Monday, April 27, 2009

My Rainbow Race (Pete Seeger)

So... our Pete Seeger 90th Birthday Celebration yesterday was a total success - below is what I posted to our local folk discussion list:

Thanks so much to Tony Thomas, David Engels and Ellen Bukstel for weighing in on today's Pete Seeger 90th Birthday Celebration - I pulled into my driveway about 10 p.m., after breaking down (the church, not mentally!)... cleaning up and driving a few people home...

Let me first thank everyone for their patience, their enthusiasm and their willingness to stay... long after our 2-hour projected concert time frame came and went - who knew we'd end up with anywhere near that many people?!? (about 300, by our count). It was a loaves-and-fishes moment - just when you didn't think we'd find any more chairs... or any more room to put them... we did (magic... on so many levels!)...

Each and every performer (Allan Aunapu, Amy Carol Webb, Arlene Boumel, Bob Singer, Ellen Bukstel, Jack Lieberman, Matthew Sabatella, Ray DelPapa, Rob Koppelman, Rod MacDonald, Rudy Delgado, South Florida Raging Grannies, South Florida Solidarity Singers, Vanessa Gilyard and Tony Thomas) was prepared and professional... not to mention inspiring - as I said from the stage, they donated their time, treasure and talent to help make this event happen. We are incredibly lucky to have such gifted artists "in our own backyard" - I do confess to weeping during We Shall Overcome, as everyone in the room stood up, linked arms, swayed and sang so beautifully together...

Additional thanks to the sponsors, who brought literature and petitions and reminded us of Pete's ongoing legacy: of ecology, of activism, of the power of hope - they donated some great raffle prizes too!

After expenses (minimal), we made $1606 (from the gate, raffle ticket sales and caterer donation), which was split 50/50 between the Clearwater Next Generation Legacy Project and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ft. Lauderdale, our gracious hosts for the afternoon - also... many people stayed afterwards to eat cake, watch Allan's film... and/or participate in the song circle... :-)

It was a pleasure working with the Birthday Committee (Bob and Patty Bender, Vicki Ryder, Virginia Anderson, Dan Isaacson, and Ray DelPapa)...and I'm proud of ALL of us for organizing, facilitating and supporting such a community-building event - the Power of Song indeed!


I meant to post this last week... but you can hear our radio interview that aired Sunday, April 19 (with Rod MacDonald, Allan Aunapu, Vicki Ryder and myself) here...

(After Rilke)

Spring has returned! Everything has returned!
The earth, just like a schoolgirl, memorizes
Poems, so many poems. ... Look, she has learned
So many famous poems, she has earned so many prizes!

Teacher was strict. We delighted in the white
Of the old man's beard, bright like the snows:
Now we may ask which names are wrong, or right
For "blue," for "apple," for "ripe." She knows, she knows!

Lucky earth, let out of school, now you must play
Hide-and-seek with all the children every day:
You must hide that we may seek you: we will! We will!

The happiest child will hold you. She knows all the things
You taught her: the word for "hope," and for "believe,"
Are still upon her tongue. She sings and sings and sings.

QUOTE: "There is hope for the world." ~ Pete Seeger

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Every Grain of Sand (Bob Dylan)

Happy Earth Day!

I facilitated our UU church service this past Sunday, on the topic of our seventh principle: the interdependent web of life - below are excerpts from the sermon:

Springtime – the season of rebirth – is the perfect time to Celebrate Earth Sunday as humans have celebrated the bounty of Earth since ancient times. Everything we need for life comes from this Earth. There is no other source. So on this special occasion, let us “celebrate the web of life . . . seeing the divinity in every living thing.”

Attending to our relationship with Earth, and our responsibility for its care is crucial in this time as Earth suffers under the burden of careless human activities. And in gratitude for the beauty and bounty of this precious planet, let us also commit ourselves to “protect the lives of all that share the glory of the Earth.”

