Friday, May 29, 2009

This Moment


the green light under the trees is aslant with holiness:
holiness raining down and blooming on the young man
the young man there with his infant on his knees
his hands holding the world and hope

the child is stable as a buddha: quiet and full
resting surely in all containment
in all being contained and held

the man's white shirt (open at the neck)
calls to mind nothing so much
as the light of a Dutch interior
the summer Panama shades a face
sweet as any madonna's

the man was found whole in this moment
in the dappled light of the summer afternoon
when he held his child on his knee:
this moment that shimmers as a sepia memory

in the yard under the trees
when the summer light was awash with joy:
this moment that stops the sun with a steady hand
and holds the man and the child as gently
as the man then held the child

and the woman is there too:
it is she who is holding the camera
it is her eye and heart
that held and framed
this moment

it is hers forever
and the man's and the child's:
that moment when the green light under the trees
was aslant with holiness
Note: With the acquisition of a new scanner, I'm able to broaden my range here. This photo, from my infancy, is veritably an image of heart's best hold for me, which I hope you'll see from the poem I wrote some years ago.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Boot Liquor Blessings

Seven-thirty, Boot Liquor country blasting through the headphones. "They ought to make a brand-new whiskey, and give it a woman's name." I'll take Diet Pepsi for my postprandial libation, forego Bailey's for now.

"Oh, I'll pawn you my gold watch and chain, love." Been in all day, was starting to slide, feel out of sorts, unanchored and aimless by midday. Tired of Flickr, tired of checking SiteMeter, tired of sorting through pictures on Picasa, tired of reading about other people's lives on Facebook.

And I knew Becca was coming over from the City; I'd invited her Sunday. A little concerned that silence might lie heavy, that I might talk too much. "I hollered, 'Lordy, Lordy, have mercy on me.'"

We started slow, I felt jerky and out of gear. "On the road to Bakersfield." Stories came, food, weight, computer talk, Andy's good heart, Anita's pushing my mother button, my hard time during Lent, her having felt buoyed up, two seminary graduates and her ordained, how sometimes what doesn't "fit" is the best and most healing truth.

"Ain't going back there, ain't going back no more." My fear, still, that being Christian will take something away from me--and the only part of Christianity I can always take without struggling is the Resurrection. But at church I'm home. When I came back to the church, I wanted where I came from, what I was, to be good enough.

"I won't wear the chains that sadness made." Daddy, how he came to me at the trial of the man who shot him and again the day of Mama's funeral. How I used to say, "He loved me so much he battled through time and space, life and death," and now I know he had no cosmic opposition, just God saying, "Well, Franklin, get going."

"We're doing fine--me, myself, and the wine." And through the afternoon, my heart opens from the stripped branch I had known earlier to the fullness that makes what is, good and enough, even this body and not having had the relationship I always wanted, even the loneliness that aches.

Becca hears my words into knowledge; I receive her relatively greater silence as gift. The slight meal we share is feast enough. Eight-thirty and I'm not just caffeine mellow. Boot Liquor still flows deep and bright. "Send dead flowers to my wedding and I won't forget to put roses on your grave."
Note: "Freeway Sky" appears on my photostream at

Monday, May 18, 2009

One Way of Putting It

is to say that God is good.

This time I had my eyes open and caught the "giveth/taketh" sleight of hand, which probably happens rather more often than I'm willing to give it credit for.

Yesterday the boo-hoo-hoo with stern injunctions to myself not to procrastinate, not to give beauties on the wing a chance to get away.

And today, going back through my photo archive, I find from last July an unremembered gift from Hot Lips (what else to call the itinerant, anonymous artist) from a neighborhood all the way across Oakland from my recent sightings.

Delight, and even gratitude, rises.

Note: "Hot Lips in Splendor" can be found on my photostream at

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Gather Ye Rosebuds"

Rectilinear Lip Leaves
Originally uploaded by Lynn Park

In the 17th century Robert Herrick advised virgins to "gather ye rosebuds while ye may," because the missed opportunities that accompanied the passing of time could not be regained. I say, "Take that picture now."

People are of two minds when it comes to graffiti/wall art. Some people say, "No, no, no. Not ever. Ugly. Defacement of property. Bad, bad, bad." I can see their point though I don't have to like it.

And I often say, though I can't always defend it, "Hmm," and even "Hot damn!" I confess a particular weakness for good tagging (applying one's name in a distinctive, even decorative manner) and stencil art like these fuschia lips, for example. I love them and took two shots near my doctor's office. I had also seen, in the other direction, just a little out of my way, two more examples I intended to photograph, when I had time. This morning the bus passed by and my unsung, unloved, unappreciated, unphotographed osculatory icon had been neatly and thoroughly painted over.

That will teach me to wait. Or, in Herrick's words to virgins who've lollygagged and missed their chance to marry, "For having lost but once your prime, you may for ever tarry." As my mother would say, affecting a downhome accent, "That'll larn you." Indeed it did. Here's to going a few blocks out of the way for beauty, especially outre' beauty. I mean, what's not to love about flaming rosebud lips?

Note: "Rectilinear Lip Leaves" can be found on my photostream at

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I don't have a job, i.e., I don't go to work and get paid, but I do work, and some of the time it feels as though I work all the time. Should. Got to. Necessity. Important. Major consequences. If I don't. . . .
Time. I don't have "enough" of it, and I have fewer blocked-out obligations than most people I know. In fact, the days I have to be somewhere I usually worry less about time than when I have the whole day to myself. Like today: it's already one o'clock and I haven't "had time" to wash my face or brush my teeth. And sometimes I don't even have time to go to the bathroom!

