Friday, February 29, 2008

I'm walking

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) philosopher, naturalist

you may have noticed a new icon on the mouse's sidebar over the last week regarding a blog 'event' for march 19th. if you haven't done so already I encourage all bloggers interested in peace to join the blogswarm.

march 19th will be the 5th anniversary of the u.s. invasion of iraq - an invasion which was based on lies about iraq having weapons of mass destruction (wmd). although we did learn that iraq had no wmd's, by the time this information penetrated the veil of lies, the war machine had taken on a life of its own. new 'justifications' and new lies were being issued. in the early days and years of the iraq occupation, the claims of 'links' of iraq to terrorist organizations were roundly discredited. a by-product of the iraq invasion and occupation has been an increase in anti-american/ anti-western sentiment in iraq.

add your footsteps in the creation of a path and plea for peace. blog for peace on march 19th. help spread the news about the blogswarm by adding one of their graphics to your site and encourage your visitors to join in.

if you are wondering about the claim 'one million dead' just click here it's not just soldiers whose bodies are piling up.

photo: rocky river reservation, 16 february 2008

Thursday, February 28, 2008

chains of thought

I need only begin with a subject that I fancy, for all subjects are linked together.
Michel de Montaigne, french philosopher (b. février 28 1533-1592)

this morning I was having a difficult time figuring out what to post, I woke up with too many ideas and they were all linked together. then I ran across a mention that it was michel de montaigne's birthday and I remembered one of my favorite de montaigne quotes, which opens chris chester's moving memoir providence of a sparrow: lessons from a life gone to the birds. when I first read came across the quote I thought "ah, today's ecology maxim 'all things are connected' is can be found within the writings of a sixteenth century french philosopher - go figure."

other ideas that were tumbling around my noggin included: following up on yesterday's mention of pete with a post about woody guthrie's great song, this land is your land since it was written in february of 1940. there's only one more day left in february. or perhaps I should post about all this beautiful snow. last night while reading when the moon is full to ms t, I was reminded that february's moon is sometimes considered as the 'snow moon.' the book notes that among many native american tribes, february was considered the snowiest month and hence the name for the full moon. in terms of this year's winter season, february has been the snowiest month in these parts.

so here you have a few of my fits and starts for today's post. but as february is slipping away, so is my blogging time. today's work waits for no woman. so I'm off! this morning's task to finish my block for the safe motherhood quilt project and get it off to ina may!

remember - synchronicity lives or would that be serendipity?

photo: rocky river reservation, 16 february 2008

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

for the birds

earlier this winter, I was a bit concerned as the number of birds coming to the backyard bird feeders dropped off considerably. normally the two feeders which we fill with mixed seed and sunflower seed are emptied by the birds on a daily basis. the reduction of the number of birds visiting the feeders was so alarming, I thought maybe there was something wrong with the seed. at one point, I even took the 50 pound bag of the black oil sunflower seed back to the nursery where I purchased it and exchanged it for another bag. I was convinced that there was something wrong with the seed. finally, a couple weeks ago the birds returned - now and it's back to bird business as usual. however, things aren't quite back to normal, we have one new bird coming by for occasional visits. however, this bird isn't interested in the various types of bird seed served, rather given her breed I'd say she's more interested in some of the diners - other birds or even squirrels.

this isn't the first year our back yard has been frequented by raptors. last year we had a red tailed hawk who made regular visits. in fact, one visit I was able to capture a picture of him taking off with his meal. you can see this to the right - I don't know if you can see it, but he has a pigeon in his talons.

this winter one of the raptor visitors is a peregrine falcon. for some reason, I find the fact that a peregrine is dropping by even more exciting than the hawks that come by. maybe it's some long held yearning to be a falconer - remember that wonderful movie ladyhawke? often peregrines migrate to warmer climates in the winter, however, it seems with human encroachment and perhaps global climate change, more birds are taking up permanent residence in locations which were once just summer territories.

our house is situated fairly close to the rocky river reservation, one of the parks in the cleveland metroparks system - or as locals call this group of parks, the 'emerald necklace.' because of it's massive shale cliffs and all the bridges that span the park, the rocky river reservation is an attractive habitat for peregrines. however, I guess at this time of year, they enjoy eating out and visit feeding stations of homes nearby.