If we pay attention, the Earth will teach us gratitude instead of grasping, simple joy instead of compulsive consumption, openness to life instead of a driven (and fruitless) attempt to control everything. Thoughtlessness needs to give way to awareness, arrogance to compassion, addiction to balanced calm. A deep and abiding connection with nature can be that antidote to the compulsiveness and stresses of a life spent chasing the materialism of our post-modern American Dream.

As Unitarian Universalists, we profess to believe in the interdependent web – the unity of all existence. And we acknowledge that we are a part of it. Not outside of it. Not separate from it. And not subject to a different set of rules, or consequences. The evidence for its Truth is found in science, and also art and spirituality. We feel the interdependence in our relationships with each other, and our relationships with non-human creatures, and specific places. Our consciousness of these connections has to influence the way we live. How can we allow ourselves to use more of the Earth’s gifts than we need, knowing that our grandchildren and future generations will not have what they need for survival? How can we let our greed get in the way of our relationships?

We Americans suffer from a “Gratitude Deficit Disorder” – we keep trying to make ourselves happy through more stuff, but it never works, so we have to grab for even more stuff. It’s a never ending escalation, this addiction to stuff. We must break the cycle, remembering that happiness comes from relationships, connections, satisfaction of worthwhile endeavors.

[ Here... two long-time members at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ft. Lauderdale shared their own personal experiences and relationship with the Earth. ]

In the final analysis, to love the Earth is to participate in the circles of life with respect and compassion. It is to live, work, and play in communities... communities that celebrate our interconnectedness and strengthen our ties... with one another, with the land, and with all of nature. We must deepen our sense of place, and take time to watch, and listen, and absorb the wisdom of the Earth.

Our longing for a healthy future for all beings may seem too good to be true when everything in our world conspires against our efforts to reach that vision. But hope assumes that, in the end, all will be well. That all must be well! Hope is not based on facts. Hope is a choice built on the faith that we have the imagination and creativity to build such a future. And that we are, in fact, building it.

In addition to the suggestions made by F and K... we urge you today to make, or continue, a commitment to action: bring your canvas bags to the grocery store... recycle... walk, bus or bike instead of driving and, if you do drive, carpool... use compact fluorescent light bulbs... turn off lights when you leave a room... brush your teeth with the water off... plant a garden... start and maintain a compost pile... become a locavore (eating as much locally-grown food as possible)... buy minimally-packaged goods to reduce your garbage... go on a low carbon diet... support carbon offsets... take the Ten Tree Challenge, which is listed on the UU Ministry for Earth website, which was a great resource for this service...

The principle of the interconnected web reminds us that we are connected to each other as well as to the Earth and all the creatures that are a part of nature. And we must spread the message of our that connection, a message that challenges us to heal the Earth for our children, and for all of Beings on this precious planet. We must all envision and work towards a future that will be healthy for all beings as if our lives depended on it. Because, in fact, it does.

May we be among those bringing forth that vision. And may that vision come to be our reality.

P.S. Have you seen Google's logo today?


Will the hungry ox stand in the field and not eat
of the sweet grass?
Will the owl bite off its own wings?
Will the lark forget to lift its body in the air or
forget to sing?
Will the rivers run upstream?

Behold, I say - behold
the reliability and the finery and the teachings
of this gritty earth gift.


Eat bread and understand comfort.
Drink water, and understand delight.
Visit the garden where the scarlet trumpets
are opening their bodies for the hummingbirds
who are drinking the sweetness, who are
thrillingly gluttonous.

For one thing leads to another.
Soon you will notice how stones shine underfoot.
Eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in.

And someone's face, whom you love, will be as a star
both intimate and ultimate,
and you will be both heart-shaken and respectful.
And you will hear the air itself, like a beloved, whisper:
oh, let me, for a while longer, enter the two
beautiful bodies of your lungs.


What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself.
Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to.
That was many years ago.
Since then I have gone out from my confinements,
through with difficulty.
I mean the ones that thought to rule my heart.
I cast them out, I put them on the mush pile.
They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment
somehow or another).
And I have become the child of the clouds, and of hope.
I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.
I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,
I have become younger.

