You turn me right round baby right round like a record baby right round round now

I’m contemplating an aikido move. Or at least that’s what the process of taking one energy and shifting it – Using it – seems like to me, based upon what I remember of hearing about Aikido from the folks who actually know… that aikido is about learning how to fall, and also about taking the momentum coming at you from an opponent and using it to let them take themselves down, or to take you up.

Anyhoo –

This site gets spammed an awful lot – insurance and gambling spam mostly – and it’s been a point of frustration for years now, the insectish idiocy, the nuisance. There was another one this afternoon and it came in as response to a post from from few years back called “A Long Ways From The Queen of May”. I deleted it and then I went visiting the post.

As it was May Day yesterday, we had a small bonfire in the back yard and sang a few songs: sea shanties from Shaun, a beautiful one that Katie wrote about breathing in this each moment, and Angel From Montgomery, which is my perennial favorite. I don’t know it, but I love to sing along. I burned a card from Ketchikan and lit a Eucalyptus leaf like incense, while I talked a little bit about Tim. It’s curious to me which facts remain persistent when I speak to new folk about that relationship, that time, that man. I am always somewhat self-conscious and also listening to myself for insights into what I believe about it now, and how my perspective is shifting or enduring.

So then this afternoon I pay attention to the spam and go visit the story from two years ago, about two years before. As I read I am wracking my brain to remember how I spent last year’s May Day. There was a Beltane party, but my point of view, my place in it eludes me. The post’s story brings those other years right back into mind. One storm in particular, but all the days building up to it. One man in particular, but all the intimacies that go before and after.

And the bathroom in that house in NE PDX. The dismantling of fixtures, the pulling of tacks, the stickers on the wall of the kid’s room downstairs, the vacuuming the tape the paint the brushes. The color tequila. That morning with the steamer on the shiny fern wallpaper. Vivid. And blurring with the houses before and after, the old wood one where TC on a ladder yelled at me because I was getting paid more than he was. The news of the war coming through on the radio. The Rachael Corrie play cancelled in NYC.

And after all the accumulated shit, spilling out of the closet under the stairs and topsy turvy in the garage went away, the feel of the blank tequila covered walls by great contrast of calm. The fresh start.

Jill last night by the fire was so matter-of-fact. “It’s May” she said, repeatedly. As in, ‘it’s different now’, ‘we’ve turned a corner in to action, the sun’s caught up, we’re here, we’re celebrating.’

We’re past enduring. Now we build up to the harvest.

Dandelion Remedies

In spite of so many things, I love America – in theory and all that jazz about the right to life liberty and the pursuit of – (oh no, wait, this is where we went wrong and gave ourselves full liberty to pursue happiness at the cost of people in countries that are not american)

yet also in the particular glow that certain faces shine when they are being most animatedly themselves. On fire with something. Call it pursuit of happiness if you must – I’m going to borrow a term from a fantasy book about shapechangers, called Cheysuli, who make decisions based upon their intuitive sense of tahlmorra, or fate. These are not generally the easy decisions you know – the ones that fate determines – these are the ones that call for steppin up. And the pursuit of happiness on the soul levels can kindle this kind of glow.

So I do love America, even when it persists in trying to demonize and spray with toxic shit a plant like dandelion, whose origins are a bit mysterious, and who offers a veritable plethora of helping healing remedies for those of us brave enough to refrain from mowing or spraying and choosing instead to dig it out by the roots in the spring and treat ourselves – remedy-style.

This quoting came from www.altnature.com/gallery/dandelion.htm

Did you have any idea that those weeds sprouting up in the grass all over might also fade your freckles? (Not that anyone Here is looking to do any freckle fading, I’m just sayin -)

Dandelion Habitat and Descripton

Dandelion is a perennial herb thought to be introduced from Europe and Asia. It is now naturalized throughout the Northern Hemisphere. No one is sure exactly how the dandelion has spread so widely, and there is some debate on the origin of the plant.

When placed in a paper bag with unripe fruit, the flowers and leaves of Dandelion release ethylene gas ripening the fruit quickly. A liquid plant food is made from the root and leaves. A dark red dye is obtained from Dandelion root. A cosmetic skin lotion made from the appendages at the base of the leaf blades distilled in water, is used to clear the skin and is effective in fading freckles.

Dandelion Herbal use and Medicinal Properties

The whole plant is used as a medicinal herb internally and externally.

External Uses

The fresh juice of Dandelion is applied externally to fight bacteria and help heal wounds. The plant has an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Staphococcus aureus, pneumococci, meningococci, Bacillus dysenteriae, B. typhi, C. diphtheriae, proteus. The latex contained in the plant sap can be used to remove corns and warts.