I don't think I'll ever know the answer to the mystery of why the birds stopped coming by our feeding station here on avenue c. maybe it was bad seed or maybe it was something else. but whatever, the birds are back and we find much enjoyment feeding and watching the backyard birds.

speaking of watching. head's up to everyone in the united states tonight is the night! as part of the american masters series, pbs will be airing the documentary pete seeger: the power of song.

photos: top three pictures taken 25 february, 2008; bottom picture taken 24 december 2006 ~ all from our house on avenue c. don't forget you can click on picture to enlarge.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

weekend wander - part I

last night I returned home from a lovely long weekend in metro dc. my travel fairy was definitely working overtime. I arrived in dc thursday morning, the day before some nasty weather hit town causing all sorts of travel delays and cancellations. I returned to cleveland hours ahead of the winter storm which was already playing havoc with flights to and from chicago. this morning we woke to several inches of wet, heavy snow and the radio announcing massive school closings and countless traffic accidents on area highways and byways.

it amazes me how much we can pack into days when we're away from our normal day-to-day life. even though I was visiting family in northern virginia, I still managed to hit a few museums and play tourist during the time I was there. I arrived in d.c. thursday morning and jumped on the blue line at national airport to head to the national museum of women and the arts. until may 25th the museum is exhibiting works of paula rego. wow! take it in if you can. louise nevelson's dawn's wedding feast was scheduled to open the next day at the museum, but members were welcomed to preview the exhibit the day I was there. membership does have it's privileges!

well, maybe my travel fairy was taking a coffee break that afternoon. I took the metro to the pentagon to catch the bus out to my folks; I arrived at the bus platform only to find the bus I needed to catch speeding off. it was thirty minutes before the next bus. another woman got there the same time I did and we connected in our shared bad luck. we struck up conversation and the next thirty minutes flew by while we chatted. her story was very interesting, as most people's are. she and her husband immigrated to the united states in the mid 1970s from bolivia. they were looking for a better life in which to raise a family. they both worked (and work) hard and definitely made a better life for their children and themselves. when I hear these stories I feel proud of this country, but then I also feel sad because there are so many forces out there that are trying to keep people like maria and mario out by making it harder and harder to seek refuge and a better life here.

friday was an icy and cold day. I spent the day pleasantly with my parents. we were busy all day working on various projects. it was a most pleasant day - I come from stock that finds a great deal of satisfaction in being productive. am sure I grew up with a few cross stitched samplers extolling the sentiment of 'hands to work, hearts to god.'

compared to friday, saturday's weather was fine - it was grey and cold - but nothing I wasn't used to living on the north coast. the day's scheduled highlight was lunch with a couple friends I've never met, reya and barbara, buds from the blogosphere. I walked into the restaurant and instantly recognized reya even though I've never laid eyes on her before. it wasn't long before barbara joined us. the next couple hours flew by as we got to know each other on terra firma. although I just met these two women, it felt that I was meeting old friends. after lunch we all took off on our respective ways. I spent the next couple hours wandering around some of my favorite haunts - as I walked down the hill toward the washington mall, I needed to make a quick wc stop so entered the botanical garden. I stumbled onto two treasures (well okay, there are always treasures at the botanical gardens) - a new permanent exhibit called plants in culture and a exhibit of quilts with botanical themes. after the botanical garden I circumnavigated the grounds of the national museum of the american indian. the group of sculptures called 'always becoming' has been erected on the grounds since my last visit. these amazing sculptures challenge western notions of art and the western world's value of 'permanence.' these beautiful works are intended to erode over time, in doing so they are in harmony with the natural world and in doing so provides an important reminder that all is transitory.

with these thoughts in my head, it was a bit synchronistic that one of my next stops was at the national gallery of art where I took in the exhibit "impressed by light" a collection of photographs taken between 1840 and 1860 by british photographers. it was transcendent to stand before these images and contemplate that what I was looking at captured some moment and place a hundred and fifty years ago. perhaps lady eastlake said it best in 1857:
"Every form which is traced by light is the impress of one moment, or one hour, or one age in the great passage of time."

