Wednesday, February 29, 2012

no love is sorrow

...each human being has within himself or herself at least one poem or short story, or perhaps even a full length book.

Dee Brown (29 february 1908-2002) writer

happy leap day! i can't help thinking how cool it would be if one's birthday was february 29th - the other day i read that if a baby is born on leap day the doctor asks the parents what date - february 28th or march 1st - do they want to have on the birth certificate. on one hand i can understand the sense of that especially in this age of computers; on the other hand, doesn't this practice seem completely bogus?! for me, there is something magical about having a leap day birthday, and if i was a leapling (aka leaper) i would want my birth document to proclaim it.

maybe leaplings get two birth certificates - one truthful one and one with the fictitious date of february 28 or march 1?

i also read that the chances of being born on leap day are 1 in 1500 and that their are estimated to be 187,000 people in the u.s and 4 million worldwide with a february 29th birthday.

i don't remember hearing if anyone i know is a leapling. then again it isn't like i ask everyone i meet what their birthday is, but such an interesting factoid would surely emerge. i toggled over to look at my facebook home page, of the friends i have no one in my fb circle has a february 29th birthday. i do have one friend whose birthday was yesterday - i know him well enough to know that his birthday really is february 28th and not the doctor driven date.

okay enough silliness for today. i'm off to celebrate leap day by catching a film at the cleveland museum of art!

today's wall wednesday snap was taken in april 2010 in eugene oregon.

no love is sorrow performed by pentangle (bert jansch, john renbourn, and jacqui mcshee)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

here we are

I believe in the democracy of storytelling...stories can cross all sorts of borders and boundaries...I don't know of a greater privilege than being allowed to tell a story, or to listen to a story. They're the only thing we have that can trump life itself.
Colum McCann (b. 28 february 1965) writer

i just returned from a long weekend in metro dc - reflecting on my visit, i think the theme for the trip was stories. there was lots of visiting with friends and families - and when humans get together there are stories!

for the last few years i've chosen oscar weekend to visit to my family of origin. my mom and i share a love of the movies - and we both enjoy watching films on the big screen, we will settle with dvds if we miss something at the local moviehouse. this year was a good year for both of us - i ended up catching 7 of the 9 films nominated for best picture and my mom also saw 7 - however, her seven weren't the same as mine (the two i missed were war horse and tree of life; ma's were hugo and extremely loud and incredibly close).

my daughter em flew to dc with me which was great, em wasn't able to stay as long as i and she left sunday afternoon before the movie madness began. although emma shares the family passion for stories and films, most of em's movie viewing happens once movies come available through dvds and streaming, and the oscars were of little interest given that she may have only seen a couple of the films nominated (in all categories).

we spent thursday museum hopping - in the morning we went to the phillips collection in order to view the exhibit snapshot: painters and photography, bonnard to vuillard it was grand. both bonnard and vuillard are among my favorite painters and i never before realized the role photography played in their lives and art.

after the show we met up with friend and fellow blogger reya. this trip to metro dc, reya met not only my daughter but also my brother - on the way to meet reya, who should em and i run into sauntering down seventh street but my brother! coincidentally, paul took the day off so he could do a bit of museum hopping on his own - he was heading to the newseum!

after swapping a few stories, paul went his way and em, reya and i went ours. we spent the rest of the day together - after a lovely, leisurely lunch we checked out the annie leibovitz: pilgrimage exhibit. this exhibition of annie's work is unlike most others of her photographs as there are no portraits - instead, the show celebrates places, and the objects of people which are sacred to leibowitz. powerful.

another theme for the trip was definitely sisterhood - found and familial. in addition to reya, a found sister, in town from washington state was alice, my best friend of thirty-nine years. alice had work in dc till thursday, when her work ended, she met up with us. reya took us to her favorite watering hole - the matchbox - which was wicked fun! not only did the found sisters hit the matchbox, but my brother paul wandered over to have a drink with us before heading back to his house in maryland! after fun at the matchbox, em, al, and i headed to virginia - picking us up at the metro station were two more found sisters - donita and her daughter zoe. donita is another close friend - donita was alice's first college roommate and who weirdly now lives just a couple miles away from my ma! the three of us have remained close despite three decades of never living near each other.

