Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Walking Diary with Buddha Tree

I've walked and bicycled past this tree often. The group of three trees each has a knot or a wound or a branch-ectomy that pained me to see until I noticed the smiling Buddha face in the northward facing tree. Its sibling trees have the knots facing south. The north face Buddha is the only one smiling. Whether I walk or bike north:south or south:north I always smile at this tree, and remember that smiles are contagious, and no matter what life tosses into existence, it's good to be alive.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Prana, Qi and Biocentrism

Read Biocentrism last night by Dr. Robert Lanza, MD and Bob Berman, astronomer. I don't remember the direct route that led me to this book (I find reading science/cosmology/metaphysical in combination makes me forget my name and all my passwords.) I zipped right through the book which leads me to believe that I am already on the path, or I totally don't get it. Maybe a little of both. The book quotes a Zen saying, "Name the color, blind the eye," and perhaps putting a label to consciousness does the same to awareness. But the book addresses the questions I have right now. What was there before the Big Bang? What is the universe expanding into? Quantum physics doesn't answer. The answer cannot be nothing, because nothing is not model-based reality. Even Einstein was perplexed by the concept that physics works on a galactic scale, but not on the atomic level or below. Waves act like waves until someone spots one and then it holds its breath and becomes a particle. Oops! Spotted. Quantum physics can measure what we collectively agree, in our model-based reality of mathematics, on a large scale but it is contradictory to what occurs on a small scale. But physicists are absolutely certain that sometime in the very near future, a Grand Unified Theory (GUT) will wrap it all nicely together. In waves or strings, or M-theory, or vintage jacquard ribbon? Superposition experiments now underway might reveal something. But what if, just what if, as the authors of Biocentrism query, what if consciousness is what created it all? This gets right to the art of Einstein's "spooky action at a distance." Suppose that in the beginning there were waves of probability, and then there was awareness. Suppose that external and internal are just language distinctions. Suppose there is entanglement on an unimaginable scale, from subatomic to multi-universal? Suppose EPR correlation is behind our eyeballs, encased in bone? We're trained to accept science as it is from early on. We flavor it with a little traditional religion. Then we start asking questions that aren't answered by sources we used to trust. Saying, "Because I said so" only works for parents, quantum physicists and religious leaders for a while. What then? We look elsewhere. We look within. We meditate and see stuff we cannot believe we see. I'm a lousy meditator. I have cartoons I've drawn about how bad I am at it. But I'm getting better, not with practice, but with letting go of model-based reality. I saw something this year in meditation. Two spheres approaching each other from opposite horizontal directions, within the spheres infinite other spheres together. When and where the spheres touched, energy exploded in every scale of color from the place the spheres touched. We were called out of meditation, and I told what I had seen. Reverend Lorna Brown nodded, and said what I had seen was prana. I had to look it up. It was powerful, mesmerizing, comforting and electric to see this unfold behind my eyes. I came straight home and made a gif animation so I would remember. Perhaps one day soon, rather than let physics handle the heavy lifting, we will combine studies. I want to shake the hand of the first biophysicosmobotanicalmetaphysicalist. I will, until I learn her true name, call her Reverend Mother Doctor Wow.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Traditions

Lions and the Packers. Grandpa, Dad, Uncle Bill, Uncle Ken taking a walk after dinner in their topcoats and fedoras. Women in the kitchen with aprons and pearls. Aunt Leota's pfeffernüsse. Auntie Mabel's trifle and blue hair. Singing "Happy Wanderer" with Grandpa playing his melodeon. An interesting piece on npr this morning about the first Thanksgiving. This year I'll remember family and loved people who are enjoying the bounty of the universe elsewhere, hug the family that will be at my sister's house, and be grateful for the memories past and those still to be experienced.

