Thursday, December 10, 2009


The finished Burj Dubai, on the Persian Gulf ; the tallest earthly building now, at almost 1/2 mile high (I think they cheated and used the towers on top in the calculation). Its probably good that earthquakes are not common in that part of the world since I doubt it was built to seismic standards. It has a third lobe, on the backside of the photo, to create a triangular cross-sectional setup for stability.
This may be the last of construction firsts for Dubai since the Emirate is in serious debt to all of the bond holders around the world who invested in nonstop construction since the early part of this decade --- not much oil there as it turns out!
But a wondrous place to roam around inside of as depicted by this website on the matter.
I am not a fan of "bigger is better" but something/one has to claim the prize I guess . . . and will.

Bigger is better they always say
but why not best in a beautiful way?
Sport and games teach conformity and structure I fear
with nary a thought to art or a song for the ear

from a push by Rhiannon

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Art As Life

It is easy to see that Art is a personal definition and that good Art is truly in the eye and ear of the beholder. I tend to bend toward the most inclusive definition -- perhaps the equivalent of the "universal field theory" of forces and gravity which Mr.Einstein tried to define. That which is true for all and true everywhere in the universe, were we there to witness it.

It could be a watercolor of the Orion Nebula but it is the real photo by Hubble telescope of the majestic astronomical assemblage. Few could argue that it is not art -- meets my criteria: "A presentation which is experienced through one or more of the senses and creates an emotional reaction as the result of it's intrigue or beauty". (I patiently await Art through the sense of smell!)
This is my working definition and includes presentations made by human or nature.

The trim at the top of these flying buttresses exists only as weight in the functional sense. The buttress holds the walls vertical on this church since the angular roof tends to push out on the walls causing an imbalance. These beautiful carvings in stone, to me, are an artful addition to the building even though they serve the function of weight. Thus art need not be "non-essential".
To quote a definition in the OED (Oxford English Dictionary): Art can be "The skillful production of the beautiful in visible forms" -- even if the universe produces it.

I will concede, though, that as music drifts through my mind and raises spirits it has no other purpose than to exist and flow through.

A definition which intrigued me though is as follows: "Art is a revelatory expression of a supportive nature that balances human tendency for logical criticism". Pretty much catches it if we could just watch and witness.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Pictographs on Newspaper Rock in Canyonlands, Utah.
Historians credit some of the etchings, through black "desert varnish" on sandstone, to those living and passing through the area as far back as 2000 years up to when the park service put up a fence to keep us from continuing the tradition of leaving messages on this rock.
It is a pretty area with trees and a stream in a small valley in the middle of Utah rocky desert (my photo); many probably wandered through in the past seeking water.
I like the guy in the middle that looks like Bart Simpson!
There is an image of a person on a horse shooting an elk or deer in the butt with a long arrow in upper right part of the rock. Horses were introduced here by the Spanish about 1650, so this etching is fairly current. It is believed that the Utes (from which comes "Utah") were the first to have the horse and by early 1700s all tribes had access to the horse for transportation or food.


But the main question on my mind though is "what is ART?". A recent query of 27 people in Kansas City in preparation for an art fair yielded a range of responses as printed in the KC Star. My favorite was from Julie and Gary White who answered "The guy that makes those potato chips". I don't know this guy but perhaps he is Art.

Is a beautiful natural view of the moon rising over Half Dome in Yosemite ART or does Ansel Adams have to photograph it in black and white, reproduce it on paper, and hang it on the wall, for it to become art? (Is a beautiful view in the mountains art if no one sees it? -- An arty koan)

The last time I was in an Art Museum I heard no music, read no poems, saw no books , and witnessed no chimes or moving objects except for those displayed by digital expression on a screen. What to make of this?
I consider all of these expressions to have the potential to move me emotionally or visually -- part of my definition but maybe not all of it. I guess remaining would be that art would have to come from someone as an expression of their view or feel of life. This would eliminate those paintings by animal tails dipped in paint or the spinning disk with paint dropped on, at the County Fairs.
It would also eliminate nature not painted or photographed ---- which bothers me. I can find an emotional or visual response in myself with a view in the woods, not reproduced.
So, still a question . . .

"Root Ubris" by Andrey Lev
via moon river
(Oil and markers and poliontan on masonite)

I like this art because of the detail and possibility for engagement.

I shall include it in my definition

Thanks Princess

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Tiny Dancers

(click photo for detail)

“Zazen on Ching-t’ing Mountain”:

The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.

