The Swan from Orcas Island


The Swan … By Mary Oliver

Did you too see it , drifting ,

all night , on the black river ?

Did you see it in the

morning , rising into the

silvery air ?

An armful of white blossoms ,


Bill Ecklund photography

A perfect commotion of silk

and linen as it leaned into

the bondage of its wings ; a

snowbank , a bank of lilies ,

Biting the air with its black beak ?


Did you hear it , fluting and

whistling – a shrill dark

music – like the rain pelting

the trees – like a waterfall

Knifing down the black ledges ?


And did you see it , finally ,

just under the clouds – A

white cross streaming across

the sky , its feet – like black

leaves , it’s wings – like the

stretching light of the river ?


Photos of Florence Welch from her Facebook Timeline photos

And did you feel it , in your

heart , how it pertained to

everything ? And have you

too finally figured out what

beauty is for ?

And have you changed your

life ?


Lara Zankoul photography

In honor of two spiritual teachers … for their inspirations when I lived in Eastsound …their examples of divine love like the soaring wings of the swan singing to me even now in the “stretching light” crossing the Black Sea of Bulgaria . I am grateful .

Dick Staub : founder and director at The Kindlings ( C.S.Lewis ) , pastor at the community church and author .

Aaravindha Himadra : teacher of spiritual awakening and truth-knowledge ( Sambodha ) and author of “Immortal Self ”


Katerina Plotnikova Photography

” The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands , but in seeing with new eyes “.    Marcel Proust

One Thousand First Chapters … continuing



She is shy , the first thing you would notice about her . What you wouldn’t know was the nightmare she has of going to school in a glass dress revealing her naked body . He , on the other hand , is confident and owns the hallway , this everyone sees . The school , a private school of Christianity where once Native Americans danced like thunder to the Sun God of their tribal traditions on the banks of the mighty Grand River . My sister finds feathers , feathers from the fields surrounding our home on the far west side of town , and decorates them into her braided hair . He has a Beatle haircut and lives in the crowded city neighborhood of older brick houses . He collects sports statistics while she collects old dolls .




With his blue eyes , bell bottom pattern pants and a wide white belt holding them up on the hips of his tall yet slightly stocky body , she notices him . They pass each other going opposite ways as if his belt is the clear white line on a busy city street . She hears from our brothers friends how he made the final list for the freshman basketball team before the start of school and then was cut before the first game because of his swaggering attitude towards the coach . You would know that this was Sams nightmare !  Our dad was like that too, I mean the overly self-assured attitude , and so she was intrigued , like watching an Alfred Hitchcock Hour on the television wondering what the mystery was all about .  She didn’t even know his full name yet , only that he was loud , had a handsome smile and was popular at school . Finding out that the girl in her English class , the one that looked like a modern-day Alice with bright green velvet shoes bouncing like soft moss along the shiny waxed hallways  and with hair long and naturally wavy floating with a ribbon like a breeze from wonderland , is his  sister . His smart sister whose friends were older and wrote for the school newspaper , organized liberal political forums and made up the attendance of almost the entire drama club . Tavisha watches for Sam and he begins looking at her . They sit together in morning chapel and Friday night basketball games and skip Latin class to go riding thru the city on his motorcycle . My sister only being use to long hours pedaling that old red bike of hers !  … which he laughs about .



Lara Zankoul photography


His mother has no garden unless you consider the vast amount of home canned jars of vegetables stocked on the shelves of her basement pantry, one . A mother who is comfortingly plain in appearance and dress with flat leather shoes like a decent set of snow tires prepared for the approaching winter . She is the opposite of our petite and glamorous mom . A large woman with no care for made-up looks unless having to attend a function at the University with her husband who spends much of his time when at home in the private study on the third floor preparing for his history lectures . Her daily decoration only being her wedding ring and an out of the ordinary and beautiful large golden pendent hanging from an intricate long chain that rests heavy on her bosom like an exotic fur coat in the window of Bloomingdales . Her oldest son giving it to her after returning from years living in the warmth of Africa . My sister admired this gift and it’s origin  and later would understand about the cold feelings of a mother because of her future daughter-in-laws sinsImage


Sam and Tavisha fall in love at sixteen , graduate high school together , break apart for a year and marry the following when I am only five years old . Five babies are born within seven years and she is filled with an Almighty joy , a joy even greater than a first sight of a never before seen ocean or the sweet tenderness of seeing a colt being born in the soft hay of our grandfathers barn . Sam works at a job long hours . A job he too finds his purpose in . And together they are happy for awhile until my sister falls . Falls from the fragile torture of keeping things hidden , even from herself for awhile , a long while , a while almost fifteen years long … and when she falls , shards of sharp glass hurt the trusting bare feet of those that love her . She tries hard to glue the scattered pieces of her glass dress together but only sees , like a dropped mirror , a sadly broken and frightened reflection ….. to be continued…




