April 30, 2010

Tasalagi Tale (3/9)

   We drove him home. It was then that his parents and my mom first met and quickly took a liking to each other. In no time flat they were chatting away like old friends and drinking Indian coffee in the Lightfoot's humongous mobile-home. What is Indian coffee you may ask?

   This I know from Billy who actually drank the stuff: Indian coffee, amongst the people living on the reservation, was a complex and involved ritual, and amidst the Lightfoots, it was a family tradition. Billy told me how his mother told him about her memories of her grandmother. It would seem that this venerable lady (Billy's great grandmother), who still lived on the reservation when Billy's mom was a little girl, would get up at the crack of dawn to prepare the coffee.

   It went like this: she would fetch the huge red enameled coffee pot, dump in a pack coffee beans, dump in a pack of sugar, and cover the whole thing with water and set it on the stove to simmer down all day only occasionally stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon. Sometime in the middle of the afternoon, she would plant the wooden spoon into the coffeepot and if it stayed put she would cackle and announce that the coffee was ready.

   According to Billy's mom, her grandmother's coffee was always thicker and better than her own. I, of course, had never seen this legendary coffee but I had witnessed Mrs. Lightfoot's coffee as she served my mother. I remember it as being as thick as sorghum and as black as molasses; I couldn't imagine what the elder Mrs. Lightfoot's coffee was like. Maybe instead of needing a spoon, as was the case with Mrs. Lightfoot's coffee, you would need a knife and fork -or maybe even a saw- to eat the elder Mrs. Lightfoot's coffee. I do say eat and not drink because you could chew on this coffee. Seriously, they boiled the stuff down to a thick dark sweet syrup and served it in cups by pouring boiling water over it.

   Billy loved the stuff and though I couldn't stand the taste of any coffee (still can't), strangely enough, it still smelled appallingly good to me. A mere whiff of it was enough make your mouth water and probably got you hyper for at least 24 hours.

April 29, 2010

Tasalagi Tale (2/9)

    I invited him over to my house to get cleaned up. My mother was great with this kind of thing and never fussed at the sight of blood and bruises the way some moms do. Besides, with my being a halfie, she had gotten a fair amount of prior experience (not always easy being different, especially in the south). She took to Billy quickly, I think it was his honest way of looking people in the eye when he spoke, or perhaps because of her taste for Native American art and literature, or then again maybe it was the ears. She patched us up neat and quick, then looked us over and grinned. Billy was wearing a pair of Keds (a brand of canvas sneakers), jeans, a sky blue shirt and a red baseball cap. He almost looked Hispanic with his dark eyes and very dark skin. He had a straight nose with freckles in the middle of a long horsy -yet somehow distinguished- face, framed with short cut brown hair except in the back were it grew to his shoulders. His ears stuck out and this was accentuated by his cap which was just a little too big for him and would ride on them (I later learned it was his brother's). It was as if he hadn't grown into either his ears or his cap yet. "A regular come-to-life Native American Norman Rockwell painting." my mother said. We didn't get the joke at the time but laughed anyway: we were in very high spirits. I on the other hand had a round smiling face, very pale skin with rosy cheeks, clear slightly slanted hazel eyes and jet-black Asian hair. I was a cute kid, almost pretty though I didn't know it then or even care to know. As I mentioned earlier, Billy and I made a funny pair.

    So after we had both gotten cleaned up and had demolished the chocolate chip cookies and milk my mom had set out for us, she offered to drive Billy home. For the first time since I had met Billy he showed signs of being uneasy. He thanked her and said it was okay, that he would take the bus. But my mother wouldn't hear of it and eventually Billy admitted to living on the reservation. I think he was worried about how my mother would react to this fact. Of course, he didn't know my mother yet at that point: not only was she undeterred but she knew exactly where on the reservation his address was too. I'm sure not a single one of our neighbors would have known... they were too busy with PTA meetings, Cub Scout jamborees, and church picnics and what have you to know or care about Indian reservations, but not my mom. I was exceptionally proud to be her child that day.

Picture from linnyscookies.com

They look good,don't they?
P.S. There's a poll on the top left side of the blog, thank you for voting!

April 28, 2010

Tasalagi Tale (1/9)

   Billy Lightfoot was his name and we grew to be like siblings to one another. It was spring and the Dogwoods downtown were in bloom when I first met him. He was being roughed up by a couple of local bullies, your basic white trash. He was valiantly fighting a lost battle: there were too many of them and they were so much older than he was, heck, he was my age. Come to think of it they were only five of them and they probably weren't that much older than we were, just older teens; but neither Billy nor I had had our growth spurts yet so, to us, these fellas looked mighty big. Anyhow, being the way I was at the time, I heroically jumped headfirst and rather stupidly into the fray. Had I been just a bit older or smarter I would have diverted their attention somehow, pretended that the cops were coming, or screamed bloody murder, or something like that... but hey, I was just a feisty little kid.

   There we were he and I, side by side for the first time. He fought with a wild spirit like an unbroken stallion and charged recklessly at his opponents whooping war cries for the heck of it. I, on the other hand fought quietly, calculating my moves to be as coldly efficient as possible. We were an oddly assorted pair. In the end nobody left the "battlefield" without his fair share of bumps and bruises, in fact we had had more than our fair share and could barely walk but we were proud as peacocks to have scared those bullies off. We decided to celebrate so we bought ourselves a pair of Dr.Peppers and Baby Ruths, and as we had our victory feast, we got acquainted. I asked him then about his war cries and he just smirked, shrugged his shoulders and answered: "I don't know, I saw that on TV... Since they were beating me up for being Indian... it seemed to fit just right." We both laughed heartily and it was at that moment that our friendship really started. 

