Friday, May 30, 2008

Saturday Wordzzle Challenge: Week Fifteen

t's week 15 of the Saturday Wordzzle challenge. Anyone new to the process can refer back here to find out how it works.

The words for this week's ten word challenge were: perpendicular, carpentry, garage, lute player, radishes, tin roof, wild flowers, stop light, gargantuan And for the Mini Challenge: gravy boat, cat carrier, Madison, Wisconsin, March Hare, gratitude

Here's my ten-word offering for this week.

Putting a tin roof on the garage was not exactly carpentry, but it was the first step in his plan. Once the roof was on, he would re-design the inside and it would be a garage no more but a haven from the world, even from Martha. It would be a place for meditation and creativity. He would hang the painting of the lute player that he loved so and she so hated. He would plant wild flowers all around the outside and string beans and cucumbers and radishes and he would wrap them in positive energy so that they would grow to be gargantuan and taste like love. He’d plant a large perpendicular board right in front and write peace in all the languages he could find. And since it had once been a garage, he’d paint a two-sided sign in the shape of a stop light. Red would declare no admittance and green would “give the go” to anyone who wanted to join him in meditation. As for Martha, she’d just have to find another place to park her car.

And here's my mini challenge:

George was returning to Madison, Wisconsin with more than a bit of dread in his heart. Thanksgiving with his family was a bit like the Mad Hatter’s tea party, his father playing the part of the Mad Hatter, Mother making appearances as the Queen of Hearts, and three of his four siblings taking turns as the March Hare. It would have been funny if it weren’t so damned scary. At the last family “tea party,” someone had dropped the gravy boat and the ensuing hysteria and filled him with profound gratitude that Madison was so far from his present home that he only had to make the dreadful pilgrimage once every three or four years. Looking over at his cat Alice who was sleeping peacefully in her cat carrier, he whispered, “Prepare yourself, Ali. You are about to enter Wonderland.”

And the mega challenge:

As lute player for a somewhat eccentric string quintet that called itself Alice and the March Hares (for reasons that were lost in the history of some forgotten joke), Miranda was somewhat uneasy about their current “gig” in Madison, Wisconsin. Sitting at the stop light she could not see any prospect of a warm welcome for the March Hares at the large garage-like building with the tin roof at which they had been booked to play. It looked rather more like a biker bar to her than a proper venue for a string quintet. Her dread increased when she was greeted by a gargantuan giant of a man holding what looked like a cat carrier. “Cat?” he had responded to her inquiry and then realizing her mistake had laughingly replied, “No cat. I do the carpentry around here. This is my tool kit…. Don’t tell me you March Hares were expecting the Cheshire cat to be here,” he chuckled opening the door for her... “or are you Alice?” he added as an afterthought? But she hardly heard him so great was her surprise at the sight that greeted her beyond the open door. Her dread washed away. The banquet hall was magnificent. Dozens of tables some perpendicular to one another in “L” shapes, were covered with rich white table cloths and decorated with gravy boats full of the most beautiful wild flowers she had ever seen. There were bowls of fruit and Crudites… carrot sticks, celery, and the radishes cut into the shapes of roses. From an unseen kitchen somewhere in the space, came aromas so rich and fine she felt she could taste the meal just by breathing in the rich scent. At the far end of the room, an elevated stage was already set up for the quintet. She could barely take it all in. “It’s awesome,” she murmured at last. Her giant companion chuckled at her with twinkling eyes. “Not quite what you expected, eh? The others all had the same reaction… as do most people who come here. Our little venue may not be so pretty on the outside, but we have inner beauty. The chef has a nice snack for you in the kitchen if you’d like to join your friends. Gratitude welled up within her. “Thank you so much,” she whispered and followed him to the kitchen, thinking that perhaps Alice and the March Hares had finally found their niche.


Some wordzzle trivia: In one of my unfulfilled fantasies, I took the wordzzles I did at various classes, created a bunch of new ones and compiled them into a book which I dreamed of seeing published, the idea being to have my sample exercise and leave a space for people to write their own using the same words, much as we do here. I still think it would make a great teaching tool for a college writing class, or (with different vocabulary) for grade school. The book's title, HOW THE HOWLING CAT AND THE TEDDY BEAR WOUND UP TOGETHER ON THE MOON came out of today’s vanity wordzzle.