with this said here are a few passing images from saturday's wander:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

leaving on a jet plane

tomorrow morning the mouse will be boarding a plane for a wee trip down to metro dc. no new posts until I return! looking forward to visiting family and friends - and especially meeting a couple 'friends I've never met' from the cyberhood!

in case you haven't heard tomorrow is also the 50th anniversary of the peace sign!

the peace sign ☮ debuted on february 21, 1958. it was designed by gerald holtom a professional designer and artist based out of london. holtom created the symbol for the direct action committee against nuclear war. the symbol is a combination of the semaphonic signals for N and D. since the 1960s the peace symbol, as designed by holtom, has become a ubiquitous image for peace movements world wide.

one last thing I have to just share the joy - today's post brought the cutest mouse ever from my wonderful sister annie. then later when jane and I did our monthly stop at the junk shop on the way to book group I found a kermit needing a home (for 3.50 - yes a total steal! hey, I was willing to pay up to 20 bucks if necessary!)
photos: top: peace flag flying proudly on ave C; middle pics peace flag with f and w/ k at mother's day peace rally at edgewater park, cleveland 2007; bottom ~ kermie and kim taken at bookgroup @ c's house.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

hippo birdie two mouse!

today marks the one year anniversary of mouse medicine. I can't believe I've been blogging for a year - on one hand it seems like I just started this (activity) (pastime) (compulsion), then on the other hand, it seems like I've been doing it forever.

this morning while listening to npr's morning edition (another of my minor compulsions) I learned that today is also the 40th anniversary of the first show of mister rogers neighborhood. I found an incredible sense of joy in this coincidence. while some folks make fun of mister rogers, I can never engage in bashing him or his show. I believe the world would be a much better place if more people would adopt fred rogers' sweet simplicity, sense of wonder, understanding of the importance of make believe, and gentle soul.

blogging has brought forth an abundance of unexpected riches in that it has provided another avenue where I can feel connected to the world community or global village -- normal barriers such as distance, region of country, nationality, and time are rendered invisible in the blogosphere. one of the main reasons I first began blogging was to have another method of communicating with family and friends. a few weeks after I started the mouse I was going on a 'big trip' and I thought a blog would be a good way to keep people abreast on my adventures. but the blog has also allowed me to collect more friends (and I'm not using the word cavalierly) and delightfully these friends are scattered all over the country and the world. so the biggest unexpected treasure is I can say I have more friends now than I had before I began this (activity) (pastime) (compulsion). sometimes the connection with my new friends remains in the blogosphere - but not always! during the fall, I had my first opportunity to meet two blogging buds when they came to cleveland. I met julien from paris and polly from california and it was wonderful. I only wish their visits had overlapped especially since I became acquainted to both of them through a connection they had via their respective blogs. this weekend I will meet reya and barbara, two more buds from the cyberhood, when I head down to metro DC. but even if person to person meetings aren't possible I have found that some cyberhood connections transcend superficiality and real compassion, empathy, and friendship happen. as humans we have more in common with one another than we have differences. what a treasure.

along with sharing an anniversary with mister rogers' neighborhood the other fun bit of serendipity I discovered is that in the first year of mouse medicine I posted 333 posts. I don't know about you but I've always found a bit of magic in the number 3! so with that in mind, I close this first post of the mouse's second year with this tune for your enjoyment..

I look forward to another year of being part of the global village!
thank you.

photo: huskymouse storrs, connecticut 2005 (and with this picture I am opening the door for lots of she's a real dog jokes!!)

Monday, February 18, 2008

heads or tails*

As President, I have no eyes but constitutional eyes; I cannot see you.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) 16th US president

here in the u.s. it is presidents day. since it's an election year, I've been thinking about past, present and possible future presidents a good bit. I expect I am not alone. there's always a good deal of discussion during the presidents day holiday about who were the 'best presidents' in the history of the united states and who were the 'worst presidents.' lincoln routinely is regarded as one of the best presidents if not the best president, the other presidents who often occupy the top five slots include: franklin d. roosevelt, george washington, thomas jefferson, and theodore roosevelt. forty-two individuals have held the office of president of the united states; up until now all of these individuals have all white males. this coming election year many people are working to change this dominant demographic - not surprisingly I am among those who believe that we need a change, but not just for demographic reasons.

