Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Local Wonders

"If you can awaken inside the familiar and discover it new, you need never leave home..."

Ted Kooser
Nebraskan and U.S. Poet Laureate 2004-06

Perhaps I hadn't quite learned this lesson.  Perhaps it was because it was that time of the year that required vacation - the lull before the work cycle storm of January.  Perhaps it was my restless mind seeking a rest and, like a homing pigeon, looking to the home of my youth and a chance to reconnect with friends from that time I missed the last time around.

Christmas is the season of eternal nostalgia - the season of scents remembered, of songs sung, of crunching snow, of lights and color, of musky midnight masses.  I needed an assist to prepare this year and when I saw that one old friend, Paul Amandes, was opening in a production called Local Wonders, based on a Kooser book, with music he wrote and a play he co-wrote with Virginia Smith, that fact became the anchor, the set piece for an excursion to Chicago in the dead of winter.

I'm a homer, so my bias and admiration for the artistic efforts of those I know is evident.  Still, this production touched me, in that quiet place that reflects and ponders and is as certain as the eternal cycle of the seasons.  I marveled at my friend's artistic maturity.

The 90 minute play with music is both particular and universal.  We follow the specific threads of Kooser's life as a Nebraskan, a writer suddenly faced with a cancer diagnosis.  This rut in life's road is examined as the facets of the man's life are revealed and rolled out through anecdote and song.

Kooser's Nebraska and his Nebraska life, that landscape shaped by storms, is detailed in all its particulars through the spoken word and song - - the tilt of its geography, the treehouse in the backyard and the child who leaves, the pair of geese that come and go with the seasons, the order and disruption of the organization of a man's tools, his very practical mother, the old highway 30, the uncle in his recliner, the old blue heron, a father's hands, monarchs blanketing a distant tree.  No detail too small, every rock and track observed and noted, the wrestling of human nature between the poet as writer/craftsman and the poet as celebrity.

The musical interludes wind throughout the narrative much like the course of the Platte River, with Anne Hills providing lilting lyrical support (big vocal biceps!) and sharp observations and particular contrasts as Kooser's wife and a cast of locals.  Despite the difficult nature of this type of multi-character assignment, the flow of the play and physical stage coverage allowed her to neatly evoke key players who interact with Kooser in a series of tilts from scene to scene.  Harmonic support, both as an actor and singer.

I needed to see it twice - it's densely aural - and richly textured.  For those friends who may live near Chicago - do see it.  Twice, if you can.  It leaves you with that warm feeling, that Christmas feeling of touching base with old familiar experiences, of small things now noticed like the first snowflake in a winter sky, of the promise of hope and magic that lies just out that open window in your own backyard.  Like leaving home to come home. 

You can order tickets here:


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.  ~~ Erma Bombeck 

I have no Thanksgiving leftovers in the traditional sense.  Hit the road with Buster and enjoyed a feast with the Amazon Grandchild. She is growing and glowing and I realize that time slides quickly holiday by holiday when you are watching a young child grow. I didn't have seconds, resisted the multiple pies in my quest to be rid of pants with elastic waistlines, and arrived home safely. No rain, no bad road conditions, just the low hanging post-full moon golden on the horizon to guide me and Buster down the yellow brick road.  There's no place like home.

No, my leftovers are the mental residue, the crumbs that linger and must be shaken out before they stake a claim on real estate in my brain.  After living well over five decades, I am now at capacity and only capable of infill development.  Grow up, not out.

Holidays have not been the same now that I'm solo.  They signal the end of the year, another birthday and a time to try to keep looking forward.  Still, I'm finding things to be thankful for - reconnections, a President who is intelligent and not prone to Palinesque outbursts, sufficiency,  digital cameras, a challenging job, and a faithful furry companion.  For now, that's enough.   Sufficiency and simplicity.

The aroma of spice and cinnamon fills the house, the lights are about to go up, the tree about to be assembled.  All's well in this little corner of the world.  Time to buckle up and brave the shopping madness.  

What I wouldn't give to happen upon a random act of culture like this one while shopping.  It takes me back to a simpler time.  A glorious complex choral piece, memories of practices starting in college through my various incarnations and life seasons - a gentle thread.  The pleasure of lifting a voice as part of something larger.  Unplugged and each a contributor.  The sounds of the season.  Giving thanks.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Goodnight, Tim - Wherever You Are

November 16 - Tim's birthday. 

My poem for his birthday on our old blog platform - it turned out to be his last birthday in 2006 - his 52nd.  He was, like his hero JFK, a fatalist who raged against the dimming of the light.  He always believed he would die young.  He did.