This week's vanity wordzzle used the words: Howling cat, Teddy bear, moon, entrepreneur, exuberance, similar, struggle, bedroom,

When Fred Johnson threw his daughter’s favorite teddy bear out the bedroom window at the howling cat, he had no idea that he would never see it again, because of course he had no way of knowing that Marigold – that was the cat’s name – was not howling out of some form of feline exuberance, but was actually in a fierce struggle to escape from the clutches of Zorph Zoglop, intrepid Martian explorer and entrepreneur. Zorph loved all things terran and made frequent explorations to earth. He did not usually venture into such populated areas and had not really intended to capture the cat – he just wanted to look at it. Then what with the howling and the Teddy bear attack, the usually unflappable Martian had simply panicked, shoved them both into his collecting sack, run as fast as he could back to his ship, and taken off immediately, convinced that he was about to be caught. It was only when he arrived back at Luna Loa (interestingly terran and Martian words for the moon seemed to have similar origins), that he remembered the cat. Cats take great pride in maintaining their dignity, so being shoved into a sack does not generally improve their dispositions. Marigold came out of the sack primed for battle, but instead floated helplessly toward the ceiling. This was too much even for as proud and independent a cat as Marigold and she docilely allowed Zorph to clutch her with his tentacles and place her gently in a small case with the aforementioned Teddy bear, who quickly became her dearest friend. In time, she actually became quite fond of Zorph and she and the Teddy bear ended their days happily on the moon. Fred Johnson, on the other hand, spent years trying to make up to his daughter for the loss of her beloved bear.


Next Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: spaghetti, larkspur, Prilosec, roaring lion, adamant, green green grass of home, paradox, filibuster, face cream, trout fishing

And for the Mini Challenge: jury of ones peers, barking dog, a wing and a prayer, liver, sprained ankle

Thanks for playing. For those who are new, here are some guidelines to make the process more fun.
Enjoy! See you next week.


The Price of Gas is WHAT?????

It's Friday and I'm tired and cranky and I didn't have anything to say that doesn't involve politics and outrage.... Then these came in my email so I thought that even though I don't have a car (perhaps BECAUSE I don't have a car), that they were pretty funny in a dreadfully painful kind of way... Anyway, I hope they make you laugh.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Poem of the Week: A Silly Poem Today

Well, I've been all grim and political of late, so I thought maybe I'd post something totally silly for today's poem of the week. I wrote this about 15 years ago, I guess while I was in therapy. There may be a few made-up dreams, but most of them I really had. I don't know why I haven't been carted away yet. I guess because I have locked myself up voluntarily....

Having a hard time making this look right. The lines are too long for the narrowness of the blog format and I can't think of a solution. Does anyone else have bizarre things happen in Preview? My type changes size and it never looks like it actually looks. Strange. Anyway... Hope this makes you giggle. Couldn't think of any good decorative art this morning either. I may add something later if I get a good idea.

The time has come her psyche said to talk of many things

Of toilets, birds and pregnant cats, of icky, wormy things

Of course, my dear, you can't expect the message to be clear

A psyche works quite subtly one's consciousness to steer

And so she sighed and dreamed again of toilets large and small

And once she almost fell from off a precipice quite tall

She dreamt of cats in closets, cats peeing in the hall

She dreamt of great big mansions and houses very small

She dreamt and she remembered, she dreamt and she forgot

Some images were vivid, some images were not

But the more that she remembered them, the stranger they appeared

Yet also she began to sense they were nothing to be feared

In fact, in time some symbols began to make clear sense

And she smiled and thought quite smugly, "I'm not so very dense."

