Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Trying to Simplify
Sunday, January 18, 2009
You can always contact me through my little contact form over there on the LEFT. And, if you're ever out my way on a Saturday, you can find me on the corner.
This Monday, our Women in Black group will be marching in the Denver Martin Luther King Day Marade.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
If you're a blogger, I will still be visiting you (You can't get rid of me that easy!).
Thank you to all of the friends that I've made through Bloggerville. Thank you for visiting and for your support. You are in my heart.
Much peace. Much love.
Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
He made all the noise that others expected but that none would really hear.
And then he passed away. Suddenly. Along with his right moment. Which had been hiding in every moment.
- Nic Askew, Soul Biographies
(Thomas introduced me to Soul Biographies awhile back and I've been a fan ever since. Thanks, Thomas!)
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
He was standing amidst a collection of boots representing the soldiers from Colorado that have died in this occupation of Iraq. He was looking at hundreds of shoes that represent the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Iraqis who have died because of our presence in their country.
He is a precious little boy who I hope will never have to see what the people who were represented in that room have seen.
Last night I worked my first exhibit as coordinator of the Colorado Eyes Wide Open. It was held at the Jefferson County Open School, which is the most human and the most whole school I've ever known. As their site says, the world truly is their classroom. I want to go back to school and be a student there. I'm willing to start at first grade again, because I know that I would learn life skills and valuable life lessons that I don't have yet as an adult.
I watched the 16 year old organizer work magic as she and her crew made the whole thing happen - from set-up, through hosting the site for 3 hours, to take-down. I spoke extensively with three 15-year-olds - some of the most interesting people I've spoken with in a long time - and I came away with a sense of hope. The students at that school are incredible beings that exhibit maturity, confidence, refined group skills, and polished conflict resolution skills. They are already contributing for the betterment of this world with a sense of themselves and a way of being in the world that a majority of adults have not yet attained.
These people were probably not born with anything that we all don't have. But they have grown in an environment where they have been supported and nourished in ways that most public schools are not willing to do.
Last night was the school's annual Peace Night. This event began after the events of 9/11. The entire school participates in a phenomenal collage of events, displays and fundraisers. Unfortunately, I didn't take the opportunity to explore all that was going on, because I wanted to stay with the Eyes Wide Open exhibit.
I did go to the school theater, though, to listen to speakers Greg Johnson and David Bacon of Playing For Change. You may have seen Bill Moyers' show about this organization that is creating peace through music. They bring street musicians from around the world together through technology. Not only do they create peace through the universal language of music, but also through their non-profit organization that builds schools in South Africa and Nepal. Great men doing great work.
I'm always touched by my experiences with this exhibit. Even though its point is to show the human cost of war, thus it focuses on death, it has a life of its own. As I heard more than once last night: you can hear about the exhibit, but until you have witnessed it and felt the impact made by rows and rows of empty shoes and boots, each carrying a name and age which make real the humanity that once gave them life, you won't really feel the impact of the exhibit.
I hope that through acknowledging the death of our soldiers and those Iraqis whose lives have been lost, we will decide that we are not willing to tolerate war anymore.
Monday, December 15, 2008
My daughter is a teacher. One of the best. No, THE best. Just ask me. Or ask her students - or their parents. My daughter does an amazing job and her students are very lucky.
But this post is mostly about my grandkitty. I met my grandkitty for the first time during this trip. I almost put her in my suitcase to bring her home with me. She's a little love.
My kitty - Ms Kitty - is almost 20 and she spends her time eating, sleeping or meowing (with her old kitty bad breath) for me to pick her up and put her on my lap. Oh yeah, and she walks around the house yowling loudly. A lot. Especially in the middle of the night or when I'm concentrating on work. Ms Kitty is an elder that we love, respect and care for.
My grandkitty, on the other hand, is a character who climbs up into the middle of the Christmas tree and throws ornaments out all over the floor. She's excellent at playing hide and seek. Best of all, she also allows us humanoids to hold her and love her endlessly. She's a beautiful little thing that I can't resist.
I don't know if I'll ever be a grandmother. I really don't seem to have the "grandmother" gene. If neither of my offspring have offspring, I'm fine with that. And if a grandchild would come into the picture, I'd love it with all of my heart - and more.
But right now, I'm truly, truly in love with with a beautiful little black kitty in California.
Cat, I would lend you this book to study but it appears you have already read it.
She looks up and gives me her full gaze.
Don't be ridiculous, she purrs, I wrote it.
- from "Miao" by Dilys Laing
Sunday, December 14, 2008
To Passionately Open in Love
I make the effort
to maintain a ground of oceanic silence
out of which arises the multitude
of phenomena of daily life.
I make the effort
to see and to passionately open in love
to the spirit that infuses all things.
I make the effort
to see the Beloved in everyone
and to serve the Beloved through everyone
(including the earth).
I often fail in these aspirations
because I lose the balance
between separateness and unity,
get lost in my separateness,
and feel afraid.
But I make the effort.
- Ram Dass
from the book, Life Prayers, by Elizabeth Roberts & Elias Amidon (my teachers)
Friday, December 12, 2008
Behold the beauty that surrounds us. No matter what, it's always here.
Humility by Covenant
behold the beauty that surrounds us
see the wonders we take for granted
roam the world in all her glory
sail the seas and climb the mountains
discover things you never knew
be happy that you're alive
so many reasons to remain
so many people to embrace
so many stories to be told
so many errors to correct
turn your gaze towards the moon
even further if you dare
turn your face towards the sun
and be grateful that it's there
behold the beauty we have made us
all the wonders that we created
see the cities of the ancients
in the deserts and the jungles
see the truth you always knew
be happy that you're alive
so many reasons to remain
so many people to embrace
so many questions to be asked
so many answers to be found
Thursday, December 04, 2008
A Keystone Holds It All Together
PrairieDogs.org: "A keystone species is a species whose very presence contributes to a diversity of life and whose extinction would consequently lead to the extinction of other forms of life. Keystone species help to support the ecosystem (entire community of life) of which they are a part."
I've written recently about Prairie Dogs and Beavers. Both are keystone species. There might be good news for the prairie dogs (or prayer dogs, as Terry Tempest Williams sometimes calls them - mostly because they stand in a posture that looks like they're in prayer). An article in the Tuesday Rocky Mountain News says that these creatures are getting closer to being declared an endangered species. This will allow them more protection. I'm sad that their population has reached this point, but I'm hopeful that this status will help them a little.
Sometimes I read a few comments on articles. I don't enjoy it, but I learn a lot about people that way. Just reading the first comment on the article above, I understand why the prayer dogs' population is so threatened. Some people...
Peace and light to you this 18 degree (F) day. I hope you have much warmth where you are.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
All Things Change
But surprise, surprise, surprise!
Instead of all of that, Mr. Park Ranger just built a couple of little bridges over the newly formed little creek-ettes. Here's a photo, taken today, of the view of one of the new waterways.
(Oh yeah, our whole hike today was in a few inches of white stuff with snow falling on us the entire time. 32 degrees F, 0 degrees C. It was HEAVENLY!)
Seeing that this important beaver work was allowed to continue, seeing that, for once, humans didn't think they knew best... I just felt sooooooooooooo happy! Happy for the beavers, for nature, and all of the changes that will follow because of this one water-diversion. Habitats will change due to water flowing where it hasn't before. Who knows what all will be different by spring-time?
For some reason, seeing all of this (as opposed to seeing man refuse to allow the beavers to pursue what is natural for them), I felt complete freedom in my cells.
Peace & Joy to you this last day of November.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The Price We Pay
With that amount of money, we could have offered 1,777,367 scholarships to university students for one year, given insurance coverage to over 3 million people for a year, paid the wages of over 178,000 jobs for a year, or supplied over 13 million homes with renewable energy for a year.
But we couldn't do these things. Instead, we funded a war and occupation. We have interesting priorities, don't we?
