Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Goals and Objectives

When I worked at the university I had to submit my goals and objectives to my supervisor every year. My supervisor and I would sit down and look over the previous year's list, and my employee performance evaluation was based on meeting those goals. I was always a good employee, I met my goals or I had a good (and honest) excuse for not meeting them. Budget and funding were always an issue and a formidable problem that kept what was actually achievable well below my aspirations. It's what happens in publicly funded schools. Sure, I would have liked having all the computers in the Press Center running the same software, even the same vintage operating system. I would have liked upgrading our printers and servers, but that was just not possible within our budget. We were scrupulously honest. We never used bootlegged software, although it was incredibly tempting. We kept to our license agreements, and that was that. I just knew where and how to find ways to transform what little budget we had and turn it into gold.

Now that Roger and I are retired, we don't have supervisors asking us what we see ourselves accomplishing for the year; and yet we unconsciously make lists anyway. It's not like new year's resolutions, which seem merely to be promises to stop bad behaviors. Goals and objectives seem altogether different. One day we start a list of seeds to buy for this spring's planting; we plan the layout of the garden; we make sure the water tank is full and the soaker hoses are working; we shovel the piles of manure into the garden beds; we start cleaning up the yard for spring. We know that we want to grow more tomatoes, basil, butternut and acorn squash. Things we can freeze or store over winter. We want to grow enough veggies to cover us through to our next harvest. Is this an achievable goal? We think yes.
Then there are the other goals, the ones that are a flirtation with happenstance. I want to photograph a pair of eagles in their aerial mating ritual. It may or may not happen, and it's really out of my hands, but I know where to start looking. It's on the list because some part of me thinks it's possible. Is this an achievable goal? Maybe, but requires being in the right place at the right time.

Our biggest goals are the ones that require a lot of help from our fellow citizens. We would like to see Bush and Cheney impeached. When we read the lies and litany of deceptions these two have wrought upon our nation we are absolutely fired up to fire them. If reading about what this administration has done to deny and obfuscate the studies on global climate change doesn't make you want to see their heads on a pike, then you don't breathe the same air or drink the same water as we do. Is this an achievable goal? Maybe, but requires support from everyone.

Okay, we've posted our goals and objectives. I hope you will review our work next year and evaluate our performance. Until then, what do you think, can we do it?

PS-- We've stopped captioning our photos because in new Blogger it throws off the spacing in all the text that follows. The above two photos were taken on Tuesday. In the first photo, Roger is rototilling the horse manure into the garden beds. In the second photo, it's the eagle pair I'm hoping to photograph in an amorous moment.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Home again, home again, jiggity jig, part deux

but i didn't go to market, nor buy a fat pig.

the beach of my youth, with the capitola wharf in the background, from which i caught many perch as a lad.

i did fly to california and back to visit my mother. (and boy are my arms tired..rimshot). it has been many years since last i entered the airline milieu, but i knew about "security" regulations. no toothpaste! i did not though, expect that we are all still taking off our shoes. i don't feel safer for it. i had my window seat. i had munchies. i had my favorite sunday crossword puzzle (merl reagle's) and the sunday ny times puzzle. i had a cd player and headphones. the last item was useless as i was sitting behind the engines and the roar didn't mix well with music.

enough carping. i got there and had a nice visit with me mum. she does like to dine out, but i did cook shrimp risotto one night. we spent some time at her vacation house in capitola, giving me a chance for short visits with a few friends in the santa cruz area. we also spent three nights at her residential assisted living place in cupertino. she has a one bedroom apartment, so i slept on a rollaway bed there. there is a nice dining room where breakfast and dinner are served. they gave us a separate table, as she usually dines with the same people at a full table. i've met many of her friends over the years and they all came by to say hello. i'm 64 but felt more like 24 or even 14 among so many older folks with canes and walkers.

my mom is 86 years old. she is still sharp mentally. we watched the presidential SOTU speech, and the response by jim webb. she reads the newspaper (sf chronicle) and watches news on tv. she knows how bush has screwed the country. physically though, not so good, but ok for her age. her left hip is bad, and she has to stand slowly and wait a bit to walk, with a cane or walker. her hearing has deteriorated, as has her eyesight. she has not the autonomy that she has enjoyed all her adult life. the normal stuff for all of us as we get older, but also the normal struggle to submit to the limits of age. one of the pleasures left her is escape from the assisted living facility in Cupertino to her house in capitola, but she can no longer drive the notoriously bad stretch of hiway 17 over the mountains. it was my pleasure to drive her there and hang out with her. the purpose of my visit.

