"I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom. I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients." Gustave Courbet

27 February 2015


Kent, The Lovers, 1928

The world rests in the night. Trees, mountains, fields, and faces
are released from the prison of shape and the burden of exposure. 
Each thing creeps back into its own nature within the shelter of the dark. 
Darkness is the ancient womb. Nighttime is womb- time. 
Our souls come out to play. The darkness absolves everything; 
the struggle for identity and impression falls away. 
We rest in the night.

John O'Donohue, from Anam Cara


Maps are ways of organizing wonder.

Peter Steinhart

Joe Ely, "West Texas Waltz"

It's Friday, Poetessa!
Let's dance ...

Happy birthday, Longfellow.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born on this date in 1807.


Becalmed upon the sea of Thought,
Still unattained the land it sought,
My mind, with loosely-hanging sails,
Lies waiting the auspicious gales.

On either side, behind, before,
The ocean stretches like a floor,--
A level floor of amethyst,
Crowned by a golden dome of mist.

Blow, breath of inspiration, blow!
Shake and uplift this golden glow!
And fill the canvas of the mind
With wafts of thy celestial wind.

Blow, breath of song! until I feel
The straining sail, the lifting keel,
The life of the awakening sea,
Its motion and its mystery! 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with Michael Martin Murphey, "Lost River"

Oh, lost river, now I'm coming back
To the pot-belly stove
Where the firewood's all stacked

Quebec girl, go with me
Oh my bell, my fleur de lis
Where the lost river winds
In the shadow of the pines



Bear died standing up,
paws on log,
howling.  Shot
right through the heart.
The hunter only wanted the head,
the hide.  I ate her
so she wouldn't go to waste,
dumped naked in a dump,
skinless, looking like ourselves
if we had been flayed,
red as death.
Now there are bear dreams
again for the bear-eater: O god,
the bears have come down the hill,
bears from everywhere on earth,
all colors, sizes, filtering
out of the woods behind the cabin.
A half-mile up
I plummeted toward the river to die,
pushed there.  Then pinions creaked;
I flew downstream until I clutched
a white pine, the mind stepping back
to see half-bird, half-bear,
waking in the tree to wet
fur and feathers.
Hotei and bear
sitting side by side,
disappear into each other.
Who is to say
which of us is one?
We loaded the thousand-pound logs
by hand, the truck swaying.
Paused to caress my friend and helper,
the bear beside me, eye to eye,
breath breathing breath.
And now tonight, a big blue
November moon.  Startled to find myself
wandering the edge of a foggy
tamarack marsh, scenting the cold
wet air, delicious in the moonglow.
Scratched against swart hemlock,
an itch to give it all up, shuffling
empty-bellied toward home, the yellow
square of cabin light between trees,
the human shape of yellow light,
to turn around,
to give up again this human shape.

Jim Harrison

26 February 2015


Just a peaceful hour to drink it in ...


The Society of Antiquaries' rough translations and calligraphic manuscripts of The Story of Lancelot of the Lake, hand-lettered by William Morris, have been digitized.


von Bingen, "O Frondens Virga"

Chanticleer performs ...

Happy "birthday," Grand Canyon.

On this date in 1919, Congress enacted legislation creating the Grand Canyon as a National Park.


National Geographic's How the Earth was Made: The Grand Canyon ...


Foth, Flint Hill Cloud Light, 1990

The Earth

Once in his life a man ought to concentrate his mind upon
the remembered earth, I believe. He ought to give himself up
to a particular landscape in his experience, to look at it from
as many angles as he can, to wonder about it, to dwell upon

He ought to imagine that he touches it with his hands at
every season and listens to the sounds that are made upon
it. He ought to imagine the creatures there and all the faintest
motions of the wind. He ought to recollect the glare of noon and
all the colors of the dawn and dusk.

For we are held by more than the force of gravity to the earth.
It is the entity from which we are sprung, and that into which
we are dissolved in time. The blood of the whole human race
is invested in it. We are moored there, rooted as surely, as
deeply as are the ancient redwoods and bristlecones.

N. Scott Momaday


Isn't it strange that we talk least about the things we think about most?

Charles Lindbergh

25 February 2015


As an auxiliary spy, Hemingway more than once demonstrated willingness to take risks and work hard, but in the end, no matter what others had in mind for him, Hemingway made his own way through the war …



If you think you will get something from practicing zazen, already you are involved in impure practice.  You do not say, “This is enlightenment,” or “That is not right practice.” Even in wrong practice, when you realize it and continue, there is right practice.” 

