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There is something about reading a book, finding a favorite book, and connecting with someone else who also loves that book. Of all the connections I have known, I recently corresponded with a professor who loves Hojoki, and I was touched deeply by sharing that text. I guess book club runs in the family.

There is a myth to blackberry pie that honey is to strong or it fights the flavor. Told this story, I laugh as if the joke is on me, but after these morsels of over sweetened pie are gone, I come home to my secret recipe.

Honey 1/2 cup

blackberries just enough

butter more than I'd admit

flour 2 cups for 2 shells

I have made some amazing pies, with berries in season that I had just picked. It is winter and I rely on foreign farmers or frozen berries. But I still make one of the best pies known, and the secret always is raw local honey.

Posted Tue Jan 16 11:27:25 2018

Only having gotten up to 251 dollars with 16 days left yesterday, it would have been humanly possible to launch the Kickstarter with success, but doubt was weighing a heavy stress upon me. I just got to a point of impatience, where I realized I could not endure the stress anymore. And I gave into it and took the Kickstarter down.

I am extremely glad I ran the first 2 weeks of the campaign, because it helped me clarify that I perceive a need for me to write and illustrate a children's book about Hojoki, and that I think the world needs that book more than anything! Where there is a will, there is a way, and now I know what I want to happen.

But it is a big disappointment to have had to take it down, and that I could not raise the funds needed for a sure first printing.

If you read this and didn't know I was making the book please comment if you decide you want one. Or if you are disappointed - fear not, just tell me and I will sell you the finished book - when it is complete.

Sorry I put you through this and thanks to the many people who did pledge.

Posted Mon Jan 15 16:00:35 2018

I am glad we took a picture

in 2001 of the biological reserve casa

where Anna and I had hiked

so far down hill from the Monteverde

cloud forest reserve

but so many things were not in that picture.

When we got to the bottom of the mountain

and found ourselves in the Penas Blancas valley

Anna went to draw some rare plant

and I told her I would be right back

then I skinny dipped in that clear river

unaware and brazen

in the face of 500 foot waterfalls.

So I returned to the hut shouting to Anna

"hey I went skinny dipping and it was wonderf..."

before I noticed a bunch of Tico forest workers

who laughed so hard at me saying

in Spanish that ended in piranhas.

The thing is, in this world of possible nuclear annihilation, I really would prefer to choose ignorant bliss, like I did in Costa Rica, so long ago.

Posted Sun Jan 14 14:11:17 2018

I guess it was a former student of mine, a friend named Ashley who I recently asked a question of why she friended me back on facebook. I frankly asked her that because I had forgotten who she was, but her response was she liked my art now... Well, she said it better. But it made me wonder about my artist identity that has changed through my lifetime.

The question came to me what is an artist? I began wondering how I as someone who paints a lot or draws changes me and transforms me. Form fitting function, what is happening to me when I try on these paint spattered shoes?

What comes to mind is a discussion I once had with an artist, Tessa, who told me she used to have cruddy art supplies, but then she started taking care of things and how that changed for her.

I am going through something similar with my art supplies and all things art.

For example, I rephotographed this picture of my art, with dried paint. It is so much better this way. Amazing what a little care can do.

One thing about that is my life has been this constant transformation, and in matters of change, I am feeling hesitant in terms of what I can control, yet it seems art is thrusting itself into me, and I cannot control that at all, so I must embrace it.

When I climbed Quaker Mountain (Monteverde) to ask Lucky Guindon the meaning of life, she said "yes, fate is real, but it is a choice."

My art has never been finished or very polished. Maybe I am noticing that it could use a second layer of paint more than I ever did before.

What I haven't said is this is my whole person. I am defending my argument more than I ever used to, though I meditate and and am not sacrificing everything for trying to be right. Something is changing though.

Once there was a Quaker bookstore worker in Berea, I think. He had a young girl on the back of his bike after school a lot and ultimately died of cancer. I think I am getting some of those details confused. Maybe I just met him in a bookstore. Maybe he was Mr Robie himself. But I had a very deep conversation with him about transience as the true nature of all people. I think that is not said enough to be honest.

