Thursday, November 25, 2004

Weather Report

An empty park
With cold air falling
Through rounded arms
Of the statue's empty embrace.

Crisp, pale, brittle sky
Impossibly distant and cloudless,
Still I see the rain is falling.

Weather forcast: lonely.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Transcendent Haiku

Dark mumbles in the hall
door locked
windows wide fresh blue

Sunday, November 21, 2004

So that's why its called serious!

Enjoyed a classical concert very much last night. A chamber orchestra from Moscow performed pieces by Mozart, Bach, and Greg. Also there were a couple of local violinists (one couldn't have been more than twelve years old) who did the solo work for a few pieces and were very talented. I noticed what an effort it is to listen to such music and relax. It was sometimes peaceful but music is so sensuous you feel it in your body and your body does not respond by going to sleep! Quite the opposite! You want to move to the rhythm and your body wants to respond to the musical patterns just as the artists are doing as they are performing.

I noticed that the Greg piece was difficult in spite of the fact that it was beautiful and well performed. The tonal orientation of his work is naturally dark and he uses it to take us, as comfortably as possible, into sorrow, dissatisfaction, tension, and turmoil. After that descent, we can better define the climb into elation and the conquest, at least momentarily, of the darkness and despair in our lives. We (and, of course, he) must transcend the natural darkness of the tonal orientation to do this. This all is serious work, and we, the audience, must sit still and quietly throughout. The audience has a really tough job to do at these concerts!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Seeking (an) Asylum!

It is fun to behave in a crazy way sometimes! We love it and seem to have a special place in our hearts for amusing manic behavior and its associated high energy and humor. Anyone who would tell you about having been incarcerated in an institution for the insane, however, would not speak so glibly. Still we have characters who check in them, such as Alan Arkin's character in King of Hearts, or craftily avoid the worst, such as Anthony Hopkins' character in Silence of the Lambs, by checking in one. We frequently use the concept metaphorically to convey our impressions of things as large as goverment bodies or as small as our homes or those of our neighbors. Our great fondness and use, if you will, of insanity seems to not be dependant on reality and seems to be quite pervasive.

I wonder what it is about the escape into insanity that we find it, in a metaphorical or stylized way, so appealing?

What is character?

Dickens has thrust characters under my nose as I am re-reading, after these many years, A Tale of Two Cities. Realizing I have no understanding of what comprises character, I am somewhat at a loss to really understand what he gives us with one of his greatest gifts. I see the range of characteristics he paints them with but am quite certain that is only a tangent of what he creates and/or evokes for our entertainment and erudition.

Certainly things such as strong, weak, fond, aggressive, modest, foolish, faithful, clever, talented, noble are all useful in categorizing but fall far short of the mark in being central to what he is presenting to us. Rather there seems to be something of that which is central to the nature of these people’s souls if that is indeed possible with literary creations.

In Dickens, the vivacity and peculiarity of character is perhaps his foremost trait. Also, everything seems to have a type of character, such as the passage of time for Dr. Manette, the whispering plane tree in their yard, the dress and accouterments of the wealthy in Monseigneur’s salon, the stones of the pavement where the wine keg fell and broke. To miss a sense of character, animate and inanimate, is almost to have wasted you time reading him.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Where you are is what you do!

Concrete, metal, glass, asphalt, brick, stone and locks are the table of elements of the city. Roads between places are the physical laws to understand them. Ah but places -- places are the nucleus of cities! They must have places to work, shop, eat, entertain, store, and sleep. Another place we usually don't think about is associated with roads. We find places on those roads called travel where we live in anger, frustration, longing and reverie. Those bikes, busses, cars, trams, trains or simply shoes are paths between our dreams which are locked up in our cities.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Dreams are in the air!

The crystal clear breath
Of our imaginations
Hangs like mouth fog
In the chilled air
Surrounding our lives.

Dreams or nightmares,
Some creations
Can put you on your knees.

If 'what is' was wonderful,
We wouldn't half live
In what we hope for.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Concessions to the cup of stumbling!

