8 Wonderful Gifts That Don’t Cost A Cent

But you must really listen. No interrupting, no daydreaming, no
planning your responses, no second-guessing. Just listen.

Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, and pats on the back.
Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have
for your family and dose friends.
Clip and share cartoons and funny stories. Your gift will say,
“I love to laugh with you.”
It can be a simple “Thanks for the help” note or
a full sonnet. A brief, handwritten note may be remembered
for a lifetime, and may even change a life.
A simple and sincere, “You look great in red,” “You did a super job,”
or “That was wonderful,” can make someone’s day.
Every day, go out of your way to do something kind.
There are times when you want nothing more than to be left alone.
Be sensitive to that same need in others and give the gift of
solitude when it seems needed.
The easiest way to feel good is to offer a kind word to someone.
Really, just a cheery “Hello,” or “How are you?”
can go a long way.

There Is Pleasure In The Pathless Woods - Poem by George Gordon Byron

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.

George Gordon Byron


Expat's sorrow

"I have met in Paris and Marseilles, Vietnamese in the 60s or 70s who left the country before World War II.   They recalled fond memories of the homeland while voicing the concern that to their grandchildren, the Third Generation, Viet Nam may well become just another geographical name.


Our children grow up here and we try to keep something of Viet Nam for them.  Keeping it in order to lessen our sorrow and our frustration.  But the children what do they know about Viet nam to make them feel attached as we are attached to the country?   For us, the faintest smell of leaf mould after the rain may bring tears to our eyes because it reminds us of Saigon.  An air of Vong Co heard in the evening may keep us awake the whole night.   The Ngoc Lan tree by the well at the back of the house, the fragrance of the Thien Ly flowers in the mornng air, pattering of rain on the galvanized iron roof, the voices of street hawkers at midday in summer, the resulting of bougainvillea on a moonlit night.   Memories of all that may make us crazy.

Village kids will laugh at the sight of a poor old man asking his way, sepaking with a stammer, just like in a poem by Ha Tri Chuong of the Tang Dynasty:

"Going away young I returned when very old
My local accent hadn't changed but my hail was all gone
The Children I saw did not know me
'Respected visitor, where do you come from?' They queried."

I'm no overseas Vietnamese and I have my own question:   "In the face of the frantic onsalught of a market economy and a  pitiless modernisation what should be done to save our genuine traditional values?"

Jan. 1994

Wandering Through Vietamese Culture

Huu Ngoc

If you don't go out in the woods nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.

Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

13 year old eagle huntress Ashol Pan; Mongolia

A Redpoll bird haiku


a finely streaked breast

sporting a dapper red cap

hello sweet redpoll

from:   The Laughing Pileated/

Common Redpoll bird

Day-ahmn --- she makes this look too easy

A little haiku from Cindy Mead:

before you take any action
every time you breathe in
thank a tree

Honest Winter pie chart

And it gets easier the older you get!

Most people are so intensely afraid of the slightest bit of scrutiny, that they never try anything. To all the fearful, I promise you: letting go and not giving a shit what people think will be the greatest relief of your life.

— Scott Schirmer

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to

is to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.

Clarissa Pinkola Estés

The woods

A lot of questions about the woods can’t be answered by staying all the time in the woods, and it also works the other way - a lot of deep inner questions get no answer unless you go for a walk in the woods.Norman Maclean in Young Men and Fire -  A True Story of the Mann Gulch Fire(1992). This remarkable book was published from Maclean’s unfinished manuscript two years after his death at age 87. He is best known as the author of A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are

Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.

Marcel Proust
Departure of the Gorgeous Flowers. By Natsuo Ikegami, 2006.

Begining of stage. By Natsuo Ikegami, 2009.

Morning Glory. By Natsuo Ikegami, 2010

Spellbound by reading

Books remain relevant

To keep a book or discard it?

I own more books than I can read in a lifetime. I need to try out Erik Knutzen's system for cleaning his bookshelves. 

 The book was released to the universe if: 

-- I had read it and absorbed the information 
-- The library has a copy 
--  It does not give me joy 
-- I don’t think I’ll ever read it 
-- My interests have changed 
--I read part but don’t think I’ll read the rest 

I kept the book if: 

-- It’s a volume I refer to for reference on a regular basis 
-- It gives me joy 
-- It’s especially beautiful as an object (only one or two books actually      ended up in this category — I’m not a book collector) 
-- I really intend to read it I want to re-read it

Watercolor and Gouache on paper by Pia Mileaf, Age 11
Found in Art Within Reach - From the WPA to the Present, published in 2010 by The Children's Museum of the Arts, New York City

Eerie dearies

Humanity has four and a half billion passionate advocates -

but how many speak....for the gray wolf?....it is a man's duty to speak for the voiceless. A woman's obligation to aid the defenseless. Human needs do not take precedence over other forms of life; we must share this lovely, delicate,
vapor-clouded little planet with all.

