Nine. The whole nine yards. Dressed to the nines. Nine planets. A stitch in time saves nine. Nine months from conception to birth. Cats with nine lives. Numerologic the magnified three, ancient sacred humanitarian number connected to inspired change, invention, and growth. Single numbers multiplied by nine results in digits that add to nine. 2 x 9 = 18 3 x 9 = 27 4 x 9 = 36. Hebrews referred to nine as the symbol of immutable Truth. A three-fold cord is not quickly broken.

This will be our ninth year together.

I remember after just weeks of knowing you we backpacked to Smith Lake in the high Sierra. The light was golden and the cool clean air felt like we were close to heaven. We went climbing on the granite rocks around the little natural spring-fed lake. I walked waist deep through the freezing crystal clear water and green reeds, my legs beneath me numb, pale, and moving slowly to avoid kicking up the fine bottom silt, to retrieve your snagged fishing lure. We napped on the lapping lake bank, watching the wind move the tall grass and the sugar pine boughs.

At night you cooked over the fire, and after dinner we walked to the crest of the lake bank to see the reflections of heaven’s stellar bodies in the water. There were so many stars we couldn’t identify any constellations but we sipped sweet sherry out of your hip flask. When we slumbered in your little tent carefully placed on gathered pine duff we were smoky-smelling and tired and happy, and oh, oh such quiet sweetness, we felt the earth spinning through the heavens. In the morning after breakfast you were delighted I wanted to plink at cans with your revolver. “You’re fun!” you said. And after three days we packed up camp and hiked over the ridge, and from there we descended into the valley, delighted with our wildness and our love.

Nine years and I still dream only of you, nine years ago today we laughed all the way to the courtroom inside your aunt’s old hotel, and my Dad handed me to you, and your Dad led us through the I do. Four months didn’t give our parents much time to prepare but at least we didn’t run to Reno, although we discussed it. Both our Grandmothers told us it was the right way to get married, with certainty and with love.

I wore my Mom’s sleek satin wedding dress made by her Grandma, and your Mom made my bouquet from silk flowers and pearls. We smashed the cake because it was funny, and sipped excellent champagne we had bought for a song because the corks were dangerously tight and frighteningly ballistic. My cousin caught the bouquet and R caught the garter. It rained so much it caused a mud slide on the highway east of us and my Grandma told me rain at a wedding was a sign of good luck.

What I remember feels like impressions of birdsongs and dappled sunlight. I have loved knowing you. I do love knowing you. It has been an amazing nine years, my friend. I happily anticipate whatever comes, so long as I am with you.


Industrialized dancing in a black room with cement floor, wild working rhythm generating its own exertion of knees and hips and chests and shoulders. We were kung-fu fighting, we were rocking the casbah.

Ten television screens overload raging in colors, white noise supreme, scenes of ice-skating bloopers, dreams of color swirling, clips from Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla, ridiculous rubber fire-breathing dragons. Nerd bank illuminati, three immobile faces working behind the spin man, catching and overlaying the live video feed of the crowd in the negative, in the polarized, in the spectrum.

The whole throbbing crowd breathing in out in out banging hard and with the tempo, feeling the concussions travel from heels to skull, feeling the throb in fingertips, feeling the sweat on faces. Senses of taste and smell, sense of touch dulled with the heavy vibrations, depth charges of bass, constant thump against the bone’s marrow.

Everything moves with the tempo, feet, elbows, eyebrows, hair, all moves with the rhythm, throat drinking beer in time, door opening in cadence, the whole place tuned so well doing it so right that if exhaustion caused any of us to collapse we would even fall on the downbeat.

For the ladies. Keep doing what you do.


Level of disconnect beyond the norm, I can turn the page and sink deep in between the lines, don’t we all love a well-told story? I cannot find solace and I see no point in watching the coma-seizure-Alzheimer’s-ADD-inducing intense bombarding flicker of vapid irregular light patterns interspersed with subconscious-level psyche demands. No, I seek for my soul the dark trenches delved, the earth’s horizon stretched, the bright heavens launched by letters. The breath between the words, therein I would dwell, negative of the black ink, the meaning hidden within the words to either side.

