Monday, March 31, 2008

Run the Wild Country (Louise Taylor)

Much as I tend to dislike horses (or maybe it's because I'm afraid of them), I find they are very much in my life - my Chinese zodiac sign is The Horse, my now-defunct booking agency was called Horse of a Different Color Booking and a variety of other examples as well. For whatever reason, we seem to be inextricably linked - I wonder if I have some sort of past life connection with equines.

MH and I started a mutually-supportive self-nurturing program last week, and we've walked 7 days out of the last 10 (as well as begun to eat more healthy and mindfully) - I've said that I look forward to it now, like a thoroughbred out of the starting gate... and this poem and song illustrate my renewed life enjoyment...

SONG: Run the Wild Country by Louise Taylor

Riding into Your Mythic Life: Transformational Adventures with the Horse by Patricia Broersma, Jean Houston (Foreword)

POEM: The Great Affair by Diane Ackerman

The great affair, the love affair with life,
is to live as variously as possible,
to groom one's curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred,
climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day.

Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding,
and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours,
life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length.

It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery,

but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.

QUOTE: "A horse is the projection of peoples' dreams about themselves - strong, powerful, beautiful - and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence." ~ Pam Brown

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Get Together (The Youngbloods)

I pulled up the Google website this morning and, for a moment, worried there was something wrong with my computer - the screen was black, but for a few words. Upon further inspection, I read... and then grinned - the text:

We've turned the lights out. Now it's your turn -
Earth Hour.

I've been planning for weeks to participate, and it was a lovely (and creative) reminder - my friend MH is coming over about 7-ish for our almost-daily walk (more on that another time) and I figure that, by the time we finish, it should be the "lights-out" hour, at which point we can get in the jacuzzi and appreciate the darkness. Let's see who else in my neighborhood participates - this should be looked upon, not as a sacrifice, but as a genuine effort to show we can focus, gather and make a difference, locally *and* globally...

A global event created to symbolize that each one of us, working together, can make a positive impact on climate change

Earth Hour is a global event created to symbolize that each one of us, working together, can make a positive impact on climate change - no matter who we are or where we live.

Created by WWF in Sydney, Australia in 2007, Earth Hour has grown from a single event into a global movement. In 2008, millions of people, businesses, governments and civic organizations in nearly 200 cities around the globe will turn out for Earth Hour. More than 35 US cities will participate, including the US flagships--Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix and San Francisco.

Earth Hour brings together communities, local governments, corporate and nongovernmental organizations to heighten awareness about climate change and to inspire our nation to take practical actions to reduce their own carbon footprints.

Earth Hour: March 29, 2008 8 - 9 PM

- Cities around the world will join together in literally turning off the lights for one hour to offer leadership and symbolize their commitment to finding climate change solutions.
- Lights will be turned off at iconic buildings and national landmarks from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
- Local businesses and restaurants will also be asked to turn off their lights.
- People at home can take advantage of the hour by replacing their standard light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.

"This is the perfect opportunity for individuals, governments, businesses and communities around the world to unite for a common purpose, in response to a global issue that affect us all." - Carter S. Roberts, President and CEO WWF

Showcase your commitment to finding climate change solutions by making a personal pledge to reduce your own carbon footprint at

Get Together by The Youngbloods

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

POEM: Unison Benediction by May Sarton

Return to the most human,
nothing less will nourish the torn spirit,
the bewildered heart,
the angry mind:
and from the ultimate duress,
pierced with the breath of anguish,
speak of love.

Return, return to the deep sources,
nothing less will teach the stiff hands a new way to serve,
to carve into our lives the forms of tenderness
and still that ancient necessary pain preserve.

Return to the most human,
nothing less will teach the angry spirit,
the bewildered heart;
the torn mind,
to accept the whole of its duress,
and pierced with anguish.
at last, act for love.

QUOTE(S): "The struggle to save the global environment is in one way much more difficult than the struggle to vanquish Hitler, for this time the war is with ourselves. We are the enemy, just as we have only ourselves as allies." ~ Al Gore

"There is hope if people will begin to awaken that spiritual part of themselves, that heartfelt knowledge that we are caretakers of this planet." ~ Brooke Medicine Eagle

Friday, March 28, 2008

Cold Dog Soup (Guy Clark)

Thanks to my friend sharon, who posted a heads-up to the Mary Chapin Carpenter list regarding the first national Poem in Your Pocket Day - I use quite often as a resource for my blog, as well as The Writer's Almanac and Panhala.

Poetry has always been a major personal weakness of mine - how lovely to see an extended widening of the circle to encourage "read[ing] a poem, anytime, anywhere - whether to fill a spare moment, woo a darling, toast a friend, find solace, or recall a few favorite lines".

The idea is simple: select a poem you love during National Poetry Month then carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends on April 17.

Poems from pockets will be unfolded throughout the day with events in parks, libraries, schools, workplaces, and bookstores. Create your own Poem In Your Pocket Day event using ideas below or let us know how you will celebrate Poem In Your Pocket Day by emailing

In this age of mechanical and digital reproduction, it's easy to carry a poem, share a poem, or start your own PIYP day event. Here are some ideas of how you might get involved:

~ Start a "poems for pockets" give-a-way in your school or workplace
~ Urge local businesses to offer discounts for those carrying poems
~ Post pocket-sized verses in public places
~ Handwrite some lines on the back of your business cards
~ Start a street team to pass out poems in your community
~ Distribute bookmarks with your favorite immortal lines
~ Add a poem to your email footer
~ Post a poem on your blog or social networking page
~ Project a poem on a wall, inside or out
~ Text a poem to friends

Along with your library, bookstore, or shelf at home, you can find the perfect poem for your pocket by browsing, or by signing up to receive a poem from new spring poetry titles each day during April. Download pocket-sized Poem PDFs to print and share.

