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Anxiety

 

Give us today

Our bread for tomorrow.

 

There’s a black and white cat who lives with me.  Max.  He’s not a young cat.  Most of his life he lived near Banks (Oregon), 150 miles west of here.  This cat is clearly neurotic regarding food.  But I reckon he came by it honestly.

His owner (my part-time housemate) tells me that (in his former place of residence) Max was always trying to get someone to feed him.  And I think this is what made him crazy.  There were several people living in (his) house, but nobody had the ‘job’ of feeding the cat.  There WAS food there, but it would get dispensed ONLY when Max could get someone to feed him.  This was very stressful for Max.

He has lived here for a couple years now … and he STILL will come find me (maybe when I’m cooking my own dinner) – and he’ll want me to come “feed him”.  And this is in SPITE of the fact that he’s (now) NEVER without food.  There’s ALWAYS a dish of food on the dryer (which is in the bathroom.  We have a small apartment.)  But he wants me to BE THERE (so he can feel like someone is feeding him.)  He wants love, I reckon.  And who can blame him for that?  We’re all the same, it seems to me.  I used to tease him a bit (for being so crazy), but I’ve stopped doing that.  He is my teacher after all.

Max eats about ½ cup of (dry) cat food a day  (or maybe just a little more than that).  Every morning, as part of my routine, I see to it that he has “enough” food.  And, in HIS case, I figure that’s about TWO day’s worth of food … about one Cup.  Most evenings he wants to go outside (which of course, I let him do.  I tell him to watch out for the owls.  But he has his own adventures.  Sometimes, he may be gone even for a couple days.  Anyway, his eating habits vary somewhat.)  So every now and then, he’ll actually finish off what’s in his dish.  But when that happens, I always feel a bit sad, and like I’ve let him down.  Not that he’s actually going hungry … but because he’ll WORRY.  (And I want him to be happy.)

 

If the Urantia Book is correct, Jesus was reluctant to share with his apostles ANY set prayer … because he understood that prayer should be authentic and from the heart.  But after considerable pestering, he finally gave in and taught them the prayer he had taught his (younger) brothers and sisters (from when he was obliged to care for them after the death of Joseph.  Jesus was 12 at the time, and the oldest child of a large family.)

 

Our Father who is in heaven,

Hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come; your will be done

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our bread for tomorrow;

Refresh our souls with the water of life.

And forgive us every one our debts

As we also have forgiven our debtors.

Save us in temptation, deliver us from evil,

And increasingly make us perfect like yourself.

                                                                            –    p. 1620

 

We know this, of course, as the ‘Lord’s Prayer’.  [I’ll include it ‘in context’ at the end of this essay.]

 

Whenever I write and post a blog, I try to make the title short.   But really, this essay is more about Love (to help counteract the anxieties of life) than it is about anxiety itself.  Having a Human Life …    it’s a tough gig.

 

Personally, I’m rather sorry – that the wording was lost from the line (in The Lord’s Prayer).  ‘Give us today our daily bread’ … is not quite as good as  –  ‘Give us today our bread for tomorrow’.  Because –  if we cannot see HOW tomorrow’s sustenance is to be obtained … then we’re going to WORRY about it.

ANY loving father (human or otherwise) will not only PROVIDE for his children … but will also see to their happiness.  Anxiety and worry should be minimized.  Mmm?

 

And I cannot help but mention – that the man who is (currently) the President of the United States … does NOT partake of this parental love.  (The leader of ANY group has a parental role   and a [natural] responsibility to care for those he leads.  And it may well be that he just does not know HOW.  But in any case, he does not DO it.)

 

(Why good leaders make you feel safe  –  Simon Sinek     [12 min.])

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  (Goodness   [1 minute])

 

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[from the Urantia Book:  Paper 144. Sections 2 – 5.

 

You may like to see the 7 prayers that are in sec. 5;  some of which originate from other planets.] :

 

2. The Discourse on Prayer

144:2.1 (1618.5) “John indeed taught you a simple form of prayer: ‘O Father, cleanse us from sin, show us your glory, reveal your love, and let your spirit sanctify our hearts forevermore, Amen!’ He taught this prayer that you might have something to teach the multitude. He did not intend that you should use such a set and formal petition as the expression of your own souls in prayer.

144:2.2 (1618.6) “Prayer is entirely a personal and spontaneous expression of the attitude of the soul toward the spirit; prayer should be the communion of sonship and the expression of fellowship. Prayer, when indited by the spirit, leads to co-operative spiritual progress. The ideal prayer is a form of spiritual communion which leads to intelligent worship. True praying is the sincere attitude of reaching heavenward for the attainment of your ideals.

144:2.3 (1619.1) “Prayer is the breath of the soul and should lead you to be persistent in your attempt to ascertain the Father’s will. If any one of you has a neighbor, and you go to him at midnight and say: ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine on a journey has come to see me, and I have nothing to set before him’; and if your neighbor answers, ‘Trouble me not, for the door is now shut and the children and I are in bed; therefore I cannot rise and give you bread,’ you will persist, explaining that your friend hungers, and that you have no food to offer him. I say to you, though your neighbor will not rise and give you bread because he is your friend, yet because of your importunity he will get up and give you as many loaves as you need. If, then, persistence will win favors even from mortal man, how much more will your persistence in the spirit win the bread of life for you from the willing hands of the Father in heaven. Again I say to you: Ask and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you. For every one who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door of salvation will be opened.

144:2.4 (1619.2) “Which of you who is a father, if his son asks unwisely, would hesitate to give in accordance with parental wisdom rather than in the terms of the son’s faulty petition? If the child needs a loaf, will you give him a stone just because he unwisely asks for it? If your son needs a fish, will you give him a watersnake just because it may chance to come up in the net with the fish and the child foolishly asks for the serpent? If you, then, being mortal and finite, know how to answer prayer and give good and appropriate gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the spirit and many additional blessings to those who ask him? Men ought always to pray and not become discouraged.

144:2.5 (1619.3) “Let me tell you the story of a certain judge who lived in a wicked city. This judge feared not God nor had respect for man. Now there was a needy widow in that city who came repeatedly to this unjust judge, saying, ‘Protect me from my adversary.’ For some time he would not give ear to her, but presently he said to himself: ‘Though I fear not God nor have regard for man, yet because this widow ceases not to trouble me, I will vindicate her lest she wear me out by her continual coming.’ These stories I tell you to encourage you to persist in praying and not to intimate that your petitions will change the just and righteous Father above. Your persistence, however, is not to win favor with God but to change your earth attitude and to enlarge your soul’s capacity for spirit receptivity.

144:2.6 (1619.4) “But when you pray, you exercise so little faith. Genuine faith will remove mountains of material difficulty which may chance to lie in the path of soul expansion and spiritual progress.”

3. The Believer’s Prayer

144:3.1 (1619.5) But the apostles were not yet satisfied; they desired Jesus to give them a model prayer which they could teach the new disciples. After listening to this discourse on prayer, James Zebedee said: “Very good, Master, but we do not desire a form of prayer for ourselves so much as for the newer believers who so frequently beseech us, ‘Teach us how acceptably to pray to the Father in heaven.’”

144:3.2 (1619.6) When James had finished speaking, Jesus said: “If, then, you still desire such a prayer, I would present the one which I taught my brothers and sisters in Nazareth”:

144:3.3 (1620.1) Our Father who is in heaven,

144:3.4 (1620.2) Hallowed be your name.

144:3.5 (1620.3) Your kingdom come; your will be done

144:3.6 (1620.4) On earth as it is in heaven.

144:3.7 (1620.5) Give us this day our bread for tomorrow;

144:3.8 (1620.6) Refresh our souls with the water of life.

144:3.9 (1620.7) And forgive us every one our debts

144:3.10 (1620.8) As we also have forgiven our debtors.

144:3.11 (1620.9) Save us in temptation, deliver us from evil,

144:3.12 (1620.10) And increasingly make us perfect like yourself.

144:3.13 (1620.11) It is not strange that the apostles desired Jesus to teach them a model prayer for believers. John the Baptist had taught his followers several prayers; all great teachers had formulated prayers for their pupils. The religious teachers of the Jews had some twenty-five or thirty set prayers which they recited in the synagogues and even on the street corners. Jesus was particularly averse to praying in public. Up to this time the twelve had heard him pray only a few times. They observed him spending entire nights at prayer or worship, and they were very curious to know the manner or form of his petitions. They were really hard pressed to know what to answer the multitudes when they asked to be taught how to pray as John had taught his disciples.

144:3.14 (1620.12) Jesus taught the twelve always to pray in secret; to go off by themselves amidst the quiet surroundings of nature or to go in their rooms and shut the doors when they engaged in prayer.

144:3.15 (1620.13) After Jesus’ death and ascension to the Father it became the practice of many believers to finish this so-called Lord’s prayer by the addition of—“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Still later on, two lines were lost in copying, and there was added to this prayer an extra clause, reading: “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forevermore.”

144:3.16 (1620.14) Jesus gave the apostles the prayer in collective form as they had prayed it in the Nazareth home. He never taught a formal personal prayer, only group, family, or social petitions. And he never volunteered to do that.

144:3.17 (1620.15) Jesus taught that effective prayer must be:

144:3.18 (1620.16) 1. Unselfish—not alone for oneself.

144:3.19 (1620.17) 2. Believing—according to faith.

144:3.20 (1620.18) 3. Sincere—honest of heart.

144:3.21 (1620.19) 4. Intelligent—according to light.

144:3.22 (1620.20) 5. Trustful—in submission to the Father’s all-wise will.

144:3.23 (1620.21) When Jesus spent whole nights on the mountain in prayer, it was mainly for his disciples, particularly for the twelve. The Master prayed very little for himself, although he engaged in much worship of the nature of understanding communion with his Paradise Father.

4. More About Prayer

144:4.1 (1620.22) For days after the discourse on prayer the apostles continued to ask the Master questions regarding this all-important and worshipful practice. Jesus’ instruction to the apostles during these days, regarding prayer and worship, may be summarized and restated in modern phraseology as follows:

144:4.2 (1621.1) The earnest and longing repetition of any petition, when such a prayer is the sincere expression of a child of God and is uttered in faith, no matter how ill-advised or impossible of direct answer, never fails to expand the soul’s capacity for spiritual receptivity.

144:4.3 (1621.2) In all praying, remember that sonship is a gift. No child has aught to do with earning the status of son or daughter. The earth child comes into being by the will of its parents. Even so, the child of God comes into grace and the new life of the spirit by the will of the Father in heaven. Therefore must the kingdom of heaven—divine sonship—be received as by a little child. You earn righteousness—progressive character development—but you receive sonship by grace and through faith.

144:4.4 (1621.3) Prayer led Jesus up to the supercommunion of his soul with the Supreme Rulers of the universe of universes. Prayer will lead the mortals of earth up to the communion of true worship. The soul’s spiritual capacity for receptivity determines the quantity of heavenly blessings which can be personally appropriated and consciously realized as an answer to prayer.

144:4.5 (1621.4) Prayer and its associated worship is a technique of detachment from the daily routine of life, from the monotonous grind of material existence. It is an avenue of approach to spiritualized self-realization and individuality of intellectual and religious attainment.

144:4.6 (1621.5) Prayer is an antidote for harmful introspection. At least, prayer as the Master taught it is such a beneficent ministry to the soul. Jesus consistently employed the beneficial influence of praying for one’s fellows. The Master usually prayed in the plural, not in the singular. Only in the great crises of his earth life did Jesus ever pray for himself.

144:4.7 (1621.6) Prayer is the breath of the spirit life in the midst of the material civilization of the races of mankind. Worship is salvation for the pleasure-seeking generations of mortals.

144:4.8 (1621.7) As prayer may be likened to recharging the spiritual batteries of the soul, so worship may be compared to the act of tuning in the soul to catch the universe broadcasts of the infinite spirit of the Universal Father.

144:4.9 (1621.8) Prayer is the sincere and longing look of the child to its spirit Father; it is a psychologic process of exchanging the human will for the divine will. Prayer is a part of the divine plan for making over that which is into that which ought to be.

144:4.10 (1621.9) One of the reasons why Peter, James, and John, who so often accompanied Jesus on his long night vigils, never heard Jesus pray, was because their Master so rarely uttered his prayers as spoken words. Practically all of Jesus’ praying was done in the spirit and in the heart—silently.

144:4.11 (1621.10) Of all the apostles, Peter and James came the nearest to comprehending the Master’s teaching about prayer and worship.

5. Other Forms of Prayer

144:5.1 (1621.11) From time to time, during the remainder of Jesus’ sojourn on earth, he brought to the notice of the apostles several additional forms of prayer, but he did this only in illustration of other matters, and he enjoined that these “parable prayers” should not be taught to the multitudes. Many of them were from other inhabited planets, but this fact Jesus did not reveal to the twelve. Among these prayers were the following:

144:5.2 (1622.1) Our Father in whom consist the universe realms,

144:5.3 (1622.2) Uplifted be your name and all-glorious your character.

144:5.4 (1622.3) Your presence encompasses us, and your glory is manifested

144:5.5 (1622.4) Imperfectly through us as it is in perfection shown on high.

144:5.6 (1622.5) Give us this day the vivifying forces of light,

144:5.7 (1622.6) And let us not stray into the evil bypaths of our imagination,

144:5.8 (1622.7) For yours is the glorious indwelling, the everlasting power,

144:5.9 (1622.8) And to us, the eternal gift of the infinite love of your Son.

144:5.10 (1622.9) Even so, and everlastingly true.

* * *

144:5.12 (1622.10) Our creative Parent, who is in the center of the universe,

144:5.13 (1622.11) Bestow upon us your nature and give to us your character.

144:5.14 (1622.12) Make us sons and daughters of yours by grace

144:5.15 (1622.13) And glorify your name through our eternal achievement.

144:5.16 (1622.14) Your adjusting and controlling spirit give to live and dwell within us

144:5.17 (1622.15) That we may do your will on this sphere as angels do your bidding in light.

144:5.18 (1622.16) Sustain us this day in our progress along the path of truth.

144:5.19 (1622.17) Deliver us from inertia, evil, and all sinful transgression.

144:5.20 (1622.18) Be patient with us as we show loving-kindness to our fellows.

144:5.21 (1622.19) Shed abroad the spirit of your mercy in our creature hearts.

144:5.22 (1622.20) Lead us by your own hand, step by step, through the uncertain maze of life,

144:5.23 (1622.21) And when our end shall come, receive into your own bosom our faithful spirits.

144:5.24 (1622.22) Even so, not our desires but your will be done.

* * *

144:5.26 (1622.23) Our perfect and righteous heavenly Father,

144:5.27 (1622.24) This day guide and direct our journey.

144:5.28 (1622.25) Sanctify our steps and co-ordinate our thoughts.

144:5.29 (1622.26) Ever lead us in the ways of eternal progress.

144:5.30 (1622.27) Fill us with wisdom to the fullness of power

144:5.31 (1622.28) And vitalize us with your infinite energy.

144:5.32 (1622.29) Inspire us with the divine consciousness of

144:5.33 (1622.30) The presence and guidance of the seraphic hosts.

144:5.34 (1622.31) Guide us ever upward in the pathway of light;

144:5.35 (1622.32) Justify us fully in the day of the great judgment.

144:5.36 (1622.33) Make us like yourself in eternal glory

144:5.37 (1622.34) And receive us into your endless service on high.

* * *

144:5.39 (1622.35) Our Father who is in the mystery,

144:5.40 (1622.36) Reveal to us your holy character.

144:5.41 (1622.37) Give your children on earth this day

144:5.42 (1622.38) To see the way, the light, and the truth.