Maybe that is a big part of why I love the story of impermanence that Hojoki tells. I am not worried about my personality change. It really seems to be a step in the right direction.

Art was always this thing I left for someone else. Now, I guess, I am that person.

Posted Sat Jan 13 20:57:24 2018
  1. I will go forward with the book making process.

  2. I will publish it on CreateSpace so it is available on Amazon.

  3. It will be ok.

  4. But I don't really want this to happen, and if you don't either, you can back a second copy to give to someone! :)

Posted Sat Jan 13 17:23:24 2018

I am parking my new blog right in this spot...

This morning when I woke, I guess it was a little bit quieter, and I looked outside knowing it had snowed.

I am glad my blog is in this new place now. There really is something to be said about trusting the blog host, and I really don't think Steemit is for everybody, meaning most of their money still deceptively goes to a few individuals. With branchable I know exactly what kind of people run the blog, since my brother is one of them. And since he fixed a bug in my computer that was making me not write as much poetry last month, I am eternally grateful.

Start a Poem

Knowing it could just as soon be a war or a fire as a peace or just a place to inspire.

Finish it, too soon, abrupt snow flakes splashing as rain on a glad windshield.

I recently reread a children's book about Basho and another also about Issa. So I got something rad from each book that is informing my haiku writing. According to the Issa book, Cool Melons Turn to Frogs!, Issa wrote his emotions into his haikus. This might surprise you but I usually put more empathy tied to natural things than outright personal emotion into my haiku writing, which is kind of what Grass Sandals the Basho book portrayed.

Day ahead, mud stained snow.

Long path lit up, as under

quilt. Secretly reading.

-MERH

So when I write a haiku, I often just talk about how I think the world around seems to feel, where Issa might say how he actually felt inserted into natural things.

This Issa reminds me of the slow process. And I surely have felt a snail's pace...

O snail
Climb Mount Fuji,
But slowly, slowly!

(Katatsumuri sorosoro nobore Fuji no yama 蝸牛そろそろ登れ富士の山)

One of Basho's poems seems quoted more than any other, and yet...

古池や蛙飛びこむ水の音 furu ike ya / kawazu tobikomu / mizu no oto an ancient pond / a frog jumps in / the splash of water [1686]

From what I gathered on Basho, I felt more similar in writing styles, as I said, but it is worth mentioning that my haiku are in a collection of about 400 at most. (Mostly unpublished and NOT ready.)

Basho and Issa each wrote 1,000 haikus in their life.

I rarely write more than one haiku a day, though once I wrote 30 in a long intensive spell with memories of a natural place fresh.
Basho once wrote 100 haikus in one sitting, so I have a ways to come.

Here are 17 syllables I once pulled together on the subject of a haiku: Haiku is a person. I am writing an essay about her/him/it.

I used to think American haiku was just an attempt at writing short poetry modeled after an untranslatable form of Japanese poetry. I remember going around Berea College, when I was getting my undergraduate English degree there, and I would think things like, must write haiku, but also that that was just some obligatory random Westernized attempt. Haiku was an obligatory attempt at the impossible. Yet I was so drawn to it. I deeply believed it was a lost cause though, and that there was no real reason to celebrate haiku.

I am but cleaning maid. But this moment eyes the oak leaf hypnotist.

All through my time at Berea College, I walked around staring at the beautiful chestnut tree and the amazing ginkgo both of which nourish the contemplative practice of students and professors and other squirrels. I’d say, this is stupid, but I am going to write a haiku about these beautiful things. The beauty was real. I believed in the beauty. I’m talking career beauty appreciation, like a real artist which I might have done if I realized my talent. Do I hear my words?

