Wednesday, November 28, 2012

ABC Wednesday: T is for...

technically, this trickery is treacherous; but truthfully, I'm trotting out tired tableaus to tastefully tailor the tidbits to the task.  testify to my turning to the tepid for this travesty - thanks!

the tip of Taco's tongue!

Thomas the Tank Engine

train track

Tibetan monastery art

turning the Tibetan 'manikhorlo' (prayer wheel)

thoughts?  thanks for tuning in - ta!

come share!


Monday, November 26, 2012

A fantastic bit of luck!

some of you may have noticed my awesome profile picture, which I have used on other sites as well.  I use this image because I LOVE it, as it reminds me of me in so many ways - from the pouty/dreamy expression, to the wild hair, to the many little bits of shiny ephemera, all on a dark-bluish background (my favorite color).  I can't remember how I found it, most likely on a search for a 'blue fairy' or a 'grumpy fairy', but when I saw it, it struck me deeply, and I pulled it off the web to add to my collection.  there was no artist listed or I surely would have credited it properly, because I am a stickler for such things.  I even remember re-searching the image to give it another go, as I really really wanted to give credit where it was due, but to no avail.  the image's origins remained a mystery to me.

until TODAY!  'Laloofah' of Mehitable Days left a comment on a recent post of mine identifying both the artist and the painting, as it turns out they are her favorite - hooray!  so I can now tell you all, and the world, that this image is titled 'Magpie Fairy', and it is by Josephine Wall - check out her website!  my deepest respect goes out to Ms. Wall for creating this image, and I do hope she forgives me for using it all this time without proper acknowledgment of her hard work, and dedication to her wonderful art.  below you will find the artist's description of her own work, which just made me love it even more!

Magpie fairy

Magpie Fairy

"I enjoyed painting this work, which I think of as the "Magpie Fairy" because just as the bird is attracted to bright shiny objects which he collects, so too my fairy has been attracted to various everyday objects.

Discarded as rubbish, or accidentally lost, she finds them irresistible and adorns herself with them. Obviously because she is very tiny, the objects are depicted larger than life. I had great fun deciding which objects may have been discarded by humans and would be small enough and interesting enough for a fairy to collect.

As you can see there are many items, from safety pins and paper clips to stamps and a bottle top, changed from the original wording "Dry" to read "Fey", obviously she felt it was more appropriate, in addition to many forest items such as acorns and oak leaves, she has nuts for rings and of course, last Christmas's broken 'fairy' light bulbs for earrings.  Not a traditional fairy but rather a streetwise, happy-go-lucky, modern fairy." - Josephine Wall

yup, sounds just like me!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Whirl #84

a recent interaction with my psyche, in which the Universe provides me with comfort in the form of a man who is both familiar and attractive to me:

in the dream, my head lay upon the smooth, bare chest of a sleeping man, encircled by his arm, holding me close.  as my eyes opened (in the dream), and I realized where I was and who I was with, I curled against him in his bed, and felt content.  oh, and the scent of him!  the strong, solid, shape of him, still so attractive to me after all we'd been through, separately and together.  I skimmed my hand across his skin - held it just above the surface, hardly making contact at all.  it was so still, and the flecks of early sunlight just beginning to touch the glass ornaments hanging in his windows told me the dawn was yet to fully come.  I filled myself with the serenity of the moment, as I knew (in my dream) that I was in one of those dreams that held the power to sway me off of my feet for most of the next few days.  as the lucidity fell away and the waking dream ended, my eyes opened to the sight of my own unshared bed in my own room, sighing as my dream lingered in my senses, and I burrowed beneath the heap of my blankets to preserve the feeling as long as possible.  these dreams often manage to help lift some load off my shoulders, or burdens from my mind, just by serving as sweet reminders of comfortable companionship, and that I am loved.  oh, but the smell of him - even in a dream - and how it carried me through the next few days on a cloud of emotion, much like a reflection of falling in love with the same person, eternally.  and as much as I love the person represented in the dream, I also know the dream is telling me the one I need to be in love with - is me.