Internal Uses

Dandelion is also used for the treatment of the gall bladder, kidney and urinary disorders, gallstones, jaundice, cirrhosis, hypoglycemia, dyspepsia with constipation, edema associated with high blood pressure and heart weakness, chronic joint and skin complaints, gout, eczema and acne. As a tonic, Dandelion strengthens the kidneys. An infusion of the root encourages the steady elimination of toxins from the body. Dandelion is a powerful diuretic but does not deplete the body of potassium.

Research is revealing that the many constituents of Dandelion including Taraxacin, Taraxacoside, Inulin, Phenolic acids, Sesquiterpene lactones, Triterpenes, Coumarins, Catortenoids and Minerals, mainly Potassium and calcium, are very valuable in curing a number of disorders and illnesses. Dandelion is traditionally used as a tonic and blood purifier, for constipation, inflammatory skin conditions, joint pain, eczema and liver dysfunction, including liver conditions such as hepatitis and jaundice.

Weed? Okay, if you say so.

Now somebody tell me what to do with the thistles.

Nettle Soup

When they first shoot up, the purple tips of new spring nettles curl to a point with a frill and swirl, like soft serve ice cream. I went trimming nettle tips last night, from the patch in the back 1/4 acre. Nettle, mint, and thistle – this is how the garden wants to grow. All winter the sentinel plants have been silent, rooted beneath the soil and waiting. And in this interminably slow spring, they are the first heralding of all the wild green sprouting to follow.

And they will win. I know that now. last spring I was still hopeful that some tugging and clearing on my part would balance the scales. Then I watched the the skin on my arms burn and blister from thistle toxin, felt the nettle sting reverberate for days on the pad of my thumb, tasted the mint frolic from the mound by the hammock, and accepted that something in this soil, stronger longer deeper than mere human insistence, would persevere to make mockery of my intentions.

Good to know where I stand.

The mint I’ve made my peace with, easy to do with mint: harvest and dry, muddle fresh into Hendricks gin and tonics, sip in the hammock while gazing upon the slow passing of an afternoon.

The thistles – I’m soliciting advice, from all sides. Being Scottish, I may take a certain pride of association with their ambitious tenacity, but mostly they make me nervous.

The nettles – well I’m harvesting them for tea, and offering a nettle soup recipes from last year’s Spring Co-op newsletter. They are full of calcium, magnesium, chromium, iron, and B vitamins. Harvest them before they flower. Wear gloves.

Nettle Soup:

1 quart young nettle tops, rinsed *5 cups stock or water * 1/4 cup cooked brown rice * 1 carrot * 1 onion * 1 celery * 2 cloves minced garlic * 1/2-1 cup warmed milk if you want a creamy soup * olive oil for sauteing * salt and pepper to taste

Pick and clean the nettles. Slice onion, carrot and celery; saute in oil with garlic. Add rice and toast briefly. Add water or stock and bring to a boil. Add nettles and simmer 10-15 minutes. Blend, add warmed milk, season with salt and pepper.

For straight up nettle mint juice:

Pick, dry and crush 4 parts nettle to one part mint and treat as loose leaf tea. Heating will lose you some nutrients, so you can steep the mixture in a glass jar for 10-15 minutes and drink cold.

Dandelion remedies, coming up next…

Live

Been cleaning out paper this weekend. Redecorating a space or two, keeping my hand in and my eye alive, saying hello to the books. I found this poem copied on the back of a handbill for a New Year’s show at the Grand Ave Ale House that the High, Wide, and Handsome Band did a few years back. The quote on the front of the handbill, superimposed on a photo of a man dressed in marching band regalia and wearing a clown nose, reads:

“the barwalker was the type of drunk who was not happy unless he was up on a sagging     bar, arms akimbo, dancing a cossack dance and kicking over glasses of beer.”

– Joseph Mitchell

The poem on the back, which I cannot remember copying down, is by a woman I’ve not heard of, and untitled:

I will not live an unlived life./ I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire./ I choose to inhabit my days,/ to allow my living to open me,

to make me less afraid, more accessible,/ to loosen my heart/ until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise./ I choose to risk my significance;

to live,/ so that which came to me as a seed/goes to the next as a blossom,/ and that which came to me as blossom,/ goes on as fruit.

– Dawna Markova

Take Light

Some mornings, the ducks are swimming in thin mirrored slivers of liquid sky and my legs are engines of true progress as the road flies by beneath the rhythm of my feet, moving land, and my lungs, moving air.