borrowing from greg over at junk thief, I'm going to borrow one of his regular features 'interactive monday' and conduct a completely unscientific and informal survey. in the comment section list who you feel are the two or three best presidents during the last 100 years and who are the two or three worst presidents in the last 100 years. for a list of presidents click here. I thought I'd modify the typical best/worst survey and focus on the 'modern era.' don't feel as if you have to be a citizen of the united states to answer - in fact, responses from readers throughout the world will be most welcomed!

photo: abe lincoln bust in a garden somewhere in southern illinois ~ 2004.

*often my post titles are titles of songs, I hit a blank when it came up to thinking of a title for a 'presidential' song but with the miracle of google I found this

Sunday, February 17, 2008

let the sun shine in

The cat was there — in sunny weather — stretched at full length, asleep and blissful…(the) house was complete, and its contentment and peace were made manifest to the world by this symbol, whose testimony is infallible. A home without a cat—and a well-fed, well-petted, and properly revered cat—may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?
Mark Twain (1835-1910) from The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson

photo: gwen ~ 16 february 2008

Saturday, February 16, 2008

wall wisdom II

gus·to [guhs-toh]
–noun, plural -toes.
1.hearty or keen enjoyment, as in eating or drinking, or in action or speech in general: to dance with gusto.
2.individual taste or liking.

[Origin: 1620–30; gust2]

1. enthusiasm, delight, relish, zest, spirit, fervor. Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

have a great weekend!

photo: "little italy" neighborhood of cleveland

Friday, February 15, 2008

moon river

I've loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.
Galileo Galilei (b. 15 February 1564 - 1642) astronomer, philosopher, mathematician

photo: moon over cleveland the eve of galileo's birthday 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

heart like a wheel

happy lupercalia! whoops, I mean valentine's day

while reading about the origins of valentine's day I ran across a reference which states that valentine's day was created to replace the pagan holiday of lupercalia. what is with christians, they are always usurping perfectly good holidays! before you get your panties in a bunch, I have absolutely nothing against christianity - in fact, I wish most so-called christians would act more in line with the basic teachings of jesus - to quote the 1972 doobie brother's hit song "jesus is just alright with me."

least I go off on a rant, let's get back to lupercalia and valentine's day. according to wikipedia (a favorite portal to all knowledge*) lupercalia was a holiday held to:
avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility....the Lupercalia festival was in honor of the She-Wolf who suckled the infant orphans, Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. Explaining the name of the festival, Lupercalia, which translates out into "Wolf Festival."

it is not too big a jump to see the connections between lupercalia and valentine's day. but don't you like the idea of a festival in honor of a she wolf!? I do!

during the 20th and 21st centuries, like the christians before them, the capitalists have a tendency to usurp perfectly good holidays and make them their own. did you know that in the united states it is estimated that americans will spend over 17 billion dollars on valentine's gifts! geez! that works out to about $123 per american. in my household, we don't believe in stimulating the economy with such nonsensical spending. I expect there are lots of folks out there like us which means some people really, really spend a lot of money on valentine's day gifts! we believe that doing something or making something for someone you love is so much better than buying some thing that isn't really necessary.

I find it incredibly startling to consider that americans spend more on valentine's day presents than the we spend on health research for the national institutes of health for a year. according to the american heart association the total cumulative NIH investment in cardiovascular research over the past 30 years has been about $4 per american each year. read more click here.

before you think I'm some sort of valentine's day scrooge, let me reiterate: I enjoy and believe in giving people gifts of the heart. with this in mind, I celebrate the spirit of today by giving each of you the beautiful biggest heart award. this award was recently bestowed on the mouse by blogging bud, and she of mighty big heart, absolute vanilla. the blogs I read are written by people who have big hearts and I am passing this heart to each blog on the mouse's blog roll - yes, that means YOU (if you display awards on your blog, please take this award and display it proudly!) but I don't want to stop here, if you are visit the mouse every now and then for a little dose of mouse medicine, I know this means you have a big heart otherwise why would you keep coming? so please accept this award! I (heart) you! and come to the party with bob and the gang:

sorry the party ends so abruptly ah, the vicissitudes of youtube!

