Tuesday, October 16, 2018

New Soul Cycle

This post is a follow up from last month when we were on the cusp of beginning a new soul cycle.  Moon approaching Saturn in Sept.  

I'm calling the Moon lining up with Saturn a soul cycle just to make the cycle more poetic and thereby easier to remember.  The Moon has a regular cycle with every other body in the solar system, and each of those cycles between one line-up to the next, of the Moon and another body, could be called a soul cycle.  Why?  Because the Moon is associated with soul and motherhood.  

This post and the one before it focus on the Soul's relationship with the limits of existence, which are associated, or as Spinoza would say, attributed, to Saturn.  Humans have been following the 27 year orbit of Saturn for well over 5,000 years, and it shouldn't be surprising that they came to associate this cycle with self control and rising to positions of responsibility in the community.  The Soul learning to function within the limiting circumstances of physical existence is represented by the symbol of the cross over the crescent.  The cross is a point in space and time, measured by the meridion crossing the horizon.  As mortal beings, existing in bodies, we can only be in one point in time and space, at a given moment.  Those are the limits of mortal existence the cross referred to long before the Romans crucified Jesus as well many criminals and other enemies of the state.

When we draw the cross over the cresent we are calling to mind this concept of an extended cycle as the crucible of the Soul's purification - the experience of becoming responsible members of the human community.  

In the chart below, the blue circle goes around Saturn, Pluto and the Moon.  To keep it simple we will overlook Pluto and just focus on Saturn and Moon.   The Moon is about 18degrees ahead of Saturn and they are both in the sign Capricorn.  Saturn, the planet of the long orbit rules in Capricorn, the sign of long nights.

I have to stick this pitiful reminder in before I go further - Many folks, including me, consider current Saturn to be in Cancer for locations in Southern Hemisphere.  People in the Southern Hemisphere have the major task of transcribing this meditation to fit their radically different perspective of the solar system.

Back to our Northern Hemisphere meditation on Moon meeting Saturn.  I wrote last month's post a few hours before Moon met Saturn.  When Moon is about to meet Saturn, it is in Saturn's last house.  At that time they are near the end of their cycle of meeting, separating and meeting again.  There are twelve houses so the last house is another way of saying twelfth house.  When the Moon has just lined up with Saturn and is less than 30degrees ahead it is in Saturn's first house.  It is in the first step of a new cycle of meeting, separation and return to new unification.

The new cycle began Sunday night at 10:40 Raleigh time.  Tomorrow morning we will be finished with the first step and graduating to the second - the Moon will be at 4degrees Aquarius, over 30degrees ahead of Saturn.  The imtensity of the relationship between Soul and the God of Self Control will diminish somewhat as Soul progresses in its monthly orbit, passing in succession the various other bodies, renewing its cycle with each one before returning to check in with General Saturno.

Saturn looks like a lower case 'h' but it is actually the symbol of the cross over the crescent.

I did make it up to Maine to visit my son.  We had a wonderful 42 hours together, and I felt like a very privileged tourist being treated to an insider's view of historic boat building and sailing.  My son drove back to Raleigh with me and flew back to Maine early Sunday morn.  Now I am reflecting the next Saturnian challenge that life is unfolding for me. 

This morning I was called maternal yet again, and I immediately said, "it's not me, it's Moon meeting Saturn."  I no longer think of myself as being shaped by my childhood experiences with my mother, but as both of us being shaped by the familiar cycle of the Moon.


Monday, September 17, 2018

Cross Training

The Moon is lining up with Saturn today.  Saturn is in the disciplinary sign of Capricorn and will take its time there for the next 2 years.  I want to talk about the mechanics of why we see Saturn and the Moon so low on the horizon, but I have learned a very important lesson from cross training.  The lesson is that we can only progress in small steps and if we try to progress too rapidly beyond our capabilities we become very discouraged.

When the Moon is lined up with Saturn we have a chance to focus on the limitations of our individual circumstances, and breathe through that reality.  Keep in mind that the word psyche in ancient Greek texts is translated in English as soul, but the word to them actually meant 'breath as the sign of life.'  They thought a lot about how breath distinguished plants and planets from animals, and how the human ability to control our own breath makes us special.

People often say the Greeks thought the mind was in the area of heart or stomach, but the word they used was phrenos; and I think they were referring to the ability to control breath through the movement of the diaphragm.  When someone was in a panic, or stirred to anger, they lost their phrenos or ability to control their diaphragm.  This is a valuable association to keep in mind when we ponder the nature of soul or psyche.

Today I am preparing for vet visit to check on my older cat's runny eyes.  I received a call from my son last night.  After a wonderful half hour of catchup on his sailing & boat building life he invited me to visit him in New England.

