Speechless

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The ” see far-away ” open window where she now writes from inside on Cemetery Road , northern Michigan ….her adventure beginning two years ago on a dirt path in the village Gita , Bulgaria , thinking she had everything to do with it while at the same moment ,  knowing she had nothing to do with it at all .

Two ( too , twice , double , pair , duet ) strangely wonder – filled curious years of gratitude with WordPress and so many rare , loving , astonishing and inspiring  friends . ” Such a beautiful ( her most used word ) crazy , glorious and confounding world ” Michael exclaimed , embracing forever .

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Photos above and below from my personal album

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Photo of two ducks by Cassandra Hartley

photo pair of ” Ted and Aisha in the alley ” by Jessica Wade

For my friends …two thousand ” thank you so deeply ” with love always , megxxx

p.s. ” the heart is an organ of fire ” ( ” The English Patient ” )

 

 

White Spots of a Fawn

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It already exists … Jack and Francis walk out the door into the white clouds of lakes covering the new earth of a Febuary winter as the third falcon leaves the rooftop behind them . The peregrine , more than eight million years old , his ancestor once in Athens listening to an apostle give his speech on the steps of the Areopagus : ” And he has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth and has determined their pre appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings , so that they should seek the Lord , in the hope that they might grope for Him and find him , though He is not far from each of us “. With the rapture circling above in the path of a wind’s mandala , Jack introduces Francis to the silent land of his home , his barn , the deer tracks , the squirrel nests , the Maple City sky , introducing her as if she were the rarest thing that lived . He shows her the tree with a skirt on , growing out of a stump . What is happening ? Francis thinks she should at least kneel down for in Michigan , the trees talk and the mighty Hemlock , soaring to great heights , only drops its needles to the floor of blue shade every three years where in rich humerus a doe might give birth to its fawn . And if the tree dies , it keeps healing as a host of reishi mushroom lives on the dead wood , life abounding death . There are hidden passages venturing into new lands , lands that have been together for millennia , even the streams have underground paths deep below flowing into the Great Lakes . In the silence , the voice of an Indian warrior’s horse can sometimes be heard , a legendary voice carried by the wind , ” I am from the void where Answer lives , ride on my back and know the power of entering darkness and finding the light “.

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Francis , remaining still in the sun , stares at the movement of animal tracks while Jack walks on with his saw to cut down a tree for their wood stove . She is caught by a mirage , an atmospheric refraction of green light from last nights sunset , a flash that sparks thoughts of Bulgaria , where one year ago , just after Jack so unexpectedly had given her a wrapped gift for Christmas as they left the restaurant with friends , she found herself in a foreign country . Could she remember her total journey ? Can anyone ? Francis remains in the quiet , not moving . She feels on the divide of knowing , of knowing a destiny with unusual dimensions , layers of mystery yet uncharted about to see the map . Finding herself suddenly in the memory of her friend Hariod’s questioning voice , ” Did the ” fleeing horse ” find her inner light after arriving in Bulgaria ?” , she knew the answer to be , “yes” , the world a mystic realm with landscapes of beforehand . Now she answers Hariod’s , “What Happened “? , with a soliloquy … ” I hear pieces come hesitantly forward , a foreshadowing , every once in a while . Writing it holds many clues that in a strange way , makes truth and melody out of my life , human and spiritual , past and future . The land of Bulgaria , the earth , brought me a gift of some kind I know not how to explain … I wandered alone for five months , walking the farms , the valleys and hills and was transformed as if I were a creature , one with nature and animals , a soul with a body that could see wind and all of life breathing … and love , well , love was everywhere .”

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The dirt road was her Mandela , the one in the Baltic village and the one too , in Glen Arbor when she first saw Jack as she walked , barefoot , in a summer dress and he leaned forward in the passenger seat of her friends stopped car . A circle of eternity and infinity , a circle around a pentagram , a circle touching all five points , spirit , earth , air , water and fire , all connected and a single point upwards where the falcon soars . Behold , a scene of freedom , of nomadic spirit , a driving force that thrives and carries us in life with an emotional ability to go on in life , a sense of life , of knowing a deep truth , a life where exists lands of enchantment , instinctive and tamed , erotic and endearing . A life where your face is my face . Here lies Cemetary Road , where all of life leads her , colored bottles and trinkets in the distance shining from a branch above the grave of a young boy hit by a car . Do Jack and Francis exist with hearts beating like a drum , keeping time with everthing ? And look , once more , down the road as the black horse in the pasture becomes Pegasus or the unicorn in the twinkling of an eye . ” Behold , I make all things new “. Life is listening , listening … always listening .