Find out the price you and the residents of your state are paying for the war (excluding casualties, lost jobs, loss of goodwill, etc., etc.) by clicking here.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Bet Your Dog Can't Do This
Buddha, the dog, teaches me joy. When Buddha knows it's time to go for a walk or hike, he cannot contain his happiness and he has no embarrassment about squealing uncontrollably .
Buddha, the dog, teaches me about living in the moment. He is always present to whatever is going on around him. He holds no grudges and lets go of disappointments effortlessly.
I am learning to be like Buddha.
Except for the Crab part.
And maybe the squeals.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Here is documented proof that the anniversary of the miraculous day of your birth was celebrated here at the CarolForPeace House.
Somehow, I think you were.
You are always in my heart.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Remember the 130 green tomatoes that I picked before the first frost? After almost a month of tender-loving care, here are just a few of them today. The flavor of dark-drawer-ripened tomatoes is a close second to vine-ripened. They're still better than those from the store because no shipping was necessary and I know they are chemical-free.
We still have carrots and chard outside, covered up every night as a protection against the frost.
Tonight: Tomato-based veggie soup.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The Eyes Wide Open exhibit is a display with pairs of boots that represent each of our soldiers killed in the Iraq War/Occupation. It also includes many pairs of shoes that represent Iraqi dead. The exhibit used to be national, but it got too big and expensive to move thousands of boots and shoes all over the country, so now it's been divided into an exhibit for each state, each one containing boots representing the men and women from that state who have died in this war.
I worked on the national exhibit when it came to Denver two years ago. On the day that we took the display down, 2,753 of our young men and women had died in Iraq. Nine of our soldiers died just in the two days that the display was up.
Today, 4,193 of our soldiers have died in this occupation, along with 176 soldiers from the U.K., 138 soldiers from other countries, and, of course, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
Oh. These photos. Remembering... Blessings to all who have died in violence around the world...
Well, after digressing for a few paragraphs, I come to the point of what I wanted to write in the first place (Sheeeesh! I've had no words for days and now ya can't stop me!).
Today another woman and I met with some members of the Amnesty Club of a local High School because they are interested in hosting the Eyes Wide Open exhibit at their school. I don't know what about this touches me the most:
1) This High School is not in the most affluent neighborhood of Denver. Maybe the Eyes Wide Open exhibit will have the ability to open one student's eyes to the cost of war, helping him or her to realize that the price is too high.
2) The young people with whom we met are poised, confident and capable. I have seen this a lot in the youth of today. They are not like anyone that I knew when I was that age. They give me hope.
3) This administration has not allowed us to see the dead and wounded of this war. We can easily live each day not even remembering that our country is involved with fighting and occupying another sovereign nation, killing its citizens and displacing millions. The Eyes Wide Open exhibit is a tiny look into the truth of what is happening. I am proud to be a part of bringing this glimpse of reality to people too young to have seen the carnage of Vietnam, thus they don't know what is being blocked from their view now.
I will probably be writing more about this exhibit as I attend the events that will be occurring at different venues across the state. I know that these experiences will change my life.
If you are trying to figure out how to use up a few minutes of free time - or if you're curious about my posts from the Eyes Wide Open exhibit when it was here two years ago - here are some links to the posts I wrote at that time:
Eyes Wide Open
A photo of the Iraqi shoe display
What Would We Do If Another Country Did This To Us?
People Just Like Us
Boots Tell Haunting Tale Of Losses In Iraq
Monday, November 10, 2008
Every once in awhile, the clouds get in my way and I need to step back and let the sky clear again. I've been wordless for days. Still am. But I wanted to at least wave "Hi" to you on this COLD November morning.
Today, I feel like I'm walking a crooked and lonely trail and I resonate with this quote of Abbey's:
Saturday, October 25, 2008
All of the Parts
It used to be that when I felt lonely or depressed or mad, I thought that all of me was lonely or depressed or mad. I thought that I was defined by the feeling of that moment.
But, with a little investigation, I have discovered that I am never only one thing.
For instance, for the longest time, my first feelings upon awakening have been of fear. Fear of facing anything that the day may bring. At some point, I decided to look around inside and see what the fear looked like. To my surprise, it only took up a small part of my insides. There was a lot of alrightness around in there, too! I had been only focusing on one part of a much larger picture. It's kind of like having a cut pinkie and deciding I'm going to die from it instead of knowing that, really, I have a healthy body with a cut pinkie.
The other day, I was feeling lonely. When my inner parts got to talking about that, though, I realized that only a little bit of me was lonely. The rest of me was having fun baking. (And, when you have different parts that can talk with each other, how can you be lonely? In fact, how do I decide which part is the lonely one?)
Have you noticed this yourself? Have you noticed that you can experience both grief and peace at the same time? Can you feel the melancholy of the autumn season or the autumn of life and still know a deep, inner joy?
freedom from the storm,
amid the storm
Friday, October 24, 2008
A Warm Cup Of Coffee
The results of a recent study done by University of Colorado psychologist Lawrence Williams show that those people holding a hot cup of coffee in their hands will see others with warmer attributes than people holding a cup of iced coffee. Those holding a nice, steamy cup of java will also be kinder than those with an iced cup in their hands.
So, holding a hot cup of tea (I hope it works as well as coffee), I'm thinking of you with warm thoughts on this cool October day.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Let Your Little Light Shine
by Joni Mitchell
Oh let your little light shine
Let your little light shine
Shine on Wall Street and Vegas
Place your bets
Shine on the fishermen
With nothing in their nets
Shine on rising oceans and evaporating seas
Shine on our Frankenstein technologies
Shine on science
With its tunnel vision
Shine on fertile farmland
Buried under subdivisions
Let your little light shine
Let your little light shine
Shine on the dazzling darkness
That restores us in deep sleep
Shine on what we throw away
And what we keep
Shine on Reverend Pearson
Who threw away
The vain old God
kept Dickens and Rembrandt and Beethoven
And fresh plowed sod
Shine on good earth, good air, good water
And a safe place
For kids to play
Shine on bombs exploding
Half a mile away
Let your little light shine
Let your little light shine
Shine on world-wide traffic jams
Honking day and night
Shine on another asshole
Passing on the right!
Shine on the red light runners
Busy talking on their cell phones
Shine on the Catholic Church
And the prisons that it owns
Shine on all the Churches
They all love less and less
Shine on a hopeful girl
In a dreamy dress
Let your little light shine
Let your little light shine
Shine on good humor
Shine on good will
Shine on lousy leadership
Licensed to kill
Shine on dying soldiers
In patriotic pain
Shine on mass destruction
In some God's name!
Shine on the pioneers
Those seekers of mental health
They traveled inward
May all their little lights shine
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Full Hunter's Mooooooon
This photo of the Full Hunter's Moon, was taken at this time last year from my one of my favorite places on this sweet Earth - the desert of Utah. Those who make up rules about when you are supposed to be thankful and where you can camp will no longer allow us to camp in this spot without a major hassle and fine and talking to, but they can't take away the joy that comes with remembering the feeling of being there those Spring and Autumn mornings of silence and crispness before the hot day began nor can they erase the sound of those lonely evenings while coyotes sang at the mooooooon. Those memories are in my cells and my cells say
Monday, October 13, 2008
What To Remember When Waking
coming back to this life from the other more secret, moveable
and frighteningly honest world where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.
What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly
will make plans enough for the vitality
hidden in your sleep.
To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.
You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
you are not an accident amidst other accidents
you were invited from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.
Now, looking through the slanting light
of the morning window toward the mountain presence of
everything that can be,
what urgency calls you to your one love?
spread its branches against a future sky?
Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page on the waiting desk? - David Whyte
Friday, October 10, 2008
On a Gray October Day
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
Peace to You This Beautiful October Friday
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
If This Is Heaven...
To get a perspective of just how tall those salmon rocks are, look near the bottom left corner to see the itty bitty road that goes between them. You can always click on the photo to embiggen.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
My Bestest Friend (with four paws)
And while I'm away, I'll be missing my bestest friend with four paws who you see in the photo above. Just looking at his photo, my heart melts - and I think I'll just stay home with him. NO ONE is a better hiking companion than that there Buddha dog. And he truly does teach me the lessons of the Buddha. Except for the non-attachment lesson - I'm very attached to him.