click on the link to see other wordlers' whirls!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ABC Wednesday: S is for...

it seems someone is seeking to see snapshots and scenery for this week's selections, so I searched my substantial archive to sift out a series that would serve. these should satisfy:

'snow tires' - winter '94

Sri Lanka

the Sphinx

Suvganiyot - traditional Hannukah treat


come join the fun!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sunday Whirl #83

I am sorry for the fire

sorry for the pawn they made you

because you didn't belong

I am sorry for the silent ways

               in which

you were made to feel wrong

yet I feel such pride

                         in the life

you managed to find

full of beauty

                    and faces

unblemished by fire

how you managed to bust free

                    and unless I am mistaken

you did most of it for me

Saturday, November 17, 2012

the Goddess as Inner Country

the things that made up my childhood included family get-togethers centered around the Jewish holidays, the film industry, photographs and stories, so is it any wonder that I write, take pictures, and 'stare at my navel' as most people refer to the practice of contemplating the wonders of the Universe and choosing to actively engage in them?  well, I guess it was to me, because I'm still figuring it out...but I've always expressed myself well through the written word, and I still have copies of a few stories I wrote in elementary school alongside the journals I was published in during college, including the travelog my mother forced to me to keep on our trip to Israel in 1977 - an exhaustive,  photographic history to share with my classmates when we went back to school in the fall.  how I resented my mother for making me do homework every night of that trip, but maybe I'll publish it someday, and allow myself to forgive her. 

so there were these two elements that were pervasive in my life, though I took to the stories like a duck to water, and absorbed them all sponge-like and thirsty.  and I read a lot.  more than anyone I knew.  I wrote poetry, and did well in school on English assignments.  and I told a lot of lies.  I don't remember why I lied when I was a little kid, but I remember how powerful it made me feel to trick my family into thinking I had run away by opening the window of the room I was sent to in punishment, and then hiding in the closet as I listened to them frantically run through the neighborhood looking for me.  when I came out of my hiding spot, they were so happy, we all forgot why I had been punished in the first place, and I became a life-long suspect of criminal behavior.

I lied when I was older because I didn't want my parents to know what I was really up to, correctly suspecting they would disapprove of my choices.  telling them "I'm sleeping at Robin's tonight," made way more sense than saying, "my boyfriend and I are getting a hotel room, see you tomorrow."
I don't necessarily think they believed me all the time, but perhaps they appreciated the effort to preserve their sanity.  so, into college, and still with the stories, the short stories, the poems, the newspaper articles, the interviews, the speeches...and then came the photos.  my folks had cameras, my school had a Photo I class, and it looked like I would have an easy few credits - which I did - but I didn't count on really digging it, and taking to it like...well...having been raised around it my whole life.

'snow tires' - winter '94
from the first roll of black & white film I developed myself

at that point, though my spiritual background was firmly embedded in the Judaism I was raised with, I had enough exposure to other forms of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to know what was going on with most of those people, as well.  I was getting hyped on Zen and Buddhism, and connecting to Paganism, and the Celtic traditions, as well as runes, herbs, meditation, Sufism, metaphysics, psychedelics, mysticism, ancient rites, neurosciences, sacred dance, pendulums, dark arts...anything and everything esoteric.  so when I had a chance to take four months with which to write and photograph my way around the world, I jumped on it attempted to balk at it, but the Universe took its proverbial pound of flesh and made me do it anyway - while I am eternally grateful that I went, I hate the price I had to pay for the freedom with which to do it.  so I wrote my way around the globe, and took pictures of the trip.  I will probably be sharing some of those words and images in the near future, stay tuned.


when traveling alone, in countries new to me, I found that I would gravitate towards places of worship, or centers of spirituality, as they were generally islands of calm, and a convenient place from which to get my bearings, as this country girl can get pretty overwhelmed in the fast-passed, stress of an urban environment that uses the same language as me, let alone one that wasn't even on the list of French/Spanish/Latin classes offered at the schools I had attended.  so, I gathered up more great stories, took some wonderful photographs, and grew in my heart and spirit as one must do when actively reaching out to touch and experience the new, the unknown.  like crossing one's own consciousness, the point of synthesis, the Nexus, if you will, of my Ecstasy (the title of my first collection).  after which, I landed in the Great Snowy North.