April 27, 2010


Velvet soft, autumn breeze bright, gorged with sun light
Soothing ray, upon bed of leaves where I lay at ease
Unworried by winter ahead or the life that I’ve lead
I gaze upon a cloud, single and slowly drifting through the sky
Through shroud and sky, my thoughts yonder fly, on swift wing
On swift wind winging away on sun’s ray, hearing silent heart sing
Listening to meaning of mental meandering… I lay, resting.

Auvergne 4 years ago

April 26, 2010

Antonio's restaurant near pigalle

The place is hopping… The waiters are all efficient smart alecky young men with infectious smiles. People come all the way from the outskirts of Paris to eat in this restaurant run by a short rolly polly French man and his Italian wife. The place is packed at every meal and people with plates of pizza and glasses of fruity tasting Chianti never fail to spill out into the street in front of the restaurant.

The clientele is varied as people from all walks and stations of life come eat here. Jocular red faced politicians eat next angry young students who marching in the streets just last year… Hardworking secretaries and factory workers rub elbows with dissolute musicians from the nightclubs on Pigalle, right next door… Young women with hard faces and short hair try ineffectually to impress the significance of their burgeoning movement upon the ladies of negotiable affections who work in nearby bars.

All these people congregate in a fragile understanding that for the duration of a meal, in this place, peace can be had... The penalty for breaking the peace is invoking the Antoine’s wrath (“Just call me Antonio, as does my wife…”), which usually meant a permanent banning. And people prefer to at least tolerate each other rather than to risk losing access to Antoine’s marvelous pizzas and pasta.

In the evening, the crowd thins and only the regulars who know what comes next remain. Antoine comes out of the kitchen and grabs his mandolin from its hooks on the wall. When he was sure that he had everyone’s attention, the short squat Frenchman in his off-white tomato-sauce stained apron would start playing, softly at first and then more strongly, as if gaining momentum. Finally, he would open his mouth and the purest baritone anyone had ever heard would spill out and fill the restaurant with ringing beauty, would fill the world it seemed, and Antoine sang. He would sing popular Italian and French operas stories of passionate love tried by life, of dark court machinations, of brotherhood betrayed, and for a time… time stopped…

Forty years have passed… and it has been a very long time since Antoine has left. The clientele has changed and though the restaurant still serves good food, it now has three wide-screen TVs showing non-stop football (aka soccer). No one remembers Antoine’s voice or the way he once moved Tito Gobi to tears with his rendition of Gioachino Rossini’s Guglielmo Tell. The mandolin is still up on the wall, untouched amidst a clutter of knickknacks and trinkets… And I expect that if I could put my ear to it, I could still hear that beautiful baritone echoing within. 

All pictures courtesy of yours truly.

April 25, 2010

No Hope

I was alone in my room that fateful night
Trying to sleep with all my might
Lost was I in a sea of darkness, for only ship I had a bed
Suffering a tempest of disillusion, lost love, and anger in my head
I then realized ’twas no bed, but the mighty Argos instead
And in the elements die I might, was it such an awful plight
Suddenly overboard I flew, and while I fell, waiting to die I knew
There was hope for I had only fallen out of bed.

Picture by SJKnight413 on flickr. 

April 24, 2010

Maybe mexico, maybe not.

This story takes place in Mexico City after the big earthquake they had a couple years back. Though it could just as easily have happened in any city after a natural disaster.

Two protagonists:
-Walking down the street, an old grimy man carrying two garbage bags.
-A young grimy man with two garbage bags next to him sitting on the pile of rubble crying his heart out.

The old man comes level to the young man and asks him "What's the matter, why are you crying so?"
The young man explains through his tears that the pile of rubble beneath him is all that is left of his home and that, now, of all that he possessed, only the contents of the two garbage bags next to him remain.
The earthquake had made a pauper of him.

The old man pulls a bottle of aguardiente from one of his two bags offers the young man a drink. The old-timer speaks kind comforting words to him all the while smiling gently like a saint, eventually, the young man feels his grief abate somewhat.

The young man is full of wonder at the old man's calm and serene demeanor. The old man seeing that his junior feels a bit better, bids him good day and starts to walk away...

The young man asks the elder before he is out of earshot,
"How can you be so calm, are you not like me? Aren’t your worldly possessions limited to the contents of your two garbage bags?"
To which the elder turns around and grins brightly as he answers: "I 'm not like you; this is all I've ever had..." And with that the old bum walks away cackling.

April 23, 2010

Die unendliche Geschichte

An empress holding hope, in ivory tower lonely,
amidst gnawing nothing and dispair

Unknowing and lost, she who knew all,
ageless and nameless, pale Moonchild so fair

Reaching out, when all comes apart,
shattering heart fearing failure, comes the nothing

Yet through the chaos comes the word
winged with emotion, which will end the ending

No light in beginnings, the word, the thoughts,
communion of hearts, cradles the seed of light.

April 22, 2010

A story begun as a child

 I'm always tempted to state the few truths that are mine as universal. Open windows and high places have always tempted  me with their promises of flight, freedom and deliverance. At first glance these two things might seem unrelated, but in the run of my life these two things have not only been recurrent but have culminated to make me what I am today : a teacher. I should perhaps, for clarity's sake, begin at the beginning so that you, my unfortunate listener, may perhaps attempt to make some sort of sense or achieve some form of understanding of the ridiculous circumstances that qualify my somewhat circumstantial existence.

