Tiny White Flowers

Tiny White Flowers

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

MUMBAI 11/26

MUMBAI 11/26, originally uploaded by Жuntal.

Photo note, dated 26 Nov. 2008:

"In Buddhism the white prayer flags are for the departed souls.... Prayers for those departed souls to rest in peace...

Today when Mumbai is burning lets pray for those 125+ departed souls... who laid down their lives !!!"

What a beautiful image. Thank you~

Thoughts this Thanksgiving Eve

It's the eve of Thanksgiving, and American Masters is on PBS right now. Not sure what it is about - music, I think. I just needed a break. The program before was Secrets of the Dead, about the Mumbai attacks, which detailed the terrorist strikes, and interviewed several people who lived through the horror that unfolded.

From the BBC News, 29 Nov. 2008, a news article excerpt:

". . . One of the first targets was the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station, where at least two men fired automatic weapons and threw grenades at crowds of people waiting in the main hall.

A second group opened fire at Café Leopold, a popular restaurant, while a third seized Nariman House, a business complex housing a Jewish outreach centre, taking several people hostage.

A fourth group - or, some reports say, the same one that attacked the station nearby - struck the Cama and Albless hospital for women and children. A number of drive-by shootings were also reported across the city.

By around 2200 local time gun fire was being reported at two of the city's luxury hotels - the Oberoi-Trident and the Taj Mahal Palace.

troops take up positions near the Taj Mahal hotel on 27 November 2008
Hundreds of troops have been deployed to sites around Mumbai

Some guests managed to escape what they described as indiscriminate fire, while others sheltered in their rooms. Others were shot - exactly how many remains unclear.

The gunmen were looking for Americans and Britons, guests trapped at the hotels said, and hostages were taken in both locations.

Gunfire and small blasts continued to be heard at both hotels over the next several hours, as Indian troops surrounded the buildings. Fires broke out in both hotels. . ."

* * *

I am amazed, once again, at what we, as a human species, are capable of. We can be sucked in by terrorist doctrine and taught that our own lives are insignificant, that we are doing important deeds for the greater good. We can be full of compassion, knowing that we are part of a greater whole, that our own lives and the good that we do can strengthen the collective body of humanity. We can be caught in the crossfire, amidst chaos and killing, and learn things about ourselves we didn't know - that we would rather die to save someone else, than to be saved ourselves, to risk our lives in the face of impossibility. That we can love all the more, and that we can feel mercy for those who were led astray.

I don't know if any of that made any sense. I'm not a hugely political person, and I'm not always up on everything that goes on in our world. But I do know that I constantly have hope for our species, because I know that for the most part, we want to be, and are, good caring beings. We love and want to be loved, and we feel stronger when we reach out to others.

Mother Theresa said, in a little book I read many years ago, that compassion must begin at home. I think that's true. I find as I get older that I see people around me with more compassion. I might not reach out always, but carry them in my heart and mind. I find I want to give people the benefit of the doubt when their actions are misguided. That anger doesn't have to last forever. That forgiveness is not only possible, but necessary to keep moving forward with the important work of living together. That we are fragile, precious, and powerful in a variety of ways.

None of this must be tied to any religion, race, persuasion or creed. We just need to be that best we can be, with a little help from our family and friends.

Thank you to all of my family, my friends, those I barely know and those I don't know. And for those I pass without a glance, forgive me. Next time I hope to open a door for you, to let you in when the traffic is heavy, to let you go before me in line when you have just a few items in your basket, to smile when I don't feel like it. I know I appreciate it all the times you've done the same for me.

Happy Thanksgiving~

Spare a turkey for Thanksgiving

Here's something to make you think:

"LBC members braved the cold to encourage consumers to go veg on Thanksgiving. What's the difference between this beautiful pair on the platter and a turkey? We all have the same body parts so why do we think it's okay to eat a turkey?"

d menopause despair

d menopause despair, originally uploaded by dmixo6.


scrabble-menopause, originally uploaded by artpaw.

I love this one:

"I play on-line scrabble with old friends. My opponent just pointed out to me that the start of this game looks like menopause. I opened with Afire then played "Fifty" off of his heating bingo word, now he follows with heat again. If only I had night sweats in my rack."

