Windchime Walker's Journal 71 Archive
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SUNDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2005
I have just finished creating a PowerPoint slide show of my friend Margaretha Essen-Hedin's Lucka (Advent) Peace Calendar for 2005. I put this together for two reasons: 1) I wanted to share it with a larger audience than her group email list of 60; and 2) I wanted to put it in a form that I could use for my own meditation and reflection. So much of what she quotes, I need to hear and learn.
To view these PowerPoint slide shows you can download the following software for free. For PC users, click HERE to do so; for Mac users, click HERE.
By the way, Margaretha has given me permission to bring her creation to life in this way. She asks if anyone wants to duplicate material from her Lucka Peace Calendar 2005, that they please do not separate the quotations from her photographs; they are intended to be viewed together. And, of course, be sure to give Margaretha proper attribution. She compiled all the quotations and took all the photos.
For as long as I've known her, Margaretha has been sending out an email Advent calendar with compilations of quotations she finds in her reading coupled with photographs she takes in her garden in rural Sweden. The past two years, for obvious reasons, her theme has been peace.
This year she sent one final email giving some information on the individuals she has quoted. You can find this information at the end of today's entry.
May Margaretha's gift feed your soul and mind as it does mine. And may it help bring about the peace we all long to see.
Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk born in 1926. He lives in exile in France where he founded a retreat center in the sixties. He has written many books. Read more about him at http://www.seaox.com/thich.html.
Kathe Kollwitz (1867 - 1945), was a German artist who lost a son in the First World War and a grandson in the second. She was a committed socialist and pacifist who always took sides for the poor. The Nazis silenced Kathe Kollwitz when they came to power. http://www.wolman-prints.com/pages/artistbiog/all/k/113.html is one of many sites where you can learn more about her. Two interesting books are: "The Diary and Letters of Kaethe Kollwitz", Edited by Hans Kollwitz, and "Kathe Kollwitz - Life in Art" by Mina C. Klein & H. Arthur Klein.
Vera Brittain (1893 - 1970), English pacifist, feminist and author. Read more about her at http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Jbrittain.htm
Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948) is probably the most well known of these five peace activists. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahatma_Gandhi is one of many sites about him.
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.
Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
Peace Pilgrim (1908 - 1981) was born as Mildred Norman Ryder. From Janurary 1953 until her death in July 1981 she walked as a pilgrim for peace all over the States. She walked until given shelter and fasted until given nourishment. Her message was a simple one: overcome evil with good, hatred with love and falsehood with truth. In 1982, the year after her death, five of Peace Pilgrim's friends gathered in Santa Fe, New Mexico to work on a book project that became "Peace Pilgrim, Her Life and Work in her Own Words."
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2005
All the signs are there--going to bed late and then lying awake for hours, a diminished appetite, avoiding people, and when I'm with them saying and doing things that cause me discomfort afterwards. To put it simply, I feel "betwixt and between."
But I've been here before--a number of times, actually--so I'm not concerned. I recognize the signs. They say I am at the end of one chapter of life and on the brink of another. There's no rushing the process, though; things unfold in their own sweet time. What I must do now is listen to my inner voice, follow her lead, and watch for the open door that's bound to appear. I must not force myself to fit into outgrown garments (familiar activities, ways of thinking and relating), but stay as free as possible.
While the outcome is never predictable, the process is. Before the "new" will appear, I must give up the old. In the early days this used to scare me. It's hard to sit in a void, especially if you're used to being busy about relevant things. And your colleagues aren't always delighted to see you disappear into the mist of inactivity. But that's what it takes. For me anyway.
I'm always given hints and inklings of what's next, but I don't usually recognize them at the time. Often months will pass before I look back and say, "So THAT'S where it all started." But this time I feel more in touch with where I believe I'm being led. Even at the time, I recognized certain events as likely harbingers of what was to come.
Like the unasked-for opportunities to read poems and other writings aloud to our Continent In Song community last June in Saskatchewan...and the positive responses I received. Like the four-day writers workshop at Leaven Center in July and Anya's questions that unlocked rivers of words about my past and present experiences with refugees and immigrants. Like being part of the Camp Casey Detroit peace encampment in August and September where an extraordinarily diverse, committed and loving community was formed. Like being interviewed along with Phillis Engelbert of Michigan Peaceworks about the peace movement by Lynn Rivers on her hour-long WEMU-FM radio show in September. Like giving a speech on the U.S. peace movement to 60-70 men and women at Al Muntada, a center for dialogue between Muslims and Christians in Beirut, Lebanon.
A phrase Jona Olsson used at the Racial Justice workshop I attended a few weeks ago is with me waking and sleeping. It is "sphere of influence." Jona encouraged us to know our sphere of influence so we could determine where our work for racial justice would be most effective. When I consider this phrase now, the WORLD comes to mind. All the harbingers seem to point in that direction. Another sign is my insatiable appetite for international news.
After years of not reading newspapers, I spend hours every day reading just about every article, editorial, letter and op-ed piece in the front section of the New York Times. Several times a day I check out the English language Aljazeera web site for news of the Middle East and the world. And these are in addition to my usual visits to commondreams.org and truthout.org. I'm absolutely devouring the book, "Exception to the Rulers," by Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now!" and her brother, investigative reporter David Goodman. Oh yes, I also check the Democracy Now! web site to see their news briefs and to read rush transcripts of their daily interviews when available.
It's a good thing I have an exercise regime to keep me grounded. I've also taken to dancing to a CD by Linda Tillery and the Heritage Choir for at least 20 minutes every day. Got to get on my feet and shake my bootie, as they say. I've started painting again too. And, of course, when the holiday break is over, I'll be back at school on Thursdays. If my kids there aren't part of the world, I don't know who is.
So if I don't post daily entries, don't be surprised. What's going on with me now is more internal than external, and that isn't always easy to translate into words.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2005
I realized after I wrote Monday's entry that I am one of a small number of individuals who has the time and energy available to devote to the work of "transitioning" (not a proper verb but you know what I mean). Maybe that's why many persons who experience signs like the ones I listed would be more inclined to take meds to get back on track than to "sit with it" as I intend to do. If you have a full time job (or jobs), a family to feed, clothe, educate and house, plus your own needs, where would you find the time to "respect the process"? I can't imagine.
So let me say that I recognize my unique privilege and will do my best to use my time and attention in ways that will benefit the world. It would make no sense at all to grow as an individual if that growth did not benefit the whole.
As I said on Monday, this time of quiet and reflection has led me to pick up my paint brushes again. I'm continuing a theme that Susan, the art teacher with whom I work at a Dearborn K-5 school, introduced me and the students to in October. It is the "hamsa" hand with an eye in the palm that symbolizes protection from the "evil eye." This ancient symbol is commonly seen in the Middle East. In fact, I brought back a number of hamsa-decorated souvenirs for my friends and family.