144:5.43 (1622.39) Show us the pathway of eternal progress

144:5.44 (1622.40) And give us the will to walk therein.

144:5.45 (1622.41) Establish within us your divine kingship

144:5.46 (1622.42) And thereby bestow upon us the full mastery of self.

144:5.47 (1622.43) Let us not stray into paths of darkness and death;

144:5.48 (1622.44) Lead us everlastingly beside the waters of life.

144:5.49 (1622.45) Hear these our prayers for your own sake;

144:5.50 (1622.46) Be pleased to make us more and more like yourself.

144:5.51 (1623.1) At the end, for the sake of the divine Son,

144:5.52 (1623.2) Receive us into the eternal arms.

144:5.53 (1623.3) Even so, not our will but yours be done.

* * *

144:5.55 (1623.4) Glorious Father and Mother, in one parent combined,

144:5.56 (1623.5) Loyal would we be to your divine nature.

144:5.57 (1623.6) Your own self to live again in and through us

144:5.58 (1623.7) By the gift and bestowal of your divine spirit,

144:5.59 (1623.8) Thus reproducing you imperfectly in this sphere

144:5.60 (1623.9) As you are perfectly and majestically shown on high.

144:5.61 (1623.10) Give us day by day your sweet ministry of brotherhood

144:5.62 (1623.11) And lead us moment by moment in the pathway of loving service.

144:5.63 (1623.12) Be you ever and unfailingly patient with us

144:5.64 (1623.13) Even as we show forth your patience to our children.

144:5.65 (1623.14) Give us the divine wisdom that does all things well

144:5.66 (1623.15) And the infinite love that is gracious to every creature.

144:5.67 (1623.16) Bestow upon us your patience and loving-kindness

144:5.68 (1623.17) That our charity may enfold the weak of the realm.

144:5.69 (1623.18) And when our career is finished, make it an honor to your name,

144:5.70 (1623.19) A pleasure to your good spirit, and a satisfaction to our soul helpers.

144:5.71 (1623.20) Not as we wish, our loving Father, but as you desire the eternal good of your mortal children,

144:5.72 (1623.21) Even so may it be.

* * *

144:5.74 (1623.22) Our all-faithful Source and all-powerful Center,

144:5.75 (1623.23) Reverent and holy be the name of your all-gracious Son.

144:5.76 (1623.24) Your bounties and your blessings have descended upon us,

144:5.77 (1623.25) Thus empowering us to perform your will and execute your bidding.

144:5.78 (1623.26) Give us moment by moment the sustenance of the tree of life;

144:5.79 (1623.27) Refresh us day by day with the living waters of the river thereof.

144:5.80 (1623.28) Step by step lead us out of darkness and into the divine light.

144:5.81 (1623.29) Renew our minds by the transformations of the indwelling spirit,

144:5.82 (1623.30) And when the mortal end shall finally come upon us,

144:5.83 (1623.31) Receive us to yourself and send us forth in eternity.

144:5.84 (1623.32) Crown us with celestial diadems of fruitful service,

144:5.85 (1623.33) And we shall glorify the Father, the Son, and the Holy Influence.

144:5.86 (1623.34) Even so, throughout a universe without end.

* * *

144:5.88 (1623.35) Our Father who dwells in the secret places of the universe,

144:5.89 (1623.36) Honored be your name, reverenced your mercy, and respected your judgment.

144:5.90 (1623.37) Let the sun of righteousness shine upon us at noontime,

144:5.91 (1623.38) While we beseech you to guide our wayward steps in the twilight.

144:5.92 (1623.39) Lead us by the hand in the ways of your own choosing

144:5.93 (1623.40) And forsake us not when the path is hard and the hours are dark.

144:5.94 (1623.41) Forget us not as we so often neglect and forget you.

144:5.95 (1623.42) But be you merciful and love us as we desire to love you.

144:5.96 (1623.43) Look down upon us in kindness and forgive us in mercy

144:5.97 (1623.44) As we in justice forgive those who distress and injure us.

144:5.98 (1624.1) May the love, devotion, and bestowal of the majestic Son

144:5.99 (1624.2) Make available life everlasting with your endless mercy and love.

144:5.100 (1624.3) May the God of universes bestow upon us the full measure of his spirit;

144:5.101 (1624.4) Give us grace to yield to the leading of this spirit.

144:5.102 (1624.5) By the loving ministry of devoted seraphic hosts

144:5.103 (1624.6) May the Son guide and lead us to the end of the age.

144:5.104 (1624.7) Make us ever and increasingly like yourself

144:5.105 (1624.8) And at our end receive us into the eternal Paradise embrace.

144:5.106 (1624.9) Even so, in the name of the bestowal Son

144:5.107 (1624.10) And for the honor and glory of the Supreme Father.

144:5.108 (1624.11) Though the apostles were not at liberty to present these prayer lessons in their public teachings, they profited much from all of these revelations in their personal religious experiences. Jesus utilized these and other prayer models as illustrations in connection with the intimate instruction of the twelve, and specific permission has been granted for transcribing these seven specimen prayers into this record.

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Home Schooling / Children’s Books

 

 

Before I comment on a few (certain, very good) works of children’s literature, I’d like to make some general comments on ‘children and their stories’.

I expect you have noticed how human children are ENTIRELY ‘at home’ with animals as characters in a story.  I’ve never known a child to complain that it’s UNREALISTIC for animals to talk, or wear clothes (like people),  or live in a house (the kind a human might live in)

We are BORN with mirror neurons  –  We are hard-wired for EMPATHY.   It is apparently very easy for (human) children to regard animals (as well as humans) as :  US we.

 

[At the end of this article I will include the link to “This is the Earth, this is the Sky”  which includes a brief discussion on (that) form of ‘children’s art”]

 

 

 

 

The Amazing Bone             –   William Steig

 

This is a delightful book.  The main character is Pearl (who is a pig)   –  a schoolgirl.  On her way home from school one day – in the forest – she discovers a talking bone.  “But you’re a BONE ! “says Pearl.  “How come you can TALK?”  “I don’t know.” says the bone.  “I didn’t make the world.”  

Well – they quickly become great friends.  Proceeding on through the forest, they are beset by thieves; but the bone (from Pearl’s purse) roars like a lion and frightens away the robbers. 
So (it turns out  –  that the bone is able to produce ANY sound which may be imagined!)

 

The (scary) climax of the story is when (a bit further along) they are captured by a wiley fox (who is too smart to be fooled by any of the bone’s noises).  The fox (quite delighted with the bone himself)  sets about building a fire – to roast Pearl for his dinner.  Pearl, greatly distraught, says to the bone – “Say something to comfort me!”  “You are very dear to me.” says the bone.  Then – to everyone’s surprise, the bone shouts a series of magic spells – shrinking the fox, finally, to the size of a mouse … saving Pearl!

 

Finally arriving home, Pearl introduces the bone to her parents ; and the bone is greatly appreciated … given a place of honor (on a special tray) and becomes part of the family.

 

I consider this to be a priceless piece of work.  It is not merely fun and full of magic (and with lovely color illustrations) … but also contains profound truths about the Nature of Life – (that we are all the beneficiaries of life … and that Love   and enjoying the gift of life are what really matter)

 

It was William Steig, by the way, who was the creator of Shrek!

 

 

 

 

The Quiltmaker’s Gift       –  Jeff Brumbeau

 

I have heard it said – that this story is about GENEROSITY;  but I do not consider that to be quite right.  I would say that it is about deliverance from the (great and common evil of) greed & selfishness.

The heroine of the story is a woman who makes quilts and gives them to the poor (homeless) people down in the town, who at night suffer from the cold.

The Main Character is the king of that land, who is very rich and who owns countless (precious) objects of every sort and description.  Yet he just can’t ‘get enough’ of them and always covets more.

Our society (let us say Western Civilization) continues to suffer from the (great) Pathology of Greed & Selfishness.  [I am confident that Neil Young entitled his song “After the Gold Rush” for a REASON –  –  such as  –  looking forward to / yearning for the time when we shall have outgrown this Sickness]

Anyway, the king in our story is the embodiment of this disease.  And when he hears of the exquisite beauty of the work of the Quiltmaker, he requests (demands) that she gift him with one.  She refuses.  And this (same) transaction persists through several iterations … until she finally agrees … she WILL give the king one of her quilts  –  IF (& after) he gives away ALL his (many) possessions!  Well, the King is certainly not fond of this proposal.  But after much stewing and pondering, he decides to make a beginning … and he gives something away!  And eventually he ‘takes it on’.  But because he had acquired SO many possessions, it takes him a very long time to complete it.  By and by, he returns home  –  ragged and happy.  He has discovered that giving things away to others brought him true joy whereas his former ‘love’ of possessions was merely an (unfulfilling) lust, which never really made him happy.

The quiltmaker can see that he has earned his quilt.  And, what is more, he has become a person who is fit to BE with.

 

 

 

 

Miss Rumphius            –    Barbara Cooney

 

I wish to begin this ‘review’ with an epigram

(a poem by Mary Oliver)

 

The Summer Day

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean-

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

 

This book is beautiful and charming enough … to be valuable.   But what makes it precious is that it manages (in a beguiling way) to present to the child / (the reader) the (great) Question  –  “What would you like to DO with your life?  How would you like to spend it?”

 

Here is an excerpt (from the book):

 

   In the evening Alice sat on her grandfather’s knee and listened to his stories of faraway places.  When he had finished, Alice would say, “When I grow up, I too will go to faraway places, and when I grow old, I too will live beside the sea.”

   “That is all very well, little Alice,” said her grandfather. “but there is a third thing you must do.”

   “What is that?” asked Alice.

   “You must do something to make the world more beautiful,” said her grandfather.

   “All right,” said Alice.  But she did not know what that could be.

   In the meantime Alice got up and washed her face and ate porridge for breakfast.  She went to school and came home and did her homework.

   And pretty soon she was grown up.

 

As you can see, Ms. Cooney’s way with a story is charming.  And the counsel (from the grandfather) is worthwhile and sound, certainly.

However …

I (eventually) realized that the counsel (to make the world more beautiful) … is (unnecessarily) narrow.

Truth, beauty, and goodness.

These (three) are what should be offered … and set before the young life … as a worthy goal.  Any one   (or any combination).

Mmm?  Is it not so?

 

Goodness = Mother Teresa.

 

Truth = Madame Curie  or  Einstein    or   Malcom X  or Rumi.  

(And the fact that we humans have a tendency to kill our prophets – when they tell us the truth – is perhaps not a very good reason NOT to pursue the truth.)

 

Beauty = Michelangelo.  

 

There are (of course) many human lives which have furthered   truth or beauty or goodness.  (Maybe give it some thought)

 

 

 

 

What the Dormouse Said        –   Amy Gash

 

This is (technically) not a children’s book.  It is rather a collection of pithy excerpts from Children’s Literature.  (The full title is  “What the Dormouse Said    Lessons for Grown-ups from Children’s Books”)

But

It may happen  that you will read through this book … and be so smitten by certain of the excerpts … that you will obtain the book it is from  … and read it to your children.

I think it is delightful and intriguing.  And I like it very much.

Allow me to focus on a certain single entry:

“The life of a Marionette has grown very tiresome to me and I want to become a boy, no matter how hard it is.”  (from The Adventures of Pinocchio   by C. Collodi, 1883)

Is not this yearning for authenticity  close to the heart of the human predicament?  We want to have a Real Life … but we want to be Safe!

 

She’d teach them [her children] these things are nothing, the clothes, toys, and furniture.  These things fool people into thinking they must stay where the things are.  Leave it all, she’d teach them even . . .  all your dreams of safe, calm places.  Go with what is most terrifying.  … Always choose love over safety, if you can tell the difference.           – Josephine Humphreys         Dreams of Sleep

 

What sort of things do old people say when they are at the end of their life?  They say they wish they had taken more risks.  Mmm?

And aren’t Pinocchio’s sentiments also behind stories like “I, Robot”?  There are LOTS of ‘Pinocchio stories’.

And we can all relate to them, can we not?  (even us humans)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[regarding  –  truth, beauty, & goodness]:

https://www.urantia.org/urantia-book/search?keys=truth%2C+beauty%2C+and+goodness&op=Search

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is the earth, this is the sky, this is me …

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Our Monuments to the Confederacy

 

 

As of July 2nd 2020 –

 

More than 80 Confederate monuments have come down from public land since the Charleston, S.C., church shooting in 2015, more than a third of them since George Floyd was killed in police custody May 25, 2020.

                                                                                                                                        https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/national/confederate-monuments/

 

You may want to have a look at my blog (of 13 Jan. 2018) – 

 

   https://worldfamilytrading.com/the-costliness-of-our-materialism/

 

for some comments about the Great War of Ideas … and the nature / source of our racism.

 

I happened across a video last night.  I didn’t expect to watch the whole thing … but I did.

It’s excellent – 

 

(The Truth About the Confederacy in the United States  [1 hr  40 min]  Jeffery Robinson, the ACLU’s top racial justice expert, discusses the dark history of Confederate symbols across the country and outlines what we can do to learn from our past and combat systemic racism.) 

 

[I’ll add a bio about Mr. Robinson  at the end of this essay]

 

Robinson says – that we do not know our history … because it has been stolen from us.  Rewritten.  Withheld.  (On purpose)

 

He does a great job of supporting his contentions by making use of graphics that he shows on the screen in the (big) lecture hall that he’s in  [about 2 years ago].  He’s a highly experienced trial lawyer.

He works hard not to alienate anyone; yet he is straightforward and has great common sense.

 

He spends considerable time supporting his notion that the South fought the Civil War (mainly) to preserve Slavery (their great economic advantage – free labor.  [Follow the money!]  and the money, in this case – was HUGE).

 

He says that (numerous … hundreds of)  Confederate Monuments were NOT erected by people who fought in the Civil War, but much later.  Many of them around 1900 (and a little after) … and again in the 40’s.  And he explains what was HAPPENING in America at those times – which made people who still cling to white supremacy & slavery – WANT to do something to promote their long-cherished ideals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Birth of a Movement | ‘The Clansman’ | PBS   [1 min.])

 

The Clansman was (first) a novel … then a stage play … then a (silent, black & white) movie; and ALL were very popular. 

 

(The Birth of a Nation (1915) aka The Clansman – Ku Klux Klan Propaganda Film   [3 hrs. 13 min])

 

Robinson acknowledges that the removal of the Confederate monuments (all of which commemorate and honor the doctrines of White Supremacy and the ‘right’ to own other Human Beings as chattel) will NOT solve many of our problems.  But it might help us to begin to be honest about what (this part of) the Great War of Ideas  … is really about.  It could help us begin to reclaim our (true) history.  It’s an opportunity for us to begin to deal with our own darkness.

 

If you will listen to his presentation, I’m betting that you will find it worthwhile.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

https://www.aclu.org/bio/jeffery-robinson   –

 

 

JEFFERY ROBINSON

Deputy Legal Director and Director of the Trone Center for Justice and Equality

 

Jeffery Robinson is a deputy legal director and the director of the ACLU Trone Center for Justice and Equality, which houses the organization’s work on criminal justice, racial justice, and reform issues. Since graduating from Harvard Law School in 1981, Jeff has three decades of experience working on these issues. For seven years, he represented indigent clients in state court at The Defender Association and then in federal court at the Federal Public Defender’s Office, both in Seattle. In 1988, Jeff began a 27-year private practice at the Seattle firm of Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender, where he represented a broad range of clients in local, state, and federal courts on charges ranging from shoplifting to securities fraud and first degree murder. He has tried over 200 criminal cases to verdict and has tried more than a dozen civil cases representing plaintiffs suing corporate and government entities. Jeff was one of the original members of the John Adams Project and worked on the behalf of one of five men held at Guantanamo Bay charged with carrying out the 9/11 attacks.

