Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Passing of Another Year

Years ago I read a theory about how time seems to fly faster and faster the older you get. The reason as it was explained - and it makes perfect sense - is that when you are 1 year old, a year is 100% of your life. As you age, each year becomes a smaller slice of the whole and so seems to pass more quickly. I don't know if it's true but its one of my favorite odd things I've read or know along with the fact that elephants in the wild use a midwife system for giving birth.

It's 21 degrees out and snowing hard here at the moment... only 1-3 inches expected, though, which isn't so bad, I guess and it will look pretty when it's done. Angel looks to be closing out the New Year with a major terrorist run. She was already heading for the stove this morning - a new past time for her. I don't know if she likes hearing me shriek or what. Then she gives me the "Who me? How could you accuse me of such a thing?" face. Tara Grace is her usual virtuous self. Even gave me a kiss this morning... although she did decide I should get up about two hours earlier than I wanted to. This involves a fair amount of gravelly voiced complaints, walking in circles and head butting so that I have to put a pillow over my head to protect myself.

I watched a great movie the other night - my last of the year, I guess. It's an old movie that my therapist had recommended numerous times. When I first added it to my Netfix list, it was "VERY long waiting list" for ages and then "not available." The title - V for Vendetta - put me off so I didn't mourn not seeing it that much. Then it came up again and I checked Netflix and it was there and available. Came to the house and I kept it sitting around for four days (I hate it when I do that... I feel the bargain price ticking away with each day) and then finally put it into the VCR the night before last. GREAT movie! Loved it! Brilliantly written and performed.

On the whole 2008 has been a pretty good year for me. I started my blog in February and have had great fun writing it. It has introduced me to lots of wonderful new people. I got my new camera in March and that has been a daily joy. I've had so much fun with it! Now, thanks to my neighbors, I have a printer/scanner and can run off some of my own and Shannon's pictures and scan in old paper photos before they crumble into dust.

I've made new flesh and blood friends, had my home cosmicly harmonized resonanced (see Dennis Puffett), gotten new pots and pans that really really don't stick.... Speaking of cooking equipment... I have finally conquered my fear of the microwave Nate and Dan found for me. It's old and I think I need to increase the time for things but it works. The house didn't catch fire and nothing blew up. I started out with frozen corn in a packet on Sunday and then last night did a more complicated thing. Not sure that I'm going to be a microwave junkie, but I'm glad I'm not afraid of it any more. But back to 2008. Read some good books - the last of the Harry Potters, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, the two latest books in the Thomas Covenan series, and Marley and Me among my favorites. I don't read enough any more, but I'm hoping to get back to doing more of that.

What else did 2008 bring my way? Schwans and less stress about getting groceries. Barack Obama and a future with a man of honor and intelligence leading my country. January 20th can't come soon enough. And of course one of the highlights of the year was my nephew's visits, augmented by a keyboard. Angel and Tara Grace have both been healthy. Tara Grace is evolving and seems to be healing both physically and emotionally from her days of abandonment and deprivation. That is such a delight to see.

I know there's a lot I'm forgetting. The Universe has been good to me. It did take away my beautiful tree, but it gave me a 12-year old friend in return. And I learned that my home owner's insurance works. I can't say enough good things about Travellers. They picked up half of the enormous cost - and they were really nice about it. I survived even though the tree didn't.

Anyway, I have much to be grateful for. Even in hard financial times, I'm hanging in there. Next year as my Christmas gift to Shannon, Nate, Dan, Sue and Mary, I'm attuning them to reiki. I have to go back and relearn how to do it, but I'm very excited to be sharing what brings so much joy to me with the five of them... delighted that they love reiki and each asked to learn how to do it. Terrified that I will disappoint them when we have our workshop. Grateful that I have my kind therapist to help me work through that.

