Quizzical Squash: A Writer Wednesday Post

September 26th, 2012 | Posted by Irene in Essays - (6 Comments)

Quizzical Squash, photo and all text ©Irene O’Garden, 2012

 To listen to this post, please click here:Quizzical Squash

Home from our trip to find on the leafy vine in our nearly past-tense garden a half-my-dog-big cloudy blue Hubbard squash. Quizzical.  Knobby blue globe, swollen with summer sun and rain. A thing that almost doesn’t seem like food.  Food rarely asks an ax in preparation.

You can see how someone thought up bowling. Such a wondrous thunderous squash could rumble Rip Van Winkle skies, knock the ninepins down. Quizzical, though. How and when can this become a dish without a lumberjack to whack it? And a baseball team to eat it?

You can’t accurately at the moment call it squash, since it won’t.  Squash, that is. Not yet, anyway. Not till the mallet and cleaver reveal two seedy buckets to be scooped, till the turkey pan and the long lazy roasting turn it from its fierce formica form to a soft sweet heap.  Squash is the very endest product of itself.

Yield of my garden, I yield to the impulse to look you up, be certain of your Hubbard-ity. Yes, the images are all this smokey slatey shade. Many are wartier,  oddly ovoid or elbowed. In fact, I now appreciate my shapely one, you fat blue toy top of a squash.

But I’m not in the mood to eat squash today, and my upper body’s too fatigued to tackle it. One writer says to bag your Hubbard and to drop it on the floor. But it gave me all these words today! I have affection for it and that seems disrespectful.

I turn to Alice Waters on my shelf. She always has an answer and today she says, “A winter squash is better left to sit a few weeks after harvest.” I’ll wait for the orange of October to open this blue. Whew!

What’s cooking with you?


Maine Light: A Writer Wednesday Post

September 19th, 2012 | Posted by Irene in Essays - (6 Comments)

Please note: slightly different layout this week and no sound file because we are traveling–this program is a bit skittish on the road–thanks for your understanding.

How it begins is I want to share the light with you, the light of Maine, which first only seems translatable into breathtaking paint on canvas, canvases which line the gallery walls in compact fine museums here in Maine, a show of Frederic Church in one in Portland. Frederic Church who played the glowing Hudson Valley light by which I live, the Hudson Valley light which falls like a resonating chord, but the light of Maine he paints, and Winslow Homer and Frank W. Benson paint, strikes a clear arpeggio of separate tumbling notes.

By this light I want to share with you rich days of art, made into a perfect latte at Bard coffee in Portland, spun through Longfellow’s boyhood home there, breathing the air of old poetry in the room in which he wrote “Into each life some rain must fall,” flowing through the film “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” a day topped off by a dessert as light and joyful as the whimsy that inspired it: a carrot-cake soufflé–all spicy delight and no heaviness, mascarpone sauce for the cream-cheese frosting, absolutely ethereal.

Blazing through the word-defying light of Maine, the clarity of Rachel Carson, the transformative power of her words and vision honored by marshlands preserved in her name, the light of early preservationists shining on the steep stone steps up Dorr Mountain in Acadia, sparkling into sweat-stung eyes at the summit, this light itself a very lens, magnifying, sharpening, the moment when the optician dials the wheel of lenses and says “How about now?” and you say, “Yes, that’s it.”

Light, art, beauty, nature, true love at your side: the light of travel at her best, by which we see in clarity the multiple channels beauty opens and cascades through, channels up through which our gratitude and joy travel back to Source, helping us hear inner promptings: talk to those people at breakfast, find out what you have to give and give it.






Consciousness at Play: A Writer Wednesday Post

September 12th, 2012 | Posted by Irene in News - (8 Comments)

Irene and Her Spectrum, photo by Nick Doyle
all text ©Irene O’Garden 2012

Please note: this post is a little longer than usual. I had to upload it in two parts. Please listen here:Consciousness at Play Part One  Consciousness at Play Part Two

Had a great time in Denver last week attending the conference and performing Stand-Up Dreams. The picture above was taken during the show as I discuss what I call a spectrum of consciousness: dreams at one end, waking life at the other and various shadings in between, including daydreams and the creative state.