Things to do. So far today I've called IRS, and Social Security, and left a message with my Dell sales rep, and e-mailed pictures of Paul's installation to Sherri at the SGN office. But I haven't taken care of hygiene, physical or spiritual, and I haven't started gathering the year's worth of checking account statements I need to come up with a monthly balance for my yearly housing renewal. And I've got to find my savings account number. I need to e-mail the customer service reps who've written to ask if my computer problems have been resolved. I still haven't retrieved my Word files from the old computer. There's always housework. And I haven't even thought about anything as sensible as having lunch.

I remember, when I worked in Washington, D.C., at the National Education Association, how on the weekend I'd bring home what I was sure was five or six hours of work--and steadfastly not work on it all weekend, feeling worse and more desperate all the while, constructing scenarios of doom if I didn't, till about nine o'clock Sunday night, when I would decide that it was too late even to start or try. And I'd be free, deliciously free. Monday morning I usually got everything done in about an hour. Somehow I never seemed to learn not to bring it home with me in the first place.

This is the first time I've thought about that pattern in relation to the feeling of being overwhelmed I have so often now, in the leisure of my enforced retirement.

I remember, too, procrastinating before exams in college, the misery of that, and how studying was usually positively pleasant compared with avoiding studying. When I get to doing the things I put off or am afraid of doing, usually I feel much better than I did.

What if I DID take care of everything as it came up, got dressed and washed my face and brushed my teeth first thing, instead of spending half (or more) of the day in my nightgown? What if I did handle the proverbial piece of paper only once and attended to e-mails promptly? What if I wrote phone numbers in my address book instead of on little pieces of paper that I lose usually more than once?

Then I'd have the blocks of time I say I want, to read, to paint, to make collages, to knit, to meditate, to be. And my photography wouldn't be a stolen, nine o'clock on Sunday night pleasure the way it sometimes (not usually, thank God) is. That would be good, or so I say--but I might have to face the loneliness that I'm afraid would do me in if I didn't defend against it. I've realized, in the writing of this blog piece, that when I'm overwhelmed with undone tasks and obligations, the "loneliness" feels worse, so I have even less motivation to accomplish the tasks and obligations that I could do in a Monday morning hour. But when I do that "hour's work," I can be with, if not necessarily fix, the emotions and issues--what I call the loneliness--I've been avoiding. "Being with" is a lot like studying for an exam: a lot less painful than the alternative, dreadful as that may seem in prospect. Maybe I'd better get to work. I can assemble the bank statements tonight; if I want to, I can do the math tomorrow.

Note: "Death and Taxes" can be found on my photostream at

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

No More, Never Again

I never thought I'd say it, but . . . no more, never again, nada, I've had it. You might think such vehemence signals turmoil in a intimate relationship. It does: a woman and her computer.

I used to watch the Mac vs. PC ads on TV, where the Mac guy is cool and the PC guy is a geek, and PC person that I am/was, I'd think, "It's not that bad. I haven't had any real problems. I like being loyal to Dell--and besides, I have a credit account with them." Well, I beg to differ with my former self. If and when I get another computer, I'm going the Mac route (oh, how those words grate) even if it does cost gazillion dollars more for basically the same thing.

I've had the new Dell Studio XPS since Friday night and despite flashes of being in love, especially with the 23" monitor, I'm not a happy camper. First, a long service call to Dell so my browser would work. Next, a series of live-time email chats to to try to install Mozy, a file back-up service, on the new computer so I can transfer the files it took days to save on the old computer in the first place--chats that didn't work. And a real-time phone call yesterday with Jai, who had a smile in his voice and never lost patience and who eventually said he'd have one of the senior technicians get in touch with me. And this morning an e-mail proposing yet another unsuccessful but logical approach. I wrote back to thank them and said the ball was still in their court. What next?

Earlier I compared this new computer system to a sleek black car. That's what it looks like but with all the sputtering I don't know if I got a vehicle or a sour yellow fruit in a big black box.

The rub is that if I were careless and not concerned about backing up my 7000 photographs, I wouldn't even know I was still in trouble. One thing for sure: the old computer isn't going anywhere till all this gets resolved. It was a clunker, but it was my clunker--and it's still got all my original photos on the hard drive.

Several years and a couple of thousand dollars from now I'll find out for myself if Mac really is plug-and-play!
Note: "Never" appears in my photostream at

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Picture for "New Toys"

Tongue-in-cheek proof positive that I don't know my way around the new system yet.
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Picture for "New Toys"

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New Toys

I don't believe the adage that "he who dies with the most toys wins." Far from it--but there is certainly something energizing about new toys. Verily, I sit here at 8 a.m. on Saturday, after not enough sleep, Diet Pepsi in hand, playing with my brand-new, sleek black Dell Studio XPS with 23" monitor. I swear this thing is as long as a classic car with fins.

My friend Andy unpacked and installed it last night, in record time. I'd been thinking it would be a marathon hassle getting cables and cords matched up, and he had everything necessary done by supper and was out of here by 8:30. Myself, I was up till midnight, exploring. Now I've installed a version of Word I like better than the preinstalled word processing program and am preparing to spend the day transferring data (mostly photographs) from five flash drives, repopulating Picasa (sounds like science fiction), and trying to navigate my way through the unfamiliar twists and turns of Windows Vista, after cruising along with XP for years. Right now "I wanna go home" because I can't find any of my familiar landmarks. But. . . .

This baby is gorgeous and I look forward to taking her out for a ride, many long rides. It's the first time I've ever had a black car.