Sunrise/sunset phenomena

The blue hour is the period of twilight each morning and evening when the sun is a significant distance below the horizon and the residual, indirect sunlight takes on a predominantly blue hue. This effect is caused by the relative diffusability of short blue wavelengths of light versus the longer red wavelengths. During the blue "hour" (typically the period is about 40 minutes in length), red light passes straight into space while blue light is scattered in the atmosphere and therefore reaches the earth's surface. Because of the quality of the light, this period is treasured by artists. Photographers call it sweet light.

In photography, the golden hour (sometimes known as magic hour, especially in cinematography) is a period shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is redder and softer compared to when the Sun is higher in the sky.

The Belt of Venus or Venus's Girdle is an atmospheric phenomenon seen at sunrise and sunset. Shortly after sunset or shortly before sunrise, the observer is, or is very nearly, surrounded by a pinkish glow (or anti-twilight arch) that extends roughly 10°–20° above the horizon.

Often, the glow is separated from the horizon by a dark layer, the Earth's shadow or "dark segment." The arch's light pink color is due to backscattering of reddened light from the rising or setting Sun. A very similar effect can be seen during a total solar eclipse.

Green flashes and green rays are optical phenomena that sometimes occur right after sunset or right before sunrise. When the conditions are right, a green spot is visible above the upper rim of the disk of the sun. The green appearance usually lasts for no more than a second or two. Sometimes (rarely) the green flash can resemble a green ray shooting up from the sunset (or sunrise) point. Green flashes occur because the atmosphere can cause the light from the sun to separate out into different colors. Green flashes are a group of phenomena which stem from slightly different causes, and therefore some types of green flashes are more common than others.

"...hold on to your divine blush...."

"At birth we are red-faced, round, intense, pure. The crimson fire of universal consciousness burns in us. Gradually, however, we are devoured by our parents, gulped by schools, chewed up by peers, swallowed by social institutions, wolfed by bad habits, and gnawed by age; and by that time we have been digested, cow style, in those six stomachs, we emerge a single disgusting shade of brown.

The lesson of the beet, then, is this: hold on to your divine blush, your innate rosy magic, or end up brown. Once you’re brown, you’ll find that you’re blue. As blue as indigo. And you know what that means, Indigo. Indigoing. Indigone."

— Tom Robbins (Jitterbug Perfume)

The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Our input not needed.

The famous balance of nature
is the most extraordinary of all cybernetic systems. Left to itself, it is
always self-regulated.

Joseph Wood Krutch
Saturday Review (8 June 1963)

Campbell's Scottish Terriers.   "Rough going"


"Le Léthé" par Charles Baudelaire

Viens sur mon coeur, âme cruelle et sourde,
Tigre adoré, monstre aux airs indolents;
Je veux longtemps plonger mes doigts tremblants 
Dans l'épaisseur de ta crinière lourde;
Dans tes jupons remplis de ton parfum
Ensevelir ma tête endolorie,
Et respirer, comme une fleur flétrie,
Le doux relent de mon amour défunt.
Je veux dormir! dormir plutôt que vivre!
Dans un sommeil aussi doux que la mort,
J'étalerai mes baisers sans remords
Sur ton beau corps poli comme le cuivre.
Pour engloutir mes sanglots apaisés
Rien ne me vaut l'abîme de ta couche;
L'oubli puissant habite sur ta bouche,
Et le Léthé coule dans tes baisers.
À mon destin, désormais mon délice,
J'obéirai comme un prédestiné;
Martyr docile, innocent condamné,
Dont la ferveur attise le supplice,
Je sucerai, pour noyer ma rancoeur,
Le népenthès et la bonne ciguë
Aux bouts charmants de cette gorge aiguë
Qui n'a jamais emprisonné de coeur.



Come, lie upon my breast, cruel, insensitive soul,
Adored tigress, monster with the indolent air;
I want to plunge trembling fingers for a long time
In the thickness of your heavy mane,
To bury my head, full of pain
In your skirts redolent of your perfume,
To inhale, as from a withered flower,
The moldy sweetness of my defunct love.
I wish to sleep! to sleep rather than live!
In a slumber doubtful as death,
I shall remorselessly cover with my kisses
Your lovely body polished like copper.
To bury my subdued sobbing
Nothing equals the abyss of your bed,
Potent oblivion dwells upon your lips
And Lethe flows in your kisses.
My fate, hereafter my delight,
I'll obey like one predestined;
Docile martyr, innocent man condemned,
Whose fervor aggravates the punishment.
I shall suck, to drown my rancor,
Nepenthe and the good hemlock
From the charming tips of those pointed breasts
That have never guarded a heart.