Here lives a cow with menopause

Here lives a cow with menopause, originally uploaded by PtitBen.

Photo note:

"Lisboa, Portugal
[processed in lightroom]"

Wow- it's amazing what you can find when you search Flickr for 'menopause'

Menopause Three

Menopause Three, originally uploaded by David Jackmanson.

Photo note:

"This is the sign that is mostly obscured by sunlight in the Menopause Two. The saturation is artificial, the placing of the sunlight was deliberate and planned when I took the shot. I wanted the word Menopause easy to see while the picture was mostly obscured."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bic Ballpoint Pen Macro

Bic Ballpoint Pen Macro, originally uploaded by Russ1710.

Photographer's note:

"Bic ballpoint pen macro - Canon G9"

Tuesday Musings

I had a message all typed out, and it disappeared. So, in it's place I'll post this little tidbit my daughter found and shared with me last night. A Bic Pen review, from Amazon. I recommend visiting this page, and reading the reviews. Here's the first one, the one that got the ball (Bic) rolling:

2,181 of 2,200 people found the following review helpful:
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good if you need to write on paper, 7 Mar 2007
By M. Williams "Matt Williams" (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
Since taking delivery of my pen I have been very happy with the quality of ink deposition on the various types of paper that I have used. On the first day when I excitedly unwrapped my pen (thanks for the high quality packaging Amazon!) I just couldn't contain my excitement and went around finding things to write on, like the shopping list on the notice board in our kitchen, the Post-it notes next to the phone, and on my favourite lined A4 pad at the side of my desk.

My pen is the transparent type with a blue lid. I selected this one in preference to the orange type because I like to be able to see how much ink I have left so that I can put in another order before I finally run out.

When the initial excitement of taking delivery of my new pen started to wear off I realised that I shouldn't just write for the fun of it, this should be a serious enterprise, so by the second day of ownership I started to take a little more care of what I wrote. I used it to sign three letters, and in each case was perfectly happy with the neatness of handwriting that I was able to achieve.

I have a helpful tip for you that you might not know about - if you let the ink dry for a few seconds you can avoid the smudging that sometimes happens if you rub the ink immediately after writing. Fortunately the ink used in this particular Bic pen seems to dry very quickly.

On the third day of ownership I went on a trip to London and took my pen carefully packed away in my brief case, but I needn't have worried, this isn't some temperamental ink pen that leaks when you store it at the wrong angle. I sat at my meeting and confidently removed the cap from my pen and it wrote flawlessly, almost immediately.

I notice that the barrel of the pen has been crafted very carefully to fit in the pen holder down the edge of my Filofax. It's not so grippy so that it is hard to remove when I want to make a quick note, and yet not so loose that it falls out too easily when I open my Filofax in a hurry. Maybe the choice of surface texture on the pen has some part to play here, because it seems that the inside of the leather grip on the pen holder in my Filofax has just the right level of adhesion that I can be confident when I need to reach in and get my pen it's going to be just where I left it!

Today is the fourth day of ownership of my pen, and I have to say I'm starting to treat it like an old friend. I walk around the office with it clipped in to my shirt pocket and someone in the accounts department actually asked to borrow it while we were both standing at the photocopier. Would you believe it, they actually tried to walk away with my pen! They were very embarrassed when I called after them as they walked down the corridor and asked for it back. You will be happy to know that it is now back, safe and sound in my top pocket, ready and waiting to start writing again.

In summary, I would happily recommend this pen to anyone who is planning on writing on paper. If you are considering a writing implement for some other surface such as writing on a CD, or other non-porous substances then another pen might be better suited, but if it's just plain old paper then I think you will probably be well served by this particular model.

Tuesday Blues

Wow. Weird day. But, strangely enough, these days seem not to be abnormal anymore.

It began last night. I am growing increasingly concerned about DS's high blood sugar levels. Although he has been sick, it's been a couple of weeks, and we should be seeing some improvements. I hesitate to say what the levels have been, but they make me uncomfortable, and him, irritable. And DD is over the top with worry about getting into college, and the whole college application process.

This morning it wasn't so difficult to get DS out of bed. He's learned that listening to books on tape get him to sleep earlier than he would without. I'm fine with this - he's found a good way to relax and unwind, and he's getting more sleep. And today was picture day at school, and I think that went without a hitch.