The way the invitation was framed was sobering.  His former boss and wife from another job had stopped into the harbor where he lives and works, on their way sailing home and paid him a visit.  They toured the historic vessel he's working on and admired the pilot cutter he bought in July.  It is his first sail boat, built in 1937.

The wife asked him if his parents had come to visit, and he said no.  She was amazed.

So I have been given the push I needed to stop fantasizing about how wonderful it would be to see my son, and meet the people he works with, and make it happen.  It won't be easy.

But I have been rigorously cross training.  I am almost finished memorizing the second chapter of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  The sutra I am memorizing now discusses a skill I have been developing to free myself of fantasies, like the one of going to visit my son.

[II:54]
स्वविषयासम्प्रयोगे चित्तस्य स्वरूपानुकार इवेन्द्रियाणां प्रत्याहारः॥५४॥
Svaviṣayāsamprayoge cittasya svarūpānukāra ivendriyāṇāṁ pratyāhāraḥ
Withdrawal of the senses is where objects are not allowed to stir the mind at all, and it follows, rather, after its own nature.

Previous sutras explain how to turn attention inward; and here, in the next to last sutra of the second chapter, Patanjali introduces another step on the yogic path, which is learning to focus on the peaceful field of the mind while allowing thoughts and impressions to fade and recede.  
This was a handy tool when fanatasies of visiting my son came up.  I knew from experience and sutra 2:15 that these mental wanderings would only lead to pain, that resentment was lurking around the bend of the contemplation of even such a healthy pleasure.  My circumstances are very limited and travel is a luxury I can ill afford.  So I focused on breathing, or memorizing a sutra, or study.
Now I am not contemplating a visit as a pleasure to be fulfilled but as the responsibility of a parent.  The journey will disturb a mental health routine which has taken years and dedication to establish.  I didn't start out as a sober, responsible parent; it was a long, evolving process.  My son grew up in the heart of my psychic storm, my uncontrolled phrenos, as many children do.
It is more than a pleasure to witness his success in life and ability to overcome family obstacles, it is an honor and a duty.
That's Moon meeting Saturn.  I'm scared.  Worried about my senior calico cat - she's as tuff as cats come, but she may need me here.  My mind is pulled in various directions; plans must be made for the journey, but not until we see what the vet says.
I repeat sutra 2:54 while washing dishes.  The emotional recollections of my son's childhood, and worries about how this change in schedule could affect my mental health are called samskaras in Sanskrit.  I repeat the sutra silently and remember that funny new age word.  

Saturn days became a bit easier for me when I learned to identify them, like a child learning why everyone is lining up and filing into the hall way.  It is time now to do this.  Cross training with the yoga sutras helps me develop the mental ability to let failures of the past fade as I focus on dealing with present responsibilites.  Failures are like unwanted commercials I can ignore on the tv screen of my inner mind.  Silently repeating any sutra lowers the volume.

I have resolved to compose posts that are less ambitious, but I am still dedicated to encouraging readers to become comfortable reading maps of a time and place in the solar system.  Below is a map for 9:34 in Raleigh, the moment I began composing this post.  You can see the crescent symbol (Moon) just about caught up with Saturn at 2 degrees Capricorn 39 minutes.  If I got a chart for now, 12:16pm they would probably be just under the horizontal line on the left side of the circle. Maybe it would not be too ambitious to include one for this moment so you can see how the movement of earth turning is represented in the chart.

Well, it looks like Saturn/Moon are just now crossing into first house.  They will be rising in a couple of hours; we won't be able to see them until the Sun sets, but the map tells us Raleigh is turning toward them.










Friday, March 2, 2018

More about Desperately Seeking Arshad

Dear, DEAR readers, whoever you are and wherever you may be,

it is now 9:56, Friday March 2, 2018 and I am writing my first essay on my new (Acer) computer, and before I do anything else I must wrap up my story of Desperately Seeking Arshad. When I finally came out of my Scorpio tunnel that Friday so many weeks ago and laughed at the techno wizard husband’s wisecrack, I had to tell the Leo moon wife all about the day of Jupiter meeting my natal Scorpio moon. After hearing me explain the quiet wisecrack that made me laugh she asked about what was going on in the stars, which really means what’s going on in the solar system. I gave a long drawn out story of knocking on doors of strangers from distant lands and talking with the friendly guy from Acapulco in the parking lot. But when I told her the story I forgot to mention, mainly because I plain forgot, that this little adventure was not associated so much with the transits of that day, which were significant, but with the transit of my natal moon. Jupiter was in the same spot along the ecliptic as the place where the moon was the moment I was born-- that combination has for centuries been associated with an uplifting of the soul. But I just wanted to tell the story of the people I had met, the little grandmotherly looking women with children crowded around them, who could only understand a few words of English. The older black woman who was enjoying a conversation on the warm day, after the bitter freeze of the week before, with a younger African American woman. When I approached them instead of going up the stairs, to ask if they knew of a man from Pakistan named Arshad, the older woman bristled and said they had nothing to say to me, “Let’s go inside,” she said to her companion and they went in and shut the door.

