Sunday, November 22, 2009

what the stones mean to me now

some of you remember the string of synchronicities right before i left for this trip: that i was to 'follow the stones'...the stones actually followed me at that time! on the same day, rachel, my roommate then, gave me a stone as a farewell gift, as did a client of mine whom i hadn't seen for 6 months. deanna organized a bon voyage party in which i received a sac of stones/runes contributed by 4 separate people. james then started planning a trip to carnac! none of these people knew what the others were doing [if they even knew each other in the first place] nor did i ask for anything in particular, stones included!

two months into my trip, the one-third mark, how do i interpret the stones? a chunk of my interpretation is under the influence of thomas moore [mentioned in an earlier post] whose books, 'care of the soul' and 'life at work' i've recently enjoyed, as well as robert sardello's 'facing the world with soul' which was included in moore's bibliography. i'd love to quote the whole sardello book here and claim i wrote it, but that would be illegal; so, i'll give you this meaty, stony excerpt from pages 62-3, where he quotes from an alchemical text, the 'gloria mundi' and then comments on it:

'the stone is familiar to all men, both young and old; it is found in the country, in the village and in the town, in all things created; yet it is despised by all. rich and poor handle it every day. it is cast into the street by servant maids. children play with it. yet no one prized it, though it is the most beautiful and precious thing on earth and has the power to pull down kings and princesses. nevertheless, it is esteemed the vilest and meanest of terrestrial things.' i dare say, this stone is the soul of the world. how impotent and insignificant it seems. the purpose of learning through soul concerns the intensification of what is actually present, which comes about when individual soul conjoins with world soul.

yeah...what he said!

to close, i'll add a literal dimension of the 'follow the stones' directive: james and i are working on a product, codename 'geo-grow'. we'll be taking a quarry product, fines or stone dust, and repackaging it as a soil re-mineralizer [which it surprisingly does with the help of earthworms and soil microorganisms]! usually the fines get paved into roads, rather anticlimactically. the idea to use crushed stone in the soil is far from new. farmers 100 years ago referred to 'stone flour'. but the zeit is right, right now! but, shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh....don't tell anyone...........................yet................................

Thursday, November 19, 2009

party in a foreign tongue

went with summer to a very fun birthday party with many performers, actor, artists...needless to say there were songs, dances, drawings and games! there were at least 4 ukuleles there; i strummed a pink glittery one for a time. one game in particular was much more fun than i'd anticipated [or was it the company?] called the 'hat game' by the hostess:

break into teams. each person rips a piece of paper into 3 equal slices and writes the name of a well-known character, living or dead, real or unreal from the common culture of music, tv, film, literature, politics, cartoons, art, etc. [we banned 'sports' as a category!] the names then go into a hat. first round: each team has one minute to guess as many as possible from one person giving verbal clues. round ends when hat is empty. clue-giver rotates for the group's next turn. calculate points. second round: similar to first, except that the clues given by the giver are limited to two words. third round: clues are silent mime!

very fun! especially the mime round! it became a memory game of references to mistakes and misunderstandings made by all groups---whatever was most memorable. the shared vocabulary was created right before your long as your group knew what you were talking about, it didn't matter if the clue had much to do with the name on the paper.

then we performed a song that every subject of the crown knows, 'my old man's a dustman'...see/hear video of a famous version by lonnie donegan, the skiffle king. i included the chorus lyrics below. 'cor blimey' is an expression of surprise, a corruption of 'god, blind me'...and proper narner or 'nana is short for 'banana'...i had no idea what the words were while trying to sing them.

Oh, my old man's a dustman
He wears a dustman's hat
He wears cor blimey trousers
And he lives in a council flat
He looks a proper narner
In his great big hob nailed boots
He's got such a job to pull em up
That he calls them daisy roots

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

a lovely, timely meditation

...from rudolf steiner's 'start now' book:

i know
i will find myself
because i will seek myself
in the world's soul
in the world's spirit
in the world's divinity

i've been working with this verse in conjunction with an initial breathing awareness prelude. on the inhale i think, 'in with universe', on the exhale, i think, 'out into universe'...yes, i'm seeking to feel connected to the bigger picture, to be an integral part of the larger world---a great challenge for me!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


slaughtering sacred cows and grilling sacred steak...

as an american, i've found the differences in environmental consciousness [or is it just marketing/behavior control?] between england/europe and america a study in contrasts, indeed! one facet in particular interests me: namely, everyday individual actions and my own assumptions about my beliefs.

for instance: my daily life in america before i left had little regard for any environmental ramifications of my actions, as did my culture, even in politically bluest boston. and i thought i was somewhat progressive, or at least sympathetic to the cause. yeah, there was a rush of self-righteous pride from refusing a plastic bag at the store---when i could actually plan a shopping trip and remember a reusable sack! small sack of potatoes... i drove a lincoln town car [filled with relatively cheap gas] for crissakes! why? because i like to hear the earth scream? because i'm callous? uninformed? no.

my whole point in wasting energy powering [your] pixels here is that my behaviors have little to do with convictions/beliefs but rather with simple/stupid effects of logistics, or, to make a pun, environment, as in surroundings...[by the way, an interesting article in the economist makes the case that computer use worldwide contributes just as much carbon to the atmosphere as the entire aviation industry! click here to read. and gaia help those who clatter away on their laptops during a flight ;-)

but now, i'm a totally different person! i've been transformed into a model marching member of the green army! i bike to the store with my eco-jute bags...i buy local and organic when available, which is most of the time...when i don't bike, i walk...when i don't walk, i ride the bus or train...when any of these options don't exist, i don't go...i use energy efficient are double and triple water is heated as needed...i wash dishes in tubs...i shave in a basin sink...recycle everything...compost all kitchen scraps...dry clothes on the line, weather out of the garden...pick berries from hedgerows...pick various and sundry objects out of dumpsters....heck, i'm even developing an environmentally friendly product with james...

