Sunday, November 30, 2008

At Last!

Shortly after 9/11, the eastern grounds of the Capitol were walled off. Part of that had to do with security. Another piece of it was that a new visitors' center had to be built to funnel the mobs of tourists away from the halls of Congress where, people told me, it was really hard to work because of all the people.

It was so hard for we citizens of Capitol Hill to be cut off from the Capitol. That convenient and beautiful space was one of our favorite places to walk our dogs, picnic, hang out on nice days. Though tourists did venture around the building to the east side, most of them stayed on the more photogenic west side. The east side of the Capitol was the place where those of us who live here could commune with the icon that anchors our neighborhood. Being cut off from that space had many of us in quite a huff. The first year after the walls went up, my Christmas card featured a picture of the Capitol with a "keep out, no admittance" sign pasted on top of the dome.

Initially we were told that all the construction would be complete within a couple of years, but are these projects ever finished on time? Never!

The years passed. I can't speak for my fellow Hillizens, but I at least got used to being blocked from the eastern grounds. I detached myself from the Capitol, started spending more time at the river, or on the western grounds with all the tourists.

Sometime last week, the walls came down! Yesterday was my first foray onto the grounds on my side of the Capitol in seven years. The feng shui connection between the Capitol and the neighborhood of Capitol Hill is restored!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Philadelphia Story

Yesterday morning I watched the Capitol dome shrink and finally disappear altogether. I was watching from the window of the train, so don't worry, the Capitol dome is still there, it just looked like it was shrinking and disappearing.

It's always good to get out of town, even just for a day. The buzz of DC is something I've learned to ignore in the same way that people who live on busy streets learn to tune out the traffic sound. But anytime I find myself even a few miles beyond the perimeter of my beloved swamp, suddenly I realize there's a whole world out there that's completely different from DC's jaw-clenching, hard-working, power-loving feng shui.

It was a whirlwind tour of Philadelphia but it was an excellent tour, guided by someone who grew up there and knows it like the back of her hand. It was so much fun! Fun seeing old friends, fun touring Philly, (especially now that I've regained some hope for the soul of this country). It was a great day!

Just as fun as going out of town was coming back, seeing the Capitol dome grow from a tiny white dot to its full fledged hugeness, walking through Union Station, sleeping in my own bed where my dreamscape unfolded, as it always does, within the framework of the jaw-clenching vibe that I call home. There truly is no place like home.

Betsy Ross's house

Friday, November 28, 2008

Jane Austin and Leftovers

I did catch a glimpse of Hugh Grant while watching Sense and Sensibility yesterday (thanks for the suggestion, Lettuce.) My goodness he is stiff as a board in that film. His stiffness is a sign of his virtue, his nobility. Anyone who dares to let their hair down is portrayed as coarse. Kate Winslet almost dies from a feverish infection before she learns to sit down, shut up, and behave herself. Gracious. When Emma Thompson bursts into tears at the end of the film, her family is so embarrassed they leave the room. Meanwhile, Hugh Grant, even while he expresses his love for her, stands ten feet away, expressionless.

Do I understand the cultural values of the upper class during that era of British history? Clearly I do not. It was a good movie, though.

Afterwards I ate leftovers heated up in the microwave, then took a nice walk down to the Capitol and back, while trying (unsuccessfully) to imagine four million people gathered for the inauguration.

It was a lovely Thanksgiving. Hope yours was as well.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Today I'm so thankful to my great teachers. That would include my body/mind and all its fluctuations (health and illness are truly awesome teachers), my family (great teachers, every one of them), my dog (one of the greatest teachers I've ever had), my friends, oh my goodness, my friends have taught me so much. Old and new, scattered all over the place, friends I still have relationships with, friends I no longer connect with, blog friends I've never met, blog friends who have become 'real' friends: thank you.

And to all my healers, from my great dentist to the Sufi acupuncturist, and to all the healers I've worked with in the past, all of whom have taught me so much, thank you all.

Yes I'm grateful for all the lovers and partners who taught me about joy, who taught me what it's like to be completely revealed, and who also taught me some rather cruel lessons about heartbreak. With deep sincerity, I thank you.

I'm grateful beyond measure to the world, the weather, seasons, trees, bugs, birds, animals, landscapes, the sound of the ocean, the river and other bodies of water, Brother Sun and Brother Moon, and so on and so on. I'm especially thankful for the way the world offers its abundant wisdom so generously, even if I don't always pay close attention.

