Writing Thru the Fires

No smoke coming through the screen or the keyboard, just evidence of smoke in green circles turning to yellow, then orange and finally red, on the AIR NOW page or my cellphone. Red—like the sun has been lately. full orange moon. Outside we are mostly in a barbecue setting, and I have two #95 masks I wear at the same time, as I had lung problems not so long ago and like to take an hour outside walk.

How do we cope with knowing that nearby beautiful trees and hillsides and small animals have flames and hot air all around? I don’t know. I feel gratitude from time to time. I am grateful for my life. I have been cooking blueberry cobbler and writing. I move the air purifier machine from room to room, and sing on Zoom with my husband, Shabda. Here is a poem to share.

Fire Flowers by Emily Pauline Johnson 
    [Tekahionwake—her native America name]

And only where the forest fires have sped, 
Scorching relentlessly the cool north lands, 
A sweet wild flower lifts its purple head, 
And, like some gentle spirit sorrow-fed, 
It hides the scars with almost human hands. 

And only to the heart that knows of grief, 
Of desolating fire, of human pain, 
There comes some purifying sweet belief, 
Some fellow-feeling beautiful, if brief. 
And life revives, and blossoms once again 








This poet had an English mother and her father was a Mohawk chief. They lived in Ontario. She was born in 1861. What kind of life would that have been?

May you who are reading this have full breath, a comfortable house to live in, food on the table and friends to give support when you need it.

Here are some walking pics to make a record of this strange masked time.

Solomon would be 43 on July 11

July eleven  has that special ring to it with the sound of Solomon’s laugh and the twinkle in his eye.  Just when I feel he is far away, something happens to remind me—and same for many of his friends—that he is ever nearby. This year I took a pair of his laced shoes to Nicole’s house to celebrate his day of passing 8 years ago. After dinner I went to the Unitarian Church on Franklin in SF for the second part of the Ram Das memorial. After admiring my friend Trudy’s sparkly black lace-up shoes, I was gifted with them. Hmmmm,

Thanks Solomon! So much has happened in the last months. Politically I can quote Jon Stewart who said, “Usually it’s the president who ages during his term, today it is the country that is aging…” So here is a happy photo of Solomon and Nicole who flew to Chicago on the eve of Obama’s first election. When we were all much younger. Joy is in the air.

Happy earthly birthday and blessings on your Sacred Journey of love and service.You remain in our hearts! All of us who knew and love you.

Mama Tamam and Papa Shabda

 

Solomon: his music and his words

 

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Solomon ~ Gone 8 years on January 31:    7/11/77 – 01/31-12

Shabda just landed this morning in Delhi, India after 16 hours flying from SF. It’s that time of year. Looking thru my old E-mails from Solomon, I find his writings from India. One E-mail is from 21 years ago:

Friday, February 5, 1999 2:42 am

Mom, I actually found a cyber café in Delhi, imagine that… All is well here. We have been in Delhi almost a week with a packed schedule. I am attending some music classes, hanging out with Dad a lot and enjoying the people and wonderful sights and sounds, tastes, smells. He sang a beautiful concert yesterday, and this morning for Delhi University Music Department and Inayat Khan’s URS too. He sang with Terry (Riley) and Samiola. Filming (for a movie on Guruji) is going well, and Terry is very happy with what I have filmed so far… anyway maybe I have a future in documentary filming, but who knows.

DiggiPalaceGroup.jpeg Solomon, Shabda and Terry in India 1999

I am really psyched to get south to warmth and the parties and I’ve been hearing cool things about Goa guess we’ll see. The musicians I’m going to travel with are super cool. We will get to jam while we hang out at the beach…

Dad sends his love. Take care, much love, Solomon

♥♥<> In 2008 Solomon went with Nicole to India and they were there in Mumbai during the Barsi, an annual day-and-night yearly homage to Alla Rakha, (Abbaji), Zakir Hussain’s beloved father, famous Tabla Master who died in 2000, and helped introduce Indian music to the Western World. Solomon told us Zakir went to see him DJ at the well-known Blue Frog Club that he writes about here:

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February 3, 2008, 1:50 pm

Just got back from day and night sessions of the Barsi—totally amazing!  We are staying in Bandra at a cool little hotel… my gig last night went VERY well, the club stayed open 45 minutes later than planned and was very busy. We didn’t get home til 3 and had to get up at 5:30 so we are a little tired and ready for a nap. Both of us are having a wonderful time.  I will send pix soon,  Much love, Solomon and Nicole

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Ean Golden and Solomon made music together.