i had our pc laptop with me, and a camera attachment, and we have a mac with isight at home, so robin and i could do video chats. i was supposed to be able to access a national dial-in local number and connect to our washington isp, but didn't get it to work till the last day we were there. i did find, well, my computer found, an unsecured wireless connection that was quite fast for surfing the net. it would allow robin and i me to see each other, but not to talk. we did text messaging and sometimes phone connection for audio. she watched me cook the risotto.

i don't miss santa cruz, but i do miss friends. the traffic is worse than ever. there are more mcmansions everywhere. the week went by fairly quickly and i had little free time, but i did miss robin most of the time.

the flight home was uneventful till we landed. the jetway, that covered passenger tunnel, was broken. after 20 minutes of watching various people try to get it to move to the door (it was right outside my window) the pilot announced that we would deplane out the rear self-contained stairs. remember db cooper? he jumped out of the back stairs on same sort of plane over southern oregon. another 10 minutes and i was hustling thru the airport to the arrivals place where robin was waiting. she had hot tea and homemade rye toast for me!

not a terrible trip, but somewhat lonely without my honey. the longest we have been apart in 18 years. i don't want to do it again.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Home Again, Home Again Jiggity Jig

Things are finally getting back to normal around here. Oh yeah, we didn't mention last week that Roger was gone and I was home alone for the week. Last Sunday I took him to the airport, he flew to California to see his mother, and I stayed home. This was the first time in my life that I stayed alone for that long. One week. Quite challenging for someone who has never been alone, not even in the womb (I love being a twin). The original plan was for my mom to come and spend the week with me, so that Roger and I would have parallel "mom adventures." But for some truly unknown reason, her flight was cancelled. We decided to leave it at that, and I was suddenly on my own and alone for the week.

I discovered some things about myself that I would not have guessed. I cooked complete meals for myself, ate at the table and not in front of the TV, kept the house reasonably straightened up, and hiked a good safe trail alone. I went to dinner one evening with friends, and I cooked a homemade pizza for my neighbor, and afterwards we watched a movie. This all may sound unbelievably mundane, but for me it was an exercise in a new reality. Roger and I have been together 18 years. We can count on one hand the number of nights we've been apart. And, since retirement, we're with each other all the time. We like it too! So this was a huge departure from the norm.
One of the things I concentrated on, while he was gone, was trying to photograph a Golden-crowned Kinglet. These birds are incredibly difficult to get a reasonably good photograph of. They literally move constantly, and they are very small, only slightly larger than a hummingbird. We see them all the time around the yard and on our walks. They flit about and hover ever-so-briefly around the evergreens, going after insects and insect eggs. I've been trying for months to photograph one. I've got at least a hundred blurry, out-of-focus shots. But then I got lucky. Right at the end of the driveway this one stayed briefly on the ground, and I grabbed a photo.
Finally, Saturday morning arrived after yet another sleepless night (I can spend all day home alone, but nights are really hard). I headed out to SeaTac Airport to pick Roger up from his journey. It's almost 100 miles to the airport, heading south around Puget Sound to Tacoma and then north to SeaTac. His plane was on time, but the jetway wouldn't connect, so after nearly a half hour at the gate, the passengers were finally permitted to deplane down the stairs out the back of the plane. I waited in the car at the Passenger Loading/Unloading zone outside of Baggage. Quite surprisingly no one hassled me at all. I thought for sure someone would tell me, little Miss Terrorist that I am, that I should not be parked in an expressly designated NO PARKING- NO WAITING ZONE, but mostly the security seemed vaguely bored, sitting on benches smoking cigarettes. When Roger finally showed up, we agreed that we should take the ferry home, which meant a drive north through Seattle up to Edmunds. It was a perfectly spectacular day for the ferry (click on the above photo to see why). Not a cloud in the sky, and my honey was home from his travels.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Week Ends