I wonder if tonight's "debates" will happen? If they do, I wonder what the two candidates that are allowed to speak will say? (Too bad we only get to listen to TWO of the current presidential candidates and too bad there will most likely be no surprises as to what those two will say - but that's where we are right now.) I'm sure I'll find out all about it when I get back.
Don't forget to kiss your bestest friend with four paws today.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I hope that I'm not boring you with all of my photos the past few days. I'm just trying to keep peaceful and sane during the craziness going on in our country. And it ain't always easy.
Everyday, I have so much for which to be thankful. I want always to stay aware of that. Thank you for visiting me this fine fall day!
Aspen - Up Close and Personal
Click here to see #2
Click here to see #1
- Matthew Fox
- Rainer Maria Rilke
[At least on the tree where you carved your initials!]. -
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Hell's Hole Haiku
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
If This Is Hell...
Yesterday, Buddha (the dog) and I spent the day hiking at Hell's Hole. Two of my favorite places are Hell's Hole in Colorado and Hell's Roaring Canyon in Utah. So, I guess if someone tells me to go to Hell, I'll gladly do it.
I had planned to drive to Hell's Hole to see the changing aspen, take some photos and come home - maybe be gone 3 or 4 hours. But I lost all track of time - heck, I totally misplaced any concept of the existence of time - and we got back home 7 1/2 hours later. With very tired paws.
I could write much, much more, but duty calls and I have to go to work today.
The photo above is one of my favorites from the day. Yellow aspen leaves floating on the water. The trees you see are only reflections.
It looks to me like the leaves are floating on air.
- Albert Camus
Friday, September 19, 2008
The Sun Never Says
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
First Inklings of Fall
The temperatures stayed in the 60's (16 F) yesterday, even though the sky was clear.
Last night, I slept in heavenly coolness as whispers of fall brought the air into the 40's (4 F).
I awoke this morning, did some of my meditations, and thought of my dad whose health at 88 reminds me of the times when I was young and would try to walk on ice so thin I could see the bubbles moving under it. Every step risked the possibility of falling through. I feel like my dad is walking on thin ice now. With each step - each trip to the hospital - I wonder if he'll fall through.
Stephen Levine's book, Who Dies?, came to mind. I don't know how many times I've read that book since I bought it in the 1980's. It's been a few years now since Who Dies? and I have spent time together, so I pulled it off the shelf, opened it, and read words that fed me in a different way - now that I am "older and wiser"- than they did 20 years ago .
Twenty years ago, I was still trying to make sense of the death of my son's twin who had died in my womb. And I had not reconciled the sudden death of my best friend when I was 14. Who Dies? gave me perspective that helped me to be able to move and breathe through the heaviness in which I found myself.
Now Stephen's words are reminding me of the beauty of the cycles of life. In the fall, the air cools, the leaves turn and return to the earth. How wonderful to remember that I am a part of the cycles of the earth!
From the book:
"In a society based on material gain, which imagines itself to be the body, which holds health so precious and fears death so much, it is often hard to understand that death is natural, even necessary for the continuance of life, both inner and outer.That's what I want - for death (even the little deaths that we call "disappointments") to be a continual opportunity to let go of the illusions of life and to open in love.
"In some societies, death brings the whole tribe or family together in celebration and acknowledgment of the continual changing nature of life. During these celebrations, often a deeply spiritual context for this passing allows many to have profound experiences of their own true nature. For these societies, death is a continual opportunity to let go of the illusions of life, to see it as it is, and to open in love to all about."
Fall does things like this to me. Like the trees, my juices are drawing inward. It's all good.
Monday, September 01, 2008
Nature's Many Manifestations
1) I'm glad that Hurricane Gustav has decreased to a category 2. May damage be minimal. My thoughts are with all life - both in Gustav's path and everywhere there is pain and hardship.
2) The CarolForPeace tomatoes are FINALLY ripening!
Now we begin our story.
Yesterday, the Buddha dog, Mr. CarolForPeace, and I, along with the rest of Colorado, drove up to the top of Mt. Evans. Mt. Evans is one of the 50+ mountains in Colorado that are over 14,000 feet and one of only two to have a road going to the top (the road up Mt. Evans is supposed to be the world's highest paved road). I haven't been to the top in a few years. We hike at around the 9,000 - 10,000 foot level every once in awhile, though. We usually try to go when the rest of the world isn't there, but something must have gotten into us yesterday.
I have only climbed 8 or 9 of the 14ers of Colorado. Mt. Evans is the last one that I climbed. I have no photos of the route that I took and I wish that I did. Suffice it to say that my friend and I spent hours climbing up and down huge boulders in a boulder field on the side of a mountain almost touching the sky and consisting of views that could make one forget other humans had ever existed. I LOVED it and can go back there in my mind and body any time.
I did take photos yesterday, so here is a little tour of the day.
(Yes, that is snow up there. There is still a little of it hanging around.)
(When I climbed this mountain, I was on the back side of the ridge you see in this photo.)
Across the road from Summit Lake - all marshy and green from snow melt.
Mountain goats are not native to Colorado. Their southern-most habitat was northern Wyoming. They were brought to the Mount Evans area in the late 50's, early 60's.
There are three in this photo - the one on the high rock and two others down to his right.
According to the Mt Evans website: "Bristlecone Pines are the oldest living thing on this earth. The oldest, over 3,000 years, is in California. The oldest Bristlecones on Mount Evans are approximately 1,700 years old."
"No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied - it speaks in silence to the very core of your being" - Ansel Adams
Friday, August 15, 2008
I really didn't plan to do all of this. I just wanted to write about my Camp Casey experience and go back to my regularly scheduled life. But I guess it's not news that sometimes I find it hard to shut up, so here I am, still blabbing three years later.
But I'm blabbing much less than I used to.
The person who started this blog would, today, be writing about the Democratic National Convention that is coming up in a week and a half here in Denver. She would be telling the world about all of the plans she knew about. Then, during the convention time, she would be right down there in the thick of things and would bring home a play by play report.
There will be plenty of people doing that, and I'm sure I'll find them interesting. But I'm not that person any more. "That person" went that-a-way -->
To anyone who reads this, thank you for coming to visit. The friends that I've made through this blog are very special to me. Thank you, thank you!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
If you don't find God in the next person you meet, it is a waste of time looking for him further. - Mahatma Gandhi
Sunday, July 27, 2008
A couple of days ago, San of A Life With a View honored me with the award you see above. San's site is the definition of a fun to read blog. She may not post daily or even every second day. But when San posts.... well, it's A POST! No, it's a work of art - literary AND visual.
Gracias, mi amiga!
And the gifts keep coming...
Tonight, the skies did the unimaginable. They quit teasing us. They opened up and RAINED on us! I honestly can't remember the last time it rained. It's been months. Our normal amount of precipitation by July is 10 inches. Before tonight's cooling, refreshing rainfall, we had received a little over 3 inches of moisture for the whole year.
And now I remember...
THIS is how rain looks and smells and feels!
I can't share the rain with you, but I offer the award to all of the millions of readers of this blog. Take it and have yourself some FUN with it!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Spiffy, Spooky Spider Spinning Sprawling Web
I was looking up wikipedia information on spiders and found this photo of fried spiders in Cambodia:
Maybe I don't know what I'm missin', but....
Anyway, I hope you're having fun and staying cool this summer Saturday!
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Is education possibly a process of trading awareness for things of lesser worth? The goose who trades his is soon a pile of feathers. - Aldo Leopold
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Right In Front Of Us
My friend also pointed out a "weed" that is really a medicinal herb and is prolific in this area. Now I see it everywhere I go and realize that the earth is a giant medicine cabinet.
I wonder if there are many things that we don't see because our mass consciousness doesn't have a concept for them; because we think that we know what we know so what we don't know can't make itself apparent to us. We don't slow down to see and hear what we haven't seen and heard before.