Monday, November 22, 2010

HVCA Arts&Greens Holiday Market

Huron Valley Council for the Arts put on their Arts&Greens Holiday market at Bogie Lake Greenhouse this past weekend. This event is always beautiful, well attended, and festive. We were there with Lazar, The Good Deed Dog, and my novel Chantepleure. After our book signing time, Geri and I walked the show, visited with artisans and enjoyed the company. Geri found some holiday gifts at Linda Locher's L3 Art Dolls booth. Wonderful happy art! We talked with Cindy Cillick Geist before the show. I remembered her from last year and enthused "the purse lady!" she said Mary Bajcz was there also, and she was thus only 1/2 the purse lady. Cindy wore a stunning watercolor jacket she found at Salvation Army, and recognizing the good bones bought it for $1.25 and dyed the silk. Priceless! She showed Geri and I the shawls she makes and how the fabric is a mobius (wrong side stitched at the underarm seam to right side.) She finds worthy fabric, and dyes the silk. Machine washable! I remarked. She said "you think all those folks in Asia are dry cleaning their clothes?" I'll be washing my silk henceforth. We spoke with Lynne McLean, fiber artist about her wool felted sculptures. Perched high atop her booth set-up was a handsome Wine Dragon - she is known as "The Dragon Lady" although her animals, wizards and Santas are just as stunning. A large sun with a wry expression and a single pierced ray made us laugh. She explained felting with a barbed needle, as well as soap and water wet rolling techniques. The wings on The Wine Dragon are rolled with metallic fiber, using the wet method. Fantastic sculptures, so lifelike I expected the dragon to breath fire. You'll be seeing more of her work here. I love her art and asked if she would be willing to be interviewed. She said she would, and she has a photo of The Wine Dragon to share! You may see and buy these artists' work at the Black Sheep Weavers Fiber Guild holiday show December 3rd-4th in Hartland, Michigan.

No More msnbc For Me

Tonight I turned on the television after dinner for Dad and the first words I heard on Hardball were Sarah Palin. If I wanted to find Sarah Palin, I'd go look for her. I don't. And I have no interest in Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, FoxNews either. But if we composed a tag/ or word/cloud from msnbc's shows beginning at 5 and ending at 11, I can guarantee that the top words would be these. msnbc struggles to match Fox shows' ratings, doesn't come close, and can't seem to find a clue why. Here's a clue: I'm done watching msnbc. No more watching shows that cover the competition subject matter more than any other newsworthy interest. I'll watch Rachel Maddow only. When I can stay up that late.

Lazar Is A Star!

Lazar, The Good Deed Dog was the best selling book at the 59th annual JCC Metropolitan Detroit Book Fair, held November 1 through 14, 2010 in West Bloomfield, Michigan. With 65 authors represented with premiering books, Myrna Gelman Shanker's first published children's book found an appreciative audience. Lazar himself was in attendance for the reading on November 14th and greeted many friends and relatives of residents at the Fleischman Residence/Blumberg Plaza. Mazel tov! to Lazar, Myrna Gelman Shanker, and all the wonderful people who know and love Lazar's story. A portion of the proceeds from each book sold benefits the quality of life for Jewish Senior Life of Metropolitan Life.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Introducing the New Boot

Not same as the old boot. Two boots for added impact. I like these boots and the blog will enjoy wearing them. Classy, womanly with strong character. A touch vintage, a dash kinky. Lola would like. There's enough fussiness here with all those laces and grommets that I assume the wearer is fabulously well-to-do enough to hire someone to lace the things up. On The Boots first outing: Dove Men+Care commercials for foaming shower gel for cleaning - man hide. If I was a giggler, I'd be doing that. Skin must be too girly for men with hides to have. And what's body hair, I wonder? Man fur?

Walking Diary with Sumac

I experimented with seeing things a different way today. The world without my glasses is soft-edged, mysterious. Model-based reality is subject to lots of fun - sometimes eerie - distortion. Today I tried walking looking over the tops of my glasses. This is not a recommended experiment at speed. Requires a professional walker on a closed course, but I did enjoy seeing things differently. When I wised up and steered sighted, sites I see every day appeared anew. The sumac in the distance looked like quotation marks suspended in the branch web. What was nature quoting? Was the sumac reciting? Was Mother Nature showing off her Shinto shrine? Within the sumac quotation marks was the wind strumming the grasses and reeds, nature's string section. The oak leaves applauded, the last trees with foliage to rustle. The rain drummed the tarmac and played percussion on the bleachers in the empty football stadium. The sumac presented the quotation marks, not as a request to see, but a call to listen. Perhaps I can hear better without my glasses.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wordless Words

Words to lose from the cultural conversation. Overused to the point of meaninglessness, or zeitgeist-ed into the opposite of the word's etymology. Add to this list of phrases to ditch: family values, moral authority, New Age. Transparency is now the synonym of obfuscation. Distraction has been coopted to mean that someone has done something nefarious, controversial, or just plain dumb and is now going home to "spend more time with the family" because everyone can't stop talking about how nefarious, controversial or dumb the behavior was. We hear countless times a day how bipartisan something is, while showing no evidence of compromise. We transition through various degrees of war. If anyone else reaches across the aisle while not compromising in any way from the rigid ideology of whatever stance they're taking, I'm going to throw up. And, please come up with some other timeframe than at the end of the day. When is that exactly?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy 18th Birthday, Bianca!