Before I traveled to Lebanon I painted this hamsa hand as a gift for Sulaima. I think she liked it. And yesterday I painted what I call "Hamsa 2." I've added both paintings to my online gallery of paintings. If you find this interesting, you might want to do a google image search of "hamsa." You'll find an amazing variety of images there.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2005
When I think of 2005, the word "truth" comes to mind. It was a year when illusion after illusion was ripped from our nation's eyes. Even those of us who pride ourselves on being critical thinkers were shaken to our core by some of what was revealed. After the horrors of Abu Ghraib in 2004, we were innundated with ever more examples of how far our country has strayed from its roots. Justice and democracy became cruel parodies instead of guiding principles. Checks and balances applied more to our financial affairs than to our government. The Constitution and Bill of Rights came under as much bombardment as Baghdad.
2005 brought us...
George W. Bush's inauguration as president for four more years. The escalating nightmare in Iraq. Hurricane Katrina, people on roofs, in the Superdome and still homeless five months later. FEMA and "Brownie, you've done a heck of a job!" CIA renditioning, black sites and waterboarding. NSA's domestic surveillance and FISA ignored. Tax cuts for the wealthy and budget cuts penalizing the poor. John Yoo and Alberto Gonzales cutting the Constitution down to size for an imperial president. Revelations of Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham's long history of nepharious schemes and big-bucks' shenanigans. John Bolton, arrogant newly-appointed US representative to the UN whose intent is to destroy (he calls it "reform") that august body's power and influence. Supreme Court nominees John Roberts (now Chief Justice Roberts), Harriet Miers (now simply George W's #1 cheerleader/crony), and Samuel Alito (the most dangerous one of all). The New York Times ("All the news that's fit to print"...or withhold?) finally admitting: 1) with an apology, that it had let Judith Miller use their front pages to trump up a war based on lies in 2003; and 2) with no apology, that it had sat on the NSA domestic surveillance story for a year (October 2004-December 2005) because the White House asked them to. The list could go on and on but you get the picture.
At the same time we had...
Cindy Sheehan, Camp Casey and a reinvigorated peace movement. 500,000 people protesting the war in Washington, DC on October 24th. Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald indicting Scooter Libby and continuing to investigate Karl Rove & Dick Cheney for their cover-up of the outing of CIA undercover agent, Valerie Plame. Senators Russell Feingold (D), John McCain (R) and Robert Byrd (D) fighting for our civil liberties, against torture and for the Constitution in the Senate. Representatives Jack Murtha (R) calling for withdrawal of our troops in Iraq and John Conyers (D) introducing resolutions of censure and possible impeachment of our president and vice-president in the House. Mainstream and independent media and bloggers who tell it like it is: Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, The Nation, commondreams.org, truthout.org, tomdispatch.org, indymedia.org, Juan Cole, Riverbend, Seymour Hersch, Helen Thomas, Maureen Dowd and Molly Ivins. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson for blowing the whistle on the inner workings of the Bush White House cabal. Medea Benjamin and the Code Pink women who show up in the most unlikely (and perfect!) places. And this list could go on as well.
So I see 2005 as the year when truth took its turn to shine a bright light on hidden realities. But now we come to 2006. This is the year when we must take these realities and do something about them. We must move beyond revelation into restoration. Truth is worthless if it doesn't promote change. And change is what we need.
On a more personal note, 2005 was beyond my wildest dreams. I recall saying to myself as 2004 turned towards 2005 that this would be the year I started traveling again. Believe it or not, I hadn't been on a plane since May 2001. Well, if you're a regular reader, you know that that resolution was kept and then some! San Francisco in March, Saskatchewan in June, and Beirut, Lebanon in November. Oh, yes, I definitely started traveling again. Two other significant events come to mind when I think of 2005: 1) being part of Camp Casey Detroit for 19 of its 21 days in August and September; and 2) attending a four-day writers' workshop at Leaven Center in July. I won't even begin to list the national and local anti-war protests, music festivals, women's gatherings, and live jazz that nourished and strengthened me this year.
So what do I see as my personal path in 2006? I don't know and that's the adventure of it all. But if I were to give image to my dream for 2006 it would be in the shape of a spiral dropping deeper as it expands its reach across the globe. Tune in next year at this time to see what that means.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 1, 2006
To celebrate the new year, I offer my readers: 1) A PowerPoint slide show called the 2006 Peace Calendar that uses my photographs and original sayings for each of the twelve months; and 2) A new blog called Peace Calendar that will show a different photograph or painting and original saying for each day of the new year. Each month will begin with the photograph and saying I used in my PowerPoint slide show, but from then on we move into the unknown. I hope you'll find it helpful.
If you're a regular reader, you'll recognize this format as one introduced to me by Margaretha Essen-Hedin, my friend from Sweden. After converting her 2005 Lucka (Advent) Peace Calendar to a PowerPoint slide show last week, I got intrigued with the idea of creating my own. Yes, I hope others will find my blog and calendar helpful, but, to be honest, I'm doing for myself. As I reflect ever more deeply on the subject of peace, I hope to begin to see what it really means. May it be so.
As a reminder, if you don't have PowerPoint software on your computer, you can download free software that will allow you to view PowerPoint presentations. For PC users, click HERE to do so; for Mac users, click HERE.
MONDAY, JANUARY 2, 2006
I awoke yesterday--New Year's Day--to a phone call from Pat Kolon. Her news was sad. Jeanie Wylie-Kellermann had died at home on Saturday afternoon.
Jeanie is a former editor of The Witness magazine (the national magazine for the Episcopal church), an active member of the Detroit Peace Community based at Day House (Detroit's Catholic Worker transitional home for women and children), a longtime resident with her husband Bill and daughters Lydia and Lucy of a neighborhood in Southwest Detroit (home of our Hispanic community), a tireless worker for local, national and international justice and peace, and since 1998 a medical miracle who had been written up in national medical journals for surprising her doctors by surviving years longer than anyone else with her condition (an aggressive grade 4 brain cancer called anaplastic glioblastoma) and the numerous surgeries and traditional and non-traditional treatments she chose to undergo.
During those seven years Jeanie moved from being a quick-witted, often opinionated, deep thinking woman whose use of words could overwhelm the most articulate among us, to a presence of pure joy, peace and love. As I wrote Bill last night, "Where Jeanie had edited The Witness in her earlier years, she BECAME the witness during these past seven years. All who were privileged to know her were transformed by her Spirit."
My favorite remembrance of Jeanie brings back that chaotic, painfully shocking day we now simply call 9/11. It was also the day for our Detroit city primary and I was at Day House answering phones, keeping records, giving out campaign materials and leaflets to members of our CPR (Committee for the Political Resurrection of Detroit)--a number of whom were running for office--as they worked the polling stations. Campagn headquarters, I guess you'd call it.