When we look at a snake, we may instantaneously give it all kinds of characteristics like evil, poisonous, and deadly. We may be so afraid that we don't take the time to really see the beauty of it. Sometimes we also do that with people.
Maybe the answers to our questions of how to stop war and how to take care of each other and our planet are right in front of us but we don't slow down and allow ourselves to see what is already here.
- Thich Nhat Hanh
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Reflections on a Feather
Friday, June 27, 2008
Petals on the Water
This is one of the photos I like the best from an evening of photography at the Botanic Gardens last Wednesday. That's all. Just thought I'd share it.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Addiction (from Merriam-Webster):
1: the quality or state of being addictedMerriam-Webster doesn't list sugar and refined carbs. I need to write to them and ask them to do a revision.
2: compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.
Compulsive need for and use of habit-forming substance:
I admit that I have a compulsive need for and use of sugar-containing substances, especially chocolate, and substances that are comprised mostly of something starchy.
On days 1 - 3 of this no sugar, no grains, no wine, no dairy (which I don't do anyway), no nuthin' except vegetables, nuts, and some chicken and fish diet, if I wasn't experiencing withdrawals, what were those symptoms? No, they weren't as bad as those you experience from drugs and alcohol, but my brain didn't work, my energy was only a memory, and I knew a fix would make life look a whole lot better. Those symptoms still come up sometimes. Especially when I'm having a smoke at the bar with my friends. (KIDDING!)
Substance known by user to be harmful
And don't tell me that sugar and refined carbs aren't harmful - especially in the doses that most of us ingest them! Read about the numbers of Americans who are overweight here. See the statistics for diabetes in the U.S. here. We didn't get there by OD'ing on salads!
And those are only the top two problems that we seem to acknowledge can come from our Standard American Diets (a.k.a. SAD). Our food gives us LIFE, but most of what we eat is devoid of any life. So all kinds of deficiencies can come up in a person "well-fed". And the balance of the foods is important - our SAD eating habits usually create too much acidity in the body. My gut problem is doing an extraordinary turn-around now that I am eating so much better.
(But don't worry, I'm not going to be so Spartan forever. I've already lost my butt somewhere along the way and don't have much else to lose. I just never want to get so out of balance again.)
And this all leads me to the subject of holes.
Yes, the solution to most of our problems is to address these holes that many of us seem to have. A lot of us don't consciously know that we have a vacuity inside, but on some level, we know it's there and we stay very busy trying to fill it up with many things. One of the most common means of filling it is with food. And I'm not sure you can eat enough salads to accomplish that task. Thus, mankind invented white flour and white sugar.
On this eating plan that I'm on, I feel the hole 24/7. Knowing that a plate of steamed cabbage and carrots won't fill it, I think, "Why bother?" So I have to sit with the hole. And I've started looking into what I thought would be an abyss, but come to find out was only a bunch of thought patterns about worthiness and such. Only when I looked at it, could I realize that it wasn't a hole, so NOTHING can fill it. I can quit trying! And thoughts about worthiness are only thoughts - no substance! Whew!
So I"m thinking: if we could just get W and friends to somehow HAVE to give up sugar and refined carbs, they wouldn't have anything with which to fill up their holes, so they'd have an opportunity to see what really makes up that perceived emptiness. AND they wouldn't have the energy to try to fill their holes by destroying other countries and our own young men and women! Whaddaya think???
(And don't tell me that W is any kind of ...hole himself. With a little bit of pruning on his diet - pun intended - we might find a smart, kind guy under that swagger. Well, maybe...)
Sunday, June 22, 2008
To question that things might not be as they seem can shake the very foundation of habitual clinging. This questioning spirit is the starting point for self-reflection. Could it be that this tightly-knit sense of self is not what it seems? Do we really need to hold everything together, and can we? Is there life beyond self-importance? These kinds of questions open the door to investigating the cause of our suffering.
The actual practice of self-reflection requires us to step back, examine our experience, and not succumb to the momentum of habitual mind. This allows us to look without judgment at whatever arises, and this goes directly against the grain of our self-importance.
Self-reflection is the common thread that runs through all traditions and lineages of Buddhist practice. It also takes us beyond the boundaries of formal practice. We can bring the questioning spirit of self-reflection to any situation, at any time. Self-reflection is an attitude, an approach, and a practice. In nutshell, it is a way to make practice come alive for us personally. - Aryadeva (3rd Century CE)
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
And Peas Be With You
I didn't intentionally decide to give up sugars and starches at the same time my garden started producing scrumptious veggies. I decided to do this because of some yeasties that are partying in my insides. Yeasties and I both love sugar and starch. Since we live in the same body, we have to work together on this.
Yesterday, I had a medical test done to be sure that those party animals were the only things going on in my gut. I passed with flying colors. It was fascinating to watch my mind during the days leading up to the test. It is so easy to forget, on a day to day basis, that I am not immune to dying. It's not always going to be someone else who gets the dreaded disease or dies in an accident. At some point, maybe even in the next moment, that person will be me. Or, more accurately, that body will be this body.
But back to the garden.
Peas and the most mouthwatering spinach, arugula and varieties of lettuce are available right now in the CarolForPeace garden. I'm loving it! I know why I usually prefer chocolate over lettuce. It's because lettuce from the store just doesn't taste like the real stuff. This garden lettuce is CANDY! But don't tell the yeast guys in my gut that!
Sunday, June 15, 2008
The Beauty of it All
And the meadowlarks, whose songs make me smile through and through, were singing the whole evening.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
MLK, Jr. Memorial, S.F.
"No. No. We are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream."
Monday, June 09, 2008
Photographs and Memories
Before we get to them, though, I want to thank daffy for my very first blog award. Thank you daffy!
I want to pass this award along to everyone on my blogroll because I wouldn't be reading your blogs if I didn't think that you were such wonderful people. Thank you for being in my life - even if it's only from a (physical) distance!
On with the show!
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
May all beings know peace...
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Warm San Francisco Nights
I have been in S.F. twice before. The first trip took place in 1973 - with my parents and brother. The area seemed a little less crowded then. And the times were so much more... innocent???
The last time I was here was in the mid-80's. The love of my life (well, I THOUGHT he was the love of my life at that time - big mistake) had moved from Colorado to California and we continued with a long distance relationship for awhile. It lasted until his ex-wife moved out to CA for a possible reconciliation... Best thing she could have done for me!
It really seems like I have experienced this city from the point of view of three different Carols. I wouldn't trade away any of them.
I don't know what this flower is, but I love how sweet and delicate it looks!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
A couple of weeks ago, I saw a squirrel digging in my newly planted petunias.
I didn't know what he was doing until I saw him go back to his corn cob that was under the tree (some neighbor feeds the squirrels LOTS of corn). I watched him as he took kernels of corn to different parts of the yard.
I thought that he was hiding his corn kernels away for the winter, but it looks like he's planning on a big harvest this summer.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Rainer Maria Rilke
Some photos of the unbelievable shrieking of the wildflowers on the hill the other evening:
Sweet Peas (which, unfortunately, always put Tommy Roe's song into my head).
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I have been trying to post some photos the past few days and IT HASN'T BEEN WORKING!!! A little test for the patience...
We went wildflower viewing the other night. I had fun taking photos and I wanted to share them. But before I bring out the garden au naturel photos, I will share a little prelude. An hors d'oeuvre for the eye. Main course will begin in a day or two, if the blogger gods deem it to be so.
And this! My magnifique columbine. Either I'm having a brain fart (which happens much too often) or else this guy invited himself into my whiskey barrel/planter, because I don't remember putting him there. But he's a beaut and he's welcome to stay. I can't quit smiling every time I look at him.
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. - Rachel Carlson
Saturday, May 03, 2008
We're All Guests
"Like an overnight guest, you shall arise and depart in the morning. Why are you so attached to your household? It is all like flowers in the garden." Sri Guru Granth Sahib
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Big, fluffy snow is falling here. Very beautiful against the colors that have come out. Pink flowered trees, white flowered trees and all colors of flowers are at their peak right now. The snow adds magic to it all.
