Celebrating my date of birth today, 55 years ago.
In a place called amityville, new york.
Haven’t strayed far from this northeastern state, spent most of my life in upstate new york, at least physically.
“Without going out of your door, you can know all things on earth”, according to laotzu, and parphrased beautifully by
george harrison in his song, “the inner light”.  I had forgotten that song was the “B” side (I’m dating myself; oh the days
of 45’s)to “lady madonna”, and the first g. harrison song to be released on a beatles 45.  
This is the beginning of my musings on my “website”.  Never would have thought that I could do this 30, even 20 years
ago.  Technology brings us gifts if we don’t misuse them.
The air is crisp and cold, the wind is speaking loudly today.  Heading down to woodstock, the not-site of that otherworldly
music festival of rock and hippie culture of ’69.   I love the characters down there, so diverse and colorful, unashamed to
make connections to a better and higher place, urging us to be free and open the door to our souls.  Amid those
characters are the tourists looking for replica of that archetypal Holiday of Free Love and Expression.  
Sometimes it’s good to shake off the mundane and remind ourselves how interesting this blue earth can be.
Place and time are just vehicles we pass through.
If anyone is reading this, I am glad you are. Thank you, and may each day be a blessing.

ahhh...vernal equinox, at last! this winter is going to take her sweet time picking up her stuff and
going off to rest until the seasons roll around again...
i wrote "into spring" in 2001. it was the first spring i experienced at this old creaky farmhouse that
betsy, our 2 dogs and 4 cats, and i call home, and as a result of wandering around the 2.5 acres
here, discovering little life forms popping up underneath the decaying leaves in the many gardens
our predecessors had maintained while they lived here. recently, i could tell the change of
seasons was finally approaching when betsy noticed the very first red winged blackbird singing its
classic "hurdy-gurdy" song. that one bird must have inspired the rest to follow, as we witnessed
murmurations of soaring
black dots in the sky overhead, in their cacophonous symphony, landing in various locations
throughout the pasture and gardens. it is also the anniversary of the beginning of the iraq war. i
sense the weariness in people these days, our lives so caught up in being busy and rushed,
stupefied by the news, what feels like the endless lies and bullying. it's the feeling i wrote of in
"purple smoke", and in that song, too, i acknowledged love and the angelic presence of animals,
of nature, in
my life...to remember the beauty, because there is an abundance of it as well. there was a wealth
of abundant beauty in the living room at ginny and kymn's
a week ago, when i had the honor of sharing my music at the first house concert i've ever done.
there were almost two dozen beings gathered, some knew one another, some had never met, but
by the end of the evening, the comfort and peace was palpable.
may each of you find presence and inspiration in your lives in times of weariness and frustration.

i was waiting for a cup of coffee the other day in a cafe, and there on the counter,
among the magazines and assorted fliers, was a brochure for a benefit for Sudan
featuring a performer by the name of Sam Waymon.

Sam Waymon.  i thought...i know that name.....

and then it came to me....

brother to Eunice Waymon.  better known to the physical world as Nina Simone.

i first heard Nina Simone, i mean really heard her, in the late 70's.  i lived in lock
haven, pennsylvania, and a friend had two of her vinyl albums, baltimore and
emergency ward.

i was addicted at first listen.  she had the kind of sneer and strength and soul and
softness, all combined in one, any portions thereof revealed at any time, and was
a brilliant interpreter of songs, both originals and classics.

in her hands and with her voice, she could reinvent "here comes the sun" by
george harrison and "to love somebody" by the bee gees; invoke classically
influenced piano playing on the intro to "little girl blue" by rodgers and hart; spit
out her cynicism in "mosquito's tweeter" (which is how and where i first heard her
brother, Sam).

folks like Nina and her brother Sam play with a depth and passion i don't hear
much of these days, certainly not on the radio---wrapping beautiful songs with
messages and poetry in soulful arrangements, sometimes hitting funky notes or
rhythms, but real, just real playing.  you can't do that with software(though it can
be a beautiful thing, too).

i don't have every album she ever recorded--there are tons of bootlegs and
imports and reissues as well as her classic albums--two of my favorites are little
girl blue ("jazz as played in an exclusive side street club"), for its cocktail jazz trio
ensemble in a small room kind of feel, and it is finished, a sinewy and soulful feast
of socially and spiritually charged songs.

she passed away in 2003, but i count her as one of my inspirations.

long live Nina.  long live passionate music.
i don't know why but i've been obsessed with a strange creature lately.

the octopus.

before this, i knew little about the fascinating being--that it had 8 legs, suckers,
and shot ink.

