Thursday, December 26

Brightening Up The World






"It would appear that our soul is naturally inclined toward generosity and it falls into a type of anguish when we deny ourselves our inherent capacity to act on that grace." - "The Importance of Giving Thanks: Changing lives with grace" by Caroline Myss


Jesse says she does not celebrate Christmas, and not because of any religious reasons, but because this holiday has lost it's meaning.  It has become a sales opportunity, a Pavlovian buzzer causing consumer salivation and distress.  It's hard to disagree with her.  Especially hard when we are bombarded with advertising buzzers before Halloween, now.  Someone joked that Christmas sales will be promoted in July - truly a Christmas in July nightmare.

But, I agree with Caroline Myss that human beings are by nature generous.  We want to be good and share that good with others.  Keeping our good to ourselves, hoarding and measuring like Scrooge is uncomfortable and confining.  That's why the traditions of gift giving, sharing food, celebrating, and being happy with others at Christmas is such a comfort. 

I have vivid memories of barely being able to scrape together a meal on Christmas and decorating a give away tree with Christmas cards and tinsel, but not minding the skimpiness because a neighbor or friend would come by and brighten the day by sharing a story, a memory, a few minutes of themselves.   Those friends made my life less lonely, isolated and small.  Their generosity was and still is grace in action - the antidote to the holiday blues. 

 The best antidote to what's wrong with Christmas is to keep Christ consciousness going every day of the year.   May all beings know love and peace.

Wednesday, October 30

Smell the Roses Wednesday






"The Buddha taught that there are three principal characteristics of human existence:  impermanence, egolessness, and suffering or dissatisfaction.  According to the Buddha, the lives of all beings are marked by these three qualities.  Recognizing these qualities to be real and true in our own experience helps us to relax with things as they are." - The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times
by Pema Chödrön


Friday, October 25

A Shock to the System




It all started to fall apart on Tuesday.  I worked up the courage, or intelligence maybe, to get blood work done and forwarded to my new doctor and I scheduled my second appointment with him for Friday.  The last time I'd seen him was in July.  This was October.  The only reason I was doing this at all was because of the excruciating pain in my gall bladder area and I assumed I was having another "inflamed gall bladder" episode.  The pain would come and go away and seemed to be dependent on what I was eating.  When the doc and I met on Friday, he pointed out how high my cholesterol is and that my kidney function, and glucose is bad, boderline for disease, actually.  So it seemed time to take statins, completely eliminate sugar, and keep hydrated.   The sad facts were that being a vegetarian, there wasn't much I could do diet wise, but excercise and statins would help for now.  I filled the prescription on Monday and decided to start taking them on Tuesday.

Tuesday was hell.  The chest pains got worse.  I existed in a world of pain until my husband took me to the emergency room and the unthinkable became clear.  It was my heart.  I was having a heart attack.  It took the ER four hours to subdue the angina enough to transport me to a local hospital.  From there, I was given morphine and various medicines to make it possible to fix the problem.  Tests showed that one of my arteries was completely blocked and at 7:30 a.m., Wednesday morning, the cardiologist performed an angioplasty that removed the blockage and inserted a stent to keep the artery open.  All of this was done via a catheter in the right groin artery - most of it was painless.  A miracle.

So, I had a heart attack and now I'm working through the shock but more than anything, I'm grateful for the medical care and advances that minimize the threat of death and heart damage.  It's a wake up call.  I'm awake now.

Monday, September 30

Point of View







"Do you want this fixed?" Our contractor touched a gaping crack over our stairway that had irritated me for so long that I had learned to ignore it's ugliness.  The obvious flaw was still there.  He was touching it.  But, I had to really adjust my eyesight and my thinking to acknowledge that it was there and needed to go away.