I'm deeply troubled by some things - the push back against change and hope - laws against gay marriage, violence in Israel and Palestine and elsewhere in the world. I don't envy our new president the world of trouble he is inheriting, but I'm glad that he is the one inheriting it.

I could probably ramble on and on, but Tara Grace is sitting on my mouse and a Angel is across the room looking for all the world like she's planning something. I'm off to take my shower and then visit around the net... and maybe I'll see if I can finish off the 2nd of the three books my niece Cindy sent me. Amy Tan's latest...

I wish you each and all a gentle, joyful end to 2008. May the new year bring peace and better, kinder days to all of us in this country and around the world. Thanks for visiting my blog, for commenting and encouraging me. It is much appreciated.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Fable of the Month/Monday Poetry Train

Well, I was trying to decide what to post today and I'm feeling especially lazy and someone asked me to participate (not for the first time) in something called Monday Poetry Train. Luckily for me it seems open to prose and poetry, so I thought - lack of anything else much to share - that I'd post one of the last of my Fable Collection. These were mostly written as part of a writing class I took way back in 1993. We were given an assignment - in this case it was to write about a beaver who had been captured by humans - and this is what I wrote. Doesn't add up to much, but there a few things in it that I kind of like.



Katherine E. Rabenau

I was born near a meadow filled with birch trees, so my parents named me Barclay. For my middle name they chose Gideon, which means feller of mighty trees. Maybe because I grew up with birches, I've never held much stock in big trees. Big trees are show-off stuff. I've always liked birches for their slimness and flexibility. Birches are builder's trees. You know, all beavers are dam builders. Dams are life to beavers. They are our way of being in the world. But, contrary to popular belief, we're not all equally gifted. Because, you see, there's more to it than just building a shelter. We can all do that. But some things have to be taught. And that's what I do. I guess you could call me a wise one, or what Native Peoples call a shaman. You see, there's got to be Spirit in a good dam, got to be love and harmony and community. A good dam marries earth and water. It speaks to the river and says, "Ho, merry friend, stop, rest awhile and greet your cousin, earth. Embrace her, feed her, and teach her your ways." A good dam builder calls on the tree people for help, for the tree people live on water and earth combined and they have also touched the sky. They know how to sing to the river, to make her pause and bend and listen. But they do not all sing river songs, and those who do only sing when they have been greeted with respect. A wise beaver never takes a tree without permission, for the trees, who touch the sky, hear the wind, the voice of God, and the wind tells them their time and their destiny. Not every tree knows river songs, and the river is not patient with those she cannot understand.

Why am I telling you this? Because something terrible has happened. For a long time, the Beaver people have felt safe in the park lands and that is where we have lived. Now, for some reason, the rangers have declared war on us. They destroy our dams. They take us prisoner. I do not understand it. Right now I am on the run. They shot me with something and put me in a box. I chewed my way out and am heading back to my people, but what do I say to them? The dams are our shelter. But more than that they are our purpose. We were created to help the river and the land speak, to help the tree people fulfill their destiny. The land needs us and the river. The trees need us. Why do these humans wish to interfere with God's plan? I am a peaceful soul, but I must defy them. I must teach us to do so with love, for I do not think the humans mean us any harm, really. They are just ignorant. If we love them, perhaps they will be healed. I must teach my people to build, because we must listen to our hearts and be what we are meant to be. I will teach my people to build dams because the river calls them and the trees cannot do their work without us. I will teach my people to trust their hearts. The hearts of humans tell them something else, something I do not understand. I do not begrudge them their journey, though I pity them that they apparently do not hear the trees and the river call, nor see the loneliness of the land. But they must walk their path and I mine. May God bless us both.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Shadow Shot Sunday

This is my first time joining in on Shadow Shot Sunday hosted over at Hey Harriet's blog. I took these photos on December 22nd and 23rd. Sunny days have been rare so far this winter. No sun, no shadows, alas.