This is a short poem attributed to Li Bai, an 8th century Chinese poet, and expresses the Buddhist idea of impermanence perfectly. Just a reminder, zazen is a form of meditation where one just sits silently.


Attempting to say a few words about change in poetical form, I discovered that many have expressed such, in fewer better words and long in the past.

Fall is upon us and the winter chill will soon be here to cause the end of another season of growth and beauty in the natural world. I attempt to freeze the summer's flowers where no atmospheric changes can destroy them.

But the rebirth will happen; we will see them again in the next incarnation.

And it goes . . .

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lost Soul

Cafe Griensteidl in Vienna

(not my photo)


A hundred times a day, he says,
“I’ll have to return. Here, there is no mercy.
There, there is kindness and warmth and …”
Then he falls silent.

I ask him, “There?
Where is that?”
He points somewhere.
His face is expressionless,
and he does not say anything anymore.

I take his hand.
We go to a café
and sit down at a quiet corner table.
I order coffee for him
and water for me.

I speak to him in Arabic
and mix water into the coffee.
He is annoyed, “Are you crazy?”

He tries to remove the water
from the coffee.

He tries to.

He tries to get the water back
into the water.

Vienna, Café Griensteidl, June 27th, 1997
by Tarek Eltayeb

(translated from the German by Wolfgang Astelbauer;
from “Ein mit Tauben und Gurren gefüllter Koffer,” edition selene, Vienna 1999)

Tarek Eltayeb was born in Cairo in 1959, the son of Sudanese parents. He studied Business Administration at Ain Shams University in Cairo and at Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. He has been living in Vienna since 1984, and is currently teaches at the International Management Center / University of Applied Sciences in Krems, Austria and at the University of Graz.

Found this poem on the poets against war website of all places, and it drew me immediately. I don't know why I pictured that the dreamer was an old fellow, but I did and still do. Perhaps he is thinking of the old world of his past in another country where he grew up and was happy but it is no more --- all are gone; but just because he speaks Arabic doesn't mean that he couldn't be thinking of another life, another time where there was mercy, kindness and warmth and . . .
It is sad that he cannot return, cannot get the water out of the coffee and back to its proper place. But sadder still is that he cannot be in that coffee shop looking around and realizing that this is where he is, and how great it is to be alive.
But I probably change the intent of the words?

Maybe it's that you just shouldn't fool with an old guy's coffee!

Some kinds of poetry have always baffled me: seems as if the old uncertainty principle may apply, as the closer you get to the subject the more it is influenced by your being there. Differing meanings appear as you change perspective based on your experiences rather than those of the writer. Then I think that maybe that is the whole idea!

(not mine either!)

Thursday, July 30, 2009


dull words move ratchety
clunky like squared wheels

stuck in my head--useless repeated detritus:
you know
embolden (thanks dick)
to be honest
so . . . on and on

Oh to string a set so perfect
you could wear them like proud pearls

words giddy with anticipation
of expression flowing rhyming
with exact timing
smoothing the edges perfect hedges
found meaning in words revealing

Down a path of morning light not too bright
to a dunesandy edge of the open sea
edge of the world where succinct and understanding
live in secret places waiting to be found

I wish I had a map

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Iatric Odyssey

It was just a twist to the right while bending over four weeks ago which caused an ambulance ride to the ER for relief from the stabbing pain in my right hip/kidney area. Two days before, a similar but lesser pain took me to my Primary Care Physician who thought "kidney stones" and ordered a CT scan which showed no such. Then came the following over time:

five X-rays
two CT scans
one MRI
one colonoscopy
six doctors and specialists
two hundred and sixty pain meds (mostly not used because of side effects)
fifteen muscle relaxing meds
one hundred eighty nerve meds
thirty anti-inflammatory meds (not taken)
six mg morphine in the ambulance to ER
♫♪ and a partridge in a pear tree ♫ ♫

I sat in 5 waiting rooms with inner-sanctum exam rooms to match, waited for 3 hours max in one such room and learned to take something to read--preferably a novel since magazines may not be long enough for the wait. Household tip on those medical "gowns" you are asked to strip down and wear: tie all of the bows first and then put the gown on over your head with the bows in the back. This saves you having to tie a bow in the middle of your back, or have the nurse do it-- which is worse.

