Monday, January 31, 2011

where are you going?

The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.
Thomas Merton ( 31 january 1915-1968) monk, writer, photographer

today is the 96th anniversary of the birth of thomas merton. merton's life was extraordinary - and gives credence to the claim that we can never foresee how and where a life may go. merton was born in france and baptized in the anglican church. his father was a painter from new zealand and his mother was an american artist and quaker. a few months after merton was born, his family moved to the united states to flee the ravages of ww I. the family had hopes to return to france after the war, but when thomas was six years old, his mother was diagnosed with cancer and soon died. after the death of his mother, he traveled abroad with his father and was primarily educated in boarding schools in england and france. parental tragedy struck again when thomas was fifteen, his father became very ill with a brain tumor; by sixteen thomas was fully orphaned.

in the years that followed thomas pursued a literary career - he established himself as a writer and editor in high school and went on to university at columbia to further hone those skills and talents. his young adult lifestyle could be described as somewhat bohemian, fully agnostic, yet ever seeking. when he was in his twenties thomas had a mystical experience in which he sensed that he was being called to become a priest. this mystical opening led him to become a catholic and over the course of the next few years he entered the monastery of our lady of gethsemani of the order of cistercians of the strict observance (commonly known as trappists). the order is a contemplative religious order of monks and nuns. from gethsemani, merton wrote and published his best-selling autobiography the seven storey mountain, which over the decades has touched countless readers.

merton's writing gifts and his passionate devotion to prayer, mysticism and overcoming the social ills of racism, war, and poverty has made him a venerated figure to millions of people. in death as in life, merton is a fascinating character of contrast. he was a monk who treasured solitude yet because of his literary gifts and his voice promoting social justice he attracted intellectual luminaries, civil rights workers, and celebrities and the 'everyperson' to the gates of gethsemani. merton's spirituality burst through the boundaries of catholicism and he embraced the wisdom, prayer and teachings from all religious traditions.

in 1968, he took a giant step and went outside the boundaries of his cloistered life to take a journey to asia in order to learn more about buddhism. it was during this trip where his life ended prematurely and tragically in bangkok when he was only 53 years old.

if you are interested in learning more about thomas merton, a good place besides reading his wonderful autobiography is to start by visiting the thomas merton center in cyberspace.

I'll end this post with one of my favorite photographs - many years ago I copied, matted and framed this photograph at times it serves as a very calming meditative focal point. the photo comes from the book a hidden wholeness: the visual world of thomas merton (1979) by john howard griffin. unfortunately, best I can tell the book is no longer in print, but there are used copies available for sale by various vendors.

many may recognize the other monk in the photo, it is none other than the dalai lama, who was only 33 at the time but already the spiritual leader of the tibetan people and living in exile with many other monks and tibetans in northern india. this photograph was taken with merton's camera by the dalai lama's secretary.

photo: finding buddha in a west park coffee shop, cleveland

where are you going? from jimmie dale gilmore's album spinning around the sun

Sunday, January 30, 2011

here today, here tomorrow

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
(The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!)
Robert Burns (1759-1796)
from to a mouse

the unexpected trip, unexpectedly vanished. to all the readers who offered warm wishes for safe travels thank you -- I'll hold on to them for when I take my expected trip later in february -- I'm crossing my fingers that those plans won't go awry.

photo: mama mouse (aka patches) at casa mouse january, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

sepia saturday: do you know the way to san jose?

What is the purpose of the giant sequoia tree? The purpose of the giant sequoia tree is to provide shade for the tiny titmouse.