a great many things happened there, but the one that pertains particularly to this little ramble had to do with clay.  these words from T. S. Eliot came to me through a study of our planet, several years before that happened, though:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
and to know the place for the first time
in my case, I had come back to clay as a medium in which to cultivate and work with formulating my ideas by using my hands, rather than a tool attached to my hands (pencil/pen/keyboard/camera).  I had to start over, in a prehistoric way - had to pound out tablets to carve glyphs on, draw maps through the mud of primordial myth-making, and suck out an understanding of my new self from an old place.  the subsequent release came in the form of a realization through my own work - in traveling the globe and photographic the holy sites I had visited, I had drawn myself a sort of picture of spirituality, and an idea of how it may be informed by the geography of the land on which it's born.

as a theme, it was something we discussed briefly in the class group I was part of at the time, but mostly because the faculty advisor to the student teacher found it interesting, and worthy of further exploration (thanks, Hong Yue).  so while my writing life was keeping busy, my photography life was taking a vacation and indulging in some pornographic shenanigans to blow off a bit of pent up creative steam.  I found that while I could write my way through my spiritual and mythological ramblings, I couldn't photograph them so well, and fell back on engaging in studies to try and experiment with ways to express 3-dimensional ideas inside a 2-dimensional box.  and porn, just because it's fun...

right about this time was when my readings began to resonate more deeply within my body - not just on the surface of my skin, or in my mind.  to be sure, my skin has always been sensitive to psychic phenomena, but it's also thick, like my skull, and hard to penetrate.  and as I looked harder and more intensely into the abyss, I began to understand that spirituality has an inner country, too.  that the pulse and rhythms of the planet we live on vibrate through us, and that by connecting with them, we can effect change in a physical way, right before our eyes.  I mean, I suppose I had known that before, but I saw it as a separation...or rather, as a growth, of the concept that 'female' held just as much power as 'male', and that the divine combination could be synergistically transformative - but for the most part, we were better off leaving each other alone to do our thing.

anyway, as I dove down the rabbit hole of recreating my own personal mythology by drawing from the rich and varied resources I've gathered while under the influence of loving life and pursuing happiness, which I have had the great fortune to dedicate the majority of my life towards, I thought a wonderful way to synthesize my interests would be to invite people to take part in an artistic process that involves both writing about, and photographing oneself as, the embodiment of one's personal spirituality.  sounds fun, no?  I think what I'm feeling is if the geography of the land, on the surface of the planet, can exhibit influence over the vision of divinity employed by the people who live in different regions and climates, how much influence must the inner waves and rhythms of the planet itself have over the vibrations and frequencies absorbed by our physical beings?  are we, can we be, instruments through which our Mother can fine tune us/herself to align with her needs and desires?  perhaps she's calling on us to summon our father the Space Dust for an interstellar gathering of the tribes, and our consciousness is to serve as the invitation...

wouldn't that be some party?  so, to you, my friends, during this auspicious time in our collective transformation, I offer the word that in my house, has become the equivalent of a 'joyful noise':


some of you may prefer a sort of poetry:

or some gospel:

whatever it takes for you to get a groove going, set your booty bouncing, makes you throw your hands up in the air and laugh and sing, get to doing it.  the world is gonna need a whole lot more good feeling going around, and it's up to each and every one of us to recognize what brings out the best in ourselves and others, and to focus on creating more of it.  as I move closer to retreating so far into myself that it's all I can do to sit in full lotus, clothed in orange, chanting Om while radiating Peace with every ounce of everything moving through me - I want to take a minute to be thankful for the opportunity and freedom to do so.  I sincerely hope that there is a need my experience can fill, and that in some small way, I already helping to give it the room it needs to manifest.

what do you do to get inspired to take on the world?  what are the concerns that you find yourself drawn to address?  in what ways do you get involved?  what drives your passion in these pursuits?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

ABC Wednesday: R is for...