Should say, too, that I am so grateful for the people who formally took on the role of teacher, i.e. the people who wrote the books I've learned so much from, the ones who stood in the front of the classroom or at the center of the circle. I'm also referring to invisible teachers - ancestors, spirit guides, the Dead, animal spirits. Thanks for being there for me.

Happiest Thanksgiving to all.


When we stride or stroll across the frozen lake,
We place our feet where they have never been.
We walk upon the unwalked. But we are uneasy.
Who is down there but our old teachers?

Water that once could take no human weight-
We were students then-holds up our feet,
And goes on ahead of us for a mile.
Beneath us the teachers, and around us the stillness.

--Robert Bly

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What makes a White House a home?

Can you see the Capitol dome at the very end of E. Capitol Street, visible from Lincoln Park once again, now that the leaves have fallen?

Every day these days, the Washington Post publishes a feature about how worried we Washingtonians are that the Obamas won't like Washington DC. They love Chicago, love their regular normal Chicago lifestyle. How will they adjust to DC?

But - the Obamas will NOT be living in DC, not the way the rest of us do. They won't be sitting around Dupont Circle on a sunny Saturday, walking down to the see the cherry blossoms early in the morning before the tourists. They won't be sledding down the hills on the Capitol grounds, stopping in at Granville Moore's for a buffalo burger, or Teaism for a chai, oh no. You won't see them at Eastern Market, or in Rock Creek Park hanging out. You'll never catch them standing in line at Whole Foods, packed into a Metro car during rush hour or gazing at their laptops while drinking coffee at Tryst.

The Obamas will be living in the White House which is kind of like living in jail. Actually, it's like living in a presidential zoo, barricaded on all four sides, mobs of tourists pressed up against the fences trying to catch a glimpse of the first family.

Sometimes the Obamas will see DC through the window of a Secret Service vehicle. The girls will see the inside of Sidwell Friends school. There will be official events during which they will be surrounded by security people and massive crowds, but that isn't life in DC the way the rest of us know it. Thank God!

Up until JFK became president, anyone could walk right up to the White House and knock on the door. It's incredible to think about that now. Lincoln liked to walk from the White House to the Capitol, take some air on his way in to work. He often encountered the likes of Walt Whitman and other famous citizens of the District along the way. I imagine them tipping their hats to each other as they passed.

Will the Obamas like living here? It's a theoretical question. How will they endure life in the White House? My opinion: they're tough. They'll be alright.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Head First into the Holidays

I worked like a dog through the weekend, always a good thing since, as my friend Merle Sneed says, one must make hay while the sun shines. Oh yeah.

Everyone I worked with was in a funk for one reason or another. Though I envy my friends who look forward to the holidays, who love the holidays, still it's hard to avoid the reality that for a lot of people, this time of year is really stressful, difficult to navigate on many levels. I'm not the only one who cringes as this season approaches.

My clients are worried about family members who are gravely ill, or about the arduous travel ahead this weekend, or about family dynamics, or are devastated because their romantic relationships have recently come apart, or are straining at the bit because they so long to break up the relationships they're a part of. They hate their mothers-in-law, they hate their cousins, they dread having to play a certain role with the family, having to be so careful about their behavior. They're overwhelmed already.

I hear the same stories every year.

People are so brave, heartfelt and (frankly) beautiful when they're suffering. Still, it'll be nice to be away from the treatment room for a few days. Onwards & upwards to tofu dinners and Hugh Grant movies.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Winge-ing aside, I am Very Thankful, I am!

The birds were going haywire yesterday, not only the sparrows who were flying around in big swirling clouds, but the crows who were cawing like mad - sounds like scolding to me - and the finches chirping as if there was no tomorrow.

It was cold yesterday so maybe they were just complaining. In my own vivid imagination, I decided they were speaking out in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of their bird brethren, the turkeys, who will be killed today, all at once, all over this country.

It might seem awfully hypocritical of me to worry so much about the plight of the Thanksgiving turkeys, since I am a meat eater (though I almost always eat free range meat). Maybe I am the worst kind of hypocrite.

