Monday, January 30, 2012

the enchantment

Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 30 january 1948) lawyer, activist and teacher

today is the anniversary of the death of gandhi - a tireless activist and advocate of non-violence who died at the hands of an assassin. mohandas gandhi, who is known as mahatma, which means great soul, was shot at point blank range on this date in 1948 moments before a prayer meeting was to begin. this was the sixth known attempt on his life since the mid 1930s. two days prior to his murder, gandhi reputedly had a premonition and remarked:
If I am to die by the bullet of a mad man, I must do so smiling. There must be no anger within me. God must be in my heart and on my lips.
gandhi developed a theory of non-violent activism which he called satyagraha - the theory of non-violent civil resistance. since the early 1900s when attorney ganhdi developed this technique to fight for the civil rights of indian residents in south africa, satayagraha has been, and still is, embraced and used by activists throughout the world, in the struggle for freedom, civil rights, and social justice.

the enchantment from sheilia chandra's 1992 album weaving my ancestors voices. this album was my introduction to chandra - her voice is truly enchanting.

photo: indian garden in the cleveland cultural gardens - the indian garden was dedicated in 2005 and the ten foot tall bronze statue of mahatma gandhi was added to the garden in 2007. photo taken 26 december 2011

Friday, January 27, 2012

float on

may the sun bring you new energy by day,
may the moon softly restore you by night,
may the rain wash away your worries,
may the breeze blow new strength into your being,
may you walk gently through the world and know it's beauty all the days of your life.
Apache blessing

i thought i'd share a few images from a winter walk in a park near casa mouse. i love hiking in the winter - i find there are many things made visible that go unnoticed other times of year. perhaps if more people got out and walked in the woods during winter, more people would appreciate winter.

the track of a mouse is so cute - it even looks like a mouse! hmmmm, makes me wonder, onomatopoeia is a kind of word from a sound associated with what is named - i wonder if there is a name for a track that looks like the animal which leaves it?

squirrel tracks - can't say they look like a squirrel!

i expect these are the tracks of an off lease dog - or maybe it is something more exciting like a coyote!

alas no snaps of the rabbit or deer tracks i crossed, but here's are a couple more pics i particularly like.

snow settling on a vine shows the spirit face of this tree - oh yeah

an icy waterfall runs down shale cliffs into an iced up river. when the water runs more openly one generally see lots of different types of water fowl in this part of the river- geese, grebes, mergansers, and ducks. this past weekend i saw none - i did see tracks of aforementioned birds - but alas didn't capture any snaps of the tracks - my mind and eye was elsewhere i suppose. i miss the birds.

our weather roller coaster continues - today started out nice and snowy, but the day progressed so did the temperatures - by noon we were above freezing. everything now is wet and drippy; the forecast calls for more of the same. the january thaw has been coming and going all month long. it will be interesting to see what february brings.

i'll probably skip the nature hike this weekend and try and catch up on movies. there are only a few weeks left before the academy awards. a few years ago i started a tradition of visiting my (fellow movie loving) mom for oscar weekend so can watch the academy award show together. the program a great deal more fun if i've seen the movies that are nominated - and i try and get in as many films nominated as possible, at least in the big categories like best picture, best actor, and best actress. my mom is doing really well this year, there are only two of the nine films nominated for best picture that she hasn't seen. i on the other hand, have only seen three of the nine - my goal this weekend is to try and get in two films. in case you are curious, the three i've seen are: the artist (which i loved, loved, loved - too bad there's not a category for best animal in a leadin role - uggie (who plays jack the dog) would have that award paws down! midnight in paris (again two enthusiastic thumbs up!) and moneyball (which i enjoyed).

i couldn't think (or find) a song about animal tracks, specifically mouse tracks - instead how about a song by modest mouse - float on from their 2004 album good news for people who love bad news

photos: rocky river reservation, cleveland january 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

burns night

Contented wi' little and cantie wi' mair,
Whene'er I forgather wi' Sorrow and Care,
I gie them a skelp, as they're creepin alang,
Wi' a cog o' guid swats and an auld Scottish sang.