My view of world affairs, especially American politics, is very similar.  I've been irritated with its ugliness for so long that I've effectively blocked the flaws until one or more of them resonate with other people outside my mental bunker, then things become interesting.  Just yesterday on the PBS Moyers & Company show, Moyers interviewed the head of Greenpeace, Kumi Naidoo, in an interesting episode titled, Saving the Earth from Ourselves.   My 90+ year old mother in law was watching and became agitated and outraged that big oil companies are now drilling and polluting the fragile Arctic - taking advantage of the shrinking ice sheet due to global warming.  She had never heard of Greenpeace and was grateful that at least one organization in the world can see past the short term economic advantages of tearing up the North Pole

We both wondered how the seven countries which claim this vast frozen space can overlook the dangers of destroying one of the lynch pins of human life on earth, and wondered if they believed their own propaganda. From our point of view, the earth is a precious resource for supporting human life.  From the corporate point of view, the earth is a vast money pit waiting for a drilling rig or giant fishing net so it can benefit stockholders.  Everyone knows that the corporate and political rhetoric of jobs, cheap energy and "don't-worry-we'll-clean-it-up-when-we-are-done-destroying-it" overlooks the long term dangers of such a massive undertaking.  Ask the oil rig workers families killed in the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill about the jobs available and ask American consumers about cheap energy at the gas pump and in our homes.   When the oil companies say they'll take care of mother nature, most of us understand them to mean not in a good way.

I've ignored the ugliness of oil production and it's termite-like destruction of American life for so long, almost as long as Greenpeace has been around until Moyer's Arctic drilling expose.  I can't say that the problems of relying on oil have completely escaped my notice.  Who can ignore or deny the damage of oil spills which occur on a regular basis around the world.  (I reluctantly raise my hand.)  Do I want to fix this problem?  Yes.  The next question is how do I fix it.  

Saturday, September 14

Violators Will Be Crushed



Hello?
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone at home?
Come on, now,
I hear you're feeling down.
Well I can ease your pain
Get you on your feet again.
Relax.
I'll need some information first.
Just the basic facts.
Can you show me where it hurts?

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying.
When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I've got that feeling once again
I can't explain you would not understand
This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb.

"Comfortably Numb" song by Pink Floyd 




On days like today, when the talking heads give their opinions about dropping $900,000+ tomahawk bombs on real people, whether they live in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Yemen, I am sickened of this war porn.  I shut down and wish I had a kitten or puppy to distract me for a few minutes.

Speaking of being distracted, apparently Secretary of State, Kerry, distracted by a reporter's question about what Assad must do to avoid war with the USA, smirked his way into a possible diplomatic solution and despite his backpedaling, the rest of the world in the form of Russian President Putin, called his bluff or blather.  Maybe there is a god who loves little children and wants to stop the suffering - maybe not.  Either way, there is hope of a non violent solution and that's a good thing.

Tuesday, July 30

Four Corners

Navaho Nation Diatreme
Four Corners - Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, USA
Where the Corners Meet
Near Cortez, Colorado
On the Colorado Side


We bought rain ponchos at Target on our way out of Flagstaff.  The monsoons had just started and we were travelling north, into Colorado by way of the Four Corners.  We had snacks, water, music, stories and information about the 340 miles of territory along the Navajo Trail into Durango, Colorado.  

We passed between Humphreys Peak and Sunset Crater, the two towers before the flat lands along the Little Colorado River.   For some reason, snippets of songs and comedy routines floated in and out of our nervous conversations.  There was talk of work, politics, cars, health, family until we stopped at Tuba City for a bathroom break, and wandered a bit, stretching muscles and taking off jackets, rearranging belongings and shifting our sore spirits into vacation mode.  Fifteen minutes later we were settled and rode out lighter and better prepared for an adventure.

The land opened up into endless mesas below huge, white clouds.  Endless, fresh, timeless and uncluttered terrain through every window, so beautiful we'd all spontaneously exclaim,  "Pull over so we can take pictures!"  Our patient driver had been on the trail before and knew when to pull over and allow us to see extraordinary sights while absorbing the peace and beauty of the reservation.

Some people do not like the desert.  They feel insecure and insignificant under the big sky and dry, sculpted land.  I like that feeling.  I breathe easier when there are few cars, no buildings, no people, no wires.  I like the bone melting heat and the clean air.  I like the surprise of sheep and/or horses wandering across the road. A distant farm with crops, fruit trees, a windmill and water tank presents a strip of vivid green in an otherwise red-brown landscape and I wonder what it would be like to be that farmer.  Out of nowhere, sprouts a roadside diner, or an abandoned motel, or a small concession stand where Navajo jewelry is sold by grandmothers.  All of these human enterprises seem dwarfed by the mesas, gullies, diatremes, mountains and sky. Even the road seems small compared to the pathways through gigantic rocks carved by wind and water. For a city person, the vastness of sparsely populated reservation lands is a bit intimidating.  When I am in the middle of a vacant roadway, surrounded by cloud filled sky and red mesas, I feel like I have nothing to hold on to but air.  It's a scary feeling at first, but after a while I feel free.