well enough rambling about my recent ramble- this is tuesday after all and the point of tuesday on the mouse is to celebrate tattoos!

lucky for you and lucky for me i just happened to encounter a fellow with some incredibly interesting body art - and each tat is a story in itself. today's tattoos are adorning the arms and hands of benjamin who i met on the washington metro yesterday.

when benjamin entered the car i was immediately taken by his body art - bold mouse that i am went over to him whereby i introduced myself and asked if he would be let me take photos of his tattoos. he most graciously said yes - since we were on the metro there wasn't much time to hear the stories of behind each tattoo - so you will have to use your imagination!

however, i will tell you that benjamin is a bike messenger - clearly the inspiration behind the wonderful tat of moses riding a bike that can be seen in the top snap.

speaking of bikes, the opening quote is from colum mccann - a young writer who when faced with a serious case of writer's block found inspiration and his voice by hopping on a bicycle where by he proceeded to pedal across the country for a year and a half, covering 12,000 miles and winding through 40 states (source) . i have yet to read anything by mccann but after learning that he won the national book award for let the great world spin, and reading these reviews, the book is now at the top of my must read list!

here we are from the fray's most recent album scars & stories (2012)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.

George Eliot (b. Mary Anne Evans, 1819-1880) novelist, humanist & freethinker

today tattoo tuesday looks at animal guides or friends which adorn some of my friends' bodies.

i have long been interested in what various cultures believe about animals. i am particularly interested in the notion that certain animals have particular power and provide lessons for us if we listen. in fact the name of this blog celebrates the medicine* of one of my most enduring animal totems - the humble mouse.

the first photo is of a friend who has long had an affinity for elephants - the band which adorns his arm comes from a drawing which he did when he was young. he told me he drew it based on an image he discovered on his family crest - so it seems as if the affinity for elephants is generational!

i thought it would be fun to share a bit of the wisdom associated with each of the animals from today's tattoos; so, below each photo is a blurb summarizing a bit of the wisdom associated with that animal. by the way the blurbs were copied from various internet sources. in terms of my own printed materials, my favorite reference for animal wisdom is ted andrews book animal-speak: the spiritual and magical powers of creatures great and small (first published in 1993).

Elephant medicine is to know ourselves. Moreover, to see an elephant in Dreamtime reminds us that we need to be more patient and understanding of others. Elephant gives us dignity, grace, strength and wisdom. The key is to honor the power of our cosmic memory for elephant carries the lessons of our planet from the beginning of time. By connecting to elephant, we affect planetary healing beyond the space-time continuum.
When a bat visits us in our dreams, we are challenged to learn the power of adaptation. Bat tells us to quiet the mind and carefully listen within our hearts for a new voice of expression. Bat's spirit reminds us that the past is no longer relevant. Now, we must release old habits and seek a different way of being. The key is to bring all things into balance. In this manner, bat shows us that positive change can be our soul's greatest ally.

Wolf spirit is one of our greatest teachers. He signifies loyalty to family and friends. His gift is to find and follow our true path of destiny through an independent spirit and with trust in our many senses. With wolf, we learn to seek periods of retreat to delve into the mystery. When wolf appears in our dreams, he is guiding us to first find great Medicine through inner work, and then to return to our pack to serve as a teacher, guide and healer.

The appearance of Crow is always a message from our unconscious, for so often Crow warns us of danger, reminds us of our disappointments, and reveals the darker aspects of our character. The key is to be willing to tell the truth regardless of the consequences. Crow's gifts are his voice, his keen insight and his talent for mischief. Crow is a wonderful teacher, so be a good student... one who is prepared to see from afar and speak with great clarity.

Snake appears in our dreams to alert of us of a significant event that will soon spiral into our waking life. Snake's gifts are psychic energy and spiritual healing. Snake awakens our sexuality and brings renewal to our emotional body. His presence provides us with an opportunity for true transformation of the soul to occur. The key is to honor our friends and respect our enemies for every soul is an important teacher in Earth's School of Love.