What feels like a little over thirty years ago a diminutive frog of pink flesh was born unto the world, that shriveled little bag of skin, bone, and flesh was I. I was delivered into the arms of that admirable woman, whom I later identified as my mother, and she simultaneously laughed and cried being uncertain whether the seemingly amphibian creature presented to her was a cruel joke or not. She then spoke to me exhaustively in her garbled tongue of Russian, Chinese and English that, in normal conditions, is incomprehensible to all but a handful of her closest friends and her husband, and barely those. Allow me to reassure you that her linguistic peculiarities were not the fruit of her exotic mental illnesses but the result of her upbringing and life choices. Her father, very early in her life, changed his profession from that of Russian sailor to that of a noxious drunkard. He spoke something vaguely resembling Russian that was both heavily accented with his Turkish childhood and more than slightly slurred by hard liquor. Her mother was from a Taiwanese family of refugees in Kowloon, the ghetto of Hong Kong that has since been bulldozered and conveniently sanitized with antiseptic skyscrapers. Thus her curious manner of speech came into being from her parents simultaneously addressing her in all their tongues starting when she was just a newborn babe. This was such a traumatizing experience for the baby that as such she never learned to speak "baby talk", such a traumatizing experience that as a growing girl she spoke no word aloud until she reached the age of fifteen whereupon she was promptly told to be quiet. Rumor has it that the family saying originated in those bygone years: "'Tis better to be dumb than to speak oddly and be mistaken for an insane person". The subtlety of this expression has always amazed me, that and the fact that my family should have the opportunity to keep using it- but I daresay I've never understood the full tenor of its meaning, it must surely too subtle for the likes of me. My father once explained it to me, I dimly recall it had something to do with an American song called "Yankee doodle dandy".

Of course, most of this isn't from memory, most of the information concerning my early beginnings in life are hearsay, and as such are subject to doubt...

April 21, 2010

Engraved portrait

I am a child in a group children all running somewhere.

I ask, "Where is everyone is going?"
They laugh and sing, "Come one come all, we're going to the town hall..."

Inside they are all rollerblading on the smooth clean marble floors. I do not own blades so I slide in my socks and it works just as well. I wander off through a dark side passage, down several flights of stairs and find myself at a brand new ice skating rink.

The ice is fresh and gleams like crystal under the spotlights. At this point, on the opposite side, all the kids come spilling out onto the rink in hockey gear. A school coach appears and tells everyone that the rink has been built to honor a ghost's skill and accomplishments. He hesitantly delivers a speech about not knowing anything about training a hockey team, but that if he and the kids try very hard they'll win the tournament. So the kids start training. Except me, the coach won't let me play because my skates, which are in fact wool socks, date from before the war. In fact, I am from before the war, a war I didn't survive.
So I sit still, still watching the kids practice.
I keep my silence and secrets safe.
Forgetting nothing.

April 20, 2010


I like running on cars, neatly filed.
Like running in the sky it is,
Every windshield, a gateway to where else,
Slippery clean, ankle for to break,
As I leap from car to car.
In traffic such amusement...Much a movement? Much movement!
Seriously studying the streaking white lines, not for to sniff,
But rather defining the ground,
The ways forward as I bound,
Forward as I away.

April 19, 2010

Scene in the subway

Just past the morning rush hour in a major metropolis. Deep within the bowels of the city, an unlikely scene took place at the top of a set of stairs leading to the platform of the underground train.

The far off sound of an approaching train, a young woman with her little girl and a stroller, and an athletic looking black-clad young man. The actors are set. Action!

The young man strides along the hall concentrating on some private matter and comes to the top of the stairs. “Please! Take my child!” says a heavily accented voice behind him.
There stands the young woman trying to juggle a stroller and a three or four year old child.

“Alas, I cannot! My heart belongs to another”, he quickly replies as he swiftly walks up to the child. He towers above the little girl. She looks up at him with something that is not quite distrust, interrogation perhaps. He grins winningly and bows a courtly bow which almost brings his face to the child’s level, “Young lady, may I have this dance?” Her brown eyes open wide with amazement and undisguised delight. She shyly offers him her hand, he swoops her up, and in four great bounds they have flown down through the flights of stairs; the little girl screaming laughter all the way down.

He gently puts the child down and waits for the mother to catch up, then winks at the little girl and fades into the crowd before the mother can even thank him.
The subway train pulls in. The platform empties.
The train pulls out into a dark tunnel…
Fade to black.

Picture by Thomas Calveirole

April 18, 2010

Alice's adventures in cyberpunk

   Alice was beginning to get very bored of sitting by her sister in the park: over an hour ago, her sister had used the park’s hotspot to log on via her iNexion, and had since been wearing the vaguely absent look of all people experiencing full immersion VR netdiving. For want of anything better to do, Alice had tried to follow what her sister was doing on the iNexion’s screen, but for one thing, the device’s screen kept shutting down into power-saving mode every two minutes, and for another, ‘what is the point of watching full immersion VR netdiving’ thought Alice ‘without 3D or virtual tactile-feedback?’

   So instead she happily day-dreamed (as well as she could, for the effects her ‘joy’ stimpatch were wearing off) about the day she’d be old enough to get contactless connectors wetwired to her brain allowing her to full-dive as well. She had just started to imagine what it would be like to troll her sister’s V-space and to trojan self-replicating daisy chains into it when suddenly a White Penguin with a purple mohawk and pink mirror-shades ran close by her.