In Baghdad, it's about 93 degrees right now. I wonder what it's like to be an American soldier or an Iraqi civilian there today. Five years ago today, it was announced that our mission was accomplished. It's hard to wash out the bad taste that scene left in my mouth.
The temps in Kabul will reach 82 degrees today. Watching the snow outside my window, I wonder what's going on in that country so far away. We hear so little.
I Google "Afghanistan War" and find this:
At a NATO summit in early April, President Bush told the allies the United States would send many more troops to Afghanistan in 2009. He mentioned no numbers, but U.S. commanders say they need at least two more brigades, or 7,500 troops.
Juan Torres, whom I first met at Camp Casey in 2005, has been working on a movie about his son who died rather mysteriously at Bagram AFB in Afghanistan. Read more here. Today I found out that a website has been created for the movie, which is titled Drugs and Death at Bagram. If you visit the site, scroll down to read the story behind the movie.
Juan Torres is one of the sweetest, most humble men that I met at Camp Casey (I've seen him there twice and then in D.C. - he is on a mission). I can only imagine the pain that was caused first by the death of his son and then as Juan dug deep into the cause of his son's death.
Monday, April 21, 2008
I was raised watching television. My dad owned a television and radio store/repair shop. I spent many hours during after-school time and summers in front of big, mahogany console televisions that were waiting to be adopted by loving families. We were the first on our block to own a color television. (And to anyone under 30, yes we did have indoor plumbing.)
Now, the only television in this house is a hand-me-down (or hand-me-up? over?) from my 29 year-old daughter. She gave it to us because the remote no longer worked. We don't care. We only turn it on when we want to watch videos a few times a month. It's a dinky little TV, but it works pretty well.
Most likely, the television in this house wouldn't get turned on this week anyway.
But back to TV Turnoff Week, I think it's a good idea to bring awareness to the fact that there are many things to do besides watching TV. Maybe a family who participates in this exercise will spend the week doing something together. Or they might read some books. Or have a CONVERSATION!
If I were king, I'd outlaw all television and decree every weekend and every Wednesday to be Computer Turnoff Days. Maybe then, all the people in the land would go outside and interact with each other and the rest of the life on the planet.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
These little guys are colored the bluest of blues. They're sweet little flitty types. I loved their visits while I sat "alone".
I feel more alone when I'm surrounded by people than I do when no one is around. Is that weird? I never got lonely on retreat. In fact, I only came back to my "life" because it was time to come back. I wouldn't have had a ride home if I stayed any longer. Hmmmm.. what would be so bad about that???
Now that I'm here, I am really appreciating that I have so much support for the next few months (both seen and unseen) while I'll be operating one-armed. I sometimes forget how much love there is in this world. Everything is going to be fine.
Friday, March 21, 2008
it flows out to build secret tabernacles in the landscape.
- John O'Donohue
This land has been lightly inhabited for centuries. Love has flowed out into the landscape and the landscape has generously given back. Waters cascade from mountain snow-melt, vast aquifers support wildlife, communities, and agriculture.
Now, a Canadian company - Lexam Explorations, Inc. - is planning to drill in the San Luis Valley, including areas within the wildlife refuge, for - you guessed it - the objects of our addiction: oil and natural gas.
Most likely, it won't be long before the environment of my recent sacred retreat will be assaulted with air, light, and noise pollution. The magnificent beauty of the land will be marred by drilling machinery. The precious waters will be polluted. And wildlife will be affected in ways that I can't imagine.
We've got to figure out a better way...
To learn more about the Baca Wildlife Refuge and the plans for drilling in the San Luis Valley, go to Citizen's for San Luis Valley Water Protection or the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
This is some kind of plant that likes to grow in sand in the valley where I sat and watched the coyotes and myself last week.
On my last day of retreat, I was walking along a dirt road when a coyote approached me from the field next to me. When I saw him and he saw me, we both stopped in our tracks. I could see something big and dark in his mouth. I wondered what he would do, since I was right in his path. The beautiful little guy decided to make a right turn and I lost him in the growth of desert life like the plant above. I figured that he might soon come out and climb the hill in front of my cabin because I had seen a coyote go up that hill on another morning. Sure enough, there he went. The creature that was to become breakfast was in his mouth with its little black legs flopping lifelessly in the air. It was no more than a minute later that I watched what I thought were two foxes climb up the same hill and one was also carrying something in its mouth, though that piece of food was smaller than that of the coyote.
A friend told me that she thought that coyotes and foxes don't live in the same territory. I did a search and found that they can live together but they do so as competitors. Maybe the last two animals to go up the hill were just smaller coyotes than the first. I'll never know.
When I did my google search to see if coyote and fox live together, many of the sites that came up had to do with killing and hunting this beautiful nocturnal singer.
Many people hate coyotes because they kill their livestock or their pets. I started thinking about all of the killing that humankind does, and I wondered why it's perfectly acceptable to hate coyotes who kill to eat but it is virtuous to love humankind which kills all kinds of life including its own species for reasons that I don't understand. It seems insane.
But don't listen to me, because yesterday, I started going in and out of dark, stormy weather. The sun was shining outside and my little flower was still smiling, but the weather in my head turned gray. But it has been intermittent. I am fine one moment, and then suddenly, tears and wailing of "I don't want to" come gushing out. I am freaking - at least in some moments - about this surgery. Nintey-four and a half hours from now...
In this moment, I really don't want to...
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I found this year's first bloom in the Carol For Peace yard.
It didn't spit out that penny - that's just to show you the tiny size of this precious little creature.
Isn't it cute???
All of you in warmer climates probably think that this is an embarrassing, puny little guy, but around here, at this time of year, it's impressive!
Something to think about.
How many times during the day do we speak or worry about something of which we have no control? Hillary should do such and such. I'm worried that this or that will cause Obama to lose the race. People should be more ________. Along with other assorted, and much bigger, worrisome issues.
If we don't like something, and we can do something about it, then by all means, it is good to do what we can. But we can't control the world, so sometimes I wonder what all the "predictions" and "shoulds" are all about.
Not that I'm totally exempt from these things. Just trying to observe.
I watched myself one evening as we neared the movie theater where we were excited to see a certain film. I was worried (fussing) that we were running late and we wouldn't be able to get a seat. So, instead of just trusting that it would be what it would be, I had to announce that we just might not be there in time. We might have come all that way for nothing.
After my profound announcement, I wondered why I said it. It was as if by saying it, I could somehow prepare everyone for the worst. Then, if we couldn't get seats, things wouldn't be as bad since we weren't surprised - we'd been warned by Carol the All-Knowing. Boy, I was a real big help there! (By the way, we got into the movie - with room to spare. So much for All-Knowing.)
I was raised with the belief that if you cared about someone, you worried about him or her. I can't say that I never worry about loved ones, but mostly I figure that my worrying won't change things with the other person and it will certainly make me miserable. Besides, most of the time, I don't find that I feel any more loved if someone said they were worried about me. In fact, I feel like that person has little confidence in my abilities to take care of myself.
When I remember to lay down my Carol the All-Knowing Cape by being willing to drop my stories about what "might happen", I can either take action or not, but either way, I can do it from a place of peace.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Giving Myself Away
"Today our special is a cool drop of water served on a bed of ice."
A quote: "We have to choose between risk and risk. We run the risk of sleeping through life, of never waking up at all or else we wakefully rise to the risk of life, facing the challenge of life, of love."
In this book, Steindl-Rast spoke of how often we use the word "take" as opposed to "give". Take an exam, take a vacation, take a nap. But we really are giving ourselves to these things. We will try to take a nap until we realize that we won't fall asleep until we GIVE ourselves to the nap.
We all know that feeling. The feeling of giving ourselves fully to sleep. Giving ourselves to whatever we are doing. I also know the feeling of doing what I'm doing while holding a big part of myself back. I think I have done that a lot in my life. Not fully committing because I'm scared, because I'm not sure that what I'm doing is what I want to be doing, because I'm embarrassed to admit that this is who I am. It's like I'm trying to skate through life between the risk of sleeping through it and the risk of living. Staying in the "safe" zone (that doesn't really exist). What a joke, though. We're either the snow on the roof or the drop as it freely falls. The drop can't hold on to the shingles and safety. Once you're a drop, you gotta do what drops do.