I’ll examine moonstone shards on a cold northeastern beach, walk the hot dark mud of a southern riverbank, catch salt spray and spindrift from wild seas, watch the crescent moon grin through the mountain pines. When time and travel mean I cannot do such things in person, you can find me curled beneath a blanket sipping tea on the couch and I’ll be in Egypt, in the Everglades, in the Himalayas, in the South Seas.

It’s a long cold wet winter and I’m starting again, for the third time, on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. This book continues to change; I’ll find myself skimming over the tops of the words and then plunge deep, read and read and breathlessly re-read a passage that seems to calculate and clarify the sum of everything. The next time I go looking for that passage, I won’t find it, or I won’t find the import of it. Clarity, though brilliant, does not always maintain.

My much-loved copy’s thin pages are worn and marked and dog-eared and wine-stained. The spine is broken dead-center but at least I never dropped it in the tub. I enter this book each time with a sense of embattlement, a mixed thrill of dread and ferocity, anticipating the encounters not only with Leviathan, but also Ahab.

A favorite chapter is The Mat-Maker. Humor me.

It was a cloudy, sultry afternoon; the seamen were lazily lounging about the decks, or vacantly gazing over into the lead-colored waters. Queequeg and I were mildly employed weaving what is called a sword-mat, for an additional lashing to our boat. So still and subdued and yet somehow preluding was all the scene, and such an incantation of revery lurked in the air, that each silent sailor seemed resolved into his own invisible self.

I was the attendant or page of Queequeg, while busy at the mat. As I kept passing and repassing the filling or woof of marline between the long yarns of the warp, using my own hand for the shuttle, and as Queequeg, standing sideways, ever and anon slid his heavy oaken sword between the threads, and idly looking off upon the water, carelessly and unthinkingly drove home every yarn: I say so strange a dreaminess did there then reign all over the ship and all over the sea, only broken by the intermitting dull sound of the sword, that it seemed as if this were the Loom of Time, and I myself were a shuttle mechanically weaving and weaving away at the Fates.

There lay the fixed threads of the warp subject to but one single, ever returning, unchanging vibration, and that vibration merely enough to admit of the crosswise interblending of other threads with its own. This warp seemed necessity; and here, thought I, with my own hand I ply my own shuttle and weave my own destiny into these unalterable threads.

Meantime, Queequeg's impulsive, indifferent sword, sometimes hitting the woof slantingly, or crookedly, or strongly, or weakly, as the case might be; and by this difference in the concluding blow producing a corresponding contrast in the final aspect of the completed fabric; this savage's sword, thought I, which thus finally shapes and fashions both warp and woof; this easy, indifferent sword must be chance - aye, chance, free will, and necessity - no wise incompatible - all interweavingly working together. The straight warp of necessity, not to be swerved from its ultimate course - its every alternating vibration, indeed, only tending to that; free will still free to ply her shuttle between given threads; and chance, though restrained in its play within the right lines of necessity, and sideways in its motions directed by free will, though thus prescribed to by both, chance by turns rules either, and has the last featuring blow at events.

You can read it all on your lunch break.


How vague and embedded I’ll write when scrutinized. I don’t like how it feels like a long time gone, no amount of backtracking will turn up what’s lost. Disinspired to divulge, but I’ll tell you anyway.

Sad news but I’ve promised her I won’t be sad until she is all packed up and headed down that highway, destined for new adventures in new towns with new people-- JJ is moving to Maine in May.

Tomorrow, oh me oh my, all week I haven’t even thought about tomorrow. I have a dance class to teach. We’ll be building on what I taught them last week, pairing the moves together for combinations, doing some complex weight-shifts and movements.

Tomorrow afternoon I’m scheduled to perform at an assisted living home; I hope it goes well. Such things are always subject to forces beyond my control. Like last time the enraged fellow who started throwing his shoes and cussing at the top of his lungs, and the older lady who tried to steal the rings off my fingers. I won’t be alone; S will go with me & hopefully Shellybelly will be able to do her rawk-stah impersonation and wow them all again.