Biancalanapatookamunchkidoo is 18 years old today. Her birth name is Bianca Mariah Elizabeth Lawson, but when she was the tiny preemie bunnyheart we first saw, she attracted as many nicknames as leads monitoring her in the incubator where she spent her first days. She rushed to be born a Scorpio, when she was scheduled to be a Capricorn. She wore a Cabbage Patch doll outfit for her family debut at Thanksgiving dinner. She fit in the palm of her daddy's hand. Just weeks before her birth, while her mother was cutting my hair, our sister was encouraging Carol to get daycare now. Carol thought she had time to arrange that. I said if I was available when the baby was born, I'd watch it. And here she was two months early! I grabbed all the baby books I could carry home. This precious little girl never napped in a bed while I was on watch. I wanted to make sure she was breathing. What a joyful experience to see her grow and develop! One day I was washing dishes. Bianca was laying on her back on the floor with her overhead Sesame Street "batting cage" above her. I put a dish in the rack, turned and she was gone! I freaked. Two steps into the room, there was Bianca on her stomach. She looked at me, shocked at what she'd just done and then grinned. Once she remembered how, she flipped until she fell asleep, happily exhausted. She started daycare at 2.5 years old, and knew all her colors, shapes and had a sparkling confident personality. Today, the anniversary of the amazing day Bianca joined us, she's a beautiful, tall, smart, wonderful high school graduate with even more fantastic accomplishments ahead of her. Happy birthday, dearest Bianca. You've been a joy since the moment you came into our world.

Tax Cut Color By Number

This is what extending the Bush tax cuts will look like by annual income. The numbers get very sweet and red for those earning more than $500,000 per year, and absolutely juicy for those earning more than $1,000,000 a year. The tax cuts for the wealthy will take $700 billion in revenue from the operating income of the United States. That looks like this: $700,000,000,000.00. Shouting DEFICIT REDUCTION while demanding the tax cuts be extended is like shouting FIRE! in a crowded building while pouring kerosene on the flames.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I bought this gum at the Rocket in Ypsilanti, MI. The store is fun, the owners great and the products will cheer you no matter what your malady. The store is moving across the street on Michigan Avenue into larger quarters. Terrific to hear in this economy! Go Localmotive!

Yielded to Existence

Reading with relish "The Sacred Depths of Nature" by Ursula Goodenough, a woman who writes on the 13.7 Cosmos and Culture blog on NPR's site. She teaches biology at Washington University, and has been President of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science. The book is constructed to give us the science accessibly, beginning at the origins of the universe, Earth, then chemistry, cells to organisms, biology and biodiversity, awareness, multicellularity, death and speciation. As we read the steps from the inartfully named Big Bang to us, each new study is connected to the awe that is the building block of religion. What Stuart Kauffman called in a recent post "enabling constraints" flows in this book. We are here by science, by experimentation in nature that allows life and then, if a good result is achieved, hopes it remembers how so life can do it again. I am happy reading Ursula Goodenough's book. I sit here typing because a long time ago, our universe was pinhead size and unimaginably hot and then expanded. In the first 3 minutes physics went ziggity boom and yielded subatomic particles. Protons and neurons looked for company, found some and the whole thing kept expanding and forming alliances (except helium, that decided to go it alone), emanations necessary for all life in our universe and countless others. And now here I am. When I was diagnosed with cancer in 1996, Jenni Chipman got me two gifts: a book called "Cells and the Biology of Cancer," and the movie "Toy Story." She knew I needed to understand what had happened to my body, and then I'd have to refocus on what still was fun about life. Like Goodenough's book: in the beginning there was physics, then chemistry, biology, then...Toy Story. I feel thought kinship, an easing of spirit she gifts me because I know I cannot possibly have answers where none exist, that the unknown remains the unknown - a great Mystery that is the Big Bang of awareness, and the physics of religion. Looking at my photographs recently, I noticed an angle that appeals to me quite often. A curve, either upstream or down, so that the viewer does not see the beginning or the end. I must like this view, and I am aware that when I take the picture, I feel happy and enjoy the little piece of water I can see. I know the river begins somewhere high, flows from a source to a sink just as energy flows. I know the river ends at a larger body of water that I also do not see, and I am comfortable with this reality. I am yielded to existence, and thus to experience, and I am awe-fully glad.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Border's Books: Magazine Sections

