Wednesday, December 21, 2011

lord of the dance

In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.

William Blake (1757–1827) poet and artist

happy winter solstice! the shortest day and longest night of the year - at least in the northern hemisphere. depending on where you live solstice officially happens either today or tomorrow - here in on the north coast solstice occurs at 12:30 a.m. on the 22nd; on the west coast solstice occurs at 9:30 p.m. on the 21st.

today in cleveland the sun rose at 7:50 a.m. and is to set at 5:00 p.m - this gives us 9 hours and 10 minutes of daylight; in washington dc the sunrise was at 7:23 and sunset 4:49 - 9 hours and 26 minutes of daylight. i have a friend who lives in ambler, alaska (when i mail her a package the zip code pops up as 'north pole' - which never fails to tickle me, especially this time of year!) curious mouse that i am wondered how much daylight jo will have today, so i checked with accuweather - geez today ambler gets a whooping 1 hour and 33 minutes of daylight - sunrise is 12:54 p.m. and sunset 2:27 p.m!

latitude and longitude sure make a difference. curious about sunrise and sunset around the world - one of my favorite to go places is

we had our first real snow this weekend. the snow's gone now and there's little chance it will be a white christmas. today is downright balmy - the forecast calls for rain and temperatures in the high 50s! oh well - it does what it does!

the dubliners performing the song lord of the dance - the song was written in the 1960s by english poet and songwriter sydney carter. the song may seem like a traditional carol, and this is not at all surprising as it is an adaptation of joseph brackett's 1848 shaker dancing song simple gifts. carter states that the song is a tribute to shaker music and that the words were inspired by jesus and a statue of shiva of nataraja.

I see Christ as the incarnation of the piper who is calling us. He dances that shape and pattern which is at the heart of our reality. By Christ I mean not only Jesus; in other times and places, other planets, there may be other Lords of the Dance. But Jesus is the one I know of first and best. I sing of the dancing pattern in the life and words of Jesus.

...Their hymns were odd, but sometimes of great beauty: from one of these (Simple Gifts) I adapted this melody. I could have written another for the words of 'Lord of the Dance' (some people have), but this was so appropriate that it seemed a waste of time to do so. Also, I wanted to salute the Shakers.
Sometimes, for a change I sing the whole song in the present tense. 'I dance in the morning when the world is begun...'. It's worth a try".
(green print for song, 1974)

today is wall wednesday

photos: wall on the side of a nightclub in cleveland; george the gargoyle, casa mouse, 17 december 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

the christmas song

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.
Charles Mingus (1922 -1979) musician and composer

there's nothing sweeter live music, especially when it is unexpected and delivered by talented street musicians - this fine fellow was creating a festive holiday atmosphere amidst the construction and bustle on a street corner near cleveland's busy west side market. what a joy to hang out, listen and chat between songs - his repertoire was filled with several of my favorite holiday songs.

friday turned out to be a jazzy sort of day. hours later f and i topped off our evening at one of our favorite local restaurants - which now is hosting live jazz every friday and saturday night -- the best part, is the restaurant is walking distance from our house!

today's mingus quote - it is wise advice and good mouse medicine for everyday life - wouldn't you say?

jason kendall on sax with his version of the christmas song (aka chestnuts roasting on an open fire).

the song, which has become a christmas classic was written in 1944 by mel tormé and bob wells. the song was first recorded and released in 1946 by nat king cole. according to the portal bmi reports that is the most preformed christmas song - and to think it was written on a blistering hot summer day!

Friday, December 16, 2011

night in the city

A city is a place where there is no need to wait for next week to get the answer to a question, to taste the food of any country, to find new voices to listen to and familiar ones to listen to again.
Margaret Mead (16 december 1901 - 1978) anthropologist

today is the birthday of one of my heroes - cultural anthropologist margaret mead. it is strange, but i'll never forget the day she died. when i was in graduate school (for the first time) in november of 1978 i was attending the american anthropological association meeting in los angeles. maraget mead was on the program - i'll never forget, i was looking through the program with my advisor andy, i turned to him and excitedly said i couldn't believe my luck, margaret mead was listed as giving a talk, hey maybe i'll get a chance to meet her in person - wouldn't that be incredible! he looked at me and said, "didn't you hear? they just announced that margaret mead died yesterday in a hospital in new york." my first reaction was that andy was playing a horrible prank - she couldn't be in a hospital in new york she was on the program! then i looked at him - his eyes didn't lie - there a day before i was going to meet her and a month before her 77th birthday she died. just goes to show we never know.

but what i do know is december 16th will always be a happy day - along with the date being the birthday of wise woman magaret mead, it is also the anniversary of when my honey and i publicly proclaimed our love and commitment to each other and to the world!

about today's photos i snapped these pics last night - the top photo shows the new fun lights around cleveland's west side market - i don't know if they were put up for the holidays or if they are just part of the on-going improvement plan for the market square neighborhood. regardless, i like the lights!!

speaking of lights the city of cleveland periodically plays with colored lights on terminal tower - last night the tower was red! most often this time of year it is both red and green. i wonder if someone forgot to flip the switch for the green lights!

inevitably when i'm wandering around looking at city lights, joni's classic song night in the city pops into my head.... always a nice earworm! the song first appeared on joni's debut 1968 album song to a seagull.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

sharing the fun!

