Monday, April 30, 2007
last week cleveland's congressman dennis kucinich took the brave and bold step to bring three articles of impeachment again v.p. dick cheney. for six years the vice president and president have repeatedly lied to the american people and the world - the lies regarding iraq (leading to our invasion of the country and the deaths of at least 3350 u.s. soldiers and countless others) are just part of the 'high crimes and misdemeanors' of the bush administration. unfortunately, other members of congress are unwilling to take kucinich's call for impeachment seriously. but let's hope that soon this will change - congress is supposed to represent the people - the people are calling - now will they listen and step up to do the right thing!
it is a strange country where during the clinton administration there was a large congressional bandwagon to impeach the president for perjuring himself during an investigation of personal conduct; but today, in the halls of government we find only a one-man band regarding the actions of an administration who repeatedly is screwing the country!
elsewhere: spelling it out is even more creative! in san francisco on saturday over 1500 people stood together and spelled it OUT!
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid.
At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness.
Happiness is the way.
So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one.
Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
Dance as though no one is watching you.
Love as though you have never been hurt before.
Sing as though no one can hear you.
Live as though heaven is on earth.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
this picture is of bill, an amazing guy and someone I consider a friend although so far our paths have only crossed once. I met bill in november at a party when visiting family & friends in metro DC. he's 89 years old and still jammin' with his buds - not only was bill still going out at night to play music with friends he was still working a day job (just to keep active he said)! the picture and bill's story is a good segue for this video of the zimmers. both bill and the zimmers hold the secret for successful aging - keep on rocking!
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
back to my maher moment, maher began his interview by stating that he watched the first episode of moyers new show and appreciated its focus on the role the media played in advancing the war. the following is my completely unofficial transcript:
Maher: I just came across the headline “Training of Iraqi Troops No Longer Driving Force in U.S Policy” for years we’ve been hearing from the Bush administration that the cornerstone of the Iraq policy is “We’ll stand down, when they stand up.” And now today the administration has given up on this policy. I did not encounter the media broadcast anything about this story, instead it chose to replay a phone conversation Alec Baldwin had with his daughter.
Moyers: When I saw that, Bill, and when I read that story, I thought how many Americans is this president willing to sacrifice on the altar of his ego? Because what he is saying is 'Step aside Iraqis and let our guys die' - if you can’t train Iraqis to be good soldiers, you can’t teach them to be good citizens. He’s giving up on democracy at the same time he’s giving up on having Iraqis to do what American boys are doing… We’re entering the fifth year of this war and the press has never come to grips with its complicity in helping this administration market a war that’s based all on false pretenses.
Maher: How do we change that?
Moyers: It bothers me, as it does a lot of others, that we can be really upset about the carnage in Virginia and we should be, but we seem so indifferent to the carnage in Iraq. And the fact of the matter is until there are more Cindy Sheehans getting out and saying ‘my son should not go and die in Iraq for the reasons that are being offered,” we’re not going to do anything about it. Our soldiers have been fighting in Iraq longer than it took our soldiers to beat the Nazis in WWII. The abominable thing is this decision he is making to say we’re not going to train you, it means perpetuating a war that is already hopeless and pouring more and more American troops into a bottomless pit.
Maher: Harry Reed is considered a jerk because he said the war is lost. My question is who is the jerk? The guy who points out the bad situation? Or the guy who caused the bad situation and is sustaining it?
Monday, April 23, 2007
factoids that I hope will strengthen your resolve too:
100 BILLION number of plastic bags used in the usa every year.
12 MILLION barrels of oil to make those 100 billion plastic bags.
90 percent of grocery bags that are used are plastic.
5.2 percent of plastic bags and sacks recycled in 2005.
21 percent of paper bags and sacks that were recycled in 2005.
1,000 years that it can take for a plastic bag to decompose.
5.5 cents cost of a typical paper grocery bag.
1 cent cost of a typical plastic grocery bag.