Actually we do not have any particular name for our practice; when we practice zazen we just practice it, and whether we find joy in our practice or not, we just do it.  But if you make your best effort just to continue your practice with your whole mind and body, without gaining ideas, then whatever you do will be true practice.

Shunryū Suzuki

Darrell Scott, "A Crooked Road"

I walk a crooked road to get where I am going
To get where I am going I must walk a crooked road
And only when I’m looking back I see the straight and narrow
I see the straight and narrow when I walk a crooked road

I sing a lonesome song to anyone who’ll listen,
To anyone who’ll listen I ‘ll sing my lonesome song.
And when I hear you singing too, the sorrow sounds so hopeful
the sorrow sounds so hopeful, when I sing my lonesome song.

And a lonesome song will be my true companion
When all else has abandoned for singing of their own
And a lonesome song will fill my days with gladness
Make joy out of sadness when I sing this lonesome song, to you

I love with all my heart, there is no way of stopping,
I have no way of stopping I just love with all my heart.
Through the broken and the beautiful, the bad news and the good news,
The bad news and the good news is I love with all my heart.

And a loving heart will be my true companion,
When all else has abandoned for loving of their own.
And a loving heart will fill my days with gladness,
Make joy out of sadness when I bring this loving heart, to you…

I long to be a happy man, in this life that I’ve been given
In this life that I’ve been given I long to be a happy man.
When the noise turns to stillness, I see I have the makings.
I see I have the makings to be one happy man.

And a happy man will be my true companion,
When all else has abandoned for happy of their own.
And a happy man will fill my days with gladness,
Make joy out of sadness when I show this happy man…

And a happy man will be my true companion,
When all else has abandoned for happy of their own.
And a happy man will fill my days with gladness,
Make joy out of sadness when I bring this happy man, to you…

I walk a crooked road to get where I am going,
To get where I am going I must walk a crooked road
And only when I’m looking back I see the straight and narrow,
I see the straight and narrow when I walk a crooked road ...

24 February 2015


Here I stand before a big question mark. Here I stand like Hercules, but not at the crossroads — no, here there are a good many more roads to take and thus it is much more difficult to choose the right one. It is perhaps my misfortune that I am interested in far too much and not decisively in any one thing; my interests are not subordinated to one but instead all stand coordinate.

Søren Kierkegaard


There is something fierce and terrible in me, eligible to burst forth,
I dare not tell it in words --

Walt Whitman

Happy birthday, Physical Graffiti.

On this date in 1975, Led Zeppelin released their best album, Physical Graffiti.

"Ten Years Gone" from Knebworth in 1979 ...

23 February 2015

Hot Rize, "Roving on a Winter's Night"


Speycasting in slow motion with Eoin Fairgrieve. Eoin is an A.A.P.G.A.I qualified speycasting instructor teaching modern speycasting techniques on the River Tweed system in Scotland.



Bob Weir and Dennis Leonard present a brief introduction to the technical, physiological, psychological and social ramifications of the musical listening experience and how the present day low resolution standards have reduced and clouded the experience. Also presented are the high resolution alternatives currently available.

Dennis is a feature film Sound Supervisor and Re-recording Mixer at Lucasfilm’s Skywalker Sound, he has been there for 26 years. He has been in professional audio since 1971 when the Grateful Dead hired him as part of their technical team. He also does independent consultation and was instrumental in both the acoustic and electronic design and construction of Bob Weir’s TRI Studios, he mixed many of the first shows which were Web Cast from TRI and remains a consultant there. He also consulted on the acoustic and electronic design of the Sweetwater Music Hall partially owned by Bob Weir.

He has been interested, passionate and involved in sound since his childhood and remembers a time when the quality of sound was one of the most important aspects, a time when folks gathered around a stereo together and listened to recorded music for extended periods of time. Back then there was no internet, MP-3 or pocket players and it was difficult to play a single track on an LP.

Born in 1947, Weir was adopted by a wealthy California engineer. As a teen, he secured his spot as one of the youngest members of the burgeoning folk scene that centered on a Palo Alto club called the Tangent—home to such future rock legends as Jerry Garcia, Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and Janis Joplin. In 1964, at the age of 17, Weir spent the majority of his time at a Palo Alto music store where Garcia taught guitar lessons. It wasn’t long before Weir and Garcia, along with Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, formed a blues and folk outfit. Originally called Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions, the band was later renamed The Warlocks—adding Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzman to the lineup—and eventually came to be known as the Grateful Dead. 


In 1984, archaeologist Douglas Scott, now retired from the National Park Service, used metal detectors in a large-scale survey of the site of the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn in eastern Montana. The conflict was a historic showdown between General George Custer’s 7th Calvary Regiment and members of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, with the Native American warriors emerging victorious. An estimated 268 U.S. soldiers were killed in the conflict, including General Custer.

