Thursday, November 30, 2006

Good Planets Update

A winter sky over a winter yard-- Sundown 4:00 pm
Roger and I started Good Planets last August after a dear friend of his living in Australia sent us a wonderful photo of a lorikeet. We wanted to post her photo, and then it occurred to us that it might be a good idea to invite other folks to submit their photos. We didn't plan on starting a "carnival," we just love looking at photos of our beautiful planet. We thought it could be enlightening to turn our blog over on Saturdays (since we weren't using it!) for photos that depicted the beauty of our earth.

We were absolutely delighted with the results, and now Good Planets has its own Flickr site, thanks to the incredible work and diligence of Pam at Tortoise Trail. She uploaded all 264 photos with quotes and attribution, in easy accessible sets. It was quite a labor of love, and we are absolutely grateful for her generosity of spirit and time. I hope you will go over and take a look. It's quite a sight to see all the photos assembled in one place. The artistry is magnificent and the views of earth absolutely stunning.

For the month of December, divajood has graciously agreed to host Good Planets on her blog Journeys with Jood. I hope you will send her a photo or two of the beauty you see outside your windows, on your trails, in your yard, or anyplace else you take a good long look around. Send your photos to jkblue at cox dot net for Saturday's post.

We'd like to express our gratitude to everyone who has contributed to Good Planets. Our lives have been enriched by what you see. A special note of heartfelt thanks to Pam for hosting in November and sending Good Planets into the stratosphere, and to divajood for her willingness to take it on.

If you're interested in hosting Good Planets in January (or any month!) please let us know.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Coldest Day Ever

We have been surprised by how the snow pulls us outside to play.
No matter how cold it is, we go. We walked down to the creek in the morning even though the thermometer still said 20 F (-6 C) at 9:30. We don't have proper footgear for this kind of trudging around on icy terrain, but we didn't let that stop us. Two pairs of socks, one heavy wool, helped keep us warm-ish. I had slight case of frostbite 20 years ago, so I tend to be very cautious about these things. (Actually the doctor said I had chilblains. For a moment I thought I had become a character in a 19th century british novel.) The only treatment was to exercise that one poor toe until it was back in the pink. It took a while, but it definitely came back.
So we bundled up, put on the boots we had warming up in front of the heater, and hked down to the creek. It was as beautiful as we hoped it would be. Quiet too.
We walked up through the trees and along the top of the bluff and found a pair of eagles in a snag above the water. We heard them before we saw them, whistling and trilling to each other. They looked so grand sitting there, with Port Townsend behind them and the bay at their feet.

Kate Wolf sang, "Days like flowers bloom and fade, and they do not come again. We only have these times we're living in."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Weather Report

Morning rosy light on snowy garden

Finches waiting for their turn at the feeder

Hawk hiding in the snowy branches

Shades of white, gray, and black in the late morning

We've had two days of snow, which have accumulated somewhere between six and seven inches. This is our third winter in the pacific northwest and the most snow we've seen here. We've heard it's unseasonably warmer in other parts of the country, in places where it should be cold by now. My older brother is having 70 degree (F) in Charlottesville, Virginia. I think we're having some unusual weather, how about you?

morning update at 6 am. it is 20, yes, two zero, degrees outside. brrrrrr. yesterdays slushy roads are gonna be solid ice today. we will not be driving. i don't think we can even get out the driveway.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Black and White

We seem to have entered a period where we have nothing to say. No, that's not quite right. I think there is so much to say that it seems absolutely overwhelming. It is plain crazy to write a post and not mention all the things that are confronting our planet, our world. But to actually consider all of that, and then write something about the beautiful snow and the heron in the yard, is insane.

I could never play the game-show Jeopardy. Contestants need to have all the answers the moment they read the clue. My brain doesn't work that way, that quickly. Answers take time. Connections require thinking, percolation, a glass of wine, maybe even some laughter or tears. Oh yes, here's why Alexander Litvinenko's death is so outrageous, and outrageously horrific. Did we need to know how Polonium 210 can kill so quickly? That there is something so lethal and small, that it's like a tiny nuclear bomb going off in the body? How would it be if someone were to drop some of that into the water supply of a major city? Did you know that there is Polonium 210 in cigarette smoke? Or that one gram of Polonium 210 can produce 140 watts of power. Pick me, Mr. Trebak, I know the answers about Po.