I was a stranger in a rundown apartment complex full of strangers and the only one who came from this country was determined not to talk with me; her rejection was energetic. But that family behind the left door at the top of the stairs had two children of middle school age who translated for the grandmotherly woman. The girl recognized Arshad’s name, but the woman sent the boy with me to show me to his apartment. As we walked toward the next apartment I asked the boy if Arshad was married, a bigger than a breadbox question to see if we were talking about the same man, and he said, “I think so.” Uh oh. My Arshad was here alone. He lived with a roommate from his country. Had he stretched his story or did I have the wrong man? The boy left me as I knocked on the door.

Another apartment with children from preschool through middle school. This time a girl thinks she might know a man by that name and volunteers to take me to his apartment. Somewhere in all this, I think it was the girl from the apartment before, who seemed to recognize his name immediately, said, “his father is dying...” Things happened so quickly. As I walked with one of the middle schoolers from one unit to the next I asked what country they were from. Afghanistan. The light went on. I was telling people he was from Pakistan but it was Afganistan. And there is the seed of this little exercise which seems on the surface to be futile and frivolous.
That is the chart for now. First time I have managed to insert a chart into the middle of a post in over a year. Ahh. Luxurious blogging.

America just came through. This propels me forward in the DSA story. At the end of the day, after the futile search and the linguistic treasures that came from it, America wanted to ask a question. (I told my Leo moon customer/friend about this part too; the Leo moon people in my life are the best audiences.) Lately a question from America is about someone leaving a mess in the bathroom. I stiffened up, ugh. She had a notepad and wanted to ask me how to pronounce a letter! She had been gone in the evening for the last two weeks and I never asked why. I wondered if she was working late or what. It turned out she had started taking a literacy class at the local community college. She has tried, many times over the 14 years I have known her, to learn the alphabet and each time gets a teeny bit further, but then goes for more that a year without studying. Work has been really slow and boredom worked its magic. In years past she did not have her own car during these slow times, but now she does, and has taken advantage by enrolling in a class that meets for a few hours 4 evenings a week. She read the whole alphabet to me with only two snags. I was elated. That was the end of my Jupiter meets natal Scorpio moon day; discovering that America was finally learning to read and write. 

 

As I was sending the astro.com chart via bluetooth to my computer, she came through and asked, “what word is used for ….” and she put her hand to her chest, pecho, in Spanish. We had a discussion about chest, chest of drawers, breasts and senos. Senos is the word in Spanish for breasts, as in examen de senos or breast exam. She talked about how she can understand what the teacher says or writes on the board, but cannot say it. The tongue, like the fingers, is slower than the brain. And she said she needs to learn not to be afraid. No one sees the thoughts we have, but the words we pronounce are vulnerable to criticism. But America’s giant step toward literacy and speaking English is jumping ahead in the story. I guess I should stop here and get ready for work. Once again I am writing on a Friday that I clean for the Leo moon customer and her technically advanced husband. They are a magical pair. I clean for them every other Friday. Maybe I will take my new laptop to their house and ask for permission to use their internet so I can upload this post to blogspot.com.

But….there is one cool thing I want to insert. It got me to sit down and write this post. I have been studying the Greek/English version of Jason and the Argonauts by Apollonius Rhodius. Wednesday morning I discovered, from my trusty Liddell Scott Greek lexicon, that argos means not only swift, but brilliant, white and bright as in lightening. It is the lightening association which epic poets were referring to when they used ‘argo’ to describe something as fast. But the word argo was also familiar to Greeks as a contraction of ‘a’ and ‘ergo.’ ‘A’ meaning not and ‘ergo’ meaning work. The lexicon uses the example of a craft shop during idle time being ‘argo.’ That word, argo, and the little package of meanings that go with it was floating in and out of my thoughts Wednesday and yesterday.

I finished work late yesterday, 7:20pm. It’s not as grueling as it sounds since I didn’t start till after 12:30, but for a tired old (59) housecleaner that is still a long day. I came home to a serious cat fight, the fur was flying is not just an expression; if I had not seen the two cats myself I might have been worried by the amount of fur I was sweeping up in the hall. I had gone to the store after work (to buy cat food) and was transferring some of the food from a 16lb bag to yogurt containers. Easier to dispense at chow time. The youngest cat, who was the one attacked (I often refer to the attacker as the Empress. She goes after all the cats, but when they are outside they can run and get out of her way.)….The young cat was safe in the house and trying mightily to get to the food as I scooped it from the bag into the containers. I store all the food in the freezer. They seem to like it better that way. A call came in from a friend in the middle of all this after-work activity and I swiped it to the ignore side.