One Single Impression: Stardust

This week's prompt for One Single Impression is "stardust." Hmmm. Tough one. I've written the poem below in 5-7-5 lines, but they aren't really haiku. I probably should have just written what I wanted to say and left the count out since it isn't coming out very well. But I didn't, so this is what you get.

I tried to present it graphically and you should be able to click on the picture and read the text full size, but just in case...

For Rick

Looking at your face
My eyes were filled with stardust
Though not right away
Hearing your wise voice
My mind awoke to new worlds
Looking in your eyes
My heart broke open at last
You changed who I was
Did you love me back?
Not how I wanted, maybe
But I think you did
Better than romance
(Though that's not what I thought then)
You gave me myself
You saw things in me
Urged me to trust my own voice
To express myself
You nurtured my soul
Got me to speak thoughts aloud
To sing my soul's joy
What a gift you were
Man of unrequited love
What more could I have asked for
You showed me my Self
Not what I wanted
Or at least I wanted more
I wanted passion
I wanted touch and kisses
It seems foolish now
And not so foolish either
Love is what it is
Love is always good
Even when unrequited
It's been many years
Since God reclaimed your goodness
Are you stardust now?
I think you must be
You were stardust then, alive
A healer of lives
Dear beloved friend
You gave me so very much
Stardust in my heart
If not for your love
I don't know who I would be
But I would not be me

I Love you,

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Random December Photos

My last holiday card. Shannon took this picture of my little house for me
a few weeks ago. I messed with it for fun.

It's another gray damp day here. Probably not as cold as some others we have had but the damp just cuts through me. I'm holding fast to my 60 degree thermostat but feel my resistence to turning the heat up giving way pretty quickly. Somehow there's something about a winter sky that is so much grayer than a gloomy day in summer. I don't have much to say today - well, I actually have something festering in my brain that wants saying but don't quite have the will to say it yet, so today I'm just posting a bunch of not particularly good photos from the past couple of weeks. I had to touch the little squirrel's but since he had a big white spot from the dirt on my window. It has been interesting to watch these little squirrels make tunnels under the snow. I never realized before that they do that. I like that I'm still discovering new things. Keeps life interesting. Anyway, here are some pictures of the chilly outside and the less chilly inside...

I just liked the way the sun hit these weeds. Sort of a silly picture, but...

This was a week ago, I think, one of our few sunny days. Wish I could have caught
the light and the melting better, but I had fun trying.

I tried to make a Christmas card using this picture... didn't come out that good...

You can click on this (and all the pictures to see them bigger if you choose).
The best I could do capturing a sense of my little tree's pretty lights in the dark.
Snow and Shadows
Neighbor's Christmas lights covered in snow.
Tara Grace trying to will me to give her crunchies
(in the green Keebler's tin behind her).

Angel laying claim to our new printer/scanner.
Hope you are having a lovely weekend and recovering from and/or still enjoying the holidays.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Hope you all had a lovely Christmas. The Cyber Gods or Santa or somebody bigger than me saw fit to "disconnect" me from the internet for most of Christmas Eve, all of Christmas Day and and until about 1:45 today. The up side of that is that I read a great book that my niece, Cindy, sent me.... A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Housseini I highly recommend it.

Shannon and her mother came by on Christmas Eve for a visit. Shannon made the plaque pictured above and her parents gave me a printer/scanner so once I get it plugged in, I can scan all my old photos and other things. I'm REALLY thrilled and dumbfounded at such a lavish gift. Too cool. The girls got their own cardboard castle.
Angel chose Christmas Eve to break a treasured little ceramic bowl that I've had for 40 years. In this case it was more my fault than hers but such is life.

Not much else to report. I have to go catch up on a half million old emails (slight exaggeration), but just wanted to say "hi." I think yesterday was the first day I have not posted since I started my blog.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ho, Ho, Ho

I wish everyone joy celebrating and rejoicing in their respective traditions. May you all be wrapped in the love of family and friends, music, good food. May your memories of holidays past be tender and comforting. May those we have lost be found in our hearts and may we all know always that we are held in the arms of Divine Love no matter what name we give to it. God/Love is multi-lingual and infinitely creative.