The Washington Post told us that despite what our administration is ignoring about global climate change, fauna and flora are taking their cues from the planet, and there is a trend to move northward. And those things that already live north, well, there's nowhere else to go. There is the inevitable death and species extinction. "The magnitude of impacts is so overwhelming that many biologists are now calling this the single most important problem they need to work on," said Parmesan. "You can save all the habitat you want, but if it is not any good climatically, what is the point?"

We watched a documentary on Global Dimming. It claimed that soot and pollution have actually masked the real impact of greenhouse gases and global warming. There is a good and important environmental movement engaged in cleaning up soot and pollution, but the impact of that newly clean air may ultimately reveal the true devastation of how hot our planet has become.

We are thinking about all of this.

And, notice, I have not even mentioned the debacle that is Iraq or Jordan's King Abdullah's comments about three civil wars in the mid-east by 2007.
Heron perched by the pond in snow
We had snow all day on Sunday, and it really was beautiful. If beautiful is a stark black and white snapshot, which of course, sometimes it is.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Clan of the Bobcat

Sunrise Thanksgiving Morning
Our plans for Thanksgiving changed a couple of times in the days before the holiday. We made plans with friends, we broke them. We made other plans and those changed as well. We settled in with the idea of staying home just the two of us. We've done that before. We like each other's company. We cook for each other like we're cooking for our favorite beloveds.

The day before Thanksgiving, I called our neighbors, the ones who see the bobcat too. We often communicate with each other when there's been a sighting. I asked Karen if she had seen the bobcat lately. She said that she had a fantastic sighting last week on the night after the big storm. She had awakened at around 4:00 am to the sound of something knocking against the house. She turned on the outside lights and saw the bobcat sauntering past her window. It was quite nonchalant when it stopped by the bushes, sat down, and began licking one paw. Not a care in the world. She surmised that the sound that woke her was the cat chasing something and not paying particular attention to where it was heading. She said it then walked the path between their house and ours, and disappeared into the woods.

Our neighbors have adult children who live in the Seattle area, so I assumed they would be spending their Thanksgiving with them. Turns out, they were staying home, just the two of them too. Mmmm. So, Karen proposed that we combine our Thanksgiving feasts and eat together at their house. What a wonderful idea. Just pack up our dinner and walk the path between our house and theirs, the bobcat path. That's a fine, low impact commute.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. There is much to be grateful for-- our beautiful planet, the wildlife we see, the food we grow, the open-hearts of good neighbors and friends. We agreed that in our tiny corner of the world, here on the peninsula, we're a little four-person tribe. We are the bobcat clan. Works for me.

Today is the last day to send in your beautiful earth photos to Pam. If you're planning on submitting something for Good Planets Saturday, please send your photos to tortoisetrail at gmail dot com.

Thanks everyone, have a great weekend, and we'll see y'all on Monday.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Northwest Thanksgiving

This poor Northern Flicker was nearly upended by the wind Wednesday, but still held on. I was watching her through the telephoto when the wind kicked up. I clicked the shutter, and here's what she looked like. I love the fanning of her tail, and those soft reds. No turkey here today, but an acknowledgement of all the things we are grateful for. There really are too many to list. Ain't life grand?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Surprises in Light and Shadow

There was a huge shadow of wings as a bird landed in the yard, not more than fifteen feet from our windows. I jumped up to look out. I don't know what I expected to see. With that wingspan--an eagle? Wouldn't that have been something. But there it was, a big ol' Great Blue Heron stopping by to see how yummy our goldfish might be. As I watched, it suddenly took off in quick flash of blue-gray wings. I didn't think it had seen me, but perhaps it had.
Our cat Bonsai was staring lazily out the sliding doors into the yard. He likes to sit there and watch the birds coming and going. He doesn't like the rainy, wet weather we've been having so he's quite content to just sit and watch. I watched him for a moment, and and then settled back down on the couch, to work on a post about the amazing sun showers we've been having (click on the above photo to see the shiny rain!). Suddenly Bonsai was staring with some alertness and obvious agitation. I teased him a bit, "You're silly, Bon-boy, that big heron is gone. So goofy, always seeing what's not really there." Like all cats, he does respond to cues that are not always visible, or let's face it, real.