This morning I was writing the friend whose call I had ignored. She lives about 80 miles distant and has no internet or wireless so it’s either a phone call or a letter. In the letter I mentioned my latest Jason and the Argonauts studies and as I wrote down the part about ‘argo’ as a contraction meaning idle from working I recalled my dream last night. I didn’t just recall it; an association between the Greek word for idle and the idle nature of the workers in my dream popped into my head. Those neurons are amazing little factories. I try to imagine the last molecule building the bridge to make that connection. This weekend I will probably have my nose in the Cell Biology by the Numbers book.

In the dream last night, I don’t remember all of course, but the part I remember well was this guy running some operation that I was either new to, or maybe going to join as a worker. I asked him how he could stand it when workers were slack or did something wrong. I said I would fire them. He said he just talked to them and worked with them till they got it right. When some women were showing me how a wooden structure for funneling grain into bags worked it seemed like no one was really worried about getting anything done. The guy in charge was very relaxed and friendly. We were sitting at a table and I asked about a strange little tool he had, it seems like it was something on a key chain. There were various shapes on it. My memory here is vague, I’m only positive of the fact that I was intrigued and when I asked he said that he used to want to be a carpenter.

Any way. When I woke up I was struck by the fact that no one was really getting anything done, but it seemed like a really cool place to work. I have been thinking the last couple days about Jason and the Argonauts being a sort of genre of epic where the task is futile, or seems to be of no practical value, like Sisyphus. I have also thought about the recurring theme, in Greek plays and epics, of people trying to use the information provided by soothsayers to avoid inevitable life outcomes and always failing.

My customer Wednesday was close to tears talking about the current administration. She counted the members of her family who have worked for the government over the years, trying to make this country a place where workers are treated fairly. She said the only way she can live with the strong emotions is to see them as stages in a grieving process. She is grieving the loss of workers’ rights which so many people have sacrificed so much to gain. All day Thursday I thought about her. I have many friends, and she is a friend as much as a customer, who are marching in the streets to protest what is happening. She cannot march. She is 90 years old and I can see in her gait that she has to be careful. What do we do with this sense of futility in the face of life?

It has been years since I studied Jung’s Red Book. It was a big help, along with Man and His Symbols even more years ago, in learning to immerse myself in the strange language of my own dreams. I am lost trying to make sense of other peoples’ dreams. I am usually lost trying to make sense of my own dreams. But sometimes associations come into my mind that make me mentally stagger. I am awed at what comes in the darkness of sleep.

Friday, January 26, 2018

My 25 Minutes in the Kuiper Belt

Another week has passed since my latest installment of Desperately Seeking Arshad.  Two days ago (Wed Jan 24)  Mercury, the last in this year's extended parade of inner planets, passed between Earth and Pluto.  I was visiting my neighbor and his old college friend at the moment of closest lineup, which is similar to the local school band striking up their signature tune as they pass the parade grandstands.  Only this was the planet of communication instead of a school band, and the dignitary in the grandstands was the first planet spotted in the Kuiper Belt 88 years ago.  Though I made a nuisance of myself by bringing up astrology multiple times in the conversation, I did not mention the lineup and that it was occuring on Raleigh's western horizon, as my mates did their best to politely dodge my efforts to hijack the conversation.  The western horizon is the house of friendship.  I wondered if they felt the same loneliness and distance that I felt.  If they felt the inabilty to bridge some spiritual gap; maybe a gap between our respective individual indentities.  But I guess I saved that question as a rhetorical platform for this post.

(    +    )    +    (    +    )

When I got to my customer's house last Friday the wife was ironing in the kitchen with the radio tuned to NPR, and the husband was finishing lunch.  Usually the wife is upstairs at her desk, maybe out for errands or meeting with a friend, and the husband is in the basement shop.  His shop is a kind of diy fantasy land, and the house is replete with energy saving devices and various ingenius tweeks that they have come up with together.  It looks like a fairly normal house until i turn on a light, or run the vacuum and experience the pleasure that comes from working in a home where so many unobtrusive technical details have been added.

I wasn't ready, after crawling so recently out the my blog writing tunnel of concentration, to be sociable.  Not one, sometimes one or the other of them is in the middle of lunch when I show up, but two people in the kitchen and a radio discussion of the latest legislative wrangling in Washington.  I grabbed the broom and went to sweep the front porch, after muttering something along the lines of hello.