To my enduring friend and father of our children with gratitude



Lara Zankoul photography

Letters Home and Peter Gabriel


Alone , with a sack lunch , the gate was left open as I went walking out of the village with no plan , just wanting to feel the hazy spring morning air after having spent so much time indoors constantly feeding fire into the old Turkish wood stove . The scent of coals and smoke seeping into my skin that once ( long ago it seems ) smelled of vanilla . On this narrow road I now follow are no drive thrus , no strip malls , no billboards and no Oriental restaurants … they are only modern world memories lost now in a cage wishing to remain locked . It’s quiet now walking , a pulse of Yogic calm . The worlds quiet voice is spellbinding like a grand slow song . The birds flying overhead sound like symphonies string orchestrations as they drop closer onto new budding branches . The cows are grazing and the women hanging their clothes out to dry are left behind . It takes time to be poor … not to become poor …to be poor . I admire these villagers I live with , depending faithfully on their connection with the land and animals . The sheep herder standing in the fields all day , every day … what is he thinking about … is there a revelation for him too in the light of this day ?


Up ahead is a large mound that is just visible on a clear day from the outskirts of Gita . It is a wonder to me and I decide to hike to the top . It reminds me of a burial mound I’ve only seen in books . It’s standing far into the middle of plowed fields like a great voice speaking loudly from a balcony . Reaching the top , after discovering animal bones , deep dug out holes and some sort of stone with strange letters engraved , I sit upon it as the earth is covered with dew and taking off my duct tapped together boots , I am amazed by the view that opens a gateway to contemplation , to mystery , to an almighty sound … louder and louder . History is breaking over me .


In Your Eyes

song lyrics by Peter Gabriel

….. all my instincts , they return

and the grand facade , so soon will burn

without a noise , without my pride

i reach out from inside .


in your eyes

the light the heat

in your eyes

I am complete

in your eyes

I see the doorway to a thousand churches

in your eyes

the resolution to all the fruitless searches

in your eyes

I see the light and the heat

in your eyes

Oh , I want to be that complete

I want to touch the light

the heat I see in your eyes .


From my art series “souls appear ” … oil on paper

This country was once , and not so long ago , a satellite state of the Soviet Union . (1946-1990)  And so memories for many of the villagers are like a book chapter read only last week with a growing nostalgia of the older ones towards the Communist regime and the security they felt back then . Danka told me that they didn’t have to work so hard or worry about not having a job and that life seemed simpler with not a lot of choices . And even though now there are so many things in the shops and lots of opportunities so many people just don’t have the money to take advantage of them … and some feel worse than before . There was no liter and no stray dogs (I am perplexed by this) and every Saturday everyone voluntarily cleaned up the streets and tended flower gardens . Booze and cigarettes were cheap so they had lots of parties . But along side this lived terror too when many were tortured and killed and put in camps and sent to Siberia where they died with every mornings hope haunted by yesterday’s nightmare .


Does the land itself have its memory of all its history ? Its ancient history of battles fought over these valleys I now sit above , where thrashers gather the wheat . And thru these mountains I see in the distance where Ghingas Kahn and his armies of horsemen rode , are their arrows deep in the dirt below ? Did they stand where I now sit on top of a mound with my heart beating like a drum keeping time with everything ? Is the village horse I love a descendent of the mare Alexander the Great rode across this Thracian Empire ?


How long is 7000 years ago ? Is it part of this moment , 3:02 pm on February 16 , 2014 ? Is it … Now?  And what is that look on little Katias face … an old woman’s face on a five year old girl. What have her eyes seen that her soul expresses that makes me cry and want to hold her in my arms when this innocent child looks like this and I see her fingernails caked with dirt and history is facing me .


Stopping , I turn and look back on this road going forward . The romance of this land , this land of souls , touches me like Delacroixs “Annunciation”. I try to write it , I try to paint it , everyday I try and many days I cry . I don’t know this feeling that my own finger is inside my body actually touching my heart and blocking my throat with a breath so warm that the blood running thru stops and feels cold , literally ice cold … a sensation that frightens me a bit as I’ve never heard of this before . I miss my family and the arms of Lake Michigan .


Letters Home continued … excerpts from Bulgaria … February 2014



I haven’t been out of the village for over a month until once again going to Plovdiv for the third time the other day . I had run out of drawing paper and all of my pens were dry . But once I had arrived the shops didn’t interest me this time and I didn’t desire anything the way I did before , not even the beautiful European clothes in the windows . So I sat in the park and watched the people of this foreign land . Is it true that no two humans look exactly alike ? Does that mean thru out all of history too ?