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Francis still in a trance in a world of snow, hears life answer , forming a list of her days mixed together in orbit , clearly a carton of eggs broken .

1. Childhood fright : afraid to leave her mother , clutching her young mother’s skirt edge . Thunder storms , sweating under the blankets with open windows . Nightmares of underwater creatures .

2. Loneliness : Leaving school early and walking in a red mini-dress across the city , being followed by 2 men who yell obscenities and try to grab her .

3. Smell of sour milk : A husband violates her because of a religions teaching a duty of submission .

4. Threats : Family to commit her if she divorces and take away her children .

5 . Humiliation : She watches her mother in matching hat , shoes and jewelry , visit her brother in prison and pretending to others that everything is ” just fine ” .

6. Destruction : The barn studio on fire that she might have caused , a secret so horrible . ( the flames that warm winter day seen miles away , the only thing found in the ashes , old copies of magazine pages floating in the sky like burnt feathers all over the county ).

7. Death : Her beloved husband of 8 years dying in their bed .

8. Suicide : Her step-son hangs himself on an open pipe in his NYC studio , his dog whimpering for days .

9. Betrayal : Friend who cons and steals the land that was her son’s inheritance.

10: Violence : Man she knows , cuts her with a razor blade in his mouth while forcing himself on her .

11. Obsession : Knife held to her throat after being beaten , threatening to kill her if she leaves him .

12 . Heartbreak : Death of her parents and loss of daughter-in-law who leaves family for another man .

Francis sees Jack coming back to her . Her mind letting it all go as she touches her skin under the heavy jacket and sweater , soft , her soft skin as if it were the belly of a fawn . . She hears the blue glass wind-chime of that Christmas gift … ” I was a hidden treasure and loved to be known . Therefore I created the Creation that I might be known “. ( Sufi)  “The former things are passed away ” … Tomorrow is the first day of March 2015 . In ancient times March was the beginning of the new year and the glaciers that formed the Great Lakes were covered in snow a mile deep . And now she hears comments , yes , your comments , voices that welcome her out of the background , out of the room full of blues and the photograph of her grandmother at age 18 sits next to Jack’s pile of cowboy hats and his small bags of wildflower seeds … Freedom , freedom unfolding in the moment of “now ” . She leans back gently , gently against the tree , Jack is finished with his work , the falcon nowhere in sight and the fox sleeping . The epiphany swells and Francis with heavenly forms beating red her heart knows she is finished writing – a strange story that already exists …a screenplay living on planet earth , earth , a place of children who have asked to be born … trees , trees of awe their cradles , our wellsprings , our dawn .

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Personal note : I am so grateful and blessed by all of you who comment and I want you to know that in hearing you , I heal and am encouraged on my journey and know we are connected thru a glorious golden thread . .. Thankyou : Janet , Denise , Dan , Hariod , Michael , Chris , Cyan , Mark , Meredith , Julie , Vanessa , Christine , Chrissy , John ,  Aquileana , Diana , Dina , Tony , Tia , Marga , Sue , Mino , Laurent , Christy , Jo , Zula , Shimon , Sean , Nina , Leyla , Lorrie , Raj , Semra , Sonmi, Ellen , Ax , Norm , Annedaria , Amy ,Don , Ewian , Leanne , Sister Madly , and all that I haven’t mentioned who follow …

note: girl standing by Aela Labbe Photographie

Crown Jewels Revisited

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” We were once revolutionaries with ” flower power ” and now we can hope to achieve  our crowning glory thru the diverse paths of all our experiences . This is only the beginning ” …..sentence from my first posted blog .

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That day , that extraordinary day 6 months ago when beginning this blog while on a pilgrimage to Bulgaria , and having no idea really , as to just what I was doing other than feeling a creative spirit emerge like a gentle ocean wave over the not so distant Black Sea , I began . It was a wave of some sort of rebirth , a vibrant rebirth from that ancient and mysterious place deep within the Thracian Valley , deep within me .