When I prepared for my first vision quest, I wasn't afraid of being alone in the desert. I was afraid of sleeping with no tent to give me a sense of protection. The thought of sleeping out there where any animal could just come upon me was unnerving.
But when as our group arrived at the desert, one of the quest leaders - a woman - stated: "This is the place where I feel the safest in the world." For some reason, I believed her. I believed that it was safe out there, so having no tent was no longer a problem. And I gave myself to the desert. I did a free-fall into it and reaped the joy of it.
Of their freedom.
How do they learn it?
They fall, and falling,
They're given wings.
In My Element
My arms don't allow me to sleep well which can be a blessing. Because of them, I was awake a lot and I could listen to the coyotes sing their song off and on through the nights.
From my journal:
In the darkness
A lone coyote speaks his language.
He must be right outside the window
Open blinds don't allow
him to be seen.
But darkness creates
no room for shadow
An entire orchestra
cuts through the night.
I was sick on a Christmas day when I was young, so my dad and I stayed with one of my grandmothers while my mom and brother visited all the rest of our relatives (We had a lot of family who lived in a small town near us).
My grandmother had a painting of a coyote or wolf on a snow-covered hill that hung above her couch. I stared at the painting for years, but now it has been such a long time that I only remember its essence, no details.
I do remember that I was in and out of sleep on the couch that Christmas day, and at one point, my grandmother told me stories about the coyote/wolf in the painting. I loved my grandmother so much... She died 35 years ago, but she lives inside me always.
Now, after listening to coyote song each night and watching coyote move across the ridge in front of my cabin, now that I am getting nearer to the age that my grandmother would've been when she taught me about coyote/wolf, I realize how much that painting meant to her. Long ago, Grandmother had lived in the hills of Oklahoma and she wrote beautifully of the love she had for that land. She saw friendship in the rough hills that most people would pass by because of the rough, craggy loneliness there.
Either my grandmother taught me to love the land and its creatures through her stories and her being or else her blood runs through my body and I have no choice but to feel it pulsating with familiarity when I am in "my element". Or maybe it's both. It doesn't matter. It is.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Part of Me is Back
I would have been fine if, for some reason, I was forced to stay there for a very long time.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T. S. Eliot
Friday, February 29, 2008
There's something awe-inspiring about spring buds and young green shoots breaking through the ground...
In spite of all the harm that is being done to this earth, life is still very persistent about wanting to show up. I hope that we can soon learn to live in harmony with this earth from which we came.
Before it's too late.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Who Would've Thought It Could Be This Good?
Today Buddha (the dog) and I walked around the nearby pond in the 50+ degree warmth that we knew would come to visit someday soon if we could just hang in there.
A red-tailed hawk flew circles overhead. I had Buddha's leash in one hand and a blue plastic bag of Buddha poop in the other. Buddha always poops at a point as far away as possible from the nearest trash can so that I can have plenty of time to work on my aversion to bodily waste products. That's why he's the Buddha. He's a teacher.
The blond grasses that lined either side of the trail reminded me of the wet spring we had last year. All of the moisture that came then allowed the plants to grow taller than is typical of most years. I remember walking through this park last spring and feeling like I was in a jungle as I walked through grass taller than me.
That was the interesting time of my life when my shoulders wouldn't move at all. I love to walk and hike, but even walking is less fun when arms can't swing.
But now my shoulders move much better, the dried yellow stems are preparing to give way for young green shoots, and it just feels really good to be alive to see the beauty of hawk-flight and to feel the warmth of a bag of do-do.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Visitors in the Night
Lying under an acacia tree [in East Africa] with the sounds of dawn around me, I realized ... that the construction of an airplane, for instance, is simple when compared to the evolutionary achievement of a bird; that airplanes depend on an advanced civilization; and that where civilization is most advanced, few birds exit. I realized that if I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes ... Civilization is progress and aviation a boon only if life improves because of them ... [T]he final answer will be given not by our amassment of knowledge, or by the discoveries of our science, or by the speed of our aircraft, but by the effect our civilized activities as a whole have upon the quality of our planet's life -- the life of plants and animals as well as that of man.
"Is Civilization Progress?"
Reader's Digest, 1964
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Quote stolen from my friend, Tony, who stole it from Mark Morford.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I Felt Like A Human Being
In Russia I felt for the first time like a full human being. No color prejudice like in Mississippi, no color prejudice like in Washington. It was the first time I felt like a human being. - Paul Robeson
Monday, February 18, 2008
Catch the Wind
It's soooo windy here today! I can't say that I enjoy going outside to do things when wind beats me from all directions. Saturday, while standing out in wind like this with our 3' by 5' banner, we about sailed away a couple of times.
BUT, the good thing about wind is that it stirs up the polluted sky pot. Friday, the skies in Denver were all soupy, but now we've sent THAT air off to someone else. And we have air from who-knows-where??? Sharing is a good thing, I guess.
My thoughts are with those who have suffered damage and injury from the winds of tornadoes recently...
Much to do today, so all I have to offer is this photo I took at the Botanic Gardens the other day and a song about the wind.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
As the Blog Turns
Do you ever go to a blog and see what blogs are listed under "Friends" or "Interesting blogs" or whatever they call them?
Then do you pick out a blog name that you find interesting on the list and go visit it?
Then do you pick out a blog name on THAT blog that you find interesting and go visit IT?
And then do you realize that you've just spent an hour of time in someone else's head when you could've been in your own head studying Spanish or doing something else that is listed on your "To Do" list?
Come on... I KNOW I'm not the only one that does this.
But now all I know is that a certain woman has left her husband; a forgetful man buys his Valentine's Day present for his wife at the last minute when nothing good is left to choose from; and all kinds of people have taken trips to Florida (which sounds like a wonderful idea on this cold, gloomy day). Will that information appease my Spanish teacher when he calls on me?
And to think that I used to make fun of my mom for getting all caught up in her "Story" (a.k.a. As the World Turns, which I just found out is still showing after almost 51 years).
I love these leaves. I love that some of them are "empty" and only a "frame" is there to let you know a leaf used to live there. Kind of reminds me of my head right now. Time to fill it up with Spanish grammar.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Behold the product of passion in these monumental stone sculptures from Chapungu Sculpture Park in Harare, Zimbabwe. ...Stone works tell stories, record history, honor, mourn and celebrate.
The sculptures depict matters close to the hearts of three generations of Shona artists -- their cultural traditions, religious beliefs, social concerns and everyday life. These voices in stone convey personal, yet timeless and universal, experiences and emotions.
Not only do the Chapungu sculptures represent superior artistic achievement, they also demonstrate how quickly an art movement can move forward. It is only within the last 50 years that the sculpture movement in Zimbabwe has ascended to the forefront of the international contemporary sculpture movement. - Denver Botanic Gardens
The inflation rate for food and non-alcoholic beverages is 79,412 per cent.
80% of Zimbabweans live below the poverty line.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
When I was the chair of a peace & justice group, I took on the job of cleaning out the group's storage cabinet. Underneath piles of out-dated booklets, I found a PLETHORA (that word feels so good rolling off my tongue) of peace bumper stickers just waiting to be adopted by someone (me).
So now, on my day-timer, there lives a beautiful "Create Peace" sticker.
I often hear that the Inuit have a gazillion words for "snow". The Greeks have many words for "love". I think that we need a lot more words for "peace". Kinda like all the many types of Bubba Gump Shrimp in Forrest Gump ("You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried...")
We could have words for:
- the kind of peace that comes with an absence of war
- the kind of peace that comes with clear and kind thoughts
- the kind of peace that comes with a beautiful sunset
- the kind of peace that comes with negotiation
- the kind of peace that comes from beating others into submission, a.k.a. war (I don't find that to be peaceful at all, but some people would need a word for that)
- the kind of peace that comes when everyone just leaves you alone
- the kind of peace that people feel on Christmas eve - as long as they live in a country without war (see #1)
- the kind of peace that comes with some religious experiences
- the kind of peace that comes when the war stops right here, right now, with me
I'm not sure that there really is more than one kind of true peace, but using different words to communicate what we really mean might make the world, um, more peaceful.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Is Blue Better Than White?
