Friday, December 4, 2009

Staying Warm

"All at once, the weight has lifted
Forgotten the weeping all last night
She's wearing a frown borrowed from her father
Her head is tilted a little to the right.."
~ Peter Mulvey
Tender Blindspot,
The Trouble with Poets, 2000

Years ago when I first moved to Bellingham WA, I went to a concert that was held in an ungodly hot office up four flights or so in a commercial building in town. I had heard Peter Mulvey on Whole Wheat Radio and found his music great and that is what set me to attend. He was playing with David Goodrich that evening along with a local upstart, Korby Lenker. I recall this concert not only because it was insanely hot in there but because the force of the talent in the room was unrelenting. Peter Mulvey is a musician's musician and, I think, an awe inspiring songwriter and poet. I hear his influences in others music all the time and when I do, I'm always returning in my mind to that steamy little House Concert in back in 2004. When Mulvey plays time stops, period. The relationship that he has forged with his craft is that strong and apparent when he plays. Any chance to see or hear him perform should be sought out and savored.

Fortunately for all of us we can get a taste of this talent without even leaving our comfort zone tonight a 9 pm (PST) because he is playing at Whole Wheat Radio tonight and it is being simulcast for everyone's enjoyment. Just click on this link and you are there and ready to listen in. Information about Peter, his opening act Anais Mitchell, and a chat room to discuss the concert or leave messages for Peter and Anais will appear. I hope you allow yourself the experience of Peter Mulvey. As for me, I'm going to pour myself a glass of wine, listen in and maybe turn up the know, just for old times sake.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Saturday has left the building...

Saturday, 1996-2009

Saturday, born in Phoenix, AZ in 1996 and tossed into a gutter, found his way to food on my niece's porch in the barrio and into my heart soon thereafter. Weighing no more and 3 ounces and with ears as big as a fruit bat, he hissed down two adult cats to get to the food that was there. Before the adult cats could make a meal of him, my niece Leslie, called me to come pick up the foundling.

"Poppy and Nugget are going to KILL him if you don't come get him!" she shouted over the phone - only I couldn't hear for all the noise from a party that was going on at her place.

"What?" I said.

She shouted. "Saturday! A kitten showed up here on Saturday on my porch and the boys are going to kill him! Come get him!"

"What?" I repeated, struggling to make sense of what I could hear. "You have a cat named Saturday and you want me to come pick him up?" I asked.

I guess she was feeling that was as close to a complete communication that she was going to get from me because she shouted, exasperated, "YES! Come and get him! NOW!"

That is how Saturday came to be my companion for these last 13 years, through living in three states and often unbelievable living conditions. Always by my side; always somewhat subdued about just about everything yet passionate about me and a full food bowl. Saturday, a bit of a legend on-line and always number one in any reality for me.
Rest in peace my dear feline companion. There is no more pain for you now. I will learn to live without you but it will be a lonely journey for lack of your sweet company and the great comfort that you never failed to bring me.Hold your pet close tonight and love them up. The acquaintance is always too short.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Esther Golton and News from the Northern Lights

I received my CD of Esther Golton's "Aurora Borealis: Conversations with Alaska's Northern Lights" just as I was arriving home from a music festival. I slapped it into the player as I was unpacking the truck. I didn't get very far with the unpacking before I found myself sitting in front of the speaker mesmerized by the music that she was producing. The first thing I thought of was "How in the name of God did she capture so much of that atmosphere so clearly?" How, indeed.

Esther is a fabulously gifted musician but even more, that she can actually translate a natural phenomena like the Aurora Borealis in such an accessible and fantastic way musically is awe-inspiring. She shares here what is essential of a natural occurrence that leaves many of us doomed to observe slack-jawed, wordless and in awe. She just keeps going deeper and deeper into the layers of music and brings us closer and closer to the radiance of that phenomenal experience.

I hear so many different influences in each cut that they rise above mere tunes. They truly are conversations with the Aurora itself, just as the title suggests. She has achieved her goal in this. This is subtly different from what you hear as a ambient music in the bookstore or yoga class. She has listened, observed, received the information and translated it in her very individual way for us to enjoy. I've listened to the CD several times (my favorite mode being intimately on my iPod) and I'm convinced I hear an invitation from the Aurora herself. Aurora, the goddess of dawn and new beginnings, speaks here and this CD clearly invites us to open our eyes and see the natural world with all the spectacular gifts this earth displays every moment, as if it is our first morning and our beginning, too.

Esther is having a special CD release party that anyone can attend on-line on Saturday, September 12th at Whole Wheat Radio. These live concerts can be attended on-line and are as easy to access as clicking a link to listen which can be done here. The party starts at 7 pm Alaska time [fashionably later Eastern - you can do the math here]. These concerts are a lot of fun and they are interactive, if you wish. It is Esther's birthday on that day, too. Judging by listening to this CD and her conversations, she has much to be proud of in the company she has kept this year.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Health Care Reform - Is there a Doctor in the House?

