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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Winter Poem




Half the Truth

The birds do not sing in these mornings. The skies
are white all day. The Canadian geese fly over
high up in the moonlight with the lonely sound
of their discontent. Going south. Now the rains
and soon the snow. The black trees are leafless,
the flowers gone. Only cabbages are left
in the bedraggled garden. Truth becomes visible,
the architecture of the soul begins to show through.
God has put off his panoply and is at home with us.
We are returned to what lay beneath the beauty.
We have resumed our lives. There is no hurry now.
We make love without rushing and find ourselves
afterward with someone we know well. Time to be
what we are getting ready to be next. This loving,
this relishing, our gladness, this being puts down
roots and comes back again year after year.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Observing Sweden - Snowfall


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I love to watch the falling snow
The laden tree limbs sag.
One thing I’ve learned for sure today is
Shoveling’s not my bag!

 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Introverts - Part 5


There are more of us than you imagine
Like a rare old vintage wine
We’re hiding in the basement
But delightful when you find
.
I found these last night:

From: “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”
I’m the kind of person who likes to be by himself. To put a finer point on it, I’m the type of person who doesn’t find it painful to be alone. I find spending an hour or two every day running alone, not speaking to anyone, as well as four or five hours alone at my desk, to be neither difficult or boring. I’ve always had this tendency ever since I was young, when, given a choice, I much preferred reading books on my own or concentrating on listening to music over being with someone else. I could always think of things to do by myself.
          Haruki Maurakami

 “I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.”
          Audrey Hepburn

“Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.”
          John Green

“There is no doubt that solitude is a challenge and to maintain balance within it a precarious business. But I must not forget that, for me, being with people or even with one beloved person for any length of time without solitude is even worse. I lose my center. I feel dispersed, scattered, in pieces. I must have time alone in which to mull over my encounter, and to extract its juice, its essence, to understand what has really happened to me as a consequence of it.”


        May Sarton

 “We need solitude, because when we’re alone, we’re free from obligations, we don’t need to put on a show, and we can hear our own thoughts.”


          Tamin Ansary 


As regards intellectual work it remains a fact, indeed, that great decisions in the realm of thought and momentous discoveries and solutions of problems are only possible to an individual, working in solitude.” 


          Sigmund Freud 

 “A season of loneliness and isolation is when the caterpillar gets its wings. Remember that next time you feel alone.”
          Mandy Hale 

 “As a child I suppose I was not quite normal. My happiest times were when I was left alone in the house on a Saturday.”
          Charles Bukowski 


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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Wisdom - 2


Twelve Things To Forget

1.  The things you have lost. 

2.  The revenge you have planned.

3.  The fear of defeat.

4.  The illusion of security.

5.  The sins and failures of others.

6.  The desire to win approval.

7.  The belief that you are flawed.

8.  The stupid thing you said.

9.  The job you didn't take.

10. The vocation you decided against

11. The things you can't afford.

12. The petty thing someone said about you.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wisdom - 1




Twelve Things To Remember:

1.  The value of time.

2.  The success of perseverance

3.  The Pleasure of working.

4.  The dignity of simplicity

5.  The worth of character.

6.  The power of kindness.

7.  The influence of example.

8.  The obligation of duty.

9.  The wisdom of economy.

10. The virtue of patience.

11. The improvement of talent.

12. The joy or originating.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Buckminster & Amber - Bored in Borlänge



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Some followers have asked what we’ve been up to lately. Well, the truth is, not too much. We’ve been concentrating on Doing Nothing, a meditation humans find difficult. They try, but usually end up feeling guilty about it. Bucks is a master of the art can do nothing  85% of the time without much effort. Elimination of effort is the Rosetta Stone of Doing Nothing. Writing, of course, is doing something, so I’ve been avoiding it. I’ve just woken up from a nice nap so pardon me while I have a wake-up stretch.

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Ah, that’s better. Now, where was I? Oh yes, doing nothing. There has not been not much to do of late, I mean if we were into doing something, which we’re not. Outside is covered with this Swedish white stuff. I have no idea why they do that. It’s not fun to walk on, cold and wet. 


I can remember the long days of summer and green grass, our afternoons outside in the tent, and hunting the wild moose. [Buckminster & Amber - 50  June 8, 2013] Mooses are weird. One committed suicide at the shopping mall last week. It jumped off a high retaining wall and broke its neck. We felt sorry for it.

I can’t think of any more interesting news. Bucks has been reading Swedish poetry and posing as an intellect. I suppose I could post another of my thoughts on Swedish painters, but I’ve had enough of doing something for the moment. I’m going to wake up Bucks. Maybe he can think of something while I take another nap.

Buckminster & Amber - Bucks reads Transtomer



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I can’t believe she woke me up!

I was in the middle of a very cool dream, but whatever. I’ve been reading Tomas Transformer, the Swedish Robert Frost. Another Scandinavian poet with an interest in death.
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After a Death
Once there was a shock
that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.
It keeps us inside. It makes the TV pictures snowy.
It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires.
One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun
through brush where a few leaves hang on.
They resemble pages torn from old telephone directories.
Names swallowed by the cold.
It is still beautiful to hear the heart beat
but often the shadow seems more real than the body.
The samurai looks insignificant
beside his armor of black dragon scales.
………………………………………………..
He’s so good they named a beetle after him.
Beetle
Humans are very difficult to understand.
I’m going back to my nap now.
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Monday, February 10, 2014

Observing Sweden - Culture Shock 3


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An Anniversary – First Year

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Next month will mark my first year here in Sweden. The transition has been neither hard, or easy- somewhere in between. Having a Swedish wife has been a huge advantage, at the same time my dependence on her to negotiate has been uncomfortable . . . the loss of independence.