I never loved the traditional Thanksgiving meal, so you can imagine that slinging raw turkeys in the general direction of irate customers at Whole Foods (during my tenure as caterer a few years ago), only served to magnify my original distaste to epic proportions.

It's not the idea of Thanksgiving I dislike, it's just the food. Unfortunately the food is the way we celebrate the holiday. Every part of the Thanksgiving feast is heavy and sticky. Yuck! In combination with the main event, the golden brown roasted turkey, displayed headless, footless, and belly-up at the center of the table, the traditional American harvest feast turns my stomach, it really does.

Sometimes I wish I liked Thanksgiving, because it's such a nice idea, sitting down and feasting with your nearests and dearests, giving thanks for all the wonders of this amazing existence. But ... I'm not holding my breath, waiting for something to suddenly change. Long ago I resigned myself to the reality that - for instance - I don't like Bob Dylan's voice, even though I'm supposed to, even though he's a great artist. I don't like Bob Dylan and I don't like Thanksgiving food and that's just how it is. (Sorry Ched! Sorry Mouse! And all other Dylan fans!)

I've developed a coping mechanism for the day that works quite well for me. A box of extra firm tofu is stashed in the fridge (that will be the focus of my Thanksgiving dinner), a series of Hugh Grant movies are dusted off and queued up by the DVD player. Oh yeah I am ready for the holiday the way I celebrate it. In fact I'm even looking forward to my day of movies and tofu and peace here in the house on Tennessee Avenue.

Today I will chirp out loud in solidarity with my bird brothers, small and large, and have a laugh at my own expense. You can laugh at me, too, if you like. I can be so fussy about certain things! For heaven's sake.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What Happens When the Veil Falls

Washington DC is a forest. I take for granted how many trees there are here, how much green can accumulate overhead during the course of our swampy summers in this city in which no building can be taller than the Capitol.

When autumn arrives, the leaves change color. Then they fall. And fall, and fall ... and ... fall, tracing in their own way the downward, inward flowing energy of this time of year. Streets that are cool and dark in deep shade all summer long, like 10th Street between Mass Avenue and Constitution, or 8th Street between Independence and C Street, are suddenly flooded with the pale sunlight of winter.

I love the open sky of winter, love looking once again at sights that were hidden all summer. No matter how much I might complain about the cold, about Brother Wind, the early sunsets, no matter how much I whine about the inevitable hours spent sweeping up the thick layer of fallen leaves around the house on Tennessee Avenue, I do love the quiet, open, graceful season of winter. I really do.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lincoln's Shoes

February 17, 2002 - Dream

Along with the anonymous dream people, I'm exploring a huge warehouse full of treasures. There are props from famous movies like the Wizard of Oz, but also historical objects.

I find a pair of Abraham Lincoln's shoes gathering dust on a metal shelf in the back of the warehouse. They're plain black boots, quite large. I am thrilled. Immediately I put them on. Once the boots are on my feet, they function like roller skates. I'm skating around and around the warehouse space as fast as I can go. The experience is exhilarating.

Scene changes. I am in a canoe, sitting behind Lincoln. He is facing forward but I know it's him. He's wearing a stovepipe hat and black jacket. We are rowing together. Looking at his hands and the back of his neck, I think, "I had no idea he had African-American in his heritage." Clearly he is half black, half white. I wonder why this is never taught in American schools.

Now I'm back in the warehouse, carefully placing Lincoln's shoes on the shelf. It's time for our group to leave. Alarm clock wakes me up. The dream stays with me, vivid and appealing, all day.


During my first few years in DC, I was obsessed with the Civil War. I read book after book, visited many Civil War landmarks, thought about it, dreamed about it. I've posted repeatedly about the rituals my colleagues and I enacted on the battlefields that surround Washington DC. I also made it my habit to stand in front of the Lincoln Monument while reciting the Gettysburg Address backwards. The tourists found that performance quite amusing. I believed I was unwinding something. Whatever. It was a crazy time, but I learned a lot about American history, so I guess it was all for the greater good.

It's gratifying to look back on this dream from the vantage point of this moment in history. I love the mirror effect. Our president-elect is half black and half white, a senator from Illinois coming into the presidency in the midst of one of the worst periods in American history. Obama quoted Lincoln in his acceptance speech on election night. Comparisons of the two are common in the American press.