I didn't really know what to write about to my Congresswoman in regards to Health Care Reform. I choose Maria Cantwell because she did not have as much on her website regarding the issue. Unlike Patty Murray,who is actively culling stories to support her case for reform as top billing on her site , or Rick Larsen, who is currently on the ever critical House Budget Committee; he clearly has a strong grasp on this important issue on his site. I felt Cantwell needed the most encouragement.

I decide a pep talk was in order. I mean if I had this tremendous battle playing out in front of ME, I'd want to here the roar of support from the troops behind me as I stepped up. I went with what I feel most comfortable with in an unfamiliar terrain. I can only hope I haven't made too big of a fool of myself by dabbling in politics.

Good luck to Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By with her online campaign and Good Cheer to all of us on this one.

My submission, forthwith:

The Honorable Maria Cantwell

511 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington DC 20510

August 18, 2009

Regarding H.R. 3200

Hello Senator Cantwell,

I am writing to you regarding H.R.3200: America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. I suspect that I am preaching to the choir here but you are my representative for a success in this endeavor and I want to make sure you don’t throw in the towel before every last hope for the best Health Care reform possible has been utilized and provided. This bill must be strong and lasting for generations to come. I count on your keeping this vision intact.

I am an elder who lives and works in Bellingham WA. I have worked for the better part of forty years doing one thing or another to keep mine and my family’s head above water. I have two grown children. One of my children is just starting a family. I hear it through the news that it is a common belief amongst those in political circles that seniors are not supporting Health Care reform. I hear, as well, that there’s a great deal of fact [link} being sullied in the name of special interests. I don’t watch a lot of television myself so I had to do a little digging to look at what the general population is viewing. I then took a look around me and realized that no one that I see in my circle of working seniors thinks the current Health Care System is sustainable nor is (save for possibly the health care provided by the Veterans Affairs Administration) there currently a foundation sturdy enough to build upon. As for concerns of losing Medicare, I understand that reforming a cumbersome bureaucratic mess does not necessarily mean that improvements will not be made. This monopoly by the health insurance industry must end to avoid the suffering of many Americans.

I do not write or call politicians often so you will have to excuse my lack of familiarity with this type of discourse. I simply want to say I am aware that these are critically important times for the fate of our country and this is a very complicated issue. I do not envy your job. I need to tell you, too, that I am hoping that you persevere in trying to keep H.R. 3200 as intact and protected from private interests as is humanly possible. I recognize that we all have a unique opportunity at this time to make a tremendous improvement on scores of lives across this country by setting a policy in place that provides for fair and equitable health care for all. Please do not loose heart or think that elders do not care and that we are not doing what we can in our own way to support these changes. We are online, we are paying attention and we are not afraid of change. We are right here with you in thought and spirit when you are required to go that extra distance to secure this very important improvement to the American Health Care System.

I thank you for all your work and service and I thank you for taking the time to read my letter.


It would feel good to be a part of moving this improvement of our Health Care System into law. May we all live long healthy lives and prosper in the knowledge our children have the care they need and deserve....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Do you remember November?

This is it. It happened this month, August 2009.

*Please make a note of it.*

All of us who were ecstatic about the election of Barack Obama – all of us who solemnly nodded to ourselves in thanks to the Powers-That-Be that we were given an opportunity for a second chance – all of us who readily admitted that we became too complacent in letting our leaders do all the heavy lifting in maintaining a democracy – all of us who cheerfully said, “Oh YES! We know we are going to have to help Obama! We know the election is just the beginning…” Well, recess is nearly over, literally. If we do not make a strong presence when class reassembles on health care reform, we are going to be witness to a great deal more suffering and disappointment than is necessary.

This Thursday, August 20th is the day set aside for elders to rise in a clear cry of unity to, at the very least, break the stronghold the spinning media has on projecting the belief that seniors are against health care reform. From TGB:

“…not all of us want to keep our single-payer system – Medicare – and deny everyone else similar benefits, which is how it appears…in widespread media coverage of town hall meetings and interviews with elders.”

Thursday there will be blogging. There will be dust raised as conservative and liberal elders have it out. Don't send us to the front lines alone. This fight is an important one and will be resonating for decades and effecting generations - To put a finer point on it: this one is for you and those you love.

If you are unsure where you stand, go here for the debate. If you are not sure who to write, go here to get the correct cage to rattle. If you don’t know what to write, consider what not writing anything could ensue - then open a notepad on your computer and look here for a simple outline.