I was off to a no nonsense work day.  Not one of those days where I visit with the customer for 20 minutes before I even get started.  It is not unusual to take an extra 40 minutes to an hour on a house because of enjoying conversation with a customer.

$    #    $    #    $    #    $

It is now 10:05 Saturday morn.  I left off writing yesterday around 11:30 to get ready to go clean my other Friday customer, the chair lady.  She was a friend before she became a customer and now we are a good bit closer.  But I need to push on to the account of searching for Arshad...

Now I remember what I keep meaning to say.  And it came up at the previous Friday customer's house, the one with all the neat technical details:  a couple of hours in to the afternoon, when the ironing board had been put away and the husband and wife had returned from some errand they had gone on together, the husband was on his way to the basement and said in his usual quiet voice, "Are you getting everything under control?"  He never raises his voice, but there is often a barely detectable mischievous sparkle to it.

I took a few extra beats to respond.  I sensed the challenge but could not come up with a riposte.  Slow Taurus.  "Yes, Smart Ass."  That was the best I could do.  Be he carried the flag for both of us and immediately slid back

"Good, Crabcake."

I laughed so hard as he closed the door behind him and headed down the basement steps.  His wife missed the exchange, it was a very quiet one until I busted out laughing,  so I had to repeat it to her. 

Zz.   Zz.   Zz.   Zz.   Zz

It is now 12:50 am Feb 7.  I have been back to the tech customers' house and then two more houses.  Work-a-day life keeps carrying me on toward the ocean of oblivion.  I have visited a bedbound friend, studied all kinds of fascinating things, but this story is not getting written.

What I meant to say when I started this post more than 2 weeks ago, is that the special quality of my search for Arshad was not just associated with where the planets were that day.  Venus was meeting Saturn and Mars was meeting Jupiter.  What made it so special for me was that Jupiter was lined up with my natal Moon.  So it was more than a day of planets lining up; it was a day of good fortune for a Scorpio soul that comes once every 12 years. 

It was recalling the conversation after the big laugh that reminded me. 

°    '    "    °    '    "    °    '    "

12:57pm Sat Feb 17.  Mars is entering Neptune's 10th house today.  It began with an amazing realization about how to meditate on houses for locations in or near the arctic circles.  It was about 7am and Mars was "crossing" the midheaven when it occurred to me, "it is not whether the section of the ecliptic they are facing is visible, it is where they are in their daily revolution on the tilted planet, that houses indicate.  The fact that certain sections of the ecliptic are under the horizon all day and night for locations near the pole does not mean those houses are smaller or do not exist."

Then there was a call from my mother in law.  A relative in prison is dying.  Discussion of family history naturally follows with my husband.  Near the end of the long rambling recall of a troubled past he mentioned having bad dreams for years on a regular basis.  We were talking over the phone, we do not live together, tears just sprung to my eyes like fresh drops of warm water from a quiet old hot spring.  We said our goodbyes.  I noted the moment he mentioned the bad dreams.  Mars was in the house of partnership.

I have purchased a computer.  I am working a bit more and finally out of nagging little debts.  But this faster pace of life makes it difficult to write.  Mars in Sagittarius- carrying life forward.  The next insight, before the sad family news, was when I looked up the meaning of Volga.  That river is so blue and wide on the map, i wondered about the meaning of its name.  Wikipedia says it means moisture.  They outlined the word's relationship to several other languages, including Sanskrit. 

I have been thinking about the 9th sutra in the second pada.  Sva rasa vahi vidhu shopi tadha rudho binivesha.  In the Wikipedia article they said volga is related to Sanskrit rasa which means dew, liquid, juice, mythical river.  Kofi Busia translates the sutra:  the attachment-to-life-and-fear-of-death is like a well-worn river that flows even in the most wise.   Swami-J says it is attachment to kleshas, or colorings; that even the most wise cling to keeping their lives moving forward as they are.

Now when I think of that sutra and the word for flowing, 'rasa,' I will think of the Volga River in Russia.

But now, here and now, I will hit the little arrow to publish these paragraphs and hope that soon I can finish telling the story of my search for Arshad.

The chart is for the moment my husband recalled the recurring bad dream of impending violence.  His brother spent most of his life in prison.  The dream stopped coming a few years ago.  In one of the rare periods when he was outside, his brother made it to town for a visit with their sister.  My husband got to visit with him for several hours.  He said that's when the bad dreams stopped and never came back.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Renewed Responsibility

It is 8:31am Fri Jan 19 (2018) as I begin this 3rd part of my search for Arshad story. 