I think it's cool. I had a "true" dream! Wow. It doesn't mean anything, not really, but it's fun to think about. Isn't it? At least it is for me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Executive Decision

By a vote of 3-0 after a discussion that lasted about twenty seconds, the residents of the house on Tennessee Avenue decided last night to rent the house over inauguration weekend to visitors from out of town.

According to Reuters as well as the Washington Post, the District will be hosting between four and six million visitors that weekend. I have to see the numbers for this reality to sink in. Between 4,000,000 and 6,000,000 people. Jesus, Mary and Joseph! And I thought the Cherry Blossom Festival was bad in terms of the vast numbers of humans involved.

All three of us will stay in my part of the house, a very large room and bathroom. We've agreed to tolerate each other for 3 or 4 nights not only so as to dance in closely-packed shamanic alignment with the zillions of people who will be here, but also - we admit it - for the money.

This is really going to be A Big Deal. Bigger than Woodstock (reference from my generation), bigger than the rise of the seventeen-year cicadas, bigger than the party that follows a Superbowl win. Big.

Will the soft, swampy ground of this landscape sink under the weight of all those people? I guess we'll see!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


It's cold today, much colder than it has been yet this season. The temperature is hovering just above freezing. To make matters more challenging, Brother Wind is flying around, shooting his airy daggers right and left. Sometimes the wind is so rude! Brrrr. The day before yesterday it was warm and balmy, which is why today is such a shock.

One of my core beliefs centers around the importance of spending time outdoors every day, even when I think it's "too cold" (or too hot, too rainy, too windy, too humid, etc.) So I got out there, briefly I'll admit, even though animal-Reya was against it. In my bones and blood, all I wanted was a day of hibernation.

I walked the dog and also trudged to and from the location of the Zipcar I drove to the supermarket. So at least I saw one little slice of this cold autumn day. I tried to enjoy it, tried to do my usual thing, looking around, taking pics, you know. Eventually I gave up. I wasn't having any fun.

Jake slept most of the day. I've been reading and doodling. In awhile I'm going to make zucchini bread, then later on a simple dinner of grilled chops, rice and vegetables. Indoor pursuits aren't the worst way to spend a day.

As soon as I adjust to the freezing air, I'll remember why I enjoy winter so much, won't I? Sure I will. OK, I admit it, I wimped out. Mea culpa!

The lime green was an unfortunate choice. Oh well.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Reluctant Psychic

Do you have a talent that makes you uncomfortable? I've always wondered if being double jointed (I'm not, thank God) is kind of creepy for the person who can, for instance, bend her hand all the way backwards to touch her arm. Or if you have a voice so piercing it can break glass. (Is that true or just a legend?) Or maybe, depending on the personality of the individual, these strange talents are something to be proud of.

Skills and powers come in all shapes and sizes. In theory I believe it's important to be grateful for all gifts that are a part of my being. In reality, being a psychic, especially here in twenty-first century Washington DC, can be problematic.

I used to think that given a choice, I'd prefer to be good at making money, or at math. I would love to have a beautifully critical mind or be handy, able to fix things when they break.

While proudly maintaining a healthy skepticism, I'm trying to pivot my thoughts about my own gifts. If I wasn't in some sense a psychic, I don't think I'd be as good a healer as I am, and I AM grateful to be a good healer. Slowly but surely I'm cultivating a sense of compassion about all of who I am. Better late than never!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's All Down Hill From Here

There's no doubt about it. Autumn in DC has passed its peak. When I have to seriously photoshop a pic like the one above to make it interesting, then I know for sure that the colors are fading, soon all the leaves will blow off the trees, and then it will be winter.

Washington is a landscape of extended springs and falls. Winter and summer are shorter, not as eventful, just the opposite of the American midwest where I grew up. There, spring and fall popped and passed as soon as possible, while summer and winter went on and on. And on. And ... on.

Here, spring and fall unfold in slow motion, so just about the time when I think spring can't get any more colorful, something else begins to bloom. In fall, some trees turn colors, then others, then I think OK it can't get better than this. But it does.

Nothing goes on forever, though. Like George Harrison said (sang), All things must pass away. Sometimes the passing away of the world is so sad. Sometimes it's a relief. C'mon winter. I'm ready.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


According to the Washington Post, a million + people are expected to come to our dull, hard-working, decidedly non-glamorous city just to see Barack Obama take the oath of office. A million plus. Wow. It will be cold, there will be no parking. Every hotel room in the District has a reservation on the books - already, not even two weeks after the election. My friends around the corner are going to turn their house into a B & B for the day. I bet they aren't the only people who will be providing shelter for folks who are coming here for the festivities.