Photograph by Ellen Rogers


An old man gazed at me and I thought he was Ulysses . And some young girls looked like Trojan women . I was sitting near an olive tree wondering if I might decide to travel to Istanbul before leaving here the first of April . It’s a bit risky as my visa has expired now and yet it’s so close with buses leaving and returning three times a day and I could stay over nite in a hostel since my responsibilities with the home owner in Gita end a week before my flight home . The cultural crossroad between Eastern Europe and Asia and the market stalls of Turkey are a huge lure .




I had an hour before the bus left so up the hill I wandered into the old part of the city to the church I had been in before . From my travel book I remembered that it was St. Haralambos Day . I was not prepared ( I never seem to be here in Bulgaria ) for the inner beauty I found on this rather melancholy day . Hundreds of jars of honey in the form of a cross appeared looking like fire from all the candles lit and the glowing chandeliers  . I learned that when consecrated , honey is believed to possess curitive and magical power . All the faces were illuminated and the high priest chanted .




This morning when I went to let the dogs out from the back studio room , I found Polly dead … not in her bed but laying in a cardboard box she had never laid in before . I started to cry a lot . I will have to bury her now . I’ve never done this before . I carried her out and laid her in the grass where I washed her stiff body with warm water and some dried lavender … then watched the sun dry her and made her paw nails as white as I could … wrapped her then like a baby in her favorite blanket … she was curled up on her side … and I placed her in a two foot hole I had dug … she liked to eat the fallen walnuts so I put some in the grave next to her for her departure back into the earth … and on top of the black soil I placed three large stones … she is in the apple orchard now .  I wish I could have embalmed her little animal body with oils and salts and spices and wrapped her instead in linen bandages preserving her for a passage to immortality in paradise . I would have decorated a wooden casing for her to lie in with gold leaf and written , ” Farewell Polly “.




The moon finally receded after a nite of sleepless loneliness . How is it that a new day can appear so unlike the previous one and so suddenly like running deer on the road ahead the way they do back home in Michigan . In the last week the temperature has gone from close to zero to now 55 degrees and my hands are finally warm . I walked alone without my little pal today far out to the fields following the cows . There is an old cement bridge I like to sit on and today I stayed here ( photo below ) most of the day .




I love watching the sparrows and falcons and saw an eagle too , a bird of prey like Peter the Great , with its wide wing span floating over the valley gently like Ghandi . I’m sitting here with my notebook thinking of how I want to live my life when I return home and hoping I take Bulgaria and it’s creative and spiritual realm with me . I feel the eyes of God . Will the vibration follow me … the music …the harmonies … the memories of these days ?  Will you notice that I’ve changed , changed so much and that I am old now … the haunting of Bulgaria embedded on my face …



Janet and Temple Food … Artist , writer and poet




” My life is my message “.    Ghandi

Janet Doane is Seattle born , a lover of nature , family  and friends , raw food and living from the heart in ways that can help the planet . She studied at Lyme Academy College of Fine Art and in Italy . She generously shares a love for art , photography , poetry , spirituality , animals , the earth and all things beautiful . I am honored to share her poetry this month as my “guest blogger “.



Portrait of a Heart …. painting by Christian Schloe


excerpt from poem by Janet Doane from , My Father Passes


Golden Thy love .

Golden Thy light .

Golden is the heart that breathes

with the fire of Gods love.


Golden be pure .

Golden be touched .

Golden be the soul that shines

throughout the worlds of creation .




Sea Circle


Voices break

like waves that arrive unexpectedly

upon some distant shore

forming a multitude of sounds

telling of the stories

of a hundred thousand lifetimes


While the greater ocean heaves a spiral sigh

and continues on

into an infinite blue

reflecting a magnitude of ever-reaching seasons

with rhythms of change

that pass across its surface

like expressions or shadows

rippling across the faces of the soulful .


And the clear colors of the stars that the eye cannot see

shine upon the creatures that glide in the fathomless deep .




Symbols and meanings :

Blue – The color of the sky , ocean , sleep and twilight . The ancient Egyptians used lapis blue to represent heaven . It is the color of inspiration , sincerity and spirituality and represents the collective conscious of our subconscious .


Gold – It is associated with abundance , richness and enlightenment of the soul illuminating and enhancing other things around it .




The Sea – Denotes a collection of memory knowledges and is a universal dream symbol that carries the meaning of mother . The sea reminds us that all things are connected through the universal flow of energy . The ocean is where life begins and it represents our inner most desire to connect with our source and our own creative power .




Circles and Spirals – the oldest geometric shapes in ancient art work . Circles are often used as a symbol for Spirit and spirals are primal , raw and represent intuition .




Janets’ newest book , Temple Food … nourishing the Body as a Sanctuary for Spirit , is about the art of intuitive eating and living a love – based life . It is a beautiful story about food and love with painted poems to touch your heart and nourish the inner you along with 121 raw food recipes for everyday . Please see her website for more information at .