Be polite. Be heard. Be a part of history in clarifying your support for the Unites States as a responsible, caring and compassionate government for its citizens. Let’s show ourselves, our children and the world that we can follow through with what we swooned and swore over last fall. I am going to post what I have written to my Congress on this matter on Thursday, August 20th and send the link to As Time Goes By . Ronni Bennett of TBG wants to try a show of force on the internet that one day. I don’t suspect what I write will be the most the eloquent thing I’ve ever written because I’m a bit shy about politics, frankly, but I’m passionate about freedom and liberty for all and I suspect that counts. If you blog, you can share your letter there, too.

Also, in truth, I’m about ready for another wave of that heady feeling of our November win. How about you? Well, it did not happen because it was left to gravity. It happened because we collectively held up the sky.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Making Sure That Music Never Dies

I'm not in the habit of posting things on my blog that consume more than 10 minutes of anyone's time but I'm going to post this because sometimes, it takes more than 10 minutes to examine an important issue. Besides I want it handy to refer back to. This issue is close to my heart and it might be to yours too. It is very inspiring as well as insightful, therefore worth the attention. I encourage you to take the time to watch it.

Hardly any of us, even if we do not watch television or listen to radio lives in a vacuum that excludes the lives of the young we mentor or humor or herd through their lives. This video holds within in it a strong message on how we can help understand our role in seeing to it that the talents of the young are not bartered to the highest bidder of popular culture. We have given our children dollars and robbed them of sense in the process. We have also let our guard down as corporations have swallowed up the forums for talent to be shared. This video, shows in no-uncertain-terms how manipulative the record industry has become and how confused young people are. This video shows, too, how powerful the music business is becoming as it separates from the record industry and regains it's integrity. It is deeply inspirational in this regard.

Art and success can be an artist's destiny. The responsibility really falls on us to step up with this knowledge and share it to encourage and support the talented and aspiring in defining themselves.

Before Music Dies

Thank you Whole Wheat Radio for posting this on Facebook and thank you to Annette Shacklett for bringing it to Jim's attention.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This Too Shall Pass

...and you will miss it if you don't get yourself down to the Green Frog Acoustic Tavern Monday night, July 20 by 9 pm. I have written about my love of Danny Schmidt's work in my blog before here. Perhaps you missed it and perhaps you did not but I assure you that you will not be disappointed in being in the audience when Danny performs.

Danny has something to say and to play he delivers it in a manner that simply blows the mind. If you go early, save me a seat because I don't get off work until 9:15 and I will be arriving fashionably late. [call me!]

Danny is also playing a house concert on Tuesday night where someone has had the incredible insight to book him. The info for that concert is here:

Tuesday 7/21 - Bellingham, WA
House Concert
Doors at 7pm. Show starts at 8pm.

Meanwhile, please join me and do yourself a favor in enjoying a memorable evening at the best watering hole in Bellingham! Warning. You will want very much to go to the house concert the following night.

There will be no whining! It's not like I have not warned you here.

Thank you gimmegimmemomo for making this video.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Time Enough to Be

I came across an interesting, contemplative, personal discourse on art and art history that includes how it is critiqued, valued, accessed and evolving. Written by David Byrne he recalls his experience with libraries (which would include a similar consciousness raising experience for us all, undoubtedly). I'd like to share it here. He writes this, in part, about a displaced library supplanted by a gallery expansion:

...But where did the books go? Reading, the part of the Victorian outreach that involved more interaction and could actually be brought into one’s house for a while, is gone.

Maybe, with the sheer volume of text on the Internet, it isn’t deemed as important to make books available for free to the poor and newly arrived in the East End. Art you have to visit and see, for the most part, and books you can buy, browse at bookstores or now download. Maybe part of the museum or gallery’s attraction is the social aspect — reading is solitary. The Whitechapel was crowded, and people would presumably discuss their visit later over dinner, or at the office the next day. Picture viewing is also fast, while on the other hand, it takes many hours to read a book — which is another reason the literary experience has such a profound effect. Viewing an exhibition can be done in an afternoon or much less, and if you don’t like it you just walk out. The speed of the visit doesn’t make it less deep — a short experience can also be profound — and visual experiences can imprint if we are receptive enough. (Movies and music, I’ve noticed, are like books — you have to commit a sizable block of time to the experience.)

I found the entry quite sincere and thought provoking. I find myself rethinking how we are working over our concept of time or time is working us over as a bi-product of our willingness to speed it up (...or both) and how this has affected my personal relationship to art. Is experiencing art at a clip or in a meditative focus of equal or lesser value? These are some of the questions I find myself contemplating.