I find the dark hours busy when they should be restful.
I try to compromise my lack of sleepiness with lulling thoughts.
Only prayer avails. Only then can the early anxious subside.
Then tense limbs untangle and electric thought stops jarring.

The darkness sucks me in again but, before I go,
I know that in all these hopeful years I have only managed to drink to the dregs,
again and again, this cup of stumbling.

Only tomorrow can dawn more brightly.
(Numb and hum)
Only tomorrow can dawn more brightly.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Come on in, the samovar's hot! Posted by Hello

What do we create?

I so often hear 'Create? I couldn't do that' but I know this is not accurate. We are unaware of how much and how often we create. Ordinary acts create things. It is such a common experience that it is often ignored. I tell my kitchen personnel : if you arn't picking it up, you're putting it down! Workspace is precious in a professional kitchen and you can either leave a mess or leave 'a clean' which you have created during the moments you found it necessary to do something there. The next person who has to use that space will be intantly aware of what kind of environment you created and left behind.

Years ago when the Former Soviet Union broke up and I had just come to Kazakhstan to install a Western kitchen for a hotel privatization, I had an enlightening experience. The old had quickly become a state of absence and new things were desperately needed to fill the vacume. The source of income provided by the Soviet full employment economy was gone and many people were near starving.

I taught my kitchen to make hamburger buns from scratch because, not only were there no hamburgers here, no one was making any buns to put them on either, obviously. I taught my sous chef and my two shift lead cooks how to make them so that, if I didn't happen to be in the kitchen at the moment, there would always be somebody there who could make them. A few weeks later I was shopping at the largest open air market (called the zelony bazaar) for items for the restaurant.

Something outside the bazaar was struggling to gain my attention. Thousands of people had taken to the streets with blankets and were selling anything they could to get some income to keep their families alive. Something, just beneath my consciousness, was trying to make itself known to me from these blankets. There was something new here and I hadn't yet noticed it!

Then I saw them. Literally hundreds of blankets had buns on them. They were calling this soft and mildly sweet new product 'tasty buns' and, perhaps 20,000 people on any given day were baking them off in their ovens at home to sell for a little much needed income during this difficult time. They became popular and the trend persisted throughout the Winter and into the Spring. Thank God my casual act had been able to help a lot of ordinary people whom I would never know or meet to get through this rather difficult period in their lives.

So know that you create, whether you are thinking about it or not. Create willingly and well, it just might help someone you'll never meet!

Sunday, November 07, 2004

From determinism with pride!

You start where you are comfortable. Pride is the grace state of man's comfort region (because it is usually never justified). Likewise, when we have a deterministic view that we believe is justified, we see the events which happen in our lives as things we can have control over. We are obviously less in control when we see the event patterns of our lives as being part of a chaotic process. Crontrol is another comfort issue for us humans. Accidents are events which are usually perceived to have negative connotations which operate outside of our normal control patterns. Control, of course, is mostly illusory in the best case scenario of a life momentarily free of accidents. A classically deterministic view is core central to the illusion of control!

You get to pride through a determinist view which lets you feel as if your control of your life has produced these good results and accident are to blame for all the bad. This is an unrealistic viewpoint! Realistically, most of the good and bad which occurs in life is accidental. There are only few moments in life where we initiate something ourselves and it turns out well. Most of our initiations turn out less than well and are ignored or, when things go badly, blamed on accidents or other people. This is a tough position to handle alone.

Dealing with the fact that much of our life experience comes from chaos is really a discomfort issue.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Ah ha ha ha! Posted by Hello

What to say to the fooleybear?

Blank; Blank; Blank! Sometimes what we want is to do, not talk. Apples from the dacha: what is better, to take pictures or eat? Pancakes do I describe their warm, thick richness or do I cook some? The answer is I have just gotten out two skillets and they are warming on the stove. The kitchen smells of kefir, flour, butter and eggs. Hot butter and metal are begining to do a duet that syncopates the other cool, sweet smells. The batter is expanding in the mixing bowl. The urgency of fresh batter is undenyable! No time to blog right now!

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

This is for Laura. Tea time in Central Asia with a peyalka (the little bowl) on the left. Posted by Hello