With help from more than 30 machine-swinging volunteers, Scott and his partner, Richard Fox, were able to locate more than 5,000 artifacts and accurately map the action of Custer’s Last Stand for the first time ever. Their work at the battleground was one of the first archaeological surveys to employ metal detectors in an organized, systematic way.

I chatted with Scott about the survey, the use of metal detectors as an archaeological tool, and the mystery of the battlefield's Deep Ravine.

The Infamous Stringdusters, "Walking on the Moon"


In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.

Stanley Kunitz

Bob Marley & The Wailers, "Slave Driver"


Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

William Blake, from "Jerusalem"


You know lots of criticism is written by characters who are very academic and think it is a sign you are worthless if you make jokes or kid or even clown.  I wouldn't kid Our Lord if he was on the cross, but I would attempt a joke with him if I ran into him chasing the money changers out of the temple.

Ernest Hemingway

Darrell Scott & Tim O'Brien, " Fiddler Jones"



22 February 2015


Six Poems on Living in the Mountains

I've got a little picture in my mind of a clean and quiet place.
Everywhere you look it's completely natural.
The house is made of plaited rushes.
There's a good half-acre for growing tubers and flowers.
Beautiful birds perch on cliffs
That encase a few clouds that hang around green peaks.
The world's red dust won't be able to get up here.
Simple elegance is better than saintliness or spirituality.

Can joy be found in the mountains?
Let me tell you. There's more joy in the mountains
Than anywhere else.
Pines and bamboos perform sacred chants.
The songs of Sheng flutes are played by birds.
In the trees, monkeys climb for fruit.
In the ponds, ducks cavort with lotus lilies.
This escape from the ordinary world
Month by month and year by year
Eliminates the hindrances to Enlightenment.

Don't try to stand tall in the courtyards of fame.
In the mountains such dreams fade away.
Your body stands on its own when it's up with the clouds.
Your heart pulls away from worldly attachments.
The moon that I love clears a path through the pines
And guides a stream right to the bamboo gate.
Naturally, this is nothing short of amazing.
How could you disparage it ... or ever tire of the sight?

In the mountains there's nothing at all which prohibits
Dreams of cooking millet during afternoon naps.
If you're lazy by nature, you won't brood about problems.
You'll make light of the body and won't fear the cold.
Chrysanthemums grow by the three ancient paths.
A few planted plum trees make the whole yard fragrant.
Engagements are blessedly short.
Leisure is blessedly long.

Just wake up from an afternoon nap in a grass hut.
Drag a walking stick and let it bounce free and easy.
Lean on a rock and watch the clouds rise.
Listen to the pine saplings and hear the sound of waves.
When the forest is dense, no guests pass by.
When the roads are dangerous, they're only used for gathering firewood.
The place is so pristine and cool
How could it fail to quench my mind's furnace of cares?

People complain of a hard life in the mountains.
I don't think it's much different from the hardships of anywhere else.
A clay oven burning birch twigs,
A stone cauldron boiling wild sprouts.
It seems that you've only just picked the chrysanthemums
That grow in the three months of autumn
When it's time to view the flowers of March.
Pity more the moon that night after night
Is forced to entertain society.

Hsu Yun

18 February 2015

James Taylor, "Copperline"

Bruce Cockburn, "Understanding Nothing"

High above valley,
Above deep shade coloured with the calls of cuckoos,
The ring of coppersmith's hammer high in the hiss of the wind
Wind filled with spirits and bright with the jangle of horse bells
After a crisp night crammed with stars
It's morning

Over the scratched-up soil, scorched-earth wasted,
Long shadows lead women bearing water
I watch the sway of skirts,
Think of moist spice forests -

Too many pictures
Momentum of civilizations
Threw me too far over this time-simple landscape
And I hang here
In this mountain light
A balloon blown full of darkness -
Got to let this ballast go
Got to float upward
Till I burst

Weavers' fingers flying on the loom
Patterns shift too fast to be discerned
All these years of thinking
Ended up like this
In front of all this beauty
Understanding nothing

Rhododendrons in bloom, sharp against
Spring snow
Remind me of another time
In japanese temple -
There was a single orange blossom
At the wrong time of year -
Seemed like a sign -
When I looked again
It was gone

Weavers' fingers flying on the loom
Patterns shift too fast to be discerned
All these years of thinking
Ended up like this in front of all this beauty
Understanding nothing 


Sometimes I grow weary of the days, with all their fits and starts.
I want to climb some old gray mountain, slowly, taking
the rest of my lifetime to do it....