Back in college I knew publishing was something I could do if I tried enough. I never said publishing took being good, and I didn’t really believe that either. Humility though, can be a little bit like too many apologies, and though you might feel humbled, maybe you just need to thank. So this essay is meant to be a gratitude essay, meant to get real with the haiku, to thank it for being alive and real and vibrant and a song that I want to sing, a party, a celebration I want to go to. And boy does it take talent for a girl to believe in herself, for a person to embrace poetry, for an egg to decide to hatch.

In college I wrote 5, 7, 5 in my syllable count. I would mark the digits of my fingers as I thought syllables. Just a tap on the table where I did not focus on the study of Christianity, just a tap to indicate a syllable, and most of the time it was ignored as one of my eccentricities.

Publication can be a sign that a person really is invested in their work, and it can be a result of writing good stuff. I like to look in the publications where I have poems now and I order the poets based on how short they have written their poems, and often I come in first place.

I believe Haiku. I have learned from the poem itself, of its worth. I am not saying that I believe in it. I would be a nut to even consider not believing in haiku. When you write a form, The form becomes a friend. Haiku becomes a proper noun. It responds to you. You don’t have to do 5,7,5. You can do short long short. You can learn Japanese. You could travel a long road north with only Haiku to keep you company. You can learn Chinese. You can translate Basho, Issa, and others.

The paradox is good. The humility is good. It is just a poem, the most simple, tiny trivial, skilled, transforming, uplifting, violent, good, expressive, of things. Like one of those chestnuts, a seed forward. A seed forward.

I believe Haiku. Professor arrange chestnuts phallic. Squirrels too.

Lately in spurts I might write up to 30 haiku in a sitting. Writing Haiku is an exercise like swimming laps. Though it might not be called a motor skill entirely, it takes a training that builds with focus. Observing the world is a big part of it. I know some early poets who think they are collecting words for poems only some of their lives. Like they can turn it off. I know the whole life collects poems. So I can sit here and write about my college memories, see? Some of those Haikus have not made it out yet. It is important they get born; they can handle life.

The photo’s mother, chubby woman, snaps ginkgo. Golden day falling.

Posted Sat Jan 13 12:19:08 2018

Here is a link to my kickstarter project, which if I am funded, I will be able to proceed with the first printing of my upcoming children's book. But are the metaphorical girls in this picture really smiling full smiles yet? No. This is unfinished art. Let me explain further.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mugword/year-of-writing-and-illustrating-my-first-children

So I am going to feature at least 5 main concepts for the children's book, all of which are stirring in my head, and production will be possible for any of them. And I am going to let you - my reader - vote on which one you think is best.

Hojoki for Children is the second possible. I already have some of it's early version sketched out. What would I change? I had told this story from an Appalachian perspective in this edition. I think I would stick to Japanese in the polished final draft. Be sure to vote for the concept you like the best!

One way to do that is as a note after backing my kickstarter! :)

A whirlwind, earthquake, and fire in twelfth century Japan, and a man who disassembled his house, threw it in the river, and reassembled it downstream... many times, until he was left with Hojoki, a ten by ten foot hut he wrote about in his happy last years.

Posted Fri Jan 12 21:41:25 2018

I watched Democracy Now this morning, images of confederate statues being taken down and in North Carolina, anti-racist activists kicking the fallen statue. I hear people I know in Eastern Tennessee discussing Nazi punching on Facebook, and in person at the Peace Vigil I organize someone speaks openly that she is tired of the "peace" and that we need to show our "anger." Even Cornell West, one of the most incredible scholars of our time, admits he is not a pacifist.

In Charlottesville this weekend, the violence was stark and deadly. Heather Heyer, a 32 year old paralegal committed to social justice, was murdered as a white supremacist Nazi ran her over, and many too many other activists were beaten, struck, and run into by the same Nazis.