1977 year in which plastic bags first arrived at grocery stores.
several european countries are attempting to tackle the mounting problem of plastic bags - in 2002 ireland imposed a 'plastax' of 15 cents a bag. as a result, people are bringing their own bags and the ireland has seen a 90 percent decrease in the use of plastic bags. I can't imagine the anti-tax forces here accepting such a measure, but it is an option....hopefully we can change our bag habits before we're forced to impose such measures!
(plain dealer sources: wall street journal, US EPA, new york times, UPI, reusablebags.com)
Sunday, April 22, 2007
We pray for your power to refresh your lands.
Great Spirit, whose waters are choked with debris and pollution, help us to find the way to cleanse your waters.
We pray for your knowledge to find the way to cleanse the waters.
Great Spirit, whose beautiful earth grows ugly with misuse, help us to find the way to restore beauty to your handiwork.
We pray for your strength to restore the beauty of your handiwork.
Great Spirit, whose creatures are being destroyed, help us to find a way to replenish them.
We pray for your power to replenish the earth.
Great Spirit, whose gifts to us are being lost in selfishness and corruption, help us to find the way to restore our humanity.
We pray for your wisdom to find the way to restore our humanity.
U.N. Environmental Sabbath Program, Native American Prayer for the earth
praying for the earth is one thing, but it's more important if each of us ACTS for the earth. there are scores of things we can do every single day to heal the planet. after all, we are the primary cause of most of the 'illnesses' of our beautiful blue planet. global warming, land degradation, and species extinction can all be linked to human greed, selfishness, sloth, and aggression. there are tons of resources available with suggestions on how we can 'reduce our footprint' on the planet. today might be the official earth day, but don't stop today - make everyday earth day!
the concept of ecological footprint has been around for a while and it is useful to help understand our impact on the earth. an ecological footprint is a measure of how much of the earth's biological capacity is used to support a person's lifestyle, including producing the food and material to keep the person fed, clothed, and housed. I will let the graph speak for itself! it is vital we all do what we can - and do it now - walk, bike or take mass transit, eat local and eat low on the food chain, bring your own (reusable) bags, turn off lights and appliances, when a bulb blows replace it with a compact fluorescent bulb, say no to buying things that you might want but don't need, plant trees and shrubs! adopt the mantra - reduce, reuse, recycle! BE GREEN!
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Friday, April 20, 2007
o'casey's remark is perhaps my most oft repeated affirmation and is in the forefront of my mind this morning. the first thing I heard when I switched on the radio was an announcement that today is a national day of mourning and the governor of virginia is requesting a moment of silence at noon for the thirty-three people who died tragically in blacksburg, virginia. however, death and loss was on my mind even before I turned on the radio as I awoke and began to plan my day. last night I wrapped up the work on the 'it takes a village' quilt. the next project on my list is to resume work on the series of 'healing quilts' I'm making. the next quilt in the group will be for richard's mother. coincidentally today is the one-year anniversary of richard's death, this man I only know because of his death. for the next month richard will once again become a presence in my life as I cut up and piece together bits of his clothes and create what I hope will be a covering that brings comfort. I know this may sound strange, but I hope that the energy and thoughts I put into this quilt will somehow reach outwards and upwards - especially today - anniversaries are always the hardest for those left behind.
however, in the spirit of o'casey's counsel, the lament over death is balanced by the songs of life being sung. a song of sweet perfection and beauty is taking place - for that was the type of day that graced yesterday -- and looking out the window will be the type of day that graces today. spring has returned to cleveland! last week's snow and cold are now just a hazy memory. it is lovely to be part of the song of spring bursting forth!
picture: limerick, ireland - may 2001
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
two moments stand out during the most recent show and let me say right off the start neither dealt with the imus ignominy! not unexpectedly my preferences are those 'moments' that further expose the fact that the emperor has no clothes - or in the case of the most recent show, how the emperor's soldiers have no armor. with respect to this, bill shared the following information about the military: 1) the army will now ask soldiers to increase their tour from one year to 15 months (to which bill quipped "this is what they call supporting the troops"), 2) the four week training program in iraq specific activities has been reduced to just 10 days, 3) 20% of new recruits have no high school diplomas, 4) twice as many recruits are getting waivers for committing felonies compared to 3 years ago, and 5) there is no longer a "ready brigade" - a group of soldiers who are ready at a moments notice to be dispatched to a emergent 'hot spot.' bill concluded his indictment of the current state of affairs by noting that retired general and former secretary of state colin powell has declared that "the active army is broken."