Some mornings, the duck are barely floating in field mud and I can’t make it out the door. Early February looks so dark from here. Even my dreams are dim, the force and place obscured by the weight of a cloud wall that lurks behind Blanchard mountain and makes frenetic forays of wind and lashes of rain on the flat valley ground.

In this light, everything – the tree bare the grass clumped the pavement dark and soaking – looks flat and forlorn. When the warm light returns this same tree will beam munificently with fresh green on its limbs and the grass will wave lengthy in the light breeze.

The world the same the world separated by vast differences in perspective. I don’t love it equally, I don’t. I want to – but more I want to be running, always, with the bright glow of something rising. And the ducks in their puddled field, they’ll never say how it seems to them, though we want to believe that it all just rolls off of their downy backs.

Heyiya

I picked up Ursula K Le Guin’s Always Coming Home again this weekend. This quote is from text at the very end, in a chapter called “Living on the Coast, Energy, and Dancing”, it describes the meaning behind a greeting, “Heyiya“:

The first element of this word, hey- or heya-, is the untranslatable statement of praise/greeting/holiness/being sacred.
The second is the word iya. This means a hinge: the piece of hardware or leather that connects a door to the opening it closes and opens. Connotations and metaphors cluster thick to this image. Iya is the center of a spiral, the source of a gyring motion; hence a source of change, as well as connection. Iya is the eternal beginning, the process of energy arising and continuing. The word for energy is iye.
Energy manifests itself in three principal forms: cosmic, social, and personal.
The cosmos, the universe, was usually referred to rather casually in Kesh as rruwey, “all this.” There was a more formal and philosophical word, em, meaning extent-and-duration, or space-time. Energy in the physicist’s sense, the fundamental power incontrovertible with matter, was emiye.
Ostouud described weaving or the weave of a fabric, bringing together, relating, and so was used to mean society, the community of being, the fabric of interdependent existences. The energy of relationship, including both politics and ecology, was ostouudiye.
Finally personal energy, selfhood of the individual, was sheiye.
The energy of these three forms of energy throughout the universe was what the Kesh called “the dancing.”
The last of the three, selfhood or personal energy, ramified into another set of concepts, which I shall treat very summarily: relating to sex, mind, movement, work, and play, each with an inward-coming and outward-going aspect…..
1.Lamaye, sexual energy. Lamawoiye, the energy that goes into sex (libido?)
2.Yaiya, extraverted thought. Yaioye, introverted thought.
3.Daoye is kinetic energy proper. Shevdaoye is energy expressed in athletics, traveling, all bodily skills, labors, activities. Shevdaowoye, personal movement, is the body itself.
4. Ayaye, playing, learning, teaching, Ayawoye seems best translated as “learning with out a teacher.”
5. Sheiye, personal energy, considered as work: the basic activities of staying alive – getting and preparing food, housekeeping, the arts and work of life. Shewoiye, work directed inward, work towards personhood or selfhood, might be translated as soul-making.

To be alive was to choose and use, consciously or not, well or ill, these energies, in a manner appropriate to one’s stage of life, state of health, moral ideas, and so on. The deployment of iye was really the principal subject of education in the Valley, in the home and in the heyimas, from infancy till death.
Personal energy was of course a personal matter; the individual made the choices, and the choosing, wise or foolish, mindful or careless, was the person. But no choice could be made independent of the superpersonal and impersonal energies, the cosmic/social/self-relatedness of all existences. Another word, very important in Kesh thinking, tuuvyai, mindfulness, might be described as intelligent awareness of this interdependence of energies and beings, a sense of one’s place and part in the whole.

Love

There are six Kesh words which can be translated as “love,” or conversely, one can say that there is no Kesh word for love, but there are six words for different kinds of love. At first I thought the Kesh distinctions were similar to the Islandian – that subtle and useful trilogy of ania, apia, alia – but the overlap of meaning is only partial. The following list is the best I can do.

1. wenun: noun and verb, to want, desire, covet (“I love apples.”)

2. lamawenun: noun and verb, sexual desire, lust, passion (“I love you!”)

3. kwaiyo – woi dad, heart goes to -: to like, to feel an impulse of warmth toward (“I like him very much.”)

4. unne: noun and verb, trust, friendship, affection, lasting warmth (“I love my brother.” “I love her like a sister.”)

5. iyakwun: noun and verb, mutual connection, interdependence, filial or parental love, love of place, love of one’s people, cosmic love (“I love you mother.” “I love my country.”)

6. baho: as a verb, to please, to give pleasure or delight (“I love to dance.”)