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Ean has joined me this year for the time around Solomon’s passing and is offering some of their combined music as GoldenSol. Here is the best version of Papa Was a Rolling Stone I’ve ever heard—including The Temptations tune. YES!

This from Ean — Solomon and I met in 1999, when a local promoter asked him to scratch over my DJ set at a club called the “Blind Tiger” in the China Town district of San Francisco. We quickly became close friends and spent the following 10 years making a lot of music and djing in many clubs together as a duo called GoldenSol. Two recordings stand out in particular as I reflect on this special anniversary of his passing:

1. Papa Was a Rolling Stone (GoldenSol Remix)

This bootleg remix released in 2002 and became quite popular in underground record stores. We sold several thousand copies of the 12” Vinyl and often heard it played in clubs around the bay area.

2. Keeps Me Movin’ (Radio Edit)

One of our first original songs, this soulful number featured a promising new singer named Latoya London who would go on to place 4th in American idol season 4 and have a very solid R&B career.

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Ending this time with Solomon with some photos.  Solomon, we miss you and love  you! Thanks for all you have given us that keeps on giving over the years. Although you are not with us in the same way you were back then, you are with us—all of us who love you!♥♥

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Solomon’s 42nd birthday 7/11/77-1/30/12

On July 11 Solomon would have turned 42

This time every year (the last 7) I feel Solomon draw closer, with the luminous memories, with a mist of grief —both together. Writing this tribute brings him near for a while, sparking memories of the 34 years we shared—mother and son.

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Wendell Berry Sabbaths 1999

I dream of a quiet man

Who explains nothing and defends

Nothing, but only knows

Where the rarest wildflowers

Are blooming, and who goes,

And finds that he is smiling

Not by his own will.

 

A quiet man, his rarest wildflower music as a DJ, introduces Stevie Wonder at the Salesforce Celebration and plays in front of City Hall at The Black and White Ball in San Francisco, who goes——around the racetrack in his blue Lotus sportscar, down the mountain on his  snowboard (having been dropped on a high ridge by helicopter)—smiling—to Burningman, Sufi Camp, Chile and Morocco, Germany, Peru, India…

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Some emails from Solomon: note to his grandmother—Shabda’s mom Ilse (shown below):   Monday July 1, 2000     Omi,  Happy birthday from your grandson in South America. A am having wonderful adventures in Peru with Ammon. We got to go to Machu Pichu, one of the most incredible historic wonders I have ever seen… I wish you a happy and healthy birthday and a joyful and fulfilling year to come. Much love, Your Grandson Solomon ♥

200205122157176.jpegOmi, Solomon and Shabda

Friday June 28, 2000    Hi Mom,  I just had a super long day of seeing all of these ruins which I am now convinced were built by aliens. That’s what everyone says about this place and I thought it was a load of crap until I saw 120 ton rocks that have been carved perfectly to fit into this intricate stonewall work… I actually got to DJ last night at this spot. Now I can add Cuzco, Peru to the places I have played. Much love and I will write soon, Solomon ♣

Family boating… June 30, 2008  Hello family,  I am extending an invite to our wonderful family for a day of boating/birthday celebration as I bring in the 31styear of my time on our little rock.  We thought it would be fun to have everyone go out on a Sunday. The boat is located in Tracy, about an hour from SF. We will plan on a picnic lunch…Any questions?  Hope you all can make it! Much love, Solomon ♥

n680391970_2358501_3769370.jpg  boat3.jpegLet’s say you were asking me ♦ What’s up? ♦  I’ll write you back here and now.

Dearest Solomon,
You’ll be glad to know I’m getting healthy after a long-time bacterial infection and a difficult period of very low energy. My lung doc is pleased with my slow bounce-back. I’m going to Mendocino Sufi Camp this week. Dad is in charge this summer, and Ammon, Laura and the girls as well as Nicole will be there. Nicole is a very popular yoga teacher. She will be there with Samantha (now 3½) and Varvara to help. Ammon will DJ Thursday night, as you used to do often in those years.