It's been a long and good week away from the blog. We watched the State of the Union. We heard Jim Webb's fine rebuttal. I think if I could summarize the president's attitude it would be this: He would like to give tax breaks to the wealthy because they have given us global warming and health care that is too expensive. Is that what you heard too? Or maybe it was this: He would like one more chance to make another bad decision about Iraq or Iran, whatever. Are they different countries? It used to be that we had to mind our "P"s and "Q"s, now it's mind your "Q"s and "N"s, if you can.
The sun came out for two seriously gorgeous days. The sun. Shining as brightly and warmly as a dream. It didn't even matter that the temps were only in the 40s or 50s, the heat was still spell-binding. Whatever we were doing, it had to be dropped for worship of this mighty star. I understand why the seeds in the ground are stirred. I could feel it in my cells. Some pull to come up for the light. I could only answer by sitting against the sliding glass door and letting the light filter through my closed eyes.

I saw fire from a zillion miles away.
I hope you have remembered to send your Good Planet photos to Laura of Somewhere in NJ. Her email is lc_hardy at comcast dot net. This is Laura's last week, and we'd like to thank her for her fantastic vision and elegance. She has contributed to the evolution of this photographic carnival with stunning grace. Thank you, Laura. Next host for the month of February is Susannah of Wanderin' Weeta. Her email is susannah at dccnet dot com. Please send her your views of our very beautiful earth. If anyone out there would like to host Good Planets for March or any time thereafter, please drop us an email. Thanks everyone, and have a great weekend.
If you're out there on Saturday marching for peace-- thank you.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Long Road Home

I had a long drive on Sunday. Two-hundred miles roundtrip. Long for me because I hardly ever venture out past the tidal estuary, or our small town limits. But I made the journey and arrived home safely, listening to Air America on a Sunday afternoon. I was treated to quite an interesting discussion on an environmental show. Activists/writers who have been working for a decade to wake the country up to the horrors of global climate change offered their opinion that "critical mass" in consciousness of the problem has been reached. They believe that people are beginning to understand that our planet's weather patterns really are changing and we may in no small part be responsible for it. It was quite a hopeful discussion. Bill McKibben was being interviewed, and I had not heard of him before, so I googled his name and found this quote from his book "The End of Nature"

...Our comforting sense of the permanence of our natural world, our confidence that it will change gradually and imperceptibly if at all, is the result of a subtly warped perspective. Changes that can affect us can happen in our lifetime in our world--not just changes like wars but bigger and more sweeping events. I believe that without recognizing it we have already stepped over the threshold of such a change; that we are at the end of nature. By the end of nature I do not mean the end of the world. The rain will still fall and the sun shine, though differently than before. When I say 'nature,' I mean a certain set of human ideas about the world and our place in it." The End of Nature, p. 7

I felt lucky to have such an engrossing conversation to listen to while the road home stretched before me. Have we reached critical mass? I don't know. Are people willing to put up with economic displacement, inconvenience, or lose their personal fortunes for the greater good? I don't know. Are we about to escalate a war for oil?

Here at home, I put out a lot of food for the birds after the second unusually significant snow fell last week. This Stellar's Jay found something he must have really liked after the snow melted. He took a hungry mouthful.

There may be very light to non-existent posting here this week. A little down time--some rejuvenation, regeneration, renewal. Hard to imagine we won't have something to say (scream) after the president's State of the Union on Tuesday. But the sky is staying light until 5:00 pm these days, and it was warm enough on Saturday to pull a few weeds. We've got a yard full of work calling to us.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Just Thinking About Good Planets

I don't know if you've been following the ever more beautiful photographs that are being contributed to Good Planets Saturday. If you have, you know how wondrous the planet is. If you haven't, then you need to take a look at this month's offerings at Somewhere in NJ. Once you've been deliciously overwhelmed by these sights, click over to the Flickr gallery and take a trip through the entire archive of photos that our fellow bloggers, friends, and family have submitted since August. Pam of Tortoise Trail started and maintains this fantastic Flickr gallery.

In these days of global climate change, wars, and political insanity, it is good to take a break and remember this fragile beautiful planet we are whirling through space on. Take a look around. As Stephen Forbert said, Good Planets Are Hard To Find. If you've photographed the beauty of our planet, pleasae send the pic to lc-hardy at comcast dot net. It's a weekly celebration.