The principal distinction between 3 and 4 is one of duration – 3 is brief, or a beginning, 4 is lasting or continuing. The distinction between 4 and 5 is more difficult. Unne implies mutuality, iyakwun asserts it; unne is lovingkindness, iyakwun is passion; unne is rational, moderate, social love, iyakwun is the love that moves the sun and other stars.

Surrendering

To what, exactly, did I raise this flag? There was no end of freedom in sight, and while I thought at first that freedom was the ultimate goal, I found it mostly to be an excuse.

This flag, this bright banner of independent words, this standard stood for my own irrevocable pride of mind. I flew assertions overhead and dared people to disagree.

I could not help but go to war, once I had a stance in mind. And each interaction became a skirmish, not full fledged, but hedged in the possibility of battle, every time.

I waged my freedom over each encounter, or took the liberty of backing out, blowing off, staying home. My special circumstances, calling for emergency measures.

So serious, this business of freedom. And it is true, if you set no standards then someone else will impose them upon you. Yet still, to use an ideal as excuse to bully reality

is cowardice. I refused to work with anyone, where they were. If they could not meet me in the elevated space, then I would not let them engage me at all. Or remind them

of their tendency to disappoint. What use is this? None at all. My freedom spoiled me. Other realms of being exist than freedom. Exist without flags, without notice given,

without the need to inflict or insist. So what if I surrender my right to freedom, and let the world as it is impose its needs upon me? What if I give up the flag of my own self

and hope to become a part, a piece, one bit of a whole ecosystem, that isn’t insisting on freedom, but working toward symbiosis instead? This kind of surrender, calls us all.

Take Surrender

So  here is Sasha’s Take for Muse. The next one we are working with is :Surrender. Enjoy, please play along if’n you like.

Fire for One

Red wine in a plastic cup, red beans and rice in a paper cup, hot coals burrowed beneath a struggling fire, warm late August evening on the peninsula.
I’m camped along the wild coast of Washington, solo, beneath the coral reef of stars on the eve of the full moon eclipse. I awoke early this morn and began unexpectedly carting camping gear out to my car: sleeping bag, tent, water jug, stove, fuel, sleeping pad, fleece jacket, pants, wool hat, pillows, books, and my journal. On the ferry ride across the Sound to the Olympic Peninsula I saw five Orcas playing, fins of black rising and cutting through the surface in the blue rutted waters just beyond the vessel that carried us to land.
I was brought to the coast- the one from my dreams with the green waves under a darkening gray sky- by a silent guide, much like the tug of the moon on the tides of the ocean. I forgot what it is like to be wild, to be free. I forgot how wildness makes me soar because nothing is fabricated out here. I had even forgotten my dream where, without fear, I dove head first into the skin of the arc of repose of a wave far larger than me.
As the fire gasps and sputters in front of me, I follow the wand of smoke up among the trees. This smoky spiral opposes gravity in an upward dance that dissipates into the transparent darkness. There exists in nature an invisible current of energy that rustles, curls and deposits a free formed mark that alters the original static state: dried fallen leaves randomly scattered beneath a forest, the design in a patch of long blade grasses bent or flattened, or fingers of sea water slapping the rock as the tide comes in. Also the muse that forces action in our own bodies.
The heaving of the Ocean sprays the night air with the sound of breath. A full moon eclipse will darken the sky in a couple of hours, a marriage of celestial bodies and earth clearly marking the passage of time. Movement is life, the web suspending by the light; the muse a shadow illuminated by the initiation of movement.

Takes

Not been talking to the world for a while now, bout time to start up again.

A few Novembers back, after Charlie and Joel and I had an incredible experience of thanksgiving on Lake Titicaca, we each reflected on it in our own fashion and started to do a writing practice called Triple Take. I found it to be a challenging and simple exercise: to take a word, and to express myself around it, with image or other words. The three of us eventually fell off the wagon. I still want to do this practice. And while it’s alright to do by myself, I’d rather do it with others. I’d like to re-learn about playing. So I’ll invite you, in the spirit of Miranda July’s Learning to Love You More assignments for art, to join in when you see a Word posted that sends a little fire shiver to the creative spark in you. For this week, I’d like to request your Take on: Muse

Last month’s Take was on: Acolyte, if you’d like to play catch up. Visit tripletake.org for examples that Charlie and Joel and I played with last year. I wrote up another version of our Thanksgiving Day experience, it’s on your right in the Pages area.

Send me your takes by posting a comment with your email – I’ll not publish without your permission. But if you’d like to, I’ll create pages for the ones that get responses.