But DD awoke after a mostly sleepless night, and shortly came unglued when she looked up her second set of SAT scores. Lower than the first ones. Not by much. What followed was the wail of "I'm not going to get into college" during which nothing could be said to temper it.

I called the High School, and set up appts to talk with a new councilor: one for DD early in the day, and one for me, two hours later. Result? We both feel better about the process, knowing that the scores really are pretty decent in the first place, and there isn't that much discrepancy between them. Not enough to warrant a second look, likely.

* * *

It's Weds now, and because the morning storm was abated yesterday, I feel neutral again. Sort of. I did learn some other things during the din of the day, about some new physical things I've been experiencing of late. I woke up dizzy yesterday, but I didn't know it until I got out of bed. At first I thought, "well, you stay up so late, no wonder!" But, as I stumbled and caught the wall for support, then stood in the bathroom while the walls tried hard to right themselves, I wondered further. Inner ear? Allergies? A new illness making its way in?

The computer is one of the first places I go to look up stuff. And intuitively I typed in "Dizziness and menopause." Bingo. Loads of links. Here's what I found on one of the pages, telling me not only that dizziness is a common symptom of women in or going into menopause, but so are these other 33 things.

Here's the list I found:


Okay, that explains why I feel at least half of these things all of a sudden! Well, to be fair, in the last few weeks to over a year. Some much more. But, burning tongue? Guess what, I did have some weird reaction last week that bugged my tongue something fierce. As I was listing off many of these to my DH last night, we laughed. In a way, it is funny. But, it leaves me wondering what my own personal experience will be like, and how damn long will it last.

I guess before I go on, I'll sign off. It really isn't Tuesday any more, and I'd hate to short change Wednesday by not giving it its own page.

Be well, and let me know what's new.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Newest Moon

Newest Moon, originally uploaded by ms4jah.

Photographer's note:

"Newest Moon

For a long time I've wanted to get a shot just like this of the brand new moon, waxing crescent, on the first day that it's visible after sunset. Here it is about 2% illuminated by sunlight (and 98% by earthshine!) The blip of light, with slight vibration blur is Venus.

It's reltively common to see the crescent moon a few days after sunset and to see those pix. But it's harder to catch that little sliver of the first visible new moon.

I used to have some gorgeous pix of a beautiful clear sky with sunset twilight colors but the moon would be so high in the sky, if visible at all, that I couldn't zoom in on the moon AND capture the horizon with its beautiful colors. So then I realized the thing to to is to try to capture the twighlight colors when the moon is very low, and brand 'new'. A number of factors have to come together, like extra clear skies for one thing, but you have to be out at precisely that one or maybe 2 days at the most per month when this is possible, at sunset time. And you better have a good view of the horizon because the moon will be so low it is normally blocked by things like trees and buildings.

This photo here shows the full disk of the dark side of the moon lit up with earthshine, the light that reflects off the earth onto the moon, just light our night sky is lit up by moon shine when we have a full bright moon. You can even just barely make out the light and dark features on the face of the moon, I love that part. (may need to view large.)

One of the other great things about my job is that it is an outdoor job. We are always in the outdoors to experience and appreciate the many beautiful celestial / astronomical events and other atmospheric optical phenomena. After the flight, as the sun goes down and we are surrounded by darkness, usually in a wide open space area, we get to enjoy the many wonders of the creation around us. We often hear a pack of coyotes howling and barking. Now all I need to do is to capture that coyote, sitting on a large boulder, howling up at the moon."

Wordle - Broadcast 2

Wordle - Broadcast 2

Again, from playing in Wordle, and Anagrammer. The word I used is Broadcast, and the list of words generated from that is quite amazingly long. I used Auto Summarize in Word, to narrow it down to 25%, and then pasted the remaining words into Wordle.

New Discovery - Wordle!


Wordle: Friday Musing

Now I just have to figure out how to make the text larger. . .

Wordle: Friday Musing, 2

Friday Musings

It's Friday morning, and I'm once again procrastinating. I know I have a poem about that, and maybe I should just write another one about this condition from which I seem to suffer.

