking with asked him, "What was that shootin goin on up at your place yesterday?" Answer, "Aw, It was them Pruitt boys." He looked at me, turned and walked away. My thought at the moment: Anybody too good for a Pruitt is too good for me. I have carried this maxim the whole way along and it has served me well. The Pruitt boys were rowdy and I rode around with them on weekends. They were the best education I could have had for introduction to mountain culture. I worked with two of them during the week and on weekends we ran the back roads throwing beer cans out the car windows. I kept my empty cans in a paper bag on the floor. They thought that was funny. I could not toss a beer can out the window. It wasn't possible. Even if my mind wanted to do it, my arm would not allow it. A .22 rifle was always with us. Sometimes we shot at the cans I saved. Never went back to the church.
 
neil jenney
 
We did not talk about these people who have a place in my heart and a place in her heart too. They are initially our bond. For her, I'm a witness to the wonderful people they were. The Pruitts are one of the mountain families that has a reputation for being either preachers or drunks. Such families tend to have at least one bootlegger in their near past, like daddy, grandpa and greatgrandpa. Liquor makers tend to be drinkers and many of them drink all the time. Heavy drinkers tend to be terrible husbands and parents, keep dysfunctional households and raise dysfunctional kids. The boys aligned with daddy tend to be rowdy and the boys aligned with mama tend to make preachers who condemn drinking. This becomes a social dynamic. A couple of generations down the line, one will have kids that stay in trouble, and another will have kids that go to church. When I run through the names of the families known for preachers and drunks, they tend to come from bootleggers just a few generations back. Throw in good and evil and the judgment begins. It has nothing to do with good and evil except a belief system that allows only one or the other. We don't call it good and evil anymore. It is black and white now. I hear it called gray in between. It is colors in between. In pigment, all colors mixed together make black. In light, all colors make white. It is colors between black and white, not gray. Duality is the nature of this world of experience. Duality makes the colors. We meander in the color zone, not at the poles. On the earth, nobody lives at the north or south poles. We live between the poles. Who is to say a handful of brothers and buddies are evil because they like to free their minds of their frustrations periodically? And who is to say a preacher who looks down his nose at drunks is good? In the culture we have the divide, drinkers and non-drinkers. The drinkers are bad and the non-drinkers are good. I go with the company of the bad, because I have experienced the hypocrisy of the good.
 
ai wei wei
 
An old-time square-dance tune is playing in my head, Have a drink on me / Have a drink on me / Aw Lord / Have another drink on me. It's a funny song. One of the aspects of traveling my own path that I especially like is seeing how limiting either/or thinking can be, caught up in the poles, ignoring everything in between. A walk to the waterfalls for me is the whole trip there and the whole trip back, the falls the turn around point. I love being under a canopy of trees. In conversation with my old deceased preacher friend, Millard Pruitt, Debi's uncle, I said I can worship God the same in the  woods among trees as well as in the church. No you can't. I'm glad my mind is not locked down in yes and no, right and wrong, good and evil. I don't even think about good and bad anymore. I'm happy to note that kind of thinking is gone from my head. I find that I personally prefer the company of lovers of God, but they're only a part of the whole. I know and like some people whose names make about anybody around here shudder. One in particular comes to the front of my mind, whose name I'll not mention to protect the innocent. Everybody shudders when they hear her name. I don't. I like her. I'm not going to push her buttons or piss her off, which can have a way of being lethal. Pushing other people's buttons is not my style, so I'm in no danger around her. In fact, I feel safe around her. When she's not giving herself a bad name, she has a great sense of humor, and is a no bullshit kinda woman. I respect her. I respect everybody who has been to prison. I respect her for what she's been through and I respect her character. Where trust is concerned, I would trust her and not most others. Debi too. I'd trust Debi to the grave. I want to be somebody Debi can trust. If need ever arises, I pray that I have what it takes to be there for Debi. This is how I feel with the people I call my friends.
 
the chakras
 
A month or so ago, Debi had an experience with the Holy Spirit. She told me the experience and I believe her interpretation of it. It brought to mind a day I remember several years ago, a day when I was in the spirit from the moment I woke in the morning unto night. Memorable day. I listened to Debi's experience happy for her. She needed an upliftment. Like I say, she's been through it and came out the other end. This must have been the quasar at the other end of her interior black hole. She said she's happy for the first time in her life. I saw it. It was in everything about her, her movement, her attitude. She wasn't new in that it changed her away from being Debi, but took her closer to Debi. She had the misfortune of being born with an incredibly fast, retentive mind in a social situation that had no place for such a mind. She had to dumb herself way down. The dumbing down took her with it. She brings to mind a Van Halen song, "Ya know I been to the edge. There I stood and looked down." Debi would say, Amen, to that. She came home to take care of her mother unto dying, then made her way for a few years taking care of an old woman with dementia, the shit on the walls variety. Since the year 2000, if you don't have a job in Sparta, you're out. The mechanics are having a minor boom since fewer people are buying new cars. She has dental issues, Social Services issues, poverty issues. She's getting by without a car, which is mighty troublesome. She's at the bottom where poverty is concerned, yet in her heart she's the best she's ever been in her life. She has a good dog, got rid of a loser man, is losing weight by cutting out soft drinks. She's had her hard times and she's had her good times. I asked her what church she was going to. I was gladdened to hear she was not going to church. She has the real thing, I was thinking, don't spoil it. Live it, enjoy your new perspective. I don't like to advise, but took a moment when she was talking about different interpretations of the Bible, to say, The red letters is the only part that's important, the rest of it is a history book, don't worry about interpretations. If I could leave anything of value with her, I felt like that was the best value I had to offer at the beginning of her path. I allowed myself to say it because it arose spontaneously, flowed from the moment.          
 
 
sol lewitt
 
 
 
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