Edward Abbey (29 january 1927 - 1989)writer and deep ecologist

today's photos aren't sepia instead they are a few black and white snaps of cars that were once in my family.

okay, I have cars on my mind - in a few days I will be off on a road trip with a friend. we are driving from cleveland to san franciso - taking the southern route and crossing our fingers that the weather will be fair. for me the trip is unexpected, I only decided to go at the beginning of this week. going off on this wander is an impetuous decision and undoubtedly will put me behind on a number of projects, but how can I resist an opportunity for a wander with a friend. what more I am looking forward to the chance to cross paths with some buds from the bloggyhood! I can't wait to meet megan and her sibs in l.a. and susan in oakland! it's so strange to have friends one has never actually met!! meeting bloggy friends has always been such a joy, I expect nothing less in the days, months, years to come.

but this is sepia saturday and not the time to wax on about things to come. rather it's the time to look to the past. with that in mind I offer three snaps. the top photo was taken in 1964 in agana guam - the snap features my little sister annie, me, the mouse, as a lass of nine, and the family's 1955 chrysler. when I was a little girl my father used to say that this was my car since we were both "born" in the same year and that he bought it for me. (oh yeah, but that was my dad and that was just the kind of remark that illustrates why I love him so - he was such a prince and I miss him so.)

my family made a few cross country trips in the chrysler. my folks bought the car in pensacola, florida and in 1956 my folks drove it to san diego, california. but before that they drove me to pennsylvania. I spent a couple months with my grandparents; and then after my parents and brother were settled, nana and dodo flew to san diego to deliver me.

in 1960 when my dad was stationed to memphis, my mom, dad, brother and I drove from san diego to memphis. although I was young, I remember this trip like it was yesterday. it was a trip filled with such great family stories: for instance, there was that time we were driving through the middle of the desert. it was summer, there was no such thing as a/c - I was in the front seat sitting next to my mom who was driving; my dad was sleeping in the back seat and my brother was in the back doing who knows what. I started feeling carsick and issued my standard car sick warning proclaiming "my cheeks hurt" - which meant I was going to puke. my brother said "you can't be sick, you're sitting in the front seat. you're such a liar." to wit, I turned and replied "I am not a liar" and promptly puked all over my poor, unsuspecting, sleeping father. ah, the stuff family stories are made of!

after memphis we went to live in guam and the chrysler went with us. when it came time to leave guam, my folks decided not to bring the car back to the states - they sold it to a local and it lived the rest of its life as an island car. to this day I can picture my car rusting under a coconut tree, home to family of chickens or re-purposed for some other noble cause.

even though my dad used to say the chrysler was my car - my favorite cars were the two volkswagons that we had. the first one is seen above - this snap was taken in the winter of 1961 or 1962 and was taken in the driveway of our house in memphis. that is my mom on the left, and nana, my mom's mom, on the right. by the way, it is interesting to note mom never drove the vw's, they were essentially dad's cars. truth me told I don't think she liked driving a stick - and the chrysler was an automatic transmission.

my dad bought his first vw, a bug in 1961 - I loved that little car - there was a "well" behind the back seat and that was where I liked to sit (I'm sure this was a very unsafe place to ride, but safety wasn't a big thing in the 1960s. I loved watching the world out the back window -- not to mention being out of my brother's reach - typical big brother he was both loving and torturous) .

when I was in high school my dad bought another volkswagon, that car was a 1966 vw fastback. this car was my dad's car, but if I was really lucky I was able to drive it. unfortunately for it and for me it somewhat met its untimely end while I was driving.

okay one more car story. I was seventeen, heading back home after visiting some friends across town one fair fall afternoon as I was going through an intersection - WHAM a young man ran a stop sign and plowed into the car. the insurance company declared the car totaled. luckily no one was in the passenger seat and the only thing truly injured was the car (although I may have been emotionally affected -- for a couple years I had crash nightmares and to this day I have a heightened paranoia about other drivers). my dad had the car hauled to our house and with the money the insurance company paid out, he spent the the next several months repairing and rebuilding the car. he got it back in running order, however because of the blow by that teen-aged boy it never ran well - it always pulled to one side. after a few months he got sold the car to some teenaged boy who didn't care which way the car pulled as long as it mostly went forward. much to my disappointment my father never got another vw. but that didn't really matter, soon I flew the coop. since becoming an adult I've had many, many volkswagons. if I was a car owner still I might still have one. my favorite vw was my 1973 rabbit.

one last snap. this photo was taken before I was born in 1954, it shows my brother paul in front of what was then the family car. I love this picture because it captures that moment in time and on the back of the photo is a good deal of information. the writing on the back is both my father's and my mother's in my dad's hand is "paul mar 6 -54" in my mother's hand is " Pensacola, Fla First snowfall (like this) in fifty years."