I’m wading through a sea of paperwork, a veritable ocean of orders and stipulations and objections and statements and claims and blah blah blah. My printer is working overtime and you would not believe the volume of mail I received this week. If I opened each envelope and poked the folds out of each letter and spread the pages out on the floor I bet you I could cover a football field. I’ll admit I’m often given to exaggeration but this time… okay maybe half a football field. Enough paper pulp to heat the house for the entire winter. I filled two big boxes with the multitude of duplicated copies, and so much for going paperless, now it just means we receive everything in triplicate.

The legal assistant at an attorney’s office I call regularly because she makes errors in paperwork confided to me she cringes when I call because she knows she’s made a mistake. So I called her today because she did it all right and I told her thank you. She sounded so grateful. I called her on line 2, which I know is bugged, and I sure hope those buggers got a nice happy earful of her shrill “OoooooH! Aren’t you SWEEEEEET!! I'm REALLY trying to be more CAREful!!!” This woman has the resonating vocal abilities of a blue whale.

I’m going home an hour early, damnit. But first I'm going to meet a sweet handsome man at a cafe, and convince him without too much effort to buy me a steamy creamy drink, and then I'll burn my tongue. I always do. This is the way of the world.


These rhythms are often used interspersed with other rhythms; a piece of music will have standard 4/4 time for the first third of the song and then transition to 10/8 time for, say, 10 measures, and then lapse back into the 4/4 time signature again. Last night in our dance workshop we discussed advanced rhythms and how to dance to them. Very very tricksy bain-brendering stuff, 3/4 and 7/8 and 10/8, fast and slow tempos.

We also encountered a 13/8 rhythm in an intro to a song by the amazing Oum Kholsoum called El Hob Kolloh, which although I don’t speak Arabic, I understand translates to “The Love Complete.” We used a sideways cross-step with a fall back and quarter turn (step over with the left, out with the right, step back behind with the left, sort-of half a grapevine step), roll up and we’ve counted 6 beats, quarter-turn left with right hip out to the opposite side at the 7, turn into the hip circle around to face front to fill in the 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 beats, then repeat on the other side.

Moving to it is actually easier than it sounds; the difficult part is hearing and recognizing the 10/8 or 13/8 rhythm when they're embedded in a piece of music that fluctuates between different drum-beat patterns.

Exhilaratingly difficult and makes the mind work in complex ways, it had me in a near-euphoric thought-process counting 13s by the time I was leaving class, and I completely forgot where my car was parked.

My Saturday morning dance classes have started again; a whole new bevy of beauties to make sweat, and enough returning faces I know I must be doing something right. We stretched, and did our sit-ups and push-ups and strength-builders, and worked on basic isolations. We took our time; we went slow, and focused on technique.

The movements for Middle Eastern dance are internal, and require control of isolating different parts of the body. We do not use leaps, and we do not, usually, bounce. Easy on the joints, works the muscles. It’s not so physically demanding as other forms of dance. It’s actually a lot like swimming, and with practice, when done correctly, it becomes effortless.

This seems like a very nice group of ladies, all different shapes and sizes and ages. I have a mother & daughter, I have two grandmothers who giggle in the corner, I have three hot young thangs just beyond puberty and still afraid their changing faces are doing something to betray their supposed boredom. I have some very insecure women and some very boisterous devil-may-cares bordering on obnoxious. I appreciate them all (especially when they laugh at my jokes), and find myself flattered and disbelieving my position as a role model.

I tell them that because there is no established standard vocabulary and no set method of movement, Middle Eastern dance is a dance for every body. After posture, correct body alignment, and muscular isolations are learned, the motions themselves are open to interpretation. Yes there is a lot to learn, there is always something new to learn, but we don't all have to be shaped identical. The shapes are for individuality, and the flesh is supposed to move, and yes even skinny angular limbs can look graceful, and hooray for big buxom curves.

One woman who took classes last quarter and has enrolled again told me my class is her therapy. Another confided to me that learning dance has made her aware of being a woman, and that she was going out on her first date in four years.

They all come to me with different goals; their goals are so different, some of them have no idea that they’ll actually progress and develop a goal. Some will continue for years, and some will drop the class, but I know they’ll all learn something about their bodies, and hopefully about their souls.