A friend of mine has nine grown children. Her family is Catholic and she and her husband have been social activists for most of their lives because they believe that their faith calls them to do so. They choose to follow the teachings of Jesus.
My friend and her husband have been arrested for trying to stop nuclear testing, they have worked with immigration rights for years, and they have been named citizens of the year for the many things they have done to improve their community.
A couple of days ago, this friend told me that one of her grown daughters has gone, in her words, "to the other side".
I know what it's like to be "on the other side". But my "other side" is the "same side" as my friend's. I have seen the world differently from my family since the day I was born. I was six years old when Kennedy ran against Nixon. My parents were for Nixon. I danced around singing about Kennedy. Of course, I had no idea of anything about the political persuasions of Kennedy or Nixon. Still, little people and dogs are good judges of character and I stand by that 6-year-old's judgment today.
I could not be who I was if I followed in my parents' belief system, but it wasn't fun being different from them. As a teen in the early '70's, I "ruined" Thanksgiving by wanting to wear jeans with a flag that I had embroidered on the pocket (today my parents would probably think that I was very patriotic if I did that - funny how life changes). I really wanted to be the "good girl" that I was taught to be, but I felt that I would die inside if I let go of things that were important to me.
So, I empathize with my friend's daughter who has chosen the way of supporting W and believing in our "War on Terror". It must be really hard to go against the convictions of ten others in your family - especially when some of them are celebrated social activists.
So here we are. We're all doing what we think is right and there is not a thing that anyone can do about that. How else can it be?
Photo by moi, taken at the Botanic Gardens yesterday. No photoshopping. This is the real, cobalt blue beauty that rested there on a beautiful day.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Heck, my mind does a good job of only seeing what it wants to without any help. But...
And we need to tell the truth.
Neither one by itself is enough.
Pass it on...
Saturday, January 19, 2008
By late afternoon, after many interruptions and after reading much disconcerting but normal news about the world, my body was all IRRITABLE. Dear hubby came home, mentioned my upcoming surgery, and my tears flowed.
So THAT'S what it was!
I was holding together something that didn't want to be held together.
Oh Kurt, there was nothing to clean up! It was only water.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Be Melting Snow
Totally conscious, and apropos of nothing, you come to see me.
Is someone here? I ask.
The moon. The full moon is inside your house.
My friends and I go running out into the street.
I'm in here, comes a voice from the house, but we aren't listening.
We're looking up at the sky.
My pet nightingale sobs like a drunk in the garden.
Ringdoves scatter with small cries, Where, Where.
It's midnight. The whole neighborhood is up and out
in the street thinking, The cat burglar has come back.
The actual thief is there too, saying out loud,
Yes, the cat burglar is somewhere in this crowd.
No one pays attention.
Lo, I am with you always means when you look for God,
God is in the look of your eyes,
in the thought of looking, nearer to you than your self,
or things that have happened to you
There's no need to go outside.
Be melting snow.
Wash yourself of yourself.
A white flower grows in quietness.
Let your tongue become that flower.
- Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks
Sunday, January 13, 2008
We ran into Mr. Fox many times today. I don't really know if we only saw one, or if two of them were in and out of view in the woods and on frozen ponds. In these photos, the daring little guy is walking right toward us on the path while Mr. Buddha dog is sitting at attention, just waiting to see how close this creature would come. At about 30 feet, Mr. Fox figured he was close enough and he took off through the field.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Monday, January 07, 2008
Just dreaming of the day FIVE MONTHS from now when we will have something other than WHITE.
I wanted to write about the inspiring talk that I attended last night - Rabbi Michael Lerner spoke - but I have been working on the computer all day and my arm is DOA.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
What I Saw
(I can't believe that Huckabee won in Iowa.)
(Way to go, Obama!)
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
It is cold and snowy outside my house. Where I was during the last week, a few flowers can still smile. Some, like this one, feel the way I do today: Like curling up and not dressing for the world. Sometimes, we just have to draw in our juices, go dormant, and allow fallow ground to do its thing.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Thanksgiving, Day 7
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Trees Dancing in the Wind
I grew up in the Southern Appalachians where my father's family has lived for generations. They were masters of making do with little or nothing. From quilting to toy making, canning to music making, these people lived artfully and joyfully - and none more so than my father. A stonemason by trade and musician at heart, my father instilled in us a sense of abundance- even in the face of what most would consider to be a meager existence. He filled our house with a love of music and had an eye for beauty. He found great pleasure in small things - and was quick to share his wonder and gratitude. He marveled at the intelligence of honeybees and his children, at how many different shades of green you could find in one garden, the beauty of a freshly sliced beet. He showed us how to whisper a doodlebug out of its dusty hole and how to talk to a news bee. From the porch alone, he could point out a dozen reasons to be thankful: hickory nuts, chinquapins, blackberries, black cherries, gooseberries, persimmons, poke salat, scuppernongs, muscadines, raspberries, elderberries, wild scallions - all gifts for the taking - all you had to do was notice and enjoy. He taught me to appreciate tinkering, puttering or just sitting quietly to watch trees dance in the wind. He taught me that, if you look for the best in people, people will show you the best in themselves, and that to be without money does not mean to be poor of spirit. These many years later, even from my home in the suburbs, I am continually reminded to notice the abundance that surrounds all of us. And I am delighted to find that the reminder comes most often from those we usually assume have nothing at all. In my poem The Gleaner, I salute those who, like my father, value the beauty of trees dancing in the wind.
Brought forth from a long line of stalwarts
steeped in the pride of knowing how to make do
(with naught or less than)
possessing a steeled jaw, nose well suited - and used to -
holding firm and long to the proverbial grindstone
brow and long-angled back pitched ever forward in hearty plow fashion
he scratches through the supposed detritus of his neighbor's lives
a perpetual infusion of wondrous and revealing artifacts
discarded in a steady stream and strewn
along the suburban curb
From amongst the reeking remains of
vacuum-packed family occasions, he gleans.
conjuring baubles, novels, cord, glass blocks,
lamps, just today, a ladder
(made sturdy with the help of a crossbar found in a neighboring can)
three yards of snowflake cotton print folded
together with a hand embroidered tablecloth and six napkins
a can of hominy - still under warranty
and -- "Ah, yes." - the footstool he's been awaiting.
"All things come..."
bent and straining over quick feet
eyes darting, he hums along home
copyright 2004 Debra Shirley
Monday, November 12, 2007
Waking Up to Smell All There is
I've been, ahem, lurking on a certain blog (quite a few blogs, actually) for awhile.
I've got to pause here for a moment. I have been feeling quite lonely here in bloggerville lately. Whine, whine... Yes, I lurk on many blogs. And then I feel lonely on my blog. I do see the connection here, trust me.
Back to the original blog that I was talking about. On his latest post, this particular blogger mentioned that his blog had received 100,000 hits in one year of blogging. He was blown away and profusely thankful.
Here I am, a lurker extraordinaire, whining about loneliness and wondering what I could write about that would be worthy of putting out into the ethers. I could be THANKING YOU, I could be remembering all that has come to me via this blog, the friends and support that I would not have had without it. I could be dancing and singing in utter amazement that people from all over the world have actually read what I had to say. I could be - and I am right now - filled with awe at the human drive for connection, the ability that we have in this day and age to reach out to people thousands of miles away, and, again, the fact that YOU are reading this right now.
(Oh, I can be so slow sometimes...)
So I am here today to say
May our world be at peace.
And thank you to blogger X. I will go over there right now and post a comment on his blog. And I will out him sometime, too, so that you can visit him.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Shed a Little Light
Do you sometimes just get blown away by the beauty of it all?
When it looks like things are going to hell, can you always find a speck of love or beauty or kindness around you?