All this was going on as the TV in the living room showed horrifying image after image and talking heads tried to keep their composure as the world around them was crumbling before their very eyes. Folks kept walking in and out of Day House, needing comfort and to talk to someone...anyone. Feelings were raw, ranging from shock to fear (of how our country would take revenge) to grief to anger (mainly at our government for policies and wars that had contributed to such deep hatred of the US).
In the midst of it all was Jeanie Wylie-Kellermann. Since her surgery three years before and the seizures that still came without warning, she'd needed to be in safe surroundings (where folks could help if the need arose) and Day House was often where she'd spend her afternoons.
By the time Jeanie showed up, I was not in a good place. I couldn't bear to be in the same room with that TV any longer and had taken the portable phone out onto the side porch where a curtain of hollyhocks soothed me. Jeanie joined me. After sitting together in silence for a lovely while, she got up from her chair, went down into the front yard and started picking the still-profusely blooming cosmos.
I can't tell you how comforting that was to me. Jeanie was the only person I enountered all day who had retained a peaceful, grounded essence. Just being in her presence was healing. The photo I took of Jeanie that afternoon, with the cosmos held in her hand and her sunny smile lighting up a world that had gone so dark, is among my all-time favorites. It is SO Jeanie.
And now she is no longer with us. But, even though I don't believe in an afterlife in any religious sense, Jeanie stays ever-present in my mind and heart. And I expect she always will.
If you'd like to read an article she and Bill wrote for The Witness a year after her diagnosis, I'll provide a link. The article is called "On Death and Time." Reading it makes me ever more grateful that we got to keep Jeanie among us for six years after that, enough time for her daughters to grow up into strong and wonderful young women of 19 and 15. Thank you, dearest Jeanie, for that gift of time.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4, 2006
I know what we're seeing here in Michigan is probably evidence of global warming, but I sure am loving these grey drizzly days where the highs are in the 30s and 40s F. Since New Years Eve I've been merrily scooting hither and yon both day and night. It's been particularly sweet to be able to join Eddie on his after-dinner walks.
For weeks now I've been reading aloud to Ed for at least a half hour every night. We're coming to the end of "The Ladies of the Club," which we've thoroughly enjoyed. Ed had started it on his own but was getting headaches behind his eyes that we finally figured were due to eyestrain from the small print. Since he's stopped reading this book himself--the print in other books & articles seems to be OK--his headaches have disappeared. And now we're getting hooked on this nightly form of entertainment. The reading aloud, a nightly walk, and Ed's playing the piano while I sing have combined to make this a lovely time of togetherness. Maybe that's why I haven't been hankering to go off to hear live jazz. Why should I go someplace else when things are so sweet around here?
FRIDAY, JANUARY 6, 2006
What a change! This morning I awoke to a sunny blue-skied day. You know, I didn't realize how much I'd missed the sun until I saw it again. I bundled up--temps were in the mid-20s--and scooted the mile and a half down to the gym for my Friday morning workout with Matt. Once there I learned that the Detroit area had only had a total of 13 minutes of sun since December 11th! And I vividly recall those 13 minutes.
On that cloudy cool December day the snow had finally melted enough for me to scoot down to our lakefront park. It was my first outside-scoot since I'd returned home from Lebanon three weeks before. I recall sitting by the lake in my scooter when suddenly streams of light struck my face. I sat with my head lifted, eyes closed and (I'm sure) a smile on my face for what seemed like forever. Oh yes, I remember it well.
For the past month or so I've been privileged to be in email dialogue with Walid, whom I met at the talk on the U.S. Peace Movement that I gave at Al Muntada in Beirut on November 19th. Three days ago I received an email from him that contained deep analyses of a good number of world events and situations that he finds profoundly disturbing. Today I responded
Yes, Walid, discussing such topics can prove discouraging if we stay with the public figures, public policies, public culture...all that is readily seen on the surface of things. And all that is highlighted in our mainstream media. Prejudice, greed, arrogance, violent choices, oppressive actions, injustice...all of these and more seem to dominate our world. I say "seem to" because I believe there is a world-within-a-world, so to speak, where justice, peace, tolerance and mutual respect exist.
A world where people of different and no religions live together in peace, respecting each one's right to follow his or her own path. A world where children receive the love, nurture, guidance and education they need and deserve. A world where individuals band together into communities in order to speak truth to power, to right the wrongs and create the harmony they long for. A world where commercialism and materialism do not have any significant impact on youth or adults, where solid ideals of justice, peace and respect are modeled by one generation to the other and vice versa. A world where individuals and groups take responsibility for their lives and the lives of the most vulnerable in their midst, creating alternative ways of being that are not dependent on the powers-that-be.
Walid, these things are happening all over the world. Here in Detroit I personally know many individuals and groups that are enacting these alternative realities. Their efforts and endeavors are usually hidden from the public eye because the mainstream media is too caught up with the words and actions of the powerful to have any time or interest in anyone or anything else. But that doesn't matter; we go on anyway doing what we can, however small.
In relation to the Israeli/Palestinian struggles, I know of groups of Israelis and Palestinians who are working together for peace. They resist (always nonviolently) both the military violence of the Israeli government and the suicide bombings of the Palestinians. They help rebuild Palestinian homes that have been bulldozed and go to homes that are under threat of being demolished and protect them and their owners by their very presence. These are groups of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, atheists and others who don't self-identify as religious or non-religious. Again I personally know a good number of individuals and groups here in Michigan and the U.S. who travel to Israel and Palestine to help with these efforts. They also work hard here at home to raise public awareness of the truth of what is happening there.
I know a woman here in Ann Arbor, Michigan who is part of a group of a dozen women--six of Jewish and six of Arab descent--who have engaged in regular dialogue meetings for over four years. Their chosen focus of discussion is the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. These twelve women will be traveling together to Israel and Palestine in April. The woman I know--Laurie White--is a filmmaker who has created a documentary film about this group called "Refusing To Be Enemies: The Zeitouna Project." You can read about it at
All this to say that there are realities beyond those you lament, and those that I lament as well. My hope is in these grassroots movements that, instead of giving into despair or rage, are using their inventive energies to change the very realities that do so much damage to our world. I believe this is where our hope must lie.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 7, 2006
Just who is this man named Ariel Sharon, at whose bedside the world sits while he hovers between life and death?
As usually happens when a person of international stature dies, or is close to death, all that is said of him or her is good. George W. Bush says he is praying for this "man of peace." I'm sure if Mr. Sharon dies as a result of the massive stroke that he suffered a few days ago, flags will be flown at half mast, presidents, prime ministers, diplomats and media from across the world will attend his state funeral in Israel, and stories of his great impact on peace in the Middle East will pour forth from most (but definitely not ALL) TVs, radios and newspapers worldwide. The phrase, "man of peace," will be on (almost) everyone's lips.
