Monday, November 22, 2010

Dream a little dream...

So, full disclosure: my spiritual beliefs are pretty... well, what some would call "woo-woo." I believe in ghosts, and that there are spirits all around us. I believe, like many of the authors I study, that the trees and grass and wind and sky and all living beings have a spirit. Given this worldview, perhaps it's no surprise that I would think of dreams as being special.

Except I've never been one of those people who has deeply symbolic, rich, or prophetic dreams on a regular basis. To be honest, most days I can barely remember my dreams within five minutes of waking up. I'm a bit envious of folks who have rich dream lives and who can talk about their dreams the next day.

A few years ago I did an exercise: as soon as you open your eyes, start writing what you remember of the dream you've just had, and keep writing until you feel your consciousness kick in. Once you stop, put that piece of paper away and get the next day's blank sheet ready. At the end of the week, look at what you've written.

It worked amazingly well--each day, I had something to write down, and I was able to tell when my consciousness would wake up and make itself felt, usually in the impulse to edit or correct punctuation or something like that. And at the end of the week? I could barely recognize my dreams as my own. They sounded like some strange fiction someone else had imagined. With one or two I could remember the image I woke up with, but these were hazy; it felt like I was trying to grab hold of fog. It was amazing! I'd like to try it again sometime...

For the most part, I think those of us under the influence of western thinking tend to think of dreams as being a key to our psychology: if we just interpret them correctly, we will understand something of our deeper (sometimes darker) thoughts. A dream becomes a key to unlock something--a utilitarian tool, really.

But I kind of like the idea of dreams as prophecy, as vision, as second sight. Sometimes I wish for that kind of dream...

Recently I remembered a ring that we bought for me years ago, when we really couldn't afford it; it's a round opal in an unusual setting, pretty as can be. Back when we bought it, I'd heard it was bad luck to wear an opal if it wasn't your birthstone, and it's not mine, but I'd just had a baby in October, and I figured I'd earned a special dispensation. I loved that ring, but was afraid to wear it for fear of hurting it. And just recently I decided that we didn't buy it so it could spend the next 10 years hidden away somewhere.

But where was it?

I looked in the jewelry box, the other jewelry box, the sock drawer, the bowl of treasures; everywhere I could think of to look, I searched twice and three times, emptying everything out, to no avail. I even checked the dresser we moved to the basement years ago. Nothing.

So I decided to ask for a dream to help me. As I fell asleep one night, I asked whatever spirits might be able to help to show me some clue to finding the ring. I woke up seeing a gold coin purse--the one my grandmother had given to me some years before she died; it had belonged to her mother, and she was giving it to me. I kept a pair of earrings and a pin in it that my grandmother had worn, and that I'd been given after she died--they were just costume jewelry, but they reminded me of her, and so they were precious. I hadn't seen the coin purse in my searches, either; where was it? I was given the idea that the ring and the coin purse were together; time to take one more look.

Back into the closets and the places I'd already checked. Except this time my eyes laid on a little drawer I used to keep on top of my dresser (before we'd had our remodeling). I opened it, and there was the coin purse. I took out its contents, thanked my grandmother again--for the best hugs in the whole world, and for letting me know she was looking out for me. But where was the ring? I had nearly emptied the little drawer of its contents when I finally spied it. Just as promised, the ring was with the coin purse. And I'd dreamt it. Cool.

Thanks, Grandmom!

(knitting and reading; what could be better?)

I'm wearing it every day now, taking it off sometimes (to wash dishes and such), but really enjoying it. I was never much for pastel colors, but I love the way it seems pink sometimes, blue sometimes, green sometimes. I love the way the white surface just barely covers all those colors waiting underneath, the colors that come alive when you look at them...

(Can you see the setting? I was having trouble zooming
and taking a photo with my left hand...)

May you find something lost, and may you have interesting (in a good way) dreams!


Monday, November 15, 2010


I've been feeling lately that I want to post to the blog, but don't have something sustained to say. I have a million thoughts running through my head on a daily basis, and every once in a while think, "oh, I ought to write about that on the blog." But then what I have to say only turns out to be a couple sentences. Not so much a post.

So I was wondering this morning: what's up with my brain? What seems to have caused this lack of ability to sustain a complex or deep thought?

I came up with a couple possibilities: I've been grading a lot. My students' papers, depending on the class, do indeed contain deep thoughts, but I have to move on relentlessly to the next paper, not dwell on anything for too long.

The more likely culprits seem to be Facebook and Twitter, and web-surfing in general. I have been nearly compulsive lately in checking FB & Twitter--and for no better reason than "what's new since the last time I checked?" I'm not even sure I enjoy it anymore. So they're going in time-out. Or at least in slowdown mode--I'm going to try to make a point not to check them more than once a day. I have a lot of reading that I had put aside because it's hard to read anything long during the semester (I'm usually reading boatloads for homework); perhaps it's time to give that material some attention. Sustained thoughts, sustained ideas--that feels like what I need right now.

In the meantime... here are some scattered photos from the past week or so, and some scattered thoughts to go with them.

Out and about
Recently we went to two events at my school that we really enjoyed: one was a fundraiser for the Bodo Initiative, part of Education for the Future Foundation. My dear former student Lydia Spitalny created Bodo after she spent a semester abroad in Kenya; Lydia is inspiring, and her work is changing lives. Here is a picture of a drum circle, at the end of the evening, that Dexter actually got brave enough to participate in. More cowbell!

And here is another evening in the same space just a week later: the annual Culture Fest. In this piece, our campus group Wafiki wa Afrika were presenting a song...

... and there was also some wonderful dancing from Pakistan and India!

(My photos are bad, but the events were fun.)

At Dexter's school, the students presented a Veterans' Day concert that was quite nice. My favorite part was where they invited all the veterans in the auditorium to stand up, introduce themselves, and tell what branch of the service they were in and when...

(This is the stage before the kids arrived.)

I'm as liberal as they come, and yet events like this get me every time. After we got home, Dexter called Grandpa, Pop-pop, and Great-Granddad to thank them for their service.

Closer to home
Dexter must have had a growth spurt; either that or we haven't bought him clothes in a long time (distinctly possible). It seemed like he grew out of everything at once. So I've set aside the too-small stuff to take to the rez when I go back in March. Pirate has decided that Dexter's old socks make a lovely nest:

He's a sock pirate!

And speaking of happy, here's my teacup, complete with bloom:

Such a nice way to be greeted at breakfast time!

Let's talk about...
The weather here lately has been really weird. Warmer than I ever remember fall being, with three-ish-day spots of cold every now and then. And dry as a bone. Every time we get a little rain, with that warm weather, a couple flowers in the garden come back. They look confused.

Anyhow, here's a tree on campus that one day seemed to drop nearly all its leaves at once:

I was happy to catch sight of it before the leaf-blower crew came by, to have a chance to see the carpet of yellow leaves that belonged to that tree.

Look who I found in our driveway!

I can't remember whether a wide middle stripe means a long winter or not. And: is this wider than usual?

I have no idea...

Back out again
And, lastly, we are indeed turning toward winter, despite the weird warm temperatures. We went walking in a local park that features some meadows--places where the park folks are working on establishing some tall-grass prairies. I liked the splash of red we saw every once in a while among the blonde stalks:

Isn't this a beautiful color palette? We pay so much attention to the trees, but this field, it seems to me, was celebrating fall, too.

I hope you have a chance to celebrate fall, and to gather your thoughts.


Edited to add: the group's name is Rafiki wa Africa. I am a doofus.