These two photos of a Redtail Hawk were taken seconds apart on Wednesday as it took off from a tree. It reminded me of what Robert Kennedy, Jr. wrote on Huffington Post the other day about Redtails in Jackson Hole, Wy. When we change the climate on the planet we change how all the animals must live. Maybe we need to send them a memo: Grow feathers sooner.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wild Yard Dreams

Roger spent much of the morning at Habitat for Humanity doing his volunteer work. I stayed home remembering my dreams. This is what they looked like.
The yard is full of wild things-- like these Zebras by the pond.
I love how this giraffe bends to the water. She is awkward and graceful at the same time.
But it's the cheetah that suprises me. She arrives quietly and leans elegantly for a drink. It is the best part of the dream, seeing her by the pond.

If you could photoshop your dreams, what would they look like?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cold Comfort

Winter is an internal season. I've been emailing friends to tell them I'm still on the planet even though I haven't responded to emails, phone calls, or even comments on this blog. We're feeling winter quiet. The snow muffles sounds, even the ones we have not made. We spend a lot of time indoors-- baking, reading, creating Access databases. It's very quiet stuff.

When we do go out to hike around, it's a major undertaking. We put on layers and layers of clothing, wools socks over cotton, wool sweater over turtlenecks, thermals under jeans. Down jackets over all. Almost as hard to get into and out of as our wetsuits, and as time consuming. It reminds me of when I was a child growing up in New Jersey. After the big snow storms (the ones we used to have before global climate change), we put on our snowsuits to go out and play. We wore boots that fit over our school shoes, and big jackets and puffy leggings that made a swishing sound when our skinny legs brushed against each other at every step. It's hard to imagine how we ever had fun wearing all that clothing, but we did. But none of it really ever kept us warm enough. Our fingers froze in mittens. Toes went numb in boots. But we'd still stay out so long that for some time afterwards I couldn't see anything in the house when we finally went back inside.

When I think about it now, being warm in winter is really a luxury. Hard to imagine, but it's true. It's expensive to buy boots that will keep feet warm in 10 degree (F) temps. A pair of WigWam Wool socks cost nearly $10 a pair. I wear a down jacket that I bought over 20 years ago when I lived in Colorado. There was no way to spend a winter there without the warmth that down provided. When I put that jacket on, the wind chill can be 20 below zero (F), and I am warm as toast. What happens to people who can't afford that kind of luxury?

This is the kind of winter coat I wore in 1962:
The advertising says:
For ultra-luxe wintry style, here's a cool jacket to keep her warm. Perfect for layering over fitted sweaters and hoodies, this jacket's sueded shearling construction lets her bundle up in super-soft, extra-plush lining. A bit of embroidery adds a girlish touch.

Product Details:

* A Faded Glory garment
* Girls' jacket
* Faux shearling has the look of suede with wool trim
* Plush lining
* Faux-wool collar
* Zip front
* Long sleeves
* Two on-seam pockets
* Floral embroidery on the pockets
* Floral-embroidered patch pocket on the upper left sleeve
* Color: Camel
* Fabric (shell): polyester
* Fabric (back, trim): acrylic, polyester
* Care: machine wash cold; line dry

Faux wool! It is a misery to be cold. So much of winter clothing-- winter coats, gloves, and hats sold in giant box stores simply do not provide protection from the weather. I wore all that stuff when I was young. My favorite coat, when I was in third grade, was a hooded furry thing. It made me look like I could brave the Artic chill. Imagine the coat pictured above with a faux fur hood, and you've got it. I remember when I begged my parents to buy it for me. Oh I looked as chic as could be, but I froze my buns off every winter day that I wore it. I loved that coat, but what drek. Why would anyone market a coat for winter that does not keep you warm?

I think about those things now when we walk out into the snow. How much more I love winter, the frozen earth, these frigid temps because I can be in it, without suffering. Such a luxury. I wonder how many people flock to warmer climes from the places of real winter because they never had warm enough boots, gloves, coats?

Well, we are deep in winter and feeling very quiet these days, but we are warm. If you are out there in the land of ice and snow, we hope you are warm too.

Monday, January 15, 2007

RIP, RAW 1932-2007

paul krassner ".....Robert Anton Wilson---guerrilla ontologist, part-time post-modernist, Damned Old Crank, my weirdest friend and favorite philosopher."