Poem In Your Pocket Day has been celebrated each April in New York City since 2002. Each year, city parks, bookstores, workplaces, and other venues burst with open readings of poems from pockets. Even the Mayor gets in on the festivities, reading a poem on the radio. For more information on New York City’s celebration, visit

Poems have been stowed in pockets in a variety of ways, from the commonplace books of the Renaissance to the pocket-sized publications for Army soldiers in World War II. Have a story about the marriage of the poem and the pocket? Send them to

Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
may run down your chin.
It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.
You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.
For there is no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
or skin
to throw away.

QUOTE(S): "I would define poetry as the rhythmical creation of beauty." ~ Edgar Allen Poe

"Poetry ennobles the heart and the eyes, and unveils the meaning of all things upon which the heart and the eyes dwell. It discovers the secret rays of the universe, and restores to us forgotten paradises." ~ Edith Sitwell

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Be Here Now (Willy Porter)

My devotion to Christine Kane's songs and blog posts have been detailed here before - her wisdom comes in many ways, shapes and sizes and almost everything she writes hits me in the heart at one time or another.

Christine's last few posts have focused on the two goals I'm trying to set in my life these days: releasing clutter and living mindfully - the more I attempt, the more I realize both are hopelessly/helplessly intertwined... and when I accomplish the former, I'll have much better luck with the latter!

Todd Snider sings, "you're either out of control or you're stuck" - I used to believe that, but I'm more willing these days to strive for the balance/moderation/happy medium (I can hear the mumblings now: "who are you and what have you done with Susan?"... :-)

I can't seem to find a link to this specific song but did manage to unearth a jumble of the entire CD's lyrics - since they're foundational to the theme of this post, I've copied and pasted...

SONG: Be Here Now by Willy Porter

If we can think it
we can do it
we can be it
We've got to be here now

Can't find your soul inside a bottle
Can't smoke love out of a pipe
Ain't no short-cut to the Bodhisattva
Only dim out your flashlight


It's like my brother Tom he told me
He said, man you think too hard
If you can't make a decision,
Get your head out of the way of your heart


May your feet be firmly grounded
And rooted in black soil
Give your conscience to the children
Help to spread some peace and joy


POEM: You made crusty bread rolls... by Gary Johnson

You made crusty bread rolls filled with chunks of brie
And minced garlic and drizzled with olive oil
And baked them until the brie was bubbly
And we ate them thoughtfully, our legs coiled
Together under the table
And then salmon with dill
And lemon and whole-wheat cous cous
Baked with garlic and fresh ginger, and a hill
Of green beans and carrots roasted with honey and tofu.
It was beautiful, the candles and linens and silver,
The winter sun setting on our snowy street,
Me with my hand on your leg, you, my lover,
In your jeans and green T-shirt and beautiful feet.
How simple life is. We buy a fish. We are fed.
We sit close to each other, we talk and then we go to bed.

QUOTE: "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." ~Annie Dillard

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

D. B. Cooper (Todd Snider)

This news story came across the AP wires this morning... at about the same time this poem's e-newsletter arrived in my inbox - somehow, in my metempsychotic (I learned a new word today!) brain, they seemed to fit... :-)

March 26, 2008

It's dirty and it's old, but a piece of cloth found in a Washington field might hold the key to solving one of the FBI's most enduring mysteries.

On Nov. 24, 1971, an unassuming man wearing a business suit and appearing to be in his mid-40s allegedly hijacked and threatened to blow up a Northwest Orient Airlines plane traveling from Portland, Ore., to Seattle if he did not get four parachutes and a $200,000 ransom.

When the plane landed in Seattle, the suspect, known only as Dan Cooper or D.B. Cooper, allowed the passengers and two flight attendants off the plane, and the officials handed over the money, in $20 bills, and the parachutes.

According to the FBI, Cooper simply told the remaining crew to "fly to Mexico" after they took off from Seattle.

"Back in the early '70's, late '60's, hijackings weren't uncommon. The philosophy of the day was cooperate. Comply with his demands and we'll deal with it when the plane lands," said Larry Carr, an FBI special agent who manages the case out of the bureau's office in Seattle.

In a daring getaway, Cooper jumped out of the speeding 727, thousands of feet over the Pacific Northwest, during a raging storm. Cooper disappeared, and is still missing today, despite a massive manhunt.

In 1980, the case was put in the spotlight once again, after a young boy found $5,800 in $20 bills from the ransom money decomposing along the banks of the Columbia River.
But no Cooper.

Countless suspects have emerged, but none have turned out to be the mystery man. In 2001, the FBI extracted a DNA sample from the J.C. Penney tie he was wearing on the flight and left behind before jumping, but that sample hasn't matched up with anyone in the investigators' sights.

Cooper's story became the stuff of lore, even a movie. Now, more than three decades later, the FBI has the possibility of a breakthrough.

Two weeks ago, two children discovered a parachute buried in the dirt, in a field approximately 100 miles south of Seattle. Investigators still need to excavate part of the chute's remains.

"It's the right color, it's the right size. It's definitely the right location, so the investigation will tell," said Carr.