And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?
Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.

QUOTE: “To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe – to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it – is a wonder beyond words. Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art. Furthermore, it is a privilege to be alive in this time when we can choose to take part in the self-healing of our world.” ~ Joanna Macy

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Blueberry Hill (Fats Domino)

Have you had your RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) of anti-oxidants today? - well... now you have... :-)


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Eating blueberries, as part of a healthy diet, may help ward off several key risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, such as an accumulation of belly fat, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar, according to research reported Sunday at the Experimental Biology conference in New Orleans.

The health benefits of blueberries are thought to be due to their high levels of phytochemicals - naturally occurring antioxidants called anthocyanins found in darkly pigmented fruits and vegetables.

"In the long-term Women's Health Study, it was shown that women who had diets high in anthocyanins had a significantly reduced risk for heart disease," University of Michigan research scientist E. Mitchell Seymour told Reuters Health.

In studies involving overweight rats, Seymour and colleagues looked at the effects of adding freeze-dried blueberry powder to a low-fat and a high-fat diet.

"We looked at things that are relevant to heart disease," Seymour explained, "like total body fat, abdominal fat, blood lipids (fats), and the body's ability to manage blood sugar levels and we found that they were affected by the blueberry."

After 90 days, rats fed the blueberry powder had less abdominal fat and lower levels of cholesterol and harmful triglycerides than control rats that weren't fed any blueberry powder.

Blueberry-fed rats also had improvements in blood sugar levels and in how their bodies used insulin to process sugar for energy - both of which could help keep diabetes at bay.

The benefits of a blueberry-rich diet were more pronounced when combined with the low-fat diet, as compared to the high fat diet, "but the majority of those benefits were still present even in a higher-fat, more typical American diet," Seymour said.

The study was supported by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.

P.S. SMM here, here and here...

Deep-blue hue of the body, silvery bloom
on its skin. Undersized runt of a fruit,
like something that failed to thrive, dented top
a fontanel. Lopsided globe. A temperate zone.
Tiny paradox, tart and sweet, homely
but elegant afloat in sugar and cream,
baked in a pie, a cobbler, a muffin.

The power of blue. Number one antioxidant fruit,
bantam-weight champ in the fight against
urinary tract infections, best supporting actor
in a fruit salad. No peeling, coring or cutting.
Lay them out on a counter, strands of blue pearls.
Pop one at a time, like M&M's, into your mouth.
Be a glutton and stuff in a handful, your tongue,
lips, chin dyed blue, as if feasting on indigo.
Fruit of the state of New Jersey.
Favorite fruit of my mother.

Sundays she scooped them into pancake batter,
poured circles onto the hot greased griddle, sizzled
them gold and blue, doused with maple syrup.

This is what I want to remember: my mother
and me, our quilted robes, hair in curlers,
that kitchen, that table,
plates stacked with pancakes, blueberries sparkling
like gemstones, blue stars in a gold sky,
the universe in reverse,
the two of us eating blueberry pancakes.

QUOTE: "I am not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted vines and orchard trees, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods. Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet berries in a cup." ~ Wendell Berry

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Turn! Turn! Turn! (Pete Seeger)

Happy Birthday, Dar Williams!

My salvation/salvage/salve (see poem below) is the music... and Dar is a big part of that - blessings on the day she was born, 42 years ago... :-)

We used to coordinate projects/activities through the Dar-list for her birthday, which can be seen here and here - this year nothing official was organized... but here is my contribution:

In April 1998, when I was a fairly new fan, Dar appeared on
the Conan O'Brien show with Pete Seeger, who I didn't know much about at all - who knew that, eleven years later, I'd be helping to coordinate a Pete Seeger 90th Birthday Celebration in South Florida, with local musicians and local nationally-touring performers... including a friend who was Pete's first captain of The Clearwater?!?

This has turned into a very big deal and today, along with three other participants, I appeared on our Folk and Acoustic Show to promote the event (and even asked the DJ to play Dar's cover, with Toshi Reagon, of Pete's Oh, Had I a Golden Thread) - our venue seats about 250, and we are now sweating the proverbial bullets that we will have enough space for everyone!