And hearing this her psyche, from its vast creative plane

Drew forth some brand new symbols to befuddle her again

And now she dreamt of prisons and towns with funny names

And she dreamt of pigs and horses and playing silly games

She dreamt of feathered slippers and banking in the park

Some dreams were full of colors bright and some were very dark

She dreamt of popes and Chinamen, of ceilings falling down

She dreamt of being lost and scared, she dreamt that she might drown

She dreamt of taking buses, she dreamt of riding bikes

She dreamt of riding space ships, she dreamt of taking hikes

Sometimes she dreamed in series; some dreams were set apart

Some dreams seemed kind of foolish and some like works of art

Some dreams were full of mystery, in rich exotic places

Some dreams were very commonplace and she knew the people's faces

But few of them were boring, and she never, ever knew

What new peculiar happenings her psyche would bring through

And so each night she closed her eyes and journeyed deep inside

To the world of her unconscious where lost fears and hopes reside

And often in these travels, with sweet visions she was blest

That would help her in her day-life, would guide her on her quest

To heal and gird and strengthen her sometimes fainting soul

As she struggled first to find herself, then to touch the Greater Whole
But whether one is questing, or only in a doze,

The clever, witty, psyche, will keep you on your toes.

- Katherine E. Rabenau

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: For the Birds and One Bee

Ok.... hardly any words.... I'm posting the bird flying out of the picture because I think the wing looks interesting even though only part of the bird is left in the picture. And the bumble bee isn't very clear, but it took me almost two months to get it and I think it's kind of cool even if it is sort of blurry. I'm still hoping to get a better one. I swear that bee is toying with me. It hangs in one spot until I finally find it and start to focus and then off it goes....

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Countdown to Peace Blast 2008

Mimi Writes is having a Peace Blast on June 4th. I think this is an awesome idea. All you have to do is click on the link to her site, pick up a blank globe graphic, sign it and return it to her. She has detailed instructions. I've submitted mine and will post it again on June 4th.

I believe that peace is possible, that war and violence are the will of a very small minority to whom we have given too much power. I believe that more people in this world want peace than want war, that our true human instinct is towards peace. We have to be tricked into war. No matter what some may tell us, war is not our nature. Peace is.

It is past time to speak out. We need to vote. We need to nag and pester and insist that our lawmakers govern according to our wants and values and not according to bogus polls or political expediency. We need to stop listening to the voices of fear and hate and listen to the voices of reason and compassion. We need to stop seeing enemies and start seeing fellow beings. We need to meet anger with kindness, to offer a different mirror in which those who would hate to can see themselves. There's a Hawaiian saying that goes "energy flows where attention goes." In other words, we draw to us, what we focus on. If we focus on fear and hate, we draw fear and hate into our lives. If we focus on peace, likewise, we draw that to ourselves. I've said it before here, but it's worth repeating. There is more power in being FOR something than against something. Almost every esoteric philosophy teaches this in one way or another. Neither our minds nor the universe read the word "not." They react to where our attention is. If it is on war, the universe offers up more war. If our attention is on peace, the universe offers up peace. Let's be FOR peace.

I hope you'll visit Mimi Writes, pick up a banner and join the blast.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Alphabet Backwards: N is for Nationalism

Well, on Memorial Day, it seemed to me like a good time to reflect on nationalism. I love the United States, which happens to be my country. I think we're a wonderful hodge-podge of creativity, generosity, greed, genius, stupidity.... as people we are both the best and worst of what it means to be human. As a nation, we are richly blessed with natural wealth and natural beauty. The range of this country's geographical wonders is astonishing and glorious. I love my country. I love the principles on which it was founded, even if it hasn't always lived up to them. Proud to be an Amuricin and all that. But...

Nationalism is sometimes a two-edged sword. Our current leadership (using that term loosely indeed) has used nationalism and patriotism to commit crimes - "we have to sack the Constitution in order to protect it." (Huh?) They have used nationalism to justify invading a nation which did not attack us and had no intention of doing so. Even if Iraq had been thinking about it, had been wanting to attack us... the road of pre-emption is the road to Hell. We should have known that before (some of us did, she said a bit crankily). Our own and others' history should have told us that it never works. There may once in a while be a kind of success in the short run, but seldom if ever in the long term. Except for the few brain-dead die-hards like the administration, McCain (who does not seem to be getting any wiser with age) and Republicans too proud to admit the error their ways, we certainly know it now. Still these old boys chant the old God and country and "saving our way of life" mantra for us, while they hack away at our values, savage our economy, and destroy the lives and spirits of the young people who joined our military, either for love of country or in hopes of bettering themselves.

