Saturday, November 20, 2010

THE BBC 100

I don’t have notes on FB so I’m blogging this puppy with a link on FB.

"Have you read more than six of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only six of the one hundred books listed here. I haven’t figured out how to do notes so I’ll blog and put in a link. Bold the books you’ve read. Italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read an excerpt. "

Personal opinion: this is a strange list. Lots of Austen and Dickens, no Trollope or Galsworthy. Ok, so the Forsyte Saga is a Victorian soaper but Trollope’s novels set in the fictional county of Barsetshire are a hoot.

Is it just me, or does this list read like a cross between several best sellers lists, adaptations shown on Masterpiece Theater, and the required reading lists for English Lit?

Some of what they left out. Everything by Mary Renault. The Shoes of the Fisherman and the Clowns of God by Morris West. Captain Newman MD by Leo Rosten, The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat, How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn, Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton………………..

I am ahead of the curve on the BBC list though.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling Do the first three count?

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible (significant portions)

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller -

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (Most, but not the complete works) I took Shakespeare in college, I had to read them.

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23. Bleak House- Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams and all the sequels

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy -

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis -

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres (Saw the movie, does that count?)

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown I’ll admit I blasted through this trying to figure out what all the fuss was about. Big shrug.

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert and all the sequels

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding- -

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville Sorry, just couldn’t get into it.

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce- I know, this is his masterpiece. I didn’t make it past page three. I do not do stream of consciousness, period.

76 The Inferno - Dante

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert -

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White

88The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo-

There it is. Have fun.



Thursday, November 18, 2010

AIRPORT INSECURITY

I got such a kick visualizing this that I decided to post in Women On, too.

May I suggest an alternative to the airport security check ins that have so many knickers in a twist? I haven’t figured out which combo is best. But, when you arrive at the airport and check in you are issued either two bed sheets or a sheet and a hospital style gown. You are also given flip flops and a see through bag that can be sealed once it’s scanned. Perhaps they could use something like the anti shoplifting tags that use dye. That, or a very small stink bomb to deter folks from unsealing their bags.

You change, put your clothing, including the above mentioned knickers and other unmentionables in the bag and go through the security scanners. Your bag is sealed and you board your flight looking rather like an extra from Gandhi, the Animal House toga party or an old sword and sandals film. I would not want to be stranded on the tarmac in Chicago this time of year.

For extra spice all congressional representatives, bureaucrats etc. would be required to fly commercial airlines and have to do the same thing. Especially anyone remotely tied to the TSA or Homeland Security. Can you imagine all our over sixty representatives without their power suits (or skirts) as the case may be. ;-) It’d be worth the cost of a ticket just to see Mitch McConnel trying to figure out what to do with his tighty whities.

“Those who sacrifice liberty for a little safety deserve neither liberty or safety” freely borrowed from Ben Franklin.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

HAPPY SNACK


This is one of our favorite snacks. Homemade French bread, basil pesto and shredded Grana Padano (Italian cheese on step below Parmagiano, really good stuff). Then you run it under the broiler until the cheese melts as much as it's going to. Spraying the bread with olive oil mixed with Balsamic vinegar is pretty good too.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

THROUGH THE WINDOW


Not a bad shot when you consider that I took it through the window over the sink, through the screen in the window, me leanng at an angle, one handed. I actually tried four shots, this was the best of the lot.

FACT CHECKIING? NOT

I occasionally run across some strange data on the Ancestry website. I can kind of understand getting place names wrong. Although it’s kind of hard to believe that even an American would believe that someone who died in the twelfth century managed to die in, say, Kansas.

However, I don’t think they had sperm banks in the fifteenth century. Richard Neville, earl of Salisbury did have a daughter named Eleanor. But he died in 1460 and the Eleanor Neville Henshall in my family tree was born in 1587. Now that’s a stretch. It seems that once someone makes a mistake and posts it, others copy the mistake without even going “hunh, boy that’s weird.” Actually, it’s kind of scary, now that I think about it. I just hope none of these folks has their finger on a trigger.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

FLICKERING?


We had a bumper crop of berries on the dogwood this year. Yeah, the tree had berries until these guys arrived. I found this shot of a Northern Flicker, a kind of woodpecker on the net. They generally feed on insects and other small ground critters but they like fruit this time of year so bye bye dogwood berries. It's a trip to watch an eleven or twelve inch bird deal with some of the smaller branches that are more suitable for chickadees or nuthatches. But, that fruit is mighty tempting.
I had to resort to the net because by the time I get my camera and get to the window the fruit gobblers have moved. LOL This shot is supposed have been taken from a bird watching blind in the Deschutes National Forest in Eastern Oregon
They are a beautiful creature. Most of the time what you see is the white patch above their tails as they fly away.
It was a riot this afternoon. One bird was at the end of the branch and couldn't really hang on above the branch. So....it was very happily hanging upside down scarfing every berry it could reach. Again, gone by the time I got into position.

Monday, October 25, 2010

VISITORS

We had guests in the front yard about a half hour before sunset. There's been a blacktail doe and her twins from this year checking the neighborhood out off and on the last few weeks. We'd spot the twins out front or in a neighbor's yard while mama was on station on the hill behind the house. This evening all three plus a little spike buck were out front just checking out the possibilities. I wonder if "spike" is hers from last year.