He told ABC News he hopes the forensic tests on the chute will be completed this weekend.

He noted that parachutes buried in the middle of nowhere aren't something found very often, so the find could offer a big break in the case if it pans out.

But does the parachute belong to Cooper? Will they find his remains? Or is this a tantalizing clue that will again lead to disappointment? Stay tuned.

POEM: Metempsychosis by Jane Hirshfield

Some stories last many centuries,
others only a moment.
All alter over that lifetime like beach-glass,
grow distant and more beautiful with salt.

Yet even today, to look at a tree
and ask the story Who are you? is to be transformed.

There is a stage in us where each being, each thing, is a mirror.

Then the bees of self pour from the hive-door,
ravenous to enter the sweetness of flowering nettles and thistle.

Next comes the ringing a stone or violin or empty bucket
gives off-
the immeasurable's continuous singing,
before it goes back into story and feeling.

In Borneo, there are palm trees that walk on their high roots.
Slowly, with effort, they lift one leg then another.

I would like to join that stilted transmigration,
to feel my own skin vertical as theirs:
an ant-road, a highway for beetles.

I would like not minding, whatever travels my heart.
To follow it all the way into leaf-form, bark-furl, root-touch,
and then keep walking, unimaginably further.

QUOTE(S): History, like a vast river, propels logs, vegetation, rafts, and debris; it is full of live and dead things, some destined for resurrection; it mingles many waters and holds in solution invisible substances stolen from distant soils." ~ Jacques Barzun

"Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting and doing the things historians usually record, while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry and even whittle statues. The story of civilization is the story of what happened on the banks. Historians are pessimists because they ignore the banks for the river." ~ Will Durant

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mary Catherine's Ash Wednesday Journal Entry (Christine Kane)

Hey, peeps (sorry!) - now for the lighter side of Easter (this picture just begged for accompanying text... :-)

Just in Time for Easter (and Beyond): The Famous Marshmallow Peeps
Hally Z., published Apr 04, 2007

Has anyone not heard of those little marshmallow candies called Peeps? Well, the squishy Marshmallow Peep has a history spanning over 50 years. Back in 1953, when the chocolate-making Just Born Company bought the jelly bean-making Rodda Candy Company, Rodda also produced a marshmallow
candy that was squeezed out by hand from a pastry tube, then colored yellow, decorated, and made to look like a newborn chick. Rodda had been producing these chicks since the 1920's. From start to finish, the "pre-Peep" manufacturing process took a total of 27 hours. Just Born, intrigued by Rodda's marshmallow chick, brought in special machinery to speed up production. Nowadays it takes only six minutes to create a Marshmallow Peep, with two million produced each day.

The Marshmallow Peeps chicks stood alone as an
Easter treat item until the late 50's, when Just Born decided to start making seasonal Peeps for other holidays. Pumpkin and cat Peeps were produced for Halloween, and evergreen trees and snowmen were produced for Christmas/winter.

By the 1980's, due to increasing consumer demand, bunnies as well as chicks were being made and sold for Easter. In the 1990's, new Peeps chick colors were introduced, such as lavender and blue, in addition to the old standbys of yellow, pink and white. Then, in 1999, a completely new product came along: Vanilla Crème Flavored Eggs, which were the first flavored Peeps products. In 2000, Strawberry Crème flavoring emerged for Peeps Hearts on Valentine's Day, and then later for Peeps Eggs on Easter. In 2001, Peeps Cookie Flavored Cutouts appeared for Christmas, and in 2002 Peeps Stars made their debut (for summer), along with the first-ever cocoa-flavored Peeps Bats (for Halloween). For the Peeps golden anniversary year of 2003, Just Born submitted a Peeps float to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. And, as if that weren't enough, for Easter 2005 the Peeps chicks were placed into chocolate eggs, bringing together the original products of the Just Born and Rodda Candy Companies.

The rest of the article can be found here... and more peep stuff here - some people have entirely too much time on their hands!

Mary Catherine's Ash Wednesday Journal Entry by Christine Kane

Peeps: A Candy-Coated Tale by Mark Masyga, Martin Ohlin

seemingly harmless
their artificial colors
make some men go mad

QUOTE: "I prefer to regard a dessert as I would imagine the perfect woman: subtle, a little bittersweet, not blowsy and extrovert. Delicately made up, not highly rouged. Holding back, not exposing everything and, of course, with a flavor that lasts." ~ Graham Kerr

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Stained Glass (Danny Schmidt)

Today is Easter Sunday - being a "recovering-Catholic"-turned-UU, I haven't celebrated the holiday in the religious sense in quite a while, but I do appreciate the spiritual tradition of rebirth/renewal/
reawakening (see Thursday's post) as well as the opportunity for loved ones to gather.

We've always had family rituals and those are still in place, albeit tweaked - I used to put out baskets for the kids, filled with candy and a book, stuffed animal or toy. As they got older, the chocolate remained and the treat morphed into a CD or DVD - now that they're "grown", I give each the Ferrero Rocher box in the shape of a bunny and a card with $20!

I'm cooking mahi-mahi with mango-peach salsa, wild rice, green bean casserole, squash casserole and croissants and will provide red and white wine - Sarah will bring dessert... and we'll eat on the patio about 2 p.m.-ish (since Rob has to work at 4). It's a shame Eric wasn't able to make it home again so soon after Spring Break, and we'll miss him - I'll boil a dozen and a half eggs, we'll color them sometime during the day and write his name on one... :-)

Please make a point to read the lyrics of today's song - when I first heard Danny's music three years ago, its brilliance was unmistakeable, and drew me in to discover more...