This, the last place to visit, should have been the first since my problem was orthopedic in nature. A lower spinal-column interference between the bones causing them to pinch nerve when the positioning is just right.
A procedure with four needles to inject some cortisone, with another CT to guide the needles was done. It's been a minimal solution at best.
This facility sees 500 patients on some days and is apparently central Missouri's place to go if you have any bone/joint problems --it is chock full of the walking wounded, like myself.
One of my problems with health-care in this experience (besides the fact that the offices cannot schedule patients very well) is that the record keeping is not ready for prime time. I had to three times pick up CD copies of CT scan and X rays from the local hospital and carry them to specialists I was to see--- fill out a form and sign for my records and physically carry them to the appointment. Instead of a regional or even national data base of patient records which can be accessed as necessary by physicians, there are small collections of records at each doctor's office (usually paper) not available to any other doctor unless hoops are jumped through and luck is yours. My doctor will not give me some records but will fax them to another doctor at my request (I have recently found out (HIPAA requirements) that I can request all records from any doctor who has my records, and I plan to request such to build my own medical file so that it is available as needed). A lot of these procedures and tests are not likely to produce any helpful results but done as CYA by the doctor .
I am in hopes that the present Congress can update and modernize this system.

The Hieronymus Bosch painting above is called "The Stone Operation" . In15th century northern European times montebanks (quacks) would propose cutting out stones from those suffering from stupidity or headaches or any number of cranial problems. They would make a little cut on the patient, present some bloody stones, and charge to rid him of the malady. Bosch, maybe the first surrealist, is making fun of this practice by showing tulip blossoms being taken from the patient as witnessed by odd people --I really like the inverted funnel on the "doctor" and the book on the woman's head. The text above and below the painting says: "Master cut the stone out. My name is Lubbert Das"

Years from now our medical system will seem just as antique to those, as the painting does to us now!!

Friday, May 22, 2009


The ubiquitous spring flower named from the Greek goddess of the rainbow. I am not sure how to describe the color -- or even if the color I see is the color everyone else sees-- but what first occurred to me was the crayola color "flesh" which I see has been changed to "peach". We could all agree on a blue or red but I am not sure how a glowing peach would be a common choice . (I just found that there are now 120 crayola colors and the big box now contains 64 colors (how are the colors selected for the box?) and has a sharpener on it).

Iris, would take messages from the eye of Heaven to earth by the arc of the rainbow. She was also a companion to females on the way to the other world; her duty to accompany the souls to the Elysian fields after life.
Taken from the stylized shape of the flower, the Fleur-de-Lis has symbolized France since the 13th century. The black iris (iridaceae nigricans) is the national flower of Jordan and cannot be taken from the wild lest ye be penalized!!

Henry W. Longfellow's take on it:

Thou art the Iris, fair mong the fairest,
Who armed with golden rod
And winged with the celestial azure, bearest
The message of some God.

Thou art the Muse, who far from crowded cities
Hauntest the sylvan streams
Playing on the pipes of reed the artless ditties
That come to us as dreams

O flower-de-luce, bloom on, and let the river
Linger to kiss thy feet!
O flower of song, bloom on, and make for ever
The world more fair and sweet.

"fleur-de-luce" ~ flower of light

My take on it:

Glowing walls of light into which I flow
peace and scents within
for a brief nap ..............
inside looking out

Friday, April 24, 2009


As I breathe in the air a billion years old
and capture the pith of life lived . . .
and living
feel a bond to all that was . . .
and is,
I am joined to the flow
and take my fleeting drink

Here, now, mine, ours, one --
souls in time held in airy solution

As I breathe out . . .
I am emptygone to the future time

a continuous journey

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Inside Dome of the Imam Mosque of Shah Abbas I (1588-1629) (Masjid-e Jam 'e Abbasi) in Isfahon, Persia. He commissioned its construction in 1612 and it was completed in 1638 nine years after he died. But he did live to see completion of the enamel-tile mosaic dome which probably took most of the construction time. I couldn't find out the size of the tiles (there is no real scale to the photos) but am still looking.
This was the first capital of Iran, before Tehran, and it's mosques are considered the most beautiful and elaborate in the world. Some were damaged during the senseless war with Iraq in the 80's but fortunately most still exist intact. I have read that 94% of those in Teheran are poets, or at least consider themselves such; I don't know about what the 1.3 million in Isfahon consider themselves but I suspect a similar feature. What a wonderful aspect to be known for.