A sense of humor is a major defense against minor troubles.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913 - 1983)journalist & writer

sorry about the poor quality of today's wall wednesday photo, given that i snapped it looking out the window of a moving car on the rta the photo probably isn't all that bad. when i saw there was a rodent on the wall i had to capture it - and quickly -- even if that meant taking the photo from a moving train. in cleveland one can never tell how long - or short - wall art will be up. some pieces last for a long time while other pieces are covered up quickly by the graffiti eradication squads. now i just made that up about graffiti eradication squads - but based on what i see, there may very well be official groups wandering about covering up street art with gray or white paint.

as is the case in many cities, some of the best street art in the area is seen from the train. one day i would like to do a photo safari along cleveland's rail corridors, i have a feeling that the authorities would frown on this, but i'm game none-the-less. the authorities certainly frown on the street artists who use the concrete walls and buildings that abut the tracks as their canvas.

this last month of the year is flying by - yikes, can you believe we are almost halfway through december? no complaints here as december has been chocked full -- and time does fly when one is having fun - lots of activity in terms of both work and play. only thing that suffers with a full dance card is keeping up with the blogosphere - but, setting a new low for number of posts on the mouse is truly a minor trouble.

i think f and i are setting a personal record high this month for getting out for live entertainment in terms of both music and theater. just this weekend we attended an absolutely fabulous theatrical event at cleveland public theater - entitled conni's avant-garde restaurant. the reviewer for the pd was spot on when she referred to it as a "deliciously demented" holiday feast. this is not your daddy's dinner theater - i'll throw out a few more d adjectives conni's is also delightfully deliriously deranged! the theater troupe performing the extravaganza is a touring group - this year was the second year the group stopped in cleveland. i'm crossing my fingers that conni's will be a annual holiday tradition and we'll be having a holiday meal at conni's for many years ahead! as for me i'll be making my reservations at conni's each year!

we went from the superbly ridiculous to the spiritually sublime -- we wrapped up the weekend's live events by attending sacrum mysterium - sacred mystery: a celtic christmas a collaborative performance of appolo's fire and the ensemble la nef of montréal.

the fun continues (as does the celtic theme) tonight as we're heading to the cleveland museum of art to see and listen to the amazing natalie macmaster.

today is the centennial of the birth of musician and bandleader spike jones (14 december 1911 - 1965) . jones was widely popular in the '40s and '50s - and best known for his satirical songs. spike and his band, spike jones and the city slickers toured north america under the title the musical depreciation revue.

along with the 1942 hit der fuehrer's face, one of jones most well known songs is the christmas classic all i want for christmas is my two front teeth. below is a vid of jones singing the song - alas no info as to when this was filmed.

photo: cleveland, december 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

all you need is love

All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.
Dalai Lama (b. 1935)

wall wednesday continues.

i guess it is debatable whether the officials in the vatican got the memo about what his holiness the dalai lama suggests is the universal message of 'all major religious traditions.'

the vatican really got its panties in a bunch recently over benetton's 'unhate' campaign - the campaign was quite the buzz a couple weeks ago. i'm sure everyone is familiar the benetton ads, they feature various world leaders kissing. the vatican threatened legal action against the clothing company. the company withdrew the ads featuring a photoshopped pope benedict kissing an egyptian imam, the sheik ahmed el-tayeb.

geez some people just don't have any imagination or sense of humor!

benetton is known for its provocative advertising campaigns; according to the company -
Its aim was to “contrast the culture of hatred and promote closeness between peoples, faiths, cultures and the peaceful understanding of each other’s motivations. The central theme is the kiss, the most universal symbol of love.” (source)

the beatles all you need is love. the song was first preformed for the public on 25 june, 1967 for our world, the first live global television link. the bbc commissioned the beatles to write a song for the uk's contribution. the project was conceived by a bbc producer named aubrey singer.

nineteen countries were asked to participate in this 2-1/2 hour show. part of the ground rules for the program was that no politicians or heads of state participate. however, although politicians were prohibited from participating they still wielded power over the production, according to an article in the cbc archives 4 days before the broadcast 5 of the countries dropped out because of political reasons (for all you curious cats and mice the countries that dropped out were: the ussr and the then eastern bloc countries of poland, czechoslovakia, hungary and east germany. the leaders of these countries dropped out to protest the west's reaction to the six-day war in the middle east)

by the way, the original program was transmitted in black and white. later segments were colorized as we see in the vid below.