The journal entry in it's entirety can be found here along with many other interesting entries. Treat yourself.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


My week has been spent in a sad and reflective state. Rose Johnson, gentle, spirited and impassioned woman, artist and cohort in all forms of southwestern warmth passed away in Bali last Sunday. She left us in a storm of her being. She was doing what she loved - traveling and finding treasured hearts and passionate luxuriant colors to add to her palate; filling herself to the brim of life to such a degree that all who came to her even just in passing would recall her pleasantly.

I have been looking at all the bits of Roses life available on line and I like the interview by TheBisbeeChannel the best, I think, as it exhibits her sweet generosity of spirit (thank you for making it!).

The details regarding her death is the stuff of legend and Shakespearean tragedy with tainted wine being sipped and a flurry of grief and loss. Some of this news can be read here

Rose is gone now as if passing into the brilliance of her very own work and I am stunned, saddened and grateful to have been able to have met such a tremendously creative and compassionate woman. I imagine what Rose would like me to do to honor her passing and I hear her whisper, "Create something and put all the joy in your heart into it!". That's the kind of woman Rose was and the kind of inspiration she leaves in her wake. I see a million mermaids floating and waiving with goblets to their lips and stars in their eyes; they are waving goodbye...

I hope our paths cross again, Rose, till then...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My Life - Version 2

I bring to you ...the danger here that comes from the old town...

This is a wonderful 7 minute video I received from DailyMotion that is whimsical, charming and cradles a loving message. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Strategic Plan - The Movie

This is for all the fine folks who worked so hard on the Strategic Plan for the Library. I think, perhaps, a thankless job in some ways. Well, I read it and I was very moved by the hard work and resourcefulness that obviously went into it. This morning when I read the story below, I thought immediately of the critical importance of these changes and the inherent difficulty in maintaining a vision that will obviously enhance the lives of so many employees and those who utilize the services the library provides. This post is for:

Tamara Belts, Dennis Matthews, Clarissa Mansfield, Rick Osen, Paul Piper, Andrea Peterson, Elizabeth Stephan and all of those on the sub committees.

Well, okay, it is a bit dramatic and whimsical but so is a strategic plan, when it comes right down to it. I hope you enjoy it:

Nobody gets through life without troubles but there was once a king who got himself into a terrible fix. He wasn’t bad, just a man who lost his way. Nothing new there.

Plenty of people, kings and commoners alike, head straight into trouble, never once looking back. This man did stop and think, and that made all the difference. The land he ruled was far from the sea, far from the overland trade routes, far, it seemed, from any place anyone wanted to be. Still, his subjects were a sturdy lot. They endured, meeting hardship with a laugh and a smile whenever they could. The people comforted each other with the old saying, “A poor man living in peace is better off than a rich man in the midst of strife.” Deep inside, they held the hope that, someday, things would get better.

Early in his reign, the king kept to his father’s custom of moving among the people, listening to their stories, laughing at their jokes. He held court so that the people could seek justice from him. As years went by, the king set aside these old ways. He began staying up all night, scheming with his ministers and playing the lords and ladies against each other.

Heavy black curtains were hung over the windows in his room and he slept till noon. After lunch he called for his falcon and went hunting. This he loved above all else. At dinner, his belly full of ale, he roared, “Shahbaz,” for that was the falcon’s name, “has never failed and that is more than I can say for any of you.”

Life did not get better, it got worse. The kingdom grew disorderly. Fights broke out. Bandits patrolled the ridge tops and forests. Brother turned against brother, friend against friend. The people became afraid and Shahbaz saw it all. Her keen eyes found a house in flames, a woman crying, a child dressed in rags. She returned each day with game for the king’s table but something was changing inside of her. One day as she wheeled overhead in the sky, Shahbaz saw a man stumbling in a thicket. He had been chased from the roadway by a band of brigands and now had lost his way. Shahbaz lifted her left wing and arced toward the man as she came to the place where he was lost, she saw that he was cowering. In front of him was a mountain lion. The beast had him cornered and was now preparing to pounce.

Shahbaz felt her heart as it filled with compassion for the old man. Then, as never before, this compassion filled her entire being. Compassion settled into resolve and Shahbaz tucked her wings and dove. Streaking out of the sky like some angel of mercy she thrust out her talons and buried them in the lion’s neck. The beast whirled and roared as it struggled to free itself from the falcon’s grip. Teeth claws, beak and talons whirled in a frenzy of struggle until, at last, the lion signaled her submission. Shahbaz released her grip and took to flight, the lion fled into the brush. The man was safe. Shahbaz returned to the king but without any game for the dinner table. The king berated her, never noticing how worn and weary she appeared. The next day the king went out to hunt with Shahbaz on his arm. In the heat of the mid day he released the jesses and Shahbaz took flight. Immediately she set a course for where the area where the old man was lost. She found him even further from the road, in a ravine where there was no food or water. The old man looked wilted under the hot sun.