Roma and Racism 

not a fun subject, right?  but there are some thoughts that have been rolling around in my head, and I need to write them down to draw a circle around what it is I think I'm doing with them.  first off, I have no genetic 'proof' - such as a cheek swab from my estranged brother whom I haven't seen or heard from in years, for DNA testing - that my father was Rromani, but I have the stories I was told.  not the ones that came out when my father's people got together at a gathering, but the ones he spoke low in the dark, into the breeze of a quiet, evening dog-walking, back when I still lived in the relative comfort of my parents' home.  they would come out like whispers, confessions in the dark.  we couldn't see each others faces as we looked outward, away, following the dog with our eyes as he followed his nose.  we would stroll in the quiet of our suburban neighborhood, the hush of after-dinner glow vaguely lit by televisions, mutely exploding through living room windows, falling against the night.  "I don't dream," he would say, a truth that would shock me again when I heard it from my child's father, 20 years later, as I realized with new horror what that statement meant from an adult mindset.  as a teen, it was a confusing thought, but as an a parent...painful doesn't begin to cover it.

I go on about my dad a lot, I know, but he truly was an amazing guy.  even now, almost 14 years after his death, he's still hanging around whispering in my ear, telling me things we didn't have the time to talk about while he was here, and I am thankful for that.  when I was a young girl, and would have these private times together with him, we would talk about god and nature, history, and music; about what I learned in science class as opposed to what I learned from going to temple and learning about Judaism.  I'd tell him about how the big bang created the Universe, that large masses of gas exploded out into space and started the whole big, beautiful, messy dance, and there was no big, white dude with a long, white beard sitting on a throne in a cloud, pointing his finger to direct any of it.  he would nod sagely and consider that, ask me questions about how I came to my conclusions, what facts I used to support my evidence, and I'd answer with all the confidence of girl on the verge of womanhood.

and how his heart would have burst with love for me right then - from the washed, conditioned, brushed and styled hair on top of my head full of highly-ranked, East coast, North American public school brains, to the tip of my well-polished, designer label shoe-encased toes.  how he must have cried inside with sobs of gratitude on his metaphorical knees to watch me (all of us!) sleep in my clean, warm bed, in my own carpeted room with windows, closets, bookshelves, a desk, tv, stereo, and telephone.  there were vacations in other countries, holidays with gifts, theme parks, concert halls, art museums, music lessons, a car to drive at 16...the daughter of the man, who as a child, ran barefoot through the desert catching scorpions to sell for pocket money.  I had never had to huddle in a bomb shelter, scrounge for food, hide in the night, run for my life, wonder where my parents were, feel lost, alone, abandoned, afraid, hungry...never having to face the horrors that war shows to a child.  to bear the scars of an adult, never.  not for me, not for his babies...

but what is the cost?  okay, so my father managed to buy his children the sort of freedom and comfort he never had, but how many did he have to kill to earn it?  and how much of himself?  and that war is still going on, isn't it?  children are still dying in the Middle-East (Europe, Africa, Asia...) while I send my kid to an East-coast, North American public school where the same stereotypes are equally as ignored as they were back in my day.  so I grew up knowing to respect Black people, Native Americans, and Jews, but not Palestinians, Muslims, or Christians.  I had a glancing awareness of Buddha, and a possible glimmer of thought about the host of other religions/cultures/different sorts of people there are in the world - yet I would remained silent when I would hear people I called my friends putting another group of people down for being from another country, because I was one of the 'accepted unacceptables'.  pretty girls generally get a pass if they can keep their mouths shut, but how much of myself was I made to put away to do it, and why should I have had to?  what is the cost of never knowing?  and how much now that I know?  