standard english translation:
Contented with little and jolly with more,
Whenever I forgather with Sorrow and Care,
I gave them a slap, as they are creeping along,
With a dish of good new ale and an old Scottish song.
Robert Burns (25 january 1759-1796)
above 1st verse of Contented Wi' Little and Cantie Wi' Mair

tonight is burns night - a night of celebrating the life, poetry and songs of scottish bard robert burns, also known as robbie or rabbie burns. according to this reference, the first burns night was organized by burns' friends few years after he died - and the tradition has been fairly continuous ever since.

to celebrate burns night the mouse presents three vids of songs/poems which were presented during a 2007 bbc broadcast of an audience with burns hosted by gordon kennedy - thank goodness for youtube.

as an aside, speaking of youtube, last night on npr there was a story which reported that for every second of every day, an hour of video is uploaded onto youtube - according to a youtube spokesperson a century of video is posted every ten days! crazy!

okay back to rabbie - enjoy!!

eddi reader singing burns song the banks o doon

roddy woomble singing the lea rig

i was delighted to see the program included my favorite burns poem, to a mouse performed by actor dawn steele.

want more? here's burns ode to scotch performed by actor gary lewis and reader and friends singing burns best known song auld lang syne

photo: as it is wall wednesday and i didn't have anything in my photo files specific to robert burns or scotland (that i can think of) i thought this snap which shows a detail from reed thomason's mural gives a wee nod toward burns poem to a mouse, lakewood public library

Monday, January 23, 2012

cold haily rainy night

Every day one should at least hear one little song, read one good poem, see one fine painting and -- if at all possible -- speak a few sensible words.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) writer & polymath

such wonderful mouse medicine from goethe! so far i think i'm three for four....

i absolutely adore the imagined village - as its currently a cold rainy night (with more than a promise of hail) here on the north coast, i offer as today's song the musical collective's version of the folk song cold haily rainy night - which i first heard many years back by the great martin carthy - who by the way is one of the ever revolving members of the imagined village!

photo: cleveland 22 january 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012

act naturally

Experience is what you get while looking for something else.

Federico Fellini (20 january 1920 - 1993) filmmaker

act naturally - written by country singer-songwriter johnny russell and voni morrison was first recorded by buck owens and the buckaroos in 1963 and quickly made its way to the top of the country charts.

in 1965 the beatles covered the song, it has the unique feature that unlike most songs beatles songs, the lead singer for act naturally was ringo starr. according to the list in the portal, ringo is listed as lead vocals on 16 songs compared to john, 146; paul, 146, and george 52.

photo: view of lake erie, 20 january 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

it's your thing

Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.

Joseph Campbell (1904 - 1987) mythologist, writer, lecturer

today's tattoo tuesday features a triptych of sorts where people create sacred space through their body art.

the top photo is a tat of the egyptian eye of horus - the eye is personified in the goddess wadjet and is used as a symbol of protection, power, and good health.

the second tat is a fairly intense image of a jesus wearing a crown of thorns framed with what looks like a rosary with a background of the cross - underneath is written god bless my family on an open book topped by an angel.

the third of the series a buddha sitting on a lotus - in buddhism the lotus represents the true nature of being.

here's a flash to the past! the isley brothers performing their hit song it's your thing on the sonny and cher comedy hour. the isley brothers recorded the song for buddha records in 1969.

photos: top - albuquerque new mexico, october 2011; middle - nyc, june 2010; bottom; bellingham, washington, april 2010

Sunday, January 15, 2012

people of hope

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.
Martin Luther King Jr. (15 january 1929-1968) minister & civil rights activist

tomorrow is the martin luther king national holiday, but today is reverend king's actual birthday. happy birthday martin - i wonder what you would say if you alive today about america and the world?

women of hope by morley - i can't believe i only just heard of this artist and this song - i don't think of myself as living under a rock! i am aware of the song now only because i subscribe to the e-newletters from

i can't get this song out of my head. it is so beautiful and powerful - if you haven't heard the song, i recommend you take a few minutes and give the song a listen - if you aren't moved, well what can we say?

i include two versions - if you click on the ted link above, you can watch a video which was recorded a couple months ago at a 2011 ted conference; below is the music video morley made a few years ago -- i really enjoy this vid, it reminds me a bit of those clever videos of playing for change. this vid was directed by the gifted filmmaker damani baker.

morley's inspiration for the song:
This is a song that I wrote after watching a CNN program on Women and war... I quote Aung San Suu Kyi...when her people asked her for a message, saying how helpless they feel under military rule, she responded by saying, "If you're feeling helpless, help someone". This moved me because it is so brilliant of her to empower her people like that, I found so much inspiration and truth in her words that it got me thinking of all the countless women of hope..

photo: public art sculpture, artist and title unknown (but i'm working on it!) santa fe, new mexico october 2011

Friday, January 13, 2012

in hiding

Whether animals admit it or not, they and I communicate.