When I consider this probable outpouring of praise and glorification of Ariel Sharon, I think of the words I wrote and posted on today's (January 7) Peace Calendar, "An ugly truth is better than a lovely lie."
I offer Robert Fisk's perspective on this man named Ariel Sharon. I trust Robert Fisk to tell the truth, however ugly. As an international correspondent for UK newspapers for 3-4 decades, the truth is what Mr. Fisk is after. After having lived in Beirut for 30 years, he has traveled to more war zones than (I'd guess) any other journalist in the world, and knows the Middle East, its history, current events and the players involved, in ways that no one else does. As I say, I trust him implicitly.
To read Robert Fisk's most recently published article (on January 6 by the Independent/UK), go to RobertFisk.com and click on the article titled, "Ariel Sharon." I warn you, it is very long, but, in my opinion, worth reading through to the end.
Let us hold the truth--all of it--in mind as we sit by Mr. Sharon's bedside.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 8, 2006
Hundreds of peace activists gathered at Central United Methodist Church--Detroit's peace church--this afternoon for a celebration of the life of our sister Jeanie Wylie-Kellermann. As the pastor Ed Rowe said, "There's a tremendous amount of power in this room...if we only dared use it." You could feel it, churning beneath the surface, setting fire to our hearts and strengthening our will.
One couldn't help but be aware of Jeanie's presence, her incisive mind, indomitable will, relentless hunger for justice, and zest for life in all its forms. Yes, our sister was definitely there, exhorting us through the songs of her friends, the soulful dance of her daughter Lucy, the poignant poetry of her daughter Lydia, the tender orchestration of her beloved husband Bill. For Bill, Lydia, Lucy and their extended family of friends planned every minute of this creative celebration that went on for two and a half hours and could have happily gone on another two and a half. It was a work of art, molded in love, moistened with tears, and held together with humor. So much like the life of the woman we celebrated.
And, as always with Jeanie, no one left without having been changed.
When I spoke with her mother at the gathering for food and continued remembrances upstairs after the service, she said that a friend who didn't know Jeanie had remarked, upon hearing of her death, that "At least now she's at rest." We all laughed. REST is the last thing Jeanie Wylie-Kellermann is about now! Gawd, that woman's working harder than ever. The seeds she planted in her lifetime still need a lot of attention and I'm sure she has her hoe and water hose in hand ready to see that they grow into strong, sturdy plants. Oh yeah, Jeanie's not done yet.
From her service:
Blessed are the ones who dance in the corridors of death,
Who sing in the hallways of terror,
Who laugh in the pisons of fear,
Who shout across the silencing walls,
Who love beyond the borders of hatred,
Who live to welcome home freedom,
Who die never turning their heads,
Who return as the rising of hope.
(Jan Richardson, "In Wisdom's Path")
TUESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2005
Do the American people realize what is at risk if Samuel Alito is confirmed as the Supreme Court Justice to replace Sandra Day O'Connor? We're not just talking about abortion rights for women, or separation of church and state, or immigrant's rights, or how interrogations are conducted, or whether our CIA has the right to "render" anyone they please wherever they please, or the death penalty and how it's used, or even surveillance of Americans by their own government.
What is at risk if Samuel Alito is confirmed is the continued existence of checks and balances between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of our federal government. In particular, the expansion of Executive powers to such a degree that Congress would be impotent to check them. It is our Constitution that is at risk.
Why? Because Judge Alito would be replacing the one Supreme Court Justice who, as Marjorie Cohen notes, "provided the swing vote 77% of the time." This is no John Roberts taking the place of an already conservative Chief Justice William Rehnquist, but Judge Samuel Alito who in his 15 years as a federal judge, nearly always "favored the government," and "ruled against individual rights in 84 percent of his dissents." As Ms. Cohen--and countless others who have studied Judge Alito's record--conclude, "If confirmed, Alito would tip the high court's delicate balance radically to the right."
All we have to do is look back over the frequent 5-4 votes in the Supreme Court to see what is at risk here. And this while we have a U.S. president who has already taken unprecedented powers unto himself, at first in secret and, when "outed" by the press, turned to openly flouting the law. If there were ever an Executive Branch that needed to be "checked and balanced," it is this one that we have for THREE MORE YEARS.
By the way, Marjorie Cohen, whom I've quoted here, has the credentials to back up her assessment of Judge Alito. Ms. Cohen is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, President-elect of the National Lawyers Guild, and the US representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists. Her article from which I drew my quotes is "Alito Sounds Death Knell for Individual Rights." Another article I found helpful--and chilling--was John Nichols' "Alito's Nod to Executive Power Looms As Dangerous."
Please call your senators, write letters to the editor of your papers, send out group emails, write about this subject on your blogs, and speak to family, friends, co-workers about what is at risk if Samuel Alito is confirmed.
Remember, if confirmed, he will be a Supreme Court Justice for life. In three years, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld will have to give up control of the White House, but Samuel Alito is a young, presumably healthy man who could be determining how our Constitution is interpreted for DECADES to come.
Please help us block his confirmation.
I have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.
While the media and the American people are engrossed in the Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Samuel Alito, while Republican Senator Arlen Specter threatens to hold Senate Judiciary Committee hearings into President Bush's flouting the FISA law and authorizing what now appear to be millions of wiretappings of American citizens on American soil by NSA without first obtaining warrants, while the February deadline fast approaches for the fate of the U.S. Patriot Act to be decided upon by Congress, while the war in Iraq spirals more and more out of control and the cry to withdraw American troops is taken up by a majority of the people and an ever growing number of Senators and Representatives, while the "I" word (impeachment) appears for the first time in the mainstream media, while Republicans and Democrats tremble on the brink of what is predicted to be the greatest political scandal in Washington, DC history, while the House Republicans struggle to find a new Majority Leader who can satisfy all its factions, while the 2006 elections loom on the horizon and the president's poll numbers continue to hover around a pretty pathetic 40%, while Karl Rove is still under investigation by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald for crimes that could mean the end of his 30-year tenure as George W. Bush's righthand man, there is a dangerous window of opportunity opening up for what Colin Powell's former chief-of-staff Lawrence Wilkerson calls the "neocon cabal" who run our country. That "window of opportunity" is Iran.
We all know that when a sitting president has his back to the wall, when he is under threat from all sides, he is at his most dangerous. The best defense is a good offense. And the best offense is a war.
OK, so we already have a war and it's going poorly. But if Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld can make everyone believe the United States (with its 10,600 nuclear warheads and bombs) is part of an international community of concerned nations, then they can stir things up and, with the help of their best buddy Israel (who has 200 of its own nuclear warheads and bombs), they can start a "good" war against Iran. Maybe that would take people's minds off Iraq and all the rest. We know how our current president loves being Commander-In-Chief.
I hope I'm wrong. But I'm not alone in my fears. Robert Dreyfus in his article for TomPaine.com, "The Bush Who Cried Wolf," discusses this subject in a way that sends chills down my spine.