well this has been a somewhat different sepia saturday post. I don't know if there will be another post before I hit the road....have lots of ground to cover before I hit the road, but maybe..... if not I'll be back when I'm back. until then be safe. be kind. and have fun!!

to visit other time travelers, visit the sepia saturday blog.

well I don't expect to be hitting san jose, but nothing sounds like the 1950s and 1960s like a burt bacharach song. dionne warwich do you know the way to san jose, song released in 1968

Thursday, January 27, 2011

don't come around here

Do you know, I always thought unicorns were fabulous monsters, too? I never saw one alive before!' 'Well, now that we have seen each other,' said the unicorn, 'if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you.'

Lewis Carroll (27 january 1832 -1898) author, mathematician, photographer
quote above from through the looking glass

I didn't plan on having bits of wall art featured three days in a row, however, details from the murals inside sullivan's, my favorite local place to get fish and chips and a pint, seem to work as photo pairings in the mouse's celebration of the lives of rabbie burns on tuesday and lewis carroll today.

in many respects lewis carroll, born charles lutwidge dodgson, was such an enigma that his life and interests have generated much speculation and a phenomena known as the carroll myth.

the other day I was musing about some of the books I've enjoyed that feature historical figures as characters, I can't believe that I completely forget about a very enjoyable read that I read just last year: alice I have been by melanie benjamin. the main character of the book is alice liddell hargreaves - the daughter of the of the dean of christ church, oxford, and the person believed to be the inspiration for lewis' alice character. benjamin uses this as her inspiration for her historical novel.

tom petty is the mad hatter in his completely alice inspired vid/song don't come around hear no more (1985)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

drunken angel

Morality, like art, means drawing a line someplace.

Oscar Wilde

wall wednesday continues

drunken angel vs. drunken angel - now here's a creative mash-up kurosawa's 1948 film drunken angel set to the music of lucinda williams (b. 26 january 1953) song with the same name

photo: random street in harlem, nyc, december 2009

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld Langsyne,
We'll tak a cup o kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!

today is the 252th anniversary of the birth of scotland's favorite son, the poet robert burns.

burns is universally associated with the song auld lang syne, which some consider the most sung song in the world. the overwhelming belief is that robert burns wrote auld lang syne, this is partly true. according to the robert burns world federation, rabbie was enamored with an old scottish ballad that survived to his day in fragments. burns restored the song and filled it out - there is little doubt that burns is the author of at least two verses, but other verses and the famous chorus are believed to have been written well before the middle of the 16th century.

to read the burns original and a standard english translation click auld lang syne.

so take a cup of kindness today - celebrate burns and friendship - let us toast new and old friends - for auld lang syne!

back by popular demand, my favorite rabbie poem:

photo: detail of mural at sullivan's irish pub, lakewood. january 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

sepia saturday: another mystery

Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.
Francis Bacon (22 january 1561- 1626) philosopher

I saw today's sepia saturday photo hanging in the living room of a friend last week - I know nothing about the people in this photo but am sharing it none-the-less because I simply adore the way this family portrait is staged. the portrait seems to contain many clues to the family but I have no information about the family to make any sense of the clues. for instance, what are the books in the center of the photo suppose to indicate? what papers or documents are the mother and father figures holding? do they have some familial significance? are the young people siblings? do they share the same birth parents or are they related through remarriage?

my friend john says he is pretty certain that this a portrait of his step-father's family who have the last name of lowe. other than that john doesn't know anything else about the photograph even though it has hung in his family home for as long as he can remember.

john's birth father died when he was very young and his mother remarried when he was five; both john and his older brother were adopted by his stepfather and were given his surname - lowe. john thinks that the little boy on the left is his stepfather's father. we were speculating about how old we thought the photograph was - john's stepfather, unfortunately is deceased and thus can't answer any of our questions. john said his stepfather was born sometime around 1925. to me the little boy looks to be around 8. I don't know if I'm doing my math correctly but based on the this information I would guess that the photo was taken in the 1890s.