And... coming full circle, Dar is performing at the Pete Seeger
celebration in Madison Square Garden - birthday wishes abound... :-)

The poem below also makes me think of Dar's song
Arrival: "that's when you knew this world can't be saved, only discovered" - what an amazing lyric...

Turn! Turn! Turn! by Pete Seeger

Turn! Turn! Turn!: The '60s Folk-Rock Revolution by Richie Unterberger

POEM: Salvation by Lynn Ungar

By what are you saved? And how?
Saved like a bit of string,
tucked away in a drawer?
Saved like a child rushed from
a burning building, already
singed and coughing smoke?
Or are you salvaged
like a car part -- the one good door
when the rest is wrecked?

Do you believe me when I say
you are neither salvaged nor saved,
but salved, anointed by gentle hands
where you are most tender?
Haven't you seen
the way snow curls down
like a fresh sheet, how it
covers everything,
makes everything
beautiful, without exception?

QUOTE: "Because time itself is like a spiral, something special happens on your birthday each year: The same energy that God invested in you at birth is present once again." ~ Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Monday, April 13, 2009

Do Re Mi (Maria and the Von Trapp Children)

We had a lovely Easter Sunday yesterday - my son Rob worked, getting home about 5-ish, and we ate a bit before 6 (Eric was home from college for the weekend). I made Poppyseed Chicken (my sister's recipe), brown rice, steamed broccoli, steamed carrots with dill weed and a homemade apple cobbler for dessert - Sarah and I even dyed Easter eggs. I never made it out walking... but figured I could use a bit of a break, since I had followed through the previous six days in a row - so proud of myself!

We hung out until about 10, watching the first half of The Sound of Music (thus the synchronicity of the above YouTube video appearing in my inbox today)... and then Sarah headed home and the boys went out together - I watched some mindless TV and fell asleep on the couch, exhausted after the whirlwind weekend (my Labyrinth Cafe concert, with one of the artists staying with us Friday and Saturday night)...

Today has been an attempt to catch up: laundry, putting the Ozfice back in place (folding up sleep couch, etc.), finishing the dishes I let soak in the sink last night - I still need to get in my walk... and work seriously on the local Pete Seeger event as well as write the Order of Service for my UU Earth Day service this Sunday. I also took Reba out to lunch as she leaves tomorrow to head back to her home in Maryland - I'll miss her...

SONG: Do Re Mi, as sung by Julie Andrews and children in The Sound of Music

The Mysticism of Sound and Music by Hazrat Inayat Khan

POEM: Snow Geese by Mary Oliver

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!

What a task

to ask

of anything, or anyone,

yet it is ours,

and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.

One fall day I heard

above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound

I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was

a flock of snow geese, winging it

faster than the ones we usually see,

and, being the color of snow, catching the sun

so they were, in part at least, golden. I

held my breath

as we do


to stop time

when something wonderful

has touched us

as with a match,

which is lit, and bright,

but does not hurt

in the common way,

but delightfully,

as if delight

were the most serious thing

you ever felt.

The geese

flew on,

I have never seen them again.

Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.

Maybe I won't.

It doesn't matter.

What matters

is that, when I saw them,

I saw them

as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.

QUOTE: "As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit." ~ Emmanuel

Friday, April 10, 2009

Spring Street (Dar Williams)

I've written before that we don't really have distinct seasons here in South Florida - it feels like almost year-round summer, with flowers blooming constantly, no falling of leaves and no winter to speak of. For the attuned, the difference is subtle yet distinct - we've been experiencing a "cold snap" (i.e., 60+ degree nights, 70+ degree days) which has been refreshing, invigorating and a wake-up call for me personally...

I went through a patch these last few months whereupon I lost my concentration - I got so bogged down in the minutae of daily life (everyone else's) that I forgot to pay attention to my own. I was eating crap (and lots of it!), being extremely sedentary and in a stuck place productivity- and positivity-wise - through the motivation of various blogposts (here and here) and the support of a particular friend on a similar journey (hi, MH!), I am back on track in all its many connotations...