When you rob the cradle in your 40's
There's no need to worry about teething biscuits
There's lots to chew on with a political scientist
Who knows a thing or two
About philosopher kings and steppenwolves
And tenderness and mating the queen
And Yes and streetlights that go out
And synchronicity abounding all around
Impressionism met realism with a cubist twist.
He anticipates every hidden eddy of the river
And knows all my undercurrents too
My full moons are reserved for a lifetime
Happy birthday, my Tim.

When I watch this YouTube I made as some kind of therapeutic exercise, I think of being on the other side of so many of the pictures in this video - I am thankful for the miracle of digital photography - both for its instant gratification and its not insignificant role in my delight in chronicling all our adventures.  I see now what I saw then through the lens.

It's still difficult to write about him.  I've tried.  It's still very raw.  But with pictures and music, I am soothed and remember through a sampler of our moments together how much I still love him.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Douche of the Decade

"The world is not fair, and often fools, cowards,
liars and the selfish hide in high places. "
~Bryant H. McGill

I sometimes wonder when someone is going to write the definitive book "When Good Things Happen to Bad People."  Karl Rove deserves his own chapter for an intelligence devoted to exploring the Dark Side of the American psyche.

Karl Rove is Watergate's Donald Segretti gone rabid.

Whether steering the American Titanic that was George W. Bush's political career or making out like a bandit as a paid Faux News pundit and chicken circuit speaker at GOP functions, Rove the cynical opportunist has found his version of the American dream.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


My favorite season is here at last. 
The early-now nights a little crisper,
The trees prepare to launch the pirouetting leaves,
Between sun and shade, the illusion comes
Nature's ironic wink - recycle and replenish

My illusions are more obvious
Solitude approaching holidays tumbling one after another

Is this a reminder of endings or beginnings
The conflicting colors of autumn
The greens yielding to reds and golds and then muted earthtones
Influence my dreams
I think of you.

This season of our birthdays
Of manic election years memories
Of drives beneath a glowing harvest moon
Removing the car top
The last hurrah tbefore the grey rains come to stay
Passion's last play before hiatus

Autumn, you are my favorite child.

Cris 9-22-10

 Earworm for today:  Tim's favorite autumn song by Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues - an oh so poignant memory of concerts and long talks and longer moonlit drives:  Forever Autumn

Blog Photo Credit:  Anthony Dunn, Photographer  - Bidwell Park in Autumn

Boomer Retirement Tuesday

Today we held a special lunch for a whole batch of newly minted retirees.  The traditional Chico bbq trailer  for the tri-tip was wheeled in along with barrels for roasting many chickens.  Veggie burgers had been prepared and huge bowls of salad and beans along with grilled garlic bread were spread out in a now vacant section of the building which is now used as a yoga center and workout space during off hours.

It was a perfect late summer day for lounging on the grass, visiting with old friends and contemplating endings.

Budget constraints, groaning workloads...all that was forgotten for a bit as our City family gathered to wish these compadres all the best.   There you would find the police chief, officers and dispatchers, the Mayor and a few Councilmembers, the street crews, the planners, the City Manager and Assistant, the engineers, the finance folk, the attorneys and legal staff, fire personnel, human resources and risk managers, housing and neighborhood services staff, building inspectors, code enforcement officers, the urban forester and park rangers and a few babies and toddlers mingling on the lawn, reminiscing or chasing balloons. 

The visionaries and the pragmatists who populate my work-world.  My second family.

I contented myself with snapping my camera madly and experiencing this day through a focused lens - it seems to help me deal with losses.

These retirees are irreplaceable, although their work remains and will be spread throughout the ranks.  Tough times in the public sector.  The need for public services remains, no matter how thin the staff.

After lunch, I prepared for a City Council meeting that evening.  So it goes.

To my comrades at arms about to embark on the next adventure, here is my video homage and my parting advice:

Happy Trails and Enjoy!

PS - I am so jealous.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Courting the Crimson King

The rusted chains of prison moons
Are shattered by the sun.
I walk a road, horizons change
The tournament's begun.
The purple piper plays his tune,
The choir softly sing;
Three lullabies in an ancient tongue,
For the court of the crimson king.

Lucifer in his study, hunched over computer, contemplating his next move. Suddenly, an instant message.