In the sink, my dishes wait. Some lucky ones have made it to the dish rack, waiting this time for the darkness of a cupboard or the wire shelves of my grandmother's old ice chest. I know there is a tile floor under all the flour, milk spots, and dirt we track in from outside. And if I just folded the towels in the clean laundry basket, the pile wouldn't look so tall.

Sometimes I wish I could just shut my eyes and capture the colors outside my office window: Japanese Variegata taking on gold, and dying back, Jupiter's Beard hugging the cedar siding, honeysuckle on the field fence, and beyond that the Liquid Amber in shades of crimson, amber, and green, against a backdrop of fir, maple and hemlock.

Sometimes I think there's nothing to write about, when the truth is, there is too much. That's when I see the world through ADHD eyes, unable to take dictation one bite at a time. Write about what surrounds you at this moment - the rest will come, the poets say. I think this is true, so what pulls me away to the kitchen, to the internet, makes me stare in disbelief at the mountains of stuff I have to do? My son comes by his frustrations honestly, often unable to partition the giga picture down into doable bytes.

As I write, I'm listening to my new favorite, newly downloaded cd, Wu Man and Friends. What a combination of East and West. It goes from a little Bluegrass short, to a contemplative soft piece of traditional music from China. Simply gorgeous.

So, I realise I am being creative, and I'm thankful for the time to do this. No matter that I've forgotten my yogurt making, that the milk is now too cold. I'll heat it up again, and all will work out in the end. I'm writing, taking photos, and sharing, and it feels good. Whole. Productive. I feel this most when I am sharing with others. It's good to know you're out there. And for this, I'm deeply thankful.

"Morning Has Broken

"Morning Has Broken, originally uploaded by gatorgalpics.

Beautiful. Might be a good writing prompt?

Photographers' note:


"Morning Has Broken

like the first morning Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird Praise for the singing, praise for the morning Praise for the springing fresh from the world" words by Eleanor Farjeon, composition and performance by Cat Stevens.

Taken in my backyard, on an early August morning. Hot and Steamy.
Gainesville, FL. USA

Some sound to go with the image:


Poetic Asides prompt for Friday

Poetic Asides with Robert Lee Brewer

Prompt for today from Robert Brewer:

For today's prompt, I want you to take the phrase "And then (blank)," replace the blank with a word or phrase, make that the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Some example titles could be: "And then Godzilla attacked Tokyo," "And then McDonald's opened a store on the moon," "And then nothing," "And then everything," "And then you probably have an even better idea for a poem title," etc.

Silk Road Project - Wu Man

Wu Man, Silk Road Project

Swan, played on the Pipa

Here is another good video, this one showing the stuttery, rapid finger movements. Beautiful!


Chinese Pipa

pipa.jpg, originally uploaded by nikkojazz.

Wu Man

2007.07.13-040dkh, originally uploaded by RShinozaki.

I learned about Maestra pipa player Wu Man yesterday on the News Hour. This is an amazing sounding instrument, and Wu Man plays it so beautifully. She showed a technique that took her two years to master, with the rapid and fluid movements of her fingers across the strings, her hand barely moving.

To learn more about Wu Man, here's the link to her website: http://www.wumanpipa.org/

One Instant

one instant..., originally uploaded by Maggie's World.

I love this photo. I was looking up Wu Man, who played and spoke briefly on the News Hour last night, and found this photo in the process. And there is a little poem that goes with:

One Instant

One Instant is eternity;
eternity is the now.
When you see through this one instant,
you see to the one who sees.

-Wu Men

* * *

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday Prompt, a Cat, and a Birthday Wish

Today is a writing day. It will also be a baking day, and vacuuming too, as my cat is causing me some distress. We forgive her, as she is so cute. Achoo!

Minnie Pooter

Minnie feets

Minnie snooze

* * *

As I make my way to the kitchen to start the yeast, I've scared our deer, who lopes across the lawn to the wood shed. No worries; she'll be back.


It is also the 79th birthday of my aunt, who is still in her early 60's, as far as I'm concerned. She is an amazing person, engaged with life, interested in a great many things, friend to many, and very generous. Happy Birthday to you!

* * *

And now, from the Poetic Asides site, the new prompt for today.