New Mexico got it right when they called these places the "Land of Enchantment."   

Friday, July 12

Summer Love

Arizona Sycamore at Tlaquepaque

Paper Lantern in Sycamore Tree

Sycamores and Sculptures
"The sycamore tree symbolizes protection, divinity, eternity, and strength. It appears in the Egyptian "Book of the Dead," and the Bible." - EHow

Summertime in the high desert is the prime time to love your trees.  The shade is so precious and welcome.  By stepping out of the direct sunlight into the shade, the temperature can go down noticeably and give you the chance to catch a breath and move on.  Without the shade of trees, walking anywhere in 100 degree heat is a test of endurance and stamina.

I hugged my trees today!

Friday, July 5

Spectrophobia





Incident in Buffalo

“The chef wants to know if the food is good,” said the waiter.

I looked down at my plate full of fish. “Oh. Yes, very good, thanks.”

“Well, he wants to know why you aren't eating the snapper. He notices and feels bad if people don't eat his food.”

It's Saturday afternoon, no one else is in the restaurant, except us. I now realize that the manager made a special effort to give us the evening's special and here I am ignoring his staff. Instead of acknowledging their extraordinary efforts, I am giving all my attention to this stranger I've married, a man who mumbles lies about love, distance, the future.

“Please, may I thank him for this meal. I'm so sorry to cause extra work for you all,” I said. “I'm just not very hungry but his food is delicious.” The waiter nodded, cleared our plates and walked briskly to the kitchen.

“Come on. Let's hurry up and finish,” said Jude. His eyes wandered around the room and settled on my mouth. “I need to get my things together and the shuttle leaves in a couple of hours. We need to say good bye, right?”

A wan smile creased his pale face while he ran an elegant finger down my cheek. We drank our wine quickly and tried to calculate the bill and the tip.

“On the house,” said the waiter. “See, there's Chef George.” A small, dark man smiled and waved from the kitchen door, then disappeared. “Once he saw you, he didn't feel bad about finishing the food because you're so small, um, dainty, he says. Sorry for mentioning it.” Before I could ask what the waiter's name was, he was gone, too, and we were completely alone in a big dining room. I felt unhinged and numb. Maybe it's the wine. Maybe it's a feeling one gets from being isolated and alone for too long.

Jude carefully laid two ten dollar bills under the salt shaker. “I wonder if our friend will be back. Hope so. Are you okay?”

I grabbed his hand and kissed it. It was then that a light ignited behind his dark eyes, small and feverish and a welcome relief because I really didn't know how to tell him that I am pregnant. We hadn't seen each other in a while and I still reeled with the idea that somehow, despite our separate lives, we made a baby. Was it his? It had to be.

We took a brief walk outside while I smoked and he coughed. Tonight was my last show on the road for a while. The band leader, Al, and two other players lived in Buffalo and they had booked a lounge gig for six months somewhere downtown. No more traveling. No more band. I was moving on, but not sure where I was going. Jude was touring with a concert rock band based out of Chicago, had been for over a year, and their next destinations were South Africa, Australia and Japan. He would be gone for three months. I wasn't even sure if he had or we had any place to live, a critical consideration now that I would give birth within the year.

I told him I was pregnant as we lay together in my hotel room. He was in the shower now. His reaction was mild. I cried a little while he examined my breasts and felt my stomach. His touch was tender and it was sweet, much sweeter than I had imagined. In many ways, we had grown up together and I had forgotten that there was this spider web of a bond, strong and very thin, worn down over our four years of marriage. He accepted. I was working on acceptance.

“Are you afraid of the pain, Karina?” He knew I was anxious and I was afraid. He was right about the fear.

“I'm afraid of the future. Where will I live? Should I go back to Chicago, stay where you're staying? Or, should I go to Kansas City and live with relatives. Things are different now. I'm a singer and having a baby feels like I'm making a wrong turn. Going away from what I know how to do.” I was biting my cuticles and started a river of blood on my right thumb.