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Today , I re-read that first posting and the 50 following , and my subtle growth as a writer shouted out to me and many overused and favorite words too .  The often secret voice with-in , that is so rarely spoken , surprises me still making my heart feel enlarged as I look at the written words so strangely giving the soul it’s expression . The beginnings of a novel , a screen play , poetry , musings of memories , dreams revealed out of joy , out of pain , tragedy , shame and regret and even fear … It has been powerfully sapient , strangely wonderful and sweetly healing to set free as the wind of Bulgaria began to cleanse my being , soaring the mundane into the sublime , transforming the enduring truth of my life . I am so grateful …Life is Beautiful ! … so gorgeously beautiful ( my most used word ) , especially when complexity flows into simplicity and glows into a white light .

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In discovering episodes of a life , a human life , a story begins . Overwhelmed and humbled , compassion plays like a Chopin symphony . To be set free from self-judgement and dogma is … well , it is Divine … to no longer be embarrassed by what I write about is no longer just an interlude but a complete Opera with all the true , clear sounding of a loud brass , gentle wind instruments , the lyrical piano notes , pounding , heart beating percussion and erotic guitars and strings . In rereading , I ask myself , ” where did that come from “? I only faintly remember writing it . I ask , does the mind and soul speak to each other ? … I hear the whispering.

 

I have felt your spirit of encouragement and hopes and I wish you could truly know how important and lovely you are … You shine and it dazzles and I felt your love along the way .

Thank-you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to America

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First photo on arrival … walk with Casey in Ypsilanti

 

She was gone a long time , a long five months and on that last night in that haunting country , that medieval country , that thundering earth of a country , she has a dream and sees a new vision .

 

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Her journal is already packed away like a wrapped deli sandwich to be opened when she arrives home but now her trusted instinct causes her to search her suitcase and find it , to find and add another condiment of a new and fresh taste . She quickly sketches with an inch long pencil , more life in it now at the end of its existence than when it was brand new . She draws the dream , remembers the scene  and remembers too the similarity of the dream and reality . She had stopped at this place two summers ago having passed it hundreds of times knowing it from childhood . She remembers her curiosity , a curiosity like an appetizer for the whole picture . This place , this amazing place laying under the dark April moon of pure potential … a studio or cabin or home of some simple sort with an open loft , an oversized paned window and a long broken stoned path way to the front door . It stands on a hill above the intersection of three roads , one leading east to Traverse City , one to the back roads thru Thompsonville  and one rolling north thru the thickly wooded country of Michigan where she comes from leaving Glen Arbor . It stands alone with no neighbors , remembered as a Native American or Mexican trading post . Now it is abandoned , abandoned like the flowered teacup traveling with her from the complete set arranged on the china cupboard of her rented out house .

 

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Weeds and bushes overgrow on all sides of the structure and the wood is weathered from sun , rain and windstorms and a door loose on its hinge like a broken butterfly wing sighs in the breeze . Ever since her mother and father died this abandonment reveals itself to her on all the pathways of earth like the whole of the moon , bright in its luminosity , inescapable from its theme . She had asked about this place that lays under tall shadows but no one knows much other than it was once for sale and the owner lives a few miles away .

 

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And now the dream and another clue hold hands . Clues she trusts , clues she never fails to be astonished by , clues everywhere , clues that rise like exotic incense , clues inhaled . She stays in London the following night , sleeping under the eternal essence of love from someone else who had too , once been there . He appears again on the following night when she finally arrives back to America , when she sleeps at their sons house . The clue comes forth in the missing painting on the wall that she stares at like a person with a sparkling halo manifested . This painting , his signature , the date and place , London 1970 ….! It is he sending the dream , 44 years from the multiverse . She takes a photo and in it his shadow appears and a wavering scent of vanilla replaces the cow pastures musk of the country left behind . Behold , a new fresh scent and she smiles , smiles and looks at her journal drawing with excitement , quiet excitement like the velvet feel of a catipillar crawling on the warmth of her neck in early spring . She is his muse and he is hers . Déjà vie finds itself in their sons bedroom , so like his dad’s with arrangements of odd and beautiful found objects , cut outs , drawings , photographs and paintings . And in the painting called “Dreamscapes from London ” … she dwells .