When nationalism is used to justify illegal imprisonment of both American citizens and foreign nationals, what nation is being defended? When tricks and sophistry are used (see previous sentence) to distort the law of the land on the pretext of defending it, what nation is being defended? When nationalism is used to justify the torturing other human beings by a nation that has long stood for decency and against such activities - what nation is being defended?

Lastly, nationalism has been used by the Bush administration and the Republican Party to silence opposition to their criminal activities. To raise issue with them and their insane actions is - in their view - to be disloyal to the country, unpatriotic. Those who questioned entry into the war in Iraq had their patriotism questioned. They continue to use nationalism/patriotism as a way to try and silence the voices of those who oppose them. Even now those who question are accused of "betraying the troops." Sending them into an unnecessary war seems more of a betrayal to me. Sending them ill-equipped seems more of a betrayal to me. Bringing them home in body bags seems more of a betrayal to me. Sending them on endless, unbroken tours of duty seems more of a betrayal to me. Not providing adequate medical and psychological treatment seems more of a betrayal to me.

And Calling what our young men and women are engaged in a "war" seems like a betrayal to me. It was an invasion. We are occupiers. (Actually, I think we don't know what we are, which must be another form of nightmare for the young people patrolling angry streets so far from home.)

But I rant.

It seems odd to me that the people who speak loudest about so-called "Christian values," have no trouble waging war on others. I guess they didn't ask the "What Would Jesus Do" question on that one. I think Jesus was partial to "turning the other cheek," and "do unto others."

It seems odd to me that in the name of love of country, we spend billions to kill and die and destroy, while we begrudge medical care, housing, education at home. Some even begrudge medical treatment and education to the soldiers who want at least that small return on their suffering.

It is sad to me that the land of the free, the great melting-pot nation who used to open her arms in welcome (at least in theory) to other nations, now simmers with hate and fear of others. I don't advocate stupidity. It is possible to be open and wise at the same time.

I love my country. That doesn't mean that anything goes. I love peace and quiet too. Doesn't mean I have a right to shoot the neighbor's dog when he barks incessantly. Any more than he has a right to shoot me or burn my house down because my spirituality may express itself differently than his.... or even my patriotism.

Love of country - nationalism - is a fine thing. But the kind of blind love that looks the other way at wrong-doing and that justifies anything in the name of pride or loyalty, doesn't seem like love to me at all. Because we love our children, we teach them right from wrong and we let them know that wrong behavior carries consequences. True love isn't always comfortable, it isn't always "nice." True love doesn't watch the lover go off a cliff while muttering starry-eyed nothings. True love leaps into action to save the beloved's life. True love says, "Wait! You're wrong."

At the present moment in history, I'm ashamed of my country's actions, repulsed and embarrassed by the Bush administration, disappointed and angered with a Congress that seems to lack courage and integrity. I'll never stop loving my country, but right now, at this moment in time, my heart is breaking for her.

Today on Memorial Day (and not just today) - I mourn for those young men and women who have died loving their/my country in both just and foolish wars. I grieve for those families whose sons, daughters, husbands, wives, cousins, uncles, aunts will never return to them...

I hope that one day soon instead of waging war, we will start waging peace. I think we have a better chance of succeeding that way and of creating a better world for everyone. Peace.


If you have the time, I hope you'll take a few minutes (about 15 actually, I think) to listen to the Bill Moyer's video clips I posted on Saturday.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

One Single Impression: Reflecting

This week's prompt for One Single Impression was "reflecting." Only able to cough out two haiku, one haiku-ish poem and one long one. Not sure how my attempts at graphic creativity work in terms of readability (or anything else), but I had to try.

Solemn reflection
Gives me reason to feel joy
I am deeply blessed

Reflected in your loving eyes
I see my own beauty
And I am caught by surprise

If you click on this one, you can see a larger, easier to read version. It's kind of stupid graphically, but I worked hard on it, so I refuse to give it up. Hmmm. Reflecting on good judgment, I seem to be lacking...

I was inspired by Nature Tales and Camera Trails post to add one more of my own. Hers is much better, but I even though this is a failed photo, I find it intriguing.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend:
Bill Moyers on Veterans and the War

I love Bill Moyers. I first fell in love with him years ago during the wonderful series of interviews he did with Joseph Campbell. Anyone who hasn't seen those interviews should run right out to the video store or netflix (if they have them) and make it a point to watch them. They are life-changing.