God:               U there?
Lucifer:           Hey, sup?
God:               Getting mixed signals from the third planet again.
Lucifer:           Now what?
God:               Beckfest on the DC Mall
Lucifer:           Oh, yeah.  He's one of my best - a real emo huckster....LOL
God:               I whispered "get educated"
Lucifer:           Good plan
God:               So he started his own university...WTF?    
Lucifer:           Just in time for election season.  Ain't Pride grand?
God:               UR asking for it...
Lucifer:           Hey, get jiggy with the media - he was the perfect tool.
Lucifer:           It only takes a microphone and a chalkboard and Fox News...
God:               W8 - I didn't give you that type of license.
Lucifer:           Yo, low overhead and a cut of all the dumb tees sold. Sweet!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

No Time to Be a Muse

"I didn't have time to be anyone's muse... I was too busy rebelling against my family and learning to be an artist." --

Leonora Carrington, 1983

Now that my blog rhythm is returning, I am continuing to ease back into writing by falling back on the yahoo writer's prompts.  Sundays are Art Sundays, a chance for me to delve into the visual arts and visit inspirations new and old.

My natural medium is writing, so my natural thought patterns lean to metaphor and simile and finding the points of commonality and uncommonality between me and my subject.  To find irony or magic is a bonus.  It may be somewhat natural then that I find myself intrigued by the surrealists, the visual counterpoints steeped in symbols and meaning. 

I intended to blog on Frida Kahlo, a particular favorite female artist whose self-portraits are imaginative, colorful and above all symbolic.  Instead, I stumbled on Carrington.

Whatever Gets You Through the Night

I wrote the following in August 2006 when New Orleans was still abandoned, the citizens still relocated, the housing still debris one year after Katrina rolled through and the levees were breached. 

Now approaching the five-year anniversary, it's still difficult to gauge what has been lost forever.

In my visits to New Orleans, what impressed me most was the unique vibrancy that was completely a creation of the culture fusion of its people.

It was the 80's - my job was the victim of the Reagan-era mergermania of corporate interests, but I was offered a transfer to the new headquarters, located directly across from the Superdome.  After several trips, and tours of the neighborhoods and investigation of options for my family, I declined and parachuted out to California.  Later, when I thought of thousands trapped in the Superdome, it gave me shivers.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gave Me the Simple Life

Most fathers don't see the war within the daughter, her struggles with conflicting images of the idealized and flawed father, her temptation both to retreat to Daddy's lap and protection and to push out of his embrace to that of beau and the world beyond home.   ~~ Victoria Secunda

Another August 26, Dad's second birthday since he died in July 2009.  Still miss him, still realizing all the deep ways in which he very quietly and confidently imprinted me.  As the oldest and a girl, I wasn't always quite sure of my way for this was a time in which the role of women was starting to change.  Pre-Title 9.  He encouraged education and involvement for me and all my sibs, but there is that strange push me-pull me between dads and daughters as the quote suggests.

My dad loved me.  Of that I have no doubt.  What a gift.  The only thing I could think of as a thank-you was to give a brief eulogy during his service.  He was a master speaker in business and foremost fan of every speech I practiced for Student Council or sophomore speech classes.  Here is my eulogy; focusing on this helped to get me through your loss - thanks again Dad.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

All We Hear Is ...

Although I think of myself as primarily a visual learner, I've realized in retrospect that the auditory has more subversively affected my life.  Despite a writer/reader''s love for the sight of type on white, the things I've heard have retained their effect on my thinking and my mood far more significantly; my memory box is more immediately and richly opened by music and sound.

As a child in the Bay Area, I remember a neighborhood teen and occasional babysitter, Beverly, walking by our house, a transistor radio the approximate size of an I-phone pressed to her ear.  No doubt, in those days, the sweet harmonies of doo-wop or the mellow baritone of the King were pulsing into her one ear, powered by transistors.  Rock around the clock.

I'd sit alone and watch your light
My only friend through teenage nights
And everything I had to know
I heard it on my radio

My first radio was the old-style clock radio with a rotary dial.  Now living in the Chicago burbs, I'd frantically spin the dial back and forth between WLS and WCFL hoping to create my own version of an all-Beatles all the time station.  I'd follow my favorite deejays, spinning that dial, feeling I was sharing the hip and larger cultural experience I could only imagine. A musical revolution was taking place before my ears and somehow, by just listening, I was in it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

It's Delovely - Song Saturday

Bush ManLove

From Waterbro blog
June 8, 2007

The public discourse shouldn't be about the governmental role in hetero marriages while limiting gays to "civil unions." Rather than seeking to alter the Constitution, a strict constructionist would see that civil unions should be available to all, while marriage is something private and more religious than governmental. Mexico is an example of a country where some want beach, or even underwater weddings, but they must also take the drive to an oficina where the legal aspect is addressed separately from the religious or ceremonial bonding, which may or may not be solemnified by a ceremony.

