Monday, November 24, 2008

Heads or Tails

Vulture-a-Month: November 2008

Food for thought. American Thanksgiving is coming up this week. A time to give thanks for the things in our lives that are meaningful to us.

To me, it seems like it should also be a time to reflect on what it means to be grateful. And for that matter, what is the other side of thankful? Not the opposite, but the other side of the same positive coin. I think the answer is the ideal of forgiveness.

Flip the coin.

Heads - be grateful. Tails - forgive.

This Thanksgiving week, I challenge myself to be more mindful of both sides of this potent coin.

Some of the baggage is that it's a namby pamby thing that doormats do. But from everything I've managed to read and see and understand, forgiveness is a brawny, muscular exercise that I kind of imagine someone with a great passion for life and a great hearty sort of disposition being able to take on.
~Michael McCullough on Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippet, Getting Revenge and Forgiveness, aired November 6, 2008

* * *

Forgiveness, I feel, means not to forget what they have done. But forgiveness means do not keep your negative feeling towards them. So, as far as their action is concerned, sometimes you should use your intelligence. You deliberately have to take countermeasure, but without negative feeling.

~H. H. the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, in an interview with Paul Ekman

I spotted this on Wil Wheaton's site and couldn't resist cross posting it here from YouTube. Star Trek meets Monty Python. Hilarity ensues. Much goodness if, like me - you both recognize every scene in the video, and you're known to blurt out quotes from Python sketches at seemingly random moments.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

architectural memento mori

forsaken in plymouth 2
Originally uploaded by tearapen
One of the things that fascinates me about certain regions of the US is how many falling down houses there are out there being reclaimed by nature, an inch or two at a time.

You rarely see something like this where I come from in San Diego, CA. Land is usually just too valuable to let something fall down without quickly replacing it with something new and sell-able. And here in less densely populated Minnesota, such sights are still few and far between.

With this photo, flickr user tearapen has brilliantly captured my fascination for these abandoned homes. I adore the contrast between the domestic decay and the bright, sunny blue sky. It was taken in Plymouth, North Carolina. You can almost hear the spirit of the house sighing about it's loneliness, and the aches of age and disrepair. The vines give it a slightly sinister look, as though it's in the embrace of a creeping, irresistible power that will eventually pull it in into the soil; gone with only a few rusted nails and shards of glass for future archaeologists to find in the traces of its foundation.

Tearapen's got a great eye for composition. I highly recommend surfing over to his flickr stream and giving the rest of his work a browse.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Roomba Driver

Been a long day. I so needed this. Maybe you had a long day, too. So here it is.

My cats would SO never sit calmly through this.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Look into my eyes

Beauty in the unexpected. Beauty in the bizarre. Beauty can be found in the bits of nature most people overlook, or intentionally look away from.

As an example, Opo Terser's flickr photostream is chock full of some of the most truly awesome macros I've seen in ages. They're not safe viewing for true arachnophobes. Though, if you were going to face your fear of spiders, these images could be the place to start.

I especially love all of the stories Opo Terser includes with his photos; describing his interactions with his tiny living models.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What he said

Yeah. What Keith said. Except, unlike Keith, I DO have family members and good friends who are either gay, lesbian, or transgendered; some of whom live in California.

I can has heroes

funny pictures of cats with captions
See more lolcats

Who is an everyday hero? Firefighters. Hospice workers. People who devote their lives to saving domestic animals from neglect, or endangered animals from extinction. People who face the uglier side of society to help those most in need. Those brave, anonymous men and women who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe, bring the lights back on after a storm, and bring us news of our world under dangerous conditions. People who stand up for the "little guy", and people who do what's right, instead of what's easy.

I have quite a few personal everyday heroes. Just off the top of my head, the first few who come to mind are: My oncologist and his nurse, Joan. My cousin, who has served our country with honor for almost two decades. My 90 year old grandmother, a strong, compassionate, and truly beautiful human being. And my husband, who has stood by me through my health problems and prolonged recovery; who plays with me, comforts me, laughs with me, and tells me he loves and appreciates me both with his words and deeds.

Friday, November 7, 2008

musing on the inauguration

I'm hoping Maya Angelou is chosen to speak on January 20th, like she did for Clinton's inauguration.