That in itself wasn’t so VERY surprising; nor did Alice think it so VERY unlikely to hear the Penguin say ‘LOL, I’m like totally late!’ as it almost tripped over its own feet. When she thought it over afterward, it occurred to her that she should have checked to see if the augmented reality function of her contact lenses was on, but at the time it all seemed quite natural; but when the Penguin actually took a MIL-SPEC TERA-CORED ICE-BREAKER DECK OUT OF ITS WAISTCOAT-POCKET, and looked at it, and then hurried on; Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen such outrageously awesome and expensive tech in the hands of such a short user, or any user for that matter, and burning with curiosity, she ran after it across the Astroturf, and fortunately was just in time to see it make its way to a panel of old-fashioned lasernet sockets hidden in the base of a solar tree by a shrubbery. The penguin pulled a connector cable from the side of its head, hard-jacked into the panel, and vanished.

   Alice didn’t give a second thought to using her emergency-only mindlink cable and smiled in delight to discover that it’s jack was retro-compatible with lasernet sockets. In another moment she jacked in, never once considering what in the world might happen.

Original picture by:
Jonathan Igharas

April 17, 2010

Eggcentric adherence to a saying...

So I'm at the farmers market and I've just bought two dozen eggs to make macaroons and iles flottantes.

Hold on a second!
How did the expression go?
Oh right, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket."

Eeep! Ok, I can do this!
Lets see, I can fit two eggs in my dress's front pocket, and another four in the side pockets...

Why is the egg lady scowling at me? It's only been four minutes...

I can fit six in my purse- drat!
I dropped one.

Judging from the way the egg lady is looking at me, I'm guessing she won't give me anther egg. Oh well.

So that's six in my purse...
I'll put six in my basket...
I'll carry three in my free hand...
And I guess I'll just have to put the last two under my hat.

Ok, ok, scowly egg lady! I'm going, I'm going already! It's not as if people were queuing up behind me- oh wait they are! Sorry people.

Alright time to get going...
I feel like I'm carrying nitroglycerin.
I must be walking funny because everyone is staring at me.
Good grief, what happens if I sneeze!
Oh! Hello cat, aren't you a handsome- no don't rub against my...

Picture by Rouge11 at deviant art.

April 16, 2010

Special delivery for K

The three penguins with their purple Mohawks and ray bans looked left and right, nominally pretending to help me as I searched for the locale of our next heist, but really they were just on the lookout for anything edible. We had only been told to look in the forest, which we thought to be kind of a slim lead; but as we loved forests, a couple days, weeks, or even months in a forest were fine by us.

We wandered in the deepest parts of the woods. The parts where the trees are as old as the earth they feed upon. Eventually, we stumbled upon a clearing in the center of which stood an ancient oak. We later learned that the clearing was not pinned down to any one part of the forest, and that there was no fixed path to reach it... in fact, to find a path, one must follow a pure heart (preferably one’s own, but those of penguins will apparently do).

As the penguins pranced and danced their interpretive dances, they ate one out of every two mushrooms they were picking for our dinner. Meanwhile, I chose to inspect the great oak.
It was a magnificent tree reaching high into the sky with innumerable thick leafy arms. Its trunk’s diameter was incredible... it took me a full five minute’s to walk around it. And the whole was balanced in perfect asymmetry giving an impression of unimaginable age and beauty.
I climbed up the tree to nap while the penguins pretended to pick dinner... but as I was about to grab the first branch I noticed something.
“Attend to me, my friends!” I called out to the penguins. Startled, they turned their heads abruptly and choked on the mushrooms they were pigging out on. After recovering, they walked over and querulously asked “Whats-Ya-Problem! Shoutin’ alla sudden like that! What? What is it?”
So I showed them what I had found. The lines and creases in the tree’s bark formed an image!
An eye-poppingly beautiful image of a huntress opening large wooden double doors to an old castle nestled deep within the heart of the forest.
I was amazed by the exquisite detail of the picture, perhaps even more amazed and by the fact that it seemed completely natural, no knife marks or anything! It was as if the image had naturally occurred in the tree’s bark!
Meanwhile the penguins, having lost patience, pushed me aside to inspect the image in detail... the moment they touched the picture we were all transported into the entrance hall of the depicted castle!

We were quite happy to have finally found our destination!
Though a bit disappointed to find the place deserted and empty. Had been for ages it seemed.
We decided to move in and to make the magical place our home.
The penguins flew off to gather their relatives.
Soon there would be penguins everywhere.
The forest was quiet and then came,

April 15, 2010

Good humored causal relations

In a small square room bereft of door or window sat a man. He would be alone were it not for a short stubby candle, who instead of giving any form of companionship merely flickered coldly.

The candle was quite annoyed with the man’s ramblings, yet listened nonetheless for there were no means of escape, besides how would it do so even if there were, being naught more than a candle…Thus it listened to the man’s words:

To what evil do I owe this darkness inside? How have I become so different from those with whom I once dwelt the earth? We once looked alike, they and I, but now my inner self has stained my corporeal shell. Like feelings flowing from a wound, my inner shadows claim all colors as their own. Black rose, perchance sprinkled with tear shaped stars, longing for the memory of the vivid red that once was there.. now thornless, never to be seen again. Where has the life light gone? Ah, yes… It was snuffed by the darkness my inner self exuded, extinguishing all things bright…

At this point the candle died (of boredom surely), leaving the melodramatic man all alone in obscurity where he slowly melted away, dissolving into darkness…

April 14, 2010

1866 - Paul Verlaine, "Poèmes saturniens"

The following is a repost of one of my comments. My apologies to those who read this the first time (but at least you get to listen to the audio). I'm probably pushing down today's original piece (tea in samsara) but I suppose it doesn't matter.