For the dreamer, alligator spirit signifies the presence of an individual who is willing to acquire personal power through a quiet, inner patience. Alligator's gift is awareness of the dangers, lurking below the surface waters of our emotional body. For alligator, the key to survival is the suspension of judgment, even in the face of the great unknown. This is the path of ancient wisdom, for alligator recognizes that we are all seekers of the soul.
Ladybugs have tremendous symbolism from cultures all across the world. The ladybug is a common symbol of friendship because it is a natural helper in gardens, and works in harmony with nature (and gardeners). In Chinese symbolism the ladybug is very auspicious and considered very good luck. Asian lore indicates if a ladybug lands on your clothing, your true love is sure to come to call. The number of spots on the ladybug is an indication of how many months will pass until you meet your true love.

pete seeger singing the beastiary song (also known as alligator, hedgehog) - a folk classic which has been a childrearing standard at casa mouse since the early 1980s when i picked up my first recording of seeger's animal folk song (in vinyl!). this song and many other animal folk songs appear on pete seeger's album birds, beasts, bugs & fishes (little and big) which is available as a cd.


Alligator, Hedgehog Anteater, Bear
Rattlesnake, Buffalo, Anaconda, Hare
Bullfrog, Woodchuck, Wolverine, Goose
Whippoorwill, Chipmunk, Jackal, Moose

Mud turtle, Whale, Glowworm, Bat
Salamander, Snail, Maltese cat
Black squirrel, Raccoon, Opossum, Wren
Red Squirrel, Loon, South Guinea hen

Polecat, dog, wild otter, rat
Pelican, hog, dodo, bat
Eagle, kangaroo, sheep, duck, widgeon
Conger, armadillo, beaver, seal, pigeon

Reindeer, blacksnake, ibis, nightingale
Martin, wild drake, crocodile, quail
House rat, tosrat, white bear, doe
Chickadee, peacock, bobolink, crow

* Mouse medicine is one of the strongest amongst our animal allies, but is often over looked because he's small. He may not have the voice of the wolf, the eye of the eagle, or the stamina of a humpback whale. Mouse does have the ability to squeeze into impossible spaces, find all that is hidden between the walls, and see what others over look. Mouse can teach us to see the world in great detail. Because mice can only see a few inches from their noses, their world is very close to their faces. This view of life allows us to slow down and look at a situation or project from all the details verses the final out come. Mice can also squeeze anywhere their heads can fit (in most cases the size of a quarter or smaller) showing us that nothing is impossible if we look at all the possibilities. So let Mouse come into your heart today. Let him show you the forgotten details and new possibilities that dance around your feet.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

step by step

All my life, my heart has yearned for a thing I cannot name.

Andre Breton (19 february 1896-1966) writer, poet

in addition to being the birthday of the founder of surrealism, today is the birthday of mouse medicine - it was five years ago the mouse was born. 5 years now that is surreal!!

as friend and wise woman reya of the bloggyhood is fond of saying i guess its onwards and upwards.

this past week has been so busy i haven't posted anything on the mouse. depending on how i look at it, this is either a good thing (i've been productive in other realms of reality) or not ....

however i want to mention one of the highlights of my past week - which was going to hear/see john mccutcheon perform - it has been quite a few years since i last went to a concert of his and i forgot what an incredible musician and storyteller his is.

in honor and recognition of the centennial of woody guthrie's birth, john recently released a cd celebrating woody's view of america - it is fantastic. a shout out for both john and his cd in woody's honor - aptly titled this land: woody guthrie's america.

in the spirit of john, woody and moving onwards and upwards today's song is the traditional and classic folk song step by step

if you'd like to sing along, here are the lyrics:

Step by step the longest march
Can be won, can be won

Many stones to form an arch
Singly none, singly none

But by union what we will
Can be accomplished still

Drops of water turn a mill
Singly none, singly none.

photos: top, laurie's knight (2.12.2012); john in concert at nighttown (2.16.2012),

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

don't think twice, it's all right

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.
Lao Tzu (6 century bce) philosopher & author of tao te ching

wall wednesday continues.