I want to look back at everything, forgiving it all,
and peaceful, knowing the last thing there is to know.
All that urgency! Not what the earth is about!...

In ten thousand years, maybe, a piece of the mountain will fall.

Mary Oliver

17 February 2015


While exploring the shores around St. Joseph, Michigan last week, photographer Joshua Nowicki stumbled onto a bizarre phenomenon: dozens of small sand towers rising out of the beach ...

Thank You, Jessica.

Zachary Richard, "Filé Gumbo"

13 February 2015

Happy birthday, Wood.

Wood, Spring in the Country, 1941

Grant Wood was born on this date in 1891.

All the really good ideas I've ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.

Grant Wood

12 February 2015

Waylon Jennings, "Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)"


Speaking of libraries: A big open-stack academic or public library is no small pleasure to work in. You're, say, trying to do a piece on something in Nevada, and you go down to C Floor, deep in the earth, and out to what a miner would call a remote working face. You find 10995.497S just where the card catalog and the online computer thought it would be, but that is only the initial nick. The book you knew about has led you to others you did not know about. To the ceiling the shelves are loaded with books about Nevada. You pull them down, one at a time, and sit on the floor and look them over until you are sitting on a pile five feet high, at which point you are late home for dinner and you get up and walk away.

John McPhee

Steve Earle, "City of Immigrants"


We crossed three washes with a foot of water flowing through. Markers indicated that five feet was not unusual. Flash floods were frequent.

Mesquite had been brought in for a campfire. Food was being prepared. The rain stopped. The land dried quickly. A group of us sat on a hillside and watched the sun sink into the plains -- a sun, round and orange in a lavender sky.

At dusk, I knelt in the brown clay, dried and cracked, and rubbed it between my hands -- a healing balm. Desert music of mourning doves and crickets began. Two ravens flew above the canyon. I looked up and suddenly remembered O'Keefe. This was her country. Her watercolor Canyon with Crows came back to me. It was an animated canvas. I wondered if Georgia had knelt where I was, rubbing the same clay over her hands and arms as I was, some seventy years ago?

It was time for the fireside.


Door: “Why it's simply impassible!" 
Alice: "Why, don't you mean impossible?" 
Door: "No, I do mean impassible ... (chuckles) ... nothing's impossible!” 

Lewis Carroll

Eddie Money, "Trinidad"



I would like to swim against the stream of time:
I would like to erase the consequences of certain events
and restore an initial condition.
But every moment of my life brings with it an accumulation of new facts
and each of these new facts brings with it its consequences;
so the more I seek to return to the zero moment from which I set out,
the further I move away from it;
though all my actions are bent on erasing the consequences of previous actions
and though I manage to achieve appreciable results in this erasure,
enough to open my heart to hopes of immediate relief,
I must,
bear in mind that my every move to erase previous events
provokes a rain of new events,
which complicate the situation worse than before
and which I will then,
in their turn,
have to try to erase.

I must calculate carefully every move
so as to achieve
the maximum of erasure
with the minimum of recomplication.

Italo Calvino

Weiss, Prelude in D minor for lute

David Miller performs ...


We lived in the present, because that’s what young people do. When a frigate bird spread its black wings on the wind or a sailfish billed through a school of bait, when the creek took on the deep delight of greens and blues that swept in from the ocean, overflowing the flats with fresh water and food, we didn’t define the moment as anything other than being alive. Dawn was a pale affair, a triumph of gradualism and the preface to a new adventure; nights were thick with the sounds of insects and crabs, the pleasures of exhaustion, and the wonder of dreams.

Imagine a mirror granting every wish, and then imagine looking into that mirror every single day.

Carissimi, Jephte

Giovanni Antonini conducts the Bavarian Radio Choir and a skeleton crew from Il Giardino Armonico ...

11 February 2015

Darrell Scott, "World of Wonder"



Instead of insight, maybe all a man gets is strength to wander for a while.  Maybe the only gift is a chance to inquire, to know nothing for certain ... an inheritance of wonder and nothing more.

William Least Heat-Moon

Led Zeppelin, "Kashmir"

My Shangri La beneath the summer moon,
I will return again ... 


And now for something completely different ...


Andy Goldsworthy's 1987 installation in Grizedale Sculpture Park ...


I was not designed to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.

Henry David Thoreau


We Americans are trained to think big, talk big, act big, love big, admire bigness ... but then the essential mystery is in the small.

Jim Harrison

Bach, Mass in B minor, BWV 232

Jordi Savall expertly leads Le Concert des Nations & La Capella Reial de Catalunya ...