In addition to being a nationally recognized trial attorney, Jeff is also a respected teacher of trial advocacy. He is a faculty member of the National Criminal Defense College in Macon, Georgia, and has lectured on trial skills all over the United States. He has also spoken nationally to diverse audiences on the role of race in the criminal justice system. He is past president of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and a life member and past member of the board of directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Jeff is also an elected fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. 

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

JEFFERY ‘S BLOG POSTS

 

It’s Time To Tell the Truth About the Confederacy and its Symbols

JULY 3, 2020

 

The Time for Thoughts and Prayers is Over

JUNE 3, 2020

 

America, It Is Time to Talk About Reparations

MAY 22, 2020

 

Honoring Black History Month Means Respecting the Foundation That it Stands On

FEBRUARY 24, 2020

 

Tulsa’s Troubling Past is Not Far Removed from Its Present

JANUARY 6, 2020

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

(James Baldwin & Nikki Giovanni     

 [1 hr. 56 min])

 

~~~~~

 

(Racism in Mississippi and America  –  Jeff Robinson)

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

“If You Are Over Staying Woke”

Water

the plants. Drink

plenty of water.

Don’t hear

the news. Get

bored. Complain

about the weather.

Keep a corkscrew

in your purse.

Swipe right

sometimes.

Don’t smile

unless you want

to.  Sleep in.

Don’t see the news.

Remember what

the world is like

for white people.

Listen to

cricket songs.

Floss. Take pills.

Keep an

empty mind.

When you are

hungover

do not say

I’m never drinking

again. Be honest

when you’re up

to it. Otherwise

drink water

lie to yourself

turn off the news

burn the papers

skip the funerals

take pills

laugh at dumb shit

fuck people you

don’t care about

use the crockpot

use the juicer

use the smoothie maker

drink water

from the sky

don’t think

too much about the sky

don’t think about water

skip the funerals

close your eyes

whenever possible

When you toast

look everyone in the eyes

Never punctuate

the President

Write the news

Turn

into water

Water

the fire escape

Burn the paper

Crumble the letters

Instead of

hyacinths pick

hydrangeas

Water the hydrangeas

Wilt the news

White the hydrangeas

Drink the white

Waterfall the

cricket songs

Keep a song mind

Don’t smile

Don’t wilt

funeral

funeral

                            –     Morgan Parker

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

“Whitey on the Moon”

A rat done bit my sister Nell.

(with Whitey on the moon)

Her face and arms began to swell.

(and Whitey’s on the moon)

I can’t pay no doctor bill.

(but Whitey’s on the moon)

Ten years from now I’ll be paying still.

(while Whitey’s on the moon)

The man just upped my rent last night.

(’cause Whitey’s on the moon)

No hot water, no toilets, no lights.

(but Whitey’s on the moon)

I wonder why he’s upping me?

(’cause Whitey’s on the moon?)

I wuz already paying him fifty a week.

(with Whitey on the moon)

Taxes taking my whole damn check,

Junkies making me a nervous wreck,

The price of food is going up,

An’ as if all that shit wasn’t enough:

A rat done bit my sister Nell.

(with Whitey on the moon)

Her face and arm began to swell.

(but Whitey’s on the moon)

Was all that money I made last year

(for Whitey on the moon?)

How come there ain’t no money here?

(Hmm! Whitey’s on the moon)

Y’know I just about had my fill

(of Whitey on the moon)

I think I’ll send these doctor bills,

Airmail special

(to Whitey on the moon)

                     – Gil Scott-Heron

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Knowing What is What

 

I think over again

My small adventures

When from a shore wind

I drifted out in my kayak

And thought I was in danger.

My fears

Those small ones that seemed so big.

For all the vital things

I had to get and to reach.

And yet there is only one great thing –

The only thing.

To live to see

In huts and on journeys

The great day that dawns

And the light that fills the world.

                                  –   Inuit song, from the Kitlinuharmiut
                                                                            (Copper Eskimo)

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

The writer of this Inuit song is someone who had the good fortune to grow old.

 

I (myself) am similar.  [I have not written many blogs lately; and my (best) excuse is that (nearly) eight weeks ago I underwent open heart surgery.  But I am recovering satisfactorily (and have a “new” mitral valve in my heart).  I am grateful … and hope to resume my writing duties.]    Anyway, I am 74.  And I can affirm that one of the advantages of growing older … is that we may see things more clearly than we did before.  This improved vision does not, of course, belong exclusively to the aging … but I have to admit – that (as I grow older) I have noticed it.  (And I’m grateful for that too.)

 

Now, I do not wish to support the notion that we shouldn’t deal with our difficulties … the REAL ones.  But sometimes we get ourselves (emotionally) worked up about something which (in reality) is of little consequence.  

The author of the Inuit song acknowledges this : (“My fears: those small ones that seemed so big – for all the vital things I had to get and to reach”)

 

And there is an account (recorded in the Urantia Book, [p. 1610]) which I wish to share with you –

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    1.               Diversion and Relaxation

143:3.1 (1610.4) About this time a state of great nervous and emotional tension developed among the apostles and their immediate disciple associates. They had hardly become accustomed to living and working together. They were experiencing increasing difficulties in maintaining harmonious relations with John’s disciples. The contact with the gentiles and the Samaritans was a great trial to these Jews. And besides all this, the recent utterances of Jesus had augmented their disturbed state of mind. Andrew was almost beside himself; he did not know what next to do, and so he went to the Master with his problems and perplexities. When Jesus had listened to the apostolic chief relate his troubles, he said: “Andrew, you cannot talk men out of their perplexities when they reach such a stage of involvement, and when so many persons with strong feelings are concerned. I cannot do what you ask of me—I will not participate in these personal social difficulties—but I will join you in the enjoyment of a three-day period of rest and relaxation. Go to your brethren and announce that all of you are to go with me up on Mount Sartaba, where I desire to rest for a day or two.

143:3.2 (1610.5) “Now you should go to each of your eleven brethren and talk with him privately, saying: ‘The Master desires that we go apart with him for a season to rest and relax. Since we all have recently experienced much vexation of spirit and stress of mind, I suggest that no mention be made of our trials and troubles while on this holiday. Can I depend upon you to co-operate with me in this matter?’ In this way privately and personally approach each of your brethren.” And Andrew did as the Master had instructed him.

143:3.3 (1611.1) This was a marvelous occasion in the experience of each of them; they never forgot the day going up the mountain. Throughout the entire trip hardly a word was said about their troubles. Upon reaching the top of the mountain, Jesus seated them about him while he said: “My brethren, you must all learn the value of rest and the efficacy of relaxation. You must realize that the best method of solving some entangled problems is to forsake them for a time. Then when you go back fresh from your rest or worship, you are able to attack your troubles with a clearer head and a steadier hand, not to mention a more resolute heart. Again, many times your problem is found to have shrunk in size and proportions while you have been resting your mind and body.”

143:3.4 (1611.2) The next day Jesus assigned to each of the twelve a topic for discussion. The whole day was devoted to reminiscences and to talking over matters not related to their religious work. They were momentarily shocked when Jesus even neglected to give thanks—verbally—when he broke bread for their noontide lunch. This was the first time they had ever observed him to neglect such formalities.

143:3.5 (1611.3) When they went up the mountain, Andrew’s head was full of problems. John was inordinately perplexed in his heart. James was grievously troubled in his soul. Matthew was hard pressed for funds inasmuch as they had been sojourning among the gentiles. Peter was overwrought and had recently been more temperamental than usual. Judas was suffering from a periodic attack of sensitiveness and selfishness. Simon was unusually upset in his efforts to reconcile his patriotism with the love of the brotherhood of man. Philip was more and more nonplused by the way things were going. Nathaniel had been less humorous since they had come in contact with the gentile populations, and Thomas was in the midst of a severe season of depression. Only the twins were normal and unperturbed. All of them were exceedingly perplexed about how to get along peaceably with John’s disciples.

143:3.6 (1611.4) The third day when they started down the mountain and back to their camp, a great change had come over them. They had made the important discovery that many human perplexities are in reality nonexistent, that many pressing troubles are the creations of exaggerated fear and the offspring of augmented apprehension. They had learned that all such perplexities are best handled by being forsaken; by going off they had left such problems to solve themselves.

143:3.7 (1611.5) Their return from this holiday marked the beginning of a period of greatly improved relations with the followers of John. Many of the twelve really gave way to mirth when they noted the changed state of everybody’s mind and observed the freedom from nervous irritability which had come to them as a result of their three days’ vacation from the routine duties of life. There is always danger that monotony of human contact will greatly multiply perplexities and magnify difficulties.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Carl Jung says that people spend the first half of life getting “into the world” … and the 2nd half of life getting out of it.

 

This generalization he arrived at through having seen many many people as clients, as he worked as a psychotherapist.

 

I have great respect for Carl Jung; and I trust him.       And I make sense of his generalization mainly in this way:

 

We are multidimensional beings [we have a material aspect … AND we have a spiritual aspect] yet – we are forced to live in a (devoutly) Materialistic Society.  Our culture believes that there is a Big Equals Sign    between   REALITY    and   Materiality.  We believe that Materiality IS  Reality … that   Reality = Materiality    (which is NOT true).

 

By the time our (Inuit) author (of the epigram) wrote his song … he had largely transcended his (own and his culture’s) Materiality … Mmm?

 

As Maharishi says – “Enlightenment means – knowing what is What.”

 

It’s something to hope for.  

Maybe even strive for.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

The Inuit are the descendants of what anthropologists call the Thule culture, who emerged from western Alaska around 1000 AD and spread eastwards across the Arctic, displacing the related Dorsets, the last major Paleo-Eskimo culture (in Inuktitut, the Tuniit). Inuit legends speak of the Tuniit as “giants”, although they were sometimes called “dwarfs”, people who were taller and stronger than the Inuit. Researchers believe that the Dorset culture lacked dogs, larger weapons and other technologies that gave the expanding Inuit society an advantage. By 1300, the Inuit had settled in west Greenland, and they moved into east Greenland over the following century.

Inuit (plural; the singular Inuk means “man” or “person”) is a general term for a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada, Greenland, Russia and the United States.The Inuit language is grouped under Eskimo-Aleut languages.

 

The Inuit people live throughout most of the Canadian Arctic and subarctic: in the territory of Nunavut (“our land”); the northern third of Quebec, in an area called Nunavik (“place to live”); the coastal region of Labrador, in an area called Nunatsiavut (“our beautiful land”); in various parts of the Northwest Territories, mainly on the coast of the Arctic Ocean and formerly in the Yukon. Collectively these areas are known as Inuit Nunangat. In the US, Alaskan Inupiat live on the North Slope of Alaska and the Seward Peninsula. Greenland’s Kalaallit are citizens of Denmark. The Yupik live in both Alaska and the Russian Far East.

 

In Alaska, the term Eskimo is commonly used, because it includes both Yupik and Inupiat, while Inuit is not accepted as a collective term or even specifically used for Inupiat (which technically is Inuit). No universal replacement term for Eskimo, inclusive of all Inuit and Yupik people, is accepted across the geographical area inhabited by the Inuit and Yupik peoples. In Canada and Greenland, the term Eskimo has fallen out of favour, as it is considered pejorative by the natives and has been replaced by the term Inuit. In Canada, the Constitution Act of 1982, sections 25 and 35 recognised the Inuit as a distinctive group of Canadian aboriginals, who are neither First Nations nor Métis.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Urantia Book excerpt –

https://www.urantia.org/urantia-book-standardized/paper-143-going-through-samaria?term=%22143%22#U143_0_1

(Scroll down to get to Section 3)

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Gender Balance & the Earth

 

According to NPR  –  in this world

WOMEN

  do 2/3 of the work

    bring home 10% of the pay

      and own 1% of the property !

 

~~~~~~

 

“The world is a ghetto”

                    –  the rock group, ‘War

 

 

~~~~~

 

If Mama ain’t happy

ain’t nobody happy.

 

 

~~~~~~

 

Our relationship with the Earth is (clearly) reflected   in how we treat women.

 

I want to share with you here a recent Truthout article … by Marla Dolan.

I want to (fully) acknowledge her and thank her for her work.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hawaii Considers an Explicitly Feminist Plan for COVID-Era Economic Recovery

 

  • “The road to economic recovery should not be across women’s backs,” reads the first sentence of Hawaii’s Feminist Economic Recovery Plan.

    As states put forth dozens of recovery plans that all aim to redress the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawaii’s remains the first and only that is explicitly “feminist.”

    The plan — which was released on April 14 by the Hawaii Department of Human Services’ State Commission on the Status of Women — does not seek to reinstate a status quo riddled with inequality. Instead it recognizes the current crisis as the “moment to build a system that is capable of delivering gender equality.”

    It calls for a universal basic income, countering the systemic wage and wealth gender gap. It calls for free, publicly provided child care for essential workers, a nearly $25/hour minimum wage for single mothers, and the creation of public emergency funds available for high-risk groups, like undocumented women who are ineligible for the federal cash refund, domestic workers who are experiencing financial hardship, and people classified as “sex trafficking survivors who have recently exited the commercial sex industry.”

    The plan calls for a reinvestment in midwifery services to provide maternal health care as hospitals become strained with pandemic response. It calls for a 20 percent pro-rata share of the state’s COVID-19-response funds to go immediately, no strings attached, to Native Hawaiian communities. The 23-page document is a vision for a new kind of economy while also conveying concrete policy recommendations, delivered directly to Hawaii legislators as they begin to apportion state funds toward recovery.

    Khara Jabola-Carolus saw the writing on the wall early. Jabola-Carolus works as the executive director of the State Commission on the Status of Women, and by early March, had seen enough to know that this would be a severely gendered crisis. Women, burdened with the vast amount of unpaid care work, were most impacted by stay-at-home orders, child care and school closures. Women quarantined in abusive homes with their perpetrators had little to no access to financial and social support systems. Women were performing the majority of essential, high-risk health care positions and other essential care work positions like teaching, but weren’t even receiving enough protective equipment or livable wages. Any policy response that ignored these gendered realities would only reinforce them.

    Jabola-Carolus recalls the exact moment she knew she needed to push for a feminist response. As the head of the Commission on the Status of Women, she was asked by legislators working on the state budget to provide a pro-woman plan to restructure and stimulate the economy — in less than half a day. “I was given only a few hours to answer these enormous questions and it made me damn angry. How could executives and bureaucrats, so far removed from the edge and illiterate in the struggles of women, define their future in a few hours?”

    She wanted to draft the recommendations in a very different way, one that modeled a community-based consultative process that prioritized Native, immigrant and working-class women and LGBTQIA+ peoples. “We were careful to go beyond the elite, white-dominated ‘advocates’ circles,” she told Truthout. The contributors in this circle were organizers, academics, activists, midwives and mothers, representing grassroots organizations, large nonprofits, unions and government agencies.

    “This is how we should be doing all of our policy making and planning,” said Kathleen Algire, director of the Hawaii Children’s Action Network, who was a member of the task force. “We can no longer say that ‘we can’t wait for the time community collaboration takes.’ We did it fast and we didn’t sacrifice the community to get it done.”

    Mykie Ozoa, an organizer with AF3IRM Hawaii, the state’s largest grassroots feminist network, saw this collaboration as key to producing pragmatic recommendations. “The Commission was adamant that the voices of women organizing to address issues on the ground in our communities were included, and I believe it is one reason this plan is so unique and offers urgent but easily attainable recommendations.”