 

 

“Once you have flown you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward for there you have been , there you long to return ”

Leonardo Da Vinci Image

 

An OPEN sign painted bright says , Studio Poet , cafe of possibilities …

always coffee , chai and chocolate

imports

vintage wear … and sometimes other things

artist residence

 

postscript : into her drawing she adds a garden , a donkey , and an accordion . She calls the real estate agent for an appointment to put her house up for sale in May !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sofia’s accordion

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She is Sofia , one of the heavenly creatures , golden in the winds of early spring , 2014 . See Tavisha wandering from the village Gita like a hyacinth sprouting forth from gods sweet earth , her clothing still layered with pungent smells of life from the cow pastures she loves to walk … pastures green , pastures blue rolling into the sky , pastures leading the way into the Capitol city of Bulgaria . A Capitol where sun reflected roads of imported yellow brick lay above Roman ruins of the road that leads to Constantinople , some stones still exposed as her feet touch smoothly with reverence . Queen Sofia , the wise , wears a crown of garlands and the balconies that look over her bloom wild with flowers .

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Noise is loud and sharp on these boulevards announcing like bugles for a parade , the historic achievement of mans glory , poetic in the architecture of the Thracian , Greek , Roman , Ottoman and Bulgarian cultures … spellbinding in its creativity , as if God cradles humanities face in his almighty hands and whispers , ” you are my treasures “. Murals of fresco , gold candelabra , soaring buildings of color , minarets from Muslim mosques sing out the call to prayer . The palace guard with silver helmets , a single pheasant feather atop ,  change at the entrance to the Presidents residence and the ancient bells rejoice over a magnificent and enigmatic city .

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The intrigue of the antique market and it’s sellers quick eyes entices like chili pepper in hot chocolate , on the hill beneath the Venetian mosaic of the Cathedral . She discovers the crypt in the Russian church of St. Nikolay , the miracle worker , where she writes a wish and places it prayerfully with hundreds of others into the sarcophagus of St. Serafim . The men walking by are handsome with their collars turned up in European tailored suits and the women so very beautiful with a certain obscure thing about them . She watches the mandolin player and the old woman dressed in rags who sings opera with pride next to the public mineral springs of healing waters .

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If winter solitude is the audience chamber of God , then spring is its answering . Answers creep forth like vines with extravagant clarity as she takes the long way home to America . Like a wedding waltz she moves with Sofia . Children smile at her with innocent beauty like Prince Alexi wearing his sailor suit . Encounters are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other. A poor beggar walks beside her crying out loud with circles and circles of sorrow . Sofia is compassionate . The rain Tavisha smells in the wind leaves her exultant to be alive . She reaches in her pocket for some spare coin and crumpled now she finds her New Years list  … Number 3 , ” learn to play an instrument  ” . The old mans eyes are aglow on her as she turns around running back to the antique stall …her accordion … to play the tears of Sofia .

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” The world is a great sculptors shop . We are the statues and there’s a rumor going around the shop that some of us are someday going to come to life “. … C.S. Lewis

post script :

I am asking … What does it feel like to be you , what is it really like ?

This is my last posting from Bulgaria .

Music of the Bee-keeper … or How I got here , What happened and Why

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Honey ( Madhu ) is one of the five elixirs of immortality ( Panchamrita )

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She wakes at 3:00 a.m. , again the dream of the flying carpet she sits upon , the woven patterns of Turkey , a map , changing in the wind with the new moon tide making joyful the fishermen below . She sees the swimming fish and on the shore , donkeys in the mist .

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She watches and here enters a thought that wanders thru the sky slow and deep and golden in the morning . The cosmos change color and there are no limits to anything . She holds a ticket on the night train to Bulgaria .

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She walks at 10:00 a.m. only thinking of the bee keeper . With wonder like a new tooth growing she lives here and now and she is saturated like melted butter . Will he be playing Pink Floyd or Procul Harem , Jimi Hendrix or Florence and the Machine again ? He is a ghost never seen and only known by the music drifting from the broken window . She thinks of him sometimes while she stirs thick honey  into her dead mothers teacup she has safely wrapped in white linen a year ago for this journey . A cup of delicacy and aristocracy so foreign to the earthy and primitive stone wall she sits upon to eat her simple breakfast .

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Like dark chocolate her addiction guides her towards his lane near the outskirts. . How can this be ! … this music ! … this day ! So strangely different from the others !  Beethoven s Third Symphony , this revolutionary symphony that once burst upon an un expecting  world in the summer of 1804 ! … and now the bee keepers music . Does he stand with Beethoven in the center of the music expressing his soul too ? Is the artist the hero ? Oh little soul gentle and drifting , guest and companion of her body , flying in the clouds and thru the window with a ticket on the magic carpet …

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Flying Carpet 1880 by Russian artist Viktor Mikhaylovich

personal note : We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place … we stay there even though we go away and there are things in us that we can find again only by going back … we travel to ourselves when we have covered a stretch of time … we go to that place again no matter how brief it may have been .