Carolyn Heilbrun (13 january 1926 - 2003) academic and author

i love today's quote by carolyn heilbrun and totally identify with it!

mystery buffs may know carolyn by her pen name amanda cross - i used to really enjoy her kate fansler series - as the protagonist is an english professor the books are chock full of literary references. like all good series the books have a cast of recurring characters, but what i really love about the books is heilbrun/cross's ease at incorporating feminist ideas into the storyline. i just checked out the list of fansler books and i seemed to have stopped reading the series when we moved to cleveland - i haven't read the three novels that were published post 1997! well i will have to remedy this shortcoming.

speaking of mysteries it is time to head up to the studio and get to work on the jj project, when i quilt i enjoy listening to audiobooks - and mysteries are among my favorite genre to listen to - i am particularly drawn to series. i recently discovered thomas perry's jane whitefield series. in just a few weeks time i have listened to four of the six whitefield books published and am halfway through the fifth book. the library doesn't seem to have an audiobook of the second book in the series, i doubt i'll get around to reading a hard copy of the book as there are too many other books on my 'to read' list and i don't read-read as many mysteries as i used to.

when it comes to reading a book i more often choose other types of books. i generally have a couple real books going at any one time - one fiction, one non-fiction - right now i have four books underway: 1) priest by irish author gerard o'donovan (i'm almost done with it, i'm happy to say! it's been a long time finishing, halfway through the book f noticed it and he either didn't think i was reading it quickly enough or he was captivated by the blurb on the cover, he picked it up and read it in jig time - i've probably maxed out my renewals for the libary!) 2) the memory palace by mira bartok - a powerful and heartrending memoir about growing up with a mother with schizophrenia 3) from here to there: the staughton lynd reader a collection of essays and talks by lawyer, activist, and historian staughton lynd. next month f and i are going to an event in which staughton and alice lynd' will receive ohio citizen action's howard metzenbaum award for their lifetime commitment to working to promote positive social change. 4) ann patchett's latest novel state of wonder.

for christmas i received a kindle fire - right now i haven't gotten into reading books on it (so far i'm using it more to check email, play games - words with friends/scrabble and read periodicals and check things on the web) i do have access to lots of books; f has had a kindle for a couple years and has amassed a nice library. we often enjoy the same type of books - although our taste in non-fiction isn't very similar - he doesn't often read memoirs and i don't often read books about sports or wars.

okay, i went on much longer than i intended to! off to piece and find out how jane is going to get out of the current quagmire.....

today's song in hiding (1997) by pearl jam was inspired by the writings of the reclusive writer charles bukowski.

photo: casa mouse squirrel, 13 january 2011

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, "What good is it?" If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.
Aldo Leopold (11 january 1887 - 1948) ecologist, author, forester

the habitat song performed by amy carlson. amy's version differs slightly from the song's author bill oliver's original version (see read below). but that's the beautiful thing about music - especially folk music - one can adapt the lyrics to fit the circumstances. i couldn't find a vid of mr. habitat performing his own song.

bill oliver's the habitat song


Habitat, Habitat, Have to Have a Habitat
Habitat, Habitat, Have to Have a Habitat
Habitat, Habitat, Have to Have a Habitat
You have to have a Habitat to carry on!

The ocean is a habitat, a very special habitat
It’s where the deepest water’s at
It’s where the biggest mammal’s at
It’s where out future food is at
It keeps the atmosphere intact
The ocean is a habitat we depend on! (Chorus)

The forest is a habitat, a very special habitat
It’s where the tallest trees are at
It’s where a bear can scratch her back
It keeps the ground from rolling back
Renews the oxygen, in fact
The forest is a habitat we depend on! (Chorus)

The river is a habitat, a very special habitat
It’s where the freshest water’s at
For people, fish, and muskrat
But when people dump their trash
Rivers take the biggest rap
The river is a habitat we depend on! (Chorus)

People are different than foxes and rabbits
Effect the whole world with their bad habits
Better to love it while we still have it
Or rat ta-tat-tat, our habitat’s gone! (Chorus)

photo: according to the fine print on the mural this piece of wall art was designed and directed by joe stephenson in july 1998. it is part of a community public art project and was sponsored by the city and a number of other associations, individuals and groups. albuquerque, new mexico october 2011

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Is solace anywhere more comforting than in the arms of a sister.