There was a story in paper last week detailing how hard it is to hunt blacktails. Can't understand why anyone would. Not because they're cute (if a pain in the gardener's keister) but they aren't very big. They might be about three feet or so at the shoulder on a good day. So far they haven't been too big a pain in the garden this year. More nibblers than munchers. But, then we do have the plantings pretty dispersed anyway.

Didn't try for pictures, it was getting dark. I assume they have a hidey hole up in the brush on the hill. Someplace out of the rain.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

ADDENDUM

Not that I'm an advocate of "just good enough" as in just good enough to get Joe Blow to buy it, eat it or vote for it. But, it appears that once just good became the norm; things went downhill really, really fast. The bridge at the bottom of hill is out and the train has no brakes.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I'LL NEVER GET THEM BACK

This pet peeve doesn’t rise to the level the WTF entries over on Women On awhile back. It’s just really, really, really irritating. Anybody else out there getting tired of unasked for phone calls that feature one or all of the following.

A caller who can’t speak English.

A caller who has a barely understandable accent.

A phone connection that sounds like someone put a microphone next to a bowl of rice crispies and put a pillow between them.

Or on a really bad day; all three of the above. I had a call like that this morning.

I think the caller’s name was Jason, or something like that. He repeated it three times and I never did get it. The accent wasn’t too bad, so maybe his name really was Jason or something like that. I believe he was asking me to participate in a survey of some kind sponsored by a company whose name I never got. However, after the above three tries about one word in five was making it out of the rice crispy bowl and past the pillow. At that point it was “hey, I can’t hear you, I can’t understand you, and I think you need a better phone set up. Good by.”

Well, there’s two minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

It’s what seems to be the attitude behind calls like this that mystifies me. Somebody is paying for this. They’re paying the people making the calls, they’re paying for the equipment; but, these calls are so far from “just good enough” they’re in the next state.

Monday, October 18, 2010

FALL

Looked up from weeding and caught a glimpse of a squirrel that was moving a little slowly. He’d been visiting the chestnut tree down the street and was carrying a nut that was bigger than his head. It sort of got in the way of his short little legs.

Yeah, we’ve got little weeds up the wazoo, but all the time sensitive stuff is pretty much done. Garden areas are cleared and planted to clover for winter cover. Everything that we planned to move has pretty much been moved. Still have a couple of lavenders to groom….but that has to wait until the stuff in the yard debris bin either settles or gets picked up next week.

The squirrels have been busy. Looked up this morning and there was a little guy digging through the stuff on the ground. He was all of four feet away from me and wasn’t bothered at all. I guess some of them have figured out that I’m no threat.

Since the evergreen shrubs in the front have gotten large enough we’ve had more small birds in the front. They seem to need the shrubs for cover. They flit from dogwood to andromedas to rhodie and then head across to the trees across the street. They’re busy all day.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

THE PRAYERS OF STREAMS AND STONES

THE PRAYERS OF STREAMS AND STONES

Two similar visions of the relationship of the natural and spiritual worlds from opposite points of view. Rae Beth is British; a self described wild wood mystic within the Wiccan tradition. John Howard Griffin, author of Black Like Me, was a friend of Thomas Merton and was chose to write his biography. Unfortunately he was only able to work complete the material about Merton’s hermitage years before his death.

“….One who speaks for the tree roots and stone. Who speaks with the tree root’ and stone’ voices One who speaks as the grass and rivers. Who speaks as field and woods and hills and valleys and salt marshes and waves and tides. Yet who speaks as what is close to home. With the mouse’s voice or the seagull’s or the fox’s or the badger’s. One who speaks in cadences that go beyond the darkness and beyond stars, encompassing what is immeasurable. One whose entire being vibrates to the spirits’ words in nature, like a reed at dawn in a pool where trout swim.”

Rae Beth in The Hedge Witch’s Way

“The very nature of your solitude involves you in union with the prayers of the wind in the trees, the movement of the stars, the feeding of the birds in the fields, the building of the anthills. You witness the creator and attend to him in all his creation.”

John Howard Griffin biographer of Thomas Merton’s hermitage years. He spent time in the hermitage used by Thomas Merton at the abbey of Gethsemane and kept a journal during that time.
Rae Beth writes of one of her familiars, an old cunning man who lived in Britain over a thousand years ago. He spoke to her of prayers. He said that we must know all the prayers of the world around us; of the birds, beasts or fish. I can understand the idea that a sparrow or a fox might pray; but the prayers of streams or stones?

What does water dream of and pray for? Does the drop of water in a tiny brook remember when is was part of a mighty ocean? Does it remember being a snowflake, a glacier, or a tiny drop of rain? Does it remember being another tiny rivulet? Flowing from rivulet, to stream, to mighty river and finally to the sea. Does it remember being caught up by the warmth of the sun only to become a new drop of rain. Does it remember the long fall from cloud to earth, the sinking into the soil, the slow drift into tree roots, the release from leaves into the air and back to clouds to fall again.

What does a stone remember? Does it remember when its atoms were part of the primal lava flows? Does it remember further back when the atoms were formed in the death throes of a super nova? Do the atoms remember their lives in a cliff face being ground down by relentless breakers? Does it remember the endless pressure as the sandstone was thrust again into daylight or carried down into the heart of the earth to return again as a lava flow?

Imagining the dreams of a bird, badger or fish is difficult enough for a human. Normally we see water, grass or stone as inanimate, unaware. To imagine their prayers; that is a mystery.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A POEM BY PATRICK

Our God, God of all men,
God of heaven and earth, seas and rivers,
God of sun and moon, of all the stars,
God of high mountains and lowly valleys,
God over heaven, and in heaven, and under heaven.
He has a dwelling in heaven and earth and sea
And in all things that are in them.