Love, Love, Love.
Love, Love, Love.
Love, Love, Love.

There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game.
It's easy.

Nothing you can make that can't be made.
No one you can save that can't be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time.
It's easy.

All you need is love.
All you need is love.
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need.

All you need is love.
All you need is love.
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need.

Nothing you can know that isn't known.
Nothing you can see that isn't shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.
It's easy.

All you need is love.
All you need is love.
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need.

All you need is love (All together, now!)
All you need is love. (Everybody!)
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need (love is all you need)
(love is all you need) (love is all you need)
(love is all you need) Yesterday (love is all you need)
(love is all you need) (love is all you need)

Oh yeah!
love is all you need, love is all you need,love is all you need, love is all you need, oh yeah oh hell yea! love is all you need love is all you need love is all you need

photo: cleveland november 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

nick of time

A hug is a great gift - one size fits all, and it's easy to exchange.


tattoo tuesday celebrates the feast day of saint nicholas the 4th century saint reputed to be the model for santa claus - the modern name comes from the dutch sinterklaas which is derived from a series of elisions and corruptions of the transliteration of saint nikolaos.

the historical st nick (nikolaos of myra aka nikolaos the wonderworker) had a reputation for secret gift giving - supposedly one of his favorite practices was to put coins in the shoes of those who left their shoes outside their doors at night. the practice of putting shoes out for gifts is still a custom in some of the countries which celebrate saint nicholas day.

i love to learn what or who saints are patron saints for - according to the saint nicholas center, saint nicholas is reputedly the patron saint of more causes than any other saint! the list includes more than 100 groups, including: children, sailors, thieves, pawnbrokers, bankers, archers, merchants, poor people, poets, and prostitutes (here's the skinny behind saint nicholas and prostitutes!)

one of today's photos may look familiar as i posted the top photo last year - months before starting tattoo tuesday - given that today is saint nicholas day, i thought it only fitting to repost the photo! the incredibly sexy santa is the beautiful delilah von dagger. delilah, which may or may not be her "real name" is part of the cleveland burlesque company. i also really like the second photo where the hello kitty tat is more visible.

bonnie raitt singing her classic song nick of time from an appearance she made in 1990 on the arsenio hall show

Monday, December 5, 2011


Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe their husband is about to return and need his shoes.
Joan Didion (b. 5 december 1934) writer
from the year of magical thinking

as i mentioned in my last post some of the aids memorial quilt panels are visiting cleveland - 128 panels to be exact - 64 panels are displayed at the cleveland institute of art and an equal number are displayed at metrohealth medical center.

on friday i headed over to cia - as expected i was touched and of course so, so saddened. i was so moved on friday that i decided to see the rest of the panels on sunday - i didn't want to wait until the closing reception on wednesday when the space would most likely be filled with people. there is something profoundly sacred about viewing the panels when there are few, if any others around.

below is a slideshow of my photos of the visiting panels:

for those who love factoids a few facts about the aids memorial quilt from a handout that i picked up. the handout was produced by the names project foundation. the quilt has been a ongoing visual tribute to those who died from aids since 1987. over 18 million people have visited the quilt and there are approximately 91,000 names on the quilt. the quilt weighs 54 tons and is 1,293,00 square feet. if one were to spend one minute with each panel, it would take 33 days to view the entire quilt.

a panel is 3 feet by 6 feet and there are eight panels that make up each block to form a 12 foot by 12 foot section. the quilt still receives, on a average, a new panel each day.

for more information on the aids memorial quilt including how to host a display in your community, visit the names project at

i'm thinking a good deal these days about loss and grief - which is not that unusual for this time of years. ironically the holiday season is one of those times when we are reminded, often painfully, of those who are no longer with us.

a few years ago i read birthday girl joan didion's memoir the year of magical thinking - the book is a poetic and moving account of the year following the sudden and unexpected death of her husband, fellow writer john gregory dunn. this year didion released another memoir, blue nights - two years after dunn's death, their only child died from the complications of the condition we read about in the year of magical thinking. although didion is an amazingly gifted and poetic writer, i don't know if i will read blue nights .....

grizabella singing memory from andrew lloyd webber's musical cats. the song never fails to bring this mouse to tears.....

Thursday, December 1, 2011

what's going on

We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.