Happy Easter... however you celebrate, whatever your beliefs...

SONG: Stained Glass by Danny Schmidt

BOOK: Easter Everywhere: A Memoir by Darcey Steinke

POEM: The Discipline of Craft, Easter Morning by Judith Harris

No use going hunting for angels,
for a Christ in the tree-mops,
a Moses winding his way up the mount
into the fire of God’s fresh stubble.

There is just a serious rain,
a steady crutch for the air,
colder than any April should be.

I am up to my neck in chores:
the cat needs more food,
my daughter’s clutter piles up like ant hills,
I fold her little sleeves, ghost by ghost.
What melody springs from the heart so well?

These lone trees can’t be dazzled by sun today,
they have such tremors like the Pope’s.
Lost loons pitched into sky folds,
their crusty buds just blinking
as if to test how fierce the light is.

They sag and meander from their stems,
they bleed from transparency.
Needless or hopeless, as overused fountains,
they are my metrics, my fortitude;
plants with lemony grass spigots
that will never go dry.

QUOTE: "Easter is not a time for groping through dusty, musty tomes or tombs to disprove spontaneous generation or even to prove life eternal. It is a day to fan the ashes of dead hope, a day to banish doubts and seek the slopes where the sun is rising, to revel in the faith which transports us out of ourselves and the dead past into the vast and inviting unknown." ~ Author unknown, as quoted in the Lewiston Tribune

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Girl with a Hay Rake (Jack Harris)

From Today's Writer's Almanac:

Today is the birthday of poet Billy Collins, (books by this author) born in New York in 1941. Collins is both a critically acclaimed and popular poet, a unique combination in the world of modern poetry. Collins began writing poems at age 12. He devoured all the poetry he read, especially the contemporary poems in Poetry magazine. In an interview, Collins explained, "I remember reading a poem by Thom Gunn about Elvis Presley, and that was a real mindblower because I didn't know you could write poems about Elvis Presley. I thought there was poetry — what you read in class — and then when you left class there was Elvis. I didn't see them together until I read that poem."

Collins began selling his poems to Rolling Stone for $35 a pop in the 1970s. He married Diane Olbright in 1977 and published his first book of poems, Pokerface, that year, but it wasn't until the publication of Questions About Angels in 1991 that he began drawing critical attention. His other major poetry collections are The Apple that Astonished Paris (1988), The Art of Drowning (1995), Picnic, Lightning (1998), Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (2001), Nine Horses: Poems (2002), and The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems (2005). Collins' style is light, humorous, and fond of extended metaphor. He uses mundane situations as diving boards into the larger philosophical questions of life. His poem "Forgetfulness" starts this way:

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Collins said, "Usually I try to create a hospitable tone at the beginning of a poem. Stepping from the title to the first lines is like stepping into a canoe. A lot of things can go wrong."

A friend introduced me to the wondrous words of Billy Collins quite a few years back - I seem to have misplaced the friend... but I found the poet... and both remain cherished...

Today's theme? - paintings described in songs, poems and prose.. :-)

SONG: Girl with a Hay Rake by Jack Harris

BOOK: Art: The World's Greatest Paintings Explored and Explained by Robert Cumming

POEM: Fishing On The Susquehanna In July by Billy Collins

I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna
or on any river for that matter
to be perfectly honest.
Not in July or any month
have I had the pleasure — if it is a pleasure —
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

I am more likely to be found
in a quiet room like this one —
a painting of a woman on the wall,

a bowl of tangerines on the table —
trying to manufacture the sensation
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

There is little doubt
that others have been fishing
on the Susquehanna,

rowing upstream in a wooden boat,
sliding the oars under the water
then raising them to drip in the light.

But the nearest I have ever come to
fishing on the Susquehanna
was one afternoon in a museum in Philadelphia,

when I balanced a little egg of time
in front of a painting
in which that river curled around a bend

under a blue cloud-ruffled sky,
dense trees along the banks,
and a fellow with a red bandana

sitting in a small green
flat-bottom boat
holding the thin whip of a pole.

That is something I am unlikely
ever to do, I remember
saying to myself and the person next to me.

Then I blinked and moved on
to other American scenes
of haystacks, water whitening over rocks,

even one of a brown hare
who seemed so wired with alertness
I imagined him springing right out of the frame.

QUOTE: "The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life." ~ William Faulkner

Friday, March 21, 2008

One Thousand Candles, One Thousand Cranes (Small Potatoes)

Wednesday was the the five-year "anniversary" of the Iraq War - a moment of respectful silence, please...

Original story by Kathryn Hawkins

In my dream, Sadako says to me, "Leave it to me, mom" and I wake up calling, "Sadako!"

Then I realize it was a dream and I wonder how she is. For a while, I'm lost in my sad thoughts and join my hands in prayer before the tablet of the deceased.

from a letter by Fujiko Sasaki, Sadako Sasaki's mother

On August 6th, 1945, World War II's Allied forces dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. In an instant, the city was obliterated. When the dust had cleared, people's shadows remained frozen in place on sidewalks and the sides of buildings. The people themselves simply vanished. On that tragic day, 140,000 civilians were killed.

The Sasaki family lived one mile from the spot where the bomb went off. The couple and their two-year-old daughter, Sadako, managed to survive the nuclear attack, though soon after the explosion, thick black clouds of radioactive soot and dust began to fall like snow. Though the family tried to protect themselves, they could not avoid breathing the contaminated air.