Again Shahbaz brimmed with compassion, forgetting the task of bringing food to the king, she hurtled out of the sky and landed in front of the astonished man. Some kind of power filled Shahbaz and she knew what to do. With a short hop, she came to a stone. She struck the stone, once, twice, thrice and the rock split apart and water, clean cold water flowed from its depth. The thirsty man drank. Shahbaz took wing and hunted, returning to the man with game. Then before leaving she approached a pile of brush striking it with her beak once, twice, thrice and with that it burst into flames. Having sustained him with food, water and fire she took wing and returned to the waiting king. Again she failed to supply the king’s table.

“Perhaps I have been feeding you to well,” he snapped, “a night without supper might focus your mind.” The next day the king took Shahbaz to the hunting grounds and released her. Again she hurtled skyward in search of the lost man. She searched long and hard for him and was ready to give up when she glimpsed him in the distance. Weak with hunger she made her way to him. He sat alone and in despair. Shahbaz came to rest on a branch near the man. He looked up at her through tear filled eyes. Here again was this remarkable bird that had fought off the mountain lion and fed him and given him water and a fire. The bird sat looking at him.

Thinking that perhaps this magical creature might understand his grief, he poured out his heart to Shahbaz. His brothers were dead, as was his wife and his children. He had been seeking the village of his father when the brigands had accosted him. He spat the name of the king and said that the man was a fool. As the great falcon listened, she was filled with compassion and her sense of rightness and justice boiled inside her. When the man finished his tale, the powerful sense of justice welled up and burst.

The falcon, in that moment found the gift of speech for the first time. She spoke of knowing love and loss. She spoke of all that she had seen in the many years she had soared above the kingdom. She told the man not to despair, because she knew the way home for him. She stayed with him through the night lulling him to sleep with stories of the great and noble people she had seen and known. When the morning dawned, she took flight and led the man to a stream that led to the river which flowed past the village of his fathers. This being done she returned to the king’s castle.

Alighting on the wall of the castle she found the king preparing to begin his hunt, another falcon on his arm. As the hunting party rode forth, she settled onto a low branch that hung over their path. The king saw her and called out that she was an unworthy traitor and that she did not deserve the right to be a royal falcon, another would take her place with no matter to him. The king raged at Shahbaz. The bird did not stir but concentrated her gaze on him.

Finally, his rage spent, the king fell silent.

Then Shahbaz spoke. “I have watched you and I have watched your kingdom. You are full of your own bravado, but you have ruled poorly. The people suffer, they cry but from fear, from hunger and thirst, they are lost and yet you hear them not.” The entire party sat stock still and listened. A royal counselor cried out, “This is an abomination. A dumb beast can not speak, this must be evil of the most terrible kind. I plead with your majesty to destroy this foul creature at once.” At this, an archer drew his bow and aimed at the falcon. Shahbaz did not hesitate, did not move, she kept her unwavering gaze on the king. There was silence until she spoke again. “You are not a bad man, you could do much for the people of this land, even yet. But all must change.”

Again the counselor asked for permission to kill the bird. The king waved him off.

The truth of these words was powerful. Shahbaz offered the king a partnership. She and her kind would sail in the skies above this land seeking always to protect, sustain and nurture the people. The king would set aside his scepter and become a royal falconer, and devote himself to the training and well-being of these great birds.

With time, the king was transformed into a great falconer. All of these great birds came to be known by the name of the first, Shahbaz. The people were comforted then they would look up into the great blue sky and see the Shahbaz circling gracefully overhead. The time of the King and his servants passed from memory and a new partnership was created which has endured since.

Adapted from What Are Old People For? How Elders Will Save the World
by William H. Thomas, M.D.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

We Don't Need No More War

Playing For Change is at it again...valiantly holding up the sky...placing peace above violence by singing to the world about loving one another.

Or watch on On YouTube.

I watch and listen to this video and I think "...we get it, already, about war and killing and suffering. Can we move on to building a better world?" Then I wonder, "...who am I taking to, anyway? Does it matter? I don't think so..." Let us make more of that life-affirming sound!

Thank you Mark Johnson for all you and your PFC crew do to keep us mindful and encouraged to engage in a better world; a better way.

Friday, May 8, 2009

What Are Old People For?

I had an compelling conversation on just this subject with one of my student assistants regarding the treatment of elders in his native culture. He is from Eritrea. I listened with interest as he explained to me the approach his culture has to the older and the elderly and some of his young perspective on this influence in his life. In listening, I realized that this subject that I have been trying to work into my interior conversations of late on the value of aging is more than a solitary dialogue. In my student's case, he was raised by his Grandparents and knew nothing of an alternative perspective until he came to the States. His frustration in Africa was, understandably, never being allowed to openly disagree with an elder. When he came to this country, he was shocked by the conversations that reflected a total lack of respect that his American relatives engaged in. The culture shock has receded but this reconciliation continues in him as he is caught between two worlds. It continues in me too as I expressed to him my frustrations in the culture expecting me to be more matronly than I feel and having to meet that expectation of my age in order to illicit respect. The conversation sort of faded away between us as the work at hand encroached on our conversation. Still, I found myself spinning in a tiny eddy of our exchange.