2009 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 18
Posted by Robert

After today's poem, we'll be 60% of the way through November. I can't believe how fast this month is moving. I've been dropping in and reading poems in the comments, and I'm looking forward to reading your chapbook manuscripts after this challenge is over. (Also, thanks for the kind words about my prompts and poems this month. Much appreciated.)

For today's prompt, I want you to write a slow poem. (If you want you can re-read that sentence in your best "slow motion" voice.) I'll let you decide what a slow poem should be.

Here's my attempt for today:

"Let us not go then, you and I"

Maybe we can feel the world turn
or watch the universe burn. We
could find the star giving the most

light as our hot sun sets the moon
on fire tonight. Shooting stars are
just meteoroids burning up

in the mesosphere; so keep your
fire near, dear, and we'll just stay here--
both burning so bright and so clear.


Learn from the instructors at the Vermont College MFA Program in Words Overflown by Stars, edited by David Jauss. Click here to read more about this and other writing titles.

Wednesday Poem - Susan Rich

This morning in my WOMPO e-mail was this post from a wonderful local poet, Susan Rich. Here is part of it, and a link to her new blog site. She says:

"Here’s a favorite poem. There are many others, but I’ve been writing about photography lately, so this one speaks to me today.

From the Darkroom

The image comes up slowly where light fell,
Pure positive from what was only lack.
The figure in focus stamps the pale
Surrender of the broken seal.
Knowing the light, it gives light back,
Shadow and nuance till the vision's whole,
Shadow and substance from the quick
Delight in its reciprocal.

Deeper than death the image burns
Its counterclaim unneutralized,
Renders detail in bold display
And will not, will not wash away
Or fix itself -- the instant prized --
Against the lesson all love spurns.

See you tonight at Elliott Bay if you’re in town....
Susan Rich
http://thealchemistskitchen.blogspot.com "

In the news - Mark Ndesandjo

Mark Ndesandjo, U.S. President Barack Obama's half-brother gestures as he speaks AP – Mark Ndesandjo, U.S. President Barack Obama's half-brother gestures as he speaks during an interview …

BEIJING – President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he met briefly with a half brother who lives in China and who recently wrote a semi-autobiographical novel about the abusive Kenyan father they share.

Obama, who spent three days in China during his first official tour of Asia, acknowledged the meeting in an interview with CNN. He offered no details. An aide said later that the meeting took place Monday night after Obama arrived in Beijing, the Chinese capital.

The White House had declined to say whether the president and Mark Ndesandjo would meet. And no White House official mentioned the visit until Obama did when asked about it.

"I don't know him well. I met him for the first time a couple of years ago," Obama told CNN. "He stopped by with his wife for about five minutes during the trip."

Describing the meeting as "overwhelming" and "intense," Ndesandjo told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that he had long anticipated the chance to welcome his famous brother to China.

"I think he came directly off the plane, changed some clothes and then came down and saw us," Ndesandjo said. "And he just gave me a big hug. And it was so intense. I'm still over the moon on it. I am over the moon. And my wife. She is his biggest fan and I think she is still recovering."

In the CNN interview, Obama said he hadn't read his brother's book, "Nairobi to Shenzhen," which features a protagonist who is the son of a Jewish mother and an abusive father from Kenya.

Ndesandjo has revealed in previous interviews that his father, Barack Obama Sr., beat him and his mother. The president also wrote about his father, who abandoned him as a child, in his best-selling memoir.

"It's no secret that my father was a troubled person," Obama said. "Anybody who has read my first book, 'Dreams from My Father,' knows that, you know, he had an alcoholism problem, that he didn't treat his families very well. Obviously it's a sad part of my history and my background but it's not something I spend a lot of time brooding over."

Ndesandjo said he bought tickets months ago to fly from the southern boomtown of Shenzhen, where he has lived since 2002, to Beijing, in hopes of reconnecting with his brother. The two last met in January when Ndesandjo attended Obama's inauguration as a family guest.

The three chatted on Monday, with Obama being introduced to Ndesandjo's wife, a native of Henan, China, whom he married a year ago, he said. He gave few details of what they discussed.