As time went on, the young family tried to rebuild their damaged lives. The war had ended; they could put it behind them. The Sasakis had three more children, though Sadako was always her mother's favorite: "She was so considerate and thoughtful that I relied on her," she wrote. As Sadako grew older, she became a strong, healthy, athletic young woman – she was the fastest runner on her school track team.

But when Sadako was twelve years old, she noticed that her lymph nodes were becoming swollen. A doctor's visit confirmed her parents' greatest fears: Sadako had been contaminated with radiation poisoning from the atomic bomb. She was dying of leukemia.

Soon, Sadako was forced to enter the Hiroshima Red Cross hospital for treatment. She spent months there, her disease progressing day by day. In August 1955, residents of Nagoya sent a gift of colored origami paper cranes to Sadako and the other hospital residents as a get-well present. The gift brightened the sick child's day – and it gave her an idea.

"She believed in a saying that if you fold a thousand cranes, you'd get over your sickness," her mother wrote. "She folded paper cranes carefully, one by one using a piece of paper of advertisement, medicine and wrapping. Her eyes were shining while she was folding the cranes, showing she wanted to survive by all means."

Though she was very weak, Sadako dedicated hours each day to folding cranes out of whatever materials she could scrounge together. "We warned her, ‘If you keep up that pace you'll wear yourself out,'"
her father, Shigeo Sasaki, recounted. "Sadako continued to fold, saying, ‘It's okay, it's okay. I have a plan.' "

When she got to one thousand, she kept on going, hopeful that the paper birds might magically cure her illness. But it was not to be: Sadako died on the morning of October 25, 1955, surrounded by her family.

As for Sadako's thousand paper cranes, her mother gave some of them to her school friends, "and put the rest of them in her coffin as well as flowers so that she could bring them to the next world."
Although Sadako's thousand paper cranes could not save her life, they would take flight in another way, serving as a symbol of the growing movement for peace on Earth.

The following year, an Austrian journalist, Robert Jungk, traveled to Hiroshima, where he heard the story of young Sadako and her one thousand cranes. He was so moved by the tale of her determination that he told a modified version of her story to the world in a book, Light in the Ruins. In the years since, variations of Sadako's story have appeared in hundreds of other publications, most notably, a children's book called
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, written in 1977 by American author Eleanor Coerr. The story has been used in peace education programs around the world.

Sadako's short life has also inspired another sort of legacy: the
Children's Peace Monument in Hiroshima. After Sadako's death, her classmates sought to honor their friend by creating "a monument to mourn all the children who died from the atomic bombing." With support from more than 3,100 schools around the world, the students created a nine-meter high bronze statue, topped with a figure of a girl holding a folded crane. Beneath the pedestal, there is an inscription: "This is our cry. This is our prayer. For building peace in this world."

Each year, children and adults from all over the world travel to the Children's Peace Monument, bringing their own folded paper cranes as a gift to Sadako's memory, and as a symbol of their desire for peace and for the abolition of nuclear weapons. In hundreds of other cities around the world, from Kuwait City to Santa Barbara, California, children have become involved in projects to create paper cranes as symbols of peace, honoring Sadako's legacy.

Though she could not save her own life with one thousand cranes, her story may yet save millions.

[Added: thanks so much to Judy for her comment below - please go to to check out her amazing, inspirational and tangible call for peace... ]

POEM: As I Ponder'd in Silence by Walt Whitman

As I ponder'd in silence,
Returning upon my poems, considering, lingering long,
A Phantom arose before me, with distrustful aspect,
Terrible in beauty, age, and power,
The genius of poets of old lands,
As to me directing like flame its eyes,
With finger pointing to many immortal songs,
And menacing voice, "What singest thou"? it said;
"Know'st thou not, there is but one theme for ever-enduring bards?
And that is the theme of War, the fortune of battles,
The making of perfect soldiers"?


"Be it so", then I answer'd,
I too, haughty Shade, also sing war
-- and a longer and greater one
than any,
Waged in my book with varying fortune -- with flight, advance, and
retreat -- Victory deferr'd and wavering,
(Yet, methinks, certain, or as good as certain, at the last)
-- The field the world;
For life and death -- for the Body, and for the eternal Soul,
Lo! too am come, chanting the chant of battles,
I, above all, promote brave soldiers.

QUOTE: "We have all taken risks in the making of war. Isn't it time that we should take risks to secure peace?" ~ J. Ramsay MacDonald

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring (Richard Shindell)

From Today's Writer's Almanac:

Today is the first day of spring, the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. The Earth is tilted on its axis, so as it travels around the Sun each pole is sometimes tilted towards the Sun and sometimes tilted away. It is this tilt that causes the seasons, as well as the shortening and lengthening of daylight hours. On this day, the north and south poles are equally distant from the sun, so we will have almost exactly the same amount of daytime as nighttime.

I love living in South Florida (we moved here 16 years ago this month) but the seasons are not easily discernible - when we lived in Atlanta, the four quadrants of the annual calendar exhibited visible lines of demarcation: fall's crunchy leaves, winter's frosted lawns, spring's bursting dogwoods and summer's oppressive humidity.