to see the emails pile up in my inbox, the news articles day after day - segregation, violence, exclusion, death.  so from me, no more silence.  okay, so when I was younger I would call myself a Gypsy to seem more exotic, and in high school I would cut class and give tarot readings in the library...I had (have) a crystal ball, and hung wishbones from a crystal wand I got at the Renaissance Festival.  it can be said that I am guilty of representing for a people whose culture I have very little experience of in the most undesirable and stereotypically damaging ways.  and it bothered my dad at first, until he figured out how to explain it away by saying, "all that Gypsy blood had to end up somewhere."  I would get vaguely annoyed when I saw other people misrepresenting, but only so far as to point out that I was a 'real' Gypsy, and they were mostly just white kids who liked living in a van.  I finally read a book about the Rromani people when I was just shy of 30, because I felt it was the one part of my heritage I knew the least about.

to be fair, I don't know much about being being Polish, or Russian, other than a recipe or two that came out on holidays, but that branch of my family tree has been in North America since the 1920's, and I'm fairly well grounded in it because even as Jews, we were members of the predominate cultural paradigm.  while one side of my family was fighting WWII on the American team, the other side of the family was fleeing Romania (another place I know nothing about) for Israel, to escape from it.  when my dad's people left Israel to go on to Canada, he stayed where he was, having found his home on a kibbutz, growing cotton.  I grew up knowing all about being an Israeli-American, though - that story was part of my every day life.  being Israeli had a meaning over and above being Jewish, which was just the 'bible stuff' they used to teach you the prevailing set of moral codes - being Israeli meant fighting to stay alive in a world where all sides wanted to kill you every moment of the day.  we were told we are a war-like people, and I believed them.

when I thought I had a better understanding of who the Rromani people were, I thought I was starting to understand why my dad wasn't overly fond of his folks, aside from the mistreatment he suffered at their hands.  the book I had read had pretty much lead me to the conclusion that Gypsies were slightly more dignified than the trash the rest of the world seemed to believe them to be.  slightly, but not much.  I did begin to see why my dad liked to put on a show when we were around his family, though - he always wanted to seem richer, happier, smarter, well-behaved, proper, and clean.  he wanted to rub the shame in their faces.  "hey, what language is that you speak with Grandma ?"  "it's a secret language...I don't know..."  these were nebulous people.  still, they were mine, and I felt like I was beginning to own them.

finally, I met a woman who is more vocal than I am about being Rroma...she's downright loud about it.  but she knows she's Gitano in a way I can't say I know I'm Rroma.  however transparent of a veil I've adopted from this culture, she wears it like a cloak, carrying it with her, and asking you to hold it sometimes.  she 'outed' me to the administration of our college to bring weight to a discussion she was having with them, and I felt pinned to a dissection board, and ran away from the focused gaze of revelation.  what if I was found to be inauthentic?  would it matter?  not one bit.  I had spent all these years attempting to define for myself who I was, and getting bad information to go on, and here was someone through whom I could get a better story...and what it story it's turned out to be.  remember all those emails turning up in my inbox each day?  the ones I can't un-recognize the privilege with which I delete them when they become too much..?

...the ones that make me want to chuck everything and go to where the trouble is and throw my western attitudes around, 'get shit done, goddamn it', and probably get shot for being an elitist asshole or something...  but what am I supposed to do?  putting myself behind a brick wall in a community without power so my kid can't make it to the segregated school, either - while I throw my fat, white, ass in with the adults - not only doesn't solve anything, it just give them two more people to look after.  so I argue over misappropriation of culture on the internet with seriously inappropriate people who spout the sort of hate speech it shocks me to realize is still so deeply embedded in their everyday mindset.  maybe I'm not surprised at the thinking of it so much as the audacity to say it out loud, and have others stand up behind them and agree, loudly.  