i must say i always enjoy a graffiti tag with a positive message - although, when i think about it, i guess i have to say not all thinking is positive -- and as shakespeare cautions in hamlet - there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

don't think twice, it's all right
bob dylan wrote the song in 1962 the song has gone on to become folk standard and has been covered by an incredible array of artists including joan baez (below), and peter, paul, and mary, odetta, johnny cash, burl ives, billy bragg, and scores of others.

now that i think about it i remember coming across a blurb about a new cd called chimes of freedom: the songs of bob dylan honoring 50 years of amnesty international - on the recording is a cover of the so by rapper and rising pop star. i just checked out kesha's version, it definitely pushes the envelop.

photo: cleveland, february 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

pink ribbons

What we really need is a new women's health movement, one that's sharp and skeptical enough to ask all the hard questions: What are the environmental (or possibly life-style) causes of the breast cancer epidemic? Why are existing treatments like chemotherapy so toxic and heavy-handed? And, if the old narrative of cancer's progression from "early" to "late" stages no longer holds, what is the course of this disease (or diseases)? What we don't need, no matter how pretty and pink, is a ladies' auxiliary to the cancer-industrial complex.
Barbara Ehrenreich (b. 1941) writer, activist

in the course of a photo gig for a local non-profit health group, i'm encountering some interesting body art. today's featured tattoos are on the wrists of a young woman who had the day before given birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl. the new mother graciously allowed me to add images of her tats to my body art catalog. she also shared the backstory - simply said the tattoos are a tribute to her mother a breast cancer survivor.

women's health is once again in the news - alas, to me this is just one more skirmish in the never-ending battle over the control of women's bodies.

again the susan g. komen foundation (sgk) is at the center of controversy and for some of us just criticism. fortunately, the powerful backlash sgk suffered from its decision to cut funding to planned parenthood for mammograms led the organization to reverse its decision and continue funding breast health services at planned parenthood.

the other day i heard about pink ribbons inc., a new documentary which seeks to tell the real story behind the ubiquitous pink ribbons.

Monday, February 6, 2012

wake up and live

Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don't complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don't bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality . Wake Up and Live!
Bob Marley (6 february 1945 - 1981) singer-songwriter, musician

today is the birthday of the great jamaican musician bob marley. even though marley only lived to see his 36th birthday, his musical legacy is amazing.

last night at family dinner we started talking about marley's songs and i surveyed those gathered and asked what each person's favorite marley song is: here is the list for my 'family of creation': one love (f); sun is shining (e); redemption song (t); is this love? (r);and, three little birds (mouse).

after dinner we moved from the dining room to the living room where the television sits. however, since i'm not a football fan (in fact, i would be considered the opposite of a football fan, but we don't have to go there) i decided to conduct a totally unscientific survey of friends and family via text messaging. with the exception of paying attention to madonna's half-time show, i was completely distracted by my project so missed the commercials (which i do enjoy) - no worries, the best (and worst) i'm sure will be run, ad nauseum on the internet and elsewhere and of course missed all or the game. in fact, until this morning i didn't even know who won!

unfortunately my initial message went out as:
no questions from as to why, but just an answer to me from you please; what is your favorite bob market song? thanks!!
damn autocorrect. many folks in the initial group (i discovered text messaging is limited to 20 recipients) figured it out but i did immediately receive replies stating:
who is that? or bob market?
i quickly sent out a correction, clarifying that i meant bob marley.

of course most of my friends/family as with myself were hard pressed to limit it to only one song and provided a top song and an additional one or two titles.

as to the top songs here are the results of my completely unscientific and most random survey (my respondents were limited to those i could text), the number following the song indicates the number of people who stated this was their favorite ( a few of the songs include links to vids of the song).
  1. redemption song - 8
  2. is this love - 3
  3. three little birds - 3
  4. one love - 3
  5. i shot the sheriff - 2
  6. no woman, no cry - 2
  7. exodus - 2
  8. waiting in vain - 1
  9. sun is shining - 1
  10. could you be loved - 1
  11. natural mystic - 1
  12. small axe - 1
  13. jamming - 1
  14. buffalo soldier -1
not unsurprisingly, i didn't hear back from a few folks that i texted; only one person replied none (ah, that explains much, ha ha!) one of my friends replied amusingly:
i didnt know his songs had names
and one of my buds who is on the younger side replied back that she didn't know his songs well enough to say - well i know what i'll be giving zoe as a present one of these days - a bob marley compilation cd!