He inspires all things and quickens all things.
He is over all things, he supports all things.
He makes the light of the sun to shine,
He surrounds the moon and the stars,
He has made wells in the arid earth,
Placed dry islands in the sea.
He has a Son co-eternal with himself….
And the Holy Spirit breathes in them;
Not separate are the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Attributed to Saint Patrick.

Part of Patrick’s reply to questions about God and creation in very Irish poetic form. There is no split here between Creator and Creation. There was little or no conflict in the relationships between man, nature and the Creator. While sixth century Christian missionaries in Western Europe were cutting down sacred trees; despoiling sacred wells, pulling down pagan alters, and imposing the Roman calendar in place of rhythm of the solar and lunar cycles the Celts were finding God in the sea and stars.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

OF GNATS AND SPECKS

“You strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.” Jesus in Jesus of Nazareth. He was just a little…upset with certain Temple officials at the time. The allusion is similar to “you keep pointing out the speck in your neighbors eye while ignoring the four by four in your own.”

I was reading some reviews of The Shack on Amazon and came across a comment with the curious (to me) assertion that contemplative prayer was “unbiblical.” Googling the subject led to some interesting websites. I find this curious since the material I've read on praying the office style of prayer is all based on the Bible. Some may add a hymn or short piece for meditation but they all have at least one reading from each testament and a Psalm.Depending on the monastery or convent the prayer cycle might go through the all the Psalms in as little as two weeks or take up to a month. And Kathleen Norris comments in Cloister Walk that the Abbey (St. John’s I think) where she’s an oblate would go through whole books i.e. Jeremiah in the run up to Eastertide, at a time. Personally, I love contemplative prayer and the Desert Fathers were praying it before it was decided exactly what the Bible was. So, has anyone run into this and what is the basis for these opinions?

This started a discussion thread in the Creation Spirit community I joined a couple of months ago. There have been some good responses and I’ve learned a lot. Maybe more than I really wanted to.

I’ve had to take myself firmly in hand and decide that researching the critics is not only futile but depressing. Nothing that I or anyone else outside their communities will change their minds. I don’t really mind that we don’t agree on how to approach God/dess in prayer. It’s that they seem so…..bleak and joyless. Heck, the different authors don’t even agree among themselves. It’s an interesting and dare I say arrogant world they seem to inhabit. Two thousand years of tradition out the door. Forever seeking to correct the imperfections they perceive in everyone around them. But, it isn’t for me.

I AM YOUR MOTHER

I AM YOUR MOTHER

I am your mother, do not neglect me!
Children protect me-I need your trust;
My breath is your breath, my death is your death,
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

I am your nurture; do not destroy me!
Love and enjoy me, savor my fruit;
My good is your good, my food is your food,
Water and flower, branches and root.

I am your lodging, do not abuse me!
Tenderly use me, soothing my scars;
My health is your health, my wealth is your wealth,
Shining with promise, set among stars.

The Creator is our maker, do not deny,
Challenge, defy or threaten this place.
Life is to cherish, care, or we perish!
I am your mother tears on my face.

Adapted from a prayer by Shrley Erena Murray in a Methodist Womens’s study guide for mom's UMW fellowship.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

FACEBOOK'S GOT RELIGION-OR DANGER SMALL RANT AHEAD

Or at least it looks that way all of a sudden. There's been a spike the "let's see if there are five million people on Facebook who believe in God." or "let's see how many on Facebook are true Christians" push like style entries on my page.


Hey, I do believe.......most of the time. But, tracing the links back gets me to Evangelical style websites with all the depth of my oversize mug when the tea runs out. Safe to say I haven't pushed any "like" buttons. I also suspect that if most of these folks got a look at my to be read sooner rather than later pile the door would close very quickly. Let's see; there's Thomas Merton, Matthew Fox and a guy named Tom Cowan: He's a shaman. There's also a book on Paganism and an autobiography of Hildegard of Bingen. The stack runs heavy to heretics or at least to people who believed in tipping over the pot to see what would fall out.


I guess what irritates me the most is the shallowness these links. For one thing what I believe or don't believe is between me and the Creator of All Things. Two, I strongly suspect that my vision of the Almighty will not agree with theirs. Three, like? I like corn on the cob, squirrels and daisies. I really like the cats. I love mom, my family and chocolate. Not necessarily in that order. But, Whoever or Whatever created the universe isn't exactly in the same league. Four, you can't put the Creator on a bumper sticker or capture Him/Her in a cute little quote. He/She won't fit.

Monday, September 6, 2010

SUMMER

We didn’t have much of a summer. Tonight, with two weeks to go until the Autumn Equinox, summer is fading. And, I’m thinking, not so fast buddy, I’ve got tomatoes and peppers to ripen.

Started cutting herbs today. The first of the basil with go in the dryer tomorrow. I’ll pick some more but I want to leave some of the flowers for the bees. Same with the mint and oregano. Haven’t seen a lot of bees this year; and we have enough to share. The pineapple sage didn’t bloom but there’s plenty of leaves to dry. It’ll be interesting to mix the sage with the orange mint and see what kind of tea results. The lemon cucumbers are doing well and the Franken zucchini have been fairly productive. The leave on the plants are big enough to provide an umbrella for a small child.