I think this is what I’ll do with this site for a while. That, and I’ve got some quotes from Liz Gilbert’s book Eat Pray Love excerpted, please visit that book – if only for a minute!

Send friends this way if they are looking for a writing practice to visit?

Here’s my offering for Muse:

Take Muse

What does call to us, like that
ineffably? From within the everyday notes
of living, the rhythms of routine
there is sometimes a bass line
repeating, a few simple low tones
that we feel bone deep.
The hips know what to do with this
they move.

And then there is a morning
on that gentle cusp of fall
when the hills are socked in fog
and the ripening corn nestles
tight still in its husks
and the mind which has been so busy
thinking, always, of lists and possibilities
stills down quiet
and the wonder creeps in.

We could waver like this
between movement and wonder
without words ever reaching
the page, without song ever
bursting out between the lips,
and nothing would be lost
of the living – it would remain
contained within the skin husk
intact, inert.

But then some Other comes along
steps in, says: What?
And we rise to the occasion
called forth to present ourselves
ready for connection.

[illumination, Because of the fog –
sometimes that happens with people too,
you scratch a little and you get a lot]

when you wish upon a star, it takes a while sometimes.

What happens to those fervent wishes sent out into the ethersphere, unspoken perhaps, but backed by powerful feeling? Sometimes they come round, like a delayed reaction, After you don’t need it anymore, what you once wished so hard for…

Year or so ago, I left Washington for a while, moved to Portland to find a job, and wrote out some big chunks of words that had lodged in my head. And once I had books worth, I started sending the manuscripts out into the ether, where nothing much happened. It felt like practice, like training, like a good faith exercise in reconciling poetic nature in a tangible world.

I looked for jobs, too. All year long. Temp jobs, freelance gigs, part-time positions, work for friends – all of these came my way and passed again like snow flurries, where nothing white sticks to the ground. Nothing green stayed in my bank account for long. My plan upon arrival had been to land a produce job at one of Portland’s many and fine grocery stores. Applications and job fairs came and went and again, I heard very little in return. One of those bewildering episodes, where things Should be proceeding smoothly, and for some reason, don’t.

Strengthening. And ultimately frustrating enough to say “Enough with this.” And I picked up some old threads and followed them back to Washington, to put down some roots in this potato patch in Skagit. Round about when I was packing up the uhaul, the tail end of a poetry wish came true, and this poem I wrote a few years back about an afternoon dip in the waters off Teddy Bear Cove, was accepted for publication in an anthology of Portland Women Writers called Voicecatcher. It’s a beautiful book, with poems and short stories arranged elementally, and Starfish Time anchors the water section. You can order it online at www.Lulu.com, which is a fine independent publishing site.

And after some months of good faith barista-ing in Everett for Tully’s coffee, I just accepted a produce position at the lovely Skagit Valley Food Co-op, so that wish came true too. A little delayed, and me gone a little raggedy in the interim, but pleased nonetheless. So come visit me and the vegetables in Mt Vernon, and here’s the published poem:

Starfish Time

Up close in the summer
riding the backs of the sandstone boulders
as the waters rise slow in the cove,
the starfish seem sewn like patches
overlapping the barnacles
leaking salt in the long wait
from tide to tide.

We placed our last things
on a hump of stone
and wandered out thigh deep
in the Sound. At our feet
the water clear, a colony
of orange and purple, fresh submerged
stirring to life.

So many fingers
I wanted to lay my body down
above them, float on my back
in the sun-warm shallows
taking in the shoreline upside down
the sky a blue bowl
rimmed in gold and green.

I wanted the ocean moving beneath me
rocking my limbs in a salty lullaby.
I asked if you were ready
and you wanted to be so you said yes,
but it wasn’t true yet, what you wanted;
you were still straddling the shore.

In an underwater movie with sped-up time
the starfish move in teeming hordes
they cover ground like colonies of ants on land.
Our short immersion into their time zone
was only a sea breath, a cilial possibility
the beginnings of grace.

There’s a man in Costabel
on a coast that calls shipwrecks
who steps out into the early low tide
and plucks stranded starfish from the rocks
where they cling, pitching them
through the waves into the hurling sea.

Have you been him?
Have you too, longed to enter the inter-tidal zones
with your heart pumping
and your limbs working
on some inexplicable urge
to save whatever life moves you?

You can watch it all; see it very clearly,
but without that spark of irrational love
– the one that asks you to shift speeds and feel
from beyond your particular time –
without that urge to submerge yourself
in the world, don’t hope to know it yet.

The world unfolds only as the heart learns
too, and the heart – the heart is a starfish
it covers ground without seeming
to move, sometimes.