Wishing you Peace and Joy and All Good Things.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays

Battling the holiday blues a bit. Since Chanukah starts today, I thought I'd post my first holiday "ecard." I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. I put a little red into this. If I stop feeling sorry for myself, I may use that as a cheat to do Ruby Tuesday.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

One Single Impression: A Winter's Day

This week's prompt for One Single Impression is "A Winter's Day." We are having one here on this Winter Solstice day. We had about 8 inches of snow yesterday and we're having more as I type. I'm not very happy with my haiku. I couldn't seem to find my voice this morning - that and a number of distractions - mean I'm posting this quite late. The sun has come out since this morning, though, which is nice. Snow looks pretty even if there is too much of it.

The last photo and poem are about six years old and date to when I first moved back East after a difficult stay in Arizona. (If you click on the photo, you can see the curve sign. It is a very sharp curve indeed.)


Snow like white shade on naked trees

Lakeside beauty: Cold. Clear. Still.

And I sit here angry and sad

Not knowing why I am ready - but unable - to cry
Grey kitty howls my blues for me and I scold her

She is demanding my attention

Not just to her but to myself

She is smart this old grey girl

Her twenty years of life have taught her a thing or two

More than my fifty-four have taught me, I'm afraid.

So I scowl at her instead of crying

Tell her quite unkindly to "SHUT UP!"

Then go back to what I do worst and best

Feeling restless and lost and rather sorry for myself

Outside the wind blows snow off the trees

And the twenty mile an hour curve sign

Is blurred through the glass

But makes me think that maybe there's a lesson here

I'm wanting to race past these feelings that are coming up in me

These emotional sharp curves

When what I really need to do is slow down and take heed.

~ Katherine Rabenau

Friday, December 19, 2008

Saturday Wordzzle Challenge: Week 44

Yikes! I almost forgot it was Friday! This is week 44 of the Saturday Wordzzle challenge. Anyone new to the process can refer back here to find out how it works. I had a hard time with the mega this week.... Not happy with my results this week, but such is life and it's only a game and...

I’m thinking that everyone is probably going to be busy with the holidays for the next couple of weeks so maybe we should take a break and return to Wordzzles in the New Year on January 9th/10th.

The words for this week's ten word challenge were: When pigs have wings, Moonlight, Mystery, Tower of Babel, Butterflies, Bread and butter, Beef barley soup, Charley horse, Novelty, Cold shoulder Mini Challenge: Software, Lottery, Newspaper, Mailman, Ringo Starr’s drum

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

The Tower of Babel club was hosting its annual Moonlight Mystery weekend at the Old Spangler mansion. Mortimer Spangler had made his fortune selling novelties and his fame exploring discovering a new species of butterfly. Rumor had it that the mansion was haunted but nobody really believed it. It was Charley Horse’s turn to be in charge of the event. Everyone should have known it would be a disaster. Charley was cheaper than Jack Benny pretended to be. So when the main course for the mystery dinner turned out to be beef barley soup and bread and butter, there was general grumbling and talk that perhaps it should be a real murder this year and not just a pretend one. Charley was oblivious, of course, until Margie Winslop, who until now this occasion had been flirting shamelessly with him, gave him a glacially cold shoulder and responded to his request for a date by saying “when pigs have wings and not even then.” Once the Spartan meal was behind them, however, the event went splendidly. Charley not only got his date with Margie but ended up married to her. The club members forgave him, but he was never ever allowed to plan the meal portion of an event again.