so sweet readers, if you were to name your favorite marley song what song would that be?

i'll give everyone an advantage that my initial survey did not include - here is a link to an alphabetical listing of (almost) all of marley's songs. the resource is just part of a site devoted to marley which claims to be the biggest fan page on the internet - be careful, it is a rabbit hole with numerous areas to explore and get lost in!

wake up and live - although the song wasn't among the songs mentioned in my informal survey, i chose it as today's theme song not only is it the source of today's daily quote, like most of marley's songs it beautifully reflects marley's world view - which is mighty powerful mouse medicine!

photo: eugene, oregon, april 2010

Thursday, February 2, 2012

the sensual world

Does nobody understand?
James Joyce's last words
(2 february 1882 - 1941)

today is the birthday of irish novelist and poet james augustine aloysius joyce who was born in rathgar, ireland - a suburb of dublin, the city he loved and immortalized in such works as ulysses and the dubliners. joyce pioneered and perfected the stream of consciousness technique of writing - i think stream of consciousness technique is a bit like marmite, you either love it or hate it - as for me, i love both - stream of consciousness and marmite!

there were so many wonderful quotes and passages of joyce's i could have selected today - but when i ran across his last words, well, what could i say - well, they just spoke to me.

the photo above was taken at nighttown a wonderful local restaurant, bar, and music venue. i dropped in the other day just to reserve some tickets for john mccutcheon (i can't wait!!!), but one doesn't just drop in and leave nighttown. as soon as i enter this cozy and atmospheric establishment i feel seduced by the spirit of james joyce.

the place is a virtual shrine to joyce and is resplendent with interesting joycean and non-joycean art and artifacts that delight the senses.

as fate would have it was after 5 pm and the friend i was with had a half hour before she had to get to her dinner engagement - just enough time for us to sit at the bar and enjoy a quick one. generally nighttown has me yearning for a pint of guinness, but my friend is a wine drinker, in sisterly solidarity i joined her with a glass of wine. however, in preparing for this post i learned that there is a james joyce cocktail - who'd have thunk it! i'm not one for drinking something other than a pint or a glass of wine - but, a cocktail in honor of joyce, hmmmm? i wonder if the bartenders at nighttown have it in their repertoire?

kate bush's the sensual world (1989) the lyrics are inspired from molly bloom's soliloquy at the end of joyce's ulysses - yes, yes, who could be better than kate bush to capture the sensual dreaminess and physicality of molly bloom. originally bush wanted to use joyce's own words, but alas the joyce estate refused permission.

photos: top- 29 january 2012; bottom - 2 december 2011

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

tone poem

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore--
And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Langston Hughes (1 february 1902 - 1967) poet, writer, social activist

today is the birthday of langston hughes - a major figure of the harlem renaissance. today is also the first day of black history month - and here on the mouse it is also wall wednesday.

today's post weaves bits and pieces of all that (and more).

today's wall is from a wander a couple years ago i went on in harlem specifically looking for interesting street art. the portrait isn't of langston but of another great african-american dreamer - martin luther king jr. langston huges lived in harlem - beginning in 1920 when he moved to new york city to attend columbia university and then on and off for the rest of his life. although he was an very good student he left columbia in 1922 because of racial prejudice. after leaving columbia, he became increasingly involved in the art and activism of harlem from the early 1920s until his death in 1965. his ashes are interred at the schomburg center for research in black culture in harlem.

you would think that somewhere in my cache of snaps i would have a mural or some street art - from harlem or even cleveland - with a portrait of hughes, but if i do i have yet to find it. one of these days i really have to get all my photos organized. oh yeah!

tone poem by jazz musician charles lloyd performed by charles lloyd (tenor sax), michel petrucciani (piano), cecil mcbee (bass), jack dejohnette (drums).

i had hoped to find a vid of lloyd performing a tune from his album dream weaver but couldn't find any of the tunes on youtube. but that's cool, the tune i did find - tone poem is short and sweet and the title is pitch perfect.