• Tag Archives Chinese
  • Moving forward by taking no action

    Imbolc                                                                   Valentine Moon

    This last week was a bust as far as Latin or the book.  It was spent in the emotional and rigorous task of restoration, order to books, objets d’art, the new furnace.  Hardly wasted effort, but the effect on forward progress was substantial.

    You may notice that I’ve added a quote by Lao-Tze over the weather.  In it he advises the way of wu wei, of non-action, or, better of going with the flow, following the path life offers rather than overburdening it with goals, timelines, projects.  It’s not a huge difference from the Dalai Lama’s notion that the world does not need more successful people.  This week I’ve allowed the pace of the week to set my pace.  The result has been less frustration, less impatience.

    When the way opens again for work with Latin and the novels, I will be ready to do that.

    Though.  There is that tiny, niggling fact that I have northern European roots, not Chinese. Wu wei to my Teutonic ancestors would not have made much sense.  Set the goal, plow ahead, damn the obstacles.  Blitzkrieg.  Dynamite. (Nobel) The onward rush of history, it’s progress through material reality.  These are not the thoughts or inventions of people who follow the Watercourse Way.

    Nor, for that matter, is the other ethnic blood in my veins, Celtic.  Hot-blooded, quick to laugh, quick to anger.  Impatient with oppression.  Creative and dreamy.  Living in this world and the other world.  In one case the rational tank rolls over barriers; in the other the emotional maelstrom cooks up revolution and poetry and love.

    Wu wei is a corrective, another way of being in the world.  And we need it.  It leavens our energetic attempts to mold the world with a willingness to listen to how the world might mold us.

    It’s for another time, but the long run application of Taoist and even Confucian principles have produced a moral and ethical sink in contemporary China.  They are not the whole way.  We need each other.


  • That Old Achievement Bugaboo

    Beltane                                                                Waxing Last Frost Moon

    Deciding to take a gamble on the weather, with the aid of the forecasters, Kate planted some frost sensitive plants today:  coleus, especially.  She also planted artemisia, Jacob’s Ladder, alyssum and purple wave petunias.  Mark weeded.  Meanwhile I was in St. Paul doing my next to last session with Leslie.

    Tonight was Tai Chi.  When I arrived, there was no one else there except the first teacher I encountered and an advanced student.  Nobody else showed up, presumably due to mother’s day.  That meant I had a personal class with two teachers.  It was a revelation.  This teacher, the one I met the first night of class, has a style that connects with me.

    She spoke about learning Chinese, listening to the words at night before she went to bed and in the morning before class and recommended, again, since she had done the same thing at the one class she taught, that I practice morning and night.  Just immerse yourself, she said.  We come to these things with such an achievement orientation and we have to jettison it, let go of mistakes, think of them as occurrences, concentrate on the process.

    Tai Chi has 13 different moves, a vocabulary of movement, a style of movement rooted in another culture.  I’ve learned 5 of them so far.  Well, sort of learned them.

    It was a good class. What I needed at this point.

  • Kids, Chinese Heritage and Sheepshead + Buddhism

    Lughnasa                          Waxing Artemis Moon

    Whew.  Into the MIA for tours with kiddies from the Peace Games at the park across from the Museum.  I had two groups, one a group of girls mostly who were sensitive, responsive and imaginative.  A pleasure.  The second group was all tween boys who wandered, posed, paused and were harder to engage, though the sword did get their attention.

    When finished, I knew I had to return at 5:45 and I had the option of staying, but I chose to drive back home and take a nap.  After an illness, I like to get as much rest as possible.

    So, turn around at 5:00 pm and go back to the museum for a tour of the Matteo Ricci map with the Chinese Heritage Foundation.  They were a lively, bright group who could read the map!  That gave more insight into it.  Lots of good questions, conversation.

    I left the museum at 6:45 and headed over to St. Paul to sheepshead.  The card gods smiled on me tonight.  After a slow start, I got some better cards.

    Then, back home.  A long day.  On the drive I’ve been listening to more of the Religions of the Axial Age lectures.  The ones right now focus on Buddhism.  I’ve never found Buddhism appealing though certain elements seem helpful.  Since I’m a not a big believer in reincarnation or kharma, the Buddha seems to be solving a problem I don’t have.  After listening to the notion of no-self, I began to have a distinct puzzlement.  I don’t get how the notion of no-self and continuing rebirth co-exist.  I must be misunderstanding something.

  • A Year of Consolidation

    Spring                                         Waxing Flower Moon

    Hmmm.   Wax.  Bees wax, or, propolis as it is properly called.  I just did a mid-April reversal of the top two hive boxes per the Minnesota bee-keeping method for a cold climate.  This involved taking out each frame, examining it–even though I’m still a bit uncertain about what I’m seeing–putting it back after scraping any queen cells, a few, then switching the top hive box with the middle one.  This does something good, though right now I can’t recall what.

    A nimble joint future awaits me since I got stung four times today.  Each time a little less reaction.  The first sting came from a bee that crawled up my pants leg.  Another came as I removed a frame.  The third and fourth as I took off my bee suit only to discover that on its back were a lot of bees.  The bee suit still lies on the floor of the honey house.  A lot to learn.  These hive boxes, which have lots of larvae, pollen and honey are heavy.  Another reminder of why hitting the weights is a good idea.