bill's guests included former u.s. senator bill bradley, scott mcclellan (a former bush press secretary and died in the wool bushite) and comedian dana carvey. as a follow-up to bill's laundry list of military woes, bradley wisely remarked: "A country that rules the world but doesn't want to abide by the rules, has got a foreign policy that is unsustainable at home and unacceptable abroad. Iraq is the biggest foreign policy mistake in my lifetime - it dwarfs Vietnam. The latest casualty in Iraq is our US military"
mcclellan attempted to divert the discussion by espousing the 'bush party line' - however carvey saved the day by offering what might be considered an excellent solution. "I like what Andy Rooney said, however underreported (and in a perfect andy rooney voice) 'its tragic that war's on the shoulders of the young, war should be fought by old people, they're about to die anyway, why should it really matter....'"
bradley returned the discussion to a level of seriousness and offered more wise words: "This is a tragic mistake, the egg has been thrown against the wall, its broken. The only way to deal with this is to admit you made a mistake and have an orderly withdrawal. It's a conceptually flawed policy...you are not going to create a liberal democracy out of three provinces of the former Ottoman Empire that are a figment of Winston Churchill's imagination. You're not going to do it!"
my other 'favorite' maher moment was during bill's closing monologue where he segued from discussing how the concept of elite has been thoroughly undermined and needs to be rescued by revealing that in the bush administration they have gone from the previous standard of using the 'best and the brightest' to now relying on 'dumb and dumber.' he used the resignation of monica goodling (who at 33, with no experience as a prosecutor, was the third highest ranking official in the justice department) to illustrate his point. again, my 'unofficial transcript':
How do you get to the top so fast? Harvard? Princeton? no Goodling did her undergraduate work at Messiah College ...and then went on to attend the Pat Robertson Law School (Regent Law School) ...U.S. News and World Report which ranks schools, ranks Regent as a tier 4 school - which is the lowest score it gives. It's not hard to get into Regent, all you have to do is denounce satan and draw a pirate on a matchbook...would you care to guess how many graduates of this televangelist diploma mill work in the Bush administration? 150! And you wonder why things are so messed up. We're talking about a top Justice Department official who went to a school funded by a TV host... In 200 years we went from the best and the brightest to dumb and dumber!"
Monday, April 16, 2007
step it up 2007 sponsored events on saturday to draw attention to the growing crisis of global warming. the response by communities around the country was phenomenal, almost 1400 events took place in all 50 states. in cleveland the primary event took place at edgewater park. despite gray skies and colder temperatures than expected the event was well attended. over 100 people showed up to listen to speakers and share the mike. the open mike format turned out to be a delightful mix of community updates, practical suggestions for how we can make individual changes, and MUSIC. one goal of the step it up events is to call on congress to pass measures to develop plans for reducing CO2 levels by 80% by the year 2050. but, reductions must start now - let's hope the politicians are listening! as a planet we can't wait for the slow response of political bureaucracies we must act now - and on all levels individual, regional, national and global!
jerry maddox wrote and debuted the following anthem to stop global warming at the edgewater event.
to the tune of beethoven's 'ode to joy'
Save the earth, protect the future for mankind and progeny
Set the stage for generations sharing nature easily.
Life is sacred, we believe it, as we act responsibly.
Join the march to 80-50 and on to eternity.
Let's list forms of conservation -we will have to sacrifice
God made day and it was good, but for us, turn out the lights!
Population, propagation, and production endlessly,
Power sour glenn and bower. Best results, we're not so free.
CO2 and H2S leave the earth in quite a mess
Anoxia, anaerobic organisms at their best.
In steps chemocline, in balance, to the rescue for the now.