Alice Walker (b. 1944) writer & political activist

tattoo tuesday returns - finally!

today's tats are sister tats which i snapped in november at the gathering which celebrated jeff's life. the sisters - and legs - belong to two of jeff's nieces.

i absolutely love the idea unique "sister tats"

sisterhood is a special relationship.

in my family of origin (e.g. = sibs) i have one sister, who i cherish so much - we are both siblings and sisters.

sisterhood and sister relationships are not limited to blood ties - from what i've observed not all female siblings are truly sisters, i see and agree with maya angelou's perspective, angelou states:
I don't believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.
that said, i am blessed with a bevy of sisters - miraculously, some of my sisters are sisters through the 'accident' of birth (my blood sister/sibling and some my sisters-in-law) but i have other sisters, these sisters are sisters by choice. the connection is there, the love is deep and sweet and lasting. today i celebrate all my sisters - you know who you are - thank you.... i love you!!!!

the song legs (1983) by zz top accompanying a photo montage of beautiful and sexy television & film actresses of the past and present - clever video collage and dude, i love, love, love the opening sequence from the one of my favorite all time films, the big lebowski

Monday, January 9, 2012

stitch by stitch

Each morning sees some task begun, each evening sees it close; Something attempted, something done, has earned a night's repose.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) poet & educator

merton and i have been very busy in the studio - i recently started a series of memory quilts. i have to confess that i am quite preoccupied by the project. but that said, i am hopeful that it won't be too long before i find a rhythm and balance to my days where i will soon reconnect with my mouse medicine muse and the bloggyhood - until then i wish everyone a happy new year!

this series that is underway is a group of quilts that i'm making primarily from the shirts of a dear friend named jeff who died this fall. i first met jeff in 1979 when donita, one of my closest friends from college, brought him 'home' to texas (where we were living and where donita and i met in 1973) to introduce him to her family and friends. several years later they married. we remained close. in the early 1990s donita and jeff relocated to metro dc and settled into a house just a couple miles away from where my folks live - what a wonderful gift this was as now we had many opportunities for sharing our lives - we met up frequently either in metro dc or where f and i lived - connecticut and then cleveland.

a month before jeff died, i saw him while i was on a trip to metro dc to visit my mom. during that visit jeff was in the hospital, he was in good spirits and was looking forward to getting out of the hospital in a day or two. we were all hopeful that he was going to get stronger and beat the "weird infection" that he was battling - - or at least "an infection" was the prevailing theory about why he was ill from july through september.

there were still tests to come in, but in late september we had no idea that when the tests came back the news would be so grave. jeff was discharged home, however, after only a couple days he showed no improvement and was getting worse, so it was back to the hospital. while in the hospital, the rest of the test results came in - the news was dire - a diagnosis of stage four cancer - unknown primary location. the cancer was widespread and completely invasive - there was nothing that medically could be done. jeff was discharged home with hospice care - and one week after learning the diagnosis jeff died.

too sad. too tragic.

there is no such thing as a good death for a person who is only 58 with still half a life or more ahead to live. but there is comfort in knowing that jeff's suffering was not drawn out and there there is even more comfort in knowing that jeff was surrounded and lovingly tended to by those he loved - his wife and daughter, and some other family and friends who were able to make it to town or lived near.

six weeks after jeff died, there was a beautiful celebration of his life. jeff's send off was moving, absolutely heartfelt, and healing. donita asked if i could make some small memory quilts for his sibs and his mother, his two best friends, and a quilt for her and their daughter out of jeff's shirts. of course i said yes, i am so honored to be so entrusted to such a task. so in november before heading back to cleveland after the celebration of jeff's life, donita, zoe and i went through jeff's closet and filled up two big bags with his shirts - most of jeff's shirts are colorful and bold - like the man he was and the man he will always be in the hearts and minds of those who were privileged to know him. each day i work on the project i feel the healing power of memory and love - i hope that when they are done this power will be extended to those who receive the finished works.