Among all the other things Barack Obama is bringing to the federal city is glamour. Wow. Glamorous DC? Who could ever have imagined such a thing? Very cool!

Counting the days to January 20, 2009. Oh yeah.

Friday, November 14, 2008


For Val:

1. I was a blogger long before there were blogs. When I read The Artist's Way - way back in the '80's, instead of writing morning pages, I developed a practice of writing between four and eight paragraphs, accompanied by an illustration (drawing or something I'd clipped out of a magazine or a photograph). I did this practice every day for so many years. I've got closets-full of these "essayettes" as I called them. By the time blogging was born, I was all the way into the groove already.

2. I've had two blogs. The first one, The Gold Poppy, was a very personal account of my life, life history and experiences "good" and "bad." After three years I quit that blog, finally deleting the last of the posts a few months ago. It felt so cleansing when I tapped the "delete this blog" button. Ahhhhh!

3. It's really fun to meet bloggers in "real" life. When the DC blogging scene was in full gear (thanks to k.o.b. of DCBlogs, Washington Cube, and Kathryn ... can't remember her ex-blog's name) I went to a couple of happy hours and met all kinds of nice, interesting people, all of whom really detest typos. Still, on a regular basis, I meet up with various local bloggers for coffee or lunch. It's so easy to meet bloggers because the conversation is already ongoing. You don't have to go through any of the preliminaries because you already know the world through their blog eyes. Very cool! If you've never met a blogger you didn't already know, give it a try.

4. I've formed actual, full-on friendships with a handful of local blog buddies and a couple of New York bloggers. There are other bloggers, very very far flung, with whom I have a heart-connection unlike anything I've formed within other friendships. I love the network of blogging!

5. I looked at my stats just once, on the old blog. It freaked me out so much I never looked again.

6. I struggle with the idea of blog awards. Don't get me wrong - whenever someone bestows me with an award I am so surprised and deeply honored, and I'm happy whenever my blog friends receive awards. But - for me, one of the wonderful things about blogging is that it isn't always a stellar medium for expression. I love watching the contours of my blog friends' posts - sometimes great, sometimes kind of blah (just like the trajectory of this blog). Blogging is a profoundly human form of expression. It reminds me of the way people during the 19th century all played music and sang, whether they were good or not. I love that.

7. I SUCK at memes. Usually when I'm tagged (something that pleases me to no end), I think "OK - I'll do a great job with this meme." But then I fall flat with every attempt to be clever or cool. Theme blogs are very difficult for me, too. Maybe just because I am such a contrarian, who knows?

I do love reading the meme responses of other bloggers, so I gave this one my best shot. Thanks for tagging me, Val!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In Our Dreams

Antonio Damasio (the author of the book I'm reading) says that many paradoxes of human consciousness arise from a basic biological fact: on the inside, we must maintain an extremely stable environment (homeostasis) in order to survive, while on the outside, we must adapt to constantly changing conditions and environments. Trying to balance those two realities, separated only by a thin layer of skin, keeps body and mind very very busy, and gives rise to any number of emotions, feelings and storylines. Oh yeah.

One human ideal is the concept of perfection. Maybe biologically that would look like an exterior stability that was perfectly matched with interior homeostasis. But what does that look like in the human mind? For some people it's like a Hallmark Christmas card illustration in which everyone is happy, the fire is burning merrily in the fireplace, while outside the snowflakes are gently falling. To others it's an imagined scene of romantic love in which both partners are beautiful, the sex is always perfect, and there never seems to be anything to argue about. Artists throughout history have been able to imagine a perfect work of art, though no one has yet created absolute perfection. (I'm glad they keep trying, though.) Athletes visualize perfection all the time. Some of them come so close to perfection, it makes those of us watching gasp. The actual real life version of perfection is never exactly perfect, though, is it?

I believe the paradox of homeostasis/ever changing exterior world is the source of the yearning for a messiah or a messianic age when finally the lion lays down with the lamb ... yes? Or ... well, NO, because there is that unfortunate reality that is the food chain. Every living creature has its place in that chain.