Now is the time to remember the pacifism of Martin Luther King. Activists who oppose white supremacy need to realize that to be violent against anyone (or even to kick a statue) is not the best constructive response to the fire of hatred and violence seen in racism. When one act of violence is returned with another act of violence then we are still in the cycle of violence, the violence will never end until leaders and activists start leading in purely peaceful ways. When people kick a symbol of oppression, the result is a symbol of violence as the model of behavior with which the behavior is replaced. We have to use symbols of peace when reacting to violence, hatred, and bigotry. We have to be the role models for how the behavior needs to be.

Posted Tue Aug 15 13:01:47 2017

There is a lot of disinformation spreading through ignorant and bigoted news sources so that many general public people, not aware that they are wrong, don't know up from down. When you grew up listening to Fox News or Nazi propaganda in your home, you are likely to think it is the truth, and you might not know what the truth actually is. So after talking to one of these bigoted people at a diner this morning, and after being told things that just aren't true by a man who wants to believe he is level headed and right, I feel I should set some things straight. The main thing he said was that Ferguson was a violent racist rally that black people conducted, and that therefore Obama was held at a double standard when he "didn't condemn" the Black Lives Matter protests then. So now it's 2017 and I am thinking it really matters where people get there news, and this man in the diner was so far gone with racism he didn't even know existed.

But I came into this blog today to write something of gratitude. I am so so so grateful that because I live in a beautiful, full, diverse, quiet, historically black neighborhood, there absolutely never is anyone here on my street with any of that hate going on. We are a street of many kinds, but none of us would put up with confederate flags or anything fascist. So as part of self care, I wake with gratitude, and every day I have the great fortune that my street has so many kind wonderful people. There are black and white people on this street and we all look out for each other. If someone needs a cup of milk or sugar or eggs, they don't have to look very far, they just reach over their fence and call out to a neighbor, and we take care of each other. Over the years, I have gotten to know almost everyone who lives on my street. Some people are more introverted than others, and they can keep to themselves in our peaceful neighborhood. Others are outside every day gardening and sitting on the front porch. The people of this neighborhood have become my people. We have something that other communities don't. It is like stepping back into the 80's or 90's because of how we still relate to one another rather than just using facebook and phones. So my home-street is rich, wealthy beyond any place or area where I have lived, because of this thing we have called community.

Maybe you have a street kind of like mine, or maybe you have to watch out a little more because of the escalating conflict in our world with 45 teaching hate. Our street wasn't always this way. The thing is, our street used to be a little more volatile. In the early 80's when my family moved to this place in this town, there were a lot of drunks who would sling their bottles down in the back behind our houses where there now is a park. We all wanted the drunks to clear out (even maybe some of the drunks wanted it). But the person who was integral in the cleaning up of our street was a man called Jackson. Jackson was one of the earliest people on this street I think. He used to live away for a while, but he did move back to the street of his childhood here eventually. My mother was a big part of shooing away the drunks with a broom! But Jackson visioned what the neighborhood could be. It happens that Jackson is African American, and the reason I mention it is to show one example of the fact that we all are human beings and that the color of our skin is just a shade, one or the other, or many.

Another important person to our street was Tommy. Tommy also is African American, and he also was the first black police officer in our town. He has looked out for the security of our street after hours, and made our street feel safe since before I remember. Of course, Charlie is a big part of what makes our street what it is, and she happens to be German with African American family members.

Every person on this street, in some way, made this street a better place for us, even the drunks who reformed.

May our responses to 45's terrorism be peaceful and respectful.

Amen.

Posted Mon Aug 14 14:08:28 2017


Eclipse II



We measure the distance between celestial objects in angles.

The clenched fist is ten degrees above the horizon.

The stars of Orion measure three degrees.



You need to breathe in a way that's good for you.

Maybe your breath is thick and fills the night as solid against the sky.

Or you're staring at the sun about the only time it's safe, wondering the at nebulous.



There are two words like sun and Earth, you and I.

There are so many other bodies.

Few moments can I feel so close to eternity in broad daylight.



Visions keep us firm, our balance holds.

Maybe you catch my breath for a moment.

A brush so close I can almost touch.

Posted Fri Aug 11 22:16:19 2017