"All I can say is, we talked about family, and it was very powerful because when he came in through that door, and I saw him and I hugged him, and he hugged me and hugged my wife. It was like we were continuing a conversation that had started many years ago," he said.

The two men did not grow up together. Ndesandjo's mother, Ruth Nidesand, was Barack Obama Sr.'s third wife. Before arriving in Beijing on Monday, Obama had been in a townhall-style meeting with students in Shanghai, and joked that a family gathering at his house "looks like the United Nations."

President Obama's father had been a Kenyan exchange student who met his mother, Kansas native Stanley Ann Dunham, when they were in school in Hawaii. The two separated two years after he was born.

The senior Obama married Ndesandjo's mother after divorcing the president's mother. They returned to Kenya to live, where Mark and his brother, David, were born and raised.

Obama Sr. died in an automobile accident in 1982 at age 46.

Ndesandjo lives near Hong Kong and earns a living as a marketing consultant. For most of that time, he has maintained a low profile, with few people knowing of his connection to the U.S. president.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Poem a Day prompt: Explosion or Implosion?

Explosion, originally uploaded by kevindooley.

Photo note and question: Why are we drawn to watch explosions?

* * *

Poetic Asides with Robert Lee Brewer

Here's the poetry prompt for the 17th - today. I'm going to try to write one before I go to work.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Poem A Day 16 - Clouds

Poetic Asides with Robert Lee Brewer

Those of you doing the Poem A Day challenge, here is Robert Brewer's new prompt. Click on the link to go to his site, Poetic Asides.

Have fun, and write a poem today~

The gardens at the Louvre, Paris 2006
Cloud patterns over Lake Ozette, 2009

Clouds over Alaska, 2009

The Space Needle threading clouds, Bumbershoot, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ordering the Poetry Manuscript (photo)

This looks so familiar!!

This poet says:

"Lucy and Frito help me order my poems for my thesis"

On Submitting the Poetry Manscript

Well, having time to go over my submissions notes, I discovered that I have submitted my current manuscript, under the same name, many more times that I'd realised. That was quite a shock, let me tell you. I could have bought a decent camera with what I've shelled out so far, what with reading fees, paper, gas and mailing costs. Will this deter me from submitting further? No. There are still deadlines coming, and I'm right there with them this year. And, I've even missed a couple deadlines I wanted to make!

How many have I submitted this year? Thirty two. For 2009. I started in 2006. . . but, I've submitted to more places this year than in any other year, by a bit. I'm trying also not to submit to everything out there, but am being selective about the presses I choose.

Deep breath.

Even though the title hasn't changed, the order and content of the manuscript has. Right now I feel better about it than I ever have. I spent two afternoons with friends, sharing our work and giving suggestions. I received some great ideas and comments, and this helped a lot to shape the collection as it is now. Even though I feel the poems fit into the collection well enough, the collection is now ordered in four parts, and feels like it has more flow, more sense.

Slow exhale.

Now I hope, and wait!

A Walk Through the Park

A Walk Through the Park, originally uploaded by Indy Kethdy.

This is a gorgeous image. Worth a "walk though."

"Jackson Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin"

Thursday Musings: to Flu, or not to Flu; thoughts on a small aspect of the human condition

So I'm here, not feeling great. Yes, I did get a flu shot - yesterday, in fact. And no, I don't feel splendid at all. I've had them before, but not every year. And the more I read about them, the more I feel convinced that avoiding the flu shot is the thing to do.

However, DH and I got ours yesterday. Neither of us can have the mist, one of us being over 49, and me with asthma, so the shot is the thing. We got them because our DS has diabetes, and keeping illnesses-coming-into-our-house to a dull roar is important. The only thing we haven't done yet is get the H1N1 shots. . .

Late afternoon I started to have trouble breathing (an asthma thing, but not so common for me in the past few months), and my heart was racing a bit. I wasn't alarmed, but neither was I comfortable. I figured it was either dust I'd scared up while looking for things, or a reaction to the shot. So I looked up side effects to the flu shot and found my symptoms under the rare category, and quickly went out to renew my inhaler. Creepy thing I read? Now don't quote me on this, look it up for yourself - but I read somewhere that if one has had the flu shot 5 times consecutively in the past 10 years the risk of Alzheimer's is greater. They think, anyway. Just what I need for enhancing my poetry!