by the way, not that it matters to anyone outside of my family, but last week I misidentified one of the photographs I posted. I identified the second photo as being my grandfather's parents. well, my mom set me straight; it turns out that the photo is actually of my grandmother's parents. but, I was correct on one thing, we did refer to them as baba and zedo; however, they were not baba and zedo kravitz, rather they were baba (julia) and zedo (josef) kostelnik. like baba and zedo kravitz, these great grandparents also came to the united states from the austro-hungarian empire. the photo posted last week was taken in bethlehem, pennsylvania and not harwood. had I really looked closely at the man in the photography I should have known this was josef not george - after all, it was only a year ago I posted a photo of josef and correctly identified him!

to visit other time travelers, visit the sepia saturday blog.

dar williams song another mystery accompanied by a mysterious vid of a roadtrip through parts of quebec

Friday, January 21, 2011

PSA: lost and found

Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) humorist, writer & lecturer

a post of a different sort today. the mouse is joining in what I expect will become a world wide campaign to help todd bieber find the photographer of the lost canister of black and white film that he found recently in nyc's prospect park.

todd developed the photos and put together the following wonderful little video. his narration is delightful and the photographs taken by the unknown photographer are marvelous. some of the snaps include friends of the unknown photographer. bieber's asking anyone who recognizes the people in the photos to email him at

thanks to kat for sharing this story on fb! pssst, pass it on and let's see if something so small which was lost can find its way to its rightful place!

photo: rocky river reservation, cleveland january 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

the cusp of magic

Happiness is simply a temporary condition that precedes unhappiness. Fortunately for us, it works the other way around as well. But it's all a part of the carnival, isn't it.
Federico Fellini (20 january 1920 -1993) film director

in ancient astronomy, today is the cusp day between capricorn and aquarius. technically speaking the capricorn-aquarius cusp (january 14- january 24) is not the "cusp of magic", that distinction goes to the gemini/cancer cusp.

in reading about those born during a cusp, the ancients gave cusp children the liberty to select their own colors and jewels from the two signs, and considered them related to the planets of both. I'm a cusp child - cancer/leo - according to this, the colors for cancer are grays and greens and the jewel is the pearl; leo's colors are gold and orange and the jewel is a ruby. my favorite color has always been green; although I'm not much for jewels, I've long been fascinated by rubies - unconsciously I seem to have chosen things from each of my ruling signs.

according to another astrology website those born during the capricorn-aquarius cusp are great talkers, and love to entertain - one could say fellini most certainly lived up to that quality.

this is the time of year I have movies on my brain! as far as fellini's films go my personal faves have to be 8 1/2 and amarcord. I never saw his last film the voice of the moon (1990) not too surprising since the portal reports that it was fairly widely panned. too bad it has a great title, I would say that given I am a moonchild!

the cusp of magic, from the album of the same name featuring the album which talkents of terry riley, the kronos quartet and the pipa master wu man.

photo: rock river in rocky river reservation, cleveland, january 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

don't stand so close to me

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night.

Edgar Allan Poe (19 january 1909-1949) poet, editor, writer

for those who enjoy reading novels inspired by the lives of historical figures, make sure you check out matthew pearl's 2006 novel the poe shadow. the book focuses on the quest of a baltimore lawyer who becomes somewhat obsessed with trying to figure out the mystery surrounding the death of poe. I have to hand it to pearl, that it's a bit poetic to create a mystery novel around the mysterious death of poe who is often regarded as the father of the modern mystery story. pearl's debut novel, the dante club, is also an excellent read and it includes a fairly large cast of historical figures in the story.

other enjoyable reads where historical figures figure in include, (far from exhaustive, what follows is a random collection of a few of the books I've read, enjoyed, and whose titles I remember ) :
  • the alienist (and it's sequel the angel of darkness) by caleb carr - historical figure, teddy roosevelt, as police commissioner of nyc. I keep waiting for carr to do a screen adaptation!
  • most of the novels by tracy chevalier - of course, I loved girl with the pearl earring, but loved, loved, loved burning bright which was based on an imagined life of the imaginative william blake
  • barbara kingsolver's latest novel the lacuna (2009) - the story revolved around the life of a fictional character named harrison shepard, but important characters in shepard's story include diego rivera, frida kahlo, and troksky
  • homer and langley, by e.l. doctorow. a very fictionalized story based on the infamous collyer brothers - whose eccentric hoarding lifestyle turned out to be the death of them.
  • march by geraldine brooks although the book primarily centers on a historical fictional character (the main character is mr. march of little women fame) henry david thoreau and ralph waldo emerson also appear in the novel
what are your favorite books which feature historical characters?