But back to Bill Moyers. He is such a gift in a news and media world barren of content and thoughtfulness. His shows are actually a source of genuine information. His commentaries reflect his decency and wisdom. I admire him, I adore him, I am grateful that he is out there doing the work he does and doing it so well. So, anyway, I really had to control myself to post just these few video clips.

While I was retrieving the first two videos I ran across this one. It's not about the war or veterans, but it is deeply disturbing and I thought I'd share it.

Ok.... I had to add one more, Jon Stewart being serious and brilliant ....

Friday, May 23, 2008

Saturday Wordzzle Challenge: Week Fourteen

This is week 14 of the Saturday Wordzzle challenge. Anyone new to the process can refer back here to find out how it works.

The words for this week's ten word challenge were: flamingo, monster trucks, Darth Vader, cucumbers, sugar-free, banking, determinate, thurible, sarcasm, drums And for the Mini Challenge: procrastinate, memory lane, alley cat, argument, Florida

I'm not at all happy with any of my contributions this week (except maybe the vanity one), but they are all I have to offer, so here's my ten-word offering for this week.

Frank Smith drove monster trucks for a living and made enough money doing so that he had bought his family a house in a pretty nice neighborhood. His front yard was the neighborhood nightmare, littered as it was with, empty sugar-free soda cans, toy drums, a variety of Darth Vader dolls in different sizes, not to mention the three hideous pink flamingoes. Despite this horror, Katherine (like others on the block) held her tongue, bit back complaints and controlled her sarcasm because she was banking on Frank’s generosity with his amazing garden. His extraordinary flowers ranged from roses that were size of oranges and smelled like heaven on earth, to peonies, gladioli, tulips… each more magnificent than the other. Then there were the vegetables: cucumbers so big and succulent you could make a meal out of them, string beans, determinate tomatoes (yes, there was such a thing as determinate tomatoes - she had learned this from another neighbor, Jay Simser, who was also an enthusiastic gardener). Anyway, nobody could figure out quite how Smith did it, though there were rumors that he paced the garden at night swinging a thurible, chanting prayers, singing and talking to the seeds and shoots. Whatever he did, the final results were magical – the flowers beyond beautiful and the fruits and vegetables so succulent and tasty that eating them was a religious experience. In the end, the vegetables were worth the eye sore of Smith’s front yard and even the potential decline in property value.

And here's my mini challenge:

Dealing with the yowling alley cat interrupted Hal and Sandra forcing them to procrastinate finishing the argument that had erupted during their trip down memory lane. She was positive that they had met in Florida, New York, while he was certain it was Alabama, New York. Truth was, it turned out, they had met in the town of Ohio, New York. “I knew it was a state,” she laughed. “I guess we both thought it was a southern state because it was so dreadfully hot that day. I remember that and I remember that I knew you were “the one” within minutes of meeting you. Glad to say I was right about that, at least.”

And the mega challenge:

Jimmy Martin was a fairly typical teenager. He loved monster trucks, played the drums, thought sugar-free soda was girly, and still had a great fondness for Darth Vader and all things Star Wars. His favorite band was a group called Determinate Sarcasm and he and the three hottest girls in school had formed a hip band that they called Three Flamingoes and an Alley Cat. He and the flamingoes were all applying to colleges in Florida not so much for the education, but so they could go on one of those wild Spring Break parties that they had heard so much about. Actually, Jimmy hoped college in Florida would be one continuing party. He was banking on his mother’s general cluelessness but was procrastinating telling her his plan in hopes of avoiding an argument. His mother was – to say the least – a bit flakey. She never made a meal which didn’t include cucumbers because she believed them to be a “perfect” food and a weight loss aid, she considered herself to be a vegetarian despite the fact that she consumed, eggs, milk, butter and fish, and she meditated for exactly an hour every day. Of course she had to make a big drama out of it. Every afternoon she filled an old thurible she had bought at a thrift shop and walked around chanting and swinging it back and forth to “cleanse the space.” Lights, music and computers had to be turned off in order not to disturb the “energy” of the house while she sat chanting or meditating in the lotus position. That was followed by dreadful, boring, cucumber-ridden dinners where conversation was almost exclusively his mother’s memory lane monologues… she rambled on and on about her youth, how perfect his father had been, and told dozens of dreadful humiliating stories about “cute” things he had done. It was a teenager’s nightmare. He could not wait for graduation, Florida, and wild times.