again, this is nothing new either to me, or to the world at large, but I guess it's the first time in a long time I've let it touch me so deeply, and I'm remembering what it was like to have to stand up and defend my Jewish, and/or Israeli heritage, and not let the little prejudicial bastards think I was going to take any of their shit.  well, and now I'm not going to stay silent and let it happen to the Rromani folks, either.  we all remember this great quote (or one of it's variations), right:  
First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
right.  it does seem possible to affect at least a small amount of change by getting involved in signing petitions, sending letters, and making phone calls, because awareness is a big first step towards helping to evolve an outdated idea.  and you want to know the funny part about it all to me?  the big, cosmic joke, as it were?  we are the Rromanis your mother warned you about.  wait...what?  that's right, you heard me.  if those whispers of story are to be believed, then my father's people are the ones who gave us the bad name in the driveway and painting business, and the house-fire stories, too (and I wouldn't doubt if one of my uncles was inappropriate with someone's daughter).  yup, we are the ones who made the rest of you look bad, and I would like to apologize for that, and make my amends by working towards respecting all human rights, and making sure to represent the Romani culture with the highest level of respect possible, given my limited knowledge on the subject, which is ever-growing.

sorry.  but you know what?  there are bad apples in every culture/religion/society, and as the saying goes, 'the crimes of the father are not the crimes of the son'.  not that my father ever did anything wrong - remember, he did what he could to distance himself from that lifestyle - but I have to say, that as I go around defending a people I barely belong to in the language of my white privilege, pointing out that We are not, in fact, what 'I' am...that as the world begins to notice and accept the Rromanis among the vaulted halls and learned avenues, don't forget those of us who picked the lock and sneaked in the back.  it may not make anyone proud to see me standing in their corner, but I'm here, nonetheless.  I lay whatever skill I may have at the feet of the flag many will question my audacity to post under.  I look forward to learning how I will be called upon to best serve.

Opre Roma ~

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dona Nobis Pacem - BlogBlast For Peace 2012

(a day late, but still worth the effort)

I enjoy taking part in this group posting, or action, because it gives me the opportunity to reflect on my view of what Peace is, what it means, where you find it, how to cultivate it, and what other, generally well-known folks have to say about it (check out my 2010 & 2011 posts).  I mean, all I do is go to the website, copy and save a template, do a web search of 'women peace quotes', peruse the options, edit, save, upload, and share.  this quote, from Ms. Gbowee's Nobel Prize acceptance speech invoked a powerful imagery for me, that spoke to my own sense of moral outrage on behalf of not only 'our children', but 'their land'.  

it speaks to my armchair ideals, and how nice it is (not really, but I take you for intelligent readers) to be among the educated poor in the Northeast section of North America.  and that perspective comes to me directly from women halfway around the world, who find the strength to face death at the hands of warlords while mothering their children.  I can get wrapped so tight in the evenings, because I didn't use any time during the day to wash the dishes from breakfast, and now I have to wash them all in order to make dinner...poor me.  are you feeling any sympathy yet?  yeah.  me neither.

there's been a great deal of psychic stress in the air, lately, as I discussed on here before - what with it being Samhain (Halloween), Dia de los Muertos, and the veil being thin, the change in seasons, the American elections, the upcoming planetary occurrence, environmental anomalies, and the seeming evolution in the consciousness of the collective human-mind...  that's a lot of stuff.  and I realized that, given my position in This existence at This time, I haven't been doing my Earthly job very well at all.  

if you go with the idea that what We are is a ball of luminescent energy burning with the power and intensity of a thousand suns, and add to that my beliefs formed over many long years in deep, profound congress with connecting to my inmost being, and discovering that to serve my highest purpose is to spend every ounce of effort in this Earthly body in the pure and uninterrupted harmonizing of the instrument I inhabit to the vibrations of the Universal Peace and Love through which it came to be, and through which it continues to perpetuate, eternally - than the least I can do for this world, and I do mean the very least, is take the opportunity as a relatively well-positioned, educated, poor, single mama to make sure that nonsense like freaking over the dishes not disturb the cone of love and supporting energy that I need to keep raised and flowing towards my sisters who live on the front lines, all day, every day.

Dona Nobis Pacem - Grant Us Peace, that all children may know the joy, the wonder, the beauty, of the incredible gift it can be to live on this amazing planet.  truly, we are all blessed.

♥ visit the blogblastforpeace website!