Bonsai got up and slunk across the living room in that way that he does when something really does scare him. Was there something out there in the yard, more than his feline imagination? I looked out. There were no more herons to be seen. What was it? What was it? I scanned the edges for details.

Oh, there it was, sitting just inside the border trees, looking right into the yard, the thing that scared away both the heron and our kitty cat, the wild thing that I love the most: a beautiful bobcat. My heart leapt. We hadn't seen one since last April. There it was, perfect little tiger face golden and black striped, barely discernible in the shadow of the trees. I was up again fumbling with the camera, but that cat was out of focus, and moving. I tried, but it was gone.

I ran outside anyway, just in case. I ran to the left toward the garden and flushed a Cooper's Hawk from the trees. No cat. I ran back over to the right, and saw it again hightailing on the other side of the fence.

How much time had elapsed? All of five minutes, if that much. Full of joy and adrenaline. A twinge of disappointment that I didn't get the shot, which was easily assuaged by the image of that wild little face.

Within minutes the heron returned and spent some hunt time by the pond. Bonsai decided it was safer to hide in the bedroom for the rest of the afternoon. I rewrote this post, wondering if you can get excited about this bobcat sighting without the photo? I hope so.
Pam of Tortoise Trail is hosting Good Planets on Saturday. She's asked if people would please send photos early, because she will be busy with festivities on Thanksgiving. If you know what you'll be sending in, send it today! Her email is tortoisetrail at gmail dot com. This will be Pam's last weekend hosting Good Planets, then divajood of Journeys with Jood will pick it up December 2nd. Thanks everyone.
Photo from the original post about sun showers!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Photos Lost and Found

After the rain and wind stopped last week, and the power was restored, we turned on our old PC, the one that Roger's been using like mad lately to do his Habitat for Humanity database, and found that the computer was dead. Mmm. The first thing Roger discovered when he took the box apart was a fried power supply. The computer had been turned off, but not unplugged. The power surge must have really surged in a big way. We went to the local computer repair shop and purchased a new power supply. It turned the box on, but the monitor stayed black. We rigged a way to test the monitor by wiring it to his old mac Powerbook. The monitor worked, which meant that the hard-drive must have been fried as well. That was really a shame because I've been using the PC as my backup for photographs. I just put 2000 photos on it about two weeks ago, and deleted them from my Mac iBook. Bummer.

Not every picture is worth saving. I really know that. I just don't know how to sort out the good from the bad, unless the photo is completely out of focus. I think any photo has potential. So, I save them, all of them.
Even this picture, which really is about as non-descript as it gets, provides a really fine background for an experiment in Photoshopping. We took a walk Saturday and were surprised by the sight of Mt Rainier on the eastern horizon. It really didn't seem like a clear enough day to have that kind of 100 mile visibility. But there it was, looking so much like Mt Fuji bathed in soft pink sunset light, even at 11:00 in the morning. I snapped a few pictures just to see what details I might find with the zoom lens.
I started Photoshopping by selecting just the mountain and playing with the hue and saturation, trying to see if I could bring out any information that was hiding in the pixels. Unfortunately, nothing interesting was to be found. Just more gray.
So, I gave up trying for enhanced realism, and plunged headlong into color. That green mountain is what Photoshop gave me when I did an auto-curve on it. I thought it was dazzling. So I auto-curved the sea and the island of trees. It was stunning to find this brilliance in such a dull photo. So, I kept at it.
The sky now seemed much too muted and understated for these new colors. A simple auto-curve adjustment added this brilliant wash of blues, greens, tangerines and pinks.

Suddenly, I wanted to see birds. So, I took this mallard pair from another photo, and sent them flying through this image.

Yes, I was finally satisfied.