This week's vanity wordzzle used the words: Godzilla, sneeze, torturous, Cool, Groovy, top hat, marshmallow, tyrant, gift, easy

Godzilla sneezed, not a gentle, easy sneeze, but a groaning, torturous heavy sneeze, made all the more disgusting for the thick white snot that dropped like perverted marshmallows from his huge nose. The tyrant who held him captive grinned malevolently. He was a man with a knack for cruelty and he had made the poor creature wear what he called “gifts”: a hideous chartreuse T-shirt with the words “Cool, Groovy!written across his chest in neon pink letters and a formal top hat which he was forced to wear at all times. The humiliation was overwhelming. No matter how fierce or disgusting poor Godzilla tried to be, tourists looked at his ridiculous outfit and burst out laughing. Now, to top it all off, he had a cold. The monster business was just not what it used to be.

Next Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: perpendicular, carpentry, garage, lute player, radishes, tin roof, wild flowers, stop light, gargantuan

And for the Mini Challenge: gravy boat, cat carrier, Madison, Wisconsin, March Hare, gratitude

Thanks for playing. For those who are new, here are some guidelines to make the process more fun.

Enjoy! See you next week.


The Last Time You... - a Meme

Promised Akelamalu that I'd do this meme, so here goes:

The last time you...

Almost any other day, I'd say today because I laugh a lot, but so far this morning has had more to do with pain (back ache) than laughter. Well, I laughed as I typed that (my inner sadist is alive and well), so... just now.

Day before yesterday. Sad movie.

felt guilty? Guilt is my life. I don't actually need anything to feel guilty about. I live with a kind of generalized numbing guilt on the theory that just by existing I have undoubtedly been annoying to someone.

shouted at the TV? Pretty regularly, I'm afraid. Certain commercials make me grumble and any mention of George W. Bush pretty much causes my blood to boil instantly. I watch the "talking heads" on Sunday, so my Sunday mornings involve a lot of yelling and some swearing.

had a hangover?
Long, long, time ago. Don't drink much any more.

hugged someone?
If kitties count, this morning.

couldn't sleep?
I sleep pretty well these days. It's been a while since I had a sleepless night.

kissed someone?
Again, if you count kitties and/or stuffed kitties - this morning.

Exercise? What's exercise?

ate something really unhealthy? You mean there's healthy food?

had a dance? Previous life

went on a shopping spree? I guess my camera counts as a shopping spree - so about 2 months ago.

spoke to your mom? She died on Feb. 3, 1991. I saw her the day before, I think.

said "I love you"?
Every day to my cats and in emails to my nieces and nephew.

And your last word is? Yikes. Breakfast is burning!

I'm not going to tag anyone. If you feel like doing it, please do so and let me know. It turned out to be kind of fun. Have a nice weekend. Hope to see people at Wordzzles on Saturday.

Took the picture below late last evening. It was way too dark to be taking photos so I decided to just play with it and try to make it "artsy" or something. It's colorful, at least. I don't think of grackles as singing or talking birds, but this little guy seems to spend a lot of time on top of this post chatting away to someone or something. Reminds me of a wonderful children's book I read years ago, called WILLIE WAS DIFFERENT. It was illustrated by Norman Rockwell and was about a young bird who didn't like to sing the "traditional" songs of his species. Wonderful book.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Poem of the Week: The Answer is Believing

If you click on the picture, you can see a MUCH larger version that may be easier to read.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Quasi Wordless Wednesday:
View from my Desk - Looking out my Front Window

As some of you know, I am profoundly agoraphobic. All my photos are taken from inside the house. In past weeks you've seen views from my back door. Here's a bit of what I see through the window from my desk. I included the squirrel even though he's a bit fuzzy, because he's so darned cute. This is because my windows REALLY need washing and anything taken into the sun looks like it's being seen through mist. Hoping to correct that soon. I am so lucky in my view from the front of the house. My neighbors' yard is like a beautiful park.... or at least I think so. Some of you may remember how the birch tree in back has perfect eyes - well does anybody else notice the face on the tree in the middle photo? And does anyone besides me think my blue jay has only one leg?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Heads or Tails Tuesday: Peace

This week's prompt from Skittles' Heads or Tails Tuesday is Peace or Piece. I have chosen peace, though I am approaching it with a piece of poetry and two pieces of music.