    Within the plan itself, the attention given to care work, such as child care and elder care, is substantial. “You cannot separate women from caregiving, unpaid or paid,” said Algire, who helped draft the child care recommendations. They include universal free child care for all emergency and essential workers, paid family and sick leave, and mandated pay parity for child care workers to educators and nurses. “What we keep repeating is ‘there is no economic recovery without child care.’ For parents to go back to work, their children need to be cared for.”

    Algire pointed out the stark shortage of child care spaces available in Hawaii, even before the pandemic, with space for only 1 in 37 toddlers in the state. For many, child care costs are already their second-highest expense, after rent. “When families don’t have access to safe, affordable, quality child care, they are put in an impossible situation,” Algire told Truthout. “If it’s a two-parent household, one parent will likely leave the workforce. Because women are paid less, they are typically who we see staying home.”

    This often cost two-parent households a second income and many single mothers their only income, and it also impacts the employment side of the child care industry, too, where the workforce is mostly women. “Like many other professions, you may see men owning or serving as directors of large centers, but the primary workforce is women,” Algire said. “Child care is a low-paying job and [that fact] is a disgrace. These are the people we are entrusting our children’s lives to and they should be paid more than minimum wage.”

    The plan emphasizes that the industry cannot return to this unsustainable “normal” — state economic policies must help it change. “If a community, state or country wants to see workforce participation like we had [pre-pandemic], child care as an industry will need support. It will need to be subsidized,” Algire said. “The folks that are supporting, teaching, guiding, caring and loving our kids deserve better. Caring for children is hard, draining work. It is undervalued because it is seen as ‘women’s work.’ We’ve got to change that.”

    Health care for women and LGBTQIA+ people is also centered in the plan, with significant attention paid to supporting maternal health services in the state. Tanya Smith-Johnson, who worked at an organization called The Big Push for Midwives, told Truthout that maternal care policy must include deep and consistent consultation with pregnant and birthing people in order to fully address their needs, especially Black and Native people, who face additional marginalization within the maternal health care system.

    In fact, one of the five key recommendations made in diversifying and reshaping the economy is “to harness the role of midwifery to improve deficits in maternal and neonatal health care in Hawaii, especially in rural areas.” The plan’s recommendations include ensuring that insurance companies and Medicaid cover midwifery services fully, and matching hospital-based midwives with community midwives to meet the increasing demand for out-of-hospital birth options, as many who are pregnant wish to give birth out of hospitals to reduce COVID-19 transmission risk.

    The writers of the plan wanted the word “feminism” front and center — in the report itself and in the conversations it will spur. “If the plan isn’t feminist, it’s patriarchal and will fail to deliver a resilient, strong economy,” Jabola-Carolus said, and urged that the individual policy recommendations put forth cannot be removed from the systemic critique that “feminism” actually articulates. “Feminism, in terms of policy, is mostly stuff that has broad public support, but we need to say ‘feminist’ in order to actually talk about the culture surrounding those policies. It has to be about root causes,” Jabola-Carolus said.

    Take paid family leave, for example. It’s an incredibly popular policy, and would decrease one form of gender inequality in the workplace, where women are often forced out of careers in order to perform unpaid care work for family members. But if paid family leave is not introduced as an explicitly feminist policy, it can erase the broader structures of inequality that allow other forms of workplace discrimination to persist. It just seems like one problem with one policy fix, and not part of anything systemic. For Jabola-Carolus, “this was a call to the left to be explicitly feminist in the same way that it’s finally, explicitly naming systemic racism.” She says naming feminism is critical for progressive movements’ policy platforms to adequately address institutionalized oppression.

    The word “feminism” might be used in popular culture more than ever before, but this is not reflected in policy. Only one federal bill has ever been proposed that uses it: a 2017 piece of legislation to commemorate women’s rights leader Bella Abzug for her “feminist presence” in Congress.

    Jabola-Carolus said she wasn’t aware of any other state-level economic plan that put feminism in its title. All of the advocates Truthout spoke to also viewed this first-time inclusion of “feminist” as hugely significant. Sarah Michal Hamid, a youth organizer who also sat on the committee, said it was “groundbreaking,” as “it means that finally a government agency is recognizing that women and non-men are unevenly burdened under our current economy, and that this needs to change.”

    But the goal is for its usage in policy to be eventually commonplace, a consequence of serious gender consideration in all planning. “It shouldn’t be unique that a state plan centers women and girls. When the most marginalized are centered, everyone else’s needs will also be met,” Ozoa said. “I hope that other states use this opportunity to take stock and reprioritize.”

    The women who put together the Hawaii plan do believe that their work can provide a pathway for feminists’ engagement in other states.

    “I hope other states adapt it to their needs, keeping the essence of the document, because it really is a plan that is universal and necessary,” Smith-Johnson told Truthout. This might look different based on each state’s demographic, employment and industry needs, but could share common commitments to tackling economic realities that marginalize women.

    For other states embarking on their own drafting processes, Hawaii’s advocates are the first to admit that there is room for these recommendations to grow. In future iterations, both Jabola-Carolus and Ozoa noted they would like to see a stronger integration of transformative justice frameworks that pursue gender-based violence prevention without relying on mass incarceration. Smith-Johnson would like to see how these recommendations could influence federal-level feminist economic policy: “Can you imagine the impact that would have?”

    For now, the report lives in the halls of Hawaii’s House and Senate, as legislators review proposals and apportion COVID-19 recovery funds in the weeks that follow. “I know this plan will have a ripple effect on how we move forward,” said Algire. “Unlike other plans that will sit on a shelf and be forgotten, this will be a guiding document for years to come.”

    Hamid said she hopes that the questions raised in this report reverberate all around the country. “As other governments begin this ‘road to recovery,’ they should carefully consider who is allowed on that road, and whose backs it is being built on.”

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More: Chemistry & Mineralogy / Home Schooling

 

 

MOST of the Elements in the Periodic Table … are METALS … and they live on the left side of the table.

 

There are Seventeen NON-METALS.

Hydrogen (one of the Non-Metals and the simplest of the elements) has carved out a home on the table’s Upper-Left corner; but except for Hydrogen – ALL  the Non-Metals are grouped in the Table’s Upper-Right corner.

FOUR of these (Carbon, Phosphorus, Selenium,  and Sulfur) are (normally) solids; but (except for these) the Non-Metals are GASSES.

 

In Between the Metals and the Non-Metals … are the Metalloids.  These are elements which have Some of the properties of Metals … but also – some of the properties of Non-Metals.  There are seven of these.

 

The most important of these (for OUR purposes, since our focus is Mineralogy) – is Silicon.  

 

[Quartz = Silicon Dioxide.  And I will commend to you – the book:  “Quartz Family Minerals”.

The basic recipe for Granite – is Quartz, Feldspar, Hornblende, and Mica; ALL are Quartz Minerals.

Our Continents – are big blobs of granite … floating in a sea of Basalt; and basalt is a quartz Rock.]

 

The following video does quite a good job showing the Three categories of elements in the periodic table (just discussed above).

 

 

At this (early) stage, I do not consider it important – that you spend much time familiarizing yourself with the majority of the Elements (of the periodic table); however, you SHOULD familiarize yourself with about the first thirty:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Home Schooling / Chemistry & Mineralogy

 

 

My first submission to the SpykerFarm (and as an Open Letter) – of suggestions for home schooling was last week’s; it was on Poetry … and included assignments (for each person) to learn a particular poem and share it with the family.

 

This second one is on Chemistry & Mineralogy.  (Of course – Owen got a rock tumbler for Christmas; and the last time I was there, his batch of rocks was nearing completion). 

I will admit – (as with ANY discipline) – that Love (appreciation  /  a heart connection with whatever you’re studying) – is the most important component … then on this basis, knowledge and understanding (as it is acquired) enhances and enriches that Love.

 

We study Chemistry along with Mineralogy because it’s not really possible to understand rocks and minerals without some knowledge of chemistry.

 

Let’s do a quick review of what we’ve already learned –

 

All matter is made up of only about a hundred basic Elements.  And these elements intercombine into a multitude of compounds.  (Water, for example, is a compound of  the elements : hydrogen and oxygen.)  Dan got copies of the Periodic Table of Elements to each of the kids.

 

This Periodic Table is not just a mere list (of all the elements).  It is called ‘Periodic’ because the elements within the table each occupy a place in the table according to the (naturally occurring) pattern, according to which – the elements interact (chemically) with each other.

 

[The Periodic Table will never get old … it will only get better, as we come to understand it better.]

 

 

  (periodic table with actual PHYSICAL SAMPLES  of each element)  [For many years I have thought that this sort of Periodic Table (with actual physical samples) – was just what we needed]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(the chemical elements in order)

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all ate a salty cracker … SLOWLY.  (We chewed it but did not swallow it … until we noticed that the cracker changed its taste to: SWEET!)   From this experience we learned – that our TONGUE KNOWS CHEMISTRY !        [Ptyalin is an enzyme, a protein found in saliva that breaks down the insoluble starch found in foods into smaller, soluble sugar fragments.  This is a chemical change.]

 

We found that salt (or sugar) will dissolve in water.  This is NOT a chemical change; but it’s still important.  Minerals can dissolve (go into solution) … and they can come out.  

Many minerals form in just this way.  They dissolve (go into solution) in the ground water … then come out of solution again, when the conditions allow this to happen.  

This is how an agate (or a geode) forms.  Or quartz crystals.  (NOT the ones in granite; these form in a different way: from the slow cooling of a hot molten mass of material (magma).)

 

I sent you links to videos – on how to make ‘rock candy’ – (crystals – from a water solution), but I’m not sure you watched them (or did the experiments)

 

    (make rock candy in 7 days)

 

 

 

   (make rock candy in 4 hours)

 

 

 

I know you DID see some of the videos – which are designed to help us comprehend HOW BIG  and   HOW SMALL our universe is  (though honestly – it’s really BEYOND our comprehension.  We should still TRY though.)

 

    (Cosmic Voyage Zoom-in:     1 minute)

 

 

   (Powers of 10 –  with  Morgan Freeman)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At my request, Dan acquired (for the farm’s Home School)  a copy of “Rocks and Minerals” (from the Smithsonian Handbooks series).  It contains nice photos AND it shows the chemical formula of each mineral listed (which connects us to the Elements on the periodic table) !

 

Now I want to suggest that you (also) have another book available to you: “Discover Rocks & Minerals” (from Publications International, Ltd.    ISBN:  1-56173-854-9)   This book also has lots of good photos; and it’s geared toward young people.

 

We talked some – about oxidation … which, we have observed, may happen fast (as with a bonfire) … or slow (as when a piece of steel, which has been left lying around the farm (maybe even buried in the dirt) for a long time –  gets rusty.  (The rust itself is iron oxide.  When the rust is yellow, it’s the same as ‘Limonite’; when it’s dark red or black, it’s similar to (naturally occurring) ‘Hematite’.

And, of course Quartz is also an oxide … only it’s an oxide of silicon – silicon dioxide)

 

We also had a look at how (even THICK) steel may be cut with an oxygen-acetylene torch.  And the reason this process is called “burning” is because: once the cutting is in progress, the steel becomes the FUEL.  Rapid oxidation.  Just like how wood is the fuel in a bonfire.  (And, by the way, even most GROWNUPS do not know this.)

 

  (‘Burning’ steel with an oxygen-acetylene torch)

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

(to be continued)

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Home Schooling / Poetry

I ask them to take a poem

and hold it up to the light

like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem

and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room

and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski

across the surface of a poem

waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do

is tie the poem to a chair with rope

and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose

to find out what it really means.

 

                                                              –    Billy Collins

                (from his ‘Introduction to Poetry‘)
~
   ~
      ~
         ~
            ~
My brother Dan and his wife Alexandra raised three daughters … in such a way – that (now that the kids are grown and have their own families) these ‘kids’  live at the Spyker farm … by choice.
Personally, I regard this as No Small Achievement.
(Actually, the oldest daughter does NOT live at the farm.  She lives in San Francisco, where she is a [paid] member of the Choir of the Symphony Orchestra … and has other work which she would have to give up if she were to live at the farm.  She visits when she can.)
I do too.
~~~~~~~~~~~     [Spyker farm letter / assignments       used here ~ with permission]

As it’s taking me too long to get all my home-schooling ideas organized, I thought I should change my approach and send you my suggestions in installments.

This first one is a proposal – that everybody at the farm learn a poem … and share it at a Family Gathering.  (Of course, this may be done all at one time, or more spread-out; and it could be done at an actual physical gathering, or electronically, by shared video recordings or live video chat.)

When I was in the hospital (in Bend) three weeks ago, I roughed out a list of suggested poems, matched to the people at the farm.

It is, of course, of some importance that people actually WANT to do this … and wanting to will certainly include liking the poem you’re learning and intend to share with the Family.

In any case – here are your assignments (if you should decide to accept them).  I have tried to offer options, in an attempt to find each person an agreeable poem.  I am, of course, open to your criticisms and suggestions.

When Dan & I were little, our mom (Alice) would sometimes (fairly often, I would say) tell us “The Bear Story” (by James Whitcomb Riley) which she had learned.  This was a treat for us; and it would (of course) be difficult to say how her doing this enriched our lives, but there is no doubt that it DID.  When I was more grown up, I would sometimes SEE – how she liked to hold a young child … rock them and sing to them.  And I know that Dan (& Jack) and I received this same blessing. It is (I would say) – something that she did Very Well.

[I’ll include the ‘Bear Story’, though I do not intend to assign it … at least, not now.].

I will also mention – (and this pertains to Zoey & Ezry’s assignment in particular, but it’s also pertinent to each person’s assignment)  – that before the film “Good Will Hunting” was produced, both Matt Damon and Ben Affleck learned both their parts, their lines … such that both of them were ready to step into and play either of those roles.

And – I think this brings me to a quote by William Cory –

You go to a great school not for knowledge so much as for arts and habits; for the habit of attention, for the art of expression, for the art of assuming at a moment’s notice a new intellectual posture, for the art of entering quickly into other person’s thoughts, for the habit of submitting to censure and refutation, for the art of indicating assent or dissent in graduated terms, for the habit of working out what is possible within a given time, for taste, for discrimination, for mental courage and mental soberness.  Above all, you go to a great school for self-knowledge.

So (just so we’re clear) – WHY would we be willing to settle for Education which is mediocre, or even “Good” …  if we could provide Education that is Great?

Sometime you should (all … grown-ups first)  watch the movie – “Captain Fantastic” (2016), in which Viggo Mortensen plays a dad who works hard to give his (6) kids a rigorous physical and intellectual (home-schooled) education.

It is my understanding that (once a child WANTS to learn) – he or she can learn an entire year’s worth of knowledge … in about six weeks.  (This has to do with the variable which is sometimes referred to as ‘engagement’.)

I invite you (all) to have a look at the video (which, by the way, your neighbor, Leonard Johnson recorded for me, in June of 2013, when I was myself living at the farm).  It contains several poems, including Benet’s “The Mountain Whippoorwill”. [See attachments for link/use info]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Assignments:

 

~ ~ ~

 

Dan:  Davy Crockett’s ‘Love Cure’  (or) “The Family Is All There Is” (or)  “Red Hanrahan’s Song about Ireland”  (or) “Embroidery” by Denise Levertov (or)  “Meaning of the Shovel”

 

 

 

Thar war a feller in Washington that put the thunder and litening into glass bottles, and when a feller had the roomatiz, or the Saint Vitals dance, he would put the axletressity into his corpse jist like pouring whiskey into a powder horn, and it cured him as clean as a barked tree. So I seed how ’twas done and intarmined whenever ennything aled me to try it, only I didn’t keer about the bottles, for I thort I could jist as well take the litening in the raw state as it cum from the clouds. I had been used to drink out of the Massissippy without a cup, and so I could take the litening without the bottles and whirligigs that belongs to an axletressityfying macheen.  

It fell out that sum two yeers arter I had ben to see this axletrissity, I got a leetle in love with a pesky smart gal in our cleering, and I knowed it war not rite, seeing I war a married man. So I combobbolated on the subject and at last I resisted that I would explunctificate my passions by axletrissity, so it must be done by bringing it rite on the hart and driving the love out of it. 

So I went out into the forrest one arternoon when thar war a pestiferous thunder gust, and I opened my mouth so that the axletressity might run down and hit my hart, to cure it of love. I stood so for an hour, and then I seed a thunderbolt a cummin, and I dodged my mouth rite under it, and plump it went into my throte.  

My eyes! It war as if seven buffaloes war kicking in my bowels. My hart spun round amongst my insides like a grind stone going by steem, but the litening went clean through me and tore the trowsers cleen off as it cum out. I had a sore gizzard for two weeks afterward, and my inwards war so hot that I use to eat raw vittals for a month afterward and it would be cooked befour it got farely down my throte.  

I have never felt love since. 

                                                                 –    Davy Crockett

~~~~~~

 The Family Is All There Is

Think of those old, enduring connections

found in all flesh–the channeling

wires and threads, vacuoles, granules,

plasma and pods, purple veins, ascending

boles and coral sapwood (sugar-

and light-filled), those common ligaments,

filaments, fibers and canals.