And here's my mini challenge:

Sam Martinez had been content enough working as a mailman, though the strain on his knees and back had begun to tell of late. He had been working since he could remember, delivering newspapers on his bike starting when he was seven. Now suddenly he was a lottery winner, able to live some of the dreams he had never thought possible – a home of his own (and one for his parents), a fancy computer with all the software anyone could ever dream of having… and best of all a special gift for his father… a signed replica of Ringo Starr’s drum – signed by the man himself, along with tickets to London and a live performance featuring his life-long hero. Finally a Christmas gift his father would like. Life was good.

And for the mega challenge:

Harvey Hegglemeyer, the software genius – he had been written up in the national newspapers - and creator of three best selling games (called respectively Butterflies in the Moonlight: A Mystery; Tower of Babel; and When Pigs Have Wings) had a weakness for catalog shopping. It was a good thing that his genius earned him truckloads of money because he tended to spend his fortune almost as fast as he earned it. His favorite catalog was called Charley Horse Novelties and he waited eagerly each month for the mailman to deliver it to his door. It offered a range of unique products which included things like (allegedly) Ringo Starr’s Drum and other rare collectibles which were sometimes sold by lottery. His other favorite catalog was Cold Shoulder Organics which provided him with his favorite foods stuffs, among them Happy Hoof Beef and Barley Soup, a dazzling assortment of breads and butters (all organic), and some of the best “home made” jams a man could dream of tasting. Of course they sold popcorn and chips and even organic wines and fresh vegetables too. Harvey hardly ever went to the grocery store any more. Amazingly, there was even romance attached to his catalogs because he had written to the Janna Janes, the editor of Cold Shoulder only to discover that she was incredibly beautiful and a kindred spirit besides. They had exchanged first letters, then phone calls and when they had met a few months later, it was love at first sight. They were to be married in June. He had ordered his tux from his favorite clothing catalog. Janna had thought that was a bit too much catalog shopping, but she loved him enough to overlook it.


This week's vanity wordzzle used the words: monastery, cyclone, corncob, tenacious, rat, be-bop, Marxist, tingle, fraction

It had been a bit of a leap, going from being a Marxist to being an initiate at a Jesuit Monastery, but Edgar Martin - or Brother Eustacius as he was now called - had always been a man of wild extremes and divergent interests. During his pre-Marxist years he had studied classical violin at Julliard, but several years into his studies had decided he preferred the freer rhythms of Be-bop. Then one evening, returning home from a gig in the Bronx, he had gotten lost and had stumbled on a ragged, starving street person fighting a rat for a half-eaten corncob. Like a cyclone, that scene had spun him around and lifted him out of his complacent middle class world forever. He had become tenacious in his passion to eradicate such scenes, such injustice from the face of the earth. He had tried social work first, but it was not enough, was too slow, too mired in bureaucracy and hypocrisy. Marxism had proven to be no better, so now he had moved on to the Church. The fire to bring hope and healing tingled and burned and churned inside him. He could not still it. He had faced the reality that on the material plane, he could accomplish barely a fraction of what was needed, so he had decided to throw his lot in with the Almighty. It was said that prayers and faith could move mountains, so maybe they could move human hearts as well. He would try. At least he could do that much.


Next Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: We were born on the same day in the same hospital, Weeping willow, Two for one sale, Highway robbery, Burial ground, roll of paper towels, gospel singer, gallows, weirdo, volcano

Mini Challenge: Symbiosis, Sagging breasts, Navaho blanket, Frogmen, Who says I got no heart?

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


See you in TWO weeks.


Tagged and Borrowed: Memes

Peppy Lady tagged me yesterday to do a meme called 5 Things. I think that's what it's called. Anyway you have to list 5 things you do every day that make your life better.

I don't know that I DO five things. There are a couple that I can lay claim to... I'm going to stretch the first one into two...

1. I give thanks for my blessings - listing them - every morning when I wake up.

2. I give thanks for my blessings - listing them - every evening when I go to sleep.

3. About a month ago, I started going to bed earlier so that I'm getting an additional 1-2 hours of sleep. This is a really good idea. I highly recommend it to everyone.