By the end, its mass extinction. Life as we know it, take a bow!
12-step programs have abounded, shop-a-holics, endless be.
Let's feel good, buy mass selection; addicts to the shopping spree.
Too much, too fast, too smart, too dumb, we all love to cut and run--
To the store for more, more, more, more; Oversized children, LET'S HAVE FUN!
We are into this together, rain falls on the good and bad.
Congress follows our example. Better step forward 'fore we're had.
Telephone and internet, spread the word both far and wide,
80--50, 80--50, 80--50. CURB THE TIDE!!
jerry is the accordion player in the slide show above - he gave me permission to share his marvelous song - if anyone wants to contact jerry, send me a comment and I will pass it along to him.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Friday, April 13, 2007
11.11.22 - 4.11.07
for over a half century vonnegut has reigned as the prince of satire and a voice of compassion in american literature and appropriately hailed as a modern day mark twain. like many people born after 1945, I discovered vonnegut in high school. while I was in high school the united states was horribly entrenched in vietnam. although still in my teens, I was deeply disturbed by the vietnam war (I mean 'conflict') and frustrated that despite all our protests, leafleting and demonstrations there was no movement out of the mess (does this sound familiar?). despite my frustration and anger I found solace in vonnegut, and when slaughterhouse-five came out I thought we had been given a great gift in the form of a great novel -- fortunately for all of us kurt kept giving.
yesterday I received an email from borders, ostensibly noting vonnegut's death, but with the clear intent to sell books. what would kurt think about corporate giant borders using his death to hawk his books? rhetorical question - I know what kurt would think - he would be disgusted but not at all surprised. despite what I consider the extreme tackiness of the timing of border's email (gosh his body was barely cold!) it did include a link to a lovely tribute entitled 'life is no way to treat an animal': remembering kurt vonnegut by historian douglas brinkley. from this essay the following excerpt:
He asks me if I know why President Bush is so pissed off at Arabs? I shrug no. "They brought us algebra," he laughs. "Also the numbers we use, including the symbol for nothing. Zero."
These days Vonnegut claims to be just a "farting around master"—the occupation which, in fact, people, he believes, were put on earth to do. Farting around for Vonnegut these days is a smorgasbord-like affair. Last year, Seven Stories Press released the meditation entitled A Man Without a Country—about being an octogenarian alive in Bushworld....
The function of the artist is to make people like life better than they have before," Vonnegut believes. "When I've been asked if I've ever seen that done, I say 'Yes, the Beatles did it.' " A few years back Vonnegut—for a single performance—sang scat at a Phish gig on
Eugene Victor Debs, a fellow Hoosier whom he likes to quote: “As long as there is a lower class, I am in it. As long as there is a criminal element, I am of it. As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”yes, goodnight and farewell sweet prince.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours. ~Mark Twain
snow on magnolia blooms, taken in late april 2005 - another snowy spring in cleveland. I'm hoping that this spring's snow is no more. current april showers are making history of it all.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
graffiti has fascinated me since I first encountered the 'f' work scrawled on a park bench when I was in third grade. I had no idea what this odd looking word meant and couldn't wait to get home and test my new word out on my mother. my mom wasn't too pleased with my new acquisition and she chastised me to NEVER use that word as it was a BAD word. it took a few years before I actually learned what the word meant. in the 40 plus years between when I discovered the 'f' word and now, the 'f' word has become so ubiquitous in popular speech and culture its power as an obscenity is greatly diminished. okay, I confess, on occasion I find my speech is peppered with it - and my mother still hates the word - sorry mom!!
as an adult, I've been more interested in the myriad of styles and messages that graffiti artists employ than in using the medium as a means to add new words to my vocabulary. when traveling I'm always on the lookout for street art and enjoy the discovery of both the uniqueness and the universality of the artists' expressions.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
who killed cock robin?
(adaptation by martin & peter wesley-smith)
Cock Robin is dead.
He died early this morning after suffering from
loss of balance, tremors, and convulsions.
An enquiry is being held into the cause of death ...