See why I save even the dullest photos? Well, I mean saved. I'll just have to start anew by adding to the 2700 I still have my iBook.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Deer and the Golden Delicious

I think I hear "merci"
It started out the way most things do, innocently. I had no plans to feed the deer. I was cleaning up the orchard, collecting all the fallen, rotten apples. Some I put on the northside of the house, others I just tossed over the fence. One day there were two piles of golden delicious apples, the next day they were gone. I gathered another pile and threw them out. The next day that pile was gone.

I knew some critter would eat them, but I did not plan to feed the deer. I planned to clean the yard, the deer got fed in the process. One day I went out and the doe and a yearling were there by the fence. They watched me gather the apples. I watched them watch me. I think deer should always be spoken to in french. It has something to do with their eyes. I say, "Bonjour deer, comment vas tu aujourd'hui ? Vous avez de beaux yeux". They look at me. They like hearing the softness of french. I can tell. I toss the apples over the fence. I say, "Ces pommes sont pour vous." They walk away slowly. They stop and look over their shoulders. I wave at them and say "Bon appetit, mes amis."

I know it's wrong to feed the deer, but that's what happened. Je suis désolé.

It's Friday, and you know what that means. It's time to send your beautiful photos to Pam at Tortoise Trail. She's hosting Good Planets this month, and she'd like your photos by 9:00 pm central time Friday night. If you've got a photograph that depicts the beauty of our earth, please sent it to tortoisetrail at gmail dot com. Thanks everyone, and have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

The Olympic Peninsula and western Washington have been slammed by a very powerful storm. There are trees down and power outages everywhere. We went out Wednesday morning to a dentist appointment about 30 miles away. Amazing journey. Winds gusting and leaves flying. Rains battering everything. Yet, on the entire journey we saw this beautiful rainbow. So, here's the best of Wednesday. We're without power and there is no telling when it will be back. Our laptops are running out of battery power. Roger rigged one of our old electric bike batteries as backup on our dsl modem, so we are at least not having to use our dial-up connection. But we're sitting with candles and the waning light of our laptops.
So, we'll be back when the power permits!

Thursday morning update: The power was restored at midnight. We had phoned Puget Sound Energy late Wednesday afternoon and were told power would be back for most people by Thursday and maybe some on Friday. We thought we'd be the Friday people because we are pretty out of the way.
We're thinking about buying a generator. Now that we're growing and freezing a lot of our food, we contemplated a big loss if the power was not restored within a reasonable time. We've never had a generator so anyone out there with recommendations, we'd love to hear it. We've also been talking about how to live off the grid. We didn't build this crazy, big modern house we're living in, and in many ways it doesn't lend itself easily to new ideas, and certainly not without a lot of money to invest in it.
The sun is shining brightly this morning. We haven't seen it for days. We'll probably go out for a hike at some point, and take a good look at how this recent storm changed the landscape. We read this morning that Seattle has gotten twice as much rain already as it typically gets for the month of November. It's interesting to consider that on the heals of the hottest and driest summer. Makes me think of global climate change, how about you?

Shades of Gray

The calendar says November, the temps say winter. We're in the thick of it, having weathered several blustery storms these past few days. We're actually on target for getting our average rainfall and then some. November is the month where our eyes begin to notice and discern varying shades of gray, looking for the play of filtered sunlight behind the darkened clouds.

Roger has been spending most of his free indoor time working on a Microsoft Access database project, trying to create something that will streamline the data entry for his Habitat for Humanity volunteer work. He loves this kind of project. In the recent past, he created databases for clients in Santa Cruz, once creating a very large one designed to keep track of student infractions and misconduct for the local university. What fun. He was using Filemaker Pro at the time, which he thinks is really an easier application to work with and much more intuitive than Access. But you build database programs with the applications you have, not the applications you want. Gosh, that may be one of the best things dear old Rummy ever gave to us.
I, on the other hand, am much more frivolous with my time. When I stay inside I tend to play with Photoshop. I do run outside to see if the digital camera can actually capture the shades of gray and even hints of yellow in the late fall sky. I don't think it can. I find it so hard to adequately convey the varying shades of sky colors. I took the top photo Tuesday afternoon. It was not so dark out, but in order for the camera to photograph the sky, it blackens the trees. So, I manipulated the photos with Photoshop to tease out what is really there. This would be done in a darkroom with burning and dodging techniques. In this digital process, I selected the blackened trees, or as much of them as I could, with the magic wand and did a simple auto curve correction. Wow. I was shocked. The amber needles on the western larch showed up just as they looked when I took the picture. I was really surprised to see them. I recommend enlarging each photo to see the differences. There are a few glitches where the selection wasn't perfect, and some of the tree tops look dark and splindly against the sky, or conversely lightly dusted with snow. It's an effect that I actually don't mind, so I left it in.
Another look at shades of gray in the afternoon sky
These are a few of the things we do to stay out of trouble when the weather turns cold and we're inside most of the day. There's always music on, and sometimes we just stop what we're doing and get up and dance.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