It's basically always warm, green and flowering in my part of the state (not that there's anything wrong with that!) - in fact, I, who have had a black thumb for most of my life, now appreciate being able to make almost any plant flourish under my oftentimes neglectful care. We have a yard full of various hibiscus, bougainvillea, bromeliads, crotons, an assortment of palms, ixora, liriope, thumbergia, and so many others - suffice it to say if it's vegetation, it grows with little or no help. I even have a gardenia bush on the side of the house that blooms for only a month (mid-April to mid-May), although it whacked out this year, started producing blossoms in January and it hasn't stopped yet - what a treat!

Spring is a time of rebirth, renewal and reawakening and I seem to be going through a bit of that myself... trying to find my way back from scramble mode to equilibrium, starting with cutting back my working-outside-the-home hours (soon, I hope) and downsizing my volunteer/committee work - it's continued with reclaiming my home office/guest bedroom (after Sarah's departure) and an ongoing effort to purge/consolidate/streamline. I appear to be breathing more and stressing less - I can already envision more reading for pleasure and walking for health... :-)

I have a calligraphic print on my dining room wall entitled Chaos: Where Great Dreams Begin - the text reads: "Before a great vision can become reality there may be difficulty. Before a person begins a great endeavor, they may encounter chaos. As a new plant breaks the ground with difficulty, foreshadowing the huge tree, so must we sometimes push against difficulty in bringing forth our dreams."

Here's/cheers to embracing change in order to achieve vision - puuuuuuuuuusssssssshhhhhhhhhhh!

SONG: Spring by Richard Shindell

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

POEM: Starting With Little Things by William Stafford

Love the earth like a mole,
fur-near. Nearsighted,
hold close the clods,
their fine-print headlines.
Pat them with soft hands --

Like spades, but pink and loving; they
break rock, nudge giants aside,
affable plow.
Fields are to touch;
each day nuzzle your way.

Tomorrow the world.

QUOTE: In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." ~ Margaret Atwood

Monday, March 17, 2008

You're Not Irish (Robbie O'Connell)

It's been another crazy week - I had every intention of posting something today about the most amazing concert I presented Saturday night, but time/energy does not seem to permit...

Tonight is a meeting and Tuesday I'm having out-of-state visiting friends over for dinner - hoping to get caught up soon... :-)

In the meantime, Happy St. Patrick's Day - must remember to wear something green!

NYC pub owner bans `Danny Boy' in March
By Verena Dobnik, Associated Press Writer - Thursday March 6, 2008

NEW YORK - It's depressing, it's not usually sung in Ireland for St. Patrick's Day, and its lyrics were written by an Englishman who never set foot on Irish soil. Those are only some of the reasons why a Manhattan pub owner is banning the song "Danny Boy" for the entire month of March.

"It's overplayed, it's been ranked among the 25 most depressing songs of all time and it's more appropriate for a funeral than for a St. Patrick's Day celebration," said Shaun Clancy, who owns Foley's Pub and Restaurant, across the street from the Empire State Building.

The rest of the article can be found here...

POEM: by Marianne Moore ~ Spenser's Ireland

has not altered;--
a place as kind as it is green,
the greenest place I've never seen.
Every name is a tune.
Denunciations do not affect
the culprit; nor blows, but it
is torture to him to not be spoken to.
They're natural,--
the coat, like Venus'
mantle lined with stars,
buttoned close at the neck,-the sleeves new from disuse.

If in Ireland
they play the harp backward at need,
and gather at midday the seed
of the fern, eluding
their "giants all covered with iron," might
there be fern seed for unlearn-
ing obduracy and for reinstating
the enchantment?
Hindered characters
seldom have mothers
in Irish stories, but they all have grandmothers.

It was Irish;
a match not a marriage was made
when my great great grandmother'd said
with native genius for
disunion, "Although your suitor be
perfection, one objection
is enough; he is not
Irish." Outwitting
the fairies, befriending the furies,
whoever again
and again says, "I'll never give in," never sees

that you're not free
until you've been made captive by
supreme belief,--credulity
you say? When large dainty
fingers tremblingly divide the wings
of the fly for mid-July
with a needle and wrap it with peacock-tail,
or tie wool and
buzzard's wing, their pride,
like the enchanter's
is in care, not madness. Concurring hands divide

flax for damask
that when bleached by Irish weather
has the silvered chamois-leather
water-tightness of a
skin. Twisted torcs and gold new-moon-shaped
lunulae aren't jewelry
like the purple-coral fuchsia-tree's. Eire--
the guillemot
so neat and the hen
of the heath and the
linnet spinet-sweet-bespeak relentlessness? Then

they are to me
like enchanted Earl Gerald who
changed himself into a stag, to
a great green-eyed cat of
the mountain. Discommodity makes
them invisible; they've dis-
appeared. The Irish say your trouble is their
trouble and your
joy their joy? I wish
I could believe it;
I am troubled, I'm dissatisfied, I'm Irish.

QUOTE: "If you're enough lucky to be Irish, you're lucky enough!" ~ Irish Saying

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

If Children Had Wings (Gordon Lightfoot)

What with Eric home from college this week for Spring Break... and Sarah moved out two weeks ago, we've not yet had a chance to get us all under one roof/around one table as is our modus operandi - that will be rectified this evening, as we're planning a family dinner. We're not yet decided whether we'll go out to a restaurant or stay in with me cooking - I'm on the record as voting for the former... :-)

Always a treat to have all five of us together - should be entertaining and educational and enriching, oh my!

What will
our children do in the morning?
Will they wake with their hearts wanting to play,
the way wings

Will they have dreamed the needed flights and gathered
the strength from the planets that all men and women need to balance
the wonderful charms of
the earth

so that her power and beauty does not make us forget our own?