so, what happened to me? captured and reprogrammed? joined the green party? no...i moved to england! gas is about $7-$8/gallon...the state wields considerable power in people's lives [knicknamed the 'nanny state' here]...i don't/can't own a car...however, the infrastructure exists to provide fact, i'll soundbyte my point: it's the infrastructure, stupid!!! a true freemarket wag could say, 'if you really want to change the world, vote with your citizenship as if it were a consumer product---move out of countries without ecologically supportive infrastructure [if you value that type of thing, of course]. don't support them...ahhhhh, imagine if we had that much freedom as individuals? that would be real globalization...not the monkey-business-as-usual that is sold to us as such...

yes...individuals can't make an infrastructure [try even making a pencil from scratch], but governments and big businesses can...though, can individuals effectively steer governments and big businesses? mmm...i wonder...

even if still divided by a common language, england and america seem to cross-pollinate culture with each other in our reciprocal laboratories. if this is true, my fellow americans, be prepared for an unglamorous, pared-down lifestyle---not to be hip, but because you'll have to...though you might learn to like it just the might even be a better way to live regardless of the climate change debate...

it's not bad...really...


Saturday, November 14, 2009

taiko drumming

if anyone had asked me when i was 8 years old what my ultimate fantasy was, and if i'd had sufficient cultural knowledge of the world [which i did not] i would've blurted out, 'taiko drumming!!!' that eight-year-old isn't far from the surface; so i jumped at the chance to go to a class!

big drums! big sound! sweeping gestures...drumming as martial art...physically demanding...led by a sharp warrior woman, named alice...the warmups took me back to the jujitsu dojo i attended briefly as a preteen: full stretches, pushups, situps, demanding poses, squats----a recipe for a very healthy body, if you don't get hurt...and if you keep doing them...

our warrior-in-chief did a great job showing us where the power needed to come from: the whole body, starting with a supportive stance [seen in photo] and radiating through the 'core', lower abdomen, center, hara----take your pick---to your upper body. in other words, not just with your arms or hands.

i was experiencing 'zen'-type moments, where my whole body was unified with itself and with the center of the drum. yes, chime in, 'aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh daniel-san.........become the target..........' i did. i forgot the need to 'be a drummer', to be flashy and fancy...very liberating!

for the past 3 days i've been as sore as i can remember being after the start of high school wrestling season...but i think i'll be back next week, taiko drumming!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

summer in november

yesterday was a rambling day on foot, instigated by a new friend, named summer...she earns her name with her warm enthusiasm...

got the call at 11:45, "do you want to go to the beach at noon?" a rare, clear sunny day made up my mind for me. already i had done a loop around the overgrown, moody norwich city cemetery nearby. fifteen minutes later, we were off, straight across the city, to the train station; 1.7 miles according to google maps.

we seemed to walk right on a train which then seemed to immediately leave, sending the picturesque norfolk countryside whizzing past. shortly, we appeared in cromer.

then, .5 miles to the beach from the train station. we descended the switchback ramps down the cliff to the beach and walked southeast till we were half as tired as we thought we should be in order to make the return trip. on the way, flint chunks made for fun stacking columns across the low tide sand flats! we even saw three lads, probably on a dare, run and dive into the water in their boxers! the air was 45-degrees. the water was most likely less. summer said that jumping in the ocean is a british tradition on boxing day [the day after x-mas]...i guess they were training for december 26th.

cromer didn't seem to exhibit that sad, seaside decay that seems to be a specialty of old shore towns, particularly in america, more particularly, in new jersey. in other words, the town had a life and identity outside of the summer hordes. plenty of people were out and about; shops were open, families were crabbing off the pier, dogs barking and running up and down the beach. i was cynically thinking that this was because of the slight difference between the british climate in july and november.

after repeating the above in reverse order, we decided that a film was in order. at the library we chose a film neither of us knew, wim wenders' 'the american friend'...perhaps in keeping with the spontaneous meaningfulness of the day...what a bizarre noir movie! like a dream....or was that the 10-plus mile day on foot talking?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

snuffing the candle at both ends

it's only november and the sun sets at about 4:30! yikes! it'll be 3:30 by the time solstice arrives...nothing else to do but write a poem about it:

sun rising late
sun setting soon
candle being
snuffed at both ends

so, this is
how the year ends...
the attitude
of 52-degrees latitude

shivering winter
arms akimbo
will greet march
with open arms

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


last night at norwich arts center---another church converted to cultural pursuits---we saw/heard a fantastic welsh band, mabon! self-described as 'original inter-celtic', they are led by the main songwriter, jamie smith---a tunesmith, indeed, with fiery fingers effortlessly gliding up and down the accordion! so young, so talented...and he's only been playing the accordion seriously for 9 years! his playing seems to belie the 10yrs./10,000hr. rule of mastery.

if that weren't enough, the entire band was just as accomplished, especially jamie's wife, grainne, on fiddle; she did everything he did, but with a bow---quietly virtuosic. calum stewart, the scotsman of the group, joined in the quiet virtuosity on flute and pipes. even more warming was the fact that the original band was started by jamie's dad, who still plays a mean rhythm guitar with them. the rhythm section was playful, tasteful, tight and with welcome funky outbursts.

as an outro, i'll let the video speak for itself...

Sunday, November 1, 2009


united against a
battleship-gray sky
british chimneys stand.

dry-docked oceanliners,
wet with sea spray--
battleships in port

home from empire,
empire is now home.