i have collected, over the years, a bunch of vinyl. as i was just a bit more stable than the parade of transient hippies who lived in my various houses, i "inherited" quite a few. i'm talking lps. albums. records. analog music. and some spoken word stuff too. they have been packed away for many years. i also have a box of cassette tapes gathering dust. and now the cds robin and i have, have also been superseded by technology. we are connected. we get our tunes on the intertubes and put them on an ipod. i just recalled that somewhere here with us in our new home is also a stack of 78 rpm records. those might not be vinyl. oh yeah, i may have one of the earliest records i bought. a wannabe beatnik kid stuck in the 'burbs, at 16 i bought a 45 rpm mini album, maybe called an ep(extended play): music from the movie "the man with the golden arm," which i had not, and still have not, ever seen.

last week i pulled out the ancient garrard turntable i got from somewhere. the needle had lost its point, so i laid out 20 bucks for a new pickup and needle. those old lps sound great! ok. here's some technical stuff. we record this stuff on a mac using a free program called audacity, by plugging one end of a patch line into the headphone outlet of our stereo amp and the other end into "line in" on the computer. we also record on our older pc using a program called sound forge, which we bought some years ago. either of these systems works for taking music from cassettes too. these programs record in wav format, and convert that into mp3. itunes will also convert a wav into an mp3.

here is a small sample of my albums, with commentary. it was tough to pick out just a few. there are lots from the sixties, seventies and eighties. rolling stones, the dead, quicksilver, jesse colin young, fever tree (??!). loads of us have those (maybe not fever tree, or cat mother and the all night newsboys) so i didn't pick any of them for pictures.

i was raised on jazz. well, not really. my parents liked music, but had no records. and thelonius monk wasn't even on their radar.

oh just look at this! you see the word "rapping?" does it sound modern? was this guy ahead of his time or what. recorded live in oakland, california, 1960.

i was there! as the crowd thinned out late at night the ushers opened the gates and let my high school buddies and me in. we were ten feet from the stage. 1959.

this record is in perfect condition. no scratches. and she is just too sexy for words.

one of my early faves. i may have worn out the grooves.

okay, i love this, but really, where did i get it?

paul is barefoot!!! is he dead?

a must for every beatnik.

one of the best live recordings ever of a great jazz standard.

i have more too.

another of my early favorites.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Right on Time

Wouldn't it be funny if we left the house and said out loud, "If we leave right now, when we get down to the creek we will see a seal for just a moment." Of course, we can't say that, but that's exactly how it happens. Had we left a minute later, there would be no seal to see. This is no cosmic leap of consciousness, but a simple recognition of how much of life is about being in the right place at the right time. Seeing a seal is very cool this far up Chimacum Creek. We've been walking the creek for a while now, getting to know its tides and seasons, and this was our first seal sighting. Had we not arrived at that moment, we simply would not have seen it. As it was, it only stayed visible for a minute, before it dove under. We never saw it again, in the half mile we hiked along the creek's edge to the bay.

I've always been intrigued by life's intersections, the ones that stop you in your tracks, and make you think about all the steps you've taken to get to this place at just this moment. They don't happen often, but when they do it's always, always memorable.

In 1991, Roger and I had one of those moments. We had flown back east to be with my cousin who had just lost her 48 year old husband to non-hodgkins lymphoma. It was a sad journey, and actually the only time we have ever been back east together. We spent a week in southern Virginia at my cousin's house, rented a car, drove up to DC, spent two days exploring the city, and then flew home to the bay area. While we were in DC, we had arranged to sit in the Senate gallery to hear whatever was being discussed that day, went to the Vietnam Memorial, the Smithsonian. We indulged in all those sights and sounds of our nation's capitol. It was fantastic.