Seminal to all kin also is the open

mouth–in heart urchin and octopus belly,

in catfish, moonfish, forest lily,

and rugosa rose, in thirsty magpie,

wailing cat cub, barker, yodeler,

yawning coati.

And there is a pervasive clasping

common to the clan–the hard nails

of lichen and ivy sucker

on the church wall, the bean tendril

and the taproot, the bolted coupling

of crane flies, the hold of the shearwater

on its morning squid, guanine

to cytosine, adenine to thymine,

fingers around fingers, the grip

of the voice on presence, the grasp

of the self on place.

Remember the same hair on pygmy

dormouse and yellow-necked caterpillar,

covering red baboon, thistle seed

and willow herb? Remember the similar

snorts of warthog, walrus, male moose

and sumo wrestler? Remember the familiar

whinny and shimmer found in river birches,

bay mares and bullfrog tadpoles,

in children playing at shoulder tag

on a summer lawn?

The family–weavers, reachers, winders

and connivers, pumpers, runners, air

and bubble riders, rock-sitters, wave-gliders,

wire-wobblers, soothers, flagellators–all

brothers, sisters, all there is.

Name something else.                   

–   Pattiann Rogers                              

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Red Hanrahan’s Song about Ireland

The old brown thorn-trees break in two high over Cummen Strand,

Under a bitter black wind that blows from the left hand;

Our courage breaks like an old tree in a black wind and dies,

But we have hidden in our hearts the flame out of the eyes

Of Cathleen, the daughter of Houlihan.

The wind has bundled up the clouds high over Knock- narea,

And thrown the thunder on the stones for all that Maeve can say.

Angers that are like noisy clouds have set our hearts abeat;

But we have all bent low and low and kissed the quiet feet

Of Cathleen, the daughter of Houlihan.

The yellow pool has overflowed high up on Clooth-na-Bare,

For the wet winds are blowing out of the clinging air;

Like heavy flooded waters our bodies and our blood;

But purer than a tall candle before the Holy Rood

Is Cathleen, the daughter of Houlihan.

                                               –  William Butler Yeats
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

An Embroidery

Rose Red’s hair is brown as fur

and shines in firelight as she prepares

supper of honey and apples, curds and whey,

for the bear, and leaves it ready

on the hearth-stone.

Rose White’s grey eyes

look into the dark forest.

Rose Red’s cheeks are burning,

sign of her ardent, joyful

compassionate heart.

Rose White is pale,

turning away when she hears

the bear’s paw on the latch.

When he enters, there is

frost on his fur,

he draws near to the fire

giving off sparks.

Rose Red catches the scent of the forest,

of mushrooms, of rosin.

Together Rose Red and Rose White

sing to the bear;

it is a cradle song, a loom song,

a song about marriage, about

a pilgrimage to the mountains

long ago.

Raised on an elbow,

the bear stretched on the hearth

nods and hums; soon he sighs

and puts down his head.

He sleeps; the Roses

bank the fire.

Sunk in the clouds of their feather bed

they prepare to dream.

Rose Red in a cave that smells of honey

dreams she is combing the fur of her cubs

with a golden comb.

Rose White is lying awake.

Rose White shall marry the bear’s brother.

Shall he too

when the time is ripe,

step from the bear’s hide?

Is that other, her bridegroom,

here in the room?

                                     –   Denise Levertov

~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Meaning of the Shovel

This was the dictator’s land

before the revolution.

Now the dictator is exiled to necropolis,

his army brooding in camps on the border,

and the congregation of the landless

stipples the earth with a thousand shacks,

every weatherbeaten carpenter

planting a fistful of nails.

Here I dig latrines. I dig because last week

I saw a funeral in the streets of Managua,

the coffin swaddled in a red and black flag,

hoisted by a procession so silent

that even their feet seemed

to leave no sound on the gravel.

He was eighteen, with the border patrol,

when a sharpshooter from the dictator’s army

took aim at the back of his head.

I dig because yesterday

I saw four walls of photographs:

the faces of volunteers

in high school uniforms

who taught campesinos to read,

bringing an alphabet

sandwiched in notebooks

to places where the mist never rises

from the trees. All dead,

by malaria or the greedy river

or the dictator’s army

swarming the illiterate villages

like a sky full of corn-plundering birds.

I dig because today, in this barrio

without plumbing, I saw a woman

wearing a yellow dress

climb into a barrel of water

to wash herself and the dress

at the same time,

her cupped hands spilling.

I dig because today I stopped digging

to drink an orange soda. In a country

with no glass, the boy kept the treasured bottle

and poured the liquid into a plastic bag

full of ice, then poked a hole with a straw.

I dig because today my shovel

struck a clay bowl centuries old,

the art of ancient fingers

moist with this same earth,

perfect but for one crack in the lip.

I dig because I have hauled garbage

and pumped gas and cut paper

and sold encyclopedias door to door.

I dig, digging until the passport

in my back pocket saturates with dirt,

because here I work for nothing

and for everything.