Name something that brings you joy and can never be taken from you.
I know you're out there. I see your numbers. I dare one lurker to come out into the open (and you can even do it anonymously if you want!).
Friday, November 02, 2007
When Do We Quit Caring for Nature?
"Her good, if hellish, question is related to the question of how we are to live in the world civilization has unmade. What are we to do with our knowledge of and ongoing participation in that unmaking?
"Those are personal questions. How am I going to live as the diversity of the forest dwindles, if the spring falls silent and the fall has no scarlet? The question behind that question is this: When do we abandon the effort to maintain some semblance of our primal landscapes? When do we forgo the hope of ecosystem health? When do we, or I, quit working and caring for nature?
"The answer within me varies with the time of day, with the cloud cover, with my location, indoors or out. Back home from Toronto a little later in the year, I strolled out back one afternoon, pondering how to live and what to hope for. The answer came that we live by being grateful for what there is. If the Asian longhorn beetle does in the sugar maple, we'll turn to the red maple. If the gypsy moth or oak wilt finishes off the oaks, we'll enjoy the pines, even the Scotch pines. If air pollution, soil depletion, excess nitrogen, and ultraviolet radiation make all the trees weak and susceptible to bugs and fungi and bacteria and the trees don't survive, then if any of us survive, we'll admire the beauty of the lichens and the grasses, and we'll keep trying to grow trees and restore natural forests as long as we live, as long as we can, as long as anyone around remembers how and why. We may look to the squirrels and the jays, to the winds and waters, for help in this. Human will and human work are not the only strong forces on the planet." - Stephanie Mills in Epicurean Simplicity
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Okay, Now We Have it All Figured Out!
Studying how the world works by watching lizards!
I knew it all the time...
According to the article, Lizard Love Triangles Exposed, scientists studying lizards have found that male lizards adopt one of three strategies when pursuing the opposite sex. Researchers equate this practice to rock, paper, scissors.
- "You either cooperate, or take by force, or take by deception," said researcher Barry Sinervo, a behavioral geneticist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. "It's one of those basic games that structures life."
- Orange-bellied males are brutes that invade other lizards' territories to mate with any female they can hold. But while they're gone, yellow-bellied males sneak deceptively onto the vacant territory and mate with undefended females. White-bellied males guard their mates closely and ally with other white-bellied lizards to keep the yellows at bay. Thus the analogy to rock-paper-scissors - orange force defeats white cooperation, cooperation defeats yellow deception and deception defeats force.
- Such games would not be limited to competitions over sex between males. For instance, humans play these games between aggressors, deceivers and cooperators "along an economic axis, a reproductive axis, a familial axis, a political axis," Sinervo said. Although systems with more than three competing strategies could occur, he explained they would likely tend to simplify themselves into a rock-paper-scissors arrangement because triangular relationships are mathematically more stable.
Hmmmm... has anyone investigated to find out the color of some of the bellies in D.C.? Next time, please vote for a white-bellied prez. (I just realized that this could sound bigoted, since only a white person could have a white belly. I just mean that we need some COOPERATORS in leadership.)
Monday, October 15, 2007
Be the Change...
Do you think that you affect the world by being who you are and doing what you do?
I do. I think that we all add to this soup that we call the world. There are a few unsavory flavors, but my oh my, the broth is scrumptious and most of the ingredients are heavenly. Even those unsavory bits seem to bring out the best in other parts.
Thinking about Gandhi when he said "we must be the change we wish to see in the world", I contemplate what I want to see.
I would like a world where:
- people care about each other and about all living beings
- we don't call each other names or do anything intentionally to cause pain to others - physical or psychological
- we know that there is enough - and we don't need to have more than enough while others live in need
- we take care of the earth
- there is joy and singing and dancing and celebrating
- we know there is time to go slowly enough to listen to each other, to be kind, to notice what is going on within and without
So Gandhi calls me to be these qualities that I want in the world. I can't make anyone else do it (at least I've been unsuccessful so far) - and I can be a challenging study even for myself.
It's time to get dancin'!
- Booker T. Washington
- George Carlin
Friday, October 12, 2007
Monday, October 01, 2007
Autumn in My Backyard
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Yesterday, I participated in a celebration for the life of my friend, Jo. Laughter, tears, sharing, laughter... Aahhhhh... Jo's laughter. Deep-belly, abundant, spontaneous, joyous, full-body, infectious, eternal.
A recording of Jo's laughter was played, and the effects spread like a wave across the room until everyone was laughing - for no reason except that Jo's true laughter is contagious. Still is. Even though she is not here in body.
Jo didn't know how to respond to rules, other than to realize that they were only someone else's idea of right, but most likely not hers.
She traveled the world. And at one point, when she was young, she was put in prison in Greece for a couple of years (for reasons that I won't tell you here), only getting out because her father pulled some political strings. Her rebelliousness contributed to a distance between her and her family, but during the last couple of years, she decided to listen and love, letting go of being right. So for her last trip, she went home to spend time with her dad and other family members. Jo told many of us that she had searched the world her whole adult lifetime for one thing - love - and only now realized that it was right here all along.
In a hundred years, no one will probably know that Jo existed. But the world will be a little different than it would've been otherwise, because she affected the lives of those around her, which will affect the lives of those around us. And on and on. That is true for all of us.
So how do you want your footprint to affect the world?
but to stand naked in the wind
and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing,
but to free the breath from it's restless tides,
that it may rise and expand and
seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from
the river of silence,
shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached
the mountain top,
then shall you begin to climb.
And when the earth shall
claim your limbs,
then shall you truly DANCE!
- Khalil Gibran
Saturday, September 29, 2007
The Sensuality, Wisdom, and Fragility of the Earth
This year, we arrived in the desert the day after a rainstorm. The washes were still wet with the sensual undulations created by the water run-off.
Last year at this time, I wrote about the fragility of the desert's cryptobiotic soil. Re-reading that, I find that I can't do a better job of expressing myself this year, so I pasted last year's post below. I have now been to this area of the desert five times. You would not be able to find any evidence of that. We leave no trace. After we have packed up, I sweep our site with a piece of wood that I find, so no footprints or any other markings are left. We avoid walking on fragile cryptobiotic soil, and the footprints we leave as we hike in sand will blow smooth in very little time.
We have visited our spot in the desert four times. The first two times, we didn't see a soul outside of our own group. But recently, the BLM created a map of the area and now, occasional bikers and ATV-ers wander through. On this trip, we heard a couple of ATV groups one morning. We were well-hidden and escaped detection - but we still got to hear the engines and loud voices from our camp-site.
The photo above shows some of the cryptobiotic soil that is prevalent in the desert. This soil is critical to the desert's health. Unfortunately, many ATV-ers and 4-wheel drive vehicle drivers (yes, and some hikers) either don't know or don't care about taking care of our earth and they end up driving over this precious soil, ruining it for many years.
"Soil crusts are important members of desert ecosystems and contribute to the well-being of other plants by stabilizing sand and dirt, promoting moisture retention, and fixing atmospheric nitrogen. Because of their thin, fiberous nature, cryptobiotic soils are extremely fragile systems. A single footprint or tire track is sufficient to disrupt the soil crust and damage the organisms. While some species within the soil crust system may regrow within a few years of a disturbance, the damage to slow-growing species may require more than a century before the delicate soil returns to its former productivity. This sensitivity to disturbance means that travelers in arid regions should be mindful of their impact on cryptobiotic soils. As a general rule, visitors should stay on pre-existing roads and trails, only traveling off-trail on durable surfaces such as bedrock or river gravel."
In addition to leaving an ugly footprint on the land and sometimes ruining this fragile soil, ATV-ers create a noise that assaults my ears as I commune with the quiet beauty around me. I find it hard to understand why someone would go to the beauty of the desert only to mar that beauty through creating tracks that last a long time. Why would you go to a naturally serene spot and create noise with engines and loud voices?
A big part of me can't wait until we run out of oil. I won't be able to get to the desert then, but at least the earth will be able to heal itself.