stitch by stitch sung by javier colon

Thursday, January 5, 2012

friendship train

I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.
Umberto Eco (5 january 1932) semiotician, philosopher, and writer

happy new year friends!

we are already nearing the end of the first week of 2012 - how did that happen? i hadn't planned on taking a blogging holiday but that's pretty much what happened since my solstice post.

i can't recall a december that was as packed as december 2011 and we didn't even go off on any wanders but stayed here on the north coast the entire month. i'm happy to report that on the whole it was a pretty wonderful holiday season.

we were blessed with so many special times with family and friends.

a few random snaps of the last couple weeks -

on the solstice, friends host an annual gathering - one of the last parts of the solstice celebration is for each person in attendance to light a candle and share their hopes for the days ahead.

a new member of the household arrived a couple days after solstice.

i should preface this introduction by mentioning that the number of cats at casa mouse dropped to a historic low of two while running errands with my daughter, em noticed that we were very close to the apl and mentioned that maybe we should drop in and look around. it didn't take long for me to completely fall for the gregarious orange (7 month old) kitten baxter (now formerly known as baxter).

on the ride home em and i discussed baxter's name - we already have a cat named baxter in our community of friends, and two baxters, well that is one too many. on the ride home with the sweet, mellow cat on my lap, the name merton arose and it just fit! as t.s. eliot states the naming of cats is a difficult matter - it isn't just one of your holiday games.

i'm happy to report that merton baxter gets along famously with tsuki and relations with the other critters are peaceful. merton wants to play with stella, but she would rather he keep his distance - which he does. merton even tolerates dixie when she comes over to visit and i have high hopes that one day he and dixie will be as good of friends as tsuki and dixie are.

the same day i adopted merton, bingo turned one! that night there was a wee birthday holiday celebration at bingo's house.

bingo receives a little candle blowing help from his mama and big sister ms t!

then it was christmas weekend!

we spent a cozy christmas eve eve with friends in oberlin

christmas day got off to a tasty start with breakfast crepes - courtesy of daughter em who is a master crepe maker! later on christmas we were blessed with the arrival of out of town friends and fictive sisters from metro dc.

the day after christmas we headed over to the cleveland museum of art where we met up with other friends. as everyone is an art lover, we checked out the special fu baoshi exhibit, looked at the progress of the new atrium, and wandered about the galleries of the permanent collection.

friendship, peace, love, and health to all!

2012 is off to a good start! all i have to do is get aboard the blogging train! i confess, along with not posting on the mouse, i'm totally out of the loop in terms of visiting friends in the bloggyhood! but i'm not worried after all, tomorrow is another day.

gladys knight and the pips performing friendship train in 1972. friendship train (1969) is one of many classics written (or co-written) by norman whitfield. whitfield is credited as one of the creators of the motown sound and he was also instrumental in the development of the sub-genre of psychedelic soul. by the way, other whitfield hits include: papa was a rolling stone, i heard it through the grapevine, ball of confusion, and just my imagination (running away with me)!

Calling out to everyone across the nation
Said the world is in a desperate situation
Stealing, burning, fighting, killing
Nothing but corruption
It looks like mankind in on the eve of destruction
Oh yes it is now people let me tell you now
We've got to learn to live with each other
No matter what the race, creed or color
I just got to tell you what the world needs now
Is love and understanding get aboard the friendship train
Everybody shake a hand make a friend now
Listen to us now, we're doing our thing
On the friendship train

We've got to start today to make tomorrow
A brighter day for our children
Oh calm down people now we can do it
I can prove it but only if our hearts are willing
[ From: ]
Now get aboard the friendship train
Everybody, shake a hand, shake a hand
Yes I'm talking about the friendship train
It don't matter what you look like
People or who you are
If your heart is in the right place
In the right place
Talking about the right palce
You're welcome aboard now

This train stands for justice,
This train stands for freedom
This train stands for harmony and peace
This train stands for love
Come on get on the friendship train
People listen to me now
Harmony is the key my sisters and brothers
Oh yes it is I say
Harmony is the key my sisters and brothers
People can't wait cause another day might be too late
Come on get on the friendship train

top photo: cleveland, 3 january 2012