Archive for May, 2010

Andy Rooney’s video essay on Memorial Day ends with a wonderful wish for what the day should mean.  It’s here (you have to put up with a 30 second commercial, but it’s worth it.)

One building block to fulfill his (and my) wish is Nonviolent Peaceforce.


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heavenly day

I think heaven happened one day last fall when my grandson was over for the afternoon. We were playing outside,  under the mesquite tree. He gathered twigs and sticks that had fallen and we spent hours “planting” a forest across the yard with them. It was one of those wonderful desert days, sun and cool breeze and birds full of things to say…I had been under a lot of stress for months and not feeling well because of it, but all of a sudden I realized that on that day, under that tree with my lovely grandson, I was having a perfect day.   I took a deep breath, went back to our work, and spent the rest of the afternoon paying attention to every glorious moment.

Sometimes memories are tucked into songs like flowers pressed in a book. Whenever I hear Patty Griffin sing this song my feeling from that day is released like a fragrance. In the video she says this is her first love song, and that she wrote it for her dog. But it’s an all-purpose love song, especially when you’re lucky enough to have had a Heavenly Day.

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I’m a new veggie gardener, and have been popping by the plot nearly every day to check on the attack of the aphids and how much the peppers and squash have grown. It’s in a community garden behind a monastery, and the old priest who lives in the separate house (to provide spiritual support for the sisters?) keeps an eye on things.

He must have noticed my frequent visits and magnifying gaze as I pick off aphids one by one since my spray bottle keeps breaking. (NOTE: Adding old cayenne pepper to the soap and water mix is hazardous to spray bottles’ health, not so much to aphids’.) Last week he came out and sat at the picnic table until I noticed and joined him. “You know,” he said, “I’ve come to realize that there is a mouth for every edible thing on earth, and if the right mouth finds the right food there’s not much we can do about it. Everything eventually dies or gets eaten. All we can do is keep planting.”

So I’m trying to let the plants grow without measuring them in centimeters, and to be calm about a few aphids (okay, I bought a better spray bottle) and I’m thinking where I’ll plant more squash if a worm gets the first crop. Patience and acceptance. But not surrender.

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In Rebecca Solnit’s book A Field Guide to Getting Lost there’s a section called “The Blue of Distance” in which she uses maps as metaphor.

In early maps California appeared (or rather, didn’t) as “Terra Incognita.” Gradually, pieces of the geographic puzzle were placed, but their names, locations, and shapes were not always grounded in reality.

She writes, “To imagine that you know, to populate the unknown with projections, is very different from knowing that you don’t, and the old maps depict both states of mind…When someone doesn’t show up, the people who wait sometimes tell stories about what might have happened and come to half believe the desertion, the abduction, the accident. Worry is a way to pretend that you have knowledge or control over what you don’t…”

Worry is a way to pretend that you have knowledge or control over what you don’t…A mantra for 2:00 a.m.

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Bill Moyers retired this week. I’ve watched his work for many years. For me he has been  a calm voice of reason, a person who can hear many “sides” and speaks the truth gently. A story on his last show, Friday April 30, was about the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. The ICCI is fighting to get government to be for the people, not for the bankers and corporations. Reasonable, calm and bold citizens fighting back. Please watch the story on the sidebar of this blog.

Thanks, Mr. Moyers.

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60 Minutes did a story called “The All-American Canal.”

“The most dangerous body of water in the U.S. is a deep canal on the Mexican border with California where over 550 people, mostly illegal immigrants, have drowned.”

People have been lobbying for more than 10 years to get buoys, lines or  ladders to prevent drownings, but have been ignored.

“The All-American is owned by the federal government but its management is controlled by a regional authority called the Imperial Irrigation District. Stella Mendoza has been with the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) for nine years.”

After listening to testimony about a young father (married to a U.S citizen) who drowned attempting to come home to his family, Mendoza said:

‘ “Is the IID supposed to save every individual that jumps into the canal? Is that my role as a director?” Mendoza asked.

Mendoza told “60 Minutes” that she worries that adding safety features like buoys, lines or ladders would give illegal immigrants a false sense of security.

Asked if she feels the canal is safe, Mendoza told Pelley, “The canal is intended to convey water to the Imperial Valley from the Colorado River. It’s not intended as a recreation and so….”

“We’re not talking about recreation here. We’re talking about people desperate to come into the United States and who are losing their lives in your canal,” Pelley remarked.

“I understand that. When an individual decides to cross the desert, decides to cross the mountains, decides to jump into the canal to swim across, they are taking their lives in their own hands. They have to be accountable for their actions,” Mendoza argued.’

If you’re interested, you can  watch the whole story

Where laws and morals intersect. Or don’t.

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my father’s hands

My grandson tried to unscrew the legs from a stool today, so I took him to my father’s toolshed and we found jars of nails and screws. I got him a short length of a 2 x4, my dad’s hammer, and some screwdrivers. We spent the rest of the day screwing in regular and phillips screws (righty-tighty lefty-loosey) and pounding in different size nails (“Oh my doodness, look, a little tiny baby nail!”)

The hammer is heavy, but he pounded until his little arm was wobbly with the weight. He looks like he’ll have my dad’s big hands. We used to call them “carpenter’s hands.” I wish my dad could have been the one teaching him about tools, and rides in wheelbarrows…

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