Had a deer make its way around one of the rhodies the other morning while I was taking a break from weeding. He looked at me, I looked at him and he eventually ambled on his way. These black tails are so small. If I could get close enough we’d probably be nose to nose. Just leave my peppers alone. It’s funny, really. The little pepper that could is over by the tomatoes and they walked through that bed during the winter. They nibble on that pepper plant but don’t bother the ones that are in the herb bed just a few feet away, Maybe the scent of the rosemary and oregano throws them off. Who knows? Just stay warm for a little longer please.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

BLUEBERRY SCROUNGER

I wish I had my camera yesterday morning. Heard a rustle and spotted a squirrel perched in the biggest blueberry bush. I knew there were a few berries left and obviously the squirrel had found some of them. He(?) had a good time munching and I had a fantastic time watching him.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

THE LITTLE PEPPER THAT DID


I did an entry at the end of June about the pepper plant that lost it "head" after we put it in the trunk for the ride home.
Not only did that baby grow it's outdone the other two plants. Of course it had to come from behind. It not only set more peppers than the plants that had a head start, but I've had to pick these while they're still green (they'll be great in soup or relish) because they were literally pulling the plant over. I picked one yesterday and got these this morning.
It's pick 'em green or lose 'em when the plant goes belly up from the weight of the fruit. BTW the larges one is about six inches long.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

BIRDLAND

There’s a fascinating hierarchy in our neighborhood’s feathered world. If we had hawks roosting in the trees the crows wouldn’t give them any peace. In turn, the scrub jays torment the crows. The starlings (and the squirrels) scold the jays while the swallows dive bomb just about everybody in range. When it comes to the swallows, I’m not sure if it’s harassment or “let’s just see how close I can get without losing any feathers,” because I think I got dive bombed this morning while I was bending over contemplating a stubborn weed. “Something” buzzed over me; it was too loud to be a hummer and there was a flock of swallows dancing overhead.

Earlier, as I was chasing the last strawberry on a plant, I stood up and found myself eyeball to feather ball with a hummer. It “chpp, chpp’d” at me a couple of times and zipped off. I last saw it harassing a swallow near the neighbor’s porch. I wonder if hummers have a version of neener, neener, neener. Obviously, wingless humans are at the bottom of the pecking order. LOL

Monday, August 9, 2010

FREEDOM TO DEPRESS

" 'We wanted them to ask the questions we wanted to answer, so that they would report the news the way we want it to be reported.' Sharon Angle, Nevada Republican senate hopeful who has avoided reporters, discussing media strategy with Fox News." As reported on the Perspectives page of this weeks Newsweek magazine.

Last I heard the candidate, running against Harry Reid, has managed to blow an eleven point lead since the primary. God(dess) keep up the good work. That attitude alone is enough to disqualify her for any elected office down to and including dog catcher.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

SUMMER FLOWERS

I suddenly remembered the macro feature on the digital camera. So naturally I had to go out and .........


The stargazer lilies are in full bloom.


And the pink rose by the driveway. The buffet loving deer haven't gotten these yet. Actually it was more of a problem in the early spring than it is now.



The black eyed susans are up. The true definition of "yellow."


A blossom from the little rose that could. This bush was three little leaf stems at ground level and a really good root ball this spring. It was in a pot on the porch and got its feet too wet. It's very happy sharing the flower bed with some geraniums.












Sunday, July 11, 2010

JUST A LITTLE QUESTION

Found a link on Face Book to a yes or no question. Should flag burning be made a crime? The comment of the person who had the link was the basic “if they don’t like it here, they should go back where they came from.” Haven’t burned a flag. Don’t have any desire to burn a flag; unless it’s dirty, raggedy and needing to be retired. And I’m not touching the whole flag worship thing with a ten foot pole. But it begs the question.

The latest ancestor I can account for stepped off the boat with rest of her bog trotting kin in 1850 at the Port of New York. Near as I can tell everybody else was this side of the pond while dinner toasters were still starting off the after dinner liquid merriment with “to his majesty” or “God save the King.” I’ve got tree branches haling from Scandinavia to Spain and Northern Italy. And from France before it was France to Byzantium and the Ukraine. Not to mention England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Under the circumstances I prithee tell me sir; where should I go?

Probably wouldn’t be any happier with my six times great grandfather Thomas Elmore, a Quaker. Seems he spent some time in the slammer in the glorious colony of Virginia. As near as anyone can tell he either didn’t pay his tithes or refused to attend the Church of England, the established church of Virginia, …..or both. Nothing like studying the times of your ancestors to remind what they had to go through to get here. And how lucky we are in spite of the problems facing us.

The poster has the right to his opinion and I have the right to tell him to “zark off.” (courtesy of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) Of course, I’d have the added pleasure of exiting while the target is puzzling over what I just said and wondering if the translation means what he thinks it means. :-)

Monday, June 28, 2010

THE LITTLE PEPPER THAT IS

pulling off a small miracle thank you. When we got veggies for the garden out at Johnson's we picked out a couple of nice looking pepper plants and brought the whole shebang home in the trunk of the car. There are times I do miss the van.

Anyway, one of peppers was "decapitated." Took off the upper half of that little sucker. Nuts. Replaced the pepper; didn't quite have the heart to dump the oddball. Then I noticed the little leaf buds above the big leaves. So, with fingers crossed we planted it, and low and behold those little leaf buds are growing. I don't know if it'll develop enough to actually produce peppers but at least it's growing. Life is a stubborn old thing, isn't it? Doesn't want to give up no matter what.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

THE LITTLE ROSE THAT COULD


Life hangs on by the thinnest threads sometimes. We potted up a pretty little pink miniature rose a couple of years ago. In spite of a little black spot last summer it seemed really happy in its pot on the front steps.