IMG_0449.jpeg Mendocino — Naomi, Solomon, Nicole, Varvara, Jason, Shabda, and Jamilah

June 8th we had a pool party like in the old days. It was a birthday party with 3 cakes: Nicole and Ryan (May 30) Maeve (June 1) and me (June 14).  Naomi was there pregnant. She is due with #3 child this summer. Lots of Nicole and Ryan’s friends were there. Chris Clouse was at the party. Ean has been out of town most of the time these days, Runni and Sasha and the kids are in Israel as Jeannie hasn’t been well. I talked with Christian Heath who tried but couldn’t come to a memorial day dedicated to you the end of January. Jason Rezaian and I have been in Email touch. He is back at the Washington Post.  Leila Burrows is recently married and lives up by Lake Tahoe.

IMG_6534.jpegMinhoi, Nikolai, Tamam, Shabda, Naomi,and Solomon

The nearly eleven-hundred ft. tall Salesforce Tower in SF makes the city look different from when you were living there.  The old Sears store a few blocks away at Northgate may become a Costco. Our RV is twenty-three years old. An antique! We still drive it to Mendocino once a year. It’s lucky you don’t have to deal with the politics our country is stuck with. We are about as far from Obama’s view as anyone could imagine. Ammon is co-founder and VP at Formation, which is becoming quite large and promising, an (AI) Artificial Intelligence design company.  Oona and Laura took part in a race around Lake Merrit and Maeve is a fashionista and quite an artist.

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Oona (almost 10)  and Maeve (7) your adorable nieces

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The family and friends still feel you are with us, but we miss the adventures you took us on. I miss your smile and humor. Your enthusiasm. Your fantastic music.
Your Dad joins me in sending you love and more love…endless love, Mom

Ammon&SoloBeach'83.jpeg  boys at Biancas.jpgSolomon and Ammon at Lake Tahoe         at Burningman — both were DJ’ing there 

P1010667.jpg    P0002666.jpeg          Django  and Solomon – cousins                       Solomon and Rah (Runni) – cousins

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IMG_5800.jpegSubhana Ansari cultivates beautiful “Day Lillies.”  SOLOMON SUNRISE  is this flower she named for Solomon. It blooms at the end of June every year, before his birthday. Continue reading

Morocco Sidi Shiker Gathering 2009 –

Guest of His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco

I am reposting this page. I feel it’s important today, perhaps more than it was then.

 

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Marrakech Sufi Gathering: The Sidi Shiker World Gatherings of Tasawwuf Affiliates. I just returned from Morocco. The Royal Government paid for airfare, hotel, and food for a week. I was invited to present my poetry to a conference of nearly 2,000 Sufis. It doesn’t seem possible – but it’s true. I was there in the triple digit heat, sharing a tajine, heaped with rich and delicious food or an elevator with people from Lebanon or France.

In 1998, my husband, Pir Shabda Kahn, and I went to the Sacred Music Festival in Fez, Morocco as leaders on a “sacred journey.” We returned the next three years with groups of American Sufis and visited sacred sites and caravan-ed on camels in the Sahara. Our good friend, who made this possible, was a man named Dr. Sidi Ahmed Kostas. Now he is the assistant to Dr. Ahmed Toufiq, the Minister of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs for the king. Around the Summer Solstice June 21, 2009, Dr. Kostas and Dr. Toufiq got permission from King Muhammad VI to assemble a Sufi Conference in Marrakech July 10-12. They had less than a month! I got a personal phone call from Dr. Kostas while in England, waiting to go to Germany and teach from my forth-coming book: Untold: A History of the Wives of Prophet Muhammad. Dr. Kostas wanted me to read my poetry at the conference. I IMG_1270_2said yes.

Dr. Kostas set out to invite Sufi groups from all over the world and on 10 days notice almost 2000 people accepted the all- expense-paid invitation of airfare, beautiful accommodations and banquet-meals – from Minister Toufiq on behalf of the King of Morocco. 100 Nigerians. Chinese and South Africans. Americans, Europeans, Middle Easterners. It was the Moroccan travel agent’s nightmare. The conference was tri-lingual, Arabic, French, and English, with simultaneous translation for all presentations. The weather – hot as West African summer; the hotels were well air-conditioned. Marrakech is as sophisticated as it is beautiful.  The reason for this whirlwind was echoed in the words of the presenters. Sufism is recognized as a hedge against fundamentalism in Morocco. Sufi teachers and their followers hold the notion of the true meaning of Islam as ” the inner state that causes the feeling of peaceful surrender to the protection, safety, and healing of the Divine.” The Sufi is one who carries the essence of love, harmony, and beauty, and pays attention to transforming the nafs (ego). He or she may be a warrior of the inner jihad (a phrase that means to contend, to challenge the unrefined self). Sufis are known to stand together and chant, la illaha illallah (There is no Reality but The Reality,) celebrating this in joyful assembly. My definition of Sufi mysticism is: “It is the fragrance over the flower of religion.”