*yeah, yeah I know the criticisms of wikipedia!

photos: top: hearts by dixie and e - 10 february 2008; bottom september, 2005 peace rally in dc

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I can see clearly now

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant:
if we did not sometimes taste of adversity,
prosperity would not be so welcome.
Anne Bradstreet (1612–1672) first published american woman poet

photo: ms t watching snow fall

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

anybody here seen my good friend

happy birthday abe!

To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) 16th US president

also this day in history:
1909 - NAACP founded
1947 - draft cards burned for first time in u.s. to protest peacetime conscription

Monday, February 11, 2008

snow day!

an arctic weather front came into town this weekend - best thing to do was to stick close to home and hang out with the critters.

the worst is supposed to be over; it's gonna be pretty darn cold for the rest of the week with today being the coldest. most of the schools are closed today including nursery schools so ms t's here to hang out with me and the critters - no strolling in the hood today! time to get out the crayons and work on our a, b, c's!

This Day in History
Nelson Mandela Is Free (1990)
As a young man, Mandela was an active opponent of South Africa's apartheid regime. Initially committed to non-violent struggle, he became the leader of the armed wing of the African National Congress after the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre, when police opened fire on several thousand protesters. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1964, but international pressure led to his release in 1990. Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and was elected his country's first black president in what year?
click to learn more

Sunday, February 10, 2008

teach your children well

If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) philosopher, spiritual & political leader

picture: from "the treasure box of family photos" - mom & me surrounded by schoolchildren, holiday in japan, 1965.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

a wonderful life

eek! I went to the post which I wrote this morning paying tribute my dear aunt mary who passed away earlier this week. I wanted to add a picture to the post. unfortunately in the course of adding the picture I inadvertently zapped over half of what I wrote. of course, what I zapped was the part I liked the most. I can't really recreate what I wrote, but I will provide a new introduction. ( I've never had this happen before)

this morning in a small church an eight hour drive from here, some of my extended family will gather to say goodbye to a much beloved family member, my aunt mary. aunt mary was my father's sister and my godmother. even though I have passed the half century mark, when I greeted my aunt I would kiss her and address her as 'godmother' - to me a revered and sacred bond.

my aunt's death came as a shock, in a month she would have turned 87. we didn't know that she was ill; and perhaps she wasn't. I did learn that she recently had her second foot removed a further complication of having diabetes, perhaps that is what did it. I regret that I was not able to attend today's service, my regret is appeased a little as this spring, when the ground thaws, there will be another service for her. I hope this will be a celebration of her life, as she led a life worth celebrating. I will be at this service.

it's sad when there is regret accompanying the death of a person you love and care about. I regret that I hadn't called aunt mary just to check in and chat. the last time I spoke with her was last fall. I didn't even see her in 2007 as I we were unable to attend the annual summertime family reunion. I hope I have learned something - call people, check in - life is unpredictable!

the following is the part of this morning's post which didn't get zapped:

aunt mary had more than her share of sadness and health troubles, but she always pulled through; in the last few years she became somewhat frail, but even frail she was always up for an adventure. within the last year, even with having to get around with a wheelchair, she still made the cross country train trip to san francisco to visit her two daughters that live out there. this fall she and her oldest daughter, who has been her guardian angel, took another train trip - this time to maine for a holiday. no matter what happened aunt mary always had a positive attitude.

she had a generous spirit and an open door policy – and would make anyone welcome - they didn’t even have to be human, aunt mary loved animals. there were quite a few summers when I was a child when my folks would drop me off at aunt mary and uncle john’s house. I'd spend a few days or even a week and run and hang with ‘mary’s girls.’ often donna, another cousin, would join the fun. it was nirvana! along with the joy of being surround by all this wonderful girl power, aunt mary’s house always had a dog (or two) and cats around to pamper and play with – for me, this was icing on the cake. I loved animals, but as a child I could only ever manage to finagle having one cat at time. not many people would welcome all this energy into their home – but aunt mary did.