So many ways to approach this subject. I don't understand war. I see no excuse for it. I don't understand violence. I don't think that meeting violence with violence solves anything. If people stopped insisting on being "right," and wanting all the power, we might have fewer deaths by violence in this world, fewer murders, fewer hate crimes, fewer Iraqs, fewer Darfurs, fewer terrorists and genocides. The idea that bombs work better than conversation is stunning to me. Bombs just kill people and increase fear and animosity. And they don't usually kill the right people (if there is such a thing as the right person to kill, which I don't actually think there is). Bombs and guns tend to kill children and women buying groceries; they tend to kill the innocent with at least as much frequency as the so-called "enemy."

One of my favorite poems ever is a poem by Wilfred Owens. I first read it during the time of the Vietnam War. It spoke to me then and it speaks to me now. It was written during World War I and it's author died young in that war. I may have posted it here before, but it is worth repeating. The last four lines of this poem speak a truth of such power... Even at it's noblest, war is obscene and ugly.

Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori

*Translation: It is sweet and good to die for one's country.

Then there is music. I've always thought of Blowing in the Wind as a peace song, though it only partly about war. Of all the versions available, I liked this one because it is so straight-forward and pure. I have always loved Peter Paul and Mary. About 25 years ago, before I started hiding from the world full time, I sang in the annual Christmas concert that Peter Paul and Mary put on at Carnegie Hall with the New York Choral Society every year. Alas, I was running a raging fever during the performance and missed the party afterwards, but it was still an awesome experience to sing in that place and with this trio. Ultimately, I think peace is about more than non-violence. It's about the things this song talks about. Real peace will some when we truly care about one another with compassion in our hearts and when we reach out to comfort the pain of every other being on the planet.

and then there's
Let There Be Peace On Earth
performed by the Tyler College Choir... don't know much about them, but of all the versions available on You-Tube, this was the one that seemed most willing to let the song speak for itself.

I should probably leave it there, but I have to add a few last words. In one of the wisdom books I read a while back, it was advised that there is more power in being FOR something than AGAINST something else. I have a hard time remembering this sometimes. But at least in this moment, I wish to let my love of peace outweigh my distaste for war. I want to be for peace and love and kindness in the world with all my heart and soul. I want to put my faith into what is good and kind in the human spirit, because ultimately, I know that is what is strongest.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Alphabet Backwards: O is for Oooooooo, No!


Oh, no!
O is the letter for Alphabet Backwards day
Oh, my! and
Only wish I had something to say
Old age was one topic
Only I didn’t want to write about it
Organization another only I’m not
Oh, my
Ostriches, orioles, opossums seemed silly
Omelets made me hungry
Obligated (by my own strange set of rules) to write something
Opting for this silly “poem”
Over-the-top with “Os”
OZ, I could have done OZ, I guess
Or omnipresent or omega or obtuse
Obtuse is how I feel
Out of my mind, I am with ideas
Oddly, but no wish to order my thoughts
Or try to wax profound
Of course, it might be better to do nothing
Oh dear, oh dear
Out of the blue
Over the hill
Off the beaten path
Out of reach
Onward and upward
O is everywhere
Only I have nothing to say
Over and Out
On to the letter “n” next week.

-Katherine E. Rabenau

Just an editorial note: All the O's should be the same size. They are in draft, they just don't show up that way. Very frustrating.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

One Single Impression: Bleeding

This week's prompt for One Single Impression was "bleeding." Afraid that took me to dark political places and not very good poetry. I hope I haven't broken any copyright laws with the second image which is the poster of Bush's face made up of a mosaic of faces of those who have died in his "war." Afraid the state of the nation, the state of the world makes my heart bleed but I wasn't able to put it into poems very well this week.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Saturday Wordzzle Challenge: Week Thirteen

This is week 13 of the Saturday Wordzzle challenge. Anyone new to the process can refer back here to find out how it works. Sorry to have posted so late. I wrote these at 3:00 am, so who knows what they say. I look forward to seeing what others have come up with.