the police's 1980 hit song don't stand so close to me

wall wednesday continues, for the entire series to day, check out the 'wall art' tag

photo: barcelona, march 2007

Monday, January 17, 2011

stairway to heaven

Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning. It is the lifting of a burden or the canceling of a debt. The words "I will forgive you, but I'll never forget what you've done" never explain the real nature of forgiveness. Certainly one can never forget, if that means erasing it totally from his mind. But when we forgive, we forget in the sense that the evil deed is no longer a mental block impeding a new relationship. Likewise, we can never say, "I will forgive you, but I won't have anything further to do with you." Forgiveness means reconciliation, a coming together again.

Without this, no man can love his enemies. The degree to which we are able to forgive determines the degree to which we are able to love our enemies.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) minister, civil-rights leader

today's quote is drawn from a sermon martin delivered on christmas day 1957. he wrote the sermon while in jail for civil disobedience during the montgomery bus boycott. the entire sermon is powerful and transformative, it was difficult choosing a passage to use today.

today's photo is jim dine's monumental sculpture cleveland venus which graces the front of the carl b. stokes federal courthouse. by the way, inscribed below the sculpture is a quote by martin luther king jr. injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

amen. thank you martin.

one of the greatest rock songs of all time! led zeppelin's 1971 classic stairway to heaven.

photo: cleveland, january 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

sepia saturday: oh, lady be good!

if the information on the back of the photo is reliable*, today's photo was taken around 1924. the photo is of some of the woman on my maternal side of the family. my mother's parents were married in the spring of 1924, although there's no indication of whether the photo was taken before or after my grandparents married, I'm think it was taken after - as to why I think this, I'll get to that later.

the woman on the right is my mother's mother, mary who was only seventeen when the photo was taken. the other young women were her two of five new her sisters-in-law - veronica on the left and margaret in the middle. margaret was the youngest of my grandfather's five sisters and although married, she was the only sister not to have children.

so why do I think the photo was taken after mary and george married? I may be completely off base, but when I look at mary (aka nana) and veronica I think they may both have "buns in the oven" as they look a bit think in the middle. veronica was married to a fellow named kelly furnanage; they had one child, george, who was born in march 1925. nana and my grandfather, also named george, had their first child, my mother rita, in may 1925.

my grandfather's family of origin was tight knit and all remained in harwood mines to live and raise their families (although margaret and her husband, named wassiel patrick, never had children, they were very close to their 15 nieces and nephews). two of the sisters, veronica and helen, even married brothers! as I mentioned above, veronica had one son; helen had two sons.

in the spirit of full disclosure, I will mention that for a brief period the sister named mary, who married a fellow named albert (and had four children), lived in another little coal patch town named cranberry which was a whopping mile away from harwood mines! (by the way, both towns have now been subsumed by hazleton, or rather "hazle township" at least in terms of their respective mailing addresses - this was mentioned in a previous sepia saturday post)

my grandmother mary and four of her five sisters-in-law all lived well into their 80s or 90s. the oldest of the sisters, annie, who had five children - 3 girls and 2 boys - was the only one to have died prematurely; she died in her early 50s. unfortunately, the men didn't fare as well, but that is not too surprising given their occupations, their lifestyles, and the times - by today's standard all of the men died young; one died in his 40s, three in their 50s, and the remaining two in their early to mid 60s. of the fifteen offspring, five are still alive among them my mother (age 85) her brother (82); one of helen's sons; and two of mary's sons - I don't know their ages, but I expect they are all in their late 70s or 80s.