The least intrusion possible into personal lives is the proper role of government. Many people's civil unions are separate from the ceremony and religion of marriage. I have performed many marriages by the authority granted me by sending in an application for ordination taken from the classifieds section of Rolling Stone Magazine. These arrangements are legally sanctioned and valid, made so by the Universal Life Church and its tenet that government has no say over who can or cannot perform marriages.

It's pure silliness to distract voters with the "threat" of gay marriage while spending so many billions on destruction and massively irresponsible tax cuts. It's a civil rights issue that the elements of civil unions be made available to all, absent discrimination, and then if people want their pastor, rabbi, mullah or whomever to sanctify the union in a marriage ceremony, the religious aspect (if chosen) is completely separated from any inappropriate governmental role.

~~ Tim Carroll

I've reposted this Tim-blog, complete with this original and politically ironic selected picture depicting man-love, because it still makes sense.  I can't recall what was happening that moment in 2007, but it was no doubt connected to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the ever-popular wedge issue of gay rights.

Marriage in the old days was more like a transfer of chattel, a convention to pass off a woman to a man, in some traditions with the gift of livestock as dowry for the lucky groom.  "Here's your goat - where's my ring?"  There are as many definitions of marriage as there are religions and cultures. 

Well, we've come a long way baby and modern marriage in America has changed with the times. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Art Sunday on Monday

Didn't procrastinate this time -- just so busy with work that I didn't have time to find a new artist and read up before blogging.  Day late, dollar short.....story of our lives lately?

Anyhow, I live in a small town with a growing art footprint.  Featured today are some of the many murals around town.  Nothing like a touch of paint on some bland surface to add that ambience that makes this a great place to live.

I'll discuss more about public art and specifically our engineering department's growing incorporation of design into our infrastructure - the boys on the second floor - well they've been growing their right brains and the results are quite impressive.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Word of the Day - Obamafied

There are apparently days when I am totally unencumbered by normal fears or anxieties and the channels open and the small weirdnesses of the universe are somehow magnetically attracted to my exact location....is there a secret GPS signal encoded with my dna that brings these visitors?

Today, while pumping gas into Vanna White, I had such an encounter.  I was fueling up, my mind ticking off all the to-do list items for the remainder of the work day, when a man who had been rooting in the garbage can saw me and approached me with these words:  "I'm looking for cans or bottles. They've obamafied the gasoline."

OK, non-sequiturs, made-up word I don't understand.  I quickly computed:  Was he an admirer of Palin and, by emulation, was now enriching the language not quite on the level of Shakespeare or Palin?  Was he a TeaBagger, infected by virulent language and misspelled posters, who was looking for affirmation or an argument?  Was this postmodern flirting with a dismally abject attempt at humor?  Should I take this five minute gas-em-up interlude to school him on what I thought about current political discourse....no - no need to be holier-than-thou or high and mighty.  I lack both qualifications.

On closer inspection, he wore a small chain with a cross dangling about mid-chest.  His faded t-shirt advertised perhaps an affiliation with veterans and a local junior college.  He may well be one of the many shell-shocked veterans who wander the landscape after multiple tours, seeking any form of light in days filled with specters of dark knights and the realities of memories of darker nights in darker parts of the world I will never see.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hell's Bells

All over the teevee news and the internets, folks are up in arms about the apparent overpricing of the local administrators and Councilmembers by themselves.  Crooks, corrupt etc.

My take, coming from local government, looks a little askew and wonders:  where were the voters, the local news media, the local government gadflies who hold our toes to the fire, deserved or not,.

From the LA Times article, it appears that the apparatus by which Councilmembers were able to enrich themselves was by a ballot measure in a special election in 2005 - voter turnout - well, 99% stayed home that day.  This allowed the Councilmembers to pay themselves for every hat they wore, toting up the compensation meeting by meeting; allowed Councilmembers to approve adminstrators' pay well over the norm through confidential performance evaluations/compensation negotiations - those may legally be in closed session, but the appropriation of any of that funding to cut those paychecks - well, hello Sunshine laws.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Song Saturday - Nobody Knows You - Alberta Hunter

When in doubt or the two unscathed brain cells just won't compute for a long piece, revive a Y360 blogging prompt and share a favorite piece of music for your daily pensee....The photo, well, the dog is enough like my constant compnion Buster that I just have to use it.

The song, by Alberta Hunter, still kickin' it in her 80's in this video, is a great bluesy tune that Clapton revived for the younger generation....hey, that's me!