“Do you want to keep the baby or do you want an abortion?” He said what I'd been thinking and if he had given even a hint that the baby was a mistake, I knew I'd get an abortion, but he was mild. He was as confident as itinerant musicians can be about the future. He smiled. I sucked on my thumb until the blood stopped flowing.

“Well, it seems like now is a good time for us to have a baby,” I stammered. Swirling around the room were questions about insurance and money and where we'll live and even how we'll live. I did not feel sure about being a singer anymore and that left a gaping hole in my self image. The thought of being a mother did not seem to fit inside of that hole.

He wondered if I should go live with my parents until the baby is born and we talked about logistics for a while, finally deciding that I'd go to Chicago day after tomorrow. He'd be able to meet me at O'Hare and we'd settle into his apartment. That's as far as we got before I had to get ready for my final performance, and he had to catch a shuttle to the airport.

I slept well that night. The band went out with an emotional whimper. I knew I'd never see these musicians again. We played well and the crowd was happy. Even the hotel owner came to the first set and tried to get us to do three more weeks, but our band was over. He tried to hustle me into singing with a piano player and staying at the hotel for as long as I wanted, but I had other pressures to consider and I reminded him that I had a husband and home in Chicago.

“All whores have husbands when it's convenient,” he tossed off in the wake of my refusal. I didn't even blink and was happy to see him leave before the second set.

Al had our final paychecks ready, plus cash tips from the club owner and patrons. The cash was a very nice surprise and we toasted the end of the road with a hefty Jack Daniels. Nelson, the trumpet player, even shed some tears while playfully propositioning me for the last time. I would miss the little games we all played with each other. We were all lonely and the pranks and jokes made the road bearable. The propositioning was one-sided – male-sided - and tedious. Nelson's attempts were the exception because he was gentlemanly and charming and optimistic, not bitter and desperate. We hugged and kissed and disbursed.


“Notice more,” I admonished myself. Nelson, Skip and Mike had girl friends, groupie friends, to bring to their hotel rooms. Maybe they were going to an after hours club, or diner, or somewhere bright and filled with human noise. I tasted sadness in my room. It smelled of air freshener and suitcases. The bathroom lights exposed a blank, blushed, assemblage - no smile, no animation. The face in the mirror scared me. I felt wild and caged and relieved to be going. Relieved to shut the door, pack and get ready to check out.    

Sunday, June 16

Coffee Cup Reflections

Coffee is Good For You

One of the last things my father did in his life was make a pot of coffee.  He was a coffee advocate.  He found the caffeine state stimulating and often our best discussions were made around the kitchen table with cups of strong coffee in our hands - the more the merrier, the more controversial the better, no holds barred.  Fortunately, Mom was there to moderate any especially tedious monologues or steer us away from the topics that caused an alarming rise in Dad's blood pressure.

I learned a lot from Dad.  He did so much for me and my own family and the sad thing, for me, is that I didn't really appreciate much of what he did until he was gone.  This realization could be tragic and traumatic for me if it weren't for my Father's overriding and final lesson:  love each other.  He started early on this one and pursued its meaning, in all of its challenges and manifestations, until he passed.  All six of his children and most of his grandchildren learned to love each other, learned to express this love to each other, and are learning to share this love and this lesson with friends, neighbors and, ...well, with everyone.

I have many fathers in my life, my husband, my son, my brothers, nephews, friends..  and they are celebrated today.  They understand the magic in learning to love each other.

Today is a good day - thank you, Dad!

Thursday, May 16

Walk on the Wild Side Tuesday



Boynton Canyon Trailhead

Enchantment Resort View

Penstemon Season

Chem Trails over the Red Rocks

Colorado Four O'Clocks

Cliff Face Caves

Mule Deer Crossing

Check Me Out!

Cairn O Rama

Sunday, May 12

To Love and Be Loved in Return



Waterwings

The mornings are his,
blue and white
like the tablecloth at breakfast. 
He’s happy in the house,
a sweep of the spoon
brings the birds under his chair. 
He sings and the dishes disappear.

Or holding a crayon like a candle, 
he draws a circle.
It is his hundredth dragonfly.
Calling for more paper,
this one is red-winged
and like the others,
he wills it to fly, simply
by the unformed curve of his signature.

Waterwings he calls them, 
the floats I strap to his arms. 
I wear an apron of concern, 
sweep the morning of birds. 
To the water he returns, 
plunging where it’s cold,
moving and squealing into sunlight.
The water from here seems flecked with gold.