the following has been updated to reflect correct information.
the second photo was included as I believe it was is a photo of my great-grandfather, george joseph kravitz (who is called zedo) and my great-grandmother, anna ducha (who we called baba) - george and anna were both born in what was then considered the austro-hungarian empire, later their homeland was known as czechoslovakia, and today it is part of slovakia. when baba and zedo were old and frail they lived with my mother's family - yep, like I said nice and tight knit!

however the following photo is not of george and anna, in fact according to my mother she can't recall seeing any photograph of anna kravitz. the photo is actually of her maternal grandparents josef kostenik and julia pecuch kostelnik. the photograph was taken behind their home in bethlehem, pennsylvania - this explains why the house in the background looked so different to me than the kravitz house in harwood mines. here I thought it there had be some major renovation between when this photo was taken and now (yes the house still stands). but not, it was a different building. unfortunately the home in bethlehem no longer stands; however, I remember visiting the house when I was young a couple times, but I don't remember architectural details.

(no information as to the date of this photo)

*odds are excellent that the date is reliable as "around 1924" was provided to me by nana while I interviewed her when I extracting information during the photo/document rescue visit discussed in last week's sepia saturday post. the hand on the back of the photo is none other than mine.

below cliff "ukulele ike" edwards 1925 version of the 1924 hit song oh, lady be good! was written by george and ira gershwin.

if the song sounds familiar, this is not surprising, according to the portal:
The song was introduced by Walter Catlett in the Broadway show, Lady, Be Good!, written by Guy Bolton, Fred Thompson, and the Gershwin brothers, starring Fred Astaire and Adele Astaire. It ran for 330 performances in its original Broadway run. The song is also performed in the 1941 film, Lady Be Good, though the film itself is unrelated to the musical play.

A 1947 recording of the song became a hit for Ella Fitzgerald, notable for her scat solo. The song became readily identified with Fitzgerald, and she sang it many times in live performance. For her album Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Songbook (1959), Oh, Lady be Good! was sung as a ballad, arranged by Nelson Riddle.

click here for ella's version from the above mentioned album

to visit other time travelers, visit the sepia saturday blog.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

there's a hole in the bucket

If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way.

Émile Zola (1840-1902) novelist, journalist, playwright
as quoted in Dreyfus : His Life and Letters‎ (1937)

on january 13 1898 the french newspaper l’aurore published an open letter by zola accusing the government of france of antisemitism in the alfred dreyfus affair. the headline of the front page was a big bold banner which stated j'accuse! over time j'accuse! has become a generic expression of outrage against powerful forces. in light of the latest information about the deepwater horizon catastrophe there is yet another instance when the spirit of j'accuse! could and should be applied.

when I think of zola, I think of my bucket list - one item on my bucket list is to read the twenty novels in zola's rougon-macquart cycle. I fessed up to this goal a couple years ago, unfortunately, I'm no better off today than I was then. let's see it's a new year and this year I'm trying to get off to a good start making reasonable goals: hmmmm, the average life expectancy of women in the u.s. is now approximately 79 years. I only have 17 books left in the cycle, if I read at least one book each year, and I make it to the average life expectancy, I just may be able to cross another item off my bucket list! sounds like a reasonable goal!

all this talk about buckets makes me thing of that song from childhood there's a hole in the bucket. the following version was recorded in 1960 with harry belafonte and odetta, it appears on harry's album, belafonte returns to carnegie hall. I really hoped to be able to post a muppet version, but the sound quality was dreadful. sorry if you have an earworm after listening....

photo: backyard squirrel @ casa mouse, 12 january 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

wishing well

Tears are the silent language of grief.

Voltaire (1694-1778) writer, philosopher, playwright

today the world mourns. this afternoon in tucson there will be a memorial service held for the victims of saturday's despicable and tragic shooting rampage. the rampage killed six and wounded fourteen people. yes, we can offer prayers and thoughts of comfort and healing but we must also work toward insuring that this type of senseless violence won't happen again - or more pragmatically stated -won't happen as often. the holes in our social safety nets must be repaired and gun controls laws must be strengthened. investigations of what prompted the arizona killings continue; most likely we will probably never be able to truly fathom the reason behind such an unreasonable and heinous act.

we mourn also for the people of haiti; today marks the one year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that left more than 200,000 people dead and over one million others homeless. although billions of dollars of aid have been pledged to help haiti, there are reports that only a fraction of the money has been delivered. the slow pace of reconstruction only adds more frustration on what u.n. secretary-general ban refers to as "a disaster of unparalleled magnitude."

