Ghost in the Machine

“As If Someone Was Blowing on Feathers,” Beth Weaver-Kreider and AI

I’m experimenting with AI art and poetry these days. I like the surprises. I feel like I can call these things mine to some degree, because I offer the seed and the sense, but then the Ghost in the Machine plays her part and makes magic.

I began this poem with the somewhat bland first line, and then played with the line lengths, and changed a couple words:

The snow fell softly through the night
as if someone was blowing on feathers,
and the branches touched my face
in the coldest breeze I had ever felt.
I awoke with a start
and realized that it was not snow falling upon me,
but tears.

I am filled with wonder at the surprise of that last line. The Ghost in the Machine is delivering the pathos. I then put the first two lines (my own and the first of the Ghost’s) into Wombo Dream AI Art Generator, and received the illustration above.

Gratitude List:
1. A snowy day at home. Breathing Space.
2. The magic and surprise of collaborating with the Ghost in the Machine.
3. We put money down to hold a little green Prius with fewer than 30,000 miles. It’s an old model, but the lowest mileage of any car we’ve ever bought. And the instrument panel and console are almost identical to Pippi Prius, so it’s a seamless learning curve. And the gas mileage is better than Pippi’s. We’ll pick it up early next week, when we’ve got Pippi sold and the dealer fixes the green car’s headlight and hatch latch. I’m excited to drive a reliable car again. Pippi was getting iffy.
4. These cats
5. How the light shines in.
May we walk in Wisdom!

“We think we tell stories, but stories often tell us, tell us to love or hate, to see or be seen. Often, too often, stories saddle us, ride us, whip us onward, tell us what to do, and we do it without questioning. The task of learning to be free requires learning to hear them, to question them, to pause and hear silence, to name them, and then become a story-teller.” —Rebecca Solnit

“There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.”
—Zora Neale Hurston

I see her walking
on a path through a pathless forest
or a maze, a labyrinth.
As she walks, she spins
and the fine threads fall behind her
following her way,
where she is going,
where she has gone.
Telling the story.
The line, the thread of voice,
the sentences saying the way.
—Ursula K. Le Guin (from “The Writer On, and At, Her Work)

“I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.” —President Franklin Roosevelt

“A condition of complete simplicity costing not less than everything…” —T.S. Elliot

Two Today

Gratitude of Resistance:
A couple different ones today.
1. Yesterday’s chapel, led by Latinx students. Students from the Dominican, from Puerto Rico, from Colombia, from Guatemala, and from Honduras stood up and spoke about culture and foods and people from their countries. On Wednesday, they had asked students from around campus to write their stories of experiencing discrimination based on their race. In chapel, students stood up and read these stories, as though they were coming from their own voices. It was really powerful.
2. Getting home. Yesterday afternoon was really trying for me. School was let out just before noon for the snow, and the drive home on the highway was a white knuckle experience. We couldn’t make it up Cool Creek Road. But there were beautiful moments in the story. We took refuge for an hour or so in the home of friends who live at the bottom of the ridge. Rochelle gave me coffee in a mug that says: “I love you. That’s all.” Our sons did computer whiz-kid stuff together in their den, and their sweet puppy Ophelia washed my face with kisses and snuggled on my lap. It was a moment of serene and utter safety in the midst of an anxious trip. It gave me courage to get out and try again. We made about 8-10 attempts on the hill until a plow finally came through at 4:30 and we made it up to the top. It was such a relief to get home and snuggle with cats and sit in the living room with the whole family.

Space Between

A little ditty:

in the space between
we settle in
to watch for visitors
seen and unseen

we offer tea
and conversation,
ask our questions
and tell our dreams

Gratitude List:
1. The chortling whistle of a blue jay
2. The call of the white-throated sparrow is the definition of plaintive. If the womenfolk don’t respond to that cry of longing, they must be deaf. Even I want to be a sparrow and fly to his side when Sweet George Peabody sings his spring song.
3. A second day in Time Out of Time. Blessings on the snow
4. The wisdom and resilience of teenagers. I don’t know how I would have gotten all those Memoirs graded without the two extra days. I needed to give them their full time, such precious tellings of their lives. I am honored to be the teacher of this bunch of young folk.
5. Hot tea. One of the great pleasures of my life these days. Coffee is my drug, but tea is my comfort.

May we walk in Beauty!

Dragons and Fish

I found this in my little zen garden in the classroom today. I love to watch what happens within its boundaries throughout the day. Some students have to work it every day, ordering it to their perfect idea of what it should look like. Others seem to have a need to make it messy, to jumble the stones, or bury them, spilling the sand over the edges. This used to bother me, until I realized that the need to disorder is also a type of ordering, a shifting of energies, and a necessary one in a day which is regimented by 45-minute blocks, and assignments that must be done, and attention that must be paid. Disordering the zen garden is its own way of taking control. I still can’t quite reconcile myself to the seeming-wanton spilling of sand over the edges, and the ones who scrape the rake harshly against the bottom of the tray. Still, even those who do that have their purposes, and I am committed to be an observer at this point, and not a director of the zen garden.  Lately, they have taken to leaving messages. I am partial to “Dragons and fish.”

The strange dreams continue. Last night there was a lion in my tent. I tried growling at it to scare it away. It just became more aggressive. Fortunately, Jon was there to wake me up. Only half an hour later, I had the chance to return the favor and wake him up from a fearful dream, too.

My next dream was less intense, but equally appalling–lost at sea in a little island archipelago. One of our party found a little boat and rowed off to see if he could find a mainland somewhere. When he came back, I paddled off in the opposite direction and found Finland–there was a sign right on the beach: FINLAND. So I knew we were saved.

Gratitude List:
1. Snow Day coming up
2. The boys might be fighting more these days, but at least they’re talking about it, trying to figure out what sets them off, so maybe there’s some learning taking place.
3. How ideas birth ideas
4. Resolve, determination, grit
5. Someone to wake me from the nightmares

May we walk in Beauty!

How Sun Comes to the Hollow

P1020484  P1020487

This is how sun comes to the hollow:
The day arrives before the sun comes in,
the bowl of hills holding the morning,
shadowless and muted,

and then the tops of trees go golden,
branches like spiderwebs catching the sun,
and golden travels down the trunks of oak and locust,

and then a star emerges
over the southeastern rim of the bowl,
pulling shadows out of everything,
spilling gold over the fields.

Gratitude List:
1. One more snow day.  I really needed these snow days right now.  I’d’ve managed, of course, but now I feel less like I’m free-falling into the semester.  Two days of rest and contemplation after doing the grades is perfect for me.
2. One more snow day, which is to say: sleeping in.  I slept until after 7.
3. One more snow day, which is to say: hanging out with the fellas.
4. Anticipating the return to rhythm.
5. Memory of green.

May we walk in Beauty!