    Next week the Minnesota Hygienic bees come in their little wooden package.  They will go into the new hive boxes that Kate has assembled and coated with polyurethane.  She’s also assembling honey supers and coating bottom boards, tops and other miscellaneous woodware.

    This is a year of consolidation on the gardens and bee front.  We’ll make sure we can make good use of all the vegetable beds and companion planting ideas.  We’ll shore up our preservation and storage options.  I’ll learn about the honey extracting and bottling process as well as colony division and hiving my own package of bees.  We have fruits and berries, even a few nuts to learn how to care for, all of which fit in well with the Brenda Langston inspired version of healthy eating.

    Inside though there’s still the Latin.  No consolidation there yet.  It’s an upward curve so far.

    I have been wondering recently about my work at the MIA.  This is my 9th year as guide and docent.  The art world as a whole continues to fascinate me and the research challenges it presents are gifts to my life, not burdens.  Touring has become easier and more enjoyable this year.  Not sure why.  Just has.   Should I continue on a sort of emphasis on Asian art, especially China and Japan, or should I really lock myself down into those two and really learn them?  Should I perhaps shift my learning focus to prints and drawings, an area not many docents cover and in which the bulk of the museum’s collection of object lies?  I think what I’m saying is I want more depth in the experience.  I’ve gained breadth and I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity.  How to make the experience richer and deeper?  That’s the journey now.

  • Chinese Calligraphy

    Spring              Waning Seed Moon

    Kate’s home for a four day weekend.  She needs the rest.  I hope she will take it easy, though she wants to do garage sale related things.  I’m not sure what that means and I worry about her taking care of herself.

    I have a tour of China for Chinese language students from Central High tomorrow.  I decided to go with the history of Chinese calligraphy and its five main styles.  Part of why I’m doing this is that calligraphy is China’s highest art form and its appreciation influences all other forms of aesthetic judgment.  That means I don’t have an inside view of what makes Chinese art tick unless I can better comprehend calligraphy.  This is a start.

  • A Honu for Dylan

    30  bar steep fall 29.97  1mph W windchill 29

           Waning Crescent of the Snow Moon

    Back to the MIA for the first time in almost a month.  Took Jennifer a Honu (green sea turtle) t-shirt for Dylan.  Talked to Jennifer and Paula, picked up my mail-box stuff and went over to Kristine Harley’s office and checked out the Weber lecture by Matthew Welch. 

    After that, I went upstairs and did a quick once over through the exhibit.  Loved the Nara era Buddha, Hotei reaching toward the moon, the demon queller and the tiger, the Brine Maidens, the turtle kimono, the oribe tea-ware, the Edo paintings, some of the monochromatic stuff the name of which I can’t recall right now.  I also thought the modern robes with ice-crack design, open book and colored lights patterns were great, too.  Next work is to read the object labels I printed out and the catalog, then take tours with 2 or 3 docents doing the tours and at least one CIF guide, Kumiko Voller, so I can learn how to pronounce everything.

    Amanda’s pregnant.  Saw Shiela, too. 

    On the drive I’ve begun relistening to From Yao to Mao, the 5,000 year history of China.  This history has lasted so long and has had so many twists and turns, I find it hard to keep straight, so I’m hoping repetition will work.  It’s more interesting the second time through since I now have some context.

  • Security as the Museum’s Id

    25  66%  20%  0mph  SSW bar29.90  windchill24  Winter

                 Waning Gibbous Winter Moon

    At the MIA I picked up my old security badge with the grinning face and a patch of remnant frontal hair which looked like a soft, brown green at the 1st hole.  This earned me admission to the basement, the haunt of the security guards.  I went in the basement to get my picture taken because the badges are, after all, a security concern, relegated to the basement, or id level of the museum.  This is the instinctive, protective part of the museum’s body; it strikes without forethought to protect art, then vitrines, cases and stands.  In a pinch they will protect people, too, but mostly it’s about the art.   Makes sense.  After all, the guy didn’t come in and sit on a patron; no, he chose the $500,000 Ming dynasty chair. (Now worth $750,000 after renovation)

    Anyhow, I went down the stairs.  On the left was the guards lounge with the artistic funky furniture and guard art on the wall.  On the right was the photo shop.  On the wall next to its door was an old museum sign in bronze, perhaps 3 feet high and 18 inches wide.  It gave the hours and days of the museum.  So, the basement is also where old signage goes to live after its working life is over.

    Once inside, more guard art on the walls, there were those little light reflecting umbrellas that photographers use, plus a tilted white board at desk level in front of the stool.  Pauline? had a Canon SLR digital on a tripod.  She took three shots:  I smiled broadly, quirkily, and deadpan. 

    “I’ll leave it to you to choose the most winning one,” I said and left the basement.

     Back here at home I’ve also begun my attempt to learn Chinese characters on my own, with the aid of softwared I bought a while back.  Over the  years I’ve tried to learn Welsh, Spanish, German and Greek.  I have some Latin and some French.  Languages are not my long suit, but I keep sticking my head back in the stocks every few years.   Part of me is ashamed I’ve never learned another language.  No, make that all of me.  Very ethnocentric and gauche American.