This past Monday found me focusing on... my 3-mile trek around the neighborhood (god, I'd missed my walking!), followed by a stretching routine; a healthy eating plan of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, with my only sweet/indulgence being a Skinny Cow (love the taste, hate the name!) ice cream sandwich each evening; vitamins twice a day (memory's the second thing to go, you know!); an as-close-to-midnight-as-I-can-make-it bedtime; and beaucoup glasses of water - I've succeeded four out of the last four days, and am well on the way to completing today's assignment...

Still haven't managed to make/find time for 10 minutes of meditation a day - always room for improvement. I've vowed to resume blogging on a semi-regular basis as well - there's a place in the world for the therapeutic spew-and-send (major understatement... :-)

Many plusses this week: Eric is home from college for the Easter weekend and we'll have a family dinner Sunday afternoon... my Labyrinth Cafe concert is this Saturday night, and it got a nice treatment in today's Miami Herald... we get to hard-boil and dye eggs tomorrow... and the HBO drama In Treatment is back with Season 2 - "I don't have to go to Spring Street... 'cause it's spring everywhere"!

here, here, here, here and here...

SONG: Spring Street by Dar Williams

Spring: A Spiritual Biography of the Season by Gary D. Schmidt, Susan M. Felch (editors), Mary Azarian (illustrator)

POEM: Poem on a Line by Anne Sexton, 'We are All Writing God's Poem' by Barbara Crooker

Today, the sky's the soft blue of a work shirt washed
a thousand times. The journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step. On the interstate listening
to NPR, I heard a Hubble scientist
say, "The universe is not only stranger than we
think, it's stranger than we can think." I think
I've driven into spring, as the woods revive
with a loud shout, redbud trees, their gaudy
scarves flung over bark's bare limbs. Barely doing
sixty, I pass a tractor trailer called Glory Bound,
and aren't we just? Just yesterday,
I read Li Po: "There is no end of things
in the heart," but it seems like things
are always ending—vacation or childhood,
relationships, stores going out of business,
like the one that sold jeans that really fit—
And where do we fit in? How can we get up
in the morning, knowing what we do? But we do,
put one foot after the other, open the window,
make coffee, watch the steam curl up
and disappear. At night, the scent of phlox curls
in the open window, while the sky turns red violet,
lavender, thistle, a box of spilled crayons.
The moon spills its milk on the black tabletop
for the thousandth time.

QUOTE(S): "Every spring is the only spring - a perpetual astonishment." ~ Ellis Peters

"The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring." ~ Bern Williams

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pretty How Town (Kris Delmorst)

April 1 is most certainly April Fool's Day... but it is also the beginning of National Poetry Month:

Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools and poets around the country band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of businesses and non-profit organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events.

More here...

P.S. SMM here, here and here...

SONG: Pretty How Town by Kris Delmhorst

BOOK: Poem in Your Pocket: 200 Poems to Read and Carry, edited by Elaine Bleakney

POEM: How to Read a Poem: Beginner's Manual by Pamela Spiro Wagner

First, forget everything you have learned,
that poetry is difficult,
that it cannot be appreciated by the likes of you,
with your high school equivalency diploma,
your steel-tipped boots,
or your white-collar misunderstandings.

Do not assume meanings hidden from you:
the best poems mean what they say and say it.

To read poetry requires only courage
enough to leap from the edge
and trust.

Treat a poem like dirt,
humus rich and heavy from the garden.
Later it will become the fat tomatoes
and golden squash piled high upon your kitchen table.

Poetry demands surrender,
language saying what is true,
doing holy things to the ordinary.

Read just one poem a day.
Someday a book of poems may open in your hands
like a daffodil offering its cup
to the sun.

When you can name five poets
without including Bob Dylan,
when you exceed your quota
and don't even notice,
close this manual.

QUOTE: "Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary." ~ Kahlil Gibran