It’s almost a study on human nature; from my viewpoint, I see a huge cross-section of the population dabbling in a foreign culture’s music and dance traditions, which truly provides a strange insight into things like motivation and desire. My current motivation is to learn and pass on the knowledge. This situation may change but for now I'm happy.

My advanced students are coming to my house for a choreography lesson tomorrow evening. Which means... I really need to vacuum.


At night when it rains the only lights are from buildings and streetlights and cars, there is no moon, no stars. The artificial lights streak on the black slick roads, long reflective colorful illuminations that dance and shimmer and splash with the passage of vehicles, green and yellow and red stoplights, brakelights, turn signals, hot pink and neon blue and orange and lush purple.

The rain drops falling on the window are little prisms washed away by rhythmic wipers. These droplets of color puddle and pool in the gutters and the ruts of the road, grooves worn from the passage of cars and trucks and buses, and the myriad of lights reflect like the polarized negative of burned rubber streaks behind the black tires.

The rain the rain the rain always the rain falls, it never not falls. Black clouds, lavender, violet, indigo, silver, luminous, opaque, grey, pink, orange, gold clouds, the sun breaks and shines for five minutes, look the trees have shadows, and still it rains but there are as many different kinds of rain as there are color clouds. Always but in different directions, with different subtle nuances, heavy or light, big drops small spit sheets cats dogs, all the colloquialisms unfit for description of water, devoid of any sense of sound. Hammers and nails.

It's raining still and again, and I think of the rain in terms of music notation, crescendo allegro fortissimo, Latinate descriptions of sound dropping down the sides of the sky. I can hear it pummel the roof, dull roar constant and it makes me think of sad people’s souls, those too unhappy to stop being unhappy. I want to take them outside and stand in the drenching downpour, blink away the raindrops, feel it seep into hair and slip down brow and tilt chin up to heaven and watch the rivulets roll off fingertips, until all the false memories and all the sorrow and all the problems and all the pain is washed away.


New year in the Southwest

My cheeks are chapped from days on high lands where the sidewinder sun and whipsaw wind conspire to beat the earth into ochre dust. My in-laws just moved to Southwestern Colorado, to a small farming town full of cows and horses and bare trees and gigantic white pickup trucks. There are consignment shops and a museum and art galleries and a hospital with a free clinic on Saturdays for poor people. There's a library and an art guild and everything's closed on Sunday except the gigastrous Mal-Wart. Mostly there's elbow-room. It's a decent honest place. It has to be, bare-ass out there. People look wiry and weathered and happy in solitude, they know how to live on the moon. I cannot fathom so many days of wind so close to the sun.

The sloping land stumbles in bare scrubby hillsides covered with cottonwoods down out of the steep raw backbone of mountians where the earth's skin is thin and flayed, frozen beyond feeling. Light on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains changes by the minute. From the window I watched highlights and glistening sunlight reflections on the face of the white mountains, the sky black towering behind them. In ten minutes the rough rock shapes loomed dark and craggy, with the sky above them bright and clear. I watched the whole body of a storm roll over the big mesa a hundred miles away, the blunted head of the black stormcloud thrusting up proud and spilling its dark belly in precipitation that evaporated before it fell on the ground. I saw the mountains shining white, slick with iced snow, the contours sculpted and polished by the weather.

We travelled up and over the near mountain, down onto a plateau and there the Black Canyon mawed before us, a terrible narrow guage and impossile depth. Snow clumped in stark contrast to the black steep crags and canyon walls carved by the serpentine streak of green water far down below in the ravine. We hiked through snow along the precipitous rim and listened to the hushed rush and the rocks grinding in the entrenched Gunnison's surge. Pines and stunted oaks, sage and other plants I didn't recognize anchored along the canyon walls. We examined tracks from deer and elk, and saw tracks from jackrabbits impressed in the soft white snow, evidence of life.

We later explored a little town called Ouray, named after the Ute cheif, nestled in the crook of two big mountain spurs. Steep streets, old brick buildings, friendly people accustomed to travellers and to the cold frozen air rolling down the dark mountain's flanks. Ouray is quaint, with hot springs and art galleries, and it is gritty, with old ramshackle barns and hand-painted signs, and road-grimed pickups with snowplows permanently attached to the front end. The road from Ouray to Durango is treacherous and perilous, and the source of horror stories and missing snowplows. We didn't travel that high way.