I know all about the ways of the heart - how it wants to be alive.

Love so needs to love
that it will endure almost anything, even abuse,
just to flicker for a moment. But the sky's mouth is kind,
its song will never hurt you, for I
sing those words.

What will our children do in the morning
if they do not see us

QUOTE: "There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots. The other is wings." ~ Hodding Carter, Jr.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hard Sun (Gordon Peterson)

I am a big fan of The Lefsetz Letter, an e-newsletter in which Bob Lefsetz rants, raves, reflects and respects music issues on a semi-daily basis - a recent post spoke of the song Hard Sun featured in the soundtrack of Into the Wild, which he incorrectly attributed to Eddie Vedder. So, there was a follow-up blog in which hundreds of people wrote to unveil the writer of the original tune - fascinating stuff...

Shining light on Hard Sun
January 26, 2008
Carli Whitwell
Special to The Hamilton Spectator

When the 2008 Oscar nominations were announced this week, more than a few Eddie Vedder fans were left scratching their heads.

Their idol had given them a great new song on the soundtrack of the Sean Penn-directed movie Into The Wild, which stars Emile Hirsch as restless adventurer Christopher McCandless. The song was called Hard Sun, a spectacular piece of indie rock that exquisitely captured the central character's quest for enlightenment.

But the Academy ignored it.

There was a reason for that. Vedder, the famous Pearl Jam front man who sang the movie version of Hard Sun, didn't write it.

As a matter of fact, the track was composed by a relatively obscure songwriter from Dundas. His name is Gordon Peterson.

And he wrote it some 20 years ago, about a decade before publication of Jon Krakauer's 1997 nonfiction book on which Into The Wild was based.

Originally, Hard Sun was recorded as the first single off the 1989 album Big Harvest. Peterson wrote, sang and played many of the instruments on it, but it was released under the pen name Indio.

It was the only album Peterson made before turning his back on the music business and disappearing into anonymity.

So what happened to him?

The rest of the article can be found

Another wonderful article with
more info...

SONG: Hard Sun by Gordon Peterson

BOOK: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

POEM: Oh Earth Wait for Me by Pablo Neruda

Return me, oh sun,

to my wild destiny,

rain of the ancient wood

bring me back the aroma and the swords

that fall from the sky,

the solitary peace of pasture and rock,

the damp at the river-margins,

the smell of the larch tree,

the wind alive like a heart

beating in the crowded restlessness

of the towering araucaria.

Earth, give me back your pure gifts,

the towers of silence which rose

from the solemnity of their roots.

I want to go back to being what I have not been,

and learn to go back from such deeps

that amongst all natural things

I could live or not live; it does not matter

to be one stone more, the dark stone,

the pure stone which the river bears away.

QUOTE: "The mind I love must have wild places, a tangled orchard where dark damsons drop in the heavy grass, an overgrown little wood, the chance of a snake or two, a pool that nobody's fathomed the depth of, and paths threaded with flowers planted by the mind." ~ Katherine Mansfield

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dimming of the Day (Richard Thompson)

I wrote the following note to my friend the other night - this explains why I haven't posted in *four* days... and I didn't even cover the amazing Saturday and Sunday house concerts I attended!

Hey, Nance -

I just left you a voicemail - long story short: yes, I'd love to carpool! (want to come here about 7 p.m.?).

Long story long: I've had a wacky week (I can hear you asking, what else is new?) - no, really... more so than usual....

I'm picking up SG and J from Ft. Lauderdale in about an hour and bringing them back here... so they'll join us for the Susan Werner concert - plus... Eric came home last night for Spring Break Week (did we know? - no, we did not!).

Plus Sarah moved out last weekend but left a bunch of her crap (um, stuff) in the living room, and is supposed to swing by and get that today or tomorrow - so... I've been trying to get the guest room/Ozfice back up to speed (and it's looking great, I must say.. :-)

Plus I was out sick two days last week... and I mentioned to EW I'd like to go back to part-time - we have a client workshop Monday and she's leaving town Wednesday, but she said she didn't foresee a problem and we'd talk about it in detail week after next (whew)...

Plus I finally got my dragonfly tattoo last Saturday - so... how was your week, honey? (can't wait to see you and catch up!).

We ordered Chinese food tonight (yum!) and, after doing a bit of work on the computer, I hope to get in the bed early tonight - good god, I'm missing those 60 minutes we lost Saturday night/Sunday morning... but I continue my never-ending struggle to find/remember "the holy place"...

POEM: The Inner History of a Day by John O'Donohue

No one knew the name of this day;
Born quietly from deepest night,
It hid its face in light,
Demanded nothing for itself,
Opened out to offer each of us
A field of brightness that traveled ahead,
Providing in time, ground to hold our footsteps
And the light of thought to show the way.

The mind of the day draws no attention;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words,
Drawing us to listen inward and outward.

We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.

Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.

So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.

QUOTE: "Who forces time is pushed back by time; who yields to time finds time on his side." ~ The Talmud

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The World's Not Falling Apart (Dar Williams)

Okay, how much do we love Dar Williams?!? - rhetorical question... :-)

Below is her latest blog post on MySpace - zippity to a new CD in the works!

Foodie By Default
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Dar Williams

Fleisher's is an old-fashioned butcher, which is a very modern thing to be these days. They sell local, antibiotic-free, pasture fed meats. Our neighbors spearheaded a group order, and soon after, I drove an hour up to Kingston for a pick-up.