The Thursday evening I began knocking on doors was weirdly warm and humid, a strange change so suddenly after the bitter cold of the previous record setting days.  I parked in the area where I thought I remembered  first spotting Arshad the day I had gone to visit him.  He was already outside, so I did not have to find the door with his number.  His happiness radiated with speech and gestures of great joy.  The phrases were still difficult to recognize; I was thrown again into that lost feeling I used to get walking through the unfinished framing of houses under construction. 

#    (    )    #    (    )    #    (    )    #

I grew up in a house built before the civil war within short commuting distance to Washington DC.  My parents were in the first wave of northerners settling around the nation's capital at the end of WWII.  As the farmland surrounding our three acres got bought up and turned into grids of mass produced houses, my mother took us kids through every development in progress.  She would speculate which areas of a concrete base surrounded by mud, construction debris and the coke bottles we kids collected to cash in for candy and trips to the movies....which sections would be bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens or living rooms.  It was a good exercise in reading a situation stripped of its customary cues. 

My husband, a carpenter, can walk into the the framing of a house getting started and feel completely at home, but I am lost, struggling to find familiar cues to orient myself in the naked bones of a future home.

#    (    )    #    (    )     #    (    )    #   

He thought he would never hear from me!  My call was such a wonderful surprise!  He asked if I had a car, and seemed surprised as he followed me to where I had parked.  He said something about a great car (teenage Nissan Altima built in 1999) and prepared to get in on the passenger side as he suggested we go for a ride. 

#    (    )    #    (    )    #    (    )    #

I woke up this morning feeling a bit, just a tad, oppressed with the weight of this unfinished story.  Yesterday I enjoyed a day off from both house cleaning and blogging, and set out with boots, hat, scarf and gloves completing the coverup of my New Jersey Devils jacket, trudging up the snow messy street, across the highway that leads to the beach from Raleigh, for my friend's house.  The boots are great for keeping wet snow out, but not so good for walking.  I thought maybe i would turn around when i got a little ways and come back to recuperate on the couch.  The sun was bright and its light reflected with almost frightening brilliance from all the surrounding ice and snow.  I am more fearful of falls and fatigue in this 59 year old body.  Some ruts between snow were slushy, others were icey and then there would be patches on hills where the water had trickled down the incline immediately upon melting in the sun.

#    (    )    #    (    )    #    (    )    #

This morning as I hid under the covers from my cat I thought about how far the moon had gotten from where it was when I began this story.  I wondered if it was in Pisces yet.  No, after feeding the cats and settling down to enjoy my morning tea, I saw that it is still finishing up the last two dodecs of Aquarius.  I looked out my front window at the Sun rising, remarked to America that it will now start rising a little more to the left every day.  She was standing in the living room waiting for a work buddy to show up.  A pick up job.  Catching work where ever it is available.

I have been aware most of the morning of my change in attitude about this series of blog posts.  I have progressed from vaguely wondering if it is worth all the effort to a strong sense of responsibility to complete the documentation and give it my best effort. Mercury is no longer coming in for a meeting with disciplinary Saturn as it was last week, the meeting is now behind them and the commitment to build something together has been renewed.  We build with words and small deeds in the same way construction crews build houses for families to live in.

#    (    )    #    (    )    #    (    )    #

Well I surprised myself yesterday.  I crossed the highway to my friend's house and swept snow from his steps and car.  It was great to be out in the cold now that there was beautiful snow and the temp was just above freezing.  The clear skies and bright sunlight felt medicinal.  I often go for walks just to be out in the Sun, the way couples find things to do together because the company of each other feels so important to their spiritual well being. 

My friend's need for help is temporary.  He will be able to do his own snow cleaning next winter if all goes well with his healing.  Now, while he depends on his friends we are all figuring out our temporary roles.  Who will bring groceries, who will offer a cooked meal.  How will he show us his gratitude.  Though our friendship roles are all well established there has been a slight shift.  The furniture on the stage was switched between the closing and opening of the big velvet curtains and now we circle around an ottoman instead of exiting directly to stage left.

I worried about whether he wanted the help being forced on him as I enjoyed the chores in the snow.  He was gracious and invited me in.  No, I had just been for a visit the day before as the snow started falling.  I waited on the front porch as he went and filled a container of bean soup to take home for later.  Domestic exchanges of food cooked in kitchens warmed with their inviting smells.

#   (    )    #    (   )    #    (    )    #

The fourth door I knocked on, in my search for Arshad, had a restaurant size box of cooking oil out front.  A woman on the ground floor of the first building I had tried would not come to the door, but was willing to talk to me though the front window.  She was about my age and two or three children were gathered with her, eager to hear the conversation and offer what help they could add.  She didn't speak English but understood my broken Spanish when I said I was looking for a man that was from another country.