And as if the situation isn't tense enough with Iran, things have taken a serious turn for the worst in Iraq...and I'm not even talking about the high casualties among troops, insurgents and innocent civilians. This crisis has to do with the political process that Mr. Bush is always bragging about.
I'll let Arianna Huffington of huffingtonpost.com tell you in her own words:
Iraq Moves a Step Closer to Civil War; the MSM Yawn
Will yesterday's in-your-face decision by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, Iraq's most influential Shiite leader, to renege on his pledge to amend the new Constitution in a manner acceptable to Sunnis be the shove in the back that sends Iraq over the brink into all-out civil war?
It certainly has that potential.
Before the constitution was put to a vote in October, Sunnis were threatening to boycott the referendum.
The problem? The charter contains provisions that decentralize political power in the country in a way that leaves the vast majority of Iraqi oil under the control of Kurds and Shiites -- and the Sunnis facing an impoverished future. See Juan Cole for more on this.
Desperate to avoid a Sunni boycott, the Bush administration twisted every Shiite arm it could find. U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad ultimately brokered a last-minute deal that would make it possible for Sunnis to substantially amend the constitution once the newly elected Parliament is seated.
That deal allowed the December elections to proceed -- and the Bush administration to use Sunni participation in those elections as a major PR talking point.
Indeed, in his town-hall appearance yesterday, the president cited Sunni involvement as evidence of the "remarkable" political progress in Iraq: "In the last election, the rejectionists who had sat out the first couple of elections -- many Sunnis sat out; they said, we're not going to be involved in the political process -- got involved. Slowly but surely, those who were trying to stop the advance of democracy are becoming marginalized."
And, in previous speeches, he has described the agreement to allow changes to the constitution as a key element in keeping the political process moving forward. "Thanks to last-minute changes, including a new procedure for considering amendments to the constitution," he said on the eve of the December vote, "the revised constitution was endorsed by Iraq's largest Sunni party… Sunnis voted in large numbers for the first time. They joined the political process. And by doing so, they reject the violence of the Saddamists and rejectionists. Through hard work and compromise, Iraqis adopted the most progressive, democratic constitution in the Arab world."
Now it is clear that the Shiites were just saying what the Bush administration wanted to hear, never meant it, and never intended to follow through. "We will stop anyone who tries to change the Constitution," said al-Hakim yesterday.
This belligerent stance could easily drive Iraqi Sunnis (in the words of today's New York Times) "into the arms of radical Sunni groups in neighboring lands" and "leave the Shiites even more dependent than they are now on Iran and American troops."
Sounds like a recipe for endless civil war -- and a foreign policy debacle of unimaginable proportions for America.
But, despite this looming disaster, with the exception of the Times' powerful editorial, the mainstream media are giving this major development hardly any play. Even the New York Times has its news story on al-Hakim's statements on page A-10 -- and at the very bottom of the page at that. In the Washington Post, the story appears on A-14, while the Los Angeles Times and USA Today do not cover the story at all! And a LexisNexis search didn't yield a single mention of the story on any of the broadcast or cable news shows.
So the match that could ignite an all-out civil war in Iraq was just lit and the U.S. media can barely muster a yawn.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 15, 2006
And now for something completely different...
After having focused on world and national events in my recent journal/blog entries, today I am thinking of no one but myself. And here it is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s actual birthday today. But my body is taking center stage whether I like it or not.
After having joined my friend Pat Kolon at a magnificent exhibition--Camille Claudel and Rodin: Fateful Encounter --at the Detroit Institute of Arts yesterday followed by a delicious meal at a favorite Lebanese restaurant, I got home in time to sit with Eddie while he ate his dinner. He'd rented the re-mastered DVD of Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" from the library, so watching it was our evening activity. As the film was coming to its Hitchcockian conclusion, I experienced the first symptoms of what has become a full-blown bladder infection.
If you've ever been hit with this unpleasant condition, you know that urinary urgency is among its most common symptoms. And since you're encouraged to drink LOTS of water, that urgency is increased. For me this has translated into every-ten-minutes-or-so calls of nature. Fun. Thank goddess for my camp porta-potty which now sits here beside my computer desk. And even greater gratitude for a husband like Ed who is doing everything he can to help.
If you're a regular reader you know that I don't do much in the way of "doctoring." I haven't been to a general practictioner since 1988, but that's who I called this morning. Bill is also a neighbor and, even though I discovered that he's now retired, he knows medicine well enough to diagnose a common condition like this over the phone. Upon his advice, Ed went to the pharmacy and got me the antibiotics I need. Sometimes it's handy to have a spouse who can prescribe meds.
So here I sit at my computer feeling not exactly perky but not horrible. Just kind of washed out. But if I remember correctly from my 1966 bout with this condition, meds and lots of water send bladder infections packing within a few days. But until then, I'll be a homebody. Might even post daily blog/journal entries! For awhile anyway.
After sitting at this computer all day--mainly because I MUST be within inches of a toilet--I'm beginning to think this isn't much fun. And I'm getting worried about keeping my bed dry tonight. At this point I have so little bladder control that I even have trouble transferring the six inches to my camp porta-potty in time. Sorry to be so graphic but I'm sure others have tred this uncomfortable path before me. I know it's a temporary problem but just the same. The doctor told me to drink lots of water but whenever I do, things get even more out of control. Ed, my dear sweet one, said he'll cut some visqueen plastic to fit between my mattress and the sheet, so that should at least protect my mattress. Let's hope these antibiotics kill those nasty e-coli bacteria post haste. Send good thoughts my way, OK? Thanks.
Was there ever such a sweet, helpful person as my Eddie? He just spent the last 45 minutes taking my bedding apart, cutting and placing a sheet of visqueen plastic between my mattress and the mattress cover (thanks to daddy Jeff for his advice-born-of-experience), then laid out three beach towels, followed by my fitted sheet, top sheet, blanket and quilt. Now I feel confident about not ruining my bed even if I have a nighttime urge I can't satisfy in time. He also changed the plastic bag container on my camp porta-potty so I'm ready for the night. All this without once making me feel weird about my temporary loss of bladder control. Oh yes, he also went to a local restaurant we like and got carry-outs for dinner--Gardenburger for me and a hamburger for him. All this after he'd walked a half mile to the grocery store to get me a bottle of the 100% pure cranberry juice that every web site I checked today recommended for urinary tract infections. Is this man a keeper, or what??!!
MONDAY, JANUARY 16, 2006
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday celebrated
Yesterday all I could think of was myself, but after a comfortable night, I awoke feeling ready to look beyond myself again, to the world.