Today's post on Terressa's blog invited commenters to share a poem. But the one I wanted to share was french and I couldn't find a good translation. Either they were pretty but too far removed from the original, or stuck doggedly to the original words like a machine translation. None of them respected the structure, though some of them did try to reproduce some kind of rhyming pattern.
It's true that translation is (barring a few exceptions Baudelaire translating Poe to french for instance) a terrible thing to do to poetry, but here is my best try at it, feel free to brand me a criminal:
1866 - Paul Verlaine, "Poèmes saturniens"

"My Familiar Dream"
I often have this dream, strange and engrossing dream
An unknown woman, whom I love and loves me, and
Every time, she is never quite the same it seems
Nor wholly different, she loves me and understands.

She sees within me, for her, my heart is crystal
Just for her, alas! It’s no longer an issue
Not for her, and when my pale brow beads with hot dew
She alone knows how to cool it, as her tears fall.

Brunette, blonde, or auburn? – I can’t say, don’t ask me.
Her name? It’s sonorous and sweet, as I recall
Like the names of loved ones, whose brimming cups were spilled.

Her gaze, like that of a statue, veiled in mystery.
Her voice, is distant, quiet and grave when she calls,
Echoing tones of beloved voices now stilled.

And for those who can grok the original here's the french (for those who can't but want to hear it, scroll down):
1866 - Paul Verlaine, "Poèmes saturniens"

"Mon Rêve familier"
Je fais souvent ce rêve étrange et pénétrant
D'une femme inconnue, et que j'aime, et qui m'aime,
Et qui n'est, chaque fois, ni tout à fait la même
Ni tout à fait une autre, et m'aime et me comprend.

Car elle me comprend, et mon coeur transparent
Pour elle seule, hélas ! cesse d'être un problème
Pour elle seule, et les moiteurs de mon front blême,
Elle seule les sait rafraîchir, en pleurant.

Est-elle brune, blonde ou rousse ? --Je l'ignore.
Son nom ? Je me souviens qu'il est doux et sonore
Comme ceux des aimés que la Vie exila.

Son regard est pareil au regard des statues,
Et pour sa voix, lointaine, et calme, et grave, elle a
L'inflexion des voix chères qui se sont tues.
Here's a sung version by Julos Beaucarne, a multi-talented Belgian artiste. I grew up hearing this interpretation of the poem, it was one of my mother's many favourites... it wasn't until I got interested in classical poetry (much much later) that I realised it wasn't originally a song.

I'm not above aping a good idea. Do any of you readers (all four of you) have pieces of well loved poetry you'd be kind enough to share?

A picture from the Père Lachaise cemetery I found online

Tea in the Samsara with you...

‘Tis a tale from a land far to the east...
So far to the east that the sun is lonely as she awakens…

Once upon a time, in this distant land, a knowledgeable professor was told that although he knew about words, numbers, and sciences, the old hermit up on the lonely mountain was wiser than he. And so the professor set out to meet this wise-man, up on top of the mountain that he called home.
After an arduous climb, the professor arrived to the home of the hermit, just barely said hello before starting to display his knowledge of the workings of weather, of the growth and development of life, of philosophies, of history, of medicine, of biology, of theology, of the methods for counting from distant Arabia, of the secret means of changing gold into lead and on and on he spoke.... meanwhile the wise-man brought a teapot and two cups... He filled the professor’s cup to the brim and yet poured on.
Slightly unnerved the professor said "What are you doing? Can't you see the cup is full?”
The old man answered mildly, speaking for the first time, "Indeed, it is like you... So full it can not contain anything else.”
This infuriated the knowledgeable professor and so he drew forth his sword with the intent of killing the wise-man. But meanwhile the hermit, still pouring tea with one hand, had pulled a brush from his pocket with his free hand and swiftly painted a sailboat.
He poured and poured and the tea flowed and flowed and became a green ocean.
The wise-man on his painted boat sailed away over the cup of tea's horizon and was never heard from again.
The story doesn't say what happened to the professor, but it is supposed that he developed an aversion to tea.

Sketchy Doodle 2002 (left as is) 

*Story very loosely inspired from one I was told as a moppet.

April 13, 2010


She frowned at the sensation of her pants sticking to her thighs. The water dripped from her hair and face. If life were a drama she would be hiding her tears in the rain but truth is plainer than fiction and her heart hasn't been broken lately.
She is in fact thinking about the differences between grace and agility, more specifically about how to express them through ink painting.

The water in her dark hair reminisces about another life, a life it had spent as ink... the sensual feeling of the ink-stone, the intimate binding with the carbon black, and the brush delivering sweet rest on the silken sheets of paper, and then the little death leaving but a print in the world as life moves on to other forms.

  Doodle from 2001

April 12, 2010


Hmm... "Plop" the sound of me dropping musings into the pond.

I'm new to this active blogging thing, I used to haunt a message board and the dynamic there is different. I think it made some things easier, conversing and interactiveness… for instance.

On a message board, it's like visiting neutral ground, a common room where people discuss or play or argue or improetise...
Blogs, from my recent observations tend to be one person posting on "their blog", a variable number of other people commenting (commenting describes it well) and, for the blogs where the author can be bothered (often the better ones) responses to the comments from the author.