   –    MARTÍN ESPADA

~~~~~~~~~~~

Alexandra:  Hilaire Belloc’s  “Tarantella” (or)  Stephens’ “The Fifteen Acres”  (or) Rilke’s “The Man Watching”

Tarantella

Do you remember an Inn,

Miranda?

Do you remember an Inn?

And the tedding and the spreading

Of the straw for a bedding,

And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,

And the wine that tasted of tar?

And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers

(Under the vine of the dark veranda)?

Do you remember an Inn, Miranda,

Do you remember an Inn?

And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers

Who hadn’t got a penny,

And who weren’t paying any,

And the hammer at the doors and the din?

And the hip! hop! hap!

Of the clap

Of the hands to the swirl and the twirl

Of the girl gone chancing,

Glancing,

Dancing,

Backing and advancing,

Snapping of the clapper to the spin

Out and in–

And the ting, tong, tang of the guitar!

Do you remember an Inn,

Miranda?

Do you remember an Inn?

Never more;

Miranda,

Never more.

Only the high peaks hoar;

And Aragon a torrent at the door.

No sound

In the walls of the halls where falls

The tread

Of the feet of the dead to the ground,

No sound:

But the boom

Of the far waterfall like doom.

                                  –    Hilaire Belloc

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

The Fifteen Acres

I

I cling and swing

On a branch, or sing

Through the cool, clear hush of Morning, O!

Or fling my wing

On the air, and bring

To sleepier birds a warning, O!

That the night’s in flight,

And the sun’s in sight,

And the dew is the grass adorning, O!

And the green leaves swing

As I sing, sing, sing,

Up by the river,

Down the dell,

To the little wee nest,

Where the big tree fell,

So early in the morning, O!

II

I flit and twit

In the sun for a bit

When his light so bright is shining, O!

Or sit and fit

My plumes, or knit

Straw plaits for the nest’s nice lining, O!

And she with glee

Shows unto me

Underneath her wings reclining, O!

And I sing that Peg

Has an egg, egg, egg,

Up by the oat-field,

Round by the mill,

Past the meadow,

Down the hill,

So early in the morning, O! 

III

I stoop and swoop

On the air, or loop

Through the trees, and then go soaring, O!

To group with a troop

On the gusty poop

While the wind behind is roaring, O!

I skim and swim

By a cloud’s red rim

And up the the azure flooring, O!

And my wide wings drip

As I slip, slip, slip,

Down through the raindrops,

Back where Peg

Broods in the nest

On the little white egg,

So early in the morning, O!

                              –  James Stephens

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Man Watching 

I can tell by the way the trees beat, after

so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes

that a storm is coming,

and I hear the far-off fields say things

I can’t bear without a friend,

I can’t love without a sister.

The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on 

across the woods and across time,

and the world looks as if it had no age:

the landscape, like a line in the psalm book, 

is seriousness and weight and eternity.

What we choose to fight is so tiny! 

What fights with us is so great. 

If only we would let ourselves be dominated

as things do by some immense storm, 

we would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it’s with small things, 

and the triumph itself makes us small. 

What is extraordinary and eternal

does not want to be bent by us. 

I mean the Angel who appeared

to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:

when the wrestlers’ sinews 

grew long like metal strings, 

he felt them under his fingers 

like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel 

(who often simply declined the fight) 

went away proud and strengthened

and great from that harsh hand, 

that kneaded him as if to change his shape. 

Winning does not tempt that man. 

This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively, 

by constantly greater beings.

                                           – Rainer Maria Rilke

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jess:  “Riding Out at Evening”     (or)    “The Race”

Riding Out at Evening  

 

At dusk, everything blurs and softens..

from here out over the long valley,

the fields and hills roll up

the first slight sheets of evening,

as, over the next hour,

heavier, darker ones will follow.

Quieted roads, predictable deer

browsing in a neighbor’s field, another’s

herd of heifers, the kitchen lights

starting in many windows.  On horseback

I take it in, neither visitor

nor intruder, but kin passing , closer

and closer to night, its cold streams

rising in the sugarbush and  hollow.

Half-aloud, I say to the horse,

or myself, or whoever, let fire not come

to this house, nor that barn,

nor lightning strike that cattle.

Let dogs not gain the gravid doe, let the lights

of the rooms convey what they seem to.

And who is to say it is useless

or foolish to ride out in the falling light

alone, wishing, or praying,

for particular good to particular beings

on one small road in a huge world?

The horse bears me along, like grace,

making me better than what I am,

and what I think or say or see

is whole in these moments, is neither

small nor broken.  For up, out of

the inscrutable earth, have come my body

and the separate body of the mare:

flawed and aching and wronged.  Who then

is better made to say be well, be glad,

or who to long that we, as one,

might course over the entire valley.

over all valleys, as a bird in a great embrace

of flight, who presses against her breast,

in grief and tenderness,

the whole weeping body of the world.

                               
                                                          – Linda McCarriston

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

The Race

 

When I got to the airport I rushed up to the desk,

bought a ticket, ten minutes later

they told me the flight was cancelled, the doctors

had said my father would not live through the night

and the flight was cancelled. A young man

with a dark brown moustache told me

another airline had a nonstop

leaving in seven minutes. See that 

elevator over there, well go

down to the first floor, make a right, you’ll

see a yellow bus, get off at the

second Pan Am terminal, I 

ran, I who have no sense of direction

raced exactly where he’d told me, a fish

slipping upstream deftly against

the flow of the river. I jumped off that bus with those

bags I had thrown everything into

in five minutes, and ran, the bags

wagged me from side to side as if 

to prove I was under the claims of the material,

I ran up to a man with a flower on his breast,

I who always go to the end of the line, I said

Help me. He looked at my ticket, he said

Make a left and then a right, go up the moving stairs and then

run. I lumbered up the moving stairs,

at the top I saw the corridor, 

and then I took a deep breath, I said

goodbye to my body, goodbye to comfort,

I used my legs and heart as if I would

gladly use them up for this,

to touch him again in this life. I ran, and the 

bags banged against me, wheeled and coursed

in skewed orbits, I have seen pictures of

women running, their belongings tied

in scarves grasped in their fists, I blessed my 

long legs he gave me, my strong

heart I abandoned to its own purpose,

I ran to Gate 17 and they were

just lifting the thick white

lozenge of the door to fit it into

the socket of the plane. Like the one who is not 

too rich, I turned sideways and 

slipped through the needle’s eye, and then

I walked down the aisle toward my father. The jet

was full, and people’s hair was shining, they were 

smiling, the interior of the plane was filled with a

mist of gold endorphin light, 

I wept as people weep when they enter heaven,

in massive relief. We lifted up

gently from one tip of the continent

and did not stop until we set down lightly on the

other edge, I walked into his room

and watched his chest rise slowly

and sink again, all night

I watched him breathe.

                                                –    Sharon Olds

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Zoey & Ezry:  Lorca’s  “Casida of the Rose”  [This is a short poem, but I want you both to learn both the (original) Spanish AND the English … then take turns with the languages.  Sometimes you may want to present the Spanish, then the English …( maybe verse by verse, or maybe line by line).  Experiment. Take your time. Work hard.]

“Casida de la rosa”

La rosa 

no buscaba la aurora: 

Casi eterna en su ramo 

buscaba otra cosa. 

La rosa 

no buscaba ni ciencia ni sombra: 

Confín de carne y sueño 

buscaba otra cosa. 

La rosa 

no buscaba la rosa: 

Inmóvil por el cielo 

¡buscaba otra cosa!

                                    –   Federico García Lorca

~ ~ ~ ~

Casida of the Rose

 

The rose

was not searching for the sunrise:

almost eternal on its branch,

it was searching for something else.

 

The rose

was not searching for darkness or science:

borderline of flesh and dream,

it was searching for something else.

 

The rose

was not searching for the rose.

Motionless in the sky

it was searching for something else.

 

                     –    Federico Garcia Lorca

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nathan:  “Hank Spink”  (or) E. E. Cummings’  “anyone lived in a pretty how town”   (or)   Rilke’s  ‘Sometimes a man stands up’

“Hank Spink”

 

HANK SPINK, he said — or Bob did, his brother —

‘At he hit a man once for somepin or other,

An’ after he di it — I got this from Bob —

He simply went right out an’ give up his job;

Not Hank or Bob,

But the feller ‘at got hit

Give up his job.

See?

He said ‘at the wind, or the force of his blow,

Er somepin like that, somehow — I don’t know

Just now what it was — I got it from Bob,

But he got a good swat; not Hank or Bob,

By a long shot,

But the feller ‘at got hit

Got a good swat.

See?

He said he’d be blamed, but the didn’t know

How he came to strike such an all-fired blow,

‘Cept he hung with his right an’ threw the whole heft

Of his weight an’ his science, an’ hit with his left;

That lost ‘im his job; not Hank or Bob,

But the feller ‘at got hit,

Lost him his job.

See?

         –    Benjamin Franklin King

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

anyone lived in a pretty how town

(with up so floating many bells down)

spring summer autumn winter

he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

 

Women and men(both little and small)

cared for anyone not at all

they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same

sun moon stars rain

 

children guessed(but only a few

and down they forgot as up they grew

autumn winter spring summer)

that noone loved him more by more

 

when by now and tree by leaf

she laughed his joy she cried his grief

bird by snow and stir by still

anyone’s any was all to her

 

someones married their everyones

laughed their cryings and did their dance

(sleep wake hope and then)they

said their nevers they slept their dream

 

stars rain sun moon

(and only the snow can begin to explain

how children are apt to forget to remember

with up so floating many bells down)

 

one day anyone died i guess

(and noone stooped to kiss his face)

busy folk buried them side by side

little by little and was by was

              

all by all and deep by deep

and more by more they dream their sleep

noone and anyone earth by april

wish by spirit and if by yes.

 

Women and men(both dong and ding)

summer autumn winter spring

reaped their sowing and went their came

sun moon stars rain

 

                             –   e. e. cummings

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Sometimes a man stands up

Sometimes a man stands up during supper

and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking,

because of a church that stands somewhere in the East.

And his children say blessings on him as if he were dead.

And another man, who remains inside his own house,

stays there, inside the dishes and in the glasses,

so that his children have to go far out into the world

toward that same church, which he forgot.

 

                                                                 –   Rainer Maria Rilke

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Sheena:  “Picketing Supermarkets”  (or) “The wind one brilliant day” by Jimenez

Picketing  Supermarkets

Because all this food is grown in the store,

do not take the leaflet.

Cabbages, broccoli, and tomatoes

are raised at night in the aisles.

Milk is brewed in the rear storage areas,

beef produced in vats in the basement.

Do not take the leaflet.

Peanut butter and soft drinks

are made fresh each morning by store employees.

Our oranges and grapes

are so fine and round

that when held up to the light they cast no shadow.

Do not take the leaflet.

And should you take one,

do not believe it.

This chain of stores has no connection

with anyone growing food someplace else.

Do not believe it.

The sound here is Muzak, for your enjoyment,

it is not the sound of children crying.

There is a lady offering samples

to mark Canada Cheese Month.

There is no dark-skinned man with black hair

beside her

wanting to show you the inside of a coffin.

You would not have to look if there was.

And there are no Nicaraguan heroes

in any way connected with the bananas.

Pay no attention to these people.

The manager is a citizen.

All this food was grown in the store.

                                                  –     Tom Wayman

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

The wind, one brilliant day, called

to my soul with an odor of jasmine.

 

‘In return for the odor of my jasmine,

I’d like all the odor of your roses.’

 

‘I have no roses; all the flowers

in my garden are dead.’

 

‘Well then, I’ll take the withered petals

and the yellow leaves and the waters of the fountain.’

 

the wind left. And I wept. And I said to myself:

‘What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?’

 

                                      –    Antonio Machado

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Mira:  “Why Mira Can’t Go Back to Her Old House”   (or) Rilke’s “I Live My Life” (or) “Don’t Bother the Earth Spirit”

“Why Mira Can’t Go Back to her Old House”

The colors of the Dark One have penetrated Mira’s body; all the other colors washed out.

Making love with the Dark One and eating little, those are my pearls and my carnelians.

Meditation beads and the forehead streak, those are my scarves and my rings.

That’s enough feminine wiles for me. My teacher taught me this.

Approve me or disapprove me: I praise the Mountain Energy night and day.

I take the path that ecstatic human beings have taken for centuries.

I don’t steal money, I don’t hit anyone. What will you charge me with?

I have felt the swaying of the elephant’s shoulders;

and now you want me to climb on a jackass?

Try to be serious.

                                                                                     –  Mirabai

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I Live My Life

I live my life in widening circles

that reach out across the world.

I may not ever complete the last one,

but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, that primordial tower.

I have been circling for thousands of years,

and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,

a storm, or a great song?

                                      –  Rainer Maria Rilke

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Don’t Bother the Earth Spirit

Don’t bother the earth spirit who lives here. She is working on a story. It is the oldest story in the world and it is delicate, changing. If she sees you watching she will invite you in for coffee, give you warm bread, and you will be obligated to stay and listen. But this is no ordinary story. You will have to endure earthquakes, lightning, the deaths of all those you love, the most blinding beauty. It’s a story so compelling you may never want to leave; this is how she traps you. See that stone finger over there? That is the only one who ever escaped.

                                                                                                                                                                                           –  Joy Harjo

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Abby: “A Flower No More than Itself”  (or) “Blessing”

A Flower No More Than Itself

She was there on the mountain

still as the fig tree and the failed wheat.

Only the lizards and a few goats moved.

Everything stunned by heat and silence.

I would get to the top of the terraced starkness

with my ankles cut by thistles and all of me

drained by the effort in the fierce light.

I would put the pomegranate and the anise

and a few daisies on the great rock

where the fountain was long ago.

Too tired to praise. And found each time

tenderness and abundance in the bareness.

Went back down knowing I would sleep clean.

That She would be awake all year with sun

and dirt and rain. Pride Her life.

All nature Her wealth. Sound of owls Her pillow.

                                                –   Linda Gregg

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A Blessing

For the graduates of the University of Arizona.

 

This morning we gather in gratitude for all aspects of sacredness:

the air, the warmth of fire, bodies of water, plants, the land,

and all animals and humankind.

We gather to honor our students who have achieved the extraordinary

accomplishment of earning doctoral or master’s degrees.

We gather to honor their parents, grandparents, children,

family members, and friends who have traveled with them

on their path to success. They have traveled far distances to be here

this morning: we honor their devotion.

 

May we remember that holiness exists in the ordinary elements of our lives.

 

We are grateful for a homeland that has always thrived

on a glorious array of people and their diverse cultures, histories,

and beliefs. We acknowledge the generosity of the Tohono O’odham

in granting this land on which we learn, teach, celebrate

accomplishments, and sometimes mourn losses.

 

May we always cherish our ancestors as we prepare for the days ahead.

May we remember that we exist because of their prayers and their faith.

 

We are blessed with distinct and melodious tongues.

Our languages are treasures of stories, songs, ceremonies, and memories.

May each of us remember to share our stories with one another,

because it is only through stories that we live full lives.

 

May the words we speak go forth as bright beads

of comfort, joy, humor, and inspiration.

We have faith that the graduates will inspire others

to explore and follow their interests.

 

Today we reflect a rainbow of creation:

Some of us came from the east, where bright crystals of creativity reside.

They are the white streaks of early morning light when all is born again.

We understand that, in Tucson, the Rincon Mountains are our inspiration

for beginning each day. The Rincons are everlasting and always present.

 

Those who came from the south embody the strength of the blue

mountains that encircle us. The Santa Ritas instill in us

the vigorous spirit of youthful learning.

 

Others came from the west; they are imbued with the quiet, yellow glow of dusk.

They help us achieve our goals. Here in the middle of the valley, the ts’aa’,

the basket of life, the Tucson Mountains teach us to value our families.

 

The ones from the north bring the deep, restorative powers of night’s darkness;

their presence renews us. The Santa Catalina Mountains teach us that,

though the past may be fraught with sorrow, it was strengthened

by the prayers of our forebearers.

We witnessed the recent fires the mountains suffered,

and in their recovery we see ourselves on our own journeys.

We understand that we are surrounded by mountains, dziił,

and thus that we are made of strength, dziił, nihí níhídziił.

We are strong ourselves. We are surrounded by mountains

that help us negotiate our daily lives.

 

May we always recognize the multitude of gifts that surround us.

May our homes, schools, and communities be filled with the wisdom

and optimism that reflect a generous spirit.

 

We are grateful for all blessings, seen and unseen.

 

May we fulfill the lives envisioned for us at our birth. May we realize

that our actions affect all people and the earth. May we live in the way

of beauty and help others in need. May we always remember that

we were created as people who believe in one another. We are grateful,

Holy Ones, for the graduates, as they will strengthen our future.

 

All is beautiful again.

Hózhǫ́ nááhasdłíí’.

Hózhǫ́ nááhasdłíí’.

Hózhǫ́ nááhasdłíí’.

Hózhǫ́ nááhasdłíí’.

                                                 –     Luci Tapahonso

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Travis:  “Mia Carlotta”   (or) “Plato told him”  by E. E. Cummings (or)  Roethke’s “The Waking”

Mia Carlotta”

 

GIUSEPPE, da barber, ees greata for “mash,”   

He gotta da bigga, da blacka mustache,   

Good clo’es an’ good styla an’ playnta good cash.   

W’enevra Giuseppe ees walk on da street,   

Da peopla dey talka, “how nobby! how neat!           

How softa da handa, how smalla da feet.”   

He raisa hees hat an’ he shaka hees curls,   

An’ smila weeth teetha so shiny like pearls;   

O! many da heart of da seelly young girls   

               He gotta.    

       Yes, playnta he gotta—   

               But notta   

               Carlotta!   

Giuseppe, da barber, he maka da eye,   

An’ lika da steam engine puffa an’ sigh,    

For catcha Carlotta w’en she ees go by.   

Carlotta she walka weeth nose in da air,   

An’ look through Giuseppe weeth far-away stare,   

As eef she no see dere ees som’body dere.   

Giuseppe, da barber, he gotta da cash,    

He gotta da clo’es an’ da bigga mustache,   

He gotta da seely young girls for da “mash,”   

               But notta—   

       You bat my life, notta—   

               Carlotta.    

               I gotta!

 

                                  –   Thomas A. Daly

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Plato told”

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Waking

 

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   

I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.   