RAW, in interview with krassner from 2003 "Then I started calling myself a post-modernist after that label got pinned on me in two different books, one on my sociological works and one on my science-fiction. Then I read some of the post-modernists and decided they were only agnostic about other people's dogmas, not their own. So then I switched to Damned Old Crank, which seems to suit my case better than either of the previous labels. Besides, once my hair turned snowy white, some people wanted to promote me to a Sage, and I had to block that. It's more dangerous to a writer than booze. By the way, Congress should impeach Dubya and impound Asa Hutchinson."

if you read the transcript of this interview you'll see that raw mentions some action against dubya and hutchinson at the end of almost every answer he gives.

i can't recall the first time i heard, or read, about raw, nor even the first book of his i read. doing a bit of research for this post i see that i have not read all of his work. but i have read most, and still look at "quantum psychology," my latest read, for interesting ideas and conundrums. he was a practitioner of guerilla ontology--- creating cognitive dissonance by mixing fiction and fact, or maybe just facts in opposition to some worldview, aiming to shake people out of their fixed ideas.

i fell right into the world he created in the "illuminatus trilogy." it was bizarre and funny. there was a chinese character named "ped xing." he and his co-conspirator, bob shea, set out to write a story that included every conspiracy they knew of.

i once saw him in person. must have been about 1985. i was living in santa cruz at the time, as was one of my brothers who was also a fan. we drove over the hill to a coffee house in palo alto to hear raw. i recall a gnomish sort of leprechaun of a man with a sly smile and twinkling eyes. who knows what he said. he was a consummate standup comedian.

raw was not a well-known big-time author. you can read more about him here and here, where there are links to other interviews with him.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Different Kind of Secret

We pushed Bush's speech out of our heads and took a walk. We didn't think about the raid on the Iranian consulate in northern Iraq. Not that, nor the additional 92,000 troop build up that was put on the table by Defense Secretary Gates. Nor the litany of mistakes that finally compelled Keith Olbermann to call Bush a presidency of Cliff Notes. We just walked off our discontent-- it's our mantra, our yoga, our exercise of sheer will to stay focused on the things before us. The frigid air pulls us back into our bodies. The slick icy path demands our attention.

We walked the road pictured above. It's the path we take to Chimacum Creek. A little further ahead on the left is a canyon, and past there we head down on the right to the creek. When we get to the canyon, something catches Roger's eye. He says quietly, "There's a coyote on the other side of those bushes, up there." I look up. See nothing. Then, the coyote comes into the clearing and stops to look at us, two humans who are looking back. He stands for a minute not moving at all. I take four photographs. They all look the same.
For us in that moment the plans of madmen recede into the yellow eyes of a wild thing. A wild thing disappearing into the hills is but one way to balance the haunted human world we have created. We don't idealize the coyote's wild world. We know its tragedies, the cost in blood to all the prey animals. But here there are no lies. No secrets about rationales and missions.
There is just this, a different kind of secret-- the coyote's secret. The place he runs and hunts. The place he hides so that a year goes by before we see him again. The coyote spins around and hightails it up the trail. He never looked back.

Good Planets Reminder!!
I hope you have been saving your spectacular good planet shots to send to January's host, the incomparable Laura of Somewhere in NJ. Please send her your photos depicting the beauty of our planet for this Saturday's Good Planets. Her email is lc-hardy at comcast dot net. Thanks everyone!

Snow and a Snowjob

After all the weather reports bellowed about an oncoming storm, we woke to clear skies in the east and bright sunlight in the yard.
Morning 9:00 am
We took the blue sky as an invitation to walk along Port Townsend Bay, where we photographed Redtail Hawks and juvenile Bald Eagles as they circled and hunted from a clear blue sky.
RedTail Hawk at 11:13 am
Juvenile Bald Eagle at 11:31 am
When we arrived home the long-awaited snow began to fall.
Afternoon 1:06pm
It snowed all afternoon. The flakes were as big as quarters. Wet and heavy.
Afternoon 3:27 pm
By sunset the yard was a frost blue. It looked like the snow would be coming down for a while.
Sundown 4:41 pm

At 6:00 pm the President spoke. Roger watched it the way he watched David of Six Feet Under being tortured and abused. It took his nerves of steel to listen to Bush ask for one more chance, after all these years, to have an opportunity to exercise the mistakes of his vision. Bush reminds me of a child who pushes every button and every limit, and then begs for permission to have one more chance. The thing that bugs me the most about him is his straight-faced lies. I just read the other day that western oil companies stand to take 75% of all the Iraqi oil profits over the next three decades. It's a bill before Iraq's Parliament. Check it out.