but on pbs the other night, i caught a little glimpse into one's life and behavior in
particular, and ever since i've been obsessing about it and telling everyone who'll
listen to me how utterly amazing and,  believe it or not, cute, they--or at least this
one-- is.

this octopus, in captivity in a glass storage tank, came to play a kind of hide and
seek with the scientist who was testing its abilities to be cognitive and reactive.

the octopus would sit behind a partition that obscured its view of the scientist on
the other side of the glass.  the scientist would then play a cat and mouse kind of
game, raising his head above the partition, then lowering it, and the octopus
would follow suit by then raising its head in search of that strange being on the
other side.

what followed blew me away even more, resulting in my obsessive behavior of
telling everyone about this creature.

on the bottom of the ocean floor, a scientist filmed an octopus hauling along a
dirty, broken brown bottle under one of its tentacles.  it lives in this bottle and
carries it with it everywhere.

what's in all of this for me, i wondered?

is it the curiosity? the alien-
ness of this odd looking being that i like?  its complete
disregard for how it looks to others? or is it that big rectangular eye that seeks
our gaze, and perhaps some kind of communication with us?

is it the hobo-
ness of this thing that i love so much?

i'm not sure, but i feel like a whole new world opened up in my consciousness.

sometimes, it
IS the little things.
Upstate New York winters can be cold. The kind of cold
that numbs your teeth, but when it’s colder than words
can convey, there is also a “snap” cold….where the snap
of a limb is heard, sometimes a pine limb succumbing to
the weight of a few inches of snow perhaps; sometimes
it's a virtual snap, because the air is just so cold it has to
make voice of it.
Last winter, 2011-12, there was no snapping.  It was a
long, drawn-out one season.  The temperatures were so
within a narrow range that even some pansies that had
taken root in some stones just below our windowbox
continued to fade, and rebloom;  fade and rebloom.  
There was no sudden death of vegetation and then the
long recovery from the harshness of the cold and
elements.  Just one,  long “in between” season.
Spring came early, about three weeks early.  The
snowdrops barely made their appearance, as if last
minute guests to the banquet of spring bouquets.  
Summer arrived with 90 degree heat when Spring had
just announced its beginning.

On  July 7, 2012, we heard the herald of late summer’s
unmistakable grinding.  The cidada has arrived, albeit
maybe only one lone cicada; but undoubtedly a crowd will
soon follow.

Just back from an inspiring journey through northern
California.  Slept under the redwoods at an old dear
friend’s home;  were the “keepers” of a lighthouse
("keepers" as in the name of the unpretentious lodging
only of course, on the grounds of an actual lighthouse
overlooking the Pacific);  dreamed on the coast in
farthest northern California in a tsunami evacuation zone;
and reconnected with an old cowgirl acquaintance in
sagebrush high desert country in the shadow of Mt.
Shasta….one lone lava goddess in north central
California, along with her little sister, Shastina.

I have returned to the energy of the northeast---the quick
pace and hurry it up—wanting to relish these memories,
and render their visions somehow within my music and
within my life.
Over and over again, the lesson seems to be, be in the
moment.  See the beauty.  Ah, the beauty.
Taking a moment to realize where I am, and where the
wheel turns, nobody knows.  What are you grateful for,
and where do you find Hope?
There comes a time when the
bubble of ego is popped and you
can’t get the ground back for an
extended period of time. Those
times, when you absolutely
cannot get it back together, are
the most rich and powerful times
in our lives.

– from Shambhala Mountain Center’s
Learning to Stay, 2003
Help us to be ever faithful gardeners of the spirit, who know that without
darkness nothing comes to birth, and without light nothing flowers.
-May Sarton
If I were a Tree,
My roots
Curious to find a Home in the
Bosom of the Earth

Meandering while remaining tethered to my Source
My Center,  
My Seed
Craving nutrition
Source of Life
I would turn left
Turn right
Push downward
And in every direction
Connecting to nutrients
Sucking in the sweetness
Of life itself
Sending it back up through my Self
Into my Core,
My Source
My leaves would push outward
Unwrap from their tight repose
And open to light
Fed by my gathering of nutrients

I would grow
Till one day my wondrous leaves
And strong branches
Would provide canopy
And protection
For others

I would dance to the sun’s light
Languish in the droplets of rain
Strengthen with the push and pull
Of winds and snows
And beating sleet
Making me stronger while
Releasing my weaker branches
And leaves
To fall safely to the core, my source
My Earth Beloved

Some day
When I had fulfilled my journey
I would fall or be felled
And provide warmth
Through my dance with fire
And I would have lived
A good and beautiful
And worthy life.
for Nora the Norway Maple, Muncy PA, 10/31/13
and Grandmother Box Elder, 1311, 7/19/2015
(most) photos: beth jochum