It calls to my mind the many today disenfranchised in America, most particularly the population afflicted by homelessness (if we peg them "the homeless," it only separates and stigmatizes).  Those seeking shelter today include families with children, veterans, people who sunk after being upside down on their mortgages and not just those stereotypical figures who used to be called vagrants, bums, hoboes and so on.

Today's tip, from a shelter provider:  Drop some sunscreen by your local shelter.  In most parts of the country, it's blazing hot and for those who don't have the luxury of air-conditioned comfort, particularly children, being out in the sun all day only adds to the misery index.

You'll feel connected....and that's what improves the human condition and changes hearts.

Take it away, Alberta.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Letter to Myself on Day of My Birth - Repost Request

A repost from my Yahoo 360 blog dated 11/28/2006 - my 55th birthday.  I had been blogging for about 11 months by that point and developed surprisingly enriching friendships with fellow bloggers, all literate inspirations in so many ways.  They were with me right through Tim's death seven months later and buttressed my grief and shock with heartfelt stories and tributes.  One friend, Stephanie, has resumed blogging (YEA!) and recently reposted her Letter to Herself which inspired mine back in 2006.  The idea was to write a letter to your younger self on the day of birth from a current vantage point.  The theme inspired some very personal, authentic blogs in our community.  It's Friday evening, it's been an extra-fatiguing week, and I'm too mentally vacant to update this letter - perhaps when I turn 60 (yikes), I'll tackle that reflection.  So, Stephanie, my Poe-lovin' Bucaneeress, this one's for you...
Tonight's YouTube:  From Fosse's All That Jazz, the dazzling Ann Reinking with a Peter Allen tune - "Everything Old is New Again"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Y360 Blog:  11/28/06

AARP, here I come. My birthday arrives (how I hate sharing my day occasionally with the turkey - so it goes). I started writing here with loving encouragement and have been amazed by the friends I read in blogville. Recently, a few of you have posted letters to your younger selves and because I know I can be a bit opaque about myself, am stepping out a bit. 55 - less limits. My offering of friendship follows as I share with you as you have with me...

Fifty-five and still trying to learn not to brake
If I were to write a letter to myself on this birth day 55 years ago,
I’d probably say

You may still be a ball of confusion at 55
But your heart is held and you are still working on saving your soul
Plaid skirt memories, eau de incense, confessions and meatless Fridays
Will be essential to your narrative, your mythology, your still-unanswered questions
Californian by birth, and Chicagoan by father’s work transfer
You’ll love the sea and the city – perhaps the restless rhythm that still drives the train
You will have too many interests to be perfected by one
You will plunge, sometimes without thinking, from one adventure to the next
The arts will take hold of your spirit early
Music and literature particularly
You’ll major in English, but become captivated by American history

Your Irish New York mother will whisper "Nixon’s NOT the One"
And that will mold your political views
She will later become a Republican
Who considers returning to the big tent when George W. Bush is elected

Five more siblings, the youngest born while you were almost 16
You will open a neighborhood "daycare" in 8 th grade summer
Arts and Crafts - Hide and Seek

All preparations yet unknown for the day
You will become a mother in Denver
He’s a preemie and you both will receive last rites
Mea culpa, mea culpa
He will be healthy and a jewel in your small crown
No daughters except by their consent to join the circle
But grandchildren too will call you to join them on the see-saw
Fortune usually smiles

Your father, a Great Valley boy from California, will probably vote for Nixon
His love is quiet and constant, his love of puns your dinner challenges
He will provide by
Building security and grand disc and sled slides down the backyard hill
He hoses them down in cold Chicago winters to make them icy
You like to fly

You will be fearless, a fence walker, a thunderstorm watcher from the roof
You will be fearful of monsters behind the door – your imagination so real
That your mother will heed your tale and evacuate the house
Only to discover it was only the ironing board.

You will have your heart broken and break a heart or two
But fortune smiles – there will be few cads

Sometimes late at night
You will wonder who is there inside
You will enjoy silliness and performing song parodies for retirement parties
Initiating high school yearbook days at work
Dancing or working behind the scenes in the community theater

You will write, but are mortified when you find that others have read your journals
It will send you deeper into yourself, stifle self expression
Until the internet shows you others who write from the heart, stepping out of fear
And your loving mate encourages your exploration and courage

You will be confused about being a woman in America, second class passage ticket
You will be a tomboy, but born too early for Title 9 and braless does not become you
Of all the Little Women, you are most like Jo who writes and cavorts and
Wonders when her time will come and sometimes must bite her wicked tongue
You will be fascinated by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, his mad brilliant wife
You will love the Beatles and Broadway