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) polymath

scottish singer maggie bell was born on this day in 1945. with her throaty, powerful bluesy voice maggie is often regarded as a britian's answer to janis joplin.

photo: wall art found in the williamsburg neighborhood of brooklyn, june 2010

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

doctor my eyes

Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left.
Aldo Leopold (11 january 1887 - 1948) ecologist, author, forester

today is the birthday of aldo leopold a towering figure in the fields of conservation and ecological ethics. leopold is considered the founder of the science of wildlife management and an important figure in modern ecology.

ironically leopold died suddenly and unexpectedly when only 61 while helping control a fire which started when his neighbor's trash fire got out of control. his best known book, a sand county almanac (1949) was published posthumously by his children; it went on to become one of the landmark texts of american conservationism. I first encountered and read a sand country almanac in the early 1980s while living in the shadow of leopold's alma mater, the yale school of forestry. a wonderful book filled with deep love and advice for living in harmony and with respect for the earth - I highly recommend it, I think it's time to reread it - I know it's around here somewhere.

Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.
from a sand county almanac

the tree in today's photographs is an american elm; what happened to this species serves is a example of what can occur when humans act carelessly with regard to our natural world. the american elm is a native tree of north america, at one time it was the preeminent urban tree, revered for both its graceful shape and its remarkable canopy which provides both shade and a sense of airiness. tragically in the 1900s a fugus which causes dutch elm disease was introduced into the country when infected logs were imported from europe. the first documented case of dutch elm disease in a live elm was found in cleveland in the 1930s - it was just a matter of time before the disease spread and wiped out most of the north american elm population.

it is estimated that only 1 in every 100,000 american elms is resistant to dutch elm disease. the tree in today's photographs is being cared for by cleveland metroparks save the elm program and this conservation program includes biannual application of a systemic fungicide, on-site monitoring, and supplemental watering.

one of jackson browne's early hits, doctor my eyes (1972) provides biting commentary on the general state of things - social and environmental when folks don't care.

photos: rocky river reservation, 9 january 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011


I think in terms of the day's resolutions, not the year's.

Henry Moore (1898-1986) sculptor

yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous winter day and we spent most of it wandering in a nearby park with my fella; one of the more curious sights were these funny little mounds - they reminded us of goosebumps.

we also encountered a perfect mousehole at the base of a large sycamore tree

neil young's winterlong

photos: rocky river reservation, 9 january 2011

Saturday, January 8, 2011

sepia saturday: somebody else is taking my place

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing slowly... very slowly.

Gypsy Rose Lee (b. 8 january 1911 -1970)

today's sepia saturday photo doesn't feature anyone from my family, instead it is of some of the boys my mother went to high school with. surprisingly unlike most of the photos in my treasure trove of old photos, this one has the names of all of the people in the photograph. on the back, in blue ink is my mother's distinctive script with the name of each fellow. unfortunately, the photo itself is in fairly deplorable condition; I scanned it and present it as is.

the photo was taken during "junior day" in 1942 and according to my mother's notation on the back the group called itself ferdenand's follies after the teacher mr. ferdenand who is quite distinguishable as the only man not in drag. I just called my mother to see if she could provide the back story to the photo. she was very surprised to learn that I have the photo. she apparently hasn't seen it since she she was a bachelorette living at home with her parents - let's see that would be about 60 years ago! I told her that the reason I have the photo is because it was one of the many photos and documents that I rescued from being incinerated by her mother. I remember visiting nana sometime in the early 1990s and happened to have caught her during one of her purging binges. I don't even want to think of all the photos and documents that I didn't rescue from going to the burn barrel!

my mother only had a vague recollection of mr. ferdenand's follies and simply remarked that it was part of some school program. she did say she remember that her high school boyfriend was one of the boys in the photo, and mentioned his name and the sports he played in high school. however, discretion is the better part of valor and you won't find this mouse spilling the beans on who rita dated before she met and married my father, god bless his soul!