After listening on Amy Goodman's radio show, "Democracy Now!", to excerpts from two speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.--his famous anti-war address at NYC's Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 and his final speech before the sanitation workers in Memphis, TN on April 3, 1968, the night before he was assassinated--I went to commondreams.org, one of my favorite alternative news web sites. And there I was met with the horrifying news that, even if we humans were to stop polluting the air, waters and land, our planet, our precious Gaia, is already doomed. Not only doomed, but her self-regulating mechanisms that have sustained life all these millennia, have now turned on themselves in ways that will surely hasten the end of life as we know it.
Oh, how easy it would be to dismiss Prof. James Lovelock's warning cry as the product of an overly-developed sense of dread about the future. But if you, like I, read this interview with the professor that was published in today's Independent/UK--"Why Gaia is Wreaking Revenge on Our Abuse of the Environment"--I think you'll find it hard to disbelieve him and/or discredit his conclusions.
But think about it. Environmentalists have been warning us for decades that if we humans continue damaging the earth's fragile eco-system--as we've been doing in ever-worsening ways since the Industrial Age began--that our planet would become uninhabitable. Have we or the world's leaders listened? Have we/they changed our/their ways of doing things? Some individuals and groups can answer, "Yes," but too few. All too few. I guess the surprise is not that the end is coming, but that it is coming much MUCH sooner than anyone anticipated.
I'm going to post Prof. Lovelock's article here in full. It's long but I'd say it's probably the most important thing I've ever put up on my blog or web journal.
Published on Monday, January 16, 2006 by the Independent/UK
The Earth is About to Catch a Morbid Fever That May Last as Long as 100,000 Years
Each nation must find the best use of its resources to sustain civilization for as long as they can
by James Lovelock
Imagine a young policewoman delighted in the fulfilment of her vocation; then imagine her having to tell a family whose child had strayed that he had been found dead, murdered in a nearby wood. Or think of a young physician newly appointed who has to tell you that the biopsy revealed invasion by an aggressive metastasising tumour. Doctors and the police know that many accept the simple awful truth with dignity but others try in vain to deny it.
Whatever the response, the bringers of such bad news rarely become hardened to their task and some dread it. We have relieved judges of the awesome responsibility of passing the death sentence, but at least they had some comfort from its frequent moral justification. Physicians and the police have no escape from their duty.
This article is the most difficult I have written and for the same reasons. My Gaia theory sees the Earth behaving as if it were alive, and clearly anything alive can enjoy good health, or suffer disease. Gaia has made me a planetary physician and I take my profession seriously, and now I, too, have to bring bad news.
The climate centres around the world, which are the equivalent of the pathology lab of a hospital, have reported the Earth's physical condition, and the climate specialists see it as seriously ill, and soon to pass into a morbid fever that may last as long as 100,000 years. I have to tell you, as members of the Earth's family and an intimate part of it, that you and especially civilization are in grave danger.
Our planet has kept itself healthy and fit for life, just like an animal does, for most of the more than three billion years of its existence. It was ill luck that we started polluting at a time when the sun is too hot for comfort. We have given Gaia a fever and soon her condition will worsen to a state like a coma. She has been there before and recovered, but it took more than 100,000 years. We are responsible and will suffer the consequences: as the century progresses, the temperature will rise 8 degrees centigrade in temperate regions and 5 degrees in the tropics.
Much of the tropical land mass will become scrub and desert, and will no longer serve for regulation; this adds to the 40 percent of the Earth's surface we have depleted to feed ourselves.
Curiously, aerosol pollution of the northern hemisphere reduces global warming by reflecting sunlight back to space. This "global dimming" is transient and could disappear in a few days like the smoke that it is, leaving us fully exposed to the heat of the global greenhouse. We are in a fool's climate, accidentally kept cool by smoke, and before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.
By failing to see that the Earth regulates its climate and composition, we have blundered into trying to do it ourselves, acting as if we were in charge. By doing this, we condemn ourselves to the worst form of slavery. If we chose to be the stewards of the Earth, then we are responsible for keeping the atmosphere, the ocean and the land surface right for life. A task we would soon find impossible - and something before we treated Gaia so badly, she had freely done for us.
To understand how impossible it is, think about how you would regulate your own temperature or the composition of your blood. Those with failing kidneys know the never-ending daily difficulty of adjusting water, salt and protein intake. The technological fix of dialysis helps, but is no replacement for living healthy kidneys.
My new book, "The Revenge of Gaia" expands these thoughts, but you still may ask why science took so long to recognize the true nature of the Earth. I think it is because Darwin's vision was so good and clear that it has taken until now to digest it. In his time, little was known about the chemistry of the atmosphere and oceans, and there would have been little reason for him to wonder if organisms changed their environment as well as adapting to it.
Had it been known then that life and the environment are closely coupled, Darwin would have seen that evolution involved not just the organisms, but the whole planetary surface. We might then have looked upon the Earth as if it were alive, and known that we cannot pollute the air or use the Earth's skin - its forest and ocean ecosystems - as a mere source of products to feed ourselves and furnish our homes. We would have felt instinctively that those ecosystems must be left untouched because they were part of the living Earth.
So what should we do? First, we have to keep in mind the awesome pace of change and realise how little time is left to act; and then each community and nation must find the best use of the resources they have to sustain civilisation for as long as they can. Civilization is energy-intensive and we cannot turn it off without crashing, so we need the security of a powered descent. On these British Isles, we are used to thinking of all humanity and not just ourselves; environmental change is global, but we have to deal with the consequences here in the UK.
Unfortunately our nation is now so urbanized as to be like a large city and we have only a small acreage of agriculture and forestry. We are dependent on the trading world for sustenance; climate change will deny us regular supplies of food and fuel from overseas.
We could grow enough to feed ourselves on the diet of the Second World War, but the notion that there is land to spare to grow biofuels, or be the site of wind farms, is ludicrous. We will do our best to survive, but sadly I cannot see the United States or the emerging economies of China and India cutting back in time, and they are the main source of emissions. The worst will happen and survivors will have to adapt to a hell of a climate.
Perhaps the saddest thing is that Gaia will lose as much or more than we do. Not only will wildlife and whole ecosystems go extinct, but in human civilization the planet has a precious resource. We are not merely a disease; we are, through our intelligence and communication, the nervous system of the planet. Through us, Gaia has seen herself from space, and begins to know her place in the universe.
We should be the heart and mind of the Earth, not its malady. So let us be brave and cease thinking of human needs and rights alone, and see that we have harmed the living Earth and need to make our peace with Gaia. We must do it while we are still strong enough to negotiate, and not a broken rabble led by brutal war lords. Most of all, we should remember that we are a part of it, and it is indeed our home.
James Lovelock is an independent environmental scientist and Fellow of the Royal Society. "The Revenge of Gaia," scheduled for release February 2, 2006, is published by Penguin.
copyright 2006 The Independent
TUESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2006
Thanks to your good thoughts, six antibiotic pills and 100% cranberry juice (which tastes terrible, by the way), I am feeling much, much improved from my bladder infection. I'm still laying low but by Thursday (school day) I anticipate being out and about again. Hey, I graduated to the real bathroom today--no more camp porta-potty for me. I feel like someone should give me a set of those little-girl panties with the days of the week on them to celebrate!