All the birds of the air fell a-sighing and a-sobbing
When they heard of the death of poor Cock Robin
When they heard of the death of poor Cock Robin
Cock Robin is dead!
Cock Robin is dead!
Who saw him die?
from the program notes:
When I first read, as a teenager, Rachel Carson's book The Silent Spring, I was naive enough to believe that the world would heed her urgent warnings and act immediately to stop poisoning our environment and to implement effective conservation policies. But when, twenty years later, I started researching an idea for a piece based on an English folk-song I'd enjoyed as a child, I was shocked to find that the situation had deteriorated far beyond what Ms Carson had described. It became clear that the sparrow's bow and arrow was, in reality, a chemical that an uncle of mine, Brian Wesley-Smith, had campaigned against for years: DDT. Who Killed Cock Robin? was commissioned, and first performed, by what was then the Sydney University Chamber Choir - Martin Wesley-Smith, Oct 1997
this poor robin was found lying on the ground yesterday, perhaps our heavy april snow played a role, alas, who killed cock robin?
Monday, April 9, 2007
while looking through some archived pictures I ran across this picture I took last june of the frog bridge in willimantic, connecticut (aka, thread city). since this is the month of the 'frog moon' a 'frog bridge' is a fitting addition to this month's posts. as I gaze out the window at the foot of snow blanketing the yard, we could use a little a springtime frog magic!
in the days before the great outsourcing of us manufacturing the 'american thread company' (atc) had a mill on the banks of the willimantic river providing willimantic with it's interesting moniker. at one time, atc was one of the largest suppliers of thread in the world and was once the largest employer for the state. in 1985 the company closed it's doors forever and thread manufacturing which had flourished in willimantic for over one hundred years was no longer.
so what's with the frogs? the frogs adorning the bridge commemorate a local legend of an infamous 'frog fight.' the story goes that one night in the mid 1750s the townsfolk awoke to terrible screeching, they grabbed their muskets and ran outside to defend themselves from an unseen menace. at the light of day, they only discovered scores of dead frogs - frogs apparently fought to their death for the last remaining puddles of water in a drought-stricken area.
if you find yourself traveling through central connecticut, willimantic is a nice town to visit. in willimantic you will find the windham textile and history museum which is dedicated to interpreting the history of the american textile industry. and if you're in town on the fourth of july you can enjoy another bit of americana - the town's annual boombox parade!
Sunday, April 8, 2007
couldn't have said it better myself! in case you are wondering who paul fleischman is, he's an author - however, I guess he either didn't have enough faith or just didn't like the weather on the north coast as he lives in california. among paul's books is "Seedfolks" a wonderful tale of hope and belonging. the story takes place during the birth of a community garden in a cleveland neighborhood.
"It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily. "So it is." "And freezing." "Is it?" "Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately." ~A.A. Milne
Saturday, April 7, 2007
Friday, April 6, 2007
Bush is at it again, accusing Democrats of not supporting the troops by setting a timetable for them to leave Iraq. Don't let the Democrats fall for this—the very best thing we can do to support the troops is bring them home as quickly as possible. How can Bush say he's supporting the troops when he's continually sending them into harm's way? When he's forcing them to sustain such a misguided occupation? Bush has used our troops as his toy soldiers long enough.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
not only has pete provided a soundtrack for our causes, but many of us have relied on pete's recorded folksongs to assist in raising our children (and grandchildren). for the last thirty years I have used pete's recordings to offer simple yet profound messages to the children in my life - the importance and pleasure of caring for each other, treating the earth with respect, having fun, and so on and so forth.
although the following anthem dealt with viet nam, the words and sentiments are completely applicable to our current situation in iraq. at 87 years young, pete is no longer able to sing out like he once did, but he is still speaking out for peace. please help support the nomination of pete for the 2008 nobel prize by clicking here
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
last night walking to the car after a great monday movie outing* we were bathed in the light of a full moon. on nights where every detail of the moon is almost palpable, it is easy to understand why the moon is such a mesmerizing figure. lunaphiles know there are many names for the full moon for any given month.
several years ago a friend gave me a copy of when the moon is full, a beautiful children's book, written by penny pollock and illustrated by mary azarian. the book soon became a favorite and an odd type of reference book when I can't remember the name of the month's moon. last night was one of those times, when I got home I pulled out my moon book and learned that 'frog moon' is one of the names for april's moon. it was nice to turn in with thoughts of spring peepers and the image of a bright shining frog moon smiling down on me!