Most definitions of culture shock list four stages taking from six months to a year. I suspect I’m a little slower than normal. I also suspect changing countries at seventy-five is not so normal. I see myself as being midway in the adjustment phase as defined below.

Stage Three – Adjustment Phase:

After some time (usually 6 to 12 months), one grows accustomed to the new culture and develops routines. One knows what to expect in most situations and the host country no longer feels all that new. One becomes concerned with basic living again, and things become more “normal”. One starts to develop problem-solving skills for dealing with the culture and begins to accept the culture’s ways with a positive attitude. The culture begins to make sense, and negative reactions and responses to the culture are reduced. 

My biggest problem has been language. Most Swedes speak English, so routine activity is possible, but loss of tongue has been significant, to say the least. The inability to read a newspaper, or magazines . . . to use the library. To know the context of overheard conversations. I’m still driving illegally on my U.S, license, and despair of ever passing the Swedish written test required.

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But things are looking up. Last week I attended my first language class. There are only four students so far. The teacher is from Finland. Other students are from Greece and Italy. Class is described as Swedish for people who speak English, but I’m the only one, so far, with English as first language. It’s felt good to begin this class, although I don’t expect it to be easy. My short term memory is something long forgotten, if it ever existed. I’ve taken classes (more than one) in Italian, Spanish, German, and Japanese with very limited results. I can order sushi, and ask for the check in Japanese, order a beer and ask what time it is in Spanish. I know a few swearwords in each of the above, and all the basic Swedish curses. Odd how those stick with me without effort.

The final stage of culture shock is listed as, “Feeling At Home.” I am not there yet . . . hard to imagine feeling that. I would describe my feeling now as one of being homeless, a sort of mental no man’s land, but not in a bad way, not depressing. Simply a feeling of not really belonging, or having connection . . . anywhere. Hard to describe. Stage Four is described as functioning well in the culture. Preferring certain cultural traits of the new culture over one’s own. Adapting cultural behaviors from the new cultures. I can’t think of any of theses I have achieved . . . well, maybe not complaining so much. Swedes tend not to complain. Bitching as has always been second nature to me, but I notice I am holding my tongue more often. 

Things are becoming more familiar, small things that used to drive me crazy are less frequent now. Light switches were frustrating. The location of switches in relation to where the lights are located in the room seemed illogical. Lamp switches are on the cord, rather than on the lamp. I was just reading some problems described by immigrants coming to America. One was the way light switches worked. We flip up to turn the lights on in the States. In this person’s country switches were flipped down to turn them on. I understand this man’s frustration. It’s the little things that drive you nuts.

I think I’m still about as sane as ever, here in Sweden. And this winter has been good. I think perhaps another year, I might be feeling I’m at home.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Becalmed


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BECALMED

He never feared the storm
Or loss of life at sea
But oh, those boredom hours abiding
Blank horizon                     
Waiting for a breeze
Enduring
Days spent polishing the brass.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bucks Reads Swede



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I’ve been reading Swedish poets since we’ve been snowed in. They’re sort of interesting, as humans go I suppose. They often seem so concerned with death. I guess that happens when you have less than nine lives. This Bellman fellow is a good example, even though he’s dead already. 
   
Carl Michael Bellman 1740 – 1795                             
Drink Out Thy Glass  

Drink out thy glass! See, on thy threshold, nightly,
Staying his sword, stands Death, awaiting thee.
Be not alarmed; the grave-door, opened slightly,
Closes again; a full year it may be
Ere thou art dragged, poor sufferer, to the grave.
Pick the octave!


Tune up the strings! Sing of life with glee!
Golden’s the hue thy dull, wan cheeks are showing;
Shrunken’s thy chest, and flat each shoulder-blade.
Give me thy hand! Each dark vein, larger growing,
Is, to my touch, as if in water laid.
Damp are these hands; stiff are these veins becoming.
Pick now, and strumming,
Empty thy bottle! Sing! drink unafraid.

Skal, then, my boy! Old Bacchus sends last greeting;
Freya’s farewell receive thou, o’er thy bowl.
Fast in her praise thy thin blood flows, repeating
Its old-time force, as it was wont to roll.
Sing, read, forget; nay, think and weep while thinking.
Art thou for drinking
Another bottle? Thou art dead? No Skal!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Observing Sweden - Snow Curtains


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Snow Curtains

On this somewhat warmer day
Snow slides from Swedish rooftops
Slow precarious descent
Look out below!


Monday, February 3, 2014

February



Postcard From India


Sinking Temple - Color
Oarsman

Creaking oarlocks take us out
Into the pale fog mist
This holy river
Ganges
Ancient oarsman rowing
Slowly . . . without effort
Drifting with the current
Muddy vein of life
Unending
Mother of the world.

Great cities come and go along her shore
He tells me
Mighty temples rise up over centuries
Adoring God
Then fall to earth
Forsaken by him
As this timeless current flows
As this water
Passes by
Forever.