The king, like his father before him, recognized it was in Morocco’s best interest to promote this fragrant fraternity for benefit, and bring together Sufis from everywhere to foster connection and mutual brother-sisterhood.

Dr. Kostas and a photo of the king

The Ministry further seeks to fund and promote publication and education toward this gentle reflection of Islam in the culture of Morocco.

Of the 2000 delegates, there were less than 50 women. Three of us presented; a Moroccan scholar, Dr. Zakia Zouanate, and an American scholar and long-time Sufi friend, Murchida Tasnim Fernandez, and myself.  Several times at the break I was the only woman in the vast, hotel restrooms. The women were a tiny minority, yet

we made our presence felt. I had instant sisterhood with the few women I saw, nodding or introducing myself to Laurence from Paris, Ikram from Fez (in the photo below), Hafsa from Scotland, Fatima from Nigeria, Ora from New York.

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My poems were translated by Dr. Kostas, as we stood on the stage at the banquet close to midnight Saturday night. Dinner had just ended, but nights in Morocco seem to go on forever. Before I began to read, I thanked the King. (He was absent, but it’s not often you get chance to say, “I want to thank His Majesty, King Muhammad VI for his generosity ….”) Afterward, Dr. Toufiq expressed his appreciation to me for my work on the Mothers of Islam, and told me I was always welcome in Morocco. My friend and fellow poet Abdal-Hayy Moore read his poems as well.The next day, Arabic-speaking delegates called out to me in Arabic, smiled warmly, gave thumbs up or offered me their business cards.

  Abdal-Hayy Moore and me at our poetry reading

The conference swag was amazing; the women received silver or gold brocade slippers and a stylish silk scarf; the men, an elegant white hooded burnous, a briefcase, leather slippers, an Arabic language Qu’ran, and a beautiful sacred manuscript book.

Because my name ends in a consonant, an Arabic “male indicator,” and my husband’s with the female “A,” our invitations read His Eminence Tamam Kahn and Her Eminence Shabda Kahn. Nice.

Murchida Tasnim on Sufi Ethics

On Saturday, the international press was everywhere. I gave two interviews, one to Italian TV and the other to a journalist and photographer from Brussels. You could spot the women reporters in their casual hot weather clothes, while most delegates wore traditional robes called djelabas and some kind of head covering. The Nigerians dazzled – in vivid colored caftans and hats. The day we went to the desert, it was well over 105 degrees and all who went – nearly 2000 of us – ate lunch in tents with ceiling fans and a couple portable ACs. We were there all day. The women staged a take-over and claimed the large tent designated for us and provided with pillows, couches and a computer. Sleepy men left and went elsewhere. At 7:30 we all returned for dinner in a bus caravan accompanied by a police escort all the way into Marrakech, flashing lights and all.

The night before, we were driven to a palm garden just outside the city and entered the circle of tents on red carpets, lined with drummers and men playing long trumpets. We sat in chairs at tables of ten in twelve traditional Moroccan tents placed around a carpeted open space, desert style. The couscous and chicken arrived with a procession of tajine-carrying waiters. After dinner we listened to live Turkish music as the moon rose over the dark palms.

I return with new names and e-mails in my address file, my

Ahamed, Khalifa, and Sheik Tijani Ahamed Granoff, Khalifa Abul Fathi, and Sheikh Tijani

luggage perfumed with amber from the souk, and most valuable –the gift of friendship. In this time when most people in the world are withdrawing financial largesse, when programs falter, I was conscious of how generosity on the scale of this event may bring expansion, blessing and God willing, insh’allah, the peaceful benefit of the open hand and heart.

Morocco, may you be peaceful and strong.

Letter to Art

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The end of a tabla and Kanjira drum duet (Zakir Hussain and Selvaganesh in Berkeley  three days ago)—that last moment of eight beats played at light-speed—that moment linking heaven and earth was pure delight! I dedicated it to you, Art Buehler, right then just 6 hours before you passed away, April 1, 2019.

