cell phone self-portrait

cell phone self-portrait
things are looking up

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Absence That Zero Stands For

I am reading a book by Robert Kaplan about the zero. It's called The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero. There is a note to the reader in the front suggesting that the book should not be too intellectually threatening to anyone who has had high school algebra and geometry. We'll see. I'm on the third chapter, and just about fifteen minutes ago, I stopped reading because I felt a poem coming on.

Here it is: (and the title is the same as my title for this post).

Lovely word to look at, zero ---

like a snake who has eaten lunch

and becomes satisfied but remains open,

casually, to a second meal.

For there to be nothing, there must be

something, which is what a person

means when he or she says, "I feel nothing" ---

clearly a lie.

What he feels is anticipation or recollection,

and she wears her zero like a collar or a halo ---

struggles in its chokehold,

enters its noose and waits.

Either way it accompanies him

with the ominous sound of a gong

or at least the meditative "ohmmmm."

She is not alone as long as she

has the zero --- even if she is in its belly,

having been eaten, and now lies unmoving.

Even then, she fills a hollow space.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Catch Me on Facebook, Too

Shark Week

I can't wait for this series on the Discovery Channel, for some strange reason. It just looks compelling.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Library Thing

I love this website, which helps you to organize/catalog your personal library of books. And I love the Sarah Ban Breathnach books. I have three of them: The Simple Abundance book, the Something More Book, and the Illustrated Discovery Journal. The journal is used for visualization of the good things you want to bring into your life (the subtitle is "Creating a Visual Autobiography of Your Authentic Self.")

The other book pictured here is Spiritual Literacy, a fabulous work that can keep me busy for hours. Here's an example of one of the readings (from the chapter on Joy):

"Why aren't you dancing with joy at this very moment? " is the only relevant spiritual question," Sufi seer Pit Vilayet Khan tells us. Your life is a glorious gift and you are loved by Lady Wisdom.
Israeli theologian Martin Buber also opens our eyes to this truth: "The beating heart of the universe is holy joy."
Look around and you'll see how the flowers, trees, squirrels, and stars all emanate delight in their being. The flowers give off a fragrance, the trees dance a samba for the breeze, the squirrels perform acrobatics, and the stars twinkle with glee.
Whenever you see an image of Buddha, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us, he is always smiling. That smile reflects inner peace and joy.
When he is about to leave his disciples, Jesus tells them, "These things have I spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." What a beautiful legacy --- passing on abundant joy.

Monday, July 02, 2007

"Tammy's in Love"

The bird on the top left is a whipporwill, whose song is one of the most unusual that I have heard and one of my favorites. You can learn more about the whipporwill here. Notice that there is a list of songs that feature this nocturnal bird (including one I love, "I Got a Name," by Jim Croce.) I have an orginal copy of this album. Note that "Croce died in a plane crash just days before the album's release."
Here are the words to that song:

Like the pine trees linin the windin road
I've got a name, I've got a name

Like the singin bird and the croakin toad

I've got a name, I've got a name

And I carry it with me like my daddy did

But I'm livin the dream that he kept hid

Movin me down the highway

Rollin me down the highway

Movin ahead so life won't pass me by

Like the north wind whistlin down the sky
I've got a song, I've got a song
Like the whippoorwill and the baby's cry

I've got a song, I've got a song

And I carry it with me and I sing it loud

If it gets me nowhere, I'll go there proud

Movin me down the highway

Rollin me down the highway

Movin ahead so life won't pass me by

And I'm gonna go there free

Like the fool I am and I'll always be

Ive got a dream, Ive got a dream

They can change their minds but they can't change me

Ive got a dream, Ive got a dream

Oh, I know I could share it if you want me to

If you're going my way, I'll go with you

Movin me down the highway

Rollin me down the highway

Movin ahead so life wont pass me by

These words mean a lot to me for several reasons: one, my uncle Leeo and I have been tracking down our ancestors and piecing our genealogy together. He's been doing mostly leg work --- on the road, driving, finding graves, talking to people face to face. I've been doing mostly internet work, tracking down data and names and dates and locations. But what we share is a name; well, several names --- but it all started for us with the Hyatts and Briscoes on my grandmother's side, and the Moons, on my granddaddy's side. We haven't made much progress with the Moons yet, but we'll just about filled in a whole fan chart for the Hyatts and Briscoes. Yesterday, Leeo found his 4th great and my 5th great- grandfather's grave (Green B. Hill, a solder in the War of 1812). He found it because God took him to it, basically --- because it's a miracle that he found it, out in the middle of nowhere with the grass all grown up around it and only one other grave in the old GoldRidge Cemetery in Randolph County, Alabama.

As Croce sang, we're carrying these names with us, like my granddaddy did, and his granddaddy, and so on. But we're "living the dream that he kept hid."

The second reason that I like this song is that it reminds me of a friend of mine from the past,Rob, who loves Croce as much as I do and thinks the world is better for the brief time that he lived and wrote music. We listened to his songs together many times and shared the strange sense of melancholy and pride that it brings. And Rob kind of looked like Croce, smoking his endless cigarettes in his cool, private, and elegant way.

Anyway, back to my original thoughts on the whipporwill, which are leading up to something eventually.
The article also explains that there is a legend associated with the whipporwill.

"In New England, legend says the Whip-poor-will can sense a soul departing, and can capture it as it flees.

The one on the right is a mourning dove. You can learn more about it here:

I wanted a picture of a dove because it is mentioned in the song below. The mourning dove seemed especially appropriate since I am in mourning for my mother. The other birds are also mentioned.
Now, getting around to my main point,I missed Mama this morning, so I went to a website where I could get the lyrics and audio for the song, "Tammy's in Love," which she used to sing to me when I was little. It's from a 50's movie with Debbie Reynolds, Tammy and the Bachelor.

I hear the cottonwoods whisperin' above,
Tammy ... Tammy ... Tammy's in love
The ole hooty-owl hooty-hoos to the dove
Tammy ... Tammy ... Tammy's in love
Does my lover feel
What I feel

When he comes near?
My heart beats so joyfully,You'd think that he could hear
Wish I knew if he knew What I'm dreamin' of
Tammy ... Tammy ... Tammy's in love
Whippoorwill, whippoorwill, you and I know
Tammy ... Tammy ... can't let him go
The breeze from the bayou keeps murmuring low:
Tammy ... Tammy ... you love him so
When the night is warm, Soft and warm,
I long for his charms
I'd sing like a violin If I were in his arms
Wish I knew if he knew
What I'm dreaming of
Tammy ... Tammy ... Tammy's in love

This morning one of my friend's asked me if I would go back and be six years old again if I could. I said I would, if I could have my mother back, singing to me.