Herman Melville (1819-1891) writer, teacher, sailor

today is world aids day - hopefully, a day of both reflection and action. although the situation has improved in some countries - in many parts of the world and among many marginalized groups, aids is still a death sentence and is still out of control. as a world community we have the knowledge to make great strides toward making hiv infection no longer be a death sentence, but the gap between knowledge and action is great. the gap can be reduced with vision, will and the proper and equitable distribution of resources. the situation can improve if everyone joins together to do something - and there is no action that is too small. even becoming to an educated and informed citizen is a form of action; so no need to feel helpless even if you are unable to contribute funds or your time to the cause, you can always contribute your mind!

if you are looking for connecting with others to help in the fight against aids, contact your local aids network or visit one of the world aids day websites - some include: the federal (us) aids site, the cdc world aids day site, and the uk world aids day home. the fight against aids needs to be waged each day - as i've been known to say about earth day, the same sentiment goes for world aids day - let's make every day world aids day.

tomorrow i plan to visit the panels of the aids memorial quilt which are visiting cleveland at the cleveland institute of art. next week i hope to check out the panels that are currently being assembled to honor and memorialize local individuals who have died of aids when they are to be shared at the closing reception for the visiting panels. visiting the quilt or seeing panels is always a very powerful experience. the first time i saw the quilt was in 1988 in washington d.c; i visited dc again in 1996 to see the entire quilt, which most likely was the last time the quilt was displayed in its entirety.

it is staggering to think of the number of aids deaths in the last 30 years according to avert, an international organization working to on behalf averting hiv/aids, nearly 30 million people have died worldwide due to aids related causes.

an all star tribute recording of the what's going on provides the soundtrack to an educational slide show on the world aids crisis.

the idea of world aids day reaches back to 1987 and who's global programme on aids based out of geneva switzerland. since 1995, the us government has issued an official proclamation. below is the text of president obama's proclamation for 2011:


On World AIDS Day, 30 years after the first cases of HIV/AIDS were reported, we stand with the individuals and communities affected by HIV and recommit to progress toward an AIDS free generation.

My Administration is taking action to turn the corner on the HIV/AIDS pandemic by investing in research that promises new and proven methods to prevent infection and better therapies for people living with HIV. In the past year, the National Institutes of Health has reported important progress. We now know that treatment of HIV not only improves clinical outcomes, but can also dramatically reduce the risk of transmission. Studies on the use of antiretroviral medications to prevent infection of HIV negative individuals show promising results. And research is ongoing to devise new prevention methods that may one day offer innovative ways to prevent the spread of HIV, like microbicides that can curb the risk of infection in women. By pursuing the next breakthrough treatment in the fight against HIV, continuing research to develop a vaccine, and incorporating new scientific tools into our programs, we are taking important steps toward an AIDS free generation.

To combat the HIV epidemic in the United States, we are implementing the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy in our country's history, which calls for strong, coordinated policy initiatives, enhanced HIV/AIDS education, collaboration across the Federal Government, and robust engagement with individuals, communities, and businesses across America. As part of these efforts, we are embracing the best science available to prevent new HIV infections, and we are testing new approaches to integrating housing, prevention, care, and substance abuse and mental health services related to HIV/AIDS. We are implementing the Affordable Care Act, which mandates new consumer protections and new options for purchasing health insurance for all Americans by 2014, including those with HIV. We are also striving to secure employment opportunities for people living with HIV by working to end discrimination based on HIV status.

To address the global HIV pandemic, we are working with nations around the world to advance comprehensive prevention efforts and provide lifesaving medicine to millions of people living with HIV. We are integrating cutting edge science into the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that will do even more to prevent new HIV infections, including more effective drug regimens to prevent mother to child HIV transmission and low cost approaches like voluntary medical male circumcision. When combined with other proven approaches, such as condoms, HIV testing and counseling, and programs to support behavior change, these advances can dramatically reduce HIV incidence and save lives. As we move forward, we will maintain our commitment to rigorously measuring the impact of these approaches, revising them appropriately, and incorporating new ideas and technologies as they become available.

Recognizing that a coordinated strategy is essential to our success, we are partnering with a wide variety of stakeholders to promote HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, and treatment. Here at home, States, tribes, territories, and local governments are vital partners in implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, and we are joined by a host of public and private supporters and collaborators in PEPFAR. Partnerships with corporations, foundations, faith-based institutions, academic institutions, and other organizations are critically important to the fight against HIV, and we will work to strengthen these ties in the years ahead.

At this pivotal time in the worldwide response to HIV, the United States is preparing to welcome the global community to Washington, D.C., for the 19th International AIDS Conference in July 2012. We look forward to working with and learning from people living with HIV, clinicians, researchers, practitioners, and advocates from across the globe. On this World AIDS Day, let us reflect on the people we have lost and those we hold dear who are living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. And as we pay tribute to the past and current heroes in the struggle against this disease, let us recommit to bringing an end to this tragic pandemic and pursuing an AIDS-free generation.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States do hereby proclaim December 1, 2011, as World AIDS Day. I urge the Governors of the States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, officials of the other territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and the American people to join me in appropriate activities to remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS and to provide support and comfort to those living with this disease.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.