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          Art Buehler  9/20/48 – 4/01/19

When I remember this I’m not so downhearted with  loss  from all that connects us, the years of back-and–forth translation and critique of 7thcentury stories that made up two of my books and one of yours—just finished. Gone is the coaxing of beings from writings of another time, and the accuracy of the charting. The disagreements and the places I was unable to climb in the tower of refined scholarship, how your stern German roots showed themselves only to move into laughter; your laughter, then my smile of relief.

About the time you started getting ill I took on plant-sitting for my friend Malik. He had six African Violets he brought me in a box. A table was made for them under the window and I began to water the little white trays once a week. When I began to spray and feed them with a brown plant food they bloomed into delicate flowers of purple and several shades of pink. I re-potted them and then had eleven. They thrived. Malik returned and took back six. Then came the fading; the leaves and flowers turned brown. There is no return to the full green leaves.  I inhabit the world of loss.

I especially mean loss that is connected to the flowers that words make. First Master Poet Bill Merwin leaving this world and his palm forest slope in Maui on March 15th, and now you, Art Buehler at a hospice in Tucson. William and Arthur—kings of their craft, translators par-excellence, poet and consummate scholar—mentors to me for all that I have written in the last decades.

At a workshop in Mexico in the nineties I asked Bill Merwin a question I worked on for two hours:

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How can we tell what needs to be told? What can you say about the vital shift from personal self-involved writing to a beneficial service to others through the poetic form?

 He answered: “There is no poetry in the Absolute!  Poetry is relational. It starts by being the attempt to say what cannot be said, while prose is something we can say.”

Then he looked at me and recited Shakespeare’s sonnet #18:

Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s Day? 

Thou art more lovely and more temperate

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Merwin continued: “You can’t change a word of it. When you get to that kind of intensity, the poet must bear witness to the aspect of life from which poetry comes. It is beyond Shakespeare’s experience. A hologram. Because it is complete it can tell you something of the whole world.”  Life-changing answer.

In that time I had linked my poems together in a rough text that would—years later—become my book Untold, A History of the Wives of Prophet Muhammad. In 2005 at the San Francisco Sufi Symposium I introduced myself to you, Art. I had read that you taught Philosophy and Religious Studies at Louisiana State University, and had lived in Yemen and with the Naqshbandis of Afghanistan. Plus you received a PhD from Harvard and wrote several scholarly books. I mentioned my writing on The Prophet’s Wives. Could we make time to discuss it?

You just sat down with a pen and began to edit my work. You told me to look for the oldest sources, not contemporary and 20thcentury historians, but the early ones, and continued over the next couple of years to send me crucial information on that. Less than a decade later you graciously invited me to contribute to a book you were writing on Fatima, Daughter of Prophet Muhammad. I flew to Amman, Jordan where you had just moved with your wonderful, beloved wife, Josemi.  We spent a week with a twenty-five volume biography of Fatima. You’d ask what part of her life I wanted to explore, then open that volume and translate from the Arabic, while I wrote down every word.

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Me and Josemi on the roof of the apartment in Amman, Jordan, 2014 where she and Art lived. She worked in the Brazilian Embassy

There was the story of Fatima grieving for her father after his death. The door opened there were three houris (female heavenly beings) who told her—we’re from paradise and have brought you blue date cake. Your father: you were longing for him. We know. ) From Shia Hadith: Musnad Fatima al-Tuyya Sirukani, #252, translated by Dr. Arthur Buehler). I made a poem “Blue Date Cake” published in Women’s Voices for Change November, 2017, and is in my book Fatima’s Touch—which I put out on my own as your work was far from finished in 2015.