Not at all.

Better today, but not up to snuff, as they say. DS is home sick, DD is feeling the twinges, and I have been, too. The doctors said yesterday that DS might have a mild form of H1N1, but that they didn't know for sure, what with everything else that is going around out there. He and DD had their H1N1 shots a week and a half ago - so not totally covered at this point. But, and here's me looking at the other side of the coin, better than nothing!

* * *

Anyway, I'm convinced that this is a weird world sometimes. Admittedly, I'm intrigued by what make people tick, and whereas I don't go in for the way out weird tv shows, etc, preferring PBS to most other channels, I do wonder about the strange things we as human being endure. The woman attacked by and chimp and unveiling her reconstructed face on Oprah. Granted, I didn't see that show, so I don't know how it went, but I do know that many folks have a morbid interest in the strange things that happen to others. At the same time, I find myself putting myself in the victim's shoes, imagining what the horrific experience would have been like. And this woman is the not the only one who lost her face to a chimp. I read another article yesterday about a man who was attacked by two mad chimps, and lost more than that. The fact that he lived is amazing. But at what cost? So it left me wondering about living through all of that, and the fact that he was initially trying to prevent further attack on his wife, with whom the whole thing started.

Morbid interest leads to questions: How does one person survive something like that, when someone else wouldn't live through half of that? What is a day in the victim's life like after the fact? What do we, as bystanders, feel collectively? Why do we feel compelled to seek out more information, when what's happened is so terrible we'd be better off turning away?

Is it curiosity, the thrill of seeing the worst, and thereby looking at our own lives, saying, "well, I guess I'm not so bad off, am I?" Or is it compassion?

Yesterday, Veteran's Day, and the radio and tv were filled with interview and tributes to those who've served in the past and those who are out there now, doing what they signed up to do. And try as I might, I have a hard time fully imagining what they've gone through. It's horrendous in so many cases, and in other cases there are men and women who've been gifted that odd moment where they become a shining star in someone's life by either saving them from peril, or someone dear to them.

Now, I'm not a proponent of war. But, it would be highly unfair of me not to appreciate the men and women who've gone into harms way to do what they feel is right and just for the greater good of others. There are countless people who give so much of themselves that they lose all self-centeredness and become a part of a larger body. It is when we get to that place, be it working to protect others from oppression or striving to find equality in each face we meet, that we, by diminishing as "me," yet growing as "we."

Now, I don't know if any of that made any sense, and I really didn't know what the heck I was going to write about today. It's just that a couple stories read yesterday stuck with me intensely. The stories about the man and woman attacked by the chimps, and another story about a vet whose vehicle was hit by heavy artillery and who himself was thrown (20) meters from it. His skull was crushed, he lost both eyes, and he sustained many other injuries. On top of that, he is one of many sufferers of PTSD. Living in such an environment where you have to be *on* 24/7, having to watch your back, exposed to a constant barrage of explosives, and seeing death happen over and over until you can't think straight any more.

We are an amazing species. Complicated, yes. But also, when we distill our essence down to its most basic form, full of the same simple needs. Love. Compassion. Connectedness. Included.

So, morbid curiosity, fine. As long as what we learn stays with us awhile, gets under our skin, into our hearts in such a way that we find the means to connect. And to understand that when the going's good in our own lives (and comparatively speaking it is, in lots of cases), maybe we can find a little something we can do for those who are having trouble. Sometimes, it's as simple as a smile, or a touch on the shoulder. A look directly in the eye. I might not know the half of your troubles, but my heart does.

* * *

I missed my Wednesday poem, but in lieu of that, here's a link to the New York Times HomeFires blog:


Have compassion. Be thankful. Do a little kindness today. And be well.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Vegetable Soup

Vegetable Soup, originally uploaded by musicpb.

How beautiful the bowl of vegetable soup. And how like a poem the homemade soup is. We don't know what will go into the pot until we scour the fridge, add a little this, a little of that. . .

The maker of this soup tells us:

"I developed the recipe for this soup several years ago, and it has become a winter staple. I make it several times during the season. Even though the ingredients are quite ordinary, it packs a surprising flavor punch. I've never tasted a better home style vegetable soup. It takes about 30 minutes to assemble, and it cooks for about 1.5 hours, but it makes enough to enjoy for a few days. It is also vegan and vegetarian."