So our long day ended with snow and a snowjob.

Good Planets Reminder!!
I hope you have been saving your spectacular good planet shots to send to January's host, the incomparable Laura of Somewhere in NJ. Please send her your photos depicting the beauty of our planet for this Saturday's Good Planets. Her email is lc-hardy at comcast dot net. Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Darkness, Darkness Be My Pillow

We were having such a nice dinner. Portabella mushroom in ginger, soy, and hot sesame oil marinade, basmati rice, and homemade red cabbage slaw with homegrown carrots. We were deep in conversation about something, more than three fourths of a bottle of Cabernet already imbibed when the lights suddenly went out. There wasn't even a foreshadowing flicker, just sudden and absolute darkness.

We laughed.

The weather reports had been promising this storm. The winds had been blowing fiercely all afternoon. Big gusts, the kind that keep the ferry from docking in town. White caps chopped the bay. But it all seemed to pass without much fanfare. In fact we had been talking about it at dinner, how the weather reports must have been slightly overblown just to cover their forecasting reputations. The last few storms had kicked Seattle's collective butt. So, everyone needed to be on high alert for this one, according to the news folks who call themselves StormTracker (dramatic flourish here). I had photographed the approaching storm in the afternoon, but quickly the sky behind it had turned a brilliant blue, and everything seemed to melt into a lovely sunset and dinner.

We wondered, while we were eating, if we were really going to have snow in the morning and the freezing temperatures that have been promised for the next few days. We love the cold temps, the icy landscapes, the sensual snow-covered earth. We were hoping we would find such a thing in the morning.

Then the lights went out.

Somewhere the storm was brewing and blowing enough to absolutely isolate us in our warm and cozy abode. We scrambled for our backup systems-- candles, lanterns, flashlights, and ...

Roger went to the big garage and pulled out our brand new 5000 watt generator. We'll be able to post this silly post. We'll watch a movie on our laptop dvd (luckily we had rented "Thank You For Smoking"). We're not going to be utterly marooned. Just quietly and comfortably in the dark, waiting to see if there will be snow in the morning. We promise we'll let you know.

It's dark, but we are online.

The promised update:
Just as we suspected, the weather newsies completely went overboard on this, at least for our side of Puget Sound. We got our power back fairly quickly and there's NO SNOW ON THE GROUND. 7:40 am PST.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Violence: Our Inhumanity

I've been thinking about violence...

...ever since I read Phantom Scribbler's poignant posts about a woman named Helen Hill, but also because Roger and I have become addicted to the HBO series Six Feet Under. Normally we would never describe that show as violent, but on Saturday night we watched Season 4, Episode 5. It's the one where David, one of the lead characters, is brutalized and tortured by a psychopath for several harrowing and unsettling hours.

Roger and I don't watch much TV. But when we do take a trip around the dial on the remote control we are often dismayed by the amount of violence we see. Violence is everywhere-- the news, documentaries, drama. In one format or another there is both the shock and celebration of it in our culture. We even saw an advertisement for a violent Christmas movie. (WTF is that about?) We click along, never stopping long enough to see who is behind the gun, the knife, the bomb. It's simply everywhere, on every channel. Murder and mayhem.

On Saturday we settled in for a little DVD escapism. We had already spent the rainy afternoon watching the original version of The Manchurian Candidate (excellent, but strangely, purposefully, and impersonally violent). By 9:00 pm we were ready for our Six Feet Under fix, but fifteen minutes into it, the horror of random personal violence came trampling through in the role of unbidden apocalyptic marauder. Through David's character we see how unsuspecting innocents always are, not believing what is actually befalling them, and how hopeful that somehow rational thinking and appeals to humanity will spare them. But isn't it the epitome of violence that the victim be utterly de-humanized, that pleasure be derived from inflicting suffering on others.