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Here’s some lines from one of the rough drafts you sent for me to edit: “A note to the reader:” My goal in writing this book is to provide an opportunity for more people to appreciate Fatima… By honoring Fatima, everyone gets honored. When I started out ignorant of Fatima there was no way to know how much I would end up loving her. If only one person comes to love Fatima after reading this book, I will be happy. May that one person be you.  (March, 2015.)                  This poem brought you to mind recently:

…There was no arrogance about him
No vanity, only the strong backs
Of his words pressed against
The tonnage of a page

His suggestion to me was that hard work
Was the order of each day…

I drank deeply from his knowledge
A cup he gave me again and again
Filled with water, clear river water

He was never old, and never grew older
Though the days passed…

from: Mine Own Phil Levine by Dorianne Laux

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In my last conversation with you, that phone call when you gently let me know about the incurable cancer, I had just been walking in a bird reserve, and offered to take you with me on my next outings, and that I’d send my husband Shabda’s bird pictures on email. Isn’t it strange, I said, that both of us were very healthy before the Fatima books. After I finished, right when it came out in the fall of 2016 I became ill for two and a half years, and am just now recovering; that you completed Fatima the Resplendent: The Prophet’s Daughter—as your new book was called as of January 30—that you may join her… as I would like to when it is my time!

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poem from Fatima’s Touch by Tamam Kahn

Fatima is described in elaborate detail, in Shia history, crossing the bridge to paradise. On the Day of Resurrection, a herald will call from the middle of the throne: O people of the Resurrection, lower your gaze, for Fatima the daughter of Muhammad is crossing… reference: Suyuti, Musnad Fatima (courtesy of A. Buehler)

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Fatima rides with the emerald houris,
maidens — immortals with transcendent eyes.
High on that she-camel known as al-Adba,
 
dressed in a thousand sheer garments of heaven,
with beautiful greetings inscribed on each hem.
Five thousand angels go with her as escort
 
on sapphire horses with pearls in their manes,
joining this liminal moment of glory:
she’s crossing death’s bridge, but it’s wide as a hair.
 
Gabriel guides her into God’s throne room.
Here, like a bride, she is light-crowned and perfect,
while star-marked galaxies gleam in her hair.
 
She’s known as the doorway to life-everlasting.
Calling and crying for help, people beg her:
Please help us, lift us right over the gap.

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Thank you Habibi, for your friendship, bold spirit of adventure, and support. May the way open before you, Ya Fattah!  I dedicate this to Josemi Sawczuk

with love, Tamam

Continue reading

Love to Solomon 7/11/1977—1/31/2012

solo blur1 January 30

One-hundred and seventy years ago on this day San Francisco received its name.

AN ORDINANCE WHEREAS the local name of Yerba Buena, as applied to the settlement or town of San Francisco… has been applied from the local name of the cove on which the town is built: therefore to prevent confusion and mistakes in public documents and that the town may have the advantage of the name given on the public map; IT IS HEREBY ORDAINED that the name SAN FRANCISCO shall hereafter be used in all the official documents… appertaining to the town.           W. Bartlett, Chief Magistrate January 30, 1847

On this day in 1848 the first gold nugget was found starting the California Gold Rush. Betsy Ross, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dick Cheney, and Phil Collins were born; and Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. The Beatles gave their last concert in 1969 on the roof of Apple Records, London.

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On this day in 2012, I took Shabda to the airport for his trip to India via Frankfort and had lunch with Ammon in SF, buying a new watch just before we ate at a restaurant a floor down from his office at Microsoft. That night I vaguely remember the phone ringing after midnight but was too sleepy to answer. It rang several times. I woke to the news from the embassy in Bangkok that Solomon had died in a car accident a few hours before.

To me the 30thand 31stof January are the same, as Bangkok is 15 hours ahead of San Francisco. He died as one day slid into the next while I slept in my bed in San Rafael and Shabda flew over the pole.

January 31

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AA Milne died (1956), ending the era of Winnie-the-Poo. This day Meyer Baba and the 11th Dalai Lama passed on. The Apollo Mission launched a rocket to the moon, in 1971, where a few days later, Alan Shepard would hit a ball with a golf club—on the surface of the moon. In 1893 the seatbelt law for drivers and front seat passengers became law. In 1990 the first McDonalds in Russia opened in Moscow. The 31st is Justin Timberlake’s birthday. Philip Glass will be 82 on Jan 31st, 2019.

Solomon will have been gone for 7 years. And yet he is with us in moments of freedom— walking, dancing, snowboarding, bicycling, out on a boat and in the world of music.  I hear from Nicole and Ryan and Ean, from Michelle and Leila, Naomi and occasionally Nikolai in Germany, from Chris, Scott and recently talked with Christian from long ago. I meet a man named DJ Richard Habib who was so happy to learn I was Solomon’s mother. He said he helped organize the memorial for Sol back in March of 2012. Jason Rezaian read from his new book PRISONER from his 544 days in an Iranian Prison, at Dominican in San Rafael a few nights ago. They were at Marin Academy together back in the day. His mother Mary and wife Yegi were there. I felt Solomon in the room with us. His cousins Tiphani, Django, and Runni are in touch. And brother Ammon and his family are very close. Many more who love Solomon are not mentioned here. We love you Solomon!