Is it a bad thing to imagine perfection? I think it's OK as long as I remember that perfection is an idea, fun to pursue even though it can never be held in the hand.

It's a good thing to keep in mind going forwards towards the inauguration. Oh yeah I am going and yes I do have a ticket and no I will NOT be scalping it on ebay for $10,000. It's going to be a mob scene, far from perfect. They're predicting a million people will attend. Imagine me, the ultimate introvert, in the middle of that sea of humanity. It's daunting thinking about how hard my biological regulatory apparatus will have to work in order to maintain physiological stability.

Daunting? Yes. But I wouldn't miss it for the world!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Yin and Yang of it all

Do things have to get really bad sometimes before people wake up? Did we "need" eight years of Bush in order to get riled up enough to go vote for someone like Barack Obama? If we were comfortable and happy, and the rest of the world felt OK about our country, would we be so willing (as we are all of a sudden) to try our hardest to stop being wasteful, greedy and stupid? I keep thinking about a simple relaxation exercise in which first you tense a muscle as tight as it will go, then completely let go. It makes me wonder about human nature, you know?

Eloquence is so often born from chaos, tragedy, oppression. I could name many examples. Here's just one: During the bleakest years of the U.S.S.R., Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote about the Gulag in such a profound and beautiful way that his book opened minds and hearts everywhere. Since the fall of communism, Moscow has become a rich casino city, kind of like a Russian Vegas. Are there Russians writing incredible books these days? I hope so.

It's true that lotus blooms rise up from the muck, but does this world really need muck, i.e. suffering, oppression, bigotry? Well?

Maybe I'm looking at it all wrong. Maybe I should try to conceptualize this huge, beautiful upheaval in America more in terms of yin/yang, the pendulum swinging first this way, then that way. Maybe. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Feeling so grateful this morning for the awesome and pervasive power of love. Thanks Keith Olbermann for your special comment about Prop 8 last night. Thanks for your rational mind and good heart, and thanks for this quote, used by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial (of all things!) Thank you!!

So I be written in the Book of Love;
I do not care about that Book above.
Erase my name, or write it as you will,
So I be written in the Book of Love.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Very Cool

Did you know that the world of science is now (finally) interested in studying the biological function of emotion? Imagine me cheering. Historically scientists believed emotion was an inferior aspect of our humanity. Now it turns out that without emotion, it's not possible to make rational decisions. They know because people who suffer brain damage that stunts emotional capacity also suffer a reduction in their ability to make good personal decisions. These people can solve logic problems but can't translate that to "real" life decisions. Naturally science is now fixated on emotion.

As a woman of passionate emotions, I feel vindicated. Of course emotions do not guarantee the ability to make rational decisions - my life story is evidence of that!

It's now possible to track emotions, as they arise, in the brain. (Though it's believed that emotion exists throughout the body, they don't know how to measure that just yet).

They've watched what happens in the brain when a person meditates, very interesting. They also know the sequence of brain activity at death. Really cool!!

But ... what does the brain look like during prayer? How about when a person is channeling the ancestors or doing a psychic reading or soul retrieval? Or during a Reiki session? What does possession look like? Does the brain map a core self and a second self? What happens during exorcisms? What did the brains of the ancient prophets and oracles look like? I wonder what parts of my brain were flashing when I was sobbing with happiness last Tuesday night after the election was called?

The questions go on and on. I'll stop now.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


I'm a curious person, always have been. Even now, first thing on a Sunday morning, I have a couple of burning questions. Not looking for answers, necessarily, though if you know, will you tell me?

Who was Walter Houp? I'm not a very good googler because I was only able to find references to agencies located on Walter Houp Court, a cool little square between blocks on Capitol Hill. They named a court after him, but he's not in wikipedia? What's up with that??

What is the neurological impact of gazing at so much gold and orange (and bright blue sky)? Color is a vibration; it must do something to the brain. Maybe Oliver Sacks knows. I have theories, or maybe I should say, I could guess about it in metaphysical terms, but neurologically? I don't have a clue.

Of course I have other questions brewing in my mind and heart, but it is early, and it is Sunday. This is enough for now.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


President-elect Obama had to remind members of the American press yesterday that there can only be one president at a time. The impatience to get him squared away in the White House is palpable. Mr. Bush has become the lamest of lame ducks.