You’ll drive a semi through Indiana - one of the flat states --
During the first 11 months of your first marriage to the father of your child
You’re unlicensed, but it’s 2 am and he is tired
Note: When you live in a truck, there are no backyards, only byways and
You will hit all 48 connected states
Your husband will guard the shower at truckstops – affirmative action not yet implemented

Sometimes your life will seem somnambulent
Like the night when camping as a child in Big Sur
Sleepwalking, your consciousness dimly on
You will watch yourself venture into a neighboring campsite
And sit at a picnic table with two strangers
Two women who will finally notice your true state when your answers are illogical
And gently let you lead them back to your sleeping bag
When you see them in the campground bathroom next morn,
There is an off deja vu moment
When they greet you as known

When you are cocooned and vulnerable
Fortune again smiles
You will meet an honorable and complex man
You want to live with and join in the lights and shadows of riverdancing to the end sea
Today you were born, that day you will be given the chance for a redo
A second act in an American life – so there Fitzgerald!

The dance will begin and he will corral your heart
But he always leaves the gate open for he knows your sometimes too solitary observer nature
Stubbornly requires the cave and not the fire this time

You will be 55 and still trying to choose what is right
For you and those you love and those you still imagine are connected in the world
There will be no encores, so better commence
Understand yourself, forgive yourself, celebrate with humor, dance and kiss

Get busy living or get busy dying - it will be your choice.
For everything old may yet be new again

PS: Cubs will win the World Series!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Brush Up Your Shakespeare

With apologies to two superb wordsmiths, Cole Porter and William Shakespeare, I couldn't resist giving Palin a little advice from an English major via a Porter tune.  A bastardization, but not 'refudiation,' of a great song from Porter's Kiss Me, Kate, well, that's my best shot today.  Enjoy Porter's real McCoy (and not real McCain) in the YouTube offering of today.

Dear Sarah
Re:  How to brush up your Shakespeare

Some voters today in society go for thinly veiled bigotry
So to win their hearts one must quote with ease
Bush and Cheney, if you please
One must know Dobson, and believe me, ya' know
Bill Kristol and, of course, dear Karl Rove
Cuz unless you read papers and know who's the Pope,
Lamestream newsfolk will judge you a dope.

But to really grab 'em all
And to really start 'em ravin'
Quote the poet people call
The Bard of Stratford on Avon...

(Refrain) Brush up your Shakespeare
Start quoting him now
Brush up your Shakespeare
And your voters, you will wow.

When the birthers need proddin', you betcha
Wave the flag and it's guaranteed "getcha"
If they ever start doubting your sanity
Brush them off with some Juliet on Hannity

If a move to the White House is all right
You can rest every 'leventh or Twelfth Night
Brush up your Shakespeare
And they'll all kow-tow


Just recite an occasional sonnet
Puts a bee in that Couric chick's bonnet
When your ghost-written tweets they are reading
Some MacBeth lines you should be a feeding

If your book sales are starting to flounder
Quote some Hamlet, then link to the Founders;
Brush up your Shakespeare
And they'll all kow-tow


If you can't hit with "Drill, baby, drill 'em,"
Try Lear's Fool and you're going to kill 'em.
When defensive 'bout errors, be so bold
To declare revenge dish is best served cold.

When the world is your stage, better make hay,
Cuz to signify nothing's now OK.
Brush up your Shakespeare
And they'll all kow-tow.

Monday, July 19, 2010

On Dragonflies and Witnessing

An unexpected road trip brings unanticipated reminders of Tim.

I took my friend Kristin's book, a collection of her Yahoo 360 blogs, entitled Dirty Laundry & Leaps of Faith. In one blog written after her mother-in-law died, she describes a praying mantis that rather unusually hovered for an hour in her backyard after landing on her young daughter's shoulder. She writes, "It reminded me of a show I had watched awhile back - about spirits who have passed on using animals to visit the people they loved...The spiritual translator explained that the person is not inside the animal or bug, but that they use them to reach out and let you know they are present."

I don't know many things about eternity with certainty, but reading this reminded me of a similar experience. I do know that within days after Tim died, as I planned for his cremation and memorial service by the river, I had two such experiences with a blue dragonfly hovering almost protectively near me. My mind was a blur and I took a break from the rather manic nature of planning and making decisions and contacting friends and family to walk Buster by a lake in the park and calm my mind. A large blue dragonfly seemed to follow us along the shoreline. Later in the week, holding vigil during Tim's cremation which took some time, I stepped outside to sit by a meditation fountain. Again, a blue dragonfly hovered and stayed. It was unusual enough for me
to note. Was this a coincidence or a projection of my mind? It didn't matter - I have taken the blue dragonfly to heart and mind and invested it with meaning.