she was widowed in her early 50s and three daughters were still living at home. aunt mary also experienced what none of us should, the death of a child. a few years ago the youngest of mary’s daughters died. it was tragic and oh, so sad. all of "mary's girls" inherited my aunt’s joie de vivre, incredible sense of style, her delightfully wacky sense of humor, her generous heart, and her love of animals. as her goddaughter I hope I've also inherited a little of these gifts - I know I didn't get the sense of style - but I hope I share a few of her other traits. to this I thank thee aunt mary!

all of us who have been graced by knowing aunt mary are saddened to see her leave this earthly plane. but she’s still with us in our hearts and memories. aunt mary's life provided many lessons - the biggest was to believe that life was always worth living and living to the fullest, no matter what it served up.

photos: top: some of the aunts, family reunion picnic. - aunt mary is last aunt on the right. (it is sad to look at this picture and find that half of the lovely wonderful women in this picture are no longer with us) pennsylvania, 1987; middle - the picture which I added aunt mary and her oldest daughter - her guardian angel and special companion and caregiver during her last several years , family reunion summer 2005; bottom picture - aunt mary with some of 'her girls' san francisco, 2002.

Friday, February 8, 2008

most eekellent dude!

Dumdad (aka jules) has bestowed on the mouse the E for excellent award. EEK what an honor!

The description of the award is: I love being a part of the blogging community and part of all the friendships that I've formed so I wanted to give a blog award for all of you out there that have Excellent Blogs. By accepting this Excellent Blog Award, you have to award it to 10 more people whose blogs you find Excellent Award worthy. You can give it to as many people as you want but please award at least 10.

recently I called attention to some EXCELLENT blogs with the “you make my day” and the “roar for powerful words” awards, I extend the Excellent Award to each of these blogs, these blogs make my day and roar ~ they are quite simply EXCELLENT:
colette amelia, dumdad, gary, gem, jenclair, jude, junkthief, lettuce, mohamed, ms mamma, reya, salty, seraphine, vanilla ,wat, verilion, blue elephant

just a few more to blogs that I find EXCELLENT in the category of stimulating my senses:
julien et cergi (french photoblogs)
michael and e (north american photoblogs) and steve (wonderful photos and so much more)
ched and dennis two cool cats with blogs that tickles both nose & funnybone!
marie (photos of the lovely pnw and wonderful fiberart creations)

obviously, I have had a difficult time narrowing down my choices but I'm not the only one with this problem so I will end by quoting jules who quoted ian:

So, because time presses I will arbitrarily pick my 10 Excellent blogs, although, if truth were known, I think everybody on my blogroll produces an excellent blog with amazing regularity. Of course, there are others not on my roll, and whom I visit with once in a while, who also do, so it’s all a bit of a conundrum. I love getting awards, but I hate narrowing down my nominees. If I don’t choose you, I’ll get you next time. OK?


Thursday, February 7, 2008

happy year of the earth rat!

according to the chinese calendar today is the first day of the year of the earth rat! the rat is the first animal in the chinese zodiac and starts a twelve year cycle of animals. although the zodiac consists of twelve animals, there is another level of cycles at work in chinese astrology- the elements. this year begins the earth cycle - given all our earthly environmental crises I hope this will be auspicious - can the year of the earth rat set off an epoch of respect and love toward the earth and all things living upon it? let us make it so! by the way, the year of the earth rat only comes every sixty years.

for inquiring minds who like to know, wikipedia's description of chinese astrology is quite accessible and just a click away. it has so many embedded links you can be divining for days. astrologer robert wilkerson has an interesting post about the year of the earth rat on his blog, aquarius papers-global astrology.

a few years ago when it was 'my year' (the year of the sheep) a friend from china suggested that when it is 'your year,' you should wear something red every day. it is believed that this will help promote good luck and offer protection. so if this is your year - go out and stock up on red undies, socks, shirts and belts! hey, I always say, it can't hurt and it's always good to cover all the bases!

rats and mice often get a bum rap. in fact, even me, a lifelong mouse lover, used to have an intense aversion to rats. but sometimes the universe conspires to help us overcome our prejudices. I won't go into it (it's a long story) but several years ago a very young rat found it's way into my sphere of influence. this young rat was very, very cute - he actually looked quite like a mouse! well, to save this rat from death I adopted the rat and he became a pet.