Thursday I came to reading my daily dose of Time Goes By and was introduced to the geriatrician, Dr. Bill Thomas. He is the author of "What Are Old People For?" and as well as being the creator of Eden Alternative and he was making an intelligent and compassionate appeal to Oprah Winfrey to consider what her influence in pitching constant youth has on the aging population of America.

I like to poke fun of Oprah Winfrey along with many others. She seems to get a little suckered by her own PR sometimes and she's an easy target. I too get a glimpse of my own folly of self perception and I am made fun of, too, for far less success and joy than Oprah has created in people's lives. Just walking across the room can illicit any number of mostly unconscious judgments from my girth to my odd hair. I cannot help but have sympathy for Oprah or anyone who is older, in this way. Bottom line, when it comes to the mass media, Winfrey wields a tremendous influence of the perspectives of millions of Americans who, right or wrong, turn to her as an authority on everything from nail polish to Hospice Care. It just is. I think Dr. Thomas does a pretty good job of appealing to, what I consider is essential in Winfrey: her strength of character and ability to grow into new and interesting thought and action.

Granted just because my wondering what old people are good for doesn't make it interesting but the thought that there are unused resources of life-giving, life-supporting and life-enhancing abilities at our fingertips in the cumulative wisdom of the our older years that no one can get to because we are building Club Meds on the river Denile, simple breaks my heart. Especially when I realize that that high rise is going to completely block my view of a satisfying end of my life and cast me and millions of others into it's shadow until we draw our final breath.

In reflecting on my conversation, I realize that my young student assistant needs to have frustration in not being able to openly argue with an elder. He cannot yet see how this has strengthened him. The young cannot understand that this frustration has an actual function that manifests in their adult life to hone a strength in temperament. It creates a stronger adult presence and an ability to fuse thought and action in life. It gives one enough self reflection to temper one's belief in ones own PR. The elders carry the depth of intention and love from the roots of the family to the young, new growth. It is essential and spiritual and cannot be recognized for what it is when we are new to the world. I didn't get to tell him that and I wonder what he would have heard, if I did. We were called away as there is a Club Med with a picture book view of the horizon we are busy building.

Picture: Filimon Ghilbretinsae preforming a traditional dance from his country, Eretria, at Western WashingtonUniversity's AfroCaribbean Club Celebration (and also displaying the fact that, no matter where you are from, everyone has a little bit o'Elvis in their soul!)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Love your MOTHER!

We have many Mothers. No one knows this better than women - especially women who have given birth or realized children in their lives because as soon as this happens (in reality or in a spiritual sense) there is a keen awareness that we are not and will never be "alone". Many women have come before us. We are but spawn, essentially, of an accumulated experience of women. Like Chief Seattle stated,
"The earth does not belong to us; we belong to the earth" it is with our Mothers. We sometimes refer to the Earth as our Mother. Replace the words The Earth with the Our Mother in the quote above and you begin to feel the weight of it. My word of the year is value. In these terms, I find myself contemplating the value of all of our Mothers these days.

I can hardly turn a blind eye to the opportunity these times are offering at every bend for our reinventing the economy. Not with a word like "value" wending it's way into my daily thoughts. So lets take a look at what we commonly buy for our Mothers on Mother's Day, shall we? Florist flowers and potted plants that have been genetically altered to last 48 hours longer than the plant you bought last year. A dinner at a restaurant, perhaps? There are any number of things that might be a tradition. I want to explore outside that tradition here for a moment and look at the bigger picture.

We all are beginning to understand that we have a responsibility to learn new ways to get where we are going, whether it is opting to taking a bus or biking downtown or sending a message that actually speaks from our hearts. I am thinking now of gift giving - shopping, if you will - that is an act of supporting Motherhood while honoring our sisters and womankind and, while we are it, the earth as well. Shopping as a political act?

As I stated in a previous post, I blew through Portland town in March and had the good fortune to visit with my friend Kristi Jo Lewis. KJ is a new mother of a beautiful baby girl and the creator of a business that she shares with her sister and associates called Global Sistergoods. KJ is a woman of conscience and when she imagined her ideal job she did so with her compassion for women of the world and alternative ways of economics firmly in mind. Recognize a woman's talent, support it and let her support her family. Yes she can! ...and she did. Basically KJ and Global Sistergoods fences finely crafted goods made from artisans who are Mothers and Sisters themselves....are you following where this is going?