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Solomon’s 41st birthday —celebrated!

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Solomon’s birthday is July 11. This year he would have been 41 years old. In looking over the pictures I want to share I found this message that came into my heart when we lost him in Bangkok the end of January, 2012. These words were the clearest communication gift to me—to all the friends and family he loved:

My love for you is in everything you do.

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Solomon was always moving Toward the One. Here he is with his big brother Ammon in Lake Tahoe or Mexico way back in the day. …And the more recent is from a couple decades later.P1040243.JPG

Django&SolomonCowboys - Version 2.jpg   P1010667.JPGDjango and Solomon are cousins born exactly 4 months apart – 11/11/77 and 7/11/77

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DJing the Giants_MG_3460_display.JPGP1020733.JPG  A favorite evening was time Solomon was voted to be the top DJ at the Black and White Ball. Here he is in front of City Hall in San Francisco. A dance party in every sense of the word—on Van Ness Avenue.

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Solomon and his dad. Sweet picture.

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IMG_0434.JPGThe years go by…..None shows the time better than two pictures of Oona, Solomon’s niece, back when she was 3, with the red balloon, now going on 9 years.

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We miss you, Solomon. We are all celebrating your happy birthday.

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Inside Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision

“Every great architect is – necessarily – a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age.”   —Frank Lloyd Wright


I’ve always felt an affinity with Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings. His legacy is scattered throughout the Midwest. There were at least 25 homes he designed in surrounding areas north of Chicago where I grew up.

 image  Lloyd Lewis House 1939, Libertyville, Il.

I’ve lived about a mile from Wright’s beautiful Marin Civic Center north of San Francisco for nearly 40 years. In the rainy winter weeks this year, I began to take hikes inside the Civic Center for exercise. The halls are spacious, well lit with a curved glass ceiling, and filled with trees, indoor plants and occasional flowers. The hallway on the ground level runs more than a city block. Two rounds would take me the same amount of time as a neighborhood walk.

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This magnificent architectural space is a 3-D art piece. The atmosphere holds a lifetime of Wright’s focus on landscape, light and materials. Civic Center continues to be a work of masterful poetry.

Respect the masterpiece. It is true reverence to man. There is no quality so great, none so much needed now.

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July 30, 1957: Architect Frank Lloyd Wright… gets his first look at the hillside site where his Marin Civic Center would be built. “I’m going to do something unusual here. I already have my idea,”* he said. Wright died before it was completed. Construction began in 1960. The first building was completed in 1962, with credit to Marin Supervisor Vera Schultz who came up against political opposition and exercised her leadership. My ex-father-in-law, Frank Haggerty worked there as County Recorder from the beginning. I occasionally visited him around 1970. The Civic Center was only 10 years old. Over the years I was called in for Jury Duty now and then. The Farmer’s Market is in the enormous parking area on Sundays when the building is closed. There is a clear view  of the turquoise roof from the hill above our house

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Wright spoke of the arches as “suspended crescents hanging from the floor above making these lovely arches.” His plan he said is: “…a complete synthesis of ground and building which is what organic architecture should mean.”*

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I photographed the building and in a dream-like state began to remember Wright’s creations that hold large pieces of my life’s history. The first was in Desbarats, Ontario (pronounced Debra). My father built a cabin 500 miles north of Chicago down the channel from the my mother’s family summer house when he was courting her. I grew up on the rocky channel in summer and as I entered the age where boys were important, discovered the dark, wood house on Sapper Island, the home of the boy in the fast white boat, the object of my focus.

1010816_10201411505266552_1303252536_nThe Pitkin House on Sapper Island designed very early when Wright was still an apprentice

Wood is universally beautiful to man. It is the most humanly intimate of all materials.