4. I usually take some pictures, though I can't say for sure that I do that EVERY day.

5. I play with the cats and give them attention. This make my life better in two ways... it's fun to a degree and it keeps Angel out of trouble.

I never tag people.... so that's it from me for this one.


I saw a much longer meme - the Layer Meme - over at Jeff's and I found his answers entertaining so I thought maybe I'd give it a go too since my creativity seems to have fled the country for warmer climes.

Layer One:
- Name: Raven
- Birth date: July 10, 1947
- Birthplace: Bronx, New York
- Current Location: Upstate, New York
- Eye color: Blue-gray and occasionally green (so I'm told)
- Hair Color: Medium brown with red highlights (in the sun) and now some gray too.
- Height: 5 feet 4 inches last time I was measured. I have probably shrunk some.
- Righty or Lefty: Righty, though I have tried from time to time to learn to write left-handed.
- Zodiac sign: Cancer

Layer Two:
- Your Heritage: Scotch, Irish, German, mostly German, I guess, though.
- The shoes you wore today: Crocs today and every day.
- Your weakness: Just one? Over-eating is probably the worst one but there are so many. Self hate is another.
- Your fears: Pretty much everything.
- Your perfect pizza: Well if it has a thin, crunchy crust and lots and lots of cheese, I'm really happy. I don't mind onions and peppers and stuff like that too.
- Goal you’d like to achieve: Finish a children's book I started called Amanda and the Cookie Witch and get my poetry and other things published.

Layer Three:
- Your most overused phrase on AIM: Not that big on AIM. Probably LOL.
- Your best physical feature: No idea... probably my eyes or my smile.
- Your most missed memory: I forget.

Layer Four:
- Pepsi or Coke: Neither
- McDonald's or Burger King: Don't know... McDonald's I guess. Don't have either of them often.
- Single or group dates: I never leave the house.
- Adidas or Nike: No idea.
- Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea: Both
- Chocolate or vanilla: Chocolate. I really like raw chocolate now. It's more eco-friendly and better for you.
- Cappuccino or coffee: Coffee... I don't drink it that often these days but I get free market coffee now.

Layer Five:
- Smoke: No... I tried it briefly in college because I wanted to seem cool. Everybody laughed at me.
- Cuss: Yup.
- Sing: Love to sing. My voice isn't what it used to be which is frustrating.
- Take a shower everyday: Not these days. I don't exercise that much and I never leave the house, so it really isn't necessary and it's something of a physical challenge.
- Do you think you’ve been in love: Yes
- Want to go to college: Did that in the 1960s.
- Liked high school: Not especially
- Want to get married: Yep... How pathetic is that at my age.
- Believe in yourself: Once in a while
- Get motion sickness: Nope
- Think you’re attractive: Nope
- Think you’re a health freak: Nope... self destructive... though I love doing/sending reiki so in that sense I guess I'm a health freak.
- Get along with your parents: They are long dead now, but while they were alive, self-destructively so. I wish I had been wise enough to be more rebellious at a younger age.
- Like thunderstorms: When they are far away. I have some lovely memories from my time in Arizona, sitting with the lights off and watching the beautiful storms.
- Play an instrument: Clarinet and Piano... though I haven't touched the clarinet in years and have only just started piano again thanks to my kind nephew.

Layer Six: (In the past six months)
- Drank alcohol: No, though I have craved it.
- Smoked: Didn't you already ask this? Anyway. No.
- Done drugs: Nope
- Made out: Alas, no.
- Gone on a date: Alas, no.
- Gone to the mall: Hard to do when you live in the middle of nowhere and never leave the house.
- Eaten an entire box of Oreos: Saved by the time frame... nope... not lately. - Eaten sushi: Not in the past six months, but had a couple of lovely meals when I was in AZ.
- Been on stage: Not lately.
- Been dumped: Not lately. Haven't even been picked up so I could be dumped.
- Gone skating: Nope.
- Made homemade cookies: Nope. But have been having wonderful memories of Christmas cookies past.
- Gone skinny dipping: Not bloody likely even if I was skinny and beautiful which I'm not.
- Dyed your hair: Thought about it.
- Stolen anything: Nope