It is not a story I've told, so when I arrived in Idaho to drop off the Amazon Grandchild for a visit with her cousin, I was startled to see that the Welcome on the doormat was graced with three blue dragonflies.

On the way home, I plugged in the I-Pod and set it on random. It's a twelve plus hour drive straight through and both Buster and I were hot, tired and cranky due to one-lane closures and a drive across Nevada fighting crosswinds, headwinds and dust storms. As we entered California, the topography is suddenly green and fragrant with pine and the random genie settled on an old playlist of love songs Tim had once burned for me. Of the three days worth of songs that I've loaded into that machine, it settled there. As Tim would say at synchonistic moments, "Perfect."

Tim and I blogged on Y360 from early 2006 right up until his death on July 20, 2007. I posted a few more blogs, but Yahoo pulled the plug on that blogging platform later that year, so all our blogging friends, who were such a part of our life, were scattered to the winds. Another loss in a year of loss.

One of Tim's favorite movie quotes was from the movie Shall We Dance? Susan Sarandon's character's speech goes as follows: "We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet... I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness'."

And so, I approach another July 20 mindful of my promise to be his witness. I offer one of Tim's blogs, one that particularly comforts me as I think of changes and transmutations and light and also gives a glimpse into Tim's mind as he pondered mortality just three months before he died. I also offer a YouTube created by one of our dear Y360 friends, Zee Zee Writer, that beautifully memorializes Tim. Finally, my enduring thanks to another friend, Megs, who preserved his Y360 blog by converting and saving in WORD. The photo that graces this entry is the Tim equivalent of the JFK riderless horse - my visual representation of part of his essence for the memorial service.   I live now expecting to see dragonflies and the man in the moon and knowing that when I remember, for that moment he lives.


Tim's Y360 Profile Statement: "I'm deeply interested in the current state of humanity, from politics to popular culture. We're on the cutting edge of evolution and are collectively responsible for everything. That which we do unto the least of us, we do unto ourselves."

March 4, 2007 Blog by Tim Carroll

Time is a concept by which we measure our delusion. The idea that only the here and now actually exist is commonly and poetically expressed. But isn't this also the case in physics? Einstein's development of the Theory of Relativity ushered in a new conception of time and space, in which the existence of the ether (constant space) and constant time was dismissed.  Einstein demonstrated that the pure moment "Now" exists only at the speed of light. This means that only Light is truly in the here and now.

Eastern mysticism holds that the one Light is all that exists and that the sense of separateness and materiality is the product of perceptions adulterated by the illusion of duality, of time and space. This is far more consistent with what is known about the physics of the Universe than Western religious thinking. The craving for immortality is outward directed, when the available path to eternity doesn't lie in time or space travel; it lies within the Self, in the moment and place that contains all moments and places.

Time is typically thought of in a timeline fashion, the moment "Now" being an infinitesimally precise zero point sandwiched between the past and future. In this framework, it's the past and future that stretch off into infinity, while the present is the almost nonexistent separation between the two. Yet most would agree that only the present actually exists. The past no longer exists and the future exists only in the imagination. The past is actually only a function of memory, while the future represents anticipation.

In human terms, the fastest person has a perceptual lag of at least 1/30 second, meaning that the "Now" being experienced is already in the past. That is as close as a person can get to being in the moment, neurologically. But mystics have reported transcendental states of consciousness in which the present moment is experienced as an overlay, encompassing all time, past and future. This singular, pervasive moment embodies the enormous vistas of poets. Eternity is not all time; it is no time. It is the internal Timewave Zero.

Sanskrit has the same word for both time and death. Time is the destroyer. It is the principle that all things will pass, eventually. But the core scientific tenet that there is never a gain or loss of something, only a transformation, provides a superior context for understanding the supposed ravages of time. Liberated from the seduction of time-based thinking, one sees that all time and space is contained in the only moment and the only place that exist. There is no time that is not "Now." There is no place that is not "Here." The personal, internal alchemy of seeing everything as Light is the key to being where one already is, here and now.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Missionaries for Dinner & Other False Promises

If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner. ~~ H. L. Mencken

Republicans used to be organized and moderate.  But there has been a distressing exodus of otherwise moderates in the GOP to supporting the lunatic but vocal fringe of birthers, American exceptionalism, and Obama is a (Socialist, Communist, Nazi...fill in your favorite meaningless epithet). 