I watch the circles
his small body makes
fan and ripple,
disperse like an echo
into the sum of water, light and air. 
His imprint on the water
has but a brief lifespan,
the flicker of a dragonfly’s delicate wing.

This is sadness, I tell myself,
the morning he chooses to leave his wings behind, 
because he will not remember
that he and beauty were aligned,
skimming across the water, nearly airborne, 
on his first solo flight.
I’ll write “how he could not
contain his delight.”
At the other end,
in another time frame,
he waits for me—
having already outdistanced this body,
the one that slipped from me like a fish,
floating, free of itself.

"Love you, Mom!" says Jon. "Without you, there would be no me." 

And, without Jon I would not have learned what it is to love unconditionally. I know that no matter what, I will always love him. The beauty of Jon is that no matter what, he will always love me. We are blessed.

Tuesday, April 16

When Guardian Angels Sleep

View from Prudential Building - Boston, MA
Sorrow, Courage, Love - For Boston, MA
When Guardian Angels Sleep -  In Boston, MA

Yesterday, someone killed three people and tried to kill hundreds more in Boston, Massachusetts. The day was beautiful, filled with good health, good cheer, happiness and triumph except in the minds of the bomb makers, the haters, the destroyers, the people who strive to overpower and corrupt.

They are "the enemy." But, really, they are serial killers - believers in pain and suffering. They are everywhere and they exist in a vacuum of delusion. The world will learn why this particular serial killer chose Boston, and the world will again be forced to pay attention to dangerous psychopaths. These subhumans not only bomb, kill, and maim, they want to dominate. They do not have feelings. They have impulses. They hurl us into the garbage heap of their minds and shine a light on depravity.

I feel that they do us, - you, me, citizens, normies - a favor. Without them, we would not recognize those that transcend the garbage heap. There would be no light at all, no contrast, nothing. The difficult nature of compassion, true love, spirit, hope would not be explored. In other words...

"God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to suffer no evil to exist." - Saint Augustine

For those who have given up on the concept of god, maybe Mr. Roger's view of tragedy might illustrate how to cope with fearful events ...



For those that find platitudes and quotes repugnant at this time;  rage, anger, and blame are coming our way.  Human nature is on display with all of its horror and glory.  For me, the antidote for the dark side of human nature, is nature itself which teaches me to not judge whether a coyote eating a rabbit is good or bad, or whether a fierce wind is malicious.  I know there is no malice in nature.  I also know that malice is a human invention and I grieve for those that suffer from it.

Saturday, March 9

Fine Feathered Friends' Saturday

Red-naped Sapsucker


House Finch

Rufous Hummingbird

Lawrence's Goldfinch
American Robin

Steller's Jay

“The robin flew from his swinging spray of ivy on to the top of the wall and he opened his beak and sang a loud, lovely trill, merely to show off. Nothing in the world is quite as adorably lovely as a robin when he shows off - and they are nearly always doing it.” ― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden


Thursday, March 7

The Surprising Emergence of a Political Gadfly

Which End Is Up?

Where's the Wake-Up Call?

The Lord of Obstacles

“The United States government is very clearly on record as against targeted assassinations. . . . They are extrajudicial killings, and we do not support that." - American Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk,  July 2001.


Paul's filibuster has finally cast a light on the horrors of predator drone warfare. I applaud Rand Paul for exposing this human rights travesty to the media maw. Even though the specter of drone attacks on U.S. citizens is compelling, the media focused not on the message, but the delivery of it via filibuster. 

I can hear the newsroom editors now, "Drones attacking Americans??? Too alarming for Joe the Plumber. Focus on the good ole American fetish of marathon talking." 

So, despite the media digression, it is clear that progressives, tea partyers, and other strange bedfellows have found common ground in opposing the Obama administration on its use of predator drones. 

I'm glad Rand Paul had the tenacity to sound the alarm. I'm not sure about the rest of his Republican supporters and I'm very disappointed in so-called progressive democrats who didn't make a peep when given a reasonable opportunity to do so. I know that the focus of attention should have been on John Brennan's qualifications to lead the CIA. I know RP was grandstanding and obstructing as usual, but a spotlight is a spotlight - the weirder the better in this case.