We had an unexpected and fairly severe cold snap in early November and I think the shrub was nipped a bit; it spent the rest of the winter under cover on the porch. When the plant started to leaf out this spring, it was back to its home on the steps, Where it promptly went downhill.

When we took out a huge fern in the bed next to house well, there was this whole new space to fill in. What the heck, give pinky a chance. When I went to unpot the rose, surprise surprise, there were three tiny little leaves at the base of the main stem. Into the oversize potting soil lined hole went the patient. The rose that appeared to be ready for rose heaven is now about six inches tall and doing an admirable imitation of a dandelion. In other words, it’s growing like a weed.

Never give up, you just might bloom in spite of everything.

Friday, June 18, 2010

EYES SHUT, HUMMING REAL LOUD

Geez, has it been two months? No excuse. Between the garden, the family tree and other things I guess I've had a case of writer's block or something. Anyway my take on the appearance of BP's CEO in DC yesterday. Not a pretty sight.

“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

On or about June 5, 1944 General Dwight Eisenhower scribbled this note and stuck it in his jacket pocket. He never had to use it and it was found years later, still in the jacket pocket. Since the original copy of this little sheet of paper shows the editing he did as he wrote, many historians believe he probably wrote it as he traveled from base to base to visit with the airborne troops as they readied to board their planes for the invasion of France.

Worst case casualty estimates for the airborne troops was up to seventy percent. The man believed it was important to look into the eyes of the men he was sending into harm’s way. Contrast this with the Deepwater Horizon survivors who claim they were asked to sign liability waivers as soon as they reached shore.

Contrast this with the “nobody told me anything, I apparently haven't displayed any curiosity whatsoever about how this company drills for oil , I wasn't on the Deepwater Horizon rig before the disaster, so these events are not my responsibility” testimony of BP CEO Tony Howard in Washington DC yesterday. It may be catty, but I picture the man in his office eyes closed, fingers in ears, humming really, really loud.

In another note, Rep. Joe Barton R-Texas (recipient of over $1,400,000 in oil and gas contributions since 1989) first apologized to Howard at the beginning of the hearings for the “shakedown” by the White House that forced BP to set up an escrow account to cover damage claims from the spill, then withdrew his apology later in the day. It appears he was strongly encouraged to do so by members of his own party. As in “eat crow now or risk losing your seat on the committee.” Again the prĂ©cis of the news story is my own, but it gets the gist of it.

After all the ‘Pubs are hoping to pick up as many seats at possible this fall. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out as the supporters of “leave industry alone to regulate itself” face the voters. At least the escrow fund may help the alleviate some of the capitalize the profits, socialize the cost of cleaning up the messes we’ve seen in the past.

Cross posted to Women On.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

RAIN, FAMILY TREES AND PROOFREADING

Managed to knock off another section of weeds today. Gee, three days in a row out in the mud pile. The weather man predicted showers for late today. Yeah, right. The word showers implies that the falling water doesn’t fall very long. Anything over an hour is rain, guys.

The pink rhodie on the north side is showing a little color. Just have to remember those May flowers that go with the April showers. And the April mud, and the April weeds……..:-) On the upside I’ve seen several lady bugs hanging out in out of the way places like the heather.

Getting a kick out of working on the family tree. Something that does catch my attention are the folks who either don’t pay attention when the program prompts them with a place name or copy what someone else has done without thinking about what they’re doing. That is when I’m not wincing. Are they in too big a hurry to think about what they’re doing or just not realize that there’s a problem?

As an example, I was working with an archived tree on Ancestry.com when I spotted a little problem with an entry, I’m reasonably certain that my I’m not sure how many greats are involved grandfather who was born in Normandy did not die in Alia, Delaware in 1031. I mean it’s just a hunch; but it’s not like Bayeux, Normandy and the east coast of North America are in the same hemisphere much less the same time zone.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

LOW TECH BUT IT WORKED



Listen to the tech heads and the marketers. We live in a technological Nirvana and pity the poor souls who had to make do with less. Sometimes we forget that what the technology actually provides isn’t new. It’s either faster, more elaborate, or replaces something we used to do for ourselves. Computers process information in seconds that used to take days or weeks to complete. The global information network allows us to know about earthquakes in Chili or Haiti in minutes. Planes allow us to cross the Atlantic in a few hours instead of a few weeks. The Battle of New Orleans is an icon in American history. It was fought after the peace treaty was signed.

Chasing some ancestors through the centuries prompted me to finally crack open some of the history books I’ve been collecting over the years. (The reading list doesn’t seem to get shorter.) Anyway, I stumbled across something low tech, but very effective.

I’m not sure if the English still use the term, but the royal finances used to be managed by the Exchequer. Before the exchequer was an office it was a thing. A tablecloth, actually. A tablecloth with a simple grid painted on it.

This is a simplified version of the system in use in the 1100’s in England. It would be at least two hundred years before Roman numerals were replaced by the decimal system we use now. Remember playing with Roman numerals in math class? Remember trying to actually add or subtract with them? Instant insanity.


This sample grid just has hundreds, tens, and ones. When it was time to collect the taxes the court officials would go on circuit and meet with the local justices or sheriffs. The cloth would be laid out where everyone could see what was happening and collections began. Working through the list tokens would be laid out on the cloth. The top row was for what had been assessed. The bottom row represented what was actually paid. You could see at a glance whether the totals matched.