I named the rat frankie, after frank sinatra of course - the head of the rat pack. frankie was a very smart animal and very loving. he loved to hang out on my shoulder and would stay perched there for hours if he could. kids that lived in my neighborhood or who came over to the house loved holding and petting frankie and frankie was a sponge for their affection and attention. the literature recommends that when you have a pet rat you should get two as they are very social animals, but frankie was a solo rat. I had a house full of cats, I didn't want to complicate my life too much with having to care for two rats. but it didn't matter frankie imprinted on humans and maybe even a bit on cats. the cats also liked to give frankie a lot of attention! along with helping me overcome my prejudice against rats, frankie helped many others overcome their phobia about all things rat. frankie was part of the family for almost four years, which is quite long life given the relatively short lifespan of many rodents. frankie wasn't a 'fancy rat' but rather just a plain grey rat. I'm sure there's a moral to this rat tale, what do you think?

by the way, some sources state that the chinese zodiac also refers to this lunar year as the year of the mouse. and both rat and mouse are acceptable and interchangeable! so take your choice - rat or mouse - this year rodents rule.

best wishes for 4706!
may this year of the rat bring peace and positive change!

photo: mouse with two rat friends, 2004 (picture taken when I was 'ratsitting' my friend joe's rats)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

nothing's the same

rosie has taken to sleeping with stuffed critters - they are a poor substitute for her sweet sister merlin. we miss merlin. nothing's the same.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

god save the queen????

I got suckered into another one of those internet quizzes that I love. this time the quest was to discover 'what english speaking country are you?' - I answered honestly and quite honestly this time I'm very surprised with the result. truth be told, I expected to turn out as canada (given that I absolutely love so many things canadian, not to mention so many places in canada - the provinces of british columbia and nova scotia take my breath away, the great cities of vancouver and montreal are on my top ten list), then there's the gaspe peninusla, and so on and so forth. but noooooo according to this quiz (which I discovered through glenwood's blog I would be england. oh my! very what are you!!

You Belong in the UK

A little proper, a little saucy.
You're so witty and charming...
No one notices your curry breath
What English Speaking Country Are You?

I do love marmite and curry! could that be it????

little boxes

If the path to the better there be, it begins with a full look at the worst.
Thomas Hardy, 1887

yesterday I got around to watching the documentary, the end of suburbia: oil depletion and the collapse of the american dream. my sister-in-law p recommended this flick and fortunately the cleveland public library has it available - have I told you how much I love public libraries!

the flick is quite good. however, it was 'singing to the choir' - I've been singing this song for a looooong time! that being said, it the film was still worth viewing and I don't hesitate recommending it. the basic message is the suburban ideal of the 'american dream' is over. the film explores some of the forces which fueled the suburbanization of america. one analyst suggests the suburbanization of america has been the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. for the suburbanization of america has only been possible through (over-)consuming fossil fuels!

the film is filled with great 'one-liners' and insights and connections. in talking about suburban housing developments one fellow notes that housing developments are often named after the very thing that they have destroyed (think - quail run, fox meadows, oak glen). regarding the u.s. rail system the comment is made that "in the u.s. we have a railroad system the bulgarians would be ashamed of." (I don't think it's cool to slam the bulgarians, but lack of pc-ness aside, the quote is quite funny and I got the message) the same guy who made the crack about the railroad system also stated that we are stuck up a cul-de-sac in a cement SUV without a fill-up.

the film has it's weakness - for instance it doesn't adequately explore the issues of race. particularly how in the early days of suburbanization, the process was essentially a new form of 'jim crow' segregation (cf thomas j. sugrue's works). I was also a bit taken aback that all of the 'talking heads' in the film where middle-age white men - I can come up with plenty of academics and writers who don't share this particular demographic. but criticisms aside, it's a film worth watching.

the film offers hope at the end by bringing the discussion to how we can buffer the pain a bit and improve the situation if we embrace an authentic sense of community living and sustainability. the ideas of the new urbanism movement offer one such approach. people need to become neighbors again and that we really need to learn to live locally. more support for the ol' bumper sticker wisdom of "think globally, act locally"