Take Terresa from the Chocolate Chip Waffle, for example, she often ends her posts with a question, which is an opportunity for the readers/commenters to participate, and yet it seems to me that more the 75% of commenters just comment without responding to the question... Or is it just me, are the questions rhetorical? They don't seem to be... "What are good puppy names?" seems fairly straightforward and direct.

Also, it seems that (mostly) only a blog’s most recent post get commented on… And in a way, I understand that if you have an autobiographical blog (as most are), getting comments about something you did 5 years ago might not be relevant to your present self. I also realize that the system encourages this approach (unless the poster systematically subscribes to their posts or RSSs all of the comments they have no way of knowing about old post that receive comments, or turn on full moderation for old posts), but it’s too bad, it seriously limits the depth of discussions (and play).

Another thing I’ve observed is that people are remarkably nice. It seems that there is an unnaturally low number of negative or even just critical voices (to a fault?)… Maybe I haven’t been on the “right” kinds of blogs… That said I’m not made of sugar (or spice and everything nice), I welcome having anything I write being lambasted (wouldn’t be the first time), if it doesn’t stand up to it, then it wasn’t well enough written and will hopefully come through improved. It feels as if I walked through a magical gateway. At my back a gotham city, “Hey, watch it buddy… I’m walking here!”, and in front of me something I’m not entirely sure of yet… Though I suspect I see unicorns in the distance.

Naturally, I’m only describing trends that I’ve observed as I look into an ever widening circle of random and specific blogs. And of course, there are a number of exceptions to each of the points I’ve raised above. I lift my cup of rooibos to the exceptions (both online and off), you all make my day.

So far, this blogging experience, while alien, is proving to be quite interesting. I’ve met some very interesting people, and I’m looking forward to getting acquainted with them.

Blog tweaks and new blog

Oh yes, blog update... Changed the fonts and the colors to something a little easier on the eyes. Tweaked the background (is it too yellow?).

I've opened another blog, Part Gilt-Part Gold. It will be a repository of stuff I come across on the internet that I think may interest or please other people or that I simply want to share. Music, books, pictures, websites, webcomics, games, cool blogs, news articles, and such.
Nothing much there just yet as I only started it a couple days ago. But I will be adding to it.

Pics from halloween in California last year.

April 11, 2010

Who likes Poe? I do… Sorry Mr. Poe!

A pox on this devil-possessed bird and its evil goal!
This unforthright haunter of my space and my soul.
This slow witted student of naught to whom in vain
I sought to teach, to reach beyond its disdain.
But the one worded raven would not be taught...
And in the end was killed and stuffed, bearable no more.
In its stead an echo in a shell and a canary were bought.
The canary now sings as it sits atop the stuffed raven,
Atop the placid bust of Pallas, atop my chamber door,
Far stranded from seashore
the shell whispers its echo again and again-

April 10, 2010

Harper and her

The walls press upon the unwary traveller. Wherein dost she travel so still and static that time forgets her... Is she just another inhabitant of the world? Not quite, for she sees the silver strings tied to the bolts in the middle of most people's backs. They seem to her like a web that threatens to ensnare her spirit, to throttle her body. She tries to become a spider, for spiders survive the best amidst webs, but the best she can manage is being invisible... Therefore, she goes unnoticed, a mixed blessing at best.

He sees the strings as chords and his graceful fingers play them softly. His music is sorrow for all that is lost in the name of getting; ‘tis sadness for the wonders gone unnoticed and the precious things forgotten. The notes he plays are waves that fall upon those who would listen and remember. The reactions vary, some deny, others hide in anger, some laugh with hope regained, others cry in despair... His own anger is a thing so seldom invoked that it is all but a vague potential.

Aimlessly she wanders amidst the snare of silver threads, always and ever so very wary not to touch any so as not to let them know she is there. Becoming invisible does not make her intangible, and failing to creep over the web as do the arachnid puppeteers she crawls with a lowered head, beneath the lowest webs like a mouse or an insect... Unseen and gratefully unseeing.

His eyes are closed, his fingers watch the world and laugh, they watch the world and cry, they pull music from the air from the threads and voice his unwhispered heart. Winged with thought he has risen above the cords he plays, and his song and all its facets flow like wind sometimes caressing sometimes violent but always heartbreaking, always beautiful and pure. His gentle face smiles wistfully as his harper’s hands play and his graceful limbs touch the cords. The spiders are intent on their game, they do not care, they do not listen, they do not perceive. His music is played with his whole body. He is the music. He is the dancer. He dances on the silver threads spinning, leaping, gliding, flying with the grace that is his and every thread he touches, like that of a heart, hums to his song.

She is barely breathing. The threads seem to tighten around her, like the cold fist of reason on her heart. She longs only to be free, to laugh again and be seen... The sickeningly sweet music seems to crawl over her skin leaving her soiled. An unwholesome vileness that makes all that has gone before seem a sweet nothing, a malevolent cancer that would consume her… ‘tis such that her heart, whom she believed to be barren, revolts in revulsion. Her body arcs in disgust and pain and she looks up to scream defiance at spiders and their webs, the skies, at the song, at all there is… and ‘tis then she sees him and he is wonderful to behold. The marvel of him drowns his song so she can no longer hear it, although even as she watches he continues to play.

Heedless and unknowing he plays on.