At a time when literacy was at a premium that checked cloth was a way to get the job done in a way everyone could follow and agree on, And the receipt? The final total was notched onto a stick. The stick was split and each side kept a half. The clerk who could actually read and write wrote out the final results on parchment and rolled everything together for safekeeping.

It worked; it’s hard to argue with that.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

MY SURPRISE

The gospel according to Newt Gingrich. LBJ's political ship was sunk by the civil rights bill of 1964. Granted the former 90's Republican speaker of the house isn't exactly known for his tact. After all he informed his first wife he wanted a divorce while she was still groggy from cancer surgery. Way to go Mr. Gingrich, I guess the right side of the brain doesn't know what the left side of the brain is thinking. Or is ignoring the left side of the brain because horror of horrors; it's the LEFT SIDE of the brain.

Announcing your opinion that the bill that made it possible for more minorities to vote, helped end segregated public schools, and got folks out of the back of the bus was a mistake while trying to build your base with these voters seems a little counter productive.

But, then I guess my memory is a little faulty. Here I've belived that it was Viet Nam that drove LBJ to announce that he wasn't going to run in '68. Did I miss something back there?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

THE GOOD SAMARITAN AND AFTER

It’s funny when I was writing this in my head it was only a few sentences long. And then it grew. And grew.

When I decided to keep at least one foot in the tradition I was raised in, I also realized that I was, honestly, pretty damned ignorant. Doesn't say much for all the years I spent in Sunday School. So, that’s where most of my of my reading has been going, lately. And frankly most of what I’ve been reading doesn’t lend itself to easy blogging.

Anyway, one of the places that reading has led me is here. Who is my neighbor and who deserves my help is a question being asked in every part of this country. And the answer in too many living rooms seems to be “nobody, I’m only responsible for myself, don’t ask me to pay extra taxes or offer any extra help to………because……..fill in the blasted blanks.

When Jesus answered the question of the man of law, “who is my neighbor?” he told story with remarkably few details. A certain man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho along a road known to be dangerous. The man is attacked, beaten, robbed, stripped and left by the side of the road. Of possible passersby, only three are named; a priest, a Levite and a Samaritan.

Why did the first two pass by? Kathleen Norris pointed out in an essay that the priest and the Levite were forbidden by the Law of Moses to have any contact with the dead. And they couldn’t tell for certain if the man was dead or alive without touching him and take the risk of becoming ritually unclean. Apparently the rituals to restore ritual purity were time consuming and possibly expensive. They might have been willing to face that cost for a fellow Jew, but they would have no may of knowing who they were dealing without breaking the law. Unconscious, stripped and wounded; the man could have been Greek, Syrian, Egyptian; heaven knows everybody seems to have passed through that part of the world at one time or another.

Maybe they were just in a hurry. And I can hear a few modern excuses running through their minds. Maybe it’s a trick or a trap. Darn fool, he should have known better than to travel this road by himself. He should have a least been carrying a weapon of some kind. Probably doesn’t belong here in the first place; there’s too many foreigners in the country anyway. It’s not my problem; I have enough troubles of my own to worry about. So, eyes averted, steps quickened, down the road they went. They may have felt bad about it. Who knows; they may have salved their consciences with “it’s a busy road; somebody else will be along before too long.” Although why they thought the possible somebody else would act differently……

Along comes the Samaritan. A member of a people who claimed to have been left behind when most of the population was forced out of the country by the Assyrians. They claimed to be Jews, but had their own ways and their own temple. They weren’t recognized by the Temple establishment in Jerusalem as Jews.

The rest of the story is familiar. The Samaritan cares for the stranger, puts him on his own animal, takes him to an inn and leaves money with the inn keeper with the promise that he’ll make up any differences when he comes back. Either the traveler was very convincing or the inn keeper knew him well enough to trust him for the balance.

Heck I haven't thought of this story in years. I flashed on it while reading a one star review of a favorite film, The Shoes of the Fisherman. Faced with a world brought to the brink of atomic war by famine in communist China the Pope places the wealth of the church as guaranty for aid. That’s not right, said the reviewer. The Chinese should have been forced to renounce communism first. The writer didn’t suggest that the Chinese be required to become Christians, but the implication,in all its Western arrogance, is there.

Honestly, when I first read the review I also imagined trying to explain the sudden population explosion to whoever runs the hereafter after the world explodes into a holocaust. Bad enough explaining the adults; but the children? But, it’s where you risk ending up when you insist that you have a private pipeline to God (whoever He or She is) and you know all the answers.

Anyway when I reread the review after watching the film again this weekend I remembered the parable. I seemed to remember that the story started with “a certain man” and several translations later I was faced with a simple fact. Jesus didn’t say who the man was or what he was doing on that road. Only that he needed help and that when the letter of the law conflicted with the spirit of the law, well get things cleaned up and sort out the details later.

It might be a trap. It might be a sham. You might get fooled. You might get hurt. Or you might just light a little candle to shine in the dark.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

NEW LOW CONTINUED

You could be right Russ. This doesn't hit me with that deliberately provocative "vibe" though. More like just totally clueless.

Does remind me of a couple of phone calls I got one evening at that Little Bakery in the Mall. A marketing class at the local university was doing a survey. The caller wanted to know if anyone at our workplace wore high heels.

"Uh, no." Then the caller wanted to know why.

"Well, this is a bakery."

Silence.

"The floors are concrete and things get spilled."