I left the room. I could not watch. Roger was able to sit through the entire episode albeit with trepidation and horror. Afterwards, we wondered if the fact that I am a survivor of a violent crime simply leaves me less able to watch the kind of violence inflicted on others. But I don't think that's it-- because I have always responded viscerally to depictions of violence, long before I myself fell victim.

Roger adds:
how could i watch david be assaulted, battered, and terrorized?

the first idea that occurs to me is that i have never been in such a situation. the last fight I was in was in the fourth grade. since then i have not been threatened physically in a way that left no out. i have encountered very bad people, but never in a confrontational way. while it was scary to be in their presence, and i slid away as fast as possible, nothing bad happened. i have no "sense memory," as the actor's studio says, of being scared shitless in the face of a brutal psychopath, or even a bully, to say nothing of being punched and kicked, so i think i can watch some forms of violence in a semi-detached way. not that my heart doesn't race, not that i don't feel fear and anger, and not that i enjoy watching, but i can hold back from investing myself entirely. my compassion for david and my curiousity, or need, to find out what happened, carried me through the scenes of physical violence.

i like drama. not melodrama. i appreciate that someone, mostly a large group of someones, goes to the trouble of producing a story, a play, a movie. it's a lot of work, so i try to "take the trip" with a willing suspension of disbelief. modern film and television portray "realism" quite well. the illusion of violence works, so i pick my "trips" carefully. i would survive a viewing of a slasher movie, but for what? an adrenaline rush? a bad one? and the hangover? i'll take my adrenaline rushes from my own physical adventures that don't involve hurt or pain or humiliation on anyone's part, thank you.

But we wonder, what role does theatrical depictions of violence serve in our culture? Why do you suppose there is so much of it? It is truly baffling to us, and we would love to hear why you think it is so ubiquitous. We may have been watching a two-year old episode of some HBO series, but it coincided with the real-life violent death of a fine woman, wife, and mother. What does it mean for all of us to live with the subtext of violence that permeates much of our life and popular culture?

When I left the room where the DVD was playing, I turned on the stereo and played old Moody Blues singing "Om." It just seemed like the right thing to do.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Lettering of the World

We went out and walked along the beach on Sunday. It was a low tide, but not a minus tide, so we encountered and climbed under and over these fallen limbs, trunks, and trees that had been laid low by erosion, wind, and time. The entire mile of beach was covered like this. Most of these views were taken looking back at where we had just been. We returned the way we had arrived. It took hours.

We're avoiding politics right now. We're waiting for the first hundred hours before we have something to say. But in case anyone is wondering: We don't think there should be a surge, but see fully the politics behind the calculations. We didn't think we could despise Bush any more than we do, but we do. We are looking forward to full congressional oversight. We are ecstatic to see the first woman Speaker of the House. We're waiting to see if we get our country back. What do you think? Will we?

Friday, January 05, 2007

back away from the groceries

we went to the supermarket yesterday to buy some food. milk, bread, and mushrooms. as we were checking out the checker was advising the woman bagging our purchases to go home, or perhaps take a lot of vitamin c, because she had just told him she was still feeling very sick. robin and i looked at each other askance, paid, and walked out. we talked about how awful it was to have our food, packaged tho it is, be handled by someone who knows she is sick. so i went back in, found the manager, and told him i'd like to replace the items as i don't appreciate having a sick person handling my food. i added that such practice seems bad for a grocery store.

he nodded assent, perhaps a bit ruefully. so i took a basket and picked out replacements. when i returned with my hopefully at least slightly more sterile packages he was in conversation with the sick woman, who shot me a hostile look. he started to check me out again, thought better of it, bagged the stuff and bade me good day.

i know that working life isn't easy for people who may have little or no sick leave. and she wasn't preparing food or serving it. but still. how would you feel accepting your bag of food from someone ignoring you to carry on a conversation about being sick? i imagined a faint, ghastly green glow coming from the bag. i'm hardly a fanatic about germs and cleanliness (although robin is). in fact, mostly i don't even consider germs. i'm fortunate enough to be quite healthy, but i am aware of the hotbed of colds and runny noses that grade schools too often are, and robin's tales of sick students at the big university where she worked are sobering, so i know that we avoid most contagious stuff because of our semi-solitary nature. i'm not up to volunteering to find out how easily germs migrate from hands to packages to food to me.

what responsibility do we have when we're ill to keep our germs to ourselves?