I, too, am feeling impatient, just like everyone else. Wondering how and what I can do to help implement the changes so fiercely needed. How will things work in the new administration? What will this city feel like after January 20th? How will I know what to do?

When I get especially antsy, I like to just stop, sit down and read poetry. Poetry almost always slows me down and allows my nervous system to understand that getting all worked up won't help anything.

The following describes my state of mind perfectly. Thanks Robert, for your dreams and powers of articulation!


In a field full of swarming
though not stinging
I am playing croquet

I do not know the rules
and have never played before
not really
save a game on someone's lawn
as a child

The person in front of me scores
three points somehow

Soon it will be my turn.

--Robert Walton, photographer, artist, writer and ex-DC blogger extraordinaire from his book entitled "Twelve Dreams, a Transcription"

Ducks and their watery reflections in the fountain at Lafayette Park, just north of the White House.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Get Back to Work, You

For about 48 hours, including election day (before any of us knew what would actually happen) people in DC were relational. I'm talking about eye contact between strangers, happy smiles, interactions that you wouldn't ordinarily see on the streets of this tightly wound city.

It reminded me of the days following the Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco. Even though San Franciscans tend to be extremely relational anyway, there was so much more of it following that big earthshake.

Here in DC, we tend to put our noses to the grindstone sooner rather than later. Except here on Capitol Hill where we live in a culture of friendliness, the city has returned to its hard-working, keep your business to yourself mode. In fact I overheard quite a bit of grumbling Wednesday when I was walking around the White House - for good reason. A whole bunch of people are about to lose their jobs. For those who have been out of work for eight years, the feeding frenzy for the jobs opening up will be fierce.

In the midst of all this, I heard someone on TV say that instead of thinking about bi-partisanship, diversity or a balanced ratio of conservatives to liberals as selection criteria for members of his staff, advisors and cabinet, what Obama is looking for is excellence. Excellence. Oh yeah! I'm still smiling.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Misadventures at the White House

Seriously photoshopped. I had to because the light was far from perfect yesterday.

A few years ago, along with some of my Powerful Wiccan Practitioner Friends, I launched into a bout of magic with the White House. Why? Can't speak for the motivations of my friends, but for me at least it was because the White House really bugged me.

There was a long period of time when I avoided that area of town like the plague, even though the Corcoran and the Renfrew - great art museums - are right around the corner. During that time, finding myself anywhere near the WH always put me in a foul mood. If I was driving, every street seemed to lead away from where I wanted to go. Of course there was never a place to park. On foot, it was hardly better because the WH was (and is) so barricaded, so blocked off from the public, so tucked away, it makes all navigation around it overly complicated. Trying to get from point A to point B in that neighborhood always meant a lengthy detour that involved plowing through mobs of tourists. Oh. I hated that place.

So, the same blind hubris that convinced me to take on Civil War battlefields lead me to believe the White House "needed" me to interfere with my magic. For heaven's sake, what was I thinking?

I remember the day when my great teacher, colleague and friend Kila held her cell phone up to the fence in front of the WH while her husband (who was at the FDR memorial) read aloud some of the powerful quotes engraved in the pink granite of the FDR. Broadcasting FDR's words at the White House was a wonderful ritual.

Not as pleasant is the memory of walking all the way around the periphery in a serious downpour, counting the steps as I went. Now I can't even remember the point of that exercise. Oh well. At the time it seemed Very Important.

During that era, I was coincidentally invited to take a small, private evening tour of the WH. All I could think, after that experience, was that I've never set foot in an uglier or more haunted place. I was struck by how small it is - seems like it should be gigantic, but it's not. The other interesting thing about that tour was that, afterwards, my loathing for the place dissolved completely. In fact, I subsequently developed an affection for the house that remains to this day. Go figure.

The pic above is the view of the front of our first national residence, which is obviously a southern plantation house. Unfortunate design idea, wasn't it? I think so. The north side used to be the back door until FDR was president. They switched it around to accommodate his disability, a good idea, though it really messed with the feng shui of the place. Now the front door faces Lafayette Park, once the largest slave market in the city.