Layer Seven: Have you ever. . .
- Played a game that required removal of clothing: Nope
- Been trashed or extremely intoxicated: Unfortunately, yes... long ago... Still bothers me.
- Been caught “doing something”: Nope. Boy, am I boring.
- Been called a tease: I wish.
- Gotten beat up: Nope, unless you count psychological brutality... if that counts, most of my childhood and well into my 30s. - Shoplifted: Nope, though when I was young in Massapequa, the stores used to follow my friends and me around as though we were master criminals.
- Changed who you were to fit in: Probably, though not consciously.

Layer Eight:
- Age you hope to be married: ?????
- Names of children: It's a bit late for that.
- Describe your dream wedding: Small gathering of close friends in a beautiful setting... and I get to have a really pretty dress and pretty flowers, good food and good music and lots of laughter.
- Where do you want to go to college: Been there, done that. Might have chosen a different school if I had it to do over again, but that ship sailed.
- What do you want to be when you grow up: A published writer and winner of Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes... RICH.
- What country would you most like to visit: Hard one. Japan, India, Tahiti...

Layer Nine:
- Number of drugs taken illegally: One... but I was never very good at inhaling since I wasn't a smoker
- Number of people I could trust with my life: An amazing number, actually. I am very blessed.
- Number of CD’s that I own: I have no idea. Not as many as I'd like to.
- Number of piercings: one on each ear
- Number of tattoos: Not me... no way
- Number of times my name has appeared in the newspaper: Two or three.
- Number of scars on my body: Three or four... not really sure.
- Number of things in my past I regret: Too many to count... But then again I am who I am because of my mistakes and misfortunes as much as though their opposites.

Whew! Finished. Guess that's it for the moment.

Oh.. It's Shannon's Birthday - she is TWELVE today - so I thought I'd post a few of her pictures.

This is the looking down our street from just above my house.
One of her kitties... I think this one is named Snuffy.

Close-up of a bear carving in their yard. Great shot, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ring the Bells of Peace

I get emails from someone/something called EnlightenNext. I have to confess that I don't always bother opening them but tonight something told me to read the email and I'm glad I did. I've posted the song and the text of the email.

Salman Ahmad, guitarist and lead singer of the popular Pakistani rock band Junoon, is a musician on a mission to promote world peace and give a more progressive face to Islam. We first discovered his work when we saw his 2003 documentary film, The Rock Star and the Mullahs, in which he boldly squared off with fundamentalists in his native Pakistan who deemed his music haram, or forbidden, according to Islamic law. (You can read our article about him here and watch the talk he gave at one of our EnlightenNext centers here.) Now Ahmad has teamed up with Grammy Award–winning artist Melissa Etheridge to record a song for this holiday season titled “Ring the Bells,” which he describes as “a cry for peace and change in a world of war and chaos.” In collaboration with Deepak Chopra's Alliance for a New Humanity, Ahmad and Etheridge have dedicated this Sunday, December 21, as a day for people around the world to take a meditative moment to put the song's title into action.

Hope we can send good thoughts out to the Universe and ring our bells on Sunday at noon. Maybe some of you who are church goers can enlist your Congregations to participate as well.



I don't usually mention these landmarks, but Angel and Tara Grace decided to help me celebrate my 400th post today with a little dance. (My sidebar says 389 but my dashboard says 400. I'm not going to count them.) I discovered JibJab and elfing thanks to my wonderful niece Cindy.

Alas, this little video will vanish into cyber oblivion on January 15th. Probably just as well. But it made me laugh and hopefully will do the same for you as well.