I hope you have been saving your spectacular good earth shots to send to January's host, the incomparable Laura of Somewhere in NJ. Please send her your photos depicting the beauty of our planet for this Saturday's Good Planets. Her email is lc-hardy at comcast dot net. Thanks everyone!

Thursday, January 04, 2007


So, anyway, when you live in the northwest you have to give yourself permission to rant and rave about the weather. We knew exactly what we were getting into when we moved here. It's the pacific northwest, after all, we'd heard all the stories. They're the same ones you've all heard, and they're all true. But here's the other thing--the thing that doesn't make it into the atmospheric reputation-- when it's beautiful here, it's drop dead beautiful.
The winter skies part at sunset. The colors are more vivid than any words in my lexicon to describe them. We are so glad for the light, the depth of the horizon, the far reach of sky into the bigger universe. We are free for a moment, not trapped beneath layer upon layer of cumulus, stratus, cirrus, and nimbus. Once we see the sky, we remember how far into the distance our eyes long to look.
As if on cue, an eagle flies from the west toward us. It's so far away it looks like a moving speck of blackness against the raging color. I zoom in and try to photograph it, despite the distance, because of that magnificent light. I think even a failed and blurred shot hints at the wild beauty of a winter sunset after days and days of rain. We wait for the moment, and it always arrives.
I hope you have been saving your spectacular good earth shots to send to January's host the incomparable Laura of Somewhere in NJ. Please send her your photos depicting the beauty of our planet for this Saturday's Good Planets. Her email is lc-hardy at comcast dot net. Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Why I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Global Warming

Yet one more storm approaches
It's still raining.

I should think by now we would have grown gills and fins, and found our way down stream into the choppy gray sea. I actually stared at live-cam photos of Yosemite yesterday. The blue sky over Half Dome looked surreal, like a fantasy painting of unreal and unbearably beautiful colors.

How do we live with this constant gray? How do we summon from our own interiors the warmth and light needed to sustain life? We have no choice, but it is a constant challenge. One morning last week, I woke to the sun rising in a clear sky. It was exhilarating. I went and filled the tea kettle with water, set it on the stove to boil, and on my way back to the bedroom walked past a window only to see a heavy fog was blowing in. That relentless and endless gray stared back at me with its vacant, pitiless gaze. FOG. I wailed. I took it personally. It was blocking my sun and my blue sky. I shook my fist and cursed the outdoors, then went about the task of summoning warmth and light from memory.

We turn the sauna on when we need the extra heat to soak deeply into our bones. We bring the iPod out there, listen to tunes, and stretch out while the temperature soars. We're thinking about getting a full-spectrum light to put into the sauna, so we can have both the warmth and light that we are craving.

My older brother who lives in Virginia has been telling me how lovely the weather has been. He's been out playing lots of tennis and taking long walks on his 50 acres. He says, "Robin, I hiked in tee-shirt and shorts today. How's the weather there?" We laugh. Mine much more hysterical than his. We laugh again about how our father would have responded to the pacific northwest. He would have said, "You like this weather?" Asked with absolute incredulity. I read somewhere that Washington D.C. is the new North Carolina. What will the northwest ultimately become with these weather trends? Can I put in my dibs for the clear skies of Yosemite? Or the pleasant temps of Santa Barbara?

The weatherman said that this winter's El Nino will be bringing us moderate warming temperatures soon. I apologize to all of you, but if global warming brings us this warmth, I'm going to turn on every fossil-fuel guzzling thing we have. If you love me you'll do it too. I have a personal stake in this. The earth is my toy, here to entertain and please me. So, warm me up. Please start your engines.

Monday, January 01, 2007

It Looks A Lot Like Last Year

eagle perspective
time without calendar
days of hunt and hunger
soon a mate in talons clasped
falling toward the sea
new year imperative

Hope you all had a fine New Year's Eve. We celebrated with good friends, food, wine, and a movie. Lots of good cheer, talk, politics, laughter and sadness.

For a sobering moment -- take a look at the New York Times moving tribute to the 3000 American soldiers who have lost their lives in combat. Go look at those faces and remember.

Also, a compelling read can be found over at Staying Alive.

It may be a new year, but unless we all work for peace and environmental health, it's going to look a lot like the old one.

Happy New Year.