Monday, February 4, 2008

news flash!! - Watch more free videos

thanks kay for this news story revealing a little known occupational health hazard! or maybe the canadian brown finch is just trying to tell the mainstream media what it thinks of its coverage (or lack of coverage) of the some of really important issues of our day!!

go figure

so that's how it's done!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

bright sky

When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.
Prince Gautama Siddharta (563-483 BCE), founder of Buddhism

picture: from "the treasure box" - my brother, father and I sitting in front of daibutsu in kamakura-- the 37 foot tall, 93 ton bronze amida buddha statue, constructed in 1252 regarded as japan's second most photographed icon after mt. fuji. taken during a holiday in japan, 1965.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

brigid's song

to mark the feast of brigid* (and candlemas, groundhog day) reya of the gold puppy issued a clarion call to celebrate the day by adorning the blogosphere with poetry. to this I offer two poems. the first is by one of my favorite contemporary poets, mary oliver. mary's poems are full of magic, energy, and transcendence. on poetry mary states: "poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry."

the second poem I offer is one I find achingly beautiful with a history that is a manifestation of one of my grounding affirmations: "life is a lament in one ear, maybe, but always a song in the other." the author of this poem is unknown, what is known is that the poem was left behind by a child who perished in the warsaw ghetto uprising. yes, a lament and a song.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
by Mary Oliver (b. 1935) poet

Today I Shall Be Glad

From tommorrow on, I shall be sad -
From tomorrow on!
Today I will be gay.
What is the use of sadness - tell me that?
Why should I grieve for tomorrow - today?
Tomorrow may be so good, so sunny,
Tomorrow the sun may shine for us again.
We shall no longer need to be sad.

From tomorrow on, I shall be sad -
From tomorrow on!
Not today; no! today I will be glad
And every day, no matter how bitter it be,
I will say:
From tomorrow on, I shall be sad,
Not today!

* st. brigid is the patron saint of cattle, children whose parents aren't married, dairy workers, fugitives, midwives, newborn babies, poets, babies, poultry farmers, blacksmiths, scholars, travelers, boatmen, and ireland -- in other words all of us!

pictures: geese in flight. ohio, fall 2007; me & a few of my wee buds august, 2007 - this picture is especially for reya who said she would like to see a picture of me without a camera in front of my face!

Friday, February 1, 2008

that was then, this is now

the picture above was in my treasure box of old family photos. once again there was no notation on the back indicating anything about the picture - absolutely no information about where, when, or who took the picture. all I know is someone in my family took the picture and over the years it ended up in my possession.

I found myself intrigued by the picture* - the fashion, the cars, the architecture, and the people. all frozen in time but also all a mystery. based on the style of the cars and the clothes the picture appears to have been taken in the 1940s, but where? was it new york? but I don't think it looks like new york - not tall enough; and it doesn't look like any of the cities near the towns in which my family members lived. I thought the tower looked familiar, but there are towers scattered all over the place. central clock towers are a common architectural feature in many cities.

one weekend when I had some time to play, I thought I'd investigate. I knew I couldn't find out who took the picture or exactly when it was taken; however, I figured there were enough clues in the picture to at least find out where the picture was taken. the biggest clue was the benson and smith drug store, if I could find out where that was I could probably locate where the picture was taken. so I googled 'benson and smith drug store' and voilà in less than a minute I discovered that this picture was probably taken in honolulu. to confirm that I next did an image search for honolulu clock tower yes it was most definitely taken in honolulu! still a lot of questions left but it's interesting to at least nail down the location. I wonder if the picture was taken "before or after" the day of infamy? anyone out there good identifying cars?

here's the now to then:

the now picture I snagged from google images and I should credit the photographer whose name is alejandra. so thanks alejandra, whoever you are, you helped me solve a little mystery.

my time travel and detective work brings to mind the then and now series of books published by thunder bay press. we only have one of the series - the one for paris which was given to me by friends a few years ago to mark and celebrate my first trip to paris. however, I've seen and leafed through a couple other cities in the series and they are quite fun. one day perhaps I'll add the one for cleveland.

*click on the picture to enlarge