First she pointed to the apartment just above hers.  "No," I said.  "I knocked on that one.  A little woman from Somalia?  Very dark skin?  The man I am looking for is not so dark.  He has a little bit of color.  He is from a country like India."

"Oh!  That would be the building  over there, the upper level."  And she pointed to the nearest building facing theirs from across the parking lot.

And with this distinction of the shades of our skins I got some direction of which doors to try.  I went back to my car and got my phone out.  I had knocked on three doors and met people from three different continents.  The initial courage that drove me forward was morphing to a sobering realization of how Plutonian this search was.  Imagine finding Pluto among the thousands of small bodies circling in the Kuiper belt.  What chance was there of finding this man from the other side of Earth whose full name I did not even know and whose phone number I had lost. 

As I looked at the upper windows of the other building, considering which one to try first, two cars pulled in to the lot and parked beside each other.  A man got out of the first one and after speaking to the driver of the second one went to the back and opened it.  I could not see the driver of the second vehicle, one of those big sport utility numbers that have taken the place of vans, and wondered if I was about to witness some parking lot exchange of merchandise.  I considered how accustomed I've become to seeing drug deals in parking lots.  Then I saw a woman and 2 boys getting out from the suv and thought, geez Mary Pat, what a susupicious mind!  I approached them and asked the man if he spoke English.  I went right into Spanish when he hesitated and told him i was looking for a man from Pakistan.  I had lost his phone number but he lived somewhere in these apartments several months ago.

The couple thought together and said the same as the woman from the window.  They also motioned to the units i had first knocked on, but I told them I had already tried and they were from other countries but didn't have the man I was looking for.

I thanked the couple for their help and approached the building with renewed hope.  When I saw the industrial size container of cooking oil in front of the door on the left I thought that would be Arshad's style and knocked there instead of on the right door where I hesitated looking at the carpet remnant for wiping feet that also made me think it could be his home.  I stood for a minute deciding and looking at the concrete hallway dingy with chipping paint and lots of cobwebs.  When I finally knocked on the left door with the cooking oil I could hear children coming to answer.  A girl about middle school aged answered and said yes she knew Arshad.  Of course it felt like a miracle.

And I am sort of, but not exactly, sorry to say I have to stop here at 12:30pm to go clean a house.  I would like to finish this story more quickly, but it seems to require a great deal of thought and I welcome the breaks from so much deliberation on how best to relate the series of events.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Documenting the Search

This is a continuation from previous post:  Desperately Seeking Arshad

A few minutes after getting the 2:48 chart from astrodienst, I left to take Ms. E on her errands.  She pays me $25 every other Thurs to drive her to the grocery store.  Sometimes we also go to the bank and or the pharmacy.  Even though she pays me for the service we consider ourselves friends.  She just turned 80 last week.  I'm not a very good friend;  I went to a birthday  party her neice gave for her at the neighborhood pizza restaurant a few years ago, but have not kept track of her Capricorn birthday since.  She is a Capricorn with a Pisces moon so she is too forgiving to worry over whether people remember her birthday.  She mentioned it on the way home from the pharmacy and grocery store.  "Aghh!  I completely forgot!  How old did you turn?"

She had a smile on her face.  "80."  Pretty cool!! 

The hour and a half we spent together was pleasant, as usual, and after putting groceries away, we said our good byes until the next time and I was on my way.

Instead of going home i went past my house and headed for the apartment complex where Arshad lives.  Or lived.  It has been at least six months since I met him there and drove us to the city center where we went for a walk.  A very fast walk.

I soon let him walk ahead of me and just fell further and further behind; he seemed incapable of slowing down.  I thought resentfully about the women I've seen following anonymously behind male family members and felt myself already engaging in a battle of will with this man from such a distant land.  When it came out later that he had been a farmer in Afghanistan, his long, purposeful strides made more sense to me.

He wanted to take me out to eat, but I had no appetite.  He was so glad that I had called him; it had been months since our meeting in the Walmart.  I had no idea where we should go, it was a Sunday afternoon and there were many people out and about enjoying the fine weather.  He slowed down in front of an old fashioned looking little place that said Remedy Diner and it looked cool to me so we went in.

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As I write today Sun Jan 14, 10:06am, there is a cat rescue operation getting under way in the park across the street.  A young woman's cat ran up a big old live oak, the kind with leaves all year through, and won't come down.  It has been up there since yesterday morning.  When the owner saw my housemate going to her car and asked about a ladder, I got drawn into the ordeal.  I have resisted getting deeply involved.  I declined to even see if the ladder in my garage was available, until this morn, when I learned that my other housemate had changed the lock when she replaced the rotting door.  No matter, I'm nervous about ladders in trees.