I wonder how the energy of this strange place will change when the Obamas move in? A black family in the White House? Wow. I can't wait!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

God Bless America

My parents didn't teach me to believe that America was a great country. My siblings might tell you a different story, but what I learned from my very political parents was about the paradox, the hypocrisy, of a country created by men with such high minded ideals who exterminated native Americans, owned slaves and saw women as second class human beings. I remember being shown diagrams of the slave ships, the people stacked inside like so much cargo.

I remember hearing a lot about the greed of the carpetbaggers and about how capitalism brought out the worst in people. McCarthyism was a frequent topic of conversation because my parents were blacklisted in the 1950's - probably because they were "card carrying" members of the Communist party, at least for a little while after World War II. I came of age in the late 60's when my parents were involved in the Civil Rights Movement and my mother with the Women's Movement. The focus was always on inequality and injustice. At least that's what I remember.

But the fact that this country could re-invent itself as it did yesterday, shift gears so dramatically as to elect Barack Obama, that Americans stood in line all day - cheerfully - because they wanted to vote, well gosh. Maybe this IS a country of great opportunity where anything really can happen. Maybe the ideals of the founding fathers were more than pretty words. Maybe we can be a great nation. Yes we can? Maybe it's true.

I am proud of my country this morning. Wow. What a relief!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


If you have trouble voting, or see someone else having trouble, call the CNN Voter Hotline, 877-GOCNN-08.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Obama holds his final rally tonight in Manassas, Virginia, which just so happens to be the location where the first battle of the American Civil War took place, the Battle of Bull Run. Do you think Obama's campaign thought about this when they scheduled the last rally of his two year campaign? I know for certain no one could have synchronized Obama's acceptance of the nomination for president with the anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, though as it turned out, that's exactly what happened. You can't plan for something like that, but tonight? Maybe somebody connected the dots. Or not ... maybe it just happened that way.

The first Civil War battle was not seen as something to be taken seriously, at least not around here. In fact folks came out to the battlefield with blankets and picnic baskets. I guess they thought it would be entertaining to watch the Union army squash the rebels. But it didn't turn out the way the picnic people expected, oh no. The moral of the story? Don't take anything for granted!

I remember the day when several of us Very Powerful Wiccan Practitioners went to the battlefield at Manassas. We were trancing out all afternoon, watching for portents, creating a dance we believed imprinted the battlefield with an energetic signature that looked like six-pointed stars of peace, or so we thought. On the ride back to the city we heard on the radio that the U.S. had just invaded Afghanistan. So much for that kind of magic!

Tomorrow is not about magic, it's about mundane real world everyday people, getting to the polls and exercising their right to vote. I have hope, a lot of hope, but no expectations. Anything could happen. We shall see.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Merrily I Hold My Breath, Waiting for Tuesday

I'm reading another great book about the brain, The Feeling of What Happens; Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness by Antonio Damasio. Neurologists see our humanity so very differently than, say, philosophers or poets, though in truth, there is poetry in their point of view. At least I see poetry.

The book is reminding me that the Buddhists who believe life is but a dream are, in fact, in perfect alignment with the neurology of consciousness. It's so interesting and a little unnerving, (pardon the unintentional pun.) I mean, I KNOW life is but a dream, but usually that truth comes across in subtle ways. This week, here in the U.S., the dream factor is turned up to eleven.

When I saw a TV ad by Hillary Clinton for Al Franken yesterday (on the non-stop election coverage on MSNBC) my eyes opened wide and I literally laughed out loud. Should say: I'm not against Al Franken. He's a smart guy and very funny, too, but the combination of Hillary speaking for Al was just ... bizarre. The fact that Saturday Night Live seems to have played such a huge role in this election is another blatant sign that life is but a dream. Might as well go row row row my boat, eh?

Thank God for cyber Prozac, beautiful autumn colors and other soothing remedies like the chicken noodle soup I made last night. I'm used to believing (in spite of all my mysticism) that "reality" can be in some way counted upon. But the truth is, anything can happen.

For instance, today the clocks say it's an hour earlier than yesterday, but has time really changed? Just because we say so, yes? Might as well get a grip on the oars, people, and head gently down the stream! Yes? Yes.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Unlike some years when we really get into the spirit of Halloween, no one here in the house on Tennessee Avenue felt like passing candy last night. We switched off the lights in the front of the house, gathered the dogs in the kitchen, drank wine, ate pasta, and watched TV.

It was so nice! Peaceful and pleasant, just the ticket.

Happy All Souls Day!