*on mondays a couple local theaters offer discounts; I'm blessed with a few friends who enjoy movies as much as I do and we try and take advantage of the savings and schedule a movie night for monday evenings. last night we went to see "the lives of others" - a german film which last year won a number of international film awards. the movie is set in the mid-1980s, a few years before the fall of the wall. on the surface the movie concerns the invasiveness of the east german stasi in the lives of who they consider suspicious citizens (eg just about everyone), in addition to being an atypical 'political thriller,' the film is a sensitive exploration of human emotions and what it means to be a 'good' or 'true' human being. the film offers exquisitely crafted characters and a tight, intricate plot which I found somehow both tense and assuring. "the lives of others" a wonderful movie, worthy of all it's awards and more - in my book it receives the highest award of "it is not to be missed."
Monday, April 2, 2007
from the march 30th show my favorite moment was during bill's interview with former secretary of state madeleine albright while they were discussing the morass which we know as the war in iraq. here's my 'unofficial transcript' of this conversation:
MA: Iraq is going to go down in history as the greatest disaster in American foreign policy which means worse than Viet Nam. Obviously not in the number of Americans who have died or Vietnamese or Iraqis, but in terms of the unintended consequences. And we are seeing that right now in the growing influence of Iran that frankly has done the best out of the war in Iraq.
BM: They've won the war in Iraq, there's no doubt about that. I don't want to ask you again to get inside of George Bush's head, but it seems to me the only two choices we have are either he doesn't get what everybody else gets which is that you can never outlast insurgents in their own country. Which means that he would be an idiot. Or that he's so cynical that he's just running out the clock with the hopes of passing this off to the democrats which would be horribly evil.
So, which is he - an idiot or an evil man?
MA: Well, he is stuck in a situation where there are no good options and he created this situation. I would not be surprised if what they are trying to do is just run the clock out.
Sunday, April 1, 2007
this morning on npr was a story of wisconsin's annual celebration of the great aldo leopold (1887-1948). the story was a felicitous complement to the morning's activity of watching spring 'in action' in the backyard - the migrating warblers flitting about the trees and the return of our neighboring chipmunk, now awake from a long winter snooze.
similarly to rachel carson, aldo leopold possessed the ability to integrate a scientist's understanding of the natural world and a philosopher's gift for language with a deep love for the land and humankind. this morning's broadcast mentioned aldo's land ethic treatise. the story took me back thirty years to the first time I read A Sand County Almanac and how important I felt the lessons in that book were. in today's age of global warming, dwindling resources, and hyper-consumption the wisdom and call of leopold's land ethic is only magnified.
now that I'm back into my 'at home' routines this means a sunday posting meditation-worthy on 'the mouse' - with this in mind, I'd like to share a bit of aldo's wisdom:
The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.
In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.
In human history, we have learned (I hope) that the conqueror role is eventually self-defeating. Why? Because it is implicit in such a role that the conqueror knows, ex cathedra, just what makes the community clock tick, and just what and who is valuable, and what and who is worth-less, in community life. It always turns out that he knows neither, and this is why his conquests eventually defeat themselves...
One basic weakness in a conservation system based wholly on economic motives is that most members of the land community have no economic value. Wildflowers and songbird are examples...
A land ethic, then, reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land. Health is the capacity of the land for self-renewal. Conservation is our effort to understand and preserve this capacity...
It is inconceivable to me that an ethical relation to land can exist without love, respect, and admiration for land and a high regard for its value. By value, I of course mean something far broader than mere economic value; I mean value in the philosophical sense.
All quotes from: Aldo Leopold A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There, 1948, Oxford University Press
picture: amish farm, ohio july, 2006