Happy birthday, Edison.

Thomas Edison was born on this date in 1847.

Many of life's failures come as the result of people not realizing how close they were to success when they gave up.  Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless.

Thomas Edison


Thank God, I never was sent to a school,
To be flogged into following the style of a fool ...

William Blake

South Bank's documentary on William Blake ...

10 February 2015


God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.
Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Happy birthday, Pasternak.

Boris Pasternak was born on this date in 1890.

About dreams. It is usually taken for granted that you dream of something that has made a particularly strong impression on you during the day, but it seems to me it's just the contrary.  Often it's something you paid no attention to at the time -- a vague thought that you didn't bother to think out to the end, words spoken without feeling and which passed unnoticed -- these are the things that return at night, clothed in flesh and blood, and they become the subjects of dreams, as if to make up for having been ignored during waking hours.

Boris Pasternak


I never desired to please the rabble.  What pleased them, I did not learn and what I knew was far removed from their understanding.


Thank You, Jessica.

09 February 2015

The Tallest Man on Earth, "I Won't Be Found"


Chatham, Pale Winter Moonrise, 1997

The American poets are to enclose old and new for America is the race of races. Of them a bard is to be commensurate with a people. To him the other continents arrive as contributions  ... he gives them reception for their sake and his own sake. His spirit responds to his country’s spirit ... he incarnates its geography and natural life and rivers and lakes. Mississippi with annual freshets and changing chutes, Missouri and Columbia and Ohio and Saint Lawrence with the falls and beautiful masculine Hudson, do not embouchure where they spend themselves more than they embouchure into him. The blue breadth over the inland sea of Virginia and Maryland and the sea off Massachusetts and Maine and over Manhattan bay and over Champlain and Erie and over Ontario and Huron and Michigan and Superior, and over the Texan and Mexican and Floridian and Cuban seas and over the seas off California and Oregon, is not tallied by the blue breadth of the waters below more than the breadth of above and below is tallied by him. When the long Atlantic coast stretches longer and the Pacific coast stretches longer he easily stretches with them north or south. He spans between them also from east to west and reflects what is between them. On him rise solid growths that offset the growths of pine and cedar and hemlock and liveoak and locust and chestnut and cypress and hickory and limetree and cottonwood and tuliptree and cactus and wildvine and tamarind and persimmon  ...  and tangles as tangled as any canebrake or swamp  ...  and forests coated with transparent ice and icicles hanging from the boughs and crackling in the wind  ...  and sides and peaks of mountains ...  and pasturage sweet and free as savannah or upland or prairie  ...  with flights and songs and screams that answer those of the wildpigeon and highhold and orchard-oriole and coot and surf-duck and redshouldered-hawk and fish-hawk and white-ibis and indian-hen and cat-owl and water-pheasant and qua-bird and pied-sheldrake and blackbird and mockingbird and buzzard and condor and night-heron and eagle. To him the hereditary countenance descends both mother’s and father’s. To him enter the essences of the real things and past and present events—of the enormous diversity of temperature and agriculture and mines—the tribes of red aborigines—the weather-beaten vessels entering new ports or making landings on rocky coasts—the first settlements north or south—the rapid stature and muscle—the haughty defiance of ’76, and the war and peace and formation of the constitution ... the union always surrounded by blatherers and always calm and impregnable—the perpetual coming of immigrants—the wharfhem’d cities and superior marine—the unsurveyed interior—the loghouses and clearings and wild animals and hunters and trappers ... the free commerce—the fisheries and whaling and gold-digging—the endless gestation of new states—the convening of Congress every December, the members duly coming up from all climates and the uttermost parts  ...  the noble character of the young mechanics and of all free American workmen and workwomen  ...  the general ardor and friendliness and enterprise—the perfect equality of the female with the male ... the large amativeness—the fluid movement of the population—the factories and mercantile life and laborsaving machinery—the Yankee swap—the New-York firemen and the target excursion—the southern plantation life—the character of the northeast and of the northwest and south-west—slavery and the tremulous spreading of hands to protect it, and the stern opposition to it which shall never cease till it ceases or the speaking of tongues and the moving of lips cease. For such the expression of the American poet is to be transcendant and new. It is to be indirect and not direct or descriptive or epic. Its quality goes through these to much more. Let the age and wars of other nations be chanted and their eras and characters be illustrated and that finish the verse. Not so the great psalm of the republic. Here the theme is creative and has vista. Here comes one among the wellbeloved stonecutters and plans with decision and science and sees the solid and beautiful forms of the future where there are now no solid forms.

Walt Whitman, from "Preface" to Leaves of Grass