Envious, she watches from below as he seemingly flies in his dance upon the and amidst cords. So pure, so graceful… She desires to rise above the web and be free, and to dance with him. Her need rings a clear cutting note through his melody and he looks down to see whence it came. His eye like mirrors silvered fall upon her, such sadness, such sorrow, and yet… perhaps the pity and pathos she see there are but the reflection of her own. Suddenly, the angle or the light reveals what self-delusion had hidden, and the silver string in her back shimmers upwards and joins the web. Tears, the first in spite of all that preceded them: tears of loathing, tears of despair, tears at the vestigial remnants of his humanity.

Impossibly, he takes pity, and would set her free. Sharp finger slashes down upon the silver cord binding, down and through… the cord and the cutter fall away. She watches from the dying depths of her despair as the falling harper finally finds his long desired freedom, fatal. In the silvered unseeing eyes of that which remains, she now sees a spider. With this she breaks free and rising above the web starts to dance the celestial music upon the silver threads tangled...

April 9, 2010


Time within time, asinine creation of the blind
Askance aware of existence, suspicious of its dance
Denying Chronos, my trance consigning him to the fictitious
The roil of men as they toil, till the soil, ‘til awakens the soul
To the stark essence of the dark, the simple incense of light
Both rapture in flight, beyond tempo’s capture its height
To strong emotions treason to reason, that know no season
If, improbable impossibility, pendulum experienced passion,
Belatedly it would bypass the burden of its beat
Lay waste to the lies, 'til they lie unmoving at their feet
And laugh for though timeless, emotions change
And laugh for though timeless, their recipients are not
No measure, whether hither little or thither much,
Infinite for to live, to hate, to love.

"Waterfall" (1961) Maurits Cornelis Escher

April 8, 2010

Umisei Yamasei Chaya

The earthen road binding the coastal city of Mi-Nôzu to the inland city of Osaku stretches through lush green valleys studded with black stone and clumps of venerable trees. In the cleft of one of these valleys lies the farming village of Kakuno. Rice paddies border the road on both sides of it. Tis a typical small farming community with it's tiny shintoist shrine next to a flowing weeping willow and a mere handful of wooden and thatched houses. Just beyond the village, a tangeant path leaves the main road. A plain wooden sign is posted at the foot of the way that winds it way up the valley's forested side. Upon it, in skillfully simple calligraphy, beautiful black Kanji (ideograms) announce, "Umisei Yamasei Chaya" (Trans.= the Mountain and sea spirits tea-house).

Ages ago dark volcanic mountains reigned herein but the spirits of rain and wind softened them, so that now all that remains of them is a holy stone. Twas said to have been a tear shed by Amaterasu at the death of Yoroishiku, human hero of old who saved her from wedding Yanami and was said to have been her lover. As the path winds up the valley, trees gradually block the village from view. The stone stands, at man height, just a short ways off of the path in a clearing amidst ancient red-trunked firs. It’s bound with two plaited straw ropes adorned with white paper twists, and looks like naught more than a rounded shard of black stone, yet somehow one feels the presence of positive Tama (energy or identity of a shinto spirit). A nearby yet invisible delicate waterfall fills the clearing with a gentle whisper. Local legend has it that the stream's waters once came from the evermelt of a mountain glacier. With time the melting glaciers had disappeared but the waters had gathered 'neath the earth and flowed forth, following out of love the same path as it did before though the mountain it cherished had changed into a valley. Thus exceptionally pure water flowed down the valley to feed the rice paddies and the village therein. Exceptionally pure waters that would make a tea lover's delight.

Which brings us to the chaya... It stands atop of the valley as if carried by the surrounding trees and lifted to the sky, affording it an impregnable view of all the surrounding lands. On exceptionally clear days one can see distant mountains on one side of the horizon and the sea on the other. No garden implements the house and none is needed as nature’s beauty requires no human intervention for perfection herein. The crystal stream takes its source next to the house and delights the eyes before running away amongst the trees. Some plum and cherry trees were planted long ago, so as to delight with their blossoms in spring and to make umeboshi (pickled plums)in fall. The leaves are now brilliant red and gold and have just begun to fall: at sunset they seem to fill the sky. The leaves that lazily find their way into the stream are swiftly born away dancing merrily on the currents.

The chaya itself looks more like a large country home than a tea-house: a square wooden building, with lested earthenware shingles, built around a fireplace in the main room, with a small kitchen and bathhouse annexed to the main building. The interior is sparsely yet sufficiently furnished and decorated. There are a few sumie (ink paintings) paintings and calligraphy on the walls left by inspired guests. One of the paintings, in haboku style (strong stroked impressionistic monochromatic ink painting), depicts a squirrel as it hesitates between tasting a nearby stream’s water and eating the nut it holds in it’s paws. Another, in ma-hsia style (a monochromatic highly detailed classical Chinese style), depicts a heron somewhat condescendingly observing something -possibly everything- from a perch on a branch of pine. Some of the caligraphy are poems, yet two stand out as puzzling : a simple circle like figure “O” and a rotund “Q” like figure, obviously a story untold lies behind them.

A few hours from dawn, within the house, a man sits at a low table in front of an ink set and some drying sketches of a kaki (persimmon). He is the host, Terruro Magunojo, and is awaiting his guests, the food is ready and the fire burns bright. Perhaps one of the guests will add to the works on the walls?

Picture by the awesome Michael Kenna 

Excellent blog alert!