Now there are two people with ropes and safety equipment for climbing trees.  Yesterday my American helpful housemate called an arborist buddy and he got his hand on the cat but its claws were dug in to the bark and he was worried about squeezing it, so came down empty handed.  Now, I guess he has returned with another arborist to make a second attempt with a partner.

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I usually think of my writing as a self indulgent pass time, but maybe there is some value is this exercise.  I may never know.  If it was worth all the time and effort.  To anyone other than me.

Venus and Sun meeting Pluto.  There's also the Mars Jupiter lineup and Mercury coming in for a quick talk with Saturn.  To me, these random goings on are lovely manifestations of the stories writ in our language of heavenly cycles.  I want to preserve the memories for posterity.

But there are chores appointed for today in order to fulfill obligations tomorrow.  So before taking a break from writing I will fetch the chart for 5pm Thurs when I began knocking on doors in the Peterson Street apartment complex.  I will tell you now that I did not find Arshad.  That's part of what makes this account such a wonderful example of full, but invisible, Venus meeting Pluto.  The other part is the collection of little joys that came from the search.

There was also a great surprise right before going to bed.  But all of that will be documented with the 10:48 pm chart on a future post.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Desperately Seeking Arshad

Chart 1 ---Thurs Jan 11, 2:48pm
I was getting ready to leave for errands with Ms. E.  I had been teary eyed since 2:20 trying to retrieve Arshad's number from the phone that had gone wacky several months ago..  I had saved the useless device, in hopes of figuring out how to get contacts from it that had not transferred to my new phone through my google account.  The old phone still booted up, but random images from various apps just kept cycling regardless of what prompts I selected. 

I have thought about Arshad several times but yesterday I finally began to do something about it. (Though this was posted Sun Jan 14, I actually wrote the essay Fri morn Jan 12.) 

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I met him in Walmart a little over a year ago.  He came up to me while I was looking at the tablets, pointed to one and said "I pad?" 

"Umm, no.  Not exactly.  Almost."  I pointed to the label under it and read "Samsung.  I think Android tablet, but i'm not sure."  The blind asking the blind.

"How much?"  he asked.

I wondered if he thought I worked there, but my arms were full, with a new dish drainer and a box of golf balls.  I pointed again to the label and read the price out loud.

He looked like he might be from India, but his English was super limited.  The only Indians I know speak English better than I do.  He kept asking questions and I seriously wondered if there was a hidden camera somewhere.  I wondered what I would say when the farce was finished and the pranksters revealed themselves.  I wondered why this man was determined to talk with me about about Android tablets and I pads.  I looked around for an employee to help him, but suspected I was the one he wanted to talk to.

So we talked about ipads and Android tablets and I asked him where he was from.  "Refugio," he seemed to be saying.  Something about United Nations and Afghanistan. 

"You are a refugee from Afghanistan?"

"Yes!"  He was delighted.  He had made himself understood.  I asked him where he lived.  He wanted to show me on his phone.  He talked into it, "Peterson," he said, in his thick accent.  A pizza place came up.

I laughed.  Now I was delighted.  I never play with voice control on phones and this was my first time seeing how fun the mistranslations could be.  But I was also impatient.  I took out my phone and asked him to spell the street name.  When it came up on the map I said, "We are neighbors!"  and showed him how close our streets are.

Already we were friends.  But this had been a difficult 15 minutes.  Every sentence was an agonizing puzzle.  Each word took several tries before I could grasp what he was saying.   I said I needed to go over to the grocery section and get cheese.  We walked together, new friends in the Super Walmart.

"Afghanistan," I said, "which language do you speak?"  And typing away now on my little phone the tears are coming back.

"Urdu." 

You, the reader cannot hear the beauty of the way he pronounced that word.  "Urdu."

I think the sound was familiar to me from the hindibasha.com app.  My phone won't do flash, so I can't be sure.  It seems like one of the letters I used to click on for pronunciation uses the word urdu for an example.  As soon as I heard him say it I was transported to my explorations of Sanskrit.

I asked him if he knew the yoga sutras and began reciting, "Atta yoga nushasanam.  Yogas chitta vrti nirodha.  Tada drashtu svarupe avastanam..."  He was delighted.  He threw his head back, his ecstatic gaze directed toward the rows of fluorescent lights above and brought his hands together, "You have been to India?!"

"No!  The internet!" 

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We exchanged names, jobs and ages.  I learned he is a couple years younger and washes windows.  I said I was old and tired and he insisted 58 is young and I should exercise.  He told me he went to a gym.  He wanted to wash my windows and those of my customers. He asked if I like beer.