as everyone knows in 1942 the united states was engaged in wwII - the country was still at war when these young men graduated from high school in 1943. on the back of the photo, added at some future date, in my mother's hand in fine red ink, printed above each young man's name, is a branch of the military. each boy but one had a branch of the military listed in my mother's hand. research mouse that I am found this man's obituary and learned that he served in the naval reserve during wwII - giving 100% participation by these twelve individuals.

the names of the boys (as best I can decipher - although distinctive and lovely, my mother's hand is not always that easy to read) and the branch of the service as listed by mom:
top row: vic kujat (army), neil matz (army), george babon (navy), george kondrick (army), bob mccaffrey (army), bert hall (navy)
bottom row: richard lewis (navy), lewis tobias (army), steve sibelnik (marines), charles peterson, joe kolarek (navy), alex evanko (navy)

to visit other time travelers, visit the sepia saturday blog.

somebody else is taking my place sung by peggy lee with the benny goodman orchestra. according to the portal this was a hit song in 1942.

Friday, January 7, 2011

what would you say to me

May I become at all times
both now and forever
A protector for those without protection
A guide for those who have lost their way
A ship for those with oceans to cross
A bridge for those with rivers to cross
A sanctuary for those in danger
A lamp for those without light
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter
And a servant to all in need

Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama (born 1935)

for the holidays owlice sent me a beautiful banner containing the words above. the words have become part of my daily meditation, I hope the words will infuse my being and help awaken my buddha nature.

written at the bottom of the 'prayer' is "dalai lama" - with dalai lama in quotation marks. I don't know about you but the presence of the quotation marks make me question the veracity of the attribution. but no worries, we live in the digital age; so I just googled the words and found that yes, his holiness did indeed share this prayer - in fact this site even provided a date, november 6, 2000. we live in amazing times.

mary chapin carpenter's 2004 song what would you say to me

photo: sitting buddha in morning sunlight, casa mouse january 2011

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

twelfth night

I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.
Umberto Eco (b. 5 january 1932) medievalist, philosopher, novelist

according to some traditions january 5th is twelfth night and this evening marks the official end of the christmas holiday season. alas, I can't really say it's the end of the season for this little mouse, as I'm still working on my cards!

with twelfth night in mind, I've selected a tune from trevor nunn's 1996 film adaptation of shakespeare's play as one of today's song. the film is entitled twelfth night: or what you will ; among the actors in the film are ben kingsley as feste, the fool, and helena bonham carter in the role of olivia. come away death is one of several tunes that feste performs in the play/film.

today is also the birthday of the amazing singer songwriter elizabeth (libba) cotten (b. 5 january 1895 - d.1987). ms cotten was a self-taught guitarist who during the 1950s became a close personal friend of the seeger family. her association with the seeger family was probably a factor in the advancement of her career and popularity.

you may not recognize the name elizabeth cotten, but if you enjoy the blues and folk music, you surely have heard her songs or are familiar with musicians who were influenced by her and recorded her songs. it was difficult to select one tune, however, I'm quite fond of shake sugaree, and I really like this version as it features libba on guitar and her 14 year old granddaughter, brenda, provides the sweet vocals. libba's best known song probably is freight train, it seems like everyone and their cousin in the folk music circles sing it (here's a version of freight train by our friend pete)

photo: wall art, barcelona march 2007

Monday, January 3, 2011

frozen warnings

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

J.R.R. Tolkien (b. 3 january 1892 -1973) author, poet, philologist, professor

the freeze is back - we had a very mild finish to 2010 and start of the new year here on the north coast. on saturday, the temperature actually hit 60 degrees! crazy! who doesn't believe in global climate change.

although not prone to new year resolutions, I find myself drawn to making a few this year. I'd share them but I'm too superstitious and believe, as with wishes, if I tell them they won't happen. I will hint and let on that one concerns the bloggyhood.

nuf said.

see you around - off to start attending to a few of those resolutions.

the mouse wishes everyone a most auspicious, healthy, and happy 2011!

frozen warnings by nico - what a voice

photo: lake erie shore, lakewood, 30 december 2010