I never expected to get any followers... then I forgot to be introverted for a while, lost my previous haunt, visited other blogs and some of them were so wonderful that I was compelled to post comments. Thus I got discovered...
Not that I'm complaining considering the caliber of the people following this blog.
Tangent set aside I would like to share this blog (http://heatherbrager.blogspot.com/) with you, I think you'll like it as much as I did. It is the art and poetry of Heather Brager. It baffles me why she doesn't have more readers.

Unrelated picture from a 2007 trip to Venice for your viewing pleasure:

April 7, 2010

Gorge du tarn

The sun has warmed the grass all day, making the ground softly prickling my back smell faintly of hay. An idle glance over the bank shows me that the shallow waters of the river’s waters are clear, softly distorting the image of rust colored alluvial sand scattered with autumn pebbles. Occasionally, a fish, like a silver leaf riding a breeze out to the ocean, would pass me by.

     Picture: Gorge du Tarn, sometime in 2006 or 2005

April 6, 2010

Wasted effort

I danced a knife blade tango with a whirlwind of sloppy thinking and inarticulate misspelt mutterings
Uttering sharp words for swords, I cast hard facts on deaf ears and dumb minds, only to find
That while I waged and won the war of words, the whirlwind had swept away my home.

April 5, 2010

Merry S-mas From Texas

Congregate mass of crass being
So sluggishly fleeing, we see our hair grow
The red dust of dead end roads we follow
Gather in deserted cemetery bone-yard souls
Our collected graves that are emotional bullet holes
Shot and shot down by ritual love or silly self suicide
Leaving what?
The serious selves, empty shells and pride?
Nothing much anyhow, a mere cramp in the now
Like ants crawling over bodies asleep made of sand
And the breeze carries tangled tumbleweed untruths
It bears barren bodies too, too tired to walk through
The hypothetical desert to the so called promised land
An unlikely promise or a probable lie
The usual governmental give and take
To forge hope, for it fuels the blind,
Wind up clockwork voters, suburban mechanoid maniacs
And paranoid paradoxes pretending to be people
Worship weapons, unaware as they unwillingly await their death
That though theirs guns dig deep, they leave only shallow graves.

Two for sketching

So I have just discovered that it is poetry month, which is why I am putting up sketches.
"Rummaging in the depths of our treasure cave we found some magical sticks, when shaken the right way they produce crude sketches of real objects or images. We both took a turn on two objects and had great fun ." said Taliesin and Mohali.
See for yourselves if you can recognize which two are Mohali's and which two are Taliesin's (click to enlarge):

April 4, 2010

An old picture

The train is hot and overcrowded. It looks as if I’m surrounded by teenagers who, one way or another, all seem to be talking about pop music, sex, and the combination of the two. It gives me the eerie impression that I’ve wandered into a high school. These commuting kids must have just been let out.

A whistle blows, the doors shut and the train pulls out. People are sitting everywhere they can, including the halls and the baggage racks. From this description one might picture a rickety mountain train in some far flung Nepalese town or a train in a highly populous part of the world such as India; but it isn’t.

For one thing, there’s air conditioning (too much of it) and for another, there isn’t enough poultry (i.e. none at all). In fact, I’m in a shiny new “next-generation” “Top-of-the-line” French TER (Local express train) during the crush hour in Amiens leaving l’Oise and heading for Paris. These new trains are sleekly blue and silver on the outside, and boast a sickly pale green and Plexiglas interior. The entire train is nonsmoking and second class. Why couldn’t they make the entire train first class, if only just in name? Besides, since there is only one class on the train why did they decide to call it second: wacky French marketing?

All in all, it is relatively comfortable if you get a seat… I’ve never seen it so crowded. At least the trains in France are usually on time, provided there isn’t a strike, in which case there’s a fifty-fifty chance of the train not coming in at all.

The landscape starts to roll by as I think about trains in France: mainly sprawling hilly farmland interspersed with villages and clumps of trees with a canal every now and again. The wheat is starting to golden in places. Too bad I don’t have time to hike along the canals. It would be nicer to walk through the country side rather than ride, even though it does sprawl on unvaryingly for very long distances. I suppose I’m missing out on the occasional plop of a carp jumping out on the canal, on hares, gyrfalcons, crows and endless wheat and sugar-beet fields.

For now, I’m taking the expedient route to get where I want be and I’m content in letting just my mind wander and my pen make tracks on the paper.

April 2, 2010

Departure from form

Running from shots is an ancient tradition and a fairly good example of common sense. Naturally, the first shots were flung from slings and primitive men ran from the stones cast at them by theirs enemies. Something of this ancient tradition can still be seen today, in sporting events for instance: in athletic races, a resounding shot is fired and ancient hardwired atavisms suddenly impel runners forward with the promptness of startled rabbits.

This, while hopefully interesting, is only tangentially related to the matter at hand. The matter at hand is the departure of TGVs, which is announced not by the firing of a shot, but by the ringing of a bell not unakin to that used in horse races to spur riders and steeds to exit the starting boxes or students from slumber and classes.

I was briskly walking to the head of my train when a TGV’s departure bell rang. A young woman’s peal of laughter was almost immediately followed by the sound of hooves clattering on the platform. I turned around to see a beautiful dappled mare gallop past me a ways and stop. An elegantly dressed and slightly winded young lady laughed giddily as she waited for her lover to catch up and then they walked on arm in arm.

April 1, 2010

Popinsub, a portrait of a person in the subway

Pale of face, dark of eye and hair, dour in mien with lips slashed red...
Smile, laugh, and make merry for sorrow calls to sorrow as joy calls to joy.
Of the two, which would you call upon yourself?