Today I'm trying to catch up on my behindedness during National Novel Writing Month. Rather than duct tape my hands to the keyboard, like I should, I cleaned the bathroom, made lunch, tea, a mess, and several self-corrected dashes for distraction. I gathered all my journals for inspiration. I'm finding cool stuff, some fatuous nonsense, and Thoughts for Later. One observation I wrote on a piece of paper while wandering unsupervised through a Border's Books. A magazine aisle was titled "Men's Interests." This perhaps includes everything from cigars to blue dresses, but as many times as I circled the magazine aisles, never appeared its corresponding section "Women's Interests." Well. I circled again. What I found is a section called "Fashion & Health" in which rests Border's interpretation of the female range from cigars to blue dresses. Bizarre. I thought you'd think so, too. And then I went looking in my own aisles for the magazine I wanted to start - a magazine that covers real women/real interests. "All the muse says fit to print." No fashion. No anti-age creams, manage your portfolio articles, or getting The Big O. Note to reader: The Big O for Sister Ann meant that when she was gowned for her PhD in theology, and all the boys got ordained, she didn't. There you have it. Health & Fashion; bah, my blue dress.

Monday, November 8, 2010

England Driving

It's one thing to know you'll drive on the wrong side of the road in the UK, and quite another to get in a car and do it. We had landed at Heathrow, needed to pick up a rental car, then Brian at Gatwick. We got lost first turn out of the car agency. Dad insisted on driving and my control freakdom went ziggity boom as we circled around trying to get on the M25. Every travel piece I'd read warned against doing that, but we had to get to Gatwick posthaste. I collected Brian, and we flagged Dad down as he zipped around the roundabouts, hugging the line closest to his neighbor. We drove back roads to Christchurch, since I had map custody and wanted no more adventures on major roads. Narrow roads, huge trees inches away, buildings smack at the tarmac; if someone had opened the front door in some of these villages, we'd have ripped it off. As it was, we lost two hubcaps, one on a roundabout adventure in which Dad zipped around, shot off onto the side road we needed, right in the path of an oncoming Jaguar. Dad smiled, waved his hand apologetically and mumbled "American! Sorry!" We had to replace the hubcaps and turned it into a black market shopping fantasy. Here are Dad and cousin Charles giggling like schoolboys at their find. Charles later sent Dad a "UK Award For Painless Decapitation," making him an honorary member of the "Dorset Roads Association, Righthand Drive, 85% Clean Removal."

Old Sarum

The eeriest site we visited, older than Stonehenge, with layers of history and a countywide view that is daunting. The wind was fierce, and has been for centuries. The cathedral built here before Salisbury had its roof blown off 5 days after it was consecrated. I was afraid to climb any higher on the Royal Palace remains, and took this picture of the interior with my cousin Brian holding onto my coat, the camera strap whipping in and out of frame. You can feel the history shrouding you among the stones; dark clouds raced in, scowled and moved quickly away. Neolithic hunters roamed the bailey and slept here, Roman soldiers quartered in its walls, and Henry II kept Eleanor of Aquitaine prisoner in the cold rooms. Peter of Blois (Latin secretary to Eleanor after Henry's death) wrote "It is a place exposed to the winds, barren, dry, and solitary: a tower is there as in Siloam, by which the inhabitants have been for a long time enslaved." The top of the windy hill became too crowded and the local nobles too contentious, and the whole place moved to Salisbury (New Sarum) over the next couple centuries. Old Sarum became one of the rotten boroughs, in the 1800s electing two members to the House of Commons, despite the fact that the eleven landowners all lived elsewhere. One of these was William Pitt the Elder, whose home you'll see soon.

St. Michael and All Angels, Steeple + George Washington

The American connection: Agnes, heiress of the Washington family married Edmund Lawrence. In 1540 the Lawrences moved to Steeple, as John Washington moved to Virginia and became the great-grandfather of George Washington. Our Stars and Stripes were derived from the quartering of the arms of the Lawrences of Steeple and the Washingtons. There is a letter in the church, and a Washington flag presented by the Mayor of Washington (1970s?) acknowledging the Steeple connection to the American flag. The page with this artwork reproduction of the stone tablet pleasantly offers a "very special and warm welcome to our American cousins and hope they will be interested by Steeple's historic connection with their first President."

Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Steeple

The brochure describes The Parish of Steeple's first mention in Domesday Book (1087) when the manor of Glole, Stiple and Criz (Church Knowle, Steeple and Creech) was held by Roger de Belmont. In 1540 it was bought by Sir Oliver Lawrence of Creech Grange, sold in 1691 to Nathaniel Bond, present owner family, who still live in the parishes of Church Knowle and Corfe Castle. Baptism, marriage and burial records are complete from 1548. If you'd like to see older information, kindly visit County Record Office, Dorchester. The lower parts of the walls in The Nave are 12th century Norman, as is the font. The chalice is an Elizabethan communion cup with a Dorchester silversmith hallmark, and a 1574 date. I would have roamed for a day in this beautiful little church and setting, wandering in daydreams from century to century.

Ye Olde George Inn, Christchurch, Dorset

Downtown Christchurch, a short walk from the ruins of Christchurch Castle is this charming carriage pub. There's an archway over the courtyard carved "Duck Yer Nut." Anyone on a horse would get konked in the forehead without obeying. To the right at ground level is a small barred window. The plaque above tells that prisoners deported to Australia had this last glance of Merry Ol' and free folks headed into the pub for an ale. We were at Stonehenge when my cousin said, "we need to get back, I want to buy you a beer." I asked him, "why?" He said, "because it's your birthday!" When we got back to town and walked from The Druid House to the Inn, it was closed. 10:00 p.m. We went back another night. It's a tiny place, awesome in its antiquity. The ceiling behind the bar was so low, the bartender had to duck her nut to serve the patrons. I had my first Stella Artois there. We talked with our neighbor at the bar, a retired pilot who flew Margaret Thatcher around. His daughter lived in the U.S. near Sigourney Weaver. King George came up in conversation again that week as we were driving past an enormous chalk hill drawing of a man on a horse. I asked cousin Charles "who's that?" He said, "that's the bloke that lost us the States."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Admirable Women: Mary Hawtrey/Lady Bankes

Scanned my England pictures today. The binder broke, and so has my memory of some of the stories. Before the stories are lost, I'll write them here. My father's family is English, and live in Dorset, from Lyme Regis to Weymouth, Bournemouth and Christchurch. Cousin Charles has passed on, and the stories are shared in his memory. A marvelous host, we saw places we would not have without his gracious guidance. This picture is of Corfe Castle, which was the backdrop to the murder of Edward the Martyr in 978. His stepmother had him killed and his body tossed in a well. In 1643 Cromwell's Parliamentarians laid siege to Corfe Castle for 13 weeks. Lady Bankes resisted this attack, and more through 1644, 1645. On February 27, 1646, the castle fell to the treachery of Lieutenant Colonel Pittman, who let Cromwell's troops into the castle in the dead of night. In March 1646, the House of Commons raised a levy for mining and gunpowder to "slight" the Castle, reducing it to the ruinous state we see today. Cromwell features prominently in much of the destruction we saw in Dorset. I laughed out loud picturing Lady Bankes thumbing her nose at the Parliamentary troops. Good on 'ya, Mary! Cousin June told a story of taking visiting relatives to the Castle for a visit. There was a dense fog as the car slowly approached the high street in the only gap in the Purbeck Hills. Out of the fog emerged a company of Roundheads. It was a National Heritage reenactment the group had wandered into, but June said it established the time/space enough that all were swept back to the 17th century for a day.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Physicists Like P-branes

Just read "The Grand Design" by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow and I'm enjoying the aftermath of discovering that the universe doesn't just have one history, but every possible history. My head is still spinning from coming soooo close to understanding the concept that observing an event alters an event. M-theory, we find out, isn't examining how the University of Michigan football team can actually develop some defensive strategy that actually works, but the network that has eleven space-time dimensions. "M-theory can contain not just vibrating strings but also point particles, two-dimensional membranes, three-dimensional blobs, and other objects that are more difficult to picture and occupy even more dimensions of space, up to nine. These objects are called p-branes (where p runs from zero to nine)." For those of us who loved string theory, here's the next joy. Imagine the inside of a straw. M-theory allows for 10 to the 500th power different universes in the curled interior, each with its own apparent laws. We occupy only one of those possible universes. It's a nice one; I think I'll stick around. Only in this universe could I have a tshirt that reads "Physicists like p-branes" and read a great book like this one. I'm content.