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Painting left on the wooden gate door in Gita , Bulgaria

I shall begin again when I reach America on April 1 , 2014 .

Love is a lucid roar

Letters Home from Bulgaria …

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Finnish photographer : Kai Fagerstrom

I wait ( not knowing for what ) under blankets all day long and into the nights , like an abandoned house with broken windows and strange creatures roaming about . I am depressed . ( first time in my life )  Our Lady of Perpetual Tears stands over in the corner where my  unfinished paintings hang …” Live and die on this day , live and die “. I think of my dad . There was a huge and mighty earthquake near here in Chirpan the very day and year he was born . The day he died he gazed at the sky , ” Isn’t it beautiful ” ! He asked for water and I ponder now that this was the first word Helen Keller spoke …water .

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Aela Labbe photography

Struggling to climb from underneath feelings of loneliness , regret and fear ,I am in a cave underneath the dull sound of cars moving nonstop above on a city street … like the pale little vagrant soul of Emperor Hadrians tale who ” dwells below in pallid places stark and bare ” . Fables and myths of lore sink in my mind with no creative expression like a heavy anchor weighing down the colors of my paintbox and the sketch book remains blank .  I doubt my purpose and wonder why I am even here in this foreign land . What have I done… I don’t know what can come of it ? I don’t know why this has happened .

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Ellen Rogers photography

Back home my basement is under 5 inches of water with no flood insurance . I am a mess over it and stay motionless under a hooded cloak . I hear my name being called at the gate and don’t want to go out …. but it doesn’t stop, only becomes louder . There stands a mother , her daughter with toes sticking out from worn out shoes , and a baby . Like a plant that slumbers in the night , I can feel light luring here , but it is dim . And then … looking at their tired faces and shabby clothing , I know they have been sent here as a gift from heavens throne room . How foolish and filled with ego I am…thinking I won’t have enough money and feeling sorry for myself this whole week over a basement !  The teenage mothers face appears , a smile , a miracle smile that can bring the taste of honey to a stale and dry slice of wheat toast . How is it that we smile , what is it ? It is everything to me at that moment … it scares the depression away .

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That afternoon , finally feeling hungry , I walk to the weekly pazar in my village . Choosing fruits and vegetables  and ready to pay I realize my coin purse is not in my pocket . With a chorus of crescendo and worry on their faces everyone in line begins searching on the ground with me . Down the path a little girl comes running with a spark of bright color in her hands … My dropped little bag of money . Smiles , smiles from everyone , a language beyond any borders . My ego , let it go on it’s way now …love ….live and die on this day, live and die .

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Four months of not speaking or hearing English has brought about an evolution as in hearing other things now and speaking secret words to myself . ( I wonder if the loneliness from this began my fall into depression ) . Sigur Ros is one of the worlds shyest and least understood bands linked intimately to the glacial majesty, fire and ice of their homeland , Iceland . It is the most beautiful , emotional music I have ever found with Jonsi playing the guitar with a violin bow and singing with falsetto vocals . Many songs are sung in Icelandic  and many in a strange non literal language , a made-up language that focuses entirely on sounds of language with no grammar or meaning or even distinct words . The music is atmospheric reflecting their country .

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Bulgaria … The Sheepherder

Life

what a beautiful mess

a place

where music

comes from the mud .

a place

where sun collects bones ,

stark white .

a place

interrupted

by legends luring .

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Earth

sticks to his feet .

he won’t abandon .

the music singing

an ethereal voice

to the newborn lambs

one black

one white .

this place , this land .

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Letters Home and Peter Gabriel

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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 ?

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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 .

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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 .

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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 .

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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 .

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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 ?

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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 .

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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 .

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Letters Home continued … excerpts from Bulgaria … February 2014

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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 ?

 

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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 .

 

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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 .

 

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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 “.

 

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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 .