From "About Us":
Global Sistergoods was founded in 2006 by two sisters, Beth Kapsch and Kristi Jo (KJ) Lewis, who combined their professional backgrounds in living wage issues, international development, public policy and women's equality and their personal love of beautiful, handmade goods to create this marketplace for women artisans from around the world.

We provide a living wage to economically disadvantaged women in fragile economies by supporting entrepreneurship, self-reliance and microenterprise development through fair trade. We partner with international non-government organizations who provide resources to women, governmental trade associations who support women's economic empowerment, women's cooperatives/collectives, and individual women artisans. We sustain traditional craftmaking techniques, provide high-quality products and educate consumers about women's issues in the countries our partner artisans live in.

I am suggesting you take a few minutes and take a look at what Global Sistergoods is offering. I'm suggesting, as well, that we all begin to realize that our spending habits are essentially a political act. When one trades with Global Sistergoods, this is what happens: You get a superior gift for your Mom made by women who are Mothers and you support a woman who is supporting her family. When you choose to trade with conscience, perhaps forgoing the florist's forced attempt at beauty, you are supporting much more than some strange person 1000 of miles away. You are engaging in an alternative way of doing business that gets you what you want while supporting the people that you want to help.

Kristi Jo and her sister are people who are dreaming of a better way and giving birth to it everyday. Love your Mother and hold your sister close. They just might be able to show us how to heal our economy by trading in new, alternative and exciting ways. These are brave and intelligent women who are teaching a new meaning of value. I am learning that conscious action coupled with value has a strange and powerful positive implication, while tacit in its employ, it is dynamic in its execution. Making a conscious choice is one of those things that requires doing to understand. I'm suggesting you try it and see how it feels.

The best way to spend time with your Mother on her day is to sit with her and ask her who she is on her own terms. Perhaps go for a walk with her or enjoy the outdoor market with locally supported goods on display. Or even go to an independently owned bistro for lunch. Whatever you choose to do make it an active choice with intention and love at it's a Mother's love.

Photo credit: blawk359

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Let us converse about the elephant in the room

I wish I had someone to talk to in conversation about all the turmoil that everyone is experiencing in the room, in the workplace, at the University and in the country. It is a load.

I have just finished reading a book I wish my co-workers would read and we could join in conversation about. The book is called, "Crossing the Unknown Sea; Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity". If I hadn't stumbled upon David Whyte's work through the back door of my own personal troubled voyage, I would run like hell from that title myself, likewise I don't suspect many will be thrilled at the prospect of reading it. I urge you to move past that because I must say that it has helped me immensely to understand - if ever so slightly - how I might have an opportunity to play a positive role in these horrendous changes that are underfoot. After ordering the title through ILL, I got 30 pages into it and knew I had to go buy my own copy if I was going to make it through these "interesting times" at work and in the world at large. It resonates quite loudly within me to seek some sense of this situation to which I have opted for. Finding a place to stand and function at one's best abilities seems to be the order of the day at work. At least for me, I am finding a welcome if tenuous solitary grip within these writings. It occurred to me this morning that others at work might also find strength here.

It is the business of poets to live and examine the edges of things and when a poet with the vision and scope of David Whyte says the game has changed forever for business, I have to pay attention. I am reading something everyone senses, of course, and he goes one step further. He gives tools for facing disease, the unknown and really, really bad weather endemic to these types of changes that we all feel are coming but really do not know how to acknowledge well. We are on the threshold of what will be and hurling towards the essence of our work in a very different work world from whence we entered. In this book, I realize, if we take the time to understand the language of these changes, we can move this troubled situation from invisible ideas onto welcoming and sustainable shores. It is a journey we could do better with wise council. I haven't found better than Whyte:

"In order to get a real conversation with the world you have to drop artificial language, you have to drop politics, and you have to drop an environment based on fear and hiding. People must be encouraged not only to know their craft, their products, their work and the people they serve, but to know a little of themselves. In order to respond to the world of wants, they must know something of what they want themselves. Just as importantly they must know what they do not want. They must also look at their inherited fears around conversation, particularly the conversation about their own gifts. This personal conversation can be very frightening but it is an increasingly necessary one, especially for those who have any leadership role in the organization."

If you have already read it or you read it as a result of this posting, I would be interested in your thoughts.

"Good work is grateful surprise." ~D.W.

...and why not?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Oh, What you will see!

Every year in the spring my family and I meet in Bandon, OR for a reunion by the sea. One of the pleasures of this journey is my annual visit to my friend David Lewis and his family in Portland, OR. on my way down. They have been very gracious in hosting me for years. Portland is exactly half way to my destination.