I enjoy playing with my consciousness and expressing it in physical form and at this conference it was fun to see how others play, particularly in areas well beyond my ken. While I apply my consciousness regularly to the arts–whether literary, graphic, dreaming or domestic – some scientists are exploring the effects of consciousness in medicine, biology and physics, and they came to Denver to talk about it.

These reports from scientific frontiers may not be for everyone, but I find them fascinating. Whether consciousness does affect physicality or not is actually immaterial to me. I am happier and consequently more effective when I behave as if it were so.

Evolutionary biologist Elisabet Sahtouris skyped her presentation from Majorca. In addition to sharing her vision of cooperative (beyond Darwinian) evolution, she reminded us that many responses we see in politics, government and business are juvenile and adolescent behaviors (No! Im not listening! I wont do anything you say!) These are just stages toward maturation and something we will outgrow. (Especially comforting in this election year!)

We heard from a software engineer, Feichi Shih, who wanted to understand life and to that end studied molecular biology, with a special interest in the mutation of genes causing cancer. But as she sliced up cells and genetic material in the lab, she realized that because it was necessary to kill the cells to examine them, she was not actually looking at life after all. A family illness prompted her to explore the work of Dr. Tien-Sheng Hsu in Taiwan, a medical doctor and psychiatrist trained in orthodox Western medicine who pairs traditional cancer treatment with explorations of thought, emotions and their effects on health. Many of his patients have enjoyed successful outcomes using this approach. (I heard him and some of his former patients speak in New York last year, and he is a remarkable presence.) Feichi is now helping translate more of Dr. Hsu’s books into English.

I was also tickled by a description of a well-designed, as-yet unperformed experiment to discover if thought alone can reverse the spin of an electron.

Theoretical physicist Dr. Ron A. Bryan, Professor Emeritus at top-ranked Texas A&M University, described his proposed experiment. As I understand it, an isolated ion of magnesium is dyed with a laser, making it fluorescent. While not visible to the naked eye, the near ultra-violet light is detectable on computer through a photomultiplier. If a person can lower the energy of the electron with thought, the ion will reverse its spin, and the light will disappear. One could then create patterns of on and off light, like Morse code, so that the spin would be seen to be influenced by thought.  Ron told me that because this experiment requires an ion trap–a complicated, expensive instrument– we are two years away from completing it, but then results can be replicated in any lab with an ion trap. (For all the physicists reading my blog, here is his technical article.) Sounds like fun to me!

Many of us are exposed to a great deal of media which tries to direct our consciousness solely for corporate or political gain. Our consciousness is always our own, however, and enjoys playing, seeing what it can create.

How do you like to play with your own consciousness?


Orange Mosaic Mandala, image & all text
©Irene O’Garden 2012

(Technical snafu this week! Sorry– will repost recorded version when I return)

Today I leave for Denver to perform a show there on Saturday night. “Stand-Up Dreams” sprung from reading from twelve years of my dream journals to my friend Scott. What if you took the most compelling, well-written dreams  and performed them like a stand-up comedy routine? So you get not only comedy, but drama, horror, sex, violence, and quirky imagery as well. One-stop entertainment shopping.

Happily for me, not only did Scott instantly grasp the idea, he offered to sonically accompany me, in what has turned out to be a fascinating score using ancient instruments, sound effects and recordings. A version of the mandala above will constitute our set.

Grateful as we are for them, the kind of accommodations on my mind this week are not Denver hotel rooms, but the inner accommodations we make for ourselves and one another.  Accommodation: the making space for.  The willingness to be patient and see what happens. The accommodation Scott offered me. Prerequisite for any kind of creativity, bedrock to any enduring relationship.

This idea was underscored in an excellent, vivid, gritty book I bought in Canada and just finished: Eating Dirt, by Charlotte Gill, about her experiences as a professional tree planter replanting clearcuts. In it, she talks about a phenomenon among trees of all kinds.  When they grow in groups, trees may overlap, but they stop short of touching each other, even in rain-forest canopies. It’s called crown shyness, (though it seems more like crown courtesy to me.)

It reminded me of one of the closing dreams in my show.  I find myself addressing the UN (!) saying that we live in a psychic library of cultures.  It’s important to preserve the volumes, even if we don’t want to read them all. And they can exist side by side, the way disagreeing books do.

Accommodation. I’m glad my dreams and friends make space for me, and glad that I make space for them.

What are you making space for this week?

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