 12688240_10208333023193617_4417968860186734040_n Actress Island next to our house. Sapper Island to the left behind Picture Island, Desbarats, Ontario

It took while to get to the place where I was cooking spaghetti in the kitchen there one night, concerned over the length of time to boil the noodles. That was after tender moments on the wicker couch, the house empty except for us. Usually I met with a young group up the river at another house.  The wood was black even in sunlight, with a roof that extended far out from the walls, making it like a fortress on a rock hill with water on three sides. Short but sweet visit. A house like a chocolate bar.

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Around 1985 my husband Shabda and I leased a store at 171 Maiden Lane in San Francisco. It was called DREAMWEAVER. We sold sweaters, woven and well-made clothing. Business was good. Chanel came in next door, If we had trouble there was always a Chanel guard I could call. There was an upscale café outside during lunch and across the street was a gallery designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Maiden-Lane

Form follows function – that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.

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140 Maiden Lane pre-dates the Guggenheim Museum—his other internal spiral design— by a decade.I loved looking out and a few doors down to the odd brickfaçade with no windows, and often carried out photo shoots in front of Wright’s mini-museum. I was there for 15 years, until the landlord doubled the rent and Dreamweaver closed.

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Maui, Hawaii

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My husband Shabda and I were in Maui in 2017 and met at a golf course for lunch. The dining room held a private party, and the manager apologized and suggested we drive up the hill to the private golf course dining room.  The King Kamehameha Golf Course Clubhouse is located on the West Maui mountains facing Haleakala and easy to see from the road that crosses the island east to west.  As we got closer I began to feel a familiarity in the shape of the building. Once inside, I knew!

44305In 1957, Marilyn Monroe contacted Frank Lloyd Wright about building a home for her and her husband Arthur Miller in Roxbury, Connecticut. Wright expanded the original plans for Crownfield, complete with movie theater, pool, and nursery for the children Miller and Monroe planned to have. But the marriage did not last and Wright died shortly after, leaving the unfinished plans archived….   Until it was developed and completed in 1993. The place became the King Kamehameha Golf Course Clubhouse in 2006. There was a coziness and joy I felt moving inside another Wright creation, seeing how he framed the view from the West Maui Mountains, the slope of the floor.

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In his old age Wright gave this statement: “The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.”

 *His quotes are from a historical section of Marin Civic Center, posted on the inside walls.

 

Solomon’s Tribute this year ~ 1/ 31/12

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Memorial time again.  Love and Remembrance.

It will be six years since Solomon left this earth in Bangkok; marked this year with a special lit-up full blue moon that looks red, said to be the rarest of the rare, a Supermoonbecause Earth and Moon are as close as they ever get, so the lunar disk appears bigger and brighter than at other times... Also an eclipse. I think about death and life and the love of a mother for her son.  Poetry from Wanting the Moon by Denise Levertov

…The moon. No, a young man walking
under the trees. There are lanterns

among the leaves.
Tender, wise, merry,

his face is awake with its own light…

…music rings from his bells…

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Giants stadium, Solomon DJ

I used to know who was who in the Grammys, because Solomon would tell me about the best music, the artists and the edgy tunes. I went to see the Warriors several times a season when he was their DJ. The SF Giants_he DJ’d there.

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His friends would descend on our house, our backyard, the pool—and leave it shiny and cleaner than when they came over. He’d invite me to his gigs like this one in San Diego.  Solomon constantly celebrated life, challenged it on mountain slopes, the wake of a boat, two tires or four. He lived more than fully, he lived COMPLETELY.

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  San Diego hotel roof — with Chris Clouse                                                           

Shabda is in India now, just arrived in Delhi for the yearly celebration of Inayat Khan’s URS. In 1999 Solomon went to India with his Dad, and then traveled on his own. Another time he went for Scott Kaiser’s wedding. Here is an email from the early days of cyber communication that he sent me from there.

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INDIA -at the Diggi Palace with Shabda, Terry Riley (in green) and other musicians and students              

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2001 Northern Morocco traveling with the Sufis                                                  

The world was his home. Then there is the family. We think of you often, Solomon. Nicole and Ryan and Samantha moved from 771 Treat Street to Pacific Ave above the bay. We get together and have a good time. Ammon’s girls love Samantha and treat her like a sister when they see her. Sam is 2, Oona is 8 and Maeve is 5.

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Today I was at the bench with Girija, Jon’s mother and took this picture. The last few days have been heavy on my heart, but tomorrow I will honor and celebrate your transition and marvel over how you could have lived such a complete life in just 34 years. You are missed.

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