Crown of Eternal Friendship

personal note :

Denise and I walked off the ferry from Orcas Island to Friday Harbor . She had been telling me of the special kindness of her friends , Janet and Rex , who had invited us for dinner that night . When Janet answered our knock on the door , a pilgrimage began . I was seriously struck by the physical and ethereal beauty of her youthful looking face ( she was in her 50’s ) which had dewdrops of light spiraling from her whole presence and her long hair with streaks of blond like summer wheat that grows in Michigan near the sand dunes when the sun is shining . And even her light colored eyes shown with this pulsating wave of love that included us in their intensity . If you know Janet you understand  and it is divinely human and touches people to their core .

It was the first time I had eaten a raw food dinner of which she and Rex were preparing in their kitchen as another interesting guest arrived who worked on the islands’ large lavender farm . Every dish had been lovingly created . It was a table of exquisite grace . After dinner we relaxed in front of a fire and Rex put on a CD that was very rare of the Dali Llama singing with a most deep and breathtaking voice to his cherished friend who was soon to die . Quietly , everyone sat on cushions on the floor in meditation as I remained on the sofa knitting a sweater . Janet had looked at me before closing her eyes as the deep melodic strange voice got louder . Suddenly I felt the ball of yarn fall helplessly from my hands …..

I came to the awareness later that evening that there is a point where you connect to the global knowledge stream of the universe , to the world soul , where you see and hear everything and are everywhere at once . I know because I found that point in the eyes of Janet . Rex and Janet are mystical and Rex told me after covering my cold body with blankets that I would never be the same again …he spoke the truth.

I am sad that I have only been with them on two occasions , once overnight when life was filled with despair . Yet so much more than sadness , I feel a golden blessing from the connection that flows between us with love …. and even in differing countries now across the big sea , her eyes inspire me .



Sculptures are by Christina Bothswell …. A favorite of Janet’s and mine

One Thousand First Chapters ….. continued



Up from the ground a daisy grew by the border of the fence behind the house . A house where there floated a pale cloud , an umbrella of protection , above its roof . A roof under which lived a family of two parents and three children . A bedroom of yellow papered walls faced the front street of Clover Drive . Walls where sunshine illuminated thru the wooden louvered window shutters . Shutters that opened and closed with the changing shadows of a childhood world . And sometimes opened to other rooms in other houses like Polaroid snapshots of landscapes far in the distance .




The mother wore a hat in the garden as she knelt to pick the weeds and made the flowers look like concert choir girls all in perfect rows . And behind the garden , the pasture that was the grandparents land extended along the other properties of homes along the avenue and around onto the Main Street where the old Tudor house was like a castle uprooted from Europe . The house showcased like a movie billboard its wide beams , cut glazed windows , with an expansive front yard of tall pines and a faded awning over the entrance to the shed to the side of the cement shuffleboard court . And the barn down the hill , a Medieval stage of scented hay , leather saddles , horse blankets and wooden beams to perform on .




And in the field adjoining these two houses of this world , the dad , I adored , who wore wingtip shoes and handsome suits during the day , would sometimes dig a hole in the rich manured earth and place coals of fire around tin foiled potatoes or water soaked husks of corn to eat late in the night . The night before the nightmare of great dread would fall from the cloudless sky above . All because my brother showed me the sewer rat . A rat so ugly and huge that fled in and out of the metal grating in the street by the mailbox . The shutters stayed shut for weeks out of fear of catching site of the monster from the window .




And the roller skating stopped in front of the house and the key used to tighten and loosen them onto the shoes was put on a chord and hung around my neck as I fingered it now out of a nervous habit until the silver shone clear like the inside of an oyster shell .




Amelia , my sister , knew none of this as she hadn’t been born yet and a lot can happen and change in a decade or even in a moment . The world in the sun can change to one in the mist and a smiling row of daiseys into a weeping meadow of weeds . The year is 1959 and I am eight years old . My grand mother died , I was given a puppy for Christmas , Walt Disney released Sleeping Beauty , Elvis Presley hit the charts , Ringo Starr received his first drum set , the Guggenheim Museum opened in New York City and Alaska and Hawaii became states . And on the other side of the world in Communist Bulgaria , in the forced labor camps at the edge of the Balkan Mountains , the prisoners led a hunger strike . A hunger strike that many were unaware of or even of the camps existence . But for those that did , it was a place from where one might never emerge alive . And so , side by side , lived an elegy of paradox staged into future events of which Amelias’ history would be perplexed to uncover .




to to be continued ……


” Memory is the scribe of the soul “.        Aristotle


Personal note : I’m not sure just where this story is going ….. only that I want to continue writing it ….. and in working the flow of it into blogs helps to encourage and inspire me not to stop .