The evolution of John McCain's descent into the nadir of pandering is almost complete.  Since Carolina voters were push-polled by Bush during the 2000 primary, a campaign trick that relied on innuendo, Southern fears and false information about the Bush opponent, McCain has steadily learned the Rovian playbook and moved increasingly to the Right in his campaigns and public policy.

I thought the nadir of his RINO (Republican in Name Only) pandering transformation was the selection of an inexperienced, no-nothing, fame-loving, evangelical Christianist, mother of a special needs child and grandmother-to-be as the running mate who, if elected, would be one fragile heartbeat away from the Presidency.  I guess I still haven't forgiven him for thrusting her onto the national stage and providing her with a platform to make millions off ignorant people through her ghost-written books and largely ghost-written tweets and FB plants.  She is an expert at telling the cannibals there will be missionaries for dinner.

McCain continues to degenerate - flip-flopping on immigration and increasingly taking hawkish stances on American imperialism.  His incumbency is in doubt and his opposition is a right wing flag-waving radio celebrity.  Such is the sorry state of politics in America today.  Election season is here.

YouTube:  Election Year Rag (Steve Goodman)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Amazonian Leaps

I write to tell my grandchildren where they come from, and what their grandparents were up to , and I hope they will in their own way continue.  I invite anyone else to listen in.
      ~~ Arthur Hertzberg

My yahooligan blogger friends know this character well - the Amazon Grandchild.  What else is one to call someone whose parents both scrape the sky at 6'3?"  I'm a Lilliputian in comparison at 5'3" and my ability to use my adult size to intimidate - well those days were numbered the day she was born.  I've been fascinated with her ever since.

Whenever I visit the Bay Area, our ritual is the same:  go to Starbucks for coffee and hot chocolate or juice, walk Buster along San Francisco Bay, take Buster to the dog park, and finally take AG to the children's park.  I dare not forget.  Someone once said that only elephants and grandchildren never forget.  And so it goes...

I'm Nana - not because of any peculiar resemblance to the kindly St. Bernard caretaker in Peter Pan, but because Tim suggested that was a good name for me.  Her role in my life was sealed when Tim considered potential losses in my life after his death and confirmed with my step-daughter that my place as Nana was honored and would survive even as Tim would not.  Sacred promises - sacred obligations.  His DNA runs through her.  Only one reason she is so special to me.

My life in my Nana role now includes a carseat permanently strapped into the far back bench seat of my Dodge roadtrip van named Vanna White, a house full of Disney DVDs, coloring books and fingerpaints, bottles of bubbles at the ready, sand toys, small metal vehicles and a net basket that holds the overflow.  My computer bulges and groans from the digi-weight of pictures taken from birth;  she is my favorite human subject and even now endures my call for "just one more" as if she understands and tolerates my rather overbearing need to photodocument her as if she were an exotic alien.  Nana!

She recently spent a solo week visiting with me and Buster - an invigorating, 24/7 demanding, humorous week with a five, almost-six year old who had just recently learned to swim.  As you can see, she is a rather fearless character.  Her waterbro grandpa would be proud.  Hot fun in the summertime...Cannonball!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Golden Door

"The New Colossus"

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
                   Emma Lazarus, 1883

Another July 4th, another chance to evaluate the grand experiment, this America of ours.  When Emma Lazarus wrote this poem, the nation was only a few decades from the formal end of the Civil War.  The same war-originating tensions - between states rights and federalism, between property rights and individual rights, betwen the entitled and the disenfranchised , between the educated and the ignorant, between the Northern European settlers and immigrants - were tensions existing since the Founders first wrestled with the question of nation-forming.  Although the Civil War ended, the remnants of confederacy never really disappeared.  Yet, the nation survived and prospered.

These historic tensions are evident today.  The complexity and nuanced compromises of the Founders' positions resulted in a flexible structure which would serve the ages but, by its nature, would also be open to interpretations.  I don't know that the Founders, men educated by the Enlightenment, would be amused by the likes of Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin simplifying these very nuanced and sophisticated founding documents to support shallow, uninformed and divisive political postures. 

Today's America is fractured, divisive, browning demographically.  It is a nation still wrestling with its founding tensions, a nation struggling to shake off a corporatization that mirrors a monarchy, a nation with growing pains and facing modern challenges to redefine its place in the world.  The neo-confederacy is re-emerging into the sunlight and we dare not squint.  What is at stake is the heart of America, that nation symbolized by the Lady who invites all to reject the old model and walk through the golden door.

Artwork:  LeRoy Neiman