 

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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 …

 

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Letters Home continued … excerpts from Bulgaria ( nov. 2013 )

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There is a daily flow to my life here , alone , that is new to me . An important part of this is that I think of God a lot . His love surrounds me in everything I see , hear , taste and smell . I think there is a spiritual power in repetition , a devotional quality like saying rosaries or reciting mantras . I have found a personal routine that is peaceful in its simplicity . This week my art has become a part of this as I once again am working on sketches for the “momento mori ” series begun this past summer . There is great synchronicity and this awareness brings not only humility but also joy .

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I have become enchanted with the dirt pathways , garden fences  and stone enclosures . I was invited into a village home while on one of my daily walks . I could barely hold back tears as a plastic yard chair was brought into the room for me while everyone else sat on the cracked cement floor and stared at me … a warm fire tended by a father who obviously cherishes his four children and a mother trying her best to keep everything clean with loads of hand washed clothing and blankets hanging on the line on this cloudy , cold day .

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The weather has turned colder now and my fire skills are slowly improving and the routine of chopping wood is making my arms stronger . It is in these daily survival tasks and in picking the apples and walnuts from the orchards that brings meaning to me . You all know that I am not a “foody” but I so much enjoy and appreciate the fresh vegetables and fruit , and because everyone labors so hard on their land , it makes the taste of every bite very delicious … and all organic and I feel the energy of the sun from these foods of the earth . I made kumquat (tree in front) salsa and roasted a large chunk of village made cheese on the open fire , added some chopped walnuts and thought I must be eating the food of the gods !

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My day trip to Stara Zagora … sometimes called “Middle Earth”. It is the 6th largest city with its history going back 7000 years .

The bus driver was so kind . I must have looked a bit lost … and the depot was large . I tried to ask him where the city center was but he spoke very little English and so he left the bus and walked me all the way thru the noisy station and down the street until he pointed to the first street light and motioned three blocks further to the right . And so off I went with a thankful wave not knowing what lay ahead … Seriously , I was guided and blessed this warm autumn day as I wandered and experienced exactly what I had hoped for . I do have a Lonely Planet guide book that Nani told me to buy and I had read about this city the day before . First I came upon a huge and elegant city park as beautiful as any in the large cities of America . Once again , like in Plovdiv , this tree lined park was alive with affectionate families , young children , lovers , and many older men playing chess and just hanging out together talking and laughing , each with woolen caps or berets on and old suit coats , all smoking cigars or cigarettes . Suddenly , in front of me , was the largest open street market I had ever seen , with an amazing array of items from neighboring villages as well as from Turkey and Greece and fish from the Black Sea , pottery and colorful rugs , antique baskets brimming with nuts , flowers , cheeses , sheepskins , hand knit woolen socks and whole pigs hanging on hooks . I was definitely overwhelmed ! So much so that I instinctively turned towards the quieter narrow side streets . And then there it was , right in front of me , a most gloriously beautiful and ancient church .

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I enter and a heavy scent of incense surrounds me like the morning fog hovering over the distant plowed fields I had left only earlier that day . A small choir is singing and grounding the sweet sound of the soprano voices was a deep chanting from a man on the other side of the isle . Hundreds of candles are lit and a priest in resplendent robes of velvet and a crown like high black felted hat trimmed in fur , is also chanting . The walls and ceilings of frescoes of Jesus and religious scenes depicting Biblical stories with gold leafed halos are all shining like stars reflected thru the light from the narrow stained glass windows . The people begin moving down the tiny tiled , wide center aisle  of worn red carpet for the communion sacrament and I find myself amongst them and I am blessed as a young girl next to me sheds silent tears down her cheeks .

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After this wonderful time in the city , I finally had a mishap . I got on the wrong bus once back in Chirpan to go back to my village . I didn’t think it was right but didn’t want to insult the old man who sat next to me on the sidewalk bench and had given me a wrapped hard candy . He kept on nodding that the bus would be coming soon and motioning for me to just sit and wait . A bus came and he smiled letting  me know this was the bus to Gita , my village . I got on and saw that I was headed right back to Stara Zagora as I noticed the turn off dirt road to Gita . I yelled , “Gita ! Gita! Stop , stop “! … so I was dropped off and I knew that it was about an 8 mile walk …. the sun was still shining near the horizon but it would set within an hour and there are no street lights . The valley was very quiet and ……..

…….to be continued

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And so for LIFE , this beautiful life , I remain so grateful . And when the difficulties of our human existence arise , may we seek the light that abides within us and choose to Love , not only others , but ourselves . For it is then that new choices appear and become possibilities and we can act on them …..