Iran is opening up to tourism apparently, and from Persepolis to Isfahon would be a trip to experience. see here

A Tibetan Buddhist sand painting. Unlike the structure above, this construction took about 6 days and 16 monks to complete and is destroyed shortly afterward to indicate the impermanence and temporary nature of life. I am impressed by the symmetry and mandala-like nature of each effort; and the yin-yang nature of the permanence of the Mosque and the impermance of the sand-painting.
I am also impressed with the idea that I can sit here in my cushy chair and observe each extreme of the possibilities!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


This is a Navajo sand painting used in ceremony and healing. ( I didn't know that the Navajo did sand paintings until recently.) Rather than paraphrase, I will just show a description I found of the meanings:

The Whirling Logs Narrative

From the Nightway Chant

In the Whirling Logs narrative, or Tsil-ol-ne story, the hero of the story sets out on a long journey [down the San Juan River]. At first, the gods try to persuade him against going, but seeing his determination, help him hollow out a log in which he will travel down the river.

Along the way, he has many misadventures which ultimately result in his gaining important ceremonial knowledge. In one such instance, he and his craft are captured by the Water People, who carry him down beneath the waters to the home of Water Monster. Black God threatens to set fire to Water Monster's home and the hero is released, but not before being taught by Frog how to cure the illnesses caused by the Water People.

When he finally reaches the big river [the Colorado River] that is his destination, the gods take his log out of a whirlpool where the rivers meet, and help him to shore.

In the sandpainting, you will see the gods, clockwise from the top, they are Talking God (B'ganaskiddy), the teacher; and at the bottom, Calling God (Hastye-o-gahn), associated with farming and fertility. On each side, left and right, are two humpbacked guardians, dressed alike. The humps are usually regarded as back-packs. They are the seed gatherers and bearers. The two guardians usually carry tobacco pouches.

The Gods carry prayer sticks, Talking God, elder of the Gods, carries a medicine pouch in the shape of a weasel.

Where the rivers met, the hero came upon a whirling cross with two Yeis seated on each of the four ends. From them, he learned the knowledge of farming and is given seeds. He then returns to his home to share these gifts with his people. The yei pair are male and female. The male in black, with a round head mask. The female has a square head mask.

In the sandpaintings, these plants are shown, from the right of Talking God as corn, and clockwise as beans, squash, and tobacco. The plants, and/or other elements of the design are shown in the four sacred colors, white, blue, yellow and black, according to their cardinal positions.

On the right side, bottom, and left side of the sandpainting is portrayed the Rainbow Yei, a guardian god. There is sometimes a circle drawn, and painted blue, at the intersection of the cross, said to represent the whirlpool which was the destination of the episode's hero.

Figures in Navajo sandpaintings generally proceed either towards the sunrise or clockwise, depending upon the viewers orientation. For the Navajo, the cardinal directions start in the east (as opposed to our north), and the east is usually shown at the top of a sandpainting, and open (to let in the dawn's light). This is the same orientation of a hogan, whose door is always in the east.

This description is by Mary & Jay Tallant of Canyon Country Originals in Tucson, Arizona.

Their Home


Me again ----- The San Juan river flows in southern Utah into the Colorado river (now Lake Powell) from the east. South is Navajo territory in northeast Arizona where the mesas can be seen for hundreds of miles. When last going through this area, we found many Navajos' hitching rides as they always get picked up. Hitching a ride is a lost art elsewhere since everyone may be suspect! Unfortunate . . . we met some of the best people , picking up the hitchers.

Once, sitting in a hot spring south of Santa Fe, we heard a Hopi from the Jemiz Pueblo above on the rocks chanting in preparation for their spring-solstice ceremony. Story was that if the women in the Pueblo miles to the south could hear him, he was ready for the festivities. After a winter of rest it took awhile for him to build up the volume but improvement was evident after a few hours.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Fred's Place

This found at Fred Farabee's abandoned homestead -- photo of a Lockheed P-38 Lightning used mainly in the South Pacific and Africa during the "good" war--yeah, sure-- (seems that they were not used much in Europe because the pilot could not warm himself with the engine heat as he could with other designs where the engine was directly in front of him to provide a heat source. In the tropics it was so hot in the cockpit,and there was no way to open a window lest airflow be disturbed, that the pilots sometimes wore only shorts, parachutes, and sneakers to fly the missions). Lindberg flew one in the South Pacific as an operational test pilot.
more here

The magazines seemed to go from about early 40's to mid 50's in dates, and then would have numbered over 600 in an old shed and barn.
This time of year is best for perusing abandoned places to avoid the snakes and bugs of summer. It is also easier to spot those well or biffy holes in the ground, always somewhere.