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Portrait of Words

It's mid-December, time for Jeff B's monthly Portrait of Words Challenge. Jeff offers a set of photos - each with a specific assignment: three wild cards, only one of which must be used, a purpose, a main character, and one essential item. The challenge is to craft a story incorporating these photos. Not so easy. Please visit Jeff's blog, A Word in Edgewise, to read his story and then follow Mr. Linky to all the clever stories written by other participants.


Vegas was Nicky Johnson's last hope to save the buildings he had nurtured for his whole adult life. He was the antithesis of a slum lord. Fifty years earlier when he had inherited - at the tender age of 21 - three buildings on New York's Lower East Side, he had been mortified by the squalid conditions. He had known his father was a cold and distant man, but he had not begun to imagine that anyone- let alone his own father - could in good conscience take money from people when he was letting them live in such deplorable conditions. So at twenty-one, he had taken it upon himself to atone for his father's sins. He had enlisted the tenants to help clean the place up, paying them for their labor and refusing to take any rent from them until the buildings were pristine and beautiful. Every apartment was painted, re-floored and given new windows and appliances. Working alongside them, he had grown to love these people whom his father had treated as so much refuse. He become an uncle or father-figure to many of the children, insuring that they got educations. He found his beloved wife Cora Anne among these struggling people. He had fallen in love with her passion for justice and beauty and change. She had spurned his advances initially, not taking them seriously until he presented her with two dozen of the most beautiful yellow roses she had ever seen...

For 55 years they had been blissfully happy. In the last five years, she had faced down cancer with her usual courage and good humor. Six months ago, she had died as she lived - with matter-of-fact honesty. She had had the courage to both laugh and to cry. Even though it was she battling cancer, it seemed to him that it was she caring for him and not the other way around. She had been an awesome woman, an awesome human being. He had loved her with his whole being. He had no doubt that she was safe in God's arms now. How could God manage with out her? They had been so blessed - and he still was. After his Cora died - quietly, smiling in his arms whispering that it would be ok - the tenants - the huge extended "family" they had created with their love and generosity, swooped in and held him up as he had so often held them up in dark times. They had sat with him, cried with him, remembered with him. They had brought him yellow roses and prepared meals for him. They had kept him going.

Alas, in the last days of Cora's illness and the months afterwards he had not been paying attention to the stock market, had not seen the disaster coming. Now his life's work, the well-being of own home and that of so many other families was imperiled. He knew gambling was a fool's risk, but it seemed to him the only way. If that didn't work, well he would find a way to join Cora and let his life insurance protect the buildings. He had already groomed young Willie Norris to be caretaker and since he and Cora left no heirs, his will left the properties to the tenants. Perhaps that would be best. But he knew Cora would be angry with him for thinking like that.

He knew others would think him crazy, but he felt her with him today. They had honeymooned at this hotel... in this room. He would have dinner with her - well, with her presence - and in the morning he would go downstairs and with some luck and maybe his late wife's help - he would save his buildings. He had ordered yellow roses, candles and dinner for two. He was being fanciful, not crazy. Lighting a candle, he raised poured a glass of her favorite wine and raised it to her empty chair. "Cora, babe... I need your help... The whole family needs your help. Unless I can win big tonight, we'll lose the buildings and all our lifetime of work, making a home for them will be destroyed. I'm going to gamble tonight for the first - and hopefully the last - time in my life. Watch over me. Blow on the dice, turn them over... do what you can to help. And if I lose, forgive me for what I must do. I love you."

Dinner over, he picked up the phone and talked to his banker... Tomorrow he would head downstairs to the roulette tables and bet everything he had left to his name in an effort to save his buildings. He was frightened, but he felt Cora with him. It would be OK, he thought. He had an angel on his side and she would not let him fail. He would save the buildings and then... one day soon, he would join her and together they would watch over all those they loved. For tonight, though, he would sleep with the sweet scent of yellow rose petals on his pillow and he would dream of Cora's arms.