This year's visit featured my official introduction to the newly arrived member of the family, Linden (named for the marvelous trees in the park near their home) and interesting conversations on business with David's wife, Kristi Jo, who has a fantastic on-line concern called "Global Sistergoods" (more on this later). David was busy setting up for a show at the Attic Gallery , 206 SW 1st Ave., Portland, OR on April 2 through May 2 2009.

I want to tell you about David's show at the Attic Gallery opening this Friday, April 3rd, 6 pm to 9 pm. I've included here a few of the paintings that will be featured at this show as a taste but it by no means covers what you will enjoy should you see his work in it's entirety. This show will also feature the intriguing plien aire paintings of Nathaniel Praska.

Please stop by and meet David. Tell your Portland friends and have them tell David Cile sent them and I'm sure he will be mortified ...impressed rather...with my omnipotent reach through the inter-tubes to the public at large. When you go, whether you drop by for the reception on Friday or just stop in the gallery for a look during the month, you will be in for a real treat - as the sampling in this posting implies. David's work just gets more spectacular and vivid with each year. As an added plus, he's a really interesting person and a nice guy! You will want to meet him.

Pictures shown: "Logging Road" (above) and "Neighbors".

Yet another bonus: David be BLOGGING! and AllTheArtOutThere Woot! ...become a follower....

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Oh Child, You're right on Time

I've spent about a week with Danny Schmidt's new offering, "Instead the Forest Rose to Sing". All the while, in the back of my mind trying to formulate words of praise for it, since I figured I would blog about it as I found the offering very moving.. Everyday that I listened I would find a new jewel of phrasing or harmony and scratch what I thought I would write the day before.

The thing about great art is that it is never static. It seems to move with us adding something to our lives as we stir through time. At one point I thought to myself that Danny's work is like a color that has been there all along but you never really saw it in a sense because you were never able to call it by name. As in, "Oh my God! That's vermilion? THAT'S vermilion!" and even though the color has been there all our lives it is somehow more real and intimate for its naming. Danny's music and lyrics are like the color...then the naming...and then the connection...then the growth. Vermilion, once just a word, is now an experience.

There is a turn of phrase and melody in each song on "Instead the Forest Rose to Sing" that will turn you on, turn you in and turn you out but never turn you away. That's the kind of artist Danny Schmidt is. Do yourself a favor and buy this CD and the forest will rise to sing to you too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Is it only a dream that there'll be no more turning away?

It just goes to show if you stay alive long enough, you may actually live to see a dream come true. The trick, it seems, is surviving all the torturous bits that keep testing it in an unrelenting manner and getting through it without poking out both your eyes in shame and horror.

Sometimes it takes awhile for dreams, art and truth to make their journey out into the universe and cycle home to remind us who we truly are. All the more reason to speak it and make it and cherish these things for their power to heal. Twenty years ago this song was performed - in hindsight - at the dawn of the dark decades for democracy. It seems appropriate to listen to it and contemplate its message today with the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States.

I hope we will all be as brave and smart as we want to be. Probably not; being human... but at least for a day or so we can feel like we've done something right. Perhaps we have reached a tipping point on our spin. On this day, we will collectively stand and not turn away; gather our strength towards wasting less and applying our Yankee ingenuity to dreaming up an even better world with all of the extra time we have not pounding the floor of a big box a part of something larger than ourselves that is inclusive, wise and transparent in its intention.

On the turning away
On the turning away
From the pale and downtrodden
And the words they say
Which we wont understand
Dont accept that whats happening
Is just a case of others suffering
Or youll find that youre joining in
The turning away

Its a sin that somehow
Light is changing to shadow
And casting its shroud
Over all we have known
Unaware how the ranks have grown
Driven on by a heart of stone
We could find that were all alone
In the dream of the proud

On the wings of the night
As the daytime is stirring
Where the speechless unite
In a silent accord
Using words you will find are strange
And mesmerized as they light the flame
Feel the new wind of change
On the wings of the night

No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away
From the coldness inside
Just a world that we all must share
Its not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that there'll be
No more turning away?

~Pink Floyd
A Momentary Lapse of Reason

Thanks to Jimmy Toast for posting the above video to You Tube.

Monday, January 19, 2009

You look so beautiful tonight

U2 has quite an investment in the election of Barack Obama as they are so passionate about liberty and have always been a force for the White House to contend with. I recall seeing them perform in Tempe, AZ on the Zoo TV tour at Arizona State University Activity Center in October 1992. I laughed with my heart breaking as Bono would dial up the White House from the stage to try and talk to George Bush. A bit he did, no doubt, from every performance. I'm so happy for all of us and for Martin Luther King's Dream that lives on in the name of love.

Here is a video from a White House party in D.C. yesterday that includes two songs, "Pride" and "City of Blinding Lights" leading us into a Martin Luther King Day to remember.

Thanks to IllBeBackCall for posting the video.