A bean sheller that Fred built and is still operational as near as I could tell, just crank the handle throw in the dried bean pods and it would deliver the beans to a bin below with the shells gone.
This was a poor farm and is still called such by the neighbors who now own it. Freds dad cut railroad ties from white oak trees (Robert ==1865 to 1950) at the turn of the century and Fred would take them 15 miles to Portland, a town on the Missouri river, in horses and wagon, for sale to the railroad. (When I asked neighbors how come Robert was buried some 3 miles away in an unmarked grave I was told "they didn't get along very well"!)

This be the house where Fred and his folks lived their lives. The added-on part is the kitchen ,usually well separated by a wall for cooking in the summer with the hot wood stove. It has a good roof and should last well beyond the 30+ years that it has been alone.
I hope to go back when flowers appear to see what they planted. Usually iris, crocus, and raspberry still come up around the old yards.

There seems to be always something that tells of the spirit and feelings of those gone from these old places. Whether it be an old piano found abandoned or a home-made gravestone for his mother; fabricated by hand, as here. I am told that Fred made a drill bit out of a round file and rigged it to an old tractor-gearing box-- added a handle to raise and lower it and was able to drill holes in this Missouri limestone rock to mark his mother's grave. There was no electric here until my neighbor George Garrett hooked Fred's place up to REA (Rural Electric) in the late 60's so this would have been a hand-operated rig to drill these holes. Fred died in 1977 and was of my grandmother's generation.
I wish I had known him.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Too Much By a Half

Okay, some serious cute is required to drive the dreary dismals from this day!

Perhaps a story to trim:

"I always thought you were a cat, said our cat, but I wasn't sure.
In heaven all things are revealed, said God. This is the form in which I choose to appear to you.
I'm glad you aren't a dog, said our cat. Do you think I could have my testicles back?
Of course, said God. They're over behind that bush.
Our cat had always known his testicles must be somewhere. One day he'd woken up from a fairly bad dream and found them gone. He'd looked everywhere for them -- under sofas, under beds, inside closets -- and all the time they were here, in heaven! He went over to the bush, and, sure enough, there they were. They reattached themselves immediately.
Our cat was very pleased. Thank you , he said to God.
God was washing its elegant long whiskers. De rien, said God."

This is from a story by Margaret Atwood about her cat being raptured up into heaven (Our Cat Enters Heaven, from "The Tent")

If that is not enough:

Didn't know ducks had tippie toes did you?

Couldn't find a cute duck story . . . I finally have a duck story, but it is pretty literal:
These two ducks walk into a bar, which is odd because you would have thought that the second one would have seen it coming!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tracks and Flakes

Tryin to make out
from the inside out
Fractal dendritic noise
patterned here

a rime in time
as I peer near

Thursday, January 08, 2009

My First Car

No, this is not my first car . . . it's not a car and it's not even mine; but rather belongs to our neighbor and is patiently awaiting my attention to get it running in order to pursue its mission of delivering round-haybales on the wagon behind to his hungry cattle. In an effort to get it running again after a rude stoppage, my neighbor installed new parts including the distributor cap which allocates spark to the necessary spark plug at the necessary time to keep the engine running. Of course he, as most of us would, ripped out all eight wires from the old cap and then tried but failed to re-assemble those 8 wires into the new cap in the proper order; a fools journey! Anyone who knows numbers will tell you, as I will, that there are over 40,000 ways to arrange 8 things ordered in a series of 8.

This does bring me to my first car: a Faded-blue 1956 Ford Fairlaine Coupe V8 (a coupe is defined by the fact that there was no post between the front and rear windows allowing for much airflow in the summer with all windows down, handy with no A/C) which I got for $100. Course, first thing I did was rip out all the wiring, including the 8 plug wires, to allow a thorough cleaning of the engine area. Which became sparkly clean and spiffy. But where do those plug wires go?? I was lax in my planning and haphazard in my approach; unfortunately this is still a basic flaw of mine -- among other things I always underestimate mileage to somewhere and fail to correct for it. I don't recall how my brothers and I did it --I must have had some clues because I doubt we ran through the 40,000 possibilities-- but since the battery was dead we had to push it around the block several times changing the plug wires every 50 feet or so after popping the clutch , in second, key on, see if it would start. The feeling I had when it finally roared into life is comparable only to catching your first fish or getting that first kiss. Off we went zooming about with no insurance which meant not taking the car out of the neighborhood. I never did drive it much after that. But I remember how to do plug wires as my neighbor can attest (I let him bring his truck to roaring life just to watch the smile.)
Car probably still resides at the bottom of a limestone bluff on the Missouri river north of St. Louis where my brother disposed of it after I left home. Since then I have owned 11 cars or trucks and 1 cycle and never regretted getting rid of any of them!