????????

"And we're in and out of the kitchen area and freezer all day. And our stock room is on top of the freezer. Heels don't work very well on ladders."

????????

"I haven't found heels with non skid soles."

?????????

Just didn't seem to sink in that there were places where women didn't wear stiletto heels to work every day. And "no I don't know how many of my co workers wear heels when they aren't here, sorry."

It's a totally different universe out there.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A NEW HIGH OR IS THAT A LOW?

Maybe it’s just me. But, the company that makes Glad freezer bags is running a commercial right now that I find, well the word offensive might begin to describe it. Unfortunately I haven’t found a copy on the net anywhere. A word picture will have to serve.

Ms. Suburban Susie Sunshine walks up to the meat counter and orders “four pounds of sirloin, but just wrap two because I’ll end up throwing the rest away anyway” or words to that effect. WTF???????

The marketing geniuses that came up with this piece of crap go on to inform the viewer that the average food waste in this country is five hundred pounds per I’m not sure what. Is it per person, per household or are they lumping all the food wasted in public and retail kitchens together with the rest of us? Uh, yoo hoo guys. Most of the folks I run with can barely afford the occasional on sale chuck or round roast to cube for stew meat or soup much less multiple pounds of prime steak. At best it's a cut you can slice really thin and cook up really quick for stir fry or fajitas. Ummm with peppers, mushrooms and onions.............Down girl, we're dissing a commercial here, not planning tomorrow's menu.

In any case, I’d love to know who’s throwing out my share. Most of what goes out of our kitchen is peelings and trimmings. And most of that gets mixed with composting base and ends up in the garden. We draw the line at potato peelings though. Growing your own is great, but spuds in the flower beds are a real pain to deal with because no matter how hard you try you NEVER DIG THEM ALL UP.

I don’t know, maybe the current crop of commercials are being designed by computers or something because most of them don’t make much sense anyway. But, this one is so low, it reaches a new high. In a country that has at least thirteen million hungry children, the idea that any food is wasted is troubling. In a world where millions live with hunger on a daily basis; I guess it’s a good thing the hungriest probably won’t see our commercials. And, as an extra added attraction, when or if you throw out a couple of pounds of meat because you didn’t store it properly in the first place you’re not only wasting the meat you’re wasting the resources it took to raise the blessed discarded two pounds of sirloin in the first place. Fertilizer, water, grain; it all joins that cut of meat in the garbage can.

I know that people in marketing departments live in their own little worlds but, I’m not sure this group is even in the same solar system with the rest of us mere mortals.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

RAINY COUPLE

It’s been a lot rainier than the past few years in this neck of the woods. There’s been more than a few umbrella/raincoat couples traveling up or down our street.

In the rains of spring
An umbrella and a raincoat
Talk as they pass by.

Yosa Buson

I get the impression of someone looking down from an upper story window as the rainy couple passes by.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

IMBOLG

If you follow the calendar of the Celts Spring begins tonight. Bit hard to believe that the world is turning green when you live back east and digging out from the latest assault from the snow gods. We had a break in the rain today and suddenly the first light purple crocuses are actually open. You have to catch them quickly before the sun goes away and they close up.

The birds have actually been singing and the squirrels are busy as ever. Someone in the neighborhood has at least one specimen of poultry; we’re treated to regular, hearty doses of cockadoodledoos during the day.

Welcome to Imbolg and thanks for the reminder that it’s time to start cleaning things up and plan for new growth, inside and out.

I make the encircling
Of the many colored winds:
Black wind of the cold north,
Pale green of southwest,
Red wind of southeast,
Grey wind of northwest,
Purple wind of sharp east,
Clear wind of the dear west,
Speckled wind of northeast,
White wind of warm south,
Yellow of the veering wind.
The encompassment of the winds
Protect and surround me
This spring day.

Caitlin Matthews

Careful of those winds, you’ll find a rainbow where you least expect it.

Cross posted in Green Woman.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Something sis said this weekend keeps coming back in that irritating, itchy way that some thoughts have. Apparently the fastest growing church in her neighborhood is Baptist style church popular with the young people. Services start on time and end on time. There's all sorts of youth groups, adult groups, singles groups etc. and up the wazoo.

It seems that the younger folks like it because it provides them "with what they want." I hate to admit it but my knowledge of the gospels is more than a little rusty these days. However, I 've always been under the impression that a certain itinerant preacher got in trouble with the imperial and temple authorities because he went around telling people what God wanted, not the other way around. Perhaps I've been mistaken all these years.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A TOUCH OF THE PROPHETS?

I caught part of a program on Northern Ireland and the "troubles" that lasted from the late sixties into the nineties. Fueled by, well blindness on all sides to be honest. I hadn't thought of this piece in years. It took a bit of internet digging since the LP it's on is in a really safe place. A really, really safe place. Look, the blessed thing is in the house I'm sure of that. It's not like it has legs. I didn't realize, or maybe I just didn't remember, that the person who recorded it was also the author.

I'll leave the name for the ending. But, I honestly believe that a piece like this has to come from the fringes; either the desert or the lands that border the cold wildness that's home to the North Atlantic gales.

THERE ARE TOO MANY SAVIORS ON MY CROSS

There are too many saviors on my cross,
lending their blood to flood out my ballot box with needs of their own.
Who put you there?
Who told you that was your place?

You carry me secretly naked in your heart
and clothe me publicly in armor
crying “God is on our side,” yet I openly cry
who is on Mine?
Who?
Tell Me, who?
You who bury your sons and cripple your fathers
Whilst you bury my father in crippling his son.