1 can chick peas, drained in a colander and rinsed well
1 can hominy, drained in a colander and rinsed well
1 can kidney beans, drained in a colander and rinsed well
2 cans of diced tomatoes, drained in a colander and rinsed well
½ cup frozen corn
¼ cup frozen peas
2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes (about 1½-2 cups)
4 large ribs of celery, chopped (about 1½-2 cups)
1 large onion, diced (about 1-1½ cups)
4 cloves of garlic, minced (about 1½ tablespoons)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 Maggi vegetarian vegetable bouillon cubes
1½ teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 large bay leaf or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme or tarragon
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2½ quarts hot water (10 cups)

1. Add all ingredients (except salt and pepper) to a large 6 quart pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for about 1½ hours.
2. Check every ½ hour. If water level lowers, add a little more hot water to return soup to original level.
3. Taste and add salt if necessary. Add freshly ground pepper. Remove bay leaf and serve, topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired. Cornbread is the perfect accompaniment.

Recipe Tips

1. I sometimes change the types of beans I use. Pintos, cannellini, and great northern all work well. I also rotate between bay leaves, thyme, or tarragon, but my preference is for the bay leaf.
2. A 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne doesn't really make the soup spicy, but it does add a pleasant bit of heat.
3. I often use the leafy core of celery to make the soup because I find it has more flavor. Use the volume amount specified if you want to use the core.
4. This soup is also wonderful with a generous amount of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
5. Before you begin chopping the ingredients, set a kettle of water to boil on the stove. If you start with boiling water, the soup will come together much faster--only about 5 minutes before you set it to simmer for 1½ hours.
6. I rarely add salt because the bouillon cubes provide the perfect level of saltiness for my taste. For other soups, I use homemade vegetable broth, but I don't find it necessary for this soup because the ingredients provide enough flavor.
7. I keep a bag of peas and corn in the freezer just for making this soup, and eventually I use them up over the course of the season.

* * *

I've noticed that two of my blogs seem to overlap a bit. If you want to see more of the food side, please visit Nourishing Words, Beautiful Food. There you will find images of food and some recipes, and also poems about and centered around food.



Tuesday today, and raining.
What better thing to do
than to have a bowl of soup,
maybe read or listen to a little poetry.


I saw a famous man eating soup.
I say he was lifting a fat broth
Into his mouth with a spoon.
His name was in the newspapers that day
Spelled out in tall black headlines
And thousands of people were talking about him.

When I saw him,
He sat bending his head over a plate
Putting soup in his mouth with a spoon.

Carl Sandburg

I love this poem, and what it says about us.
How, when we distill our essence
to it's simplest form, we are all
human, sitting in that quiet
moment, savoring a bowl of soup.



Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Poem for Wednesday

Neruda's Hat by Kelli Russell Agodon
Neruda's Hat

On a day when weather stole every breeze,
Pablo told her he kept bits of his poems
tucked behind the band in his hat.

He opened the windows to nothing
but more heat, asked her to wander with him
down to the beach, see if their bodies
could become waves.

When they returned he placed his hat,
open to sky, in the center of the table.
She filled it with papaya, figs, searched
for scraps of poems beneath the lining.

By evening, the hat was empty
and his typewriter, full
with pages that began something about ocean,
something about fruit.

And they didn't notice the sky, full of tomorrow's
stars or the blue and white swallow
carrying paper in its beak.

They sat outside until the edge of daylight
stretched itself across a new band of morning,
the shadow of a hat washing onto the shore.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Listening to Language of Life

Been listening to Bill Moyer's The Language of Life, for probably the 5th time through, and the first installment highlights the poetry of Sekou Sundiata, and of Naomi Shihab Nye.

I love the musicality and sounds of Sundiata's poetry.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

326/365: Day of the Dead Portrait

The photographer's note:

For Emulation #4 which was my pick this week...
to get into the Halloween mood...
I figured that everyone in the group is super talented...
that this would actually be a challenge!!!
Inspired by Day of the Dead
Frame by Telzey
Texture by Les Brumes'


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