Having all this time has its benefits. For instance, yesterday I did something I'd been talking about doing for weeks--I changed my domestic and international long distance service from MCI to Working Assets. Ever since I read in the New York Times that many major telecommunications companies had opened their records of customer's phone calls and emails to the National Security Agency in their Bush-directed illegal surveillance of Americans, I knew MCI, a major contract-winner in Iraq's "reconstruction," would have been at the top of this list of betrayers-of-trust. I am also confident that Working Assets, a long-time supporter of peace and social justice, would not.
Today I realized my action would have little impact unless I told MCI why I had terminated my service with them. This is the message I just emailed to MCI customer service:
Yesterday, on behalf of myself and my husband, I changed our domestic and international long distance service from MCI to Working Assets. I expect you have already or will soon be hearing from them regarding this matter.
I want MCI to know why I have discontinued my long distance service with you. According to news reports, the major telecommunication companies have been allowing the National Security Agency (NSA) to access their records of customers' phone calls and emails in order to spy on Americans without the legally-required FISA warrants. Knowing MCI's close ties with the Department of Defense based on the fact that you have a multi-million dollar contract to set up the mobile phone network in Iraq, I am confident that you are on that list of major telecommunications companies who have so betrayed the trust of your customers. At the same time, knowing Working Assets and their long-time commitment to social justice, I don't imagine they joined you.
I am personally appalled that you have used my private information in such an illegal and unconstitutional way, and I will be advising the readers of my blog to terminate any service they have with MCI.
I ask that this message be forwarded to the highest levels of your company, and I hope whoever is responsible for making such damaging decisions will reconsider them and recall that America is a country where its citizens are guaranteed privacy under the law.
And if I were MCI, I would not be proud to be part of the so-called "reconstruction" team in Iraq. Your co-contractors, companies like Halliburton, Bechtel and DynCorp, have long histories of scandals and financial abuse, and are now under investigation for billions of dollars of "missing funds." Shady business is going on by US companies in Iraq. I hope MCI is not falling prey to the temptations that this tragic war and occupation present.
By the way, I expect a response to this email. Thank you.
It's a small action but one step toward living with integrity. Now I need to figure out how to disassociate from Comcast (highspeed internet access) and Verizon (cell phone). Any suggestions would be most welcome. You can always email me at home.
Other than that necessary task, I spent most of the day working on my Peace Calendar blog. I am adoring this new project but I gather folks are still confused about whose words and photos I'm using. All of them are my own creation. That's the point--for me anyway--to reflect ever more deeply on this mysterious thing called peace. And yes, that means I'm intending to come up with 365 sayings with accompanying photos/paintings for the year 2006. As of this evening, I'm already up to February 2nd, so it's coming along.
One of the special treats for me is culling through my 100,000 (not exaggerating) photos that I've posted on my web journal over the past six years. It's like visiting old friends that you'd forgotten until you see them again; then you pick right up where you left off. After all, each of these 100,000 photos has memories of people, places and events that had meaning to me. It's like going through a giant photo album.
Besides, you know me: I love challenges, especially creative ones.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 19, 2006
Sitting at a table with children while making art together is a rare privilege for an adult. We're equals at that table, each working on the same project, each trying to do his or her best. Yes, I'm the age of their grandmothers and sometimes I help teach a particular project, but that doesn't change the reality that I'm sitting there drawing or painting just the same as they. I can't tell you how I grateful I am for every day that I can be with these children in this way. This is my fifth year in this school and I have Susan Briggs, the art teacher, to thank for her gracious invitation to join her class whenever I can.
As you know if you're a regular reader, Thursday is my usual day at school. On that day we see three fourth grades, one kindergarten, one first grade and one fifth grade class. Again, if you're a regular reader you know that our student body is about 85% Muslim children of Arab descent. And of those children most are first or second generation immigrants from Lebanon. I mention this for a reason.
Since I returned from visiting Rabih, Sulaima and the children in Lebanon in November, our fourth and fifth grade art classes have been working on an art project that is very dear to my heart. Susan had me introduce the project by showing each class my PowerPoint slide shows of 1) our driving trip around Beirut and 2) our driving trip up Mount Lebanon to Rabih's family's house in Hammana and then to the top of the mountain where the Beirut to Damascus highway runs north to Syria. She'd already printed out a set of all 182 photos in black and white for each class, and had had each student choose which photo they'd like to draw. We've been working on this project ever since.
We first had the students do a small pencil sketch using the photo as a guide. But we made clear that they could change things to make their drawing more creative and interesting. Next we gave them a good-sized sheet of drawing paper on which to make their final pencil drawing. After that was completed, we asked that they go over each pencil line in either black crayon or black colored pencil. Susan and I had originally thought of having the kids paint these drawings with watercolors, but to be honest, when we saw how terrific their outline drawings were, we shifted gears and decided on colored pencils instead. We suspected, rightly as it's turned out, that there would be less tendency for the kids to get sloppy if they worked with colored pencils instead of paints. For many students this was their first serious use of colored pencils as a primary medium so we talked a lot about layering colors on top of one another and always going from light to dark.
I wish you could see what these 9 and 10 year olds have drawn! Amazing work! And what's been especially wonderful is how much they've gotten into this project. I can't recall anything that has captured their interest and attention as completely as this. Even our so-called "problem" kids have taken to it. And so have I. Today I finished my drawing after having probably put in at least 20 hours. Hours I thoroughly enjoyed.
And not only have I enjoyed working on my own drawing, but I've especially loved being a resource for the students as they work on theirs. Every day that we've worked on this project, dozens of kids in each class have brought their drawings to both Susan and me for advice and feedback. It's been such fun to discuss one-point perspective (often in roads), foreground/middleground/background and the use of warm and cool colors, how to build a sense of tension in a drawing, and more. When the classes have finished their drawings, Susan's going to put them up in the first floor hallway of the school. Once they're up, I'll take some photos so you can appreciate the amazing work these kids have done.
I've tried to figure out what has gotten them so engaged. I think it must be a combination of things. For many of these kids, Lebanon is either their first home or the place where they love to spend their summers, so many of these photos are of places that are familiar to them. But it isn't just the Middle Eastern kids who are into this. I think many of our students got very excited about my going to Lebanon. I'd been talking with them about my trip since last April, so we'd been anticipating it together. And I think they just plain liked working with colored pencils. I know I did.