I looked up her poem for that day on the googles yesterday. My friend and I were discussing our memories of where we were when Clinton was inaugurated, and I remembered how moved I was by listening to Angelou as her words bloomed into that cold, bright Washington DC morning. I was in my little studio apartment in San Diego, sitting on my bed, watching that event on the TV, with it's rabbit ear antenna pointing toward the ceiling. I remember where I was sitting, and the quality of the light in the room, like it was yesterday.

We mulled over the realization that - since we both remembered where we were during Clinton's first inauguration so clearly - Obama's would be one of those impossible to forget, tattooed-onto-your-memory kind of events that we looked forward to with hearts trembling with joy.

Re-reading "On The Pulse of Morning" again yesterday, with a mind to our newly minted President Elect with his hand raised and speaking the oath of office, made me tear up.

* * *

Maya Angelou

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no more hiding place down here.

You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.
The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.

Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.

Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,
Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.
The River sings and sings on.

There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.
Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the River.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.

Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers--desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.

I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours--your Passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes, into
Your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My prediction

Ok, I used the prediction tool at and this is what I came up with. We'll see how far off the mark I am soon enough.

Election Day 2008

6:30 AM: Expanding on a tweet I posted to Twitter. My alarm woke me from a dream that I was moving out of a very unhappy, angry haunted house. It's a house I've had many nightmares about in the past. Dreams about this house can go on for hours, and this was no exception. I woke briefly at 3 something AM, and again around 5, and each time I was working on cleaning up a mess in this miserable house, in preparation for moving away.

In the last portion of the dream - just before my alarm woke me for the day - were done packing, our things had been moved, and now we were cleaning up behind ourselves. We tore down tattered curtains, letting in fresh air and sunlight. The light showed that the house was crumbling and cobwebs covered nearly every surface. The previous owner had made haphazard renovations that I was just noticing. I clearly remember noting out loud, as a piece of disintegrating particle board broke off in my hand, "I don't think this is up to code."

The resident poltergeist grew angry, the walls shook as it howled. And as the dream took a familiar turn toward becoming a full-blown nightmare, I suddenly found the inner resolve to resist and hollered, "Stop." First, in nightmare fashion, I couldn't find my voice. But then something shifted, and I was able to say, repeatedly and with confidence, "Stop it. Stop. Stop."

And it stopped. It wasn't gone. It was still angry. But the walls stilled, the angry wailing quieted, and we were able to go back to the cores our move out of the house required. In the dream I knew that before we finished moving the spirit would probably roar again, but that I could stand up to it, and make it back down.

I've decided I'm going to keep a running log of the day.

7:15 AM: My mister calls me from our polling place to let me know that as the polls opened, there were about 150 people already in line ahead of him. I go outside in my short sleeves and bare feet to give the squirrels some nuts. Even the chipmunks have come out of their hidey-holes in search of goodies.

We tied the record for the date yesterday by topping out at 74°F. Weather predictions for today are for another beautiful day. Highs of 70°F and fair. 20 to 30 degrees warmer than the last three presidential election days here.

7:45 AM: The morning fog in my brain is starting to clear. The morning news is on TV. Every commercial is a political ad. CBS is showing Barack Obama in his polling booth, casting his vote, with his daughter at his side.

I'm going to rustle up some breakfast and then log in to get some work done. I'll try to beat part of the crowd at the polls by going in at an odd hour, between morning rush hour and lunch. But I will be taking a book to read while I'm waiting. I assume there will be a line, no matter what time I show up.

8:00 AM: My mister just called. He got through the line fairly quickly. The optical scanning machine listed his vote as #138, so his estimate wasn't far off. He says the line is down to nearly nothing now. I'm going to throw on some shoes and zip out there now.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Please, California, vote NO on Prop 8

Ok, I tried to post this to my blog twice a few minutes ago, and it seemed to go nowhere both times. Trying again.

Of all the places I've lived, California is "back home" in my heart. I lived there for most of the period from 1977 through 2003. I met my husband there, and I got married in California. I'm proud of my home state.

So I've been watching anxiously as election day draws near, and Californians prepare to vote on Proposition 8 (2008), titled Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry.

I ask the voters back home, please, please vote NO on Proposition 8. Don't write discrimination into the California constitution.

If you're on the fence, I ask you to watch this video and give it some thought.