I mentioned to my husband that I'd gotten 3/4 of a pound of ground beef, and he said I should find a recipe from Marcella Hazan's Fundamentals of Italian Cooking. I snorted and looked around for the other wife he was talking to.

But then, "Dar," I said to myself, "You need to honor these farmers and this cow by cracking open that cookbook. And Michael gave you that book, too, for your birthday." I decided that for political reasons, I really had to be a slow food person, if just for one slow night.

We had all the ingredients for the Bolognese sauce, including (sign from God) exactly 3/4 pound of "not to lean" beef. The sauce needed "at least" three hours to cook. I had three hours of business calls I could make.

My taste buds have always been blunt instruments at best, which always worked for me. My travels require that I adapt to everything. I am very good at talking about local food, praising other people on their sustainable lifestyles, and then getting on a plane, Starbucks mocha in hand as "brunch".

So all this time in the kitchen really freaked me out. Past cooking failures and "I should be somewhere creating something invisible, yet permanent, like ideas" aside, I followed the recipe. And it was so great.

Then I tried the parsley lemon chicken. Simple. Michael gave me some tips, and it was better the next time. I tried other recipes from other books.

Then we started a neighborhood garden, and I found I wanted to spend my afternoons there. This all coincided with having less gigs and more time at home. Every evening I went out to the garden with a big colander. We made dinners with one box of pasta and everything else from the garden.

We had garden meetings, and even though we didn't really talk much about gardening, I found out a lot about my neighbors and where we live, which was also new for me. I knew my neighbors when I lived up in Rhinebeck, but discovered at the Christmas party that I was known as "the one who didn't rake." In my defense, that was after the fall Green World tour of 2000. But the truth is, I was never a raker. I was never there. In Rhinebeck, my neighbor said, "I renovated your house. Put a thermometer in it, so I can check the temperature from the outside in the winter. If those pipes freeze, I'll kill you."

What was I, twelve years old? No, but I wasn't the thing that lots of adults were, either, a gardener, a cook, a neighbor.

Now I rake, and simmer, and console, and all that. For the five months up to Thanksgiving, we walked to the farmers market every week. It was a total scene. Michael met his Pilates instructor there.

We harvested our last lettuce on November 6th and broccoli a little later. I have a screen saver of my son running along the garden fence with an enormous zucchini under his arm. I felt like an imposter when I put it there. But that's not a rental son, and we did find that zucchini under a giant leaf in our garden. At a cafe, I heard some Hudson Valley gals talking about how they cook all the late crops, like turnips, potatoes and kale. I moved closer. This amazed me. I'm the one that edges away, explaining to myself that I exist to affirm these people, not to be one of them. I don't offer recipes. I offer validation.

Then I heard an audio book of Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma, and it was all over, or, I should say, another layer deeper. A friend described this book as "the book that people read and then they raise chickens." I'm still enough of a traveling musician that I'm encouraging other people to raise the chickens.

But I did get out to Veritas Farm with my neighbor, Felice, on a rainy Tuesday before Thanksgiving, to pick up the pasture fed turkeys I'd ordered. It was a beautiful drive through the dripping forests of the Hudson Valley, and I love Felice, and I also bought a pumpkin for pie. A real pumpkin. The abstract carbon footprint that I think about so often was right there with the muddy footprint at Veritas Farm. They were almost the same size. Well, at least I feel like it would take only two planet Earths to support my lifestyle, not the three I learned about one late night, checking out my life on the "carbon calculator". So many people have lived like this for decades, I know. It's a beautiful way to live! And I know that many vegetarians could point out that there's one huge thing I could do to reduce the hypothetical space I'm taking up. But for once, walking the walk really involves walking, not just buying, writing and praying, so here I start.

Usually I write about the last few months of gigs. As you can see, I couldn't get there this time, even though I'll never forget walking around the rainy streets of Salem, Massachusetts before a gig in Newburyport where the promoters snuck me up to the soldiers' attic hideout during the Revolutionary War. The itinerant life is also beautiful.

Oh, and so is the studio life! I recorded a new album, with producer Brad Wood, in January. A great experience all around. The songs are about crop rotation. Just kidding. They're about humans, as usual.

I'm going to be all over the place in the spring and summer, so I look forward to visiting your local scenes, and, yes, affirming them, but also coming from one myself.

Here comes the sun!

POEM: Hope by Czeslaw Milosz

Hope is with you when you believe
The earth is not a dream but living flesh,
That sight, touch, and hearing do not lie,
That all things you have ever seen here
Are like a garden looked at from a gate.

You cannot enter. But you're sure it's there.
Could we but look more clearly and wisely
We might discover somewhere in the garden
A strange new flower and an unnamed star.

Some people say we should not trust our eyes,
That there is nothing, just a seeming,
These are the ones who have no hope.
They think that the moment we turn away,
The world, behind our backs, ceases to exist,
As if snatched up by the hands of thieves.

QUOTE: "A living planet is a much more complex metaphor for deity than just a bigger father with a bigger fist. If an omniscient, all-powerful Dad ignores your prayers, it's taken personally. Hear only silence long enough, and you start wondering about his power. His fairness. His very existence. But if a world mother doesn't reply, Her excuse is simple. She never claimed conceited omnipotence. She has countless others clinging to her apron strings, including myriad species unable to speak for themselves. To Her elder offspring She says - go raid the fridge. Go play outside. Go get a job. Or, better yet, lend me a hand. I have no time for idle whining." ~ David Brin