Oh, how I LOVE being with Susan and these children. I feel so fortunate.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, 2006
From Thomas Bryner, a reader who lives in Texas, we learn what the mega-company MCI is like for those who work there. Makes me more grateful than ever that I got outside their long-distance orbit. But I've come to learn that my cell phone company, Verizon, was bought out recently by MCI. Now I'm looking into other cell phone company options. By the way, now I always go first to Ask Jeeves and ask, "Who owns X, Y or Z?" It never ends, does it? So here's Thomas's story:
I was interested in your post about MCI. I worked there for nearly three years, on contract, and of all the places I worked it was by far the most dishonest. Management lied about things nobody even cared about, just to keep their hand in.
I remember being called in to an auditorium where we were told there would be no more layoffs. The next day- the very next day- three more people were layed off. Nobody was surprised.
Their business strategy was (probably still is) to have a core group of 10-15% direct employees, with the bulk of the work done by low-wage no-benefit contractors like myself. On their first day, new employees are shown a film where MCI says flat out, "We are not a womb-to-tomb employer." In other words, they are going to use you up and throw you away.
It was like working in a Dilbert cartoon. By the way, we weren't allowed to post Dilbert cartoons in our cubicles.
One thing I remember is the pens. Management noticed morale was low, and came up with a plan to raise it: they gave everybody a ball-point pen that said "MCI" on the side. As you can imagine, our morale soared. But wait, it gets even better! One of the accountants said the office was losing a lot of money when laid-off workers went home with company office supplies in their briefcases, so when they laid people off, they started asking for the pens back!
I stayed there longer than I should have because I had friends there that I was close with. Eventually, though, I just got fed up and left. I didn't give two weeks notice, I didn't say goodbye, I didn't even turn off my computer. I just left. It took two weeks before anyone in management even noticed.
My technical career is over now. So many jobs in my field were outsourced to India that the wages here plummeted. I don't miss it. Actually, I think I'm happier now than I ever was then, even though I'm making far less money. I'm really not the corporate type.
Your ever well-wisher,
It's time I shared some photos with you:
--This was the day (January 6) we saw our first sun in three weeks. I remember going off for a scoot but I must have forgotten to take my camera.
--On Thursday, January 12, we were gifted with another sunny day--this one had temperatures in the 50s F. Happily, Pat Kolon was here with us taking a couple of vacation days. She and I walk/scooted the mile down to the post office and then stopped at our local florist on the way home. This florist has a wonderful greenhouse where, no matter what the season, it looks and smells like fullblown spring. Pat, the urban gardener, was in heaven. I took a couple of pictures inside the greenhouse (photos #1 & #2) but the rows were too narrow for me to scoot down, so I asked Pat to take my camera and show me what she saw. These photos of orchids (#1, #2, #3 & #4), primroses (#1, #2 & #3), a blue iris, and a beautiful purple flower I should know but can't remember the name of are what she brought back to me. You should have seen the smile on her face!
--Then on Tuesday of this week (January 17), after weeks of warm weather, we awoke to a white world (photos #1, #2, #3, #4 & #5). I'm glad I took these photos that morning because by today (January 20), all the snow was gone and we were again having temps in the 50s. Tonight's predicted snow storm has been revised to rain. Who could question the existence of global warming after this January, at least here in Michigan?
--Last night (January 19) I took a couple of domestic pictures of Eddie. In the first he's sewing buttons (for his suspenders) onto new trousers. Take note of his sewing basket. It belonged first to his Gram and then to his mother. I always get a warm feeling when I see him using it. The next photo is of Ed playing the theme from "Hansel and Gretel" on the piano. Something I hope I never take for granted.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 21, 2006
I was dry as parched land and didn't know it...not until I was watered, that is. Drenched in life-sustaining music. Jazz--the MSU (Michigan State University) Professors of Jazz--and gospel music--Rudy Hawkins Singers and Band. All at the First Congregational Church in Detroit (established 1841) in a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday called "The Spirit of Togetherness." Have I said lately how much I ADORE living in the city of Detroit? There's no place like it on earth.
MONDAY, JANUARY 23, 2006
In December my friend, Peggy Case (also known as Casey) retired after three decades of teaching primary school children. But she did so much more than just teach these kids. She developed a program called "Roots & Shoots" that gave the kids at her inner city Pontiac school the opportunity to grow their own vegetables and flowers in a garden Peg and the children created on the school property. Again, it was more than that.
Roots & Shoots gave the children a sense of the earth and how to live in ways that will protect and restore our too often-abused planet. Peg coordinated annual camping trips for the kids and helped plan interactive Earth Day celebrations at her school. And now that's she's retired, Peg intends to volunteer back at her school starting next month. She and Jeanne, her dear friend who tutors the kids in reading, will continue the Roots & Shoots program and are already working on ideas for a play for Earth Day in April.
So now Peggy has more time on her hands than she's had since high school. To celebrate, I invited her over to my house to paint. As it turns out, Peg loved art so much in her younger years that she considered majoring in fine arts in college. But teaching won out and she hasn't made visual art since then.
I think you'll agree that my friend Peggy is still an artist (photos #1 & #2). And what was fun for me was joining her at the art table. As you know I haven't been painting much of late, but, thanks to Peg's visit, I now have two new paintings (photos #1 & #2) to add to my online Art Gallery.
While our paintings were drying, we went for a walk/scoot down to the lakefront park. Sitting in the sun beside a still iceless blue-green lake was a bit of heaven. On the way out of the park, my photographer's eye was caught by these grasses backlit by the sun.
I have one more picture to share. I took it out the window behind my computer yesterday. In it you'll see a happy squirrel consuming an afternoon snack. I know the squirrels are loving this warm weather. It sure must make gathering food easier!
TUESDAY, JANUARY 24, 2006
All too often I am the voice of Doom & Gloom, but today I want to bring you a breath of Spring and Hope and Love.
There is a woman named Stephanie Marohn who lives in Northern California in community with Pegasus the horse, Gabriel the donkey, Angel the deer, four sheep (Wonder; his mother, Charlotte; his cousin Chloe; and his great-grandmother, Queenmere), and five cats. In the winter of 2002 (I think it was), my dear friend Dorothy Walters introduced me to Stephanie. What I recall most vividly was her gentleness of spirit, very much like the sheep with whom she shares her life. I also recall Dorothy telling me about her writing and editing abilities. If I remember correctly, Stephanie edited Dorothy's second book, "Unmasking the Rose."
Anyway, I've just received an email from Stephanie in which she gave me the information I needed to post a link on Dorothy's Kundalini Splendor blog to Stephanie's web site. I so encourage you to give yourself a treat and visit her yourself. And be sure to explore ALL her web pages--they are glorious! You can even buy a comforter made from the wool that Wonder, Charlotte, Chloe and Queenmere have presented as loving gifts to the people of our planet via Stephanie. And it's your choice which of these dear creatures you want to snuggle up with.
In these times of strife and turmoil, how comforting it is to know there are people like Stephanie, Dorothy and the other gentle-ones whose radiant spirits shine forth like bright rays of sun no matter how dark the clouds.
© 2005-06 Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.
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