I remembered that I had once come to Washington with my ex-husband Greg (we lived in Rhode Island) and we'd gone to the Old Post Office for lunch. There were lots of little restaurants and shops in the pavilion, and it seemed like a good place to grab a bite to eat. So, Roger and I found our way there, but when we arrived the place was absolutely packed. It's been years, so my memory might be faulty, but it seems to me there were hundreds of little tables everywhere, all full of people eating and talking at once. Chairs scraped against the floor, people moved all over, leaving tables, finding tables. It was utter chaos. We waited a bit, until a table opened and we grabbed it.

We had only been there a few minutes before the diners at the table next ours got up and left, and a new couple sat down right away. I looked up to make eye contact with the person who was seated next to Roger, and for a moment thought that I was seeing the face of the young woman who my ex-husband had started to date while he was still very much married to me. It was a face I thought I'd seen a million times, right after my ex and I had split. Katie's face was everywhere, on a flight attendant on the plane, a bike-rider zooming past me on some trail, a shopper in the local supermarket, the driver in the car next to mine at the red light. It was the face I had seen in my angriest dreams. Here it was again. Roger turned to look at the woman who had just sat down next to him, after following my gaze and the ensuing alarm in my eyes. I turned to look at the man who was now seated right next to me. Was this just one more of those trick sightings like all the others had been? No, it really wasn't! There he was, my ex-husband, sitting as close to me as if we had planned this very crazy and cozy rendezvous. He looked over at Roger and said, "So you must be Roger." Of course, I already knew who Katie was.

Ah yes, that was one of life's memorable intersections. We four sat and had lunch together, very civilly. Greg and Katie were in DC for some work that weekend, and Greg had also remembered the Old Post Office for lunch. So, we inquired about each other's families, talked about why we had come east. We laughed about the absurdity of the moment. Greg and I had only talked to each other quite briefly in the three years since I'd moved to California, and we'd gotten divorced.

Roger and I had taken an extra moment at the Vietnam Memorial, one lingering look at a name. Add the time it takes to figure out how to get from one place to another on the Metro. A table opened up in the food pavilion, and we sat down.
Harbor Seal in Chimacum Creek
Just before we walked out the door, we realized we needed one more layer of clothing to protect from the wind. We talked about a button that needed to be sewn on. We stopped and checked the mailbox. Then we headed down to the creek.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Our First Pileated Woodpecker

We saw this Pileated Woodpecker a few weeks ago. I sent a photo to Pam for Good Planets last weekend, but I wanted to post one here too. We were very excited to see this bird even though we've heard that it's a common bird, and people "see them everywhere." We had never seen one before, so it was quite a sight for us. We heard the woodpecker first with its rather raucous laughing call before we saw it fly to this tree. She stayed around long enough for me to snap three quick pics. Hey, even the common birds knock us out. I could drive you all crazy with photos of winter flocks of American Goldfinches that stay in our trees, or the Juncos, the Robins, the House Finches that flit about all day long. You're all lucky I spare you my obsessions!

What have you been seeing lately? If you've got a photo that depicts the beauty of our good planet, I hope you'll send it to Pam at Tortoise Trail for this Saturday's Good Planets post she's hosting. Her email is tortoisetrail at gmail dot com. Have a great weekend, friends.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

We Did It!

We threw the bums out!

We are absolutely thrilled that the newsies are calling Virginia for Jim Webb. We have taken both houses of Congress. Let the hearings begin.

There is so much to do in the next two years. We hope that honest elections are high on the list of things to accomplish. We never want to fear that our votes won't count and that our precious democracy has fallen to dirty tricks, robocalls, Diebold paper-less ballots, purged voters, and intimidation. This is one civil rights issue that must be resolved before 2008 elections.