One thing we did, in amazing quantity and quality, was consume food. Meals made by Mom were delicious. We also napped, daily. Their old house in California was the best place to sleep, and when they sold it and bought a new home in Colorado I was afraid it wouldn't provide the same level of comfort and relaxation. But I was pleasantly surprised, and I think it is them, and not the house, that makes it so comfortable.

Wine is sold in liqour stores not grocery stores, and in the interest of imbibing we purchased numerous bottles of inebriants, including some port my love bought me, sweet as his smile. We also found some whiskey which should be pronounced whooshky because that's what these particular peatmoss-filtered acetone-butterscotch blended spirits did to the nosehairs. The store was huge, and had the largest selection of wines I'd ever encountered, from all kinds of places I've never even imagined produced wine. Places like, oh, Colorado.

The second to last day of our trip we started early for a long drive to Mesa Verde, traversed the snowy mountains at 10,000 feet, saw the road to Telluride and joked about To-Hell-U-Ride and outrageous real estate. Coming down the south side of the pass, headed for New Mexico, the road trundles in a sloping descent. The basin stretches wide to the four corners of the earth, and ridges of mountians jut from the lower slopes of dramatic sagebrush vistas. Above it all curves that magnificent domed sky, and I saw three bald eagles wheeling in the updrafts above a lake. We could see for miles and miles, until we dropped down into the river valley, where the glens and arroyos harbor vegetation and population. We could see the slouching mesa towered above the rangeland, pinon and juniper on its wind-carved banks.

The cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, remnant architecture of the lost ancient native civilization, spur the imagination and stir the heart. I could look all day into the dark windows, aligned with the sun and moon and stars, built into the face of the cliff with mortared adobe stones. I could dream about looking out, instead of looking in, and I could imagine the daily life of those who slept there thousands of years ago. Inside behind the brick walls and reaching up the sloping interior cliff, the ceiling is black with the soot from fires. Ladders of pine descend into kivas, and footsteps have worn the stone steps smooth and concave. Hundreds of cliff dwellings, abandoned hundreds of years ago when tree rings show terrible drought, remain from a people scattered like birds. It is an ancient place, and a thousand years ago there were thick forests and big rivers in this parched land. And ten thousand years ago it was beneath an inland sea. The world is not the same. The smoke-charred walls are testament to the breath and life in a changing world. I wonder what legacy will we leave to set dreams into motion?

S & I returned to the shadowlands, to the rain and the saturated air. Flying into the Willamette Valley we could see the farmlands flooded in the ancient river and creek channels, oxbows cut from the current by sediment, as the water drained and meandered across the face of the bottomlands. We lamented the thick dark sky, filled with clouds scraping their bellies on the earth, and have unfinished thoughts of the vast horizons and arid southern lands. It is good to be home, but only because it is the place where we have made a place for ourselves.

A most special thanks to JJ for taking care of the dogs and cats and fish during our absence, and thanks for not burning down the house!


Shyness is borne of Ego looking at Self and saying What an Idiot I am. Please don't remind me. I return to the present I return I stop everything and listen to my heart in the here, in the now, I kick though the skin and gasp like falling in cold water and surfacing again. Any awakening is the Self coming into itself, seeing what and where and who as it all is being, set and cemented temporally in the world. Bob and surface, blink the sheen away from lashes and blow out the watery snot. When writing of vagaries one must abandon the firmament. Jump, jump. It's not that cold.

Thanks for the vote of confidence and the recompense and the fair give and take do you detect a note of sarcasm, some crooked grin, mild wry facetiousness perhaps? Anonimity a hundred percent eludes the self but at least I'll seek some sense of suspension of disbelief. Shush. Do not presume too much to read, you don't know beyond the surface you can't see into the depths, I'll brazenly kick up the silty mud. Pollywogs and algae and mosquito larvae, no it's not all crystal clear.

If it's a span of time, what, exactly, is measured?