The words for this week's
ten word challenge were: sergeant, lunatic, peanut butter and jelly, cyber space, flattery, musician, auspicious, cardinal, paprika, flowering plum tree

And for the Mini Challenge: sinister, magazine, American flag, rain storm, chess board

Here's my ten-word offering for this week.

The exquisite red cardinal sat singing in the flowering plum tree that was right outside her window and Mary hoped it was an auspicious sign. She made herself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, moved quickly to her desk and logged on as Paprika Pettifeather, her favorite cyber space identity. Maybe today would be the day she met her man, she mused.. She really had only three simple requirements that had to be met. Her man had to think Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club band was a great, if not the greatest album in history – and that the Beatles were incredible musicians whose genius remained unparalleled, he had to be able to flatter without it seeming like flattery, and he had he to – there was no way around this one, recognize that a criminal was currently playing the role of Commander in Chief and ought to have been impeached long ago. She might be willing to leave flattery and musical genius open to debate. But anyone who didn’t recognize that the lunatics were running the asylum was not for her.

And here's my mini challenge:

Joseph Woods, looked up from the magazine which had held him thoroughly absorbed, distracted first by the flapping sound of the American flag in the increasing wind. He then noticed that the chess boards at the nearby tables were being rapidly packed up as the players scurried to find shelter. And finally a glance at the sinister sky told him that there was something more than a rain storm pending. Lucky for him he was a sprinter and he made it to shelter just as the first golf-ball sized hail stones began to land.

And the mega challenge:

Quickly checking the magazine of his gun, the young sergeant looked at the American flag fluttering in the breeze and then at the sinister clouds on the horizon. Maybe the storm will put an end to the fighting he thought hopefully and then chuckled bitterly. Yeah, sure. War cancelled due to inclement weather. “Heavy rain storms,” the headline would read, “led to the end of hostilities today in Iraq. Both sides decided to pack up their guns and go home.” Lord how he missed home: he missed Monday evenings chatting across the chess board with his father, listening to his favorite musicians whenever he wanted to, spending all day Saturday and Sunday exploring cyber space on his computer. He missed peanut butter and jelly. He missed baked potatoes with paprika. He missed kissing Miranda under the flowering plum tree and her auspicious smile that foretold she would say “yes,” when he had asked her if she’d marry him. He missed the flattery she used on him to get her way. He missed peace and normalcy. He missed going to the Cardinals games at Busch stadium. Alas, that last thought reminded him of another Bush - the lunatic who stole the White House … and as if to punctuate that thought, the unhappy soldier was met with a storm of bullets instead of rain drops. There would be no truce today.


This week's vanity wordzzle used the words: Tiddleywinks, mauve, throbbing bass sound, fortuitous, barnacle, hoist, topiary, finicky, turtle

Sitting on a large mauve cushion next to the large turtle shaped topiary, Tiddleywinks, the very spoiled and finicky Pekinese belonging to Mrs. Blandersmythe stared disdainfully at the sautéed hamburger meat which had been placed in a crystal goblet at her feet. She had just decided to attack the unfortunate gardener who had been unlucky enough to get the job of feeding her when, fortuitously for him, she was distracted by a loud noise. The gardener spared, she now bared her teeth menacingly at the wildly dressed young man who had just entered the property with a large boom box hoisted high on his shoulder blasting at full volume. The throbbing bass sound was so loud that Tiddleywinks could feel the ground under her paws tremble and vibrate. She was outraged. She was a Blandersmythe, after all, and a Pekinese besides. This young man simply had to be dealt with. And she was about to lunge when the most delightful aroma seemed to emerge right from the direction of the aforesaid young man. “Here you go, dog,” he said, pulling a greasy bag labeled Barnacle Bill’s Good Eats from his backpack and laying it in front of Tiddleywinks astonished nose. “I will bite him later,” she thought to herself, and dug in with gusto.


Next Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: flamingo, monster trucks, Darth Vader, cucumbers, sugar-free, banking, determinate, thurible, sarcasm, drums

And for the Mini Challenge: procrastinate, memory lane, alley cat, argument, Florida

Thanks for playing. For those who are new, here are some guidelines to make the process more fun.

Enjoy! See you next week.