We are contentedly happy to let Speaker Pelosi decide what's on the agenda. We've heard her interviewed several times on Wednesday and were impressed with her articulate and balanced approach to the tasks before her. It will be a glorious day when we first see her seated behind the President and next to the Vice-President. A woman, a grandmother, and a Democrat.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Magical Signs

Logic is not nearly as compelling as magic.
While we waited for election returns, the clouds parted and the sun blazed through. All the rain-soaked trees in the yard lit up suffused with light to their very tips. We looked out the window, astounded by this natural splendor, and took the sunlit trees as a sign. What is a sign? Anything that we see, filter through our desires, and then interpret to have affirmed them.
Magic is so easy.
Yay! The magical trees were right. At this writing, it was just announced that the Democrats have just taken back the house. Oh sunlight.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Big and The Small

We happened to check in at Firedoglake on Sunday afternoon and found an amazing conversation among the FDL crew and commenters with Keith Olbermann, Joe Wilson (who showed up at FDL unexpectedly), and Mike Stark (who was roughed up at a George Allen political appearance). It was delightful to find Mr. Olbermann responding so thoughtfully to comments and Joe Wilson talking about what our role is as citizens of our country. Imagine reading comments and finding one like this from Joe Wilson:
All I did was what Americans do every day, challenge my government on its shit. It would have been a three day story except for the reaction of the administration and its subsequent actions. Orwell once wrote: “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” We should see this in that context– the universal deceit foisted on the country by these clowns. I hope we can turn them back on Tuesday. If there is a lesson from our experience it is that one can survive and indeed thrive in opposition to our government. Our goal is to put the fear of the people back into the government and take fear of the government out of our society.
It was quite compelling to find live-in-time blogging about some of the most important issues confronting our country with comments and contributions by people who actually have a voice in the bigger conversation.

It made me think about blogging, and what the big blogs contribute to the political discourse of our country.
Pond in rain
But it also made me think about the smaller blogs and feel such gratitude for their holding down the fort, our earth, during these battles. For doing the work, planting the gardens, keeping our eyes on the water levels and quality, checking in on the forests and the oceans, the quality of food we eat, the economy and health care, and the animals we share the planet with. And I love the blogs of poets, fiction writers, parents, dreamers. There is a groundedness in the conversations we share, a bread and butter account of life on earth, and the best of the creative voices provide a flourish of beauty and astonishing insight. I find an "we're all in this together" attitude no matter what the blog's particular style.
Pond in sunset
It occurred to me that there is a stunning and important contribution we can all choose to make to the big conversation. Sometimes, quite frankly, blogging seems crazy, silly, pointless, meaningless, and absurd to me. But it could also be that all of our voices together have the profound weight and possibility of changing the world.
Illusion of ocean in sky
And really, there's nothing wrong with that.

So, let's go change the world.

Friday, November 03, 2006


It's going to be light posting here until after the elections.

Please remember that Saturday's Good Planets is being hosted by Pam at Tortoise Trail. If you've waited until the last minute to send her your stunning pics of our good earth, that last minute has arrived! Her email address is tortoisetrail at gmail dot com. Thanks for your participation and for a look at what's beautiful in your world.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

If Your Life is a Leaf

There is something to be said for listening to Leonard Cohen in 1967, when I was 15 years old. I loved words before, but after, I revered them as holy and transformative.
I always think of Cohen's "Sisters of Mercy" whenever the earth takes its seasonal tilt away from the sun, and the leaves begin their journey back to the ground.
If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn
They will bind with you love that is graceful and green as a stem.

Last April we borrowed an hour of light from morning and gave it to the end of the day. Last Sunday we paid it back. I never liked this trick of time and light. The northern hemisphere shifts away from the sun in this part of its revolution, no matter what silliness we concoct to extend days in the summer and then strangely withdraw just when the earth is already growing dark. The quickening darkness pulls the leaves from the trees, what ever time is displayed on all of the electronic screens of our lives.

Now you've seen my falling leaf photos. Yikes! they are quite hard to capture. Yes, that's ground frost in the top photo. And those three little shiny blips in the lower right, below the leaves are actually drops of water falling from the tree and catching the early morning light.

If you have a photograph that depicts the beauty of our earth, please send it to tortoisetrail at gmail dot com. Pam is hosting Good Planets at Tortoise Trail this Saturday. I hope you will show her how beautiful our earth really is.