I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?   

I hear my being dance from ear to ear.   

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?   

God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,   

And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?   

The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;   

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do   

To you and me; so take the lively air,   

And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.   

What falls away is always. And is near.   

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.   

I learn by going where I have to go.

                               –   Theodore Roethke

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Owen:  “The Unwritten”  by W. S. Merwin (or)  “Lizzie Pitofsky” (or) Kabir’s “Then What?”  (or) Rumi’s ‘Love Hawk’ (or) Masefield’s “Cargoes”

“The Unwritten”

 

Inside this pencil

crouch words that have never been written

never been spoken

never been taught

they’re hiding

they’re awake in there

dark in the dark

hearing us

but they won’t come out

not for love not for time not for fire

even when the dark has worn away they’ll still be there

hiding in the air

multitudes in days to come may walk through them

breathe them

be none the wiser

what script can it be

that they won’t unroll

in what language

would I recognize it

would I be able to follow it

to make out the real names 

of everything

maybe there aren’t 

many

it could be that there’s only one word

and it’s all we need

it’s here in this pencil

every pencil in the world

is like this

                         – W. S. Merwin

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

“Lizzie Pitofsky Poem”

 

I can’t get enoughsky

Of Lizzie Pitofsky

I love her so much that it hurts.

I want her so terrible

I’d give her my gerbil

Plus twenty-two weeks of desserts.

 

I know that it’s lovesky

‘Cause Lizzie Pitofsky

Is turning me into a saint

I smell like a rose

I’ve stopped picking my nose,

And I practically never say ‘Ain’t’.

 

I don’t push and shovesky

‘Cause Lizzie Pitofsky

Likes boys who are gentle and kind.

I’m not throwing rocks

And I’m changing my socks

(And to tell you the truth I don’t mind)

 

Feed me vinegar juice,

And do other mean, bad, awful stuffsky.

But promise me this:

I won’t die without kiss-

ing my glorious Lizzie Pitofsky.

 

                                 –     Judith Viorst

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Have you heard the music that no fingers enter into?

 

Far inside the house

Entangled music  –

What is the sense of leaving your house?

 

Suppose you scrub your ethical skin

Until it shines,

But inside, there is no music,

Then what?

 

Mohammed’s son pores over words,

And points out this

And that,

But if his chest is not soaked dark with love,

Then what?

 

The yogi comes along in his famous orange.

But if inside he is colorless, 

Then what?

 

                                                 –   Kabir

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Someone who does not run

toward the allure of love

walks a road where nothing

 

lives.  But this dove here

senses the love hawk floating

above, and waits, and will not

 

be driven or scared to safety

                                      

                                    –   Rumi

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Cargoes

 

Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,

Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,

With a cargo of ivory,

And apes and peacocks,

Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

 

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,

Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,

With a cargo of diamonds,

Emeralds, amythysts,

Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

 

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,

Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,

With a cargo of Tyne coal,

Road-rails, pig-lead,

Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

 

                                                          –    John Masefield

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Elise:  ‘Inuit Song’   (or) Merwin’s ‘Breath’  (or) Kabir’s “Knowing Nothing”

I think over again

My small adventures

When from a shore wind

I drifted out in my kayak

And thought I was in danger.

My fears

Those small ones that seemed so big.

For all the vital things

I had to get and to reach.

And yet there is only one great thing –

The only thing:

 

To live to see

In huts and on journeys

The great day that dawns

And the light that fills the world.

 

 –   Inuit song, from the Kitlinuharmiut

                                                                            (Copper Eskimo)

[The Inuit are the descendants of what anthropologists call the Thule culture, who emerged from western Alaska around 1000 AD and spread eastwards across the Arctic, displacing the related Dorsets, the last major Paleo-Eskimo culture (in Inuktitut, the Tuniit). Inuit legends speak of the Tuniit as “giants”, although they were sometimes called “dwarfs”, people who were taller and stronger than the Inuit. Researchers believe that the Dorset culture lacked dogs, larger weapons and other technologies that gave the expanding Inuit society an advantage. By 1300, the Inuit had settled in west Greenland, and they moved into east Greenland over the following century.

Inuit (plural; the singular Inuk means “man” or “person”) is a general term for a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada, Greenland, Russia and the United States.The Inuit language is grouped under Eskimo-Aleut languages.]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

I say to my breath once again

 

little breath 

 

come from in front of me

 

go away behind me

 

row me quietly now

 

as far as you can 

 

for I am an abyss

 

that I am trying to cross.

 

                       –  W. S. Merwin

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Knowing nothing shuts the iron gates;  the new love opens them.

 

The sound of the gates opening wakes the beautiful woman asleep.

 

Kabir says:            

 

                          Fantastic!      Don’t let a chance like this go by !

 

 

                                                                                                    –  Kabir

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Zach:  [if you want to include him, and if he wishes to be included]:  Rumi’s “Names” (or) “Advice” by Bill Holm (or) Mary Oliver’s  “Wild Geese” (or) “Wide Receiver” (or) “Instead of a Preface”

“NAMES”

 

You should try to hear the name the Holy One  has for things.

There is something in the phrase:  “The Holy One taught him names.”

We name everything according to the number of legs it has;

The holy one names it according to what is inside.

Moses waved his stick; he thought it was a “rod.”

But inside its name was “dragonish snake.”

We thought the name of Umar meant: “agitator against priests”;

But in eternity his name is “the one who believes.”

No one knows our name until our last breath goes out.

                                                                   –  Rumi

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Advice

                           

Someone dancing inside us

learned only a few steps:

the “Do-Your-Work” in 4/4 time,

the “What-Do-You-Expect” waltz.

He hasn’t noticed yet the woman

standing away from the lamp,

the one with black eyes

who knows the rhumba,

and strange steps in jumpy rhythms

from the mountains in Bulgaria.

If they dance together,

something unexpected will happen.

If they don’t, the next world

will be a lot like this one. 

 

                              – Bill Holm

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Wild Geese

 

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies

and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting  –

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

                                                       –  Mary Oliver

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Wide Receiver

 

In the huddle you said “Go long—get open”

and at the snap I took off along the right sideline

and then cut across left in a long arc

and I’m sure I was open at several points—

glancing back I saw you pump-fake more than once

but you must not have been satisfied with what you saw downfield

and then I got bumped off course and my hands touched the turf

but I regained my balance and dashed back to the right

I think or maybe first left and then right

and I definitely got open but the throw never came—

 

maybe you thought I couldn’t hang on to a ball flung so far

or maybe you actually can’t throw so far

but in any case I feel quite open now,

the defenders don’t seem too interested in me

I sense only open air all around me

though the air is getting darker and it would appear

by

 now we’re well into the fourth quarter

and I strongly doubt we can afford to settle for

dinky little first downs if the score is what I think it is

 

so come on, star boy, fling a Hail Mary

with a dream-coached combination of muscle and faith

and I will gauge the arc and I will not be stupidly frantic

and I will time my jump and—I’m just going to say

in the cool gloaming of this weirdly long game

it is not impossible that I will make the catch.

 

                                                         –    Mark Halliday

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

“Instead of a Preface”

 

 In the dreadful years of the Yezhov terror, I spent seventeen months standing in line in front of prisons of Leningrad. One day someone “recognized” me. Then, a woman standing behind me with blue lips, who, surely, has never heard my name in her life, came out of the trance that was common to all of us and whispered in my ear (everyone there spoke only in whispers):

 

Can you describe this?

 

And I said:

 

I can.

 

At that moment, something akin to a smile flashed by across what was once her face.

 

                                                                                       –   Anna Akhmatova

 

                                                                                            April 1, 1957

                                                                                              Leningrad

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Unassigned poems

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~

(which contains some poems)

For Talk 1 – there is a trailer …

 and 6 segments –

(1.a     through   1.f in alphabetical order).

Sometimes the “next” segment will come up by itself

But not every time.

So just keep track

And when something other than the ‘next segment’ starts to load

Just locate the next one and Click on it.

(as a ‘back-up’ … here are all  the links) :

trailer = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlfqsL3hTK0

1.a = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBqIyIlIb9E

1.b = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYLM3tXAkMc

1.c = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBWHbp08q9I

1.d = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsgBZ1Y47-w

1.e = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvWpgXNIpK8

1.f = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muRoPmS2q8E      (Sailor’s Prayer)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I want to say something about choosing your poem.  I would counsel AGAINST choosing a short poem because you think it will be easy to learn. Do NOT think that a long poem can not be learned. It definitely CAN.  If you love it, you can learn it.

When I was working in the Shipfitter Shop (on the USS Dixon, AS-37, a submarine tender) I would, every now and then hear PO2 Mike Tanner recite the “First Rule of Management” – that “While authority may be delegated, responsibility may NOT.”

I suggest that what this means FOR US – is that WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHOEVER (AND WHATEVER) WE CARE ABOUT.  We just are; and there’s no getting out of it.  And (it seems to me) that one of the most vital things we can do to foster an enlightened and ‘educated’ microculture is to see to it that the best people who have ever lived … are (as it were) always given a ‘place at out table’.  That their ‘presence’ be valued … that they be loved and included in our family –

Yeats, Lorca, Rilke, Rumi, Hafiz, Kabir, Mirabai, Szymborska, Akhmatova, D. H. Lawrence, E. E. Cummings, Masefield, Gibran, Blake, Dylan Thomas, James Stephens, Neruda, W. S. Merwin, Thomas Merton, Solzhenitsyn, Machado, Benet, G. K Chesterton, J. B. S. Haldane, Ursula Le Guin, Annie Dillard, Bronwen Wallace, Barbara Kingsolver, Wendell Berry …

WHOEVER YOU LOVE.  Bring them into the Family.

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“So many things fail to interest us, simply because they don’t find in us enough surfaces on which to live;

and what we have to do then – is to increase the number of planes in our mind, so that a much larger number of themes can find a place in it at the same time. “

                                                          –  Jose Ortega y Gasset

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You should also watch (at least) this clip from a certain French film.  And I’d certainly recommend that you see the whole movie.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-pf5ehuenA
Here’s the trailer –
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anh7Enari2U
Posted on 94 Comments

Finding the Chords

 

 

It goes like this –

The fourth, the fifth

The minor fall, the major lift

The baffled king composing Hallelujah

 

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{ 7 August 2020]:  If you are here reading this post, it is probably because you wish to become a musician or (more likely) to grow as a musician.  And if that’s the case, you should know that my previous article (now called “Become a Musician”) is the natural prequal to this post.  That (pre-sequent) posting was titled “Play Piano by Ear”; but I just now changed its title.       I suggest you make use of that one first. }

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There are LOTS of songs accessible from YouTube.  And (of course) there are no rules. But I’m going to assume that most of the time (when you’re trying to find the chords to a certain song) that you’ll be ‘working alone’.  That you’ll just have the song in your head (having already internalized it) and won’t be using a professional recording of it.

 

You see – if you’re just starting out, there’s some (big) advantages to working with the key of C  (which means – C and/or A-minor). Now sometimes you MAY want to make use of a recording to help you figure out the chords to a song; but – what if the recording is NOT in the key of C?  (And of course – MOST of them are NOT) Then you must either learn the new set of chords … or transpose the song (many times, probably) into C (where it’s easier to play).

 

In either case, you should make use of the (double) ‘1, 4, 5, hand’ (which I explained in the previous blog) … and thoroughly reacquaint yourself with your six chords (1, 4, 5 … and the Dark One, the Dark 4, and the Dark 5  … which (in C) are :   C, F, G … and Am, Dm, & E [or maybe Em]). [If you’re working in another key, the pattern will be exactly the same.]

 

When Leonard Cohen (who of course WROTE the song ‘Hallelujah’) says, (as in the epigram) “… like this – the fourth, the fifth” –  his word choice suggests “notes”, but he does not mean that.  He means – “the four, the five” … he’s talking (in real time) about the chords.  (He had to to do the wording the way he did – for the ‘rhyme’ he was after.)

 

Anyway, at those points … he’s telling you what the song’s doing.  And (even though it won’t be as elegant as what he manages to build in)  I propose to use this song as a ‘practice song’ … in hopes that it will help you get used to using your chords (1, dark One; 4, dark 4; & 5, dark 5).

 

Besides, we’re in luck:  I just now checked Leonard Cohen’s YouTube “Hallelujah” video (Live in London, 152 million views) and … it’s pitched in C !      [and the video is below, at the end]

 

As I said (last time) – a song will almost always ‘come home’ at its end (or end of a musical line) … but – how do you start?

Well, unless you have a different guess, the ONE will be the chord to try.  (Songs do NOT always open on the 1; but many of them do.  And if a song starts with a ‘pick-up’, you should try the 5then the 1.)  Just pay attention.  You’ll get used to it. 

 

 [The tune to ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY” is musically rather simple: it partakes of the Four chord only once in the whole song: and that’s where you sing the Name of the person you’re singing the song TO.  And, other than that one spot, the song is either on the One, or the Five. Not much guessing for that one.  

And by the way – in ‘Happy Birthday’, the second time you sing the word ‘birthday’ – that is a good time to use the G-seventh … which you do by adding the ‘seventh note’ (F) to the chord.  So instead of just playing Do, Mi, Sol … you play Do, Mi, Sol, & Ti-flat.  That’s how you create (any) seventh chord.]

 

Anyway, “Hallelujah” DOES open on the One … and then goes to the dark One (back & forth a couple times) … then 4,  5, then home …  

Try accompanying yourself now, and see how far you get.

 

Did you do it?

 

 

 

            C                                Am                                  C                                       Am       

I’ve heard there was a secret chord     that David played and it pleased the Lord

 

           F                               G                         C                   G

But you don’t really care for music, do ya?

 

       C                                   F                    G                  Am                            G

It goes like this –  the fourth, the fifth    the minor fall, the major lift

 

                                             E                    Am

The baffled king composing Hallelujah.

 

  C       F                       Am                   F                     C             G    C             G

Hallelujah,    Hallelujah   Hallelujah, Hallelu – u-u-u   jah

 

 

 

 

In most versions I’ve heard of this song,there’s a (back & forth) One / Dark One vamp at the beginning and between verses … but not this Live in London version.  It’s (maybe) an “Easy Gospel” treatment    and stays in the sunlight more.

 

In any case (and in any version) – the most important Musical Transaction in the whole song … is in the chorus: when (with the second ‘Hallelujah’) the song comes home … to the One (of course).  But it does NOT come home to the Regular One, it comes home to the Dark One.  This is terribly important to this song.  

(Try playing a C at this point instead of an Am.          … Mmm?)

 

The other place in this song (that’s also Very Important) – is [in the verse(s)] – the chord which shows up just before the word ‘Hallelujah’ (the last word in the verse).

It’s the Dark Five (the E).

 

This is perhaps the ‘Secret Chord’ that the lyrics refer to … because (till it actually shows up) you wouldn’t necessarily think there WAS such a chord (which is able to DO what the Dark 5 DOES    right in that spot ! I find it surprising. Shocking maybe even.

 

Red & Green & Yellow (etc.) do NOT imply purple.  

Maybe someday we will see a color which we never had imagined even existed.

 

Every time we play (& sing) a song … (whether we’re practicing or performing) … we need to Reach for the Song.  [I learned this from Gabriel, my music teacher]

 

Something deep inside tells you (when you come closer)

 

I mean, I think we should respect and appreciate the creative genius behind much of our Art.  However, I can tell you that – when I find a way to improve any song (according to my own sense of it) – I do not hesitate to adopt the change

 

Songs change (and grow) over time … don’t they?

 

For example, I rather prefer: “… saw her bathing on the roof in the moonlight, and her beauty overthrew ya” … so that’s the way I sing it now.

 

And (musically), I rather prefer the Four chord (rather than the dark one) – for the last chord before the chorus.

 

(Just another arrangement choice)

 

Reach for the song.

 

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Posted on 13 Comments

Become a Musician

I originally published this blog post under the title:  “Play Piano by Ear”.   But (after reading numerous comments on a subsequent post called ‘Finding the Chords’) I came to the conclusion that I had (inadvertently) HIDDEN this instalment.  So (on August 7th 2020) I changed the title.

In order to become a musician (or – to grow as a musician) you need to do more than just practice.  You need to understand Song Structure … and Chord Patterns.   And you need to know HOW to practice.  That is – you need to DO music … but (while doing it), you need to know what to pay attention to.

This essay is intended to get you going.

I do happen to believe that the most efficient way (to make this beginning) will be to put your hands on a (functional) piano keyboard    and play it / (employ it as a Teaching Aid).

Solve this problem (that is – GET yourself in front of a piano) … and I’ll tell you what to do next.

 

But first let me share with you some of my own ‘back-story’.

 

By the fourth grade I could (spontaneously) make up harmonies to songs that we sang in school.  I began singing in the (adult) church choir when I was about eleven. I loved many of the songs that we sang around the campfire (in Scouts).   I sang in the school choir in Jr. High and in High school.

Also -(for a couple years in high school) a friend of mine and I were a folk duo.  We sang folk songs [and Beatles songs] and accompanied ourselves on guitars. I usually sang harmony. We got some gigs and we had some fun.

I got a lot of joy from singing.  So, as I was about to graduate from high school (and go to college) I considered majoring in Music.  But as I contemplated doing this, I felt as though I was standing on the edge of a deep dark pit. (Music is, after all, quite mysterious)  It seemed like, if I committed to Music, I would have to throw myself into this “pit” … and (honestly) this put me off.

 