The antiquated Saxon sword,
rusty in its scabbard of time now rises—
you gave it cause in my name,
bringing shame to the thorned head
that once bled for your salvation.

I hear your daily cries
in the far-off byways in your mouth
pointing north and south
and my Calvary looms again,
desperate in rebirth.
Your earth is partitioned,
but in contrition
it is the partition
in your hearts that you must abolish.

You nightly watchers of Gethsemane
who sat through my nightly trial delivering me from evil—
now deserted, I watch you share your silver.
Your purse, rich in hate,
bleeds my veins of love,
shattering my bone in the dust of the Bogside and the Shankill road.

There is no issue stronger than the tissue of love
no need as holy as the palm outstretched in the run of generosity.
No monstrosity greater than the anger you inflict.
Who gave you the right to increase your fold
and decrease the pastures of my flock?
Who gave you the right?
Who gave it to you?
Who?
And in whose name do you fight?

I am not in heaven,
I am here,
hear me.
I am in you,
feel me.
I am of you,
be me.
I am with you,
see me.
I am for you,
need me.
I am all mankind, only through kindness will you reach me.

What masked and bannered men can rock the ark
and navigate a course to their anointed kingdom come?
Who sailed their captain to waters that they troubled in My font,
sinking in the ignorant seas of prejudice?

There is no virgin willing to conceive in the heat of any bloody Sunday.
you crippled children lying in cries on Derry’s streets,
pushing your innocence to the full flush face of Christian guns,
battling the blame on each other.
Do not grow tongues in your dying dumb wounds speaking my name.
I am not your prize in your death.
you have exorcized me in your game of politics.

Go home to your knees and worship me in any cloth,
for I was never tailor-made.
Who told you I was?
Who gave you the right to think it?
Take your beads in your crippled hands,
can you count my decades?
Take my love in your crippled hearts,
can you count the loss?

I am not orange.
I am not green.
I am a half-ripe fruit needing both colors to grow into ripeness,
and shame on you to have withered my orchard.
I in my poverty,
alone without trust,
cry shame on you
and shame on you again and again
for converting me into a bullet and shooting me into men’s hearts

The ageless legend of my trial grows old
in the youth of your pulse staggering shamelessly from barricade to grave,
filling in the book of history my needless death one April.
Let me, in my betrayal, lie low in my grave,
and you, in your bitterness, lie low in yours,
for our measurements grow strangely dissimilar.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
sullied be thy name.

by Richard Harris from the early seventies.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

MEDITATION-WHAT FELL

Danger, curious person thinking in public.

For the sake of argument rewrite the story of the Fall in Genesis without the spiritual element and you find a story is as old as humanity. It’s repeated every time some guy tries to get a girl into his bedroom. It’s repeated every time a joint, a line of coke, even a cigarette is offered with the tired refrain of “everybody’s doing it,” “what’s the matter, you scared,” and the classic “nobody will every know.” There’s at least one problem with trying to keep a secret. No matter how deep you bury that secret at least one person will always know what happened. You can hide things from everyone but yourself. Buried deep inside it festers and creates a wall between you and everyone around you.

And if you believe that in some way the God of scripture set the forces of creation in motion that resulted in humanity and every other creature in the universe, including a certain tempter; there’s always “don’t tell Dad.” And there’s another old standby. Take out the King James sixteenth century language and you might find that the story takes on a five year olds’ playground singsong; “I know something you don’t know.”

Perhaps the death blamed on man’s fall in the garden wasn’t the physical death that the far right evangelicals claim. After all there’s no claim in scripture that our physical bodies were meant to be immortal. Even stars and planets are born, age and die. Something the writers who preserved scripture wouldn’t have, couldn’t have known.

Perhaps the meaning story isn’t death of the body but injury to the soul. When truth is ignored, trust is impossible and without trust there can never be love or hope. And without love or hope life is meaningless.

Monday, January 11, 2010

BIRDS AND BELLS

With a bit of adaptation this would work for almost anyone. It’s still a beautiful piece.

Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the children of the earth.
Every part of the earth is sacred.

The air is precious, for we share the same breath.
Every part of the earth is sacred.

This we know, the earth does not belong to us; we belong to the earth.
Every part of the earth is sacred.

This we know, all things are connected;
Like the blood that unites on family.
Every part of the earth is sacred.

Our God is the same God,
Whose compassion is equal for all.
Every part of the earth is sacred.

We do not weave the web of life;
We are merely a strand in it.
Every part of the earth is sacred.

Whatever we do to web, we do to ourselves.
Every part of the earth is sacred.


From the Rhythm of Life by David Adam

David Adams was vicar of the parish on the island of Lindesfarne for many years. Although he is now retired he still lives on the island. Also known as Holy Island, it’s all of two square miles in area. The island has had some kind of religious foundation since 635 AD. It’s a place where you can be immersed in the sounds of the sea, the birds, the wind and the old church bells.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

FROZEN MOONLIGHT

Glittering flakes:
The wind is breaking
Frozen moonlight.

Horiuchi Toshimi

I couldn’t find the perfect picture, or even a semi perfect picture to go with this poem. So much isn’t said in a haiku. A dark night, a cold night, dark evergreen trees perhaps, no lights beyond a house or courtyard, it’s snowing, perhaps a break in the clouds that allows a sliver of moonlight to join the dancing flakes. A blink, a breath and it’s gone.