I entered a Liberal Arts program in college and took some choral electives, eventually ending up in the concert choir.  And, as I had begun playing guitar in high school, I continued to study music informally, on my own. 

As I continued to play (and sing) in college, I came to realize that the chords used to accompany a song …. exist as a Pattern – and so can be transferred to another key, while keeping the pattern intact.

 

[an Extra]:  It is not easy to build a guitar, but it is not difficult to build a gut bucket (a home-made string bass – made from an inverted (steel) wash tub, a broom handle (or stick) and a piece of braided nylon cord.  I would make such an instrument sometimes … and play it. You raise the pitch of the note by increasing the tension on the string (by pulling the stick away from the tub, with your foot on the rim of the tub, opposite the stick).  Of course it’s funky (not ‘respectable’) to look at … but, if played well (which I could do) it does a good impersonation of a real stand-up bass.  [Years later … watching the string vibrate one day … I realized – ‘this is an exquisite instrument’.]   Anyway, it’s fun, it’s cheap … and it’ll give you a “bottom”.

 

I continued to ‘study’ music and song structure (& chord patterns) over several decades.  And eventually I understood music enough … such that if I could have been in possession of these understandings when I first stood on the ‘edge of the pit’ … I think that pit would NOT have seemed so dark and foreboding … and maybe I would have jumped.

 

You see – by the age of 18, as I first dared to ‘peer into the pit’, I knew that even if I should become an ‘accomplished musician’ (quite able perhaps – to play any piece you might care to put before me) … a ‘well-oiled music machine’ … that that would NOT be enough for me.  I knew that I needed (not just to be able to PLAY music) … but also to UNDERSTAND it.

As Annie Dillard says – “we have been as usual asking the wrong question. It does not matter a hoot what the mockingbird on the chimney is singing. The real and proper question is: Why is it beautiful?”

Even then I knew I was a philosopher … and that I would require a philosopher’s enquiry into the nature of music.  I wanted to feel the music with my soul; and I wanted it (to the extent possible) to make sense intuitively.  I knew that a mechanistic approach would NOT satisfy me.

 

I do not claim to know the Path of Formal Training.  I do not know what it’s like to ‘become a musician’ by going down the Formal Path.  But I can now say some things about the informal path. And I quite suspect – that these two approaches naturally complement and augment each other.  So (it may be that) what I have learned may be of use even to a musician who DID go down the Formal Path.

 

It seems to me that the core of what I have learned about Music: (song structure and chord patterns) is really fairly simple.  It doesn’t amount to all that much. And yet it is powerful. Do these few things, and (if you have normal pitch and rhythm … and you love music) you will become a musician.

 

If you can sing a song (especially if you can sing it beautifully) – you’re a Singer.  If you can ACCOMPANY (on an instrument) someone else (or yourself) such that your accompaniment makes them sound good – you’re a Musician.  And my assumption is that you’d like to be able to accompany YOURSELF as you sing a song.  And my suggestion for an instrument is – the PIANO. The keys are perfectly laid out in order.  And (not trivially) you do NOT have to PRACTICE on the piano … just to play a chord.  The first time you try to play an F chord on the guitar, you may think:  “I’ll never be able to do this.”  It isn’t TRUE of course; you CAN learn to play it, but you have to practice.  But with a piano, you just have to know what to DO to play a given chord.  (And of course – EVERYTHING gets better with practice.)

 

You will notice that a piano keyboard is laid out (in a repeating pattern) with white keys and black keys.  Imagine for a moment that this were not the case. What if all the notes were identical in appearance. It would be very difficult, would it not – to orient yourself on such a keyboard?  (Be grateful for the way it is.)

 

You may as well know – that any note you choose to play will have a certain frequency.  [the A below middle C is 440 hertz (440 cycles per second) … world-wide]  So – the A below that will be HALF that frequency – which is 220 Hz … and the one above will be of TWICE 440, or 880 Hz.  And this pattern holds true for any note, anywhere.  This is the relationship of notes an octave apart.

 

Also you should know – that as you move up the keyboard, note by note – all the intervals are equalregardless of whether you’re moving from a white key to a black one, black to white, or white to white.  The intervals are all the same; and this (one note to the next) interval is called a “half-step”.   Each octave is divided into 12 (equal) half-step intervals.

All the white keys on the keyboard are (thought of as being) lettered, sequentially, in octaves  –  A, B, C, D, E, F, G … then you’re in a new octave, and you start over.  Seven letters for seven notes.

I think we should admit that the word “octave” is slightly confusing … as it means – “8” … even though there are only seven (different, solfa) notes.  This is because when we play (or sing) up the keyboard – all the notes of an octave, we WANT to hear the Do at the beginning … AND AT THE END AS WELL.  Our ear simply REQUIRES THIS.  (TRY getting away with just playing seven notes … and you’ll see what I mean.)

 

So (beginning on C  – the white key just to the left of a ‘two-group’ of black keys) – if you play all the white keys in order) … you will recognize the solfa scale.  And the black notes show you the structure of the solfa scale:  that is – FIVE of the intervals are whole-steps … and the other two (between Mi & Fa, and from Ti to Do) are half-steps (as there is no black key in between).

 

You may as well acquaint yourself with the black keys.  If you play them (starting with a 3-group) you will hear them play (as you run up the keys) an abbreviated version of the seven-tone solfa scale:  They go: Do, Re, Mi, Sol, La, Do.  Five notes. This is called the Pentatonic Scale, as it has five tones. The tune(s) to ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘Shortnin’ Bread’ (for example) are pentatonic.  Mmm?

I want to say something to connect the piano keyboard to the standard way of writing musical score:  The C (note) in the middle of the keyboard is called ‘Middle C’. The treble clef (of musical score) is depicted as being a considerable distance from the bass clef.  But here’s the truth: There is really only a single line missing (undepicted) between the two clefs … and this (undepicted) line … is Middle C.

 

And, by the way, the difference between a man’s voice and a woman’s voice … is (roughly) one octave.  So (by convention) the same notes are used to depict a female vocal part … even though those notes  are really an octave higher than the notes used to depict a (male) Tenor line.

The sol-fa ‘value’ of any note is (much) more important than which octave it happens to be in.

 

 

You need to know chords.  And for that you need to know solfa.  The good news is – that you ALREADY KNOW sol-fa. (do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do) … but you’ll need to make it more accessible to your intellect, your conscious mind; so you might as well learn the hand signs:  

 

https://www.musictheorytutor.org/2013/03/25/solfege-hand-signs/    (Solfege Hand Signs)

 

Let’s not pretend  – all these notes are NOT of equal importance.  Do & Mi & Sol … are the most important; and (of these Main Three – Do is the most important).

 

Do is Home. Songs have no trouble starting on a note other than Do; but at the end of the song (the tune) will always (almost always) ‘come home’ to Do.

 

So – the C-scale (on the piano keyboard) … shows you the structure of the SolFa scale.  [To play the solfa scale using only white keys, you must begin with C (as Do).] 

 

 Remember this: The key of C (on the piano) DISCLOSES the solfa scale.

 

Okay.    Chords:

 

Just keep in mind that a piano allows you to play any song in ANY key.  But for now (for simplicity / to minimize the need for black keys) we’re going to stick with the key of C (that is –  C   and A-minor)

{I play the piano and the guitar (by ear) … and I use these instruments mainly to ACCOMPANY myself or others while singing.  (When I sing in a choir, I am obliged to make use of [paper] score; and I can sight-read better than most.) But when I play the piano … I do it without any paper.

I prefer playing in the keys of A, C, D, E, & G.  (I will sometimes play in another key, but only if necessary … and with some difficulty.)  And this is the case with BOTH (piano and guitar).

In recent years, I’ve developed a bias toward the key of D.  Quite often it just seems like the Best Key (given that it suits the vocal range, etc.)            Some years ago I was trying to figure out the chords to Mozart’s   Ave, Verum Corpus (a work of extraordinary beauty and grace.)  [When I was 18 or 20 I sang this song with my mom, in church, as a duet.  She sang the harmony; I sang the melody.  It’s a gorgeous piece.]   I tried the key of C, but couldn’t seem to get through it.  Then I tried D (which is the key Mozart wrote it in) … and it worked.  It was much easier.

Anyway, D is a good key.  I don’t really know why.}

 

Before getting to the nuts & bolts of chords, I want to make one more general statement about chords.  Eventually I realized (and it’s quite a surprising discovery, really) – that a given song is MADE of its chord pattern.

Now, you can ask any sensible person, and they will tell you that a Song is equal to its TUNE.

Well, this is TRUE, of course … even SO … a song is, in its First Essence – its Skeleton … that is – its Chord Pattern.

And what convinces me of this is the fact that you can leave the tune unchanged; but, alter the chord pattern … and you get quite a Different Song.

 

A song’s Chord Structure  would seem to be of a Higher order of reality than the Tune.

 

Okay –

Now we’re going to play a ‘C chord’, an ‘F chord’, and a ‘G chord’.

 

To play a C chord, I put my right thumb on a C … my index finger on the E … and my ring finger on the G.  (A real piano player may tell you a different way, but that’s the way I usually do it.)

 

You can use Middle C.  Remember? It’s the first white key   just to the left of the two-group of black keys in the middle of the keyboard.  

Satisfy yourself that your thumb is on C … and the other two notes – you do by feel.  You’re now playing a (major) C-triad / a C chord. Your thumb is playing Do … your index finger is playing the Mi … and your ring finger is playing the Sol … all at the same time.

Now play them one at a time and listen to the chord structure:  C, E, G = Do, Mi, Sol.

This is what it means – ‘to play a C chord’.  You’re playing a Do-Mi-Sol chord … with C as Do.

Mmm?

Okay, now the F-chord:  Just lift your hand and move your thumb to the F … and play the same (skip, skip) pattern as before.  (index finger on the A … and ring finger on the C). Now the Do is F (and you’re also playing Mi & Sol relative to the new Do)

Okay?  Now – same thing with the G chord.  You put your thumb on the G (skip, skip) and play the same pattern as before.  Index finger plays B (the new Mi); and your ring finger plays the new Sol (supplied by the D).   This is what it means ‘to play a G-chord’. (G is now Do; and you’re also playing the necessary Mi & Sol relative to that G.)    Mmm?

 

Now, to grow as a musician, you must keep track of what you’re doing, in the moment.  You must pay attention … but NOT to everything. You just need to know that you’re playing a C chord, (or whatever) … that your thumb is on C … and a ‘C chord’ = Do, Mi, Sol (with C as Do)

 

You also need to keep track of where you are [that is, where the SONG is] IN THE PATTERN (the chord pattern).  And you’ve already learned one.  C, F, G  aren’t just random chords.  They comprise a pattern. A Music Major will call these chords: Tonic, Subdominant, and Dominant.  A working musician will probably refer to them (the SAME chords) as 1, 4, & 5.

 

Now, if you’re playing in the key of G, then 1, 4, & 5 will NOT be C, F, & G … they will be G, C, & D.  But we won’t worry about that for now. However, you can be assured – the pattern is exactly the same.

 

Let’s turn our left hand into a Teaching Aid:  Look into the palm of your left hand. (Level your forearm so that your thumb is pointing up, and your fingers point to the right.  You’ve probably already noticed that you have five fingers. Let’s number them: little finger = 1 … thumb = 5.  Now fold in 2 & 3.   What remains (of course) are 1, 4, & 5. Have a good look at your left hand as you see it right now. Remember it.

This pattern is analogous to the solfa scale.  (Only –  solfa is about NOTES … and the ‘1-4-5-Hand’ is about CHORDS.  But BOTH are key-independent.)

 

With regard to NOTES:  Do = the root (or Home) … Sol = the ‘high one’ … &  Mi = the ‘pretty one’ –    ( 1, 5, & 3 )

With regard to CHORDS:  the 1-chord (tonic chord) is ‘Home’.  A song is likely to start off with the home chord, but it may well NOT.  However, the song will ALWAYS (almost always) END on the home chord.  The song will ‘come home’.            The 4-chord (subdominant chord) has a feeling (as the song moves from the 1  to the  4) – of development  –  of (dramatic) change.  (“We’re not in Kansas any more, Toto.”)        The 5-chord (dominant chord) has the feeling of tension (or the) need for resolution.      And (of course) the song then finds relief … by ‘coming home’ (to the 1-chord).

The key is (in order to grow as a musician) – that you pay attention to the feelings which the various chord changes produce.  Music is emotion.  Without that, it would be pointless, wouldn’t it?   (So  – pay attention.)

 

Okay, let’s again play a C-major triad  (1, 3, 5 = C, E, G)

 

Okay, now play the same chord again, only this time play it with a flatted 3rd.   (instead of playing E for the 3rd, play the black key  E-flat)

Hear that?

That’s a C-minor chord.

 

The Do didn’t change.  The Sol didn’t change. Only the Mi changed; (it changed to Mey.)

 

Whether a chord is Major or Minor … is determined by the THIRD.

 

Now play these two triads sequentially / open them up in time:  C, E, G … C, E-flat, G …

And sing along:  Do, Mi, Sol … Do, Mey, Sol

 

Only a single note is different (and only by a half-step) … but it makes a huge difference.

 

The Mi (in the major triad) seems pretty; but the Mey (the third in the minor triad) does not.  It’s somber.   Dark.

Big difference.

 

Now, let’s describe these two chords – by their respective intervals.  A basic chord is 1, 3, 5 … three notes, and TWO intervals.

How many half-steps are there? – between the Do and the third (Mi)   in the major triad? We can find out  by simply counting the cracks between the keys.  I make it: FOUR. And between Mi and Sol … there are THREE more half-steps.

 

So – we may describe the major chord (in terms of intervals) as: 4 & 3

whereas

The minor triad (Do, Mey, Sol … wherein the 3rd has been flatted) as: 3 & 4.

[Please do not be bothered by the fact that these numbers (3 & 4) do NOT refer to notes or chords, but to the number of half-steps between the notes of the chord.]

 

4 & 3 = Do, Mi, Sol  = a major chord.

while

3 & 4 = Do, Mey, Sol  = a minor chord.

 

ANY major chord … ANY minor chord.   Mmm? (REMEMBER this.)

 

Good.

 

We’re now going to DOUBLE the number of chords in our (basic) chord pattern.

 

Before we just had:  1, 4, and 5.

Now we’re going to add the Shadow Chords: (dark 1, dark 4, & the ‘dark 5’)

 

We already know the relationship between, say, a C-chord … and a C-minor chord.

We know what it SOUNDS like … and we know what the change amounts to.

 

Our Basic Chord Pattern is about to include, not just the normal 1, 4, 5 chords (C, F, & G) but also the Relative Minors of these chords (Am, Dm, & Em … these are also called Enharmonic Minor(s).

 

Here’s how you form them.  (It’s always the same!):

 

Play a C-chord (C, E, G)

Now, instead of flatting the third, we’re going to change a single note … and still turn this chord into a minor chord.  Here’s what you do:

 

Lift your hand … and put it down again, but with your thumb on the A.

 

Before the chord was: C, E, G … now it’s A, C, E.     It was major; now it’s minor.  It was a 4 & 3 chord; now it’s 3 & 4 (in terms of intervals)

 

‘A’ has become the Do … The C (which was Do) is now Mey … and E (which was Mi) is now Sol.

 

Play these chords (back & forth) a few times.  Get used to the sound of them.  [ C … Am     – – – –         The ‘One’ chord … the ‘Dark One’ ]

 

You may form the Relative Minor of ANY (major) chord … in just this way.  [Lift your hand, shift down three half-steps, put your thumb on that note, and continue to play what were the bottom two notes, just as before.]

 

That’s all there is to it.

 

Do this with your Four-chord (the F-chord) … and you get Dm.

Do it with the 5 (the G-chord) … and you get Em.

 

But now I have some news for you:  the Dark 5 (Em) MAY be E-minor … but, more likely – it will just be E.   Yep, E-Major.

But whether it’s Em or E-Major … we’re STILL going to call it the ‘Dark 5’ chord.

 

So

Hunt up your left hand again … and configure it as before (with fingers 2 & 3 tucked in) …

 

Now find a light    and a flat surface (such as a table top) … and get your hand to cast a shadow on the surface.  You should now be able to see TWO hands … one – which helps you wash your right hand … and the shadow-hand.  The flesh hand reminds you of the regular chords (C, F, & G) … and the shadow of it is to remind you of the shadow chords (Am, Dm, & Em/E … the ‘dark One’, the ‘dark Four’, and the ‘Dark Five’)

 

Go use ‘em.

 

You can now give yourself permission to accompany yourself on the piano.   Just pick a song you know (and like) and see if you can accompany yourself on the piano.

 

We haven’t yet dealt with  Accidental chords (chords which aren’t part of the Regular Progression, but are used anyway) … seventh chords (and major sevenths) … suspensions … or chord inversions  …   but those things are for later.  

You have a lot to work with already.

You can get a cheap bottom … by simply playing a single bass note – corresponding to the root (the Do) of the chord you’re playing with the right hand.

This is quite easy to do; and it adds quite a bit of fullness to the sound, and for very little work.

You may be able to add yet another dimension, simply by doing a ‘slow pulse’ with your right hand.  [listen to ‘The Rose’;  link at end]

 

Read the section on Changing Chords … then pick a song, and give it a try.

You find the chords, you find the song.

 

Remember, we’re not trying to be GREAT on the piano.  We’re just (as Bukka White says) playing the piano till the piano player comes.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Changing Chords

A given song might of course be played in any key.  But if you’re just beginning to learn to play the piano by ear, why not linger a while in the key that’s easiest to play  — C (and A minor).

 

One of the things going on here is that we’re using the piano to understand Song Structure.  When you’re on your own (i. e., not looking at marks on a piece of paper), you have to GUESS.  You have to guess When to change and What to change to.  So, just keep in mind what you know about chord patterns / (song structure)    and DO something. When you make a mistake, the piano will tell you.  

 

You are training your brain.  Keep in mind that what you are learning to do  – is to ‘play’ two instruments at the same time  – your own vocal cords … and the keyboard. And sometimes chords need to change rather irrespective of the tune that you’re singing; so be patient.  And be willing to grant the piano Independence from your singing voice.  Quite often the chord will change with the lyrics (on a vowel); but when this happens, it needs to be like ‘two people’ who (right now) happen to be doing something at the same time.  Don’t try to actuate your two voices from a single impulse. Maintain with them (with your two instruments) a regard of independence, autonomy, and equality … (and maybe even appreciation and respect). 

 

Accompaniment / (accompanying) is a high art; and you are learning to accompany yourself on the piano.  In order to play a C chord or an F chord, you must , of course, know that you’re playing a C or an F.     But to grow in the art of Accompanying (by ear), you must also pay attention to other things.  You need to keep track of Where you are – where the SONG is – at any given time – in the chord progression.  You need to be mentally Aware … and Emotionally aware too. In a given song every chord has a certain Feeling; and when the chord Changes, the change (itself) causes another feeling  (which I call ‘dramatic’). I think that the dramatic component is relatively ‘shallow’ (or simple). But there is a further component to the Feeling associated with the way chords change in a song   which is not in the least Simple. This one I call ‘Emotional’. This component is rooted, not just in the song itself, but in what we believe, what we love, and how we experience Life. It is very spread out.  It should (the way music is emotional) probably be regarded as one of the Mysteries.

 

Just pay attention.  Use your own feeling-sense.  You will notice, for example, that the 1-chord has the feeling of Home, especially when the song Comes Home (at the end of a musical line or at the end of the whole song).  The change from the 1 to the 4 chord can have the feeling of venturing forth (of going out from Home). The 5 chord can have the feeling of Tension … of the Need for Resolution.  Sometimes, when the song is in the 5, you can feel a Wanting to Come Home. And of course it wants to come home to the 1 (to the Home chord). Normally this is a simple 5-1 event. But when the song comes home through the 4-chord, it will sound Bluesy.  This is definitely a blues move (5-4-1).  

But Feel in your own way.  Just have fun … stay oriented … and pay attention.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

[In this case, at the beginning, you’re hearing the piano/right hand playing an ‘open‘ (that is – a ‘thirdless’) chord.  It happens to be in C … so:  just the C & the G, (no E)]