Thursday, September 30, 2004

New Postcard Poems

Mike, by way of Ivy, reminded me of the charm of Postcard Poems. It's been a long while since I have attended to this discipline, or converted some of the poems I've posted on this space into the more permanent "postcard format."

I've taken the time to do just that - there are now four new poems listed on page 6 of the Postcard series! When you consider that each page lists fifteen poems (on the average), that's a great deal of writing. Admittedly, the quality varies; but nothing good will be produced if I don't write.

To save you some clicking, here's the new postcards:Visit these new cards, then come back here and let me know which one's your favorite!

Idée d’jour

A proverb is a short sentence based on long experience.
— Miguel de Cervantes, novelist (1547-1616)

Additional Quote

People don't go to war ... But, after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy or a fascist dictatoriship or a parliament or a communist dictatorship... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger. It works the same way in any country.
— Hermann Goering

Brother Dave Speaks

I'm taking the liberty of quoting an e-mail I recently received from Brother Dave. His view of the situation is slightly more dire than my own, but I'm slowly coming around. Take it away, Dave:
It has been a long time since old Lord Acton has been quoted — a reminder is over due — "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely". What [the current administration seeks] is a degree of power and control found only in dictatorships. They seek a country in which a privileged oligarchy (think "Roman citizen") rules over a work force enslaved by debt, ignorance, fear and prejudice. That work force, facing growing economic despair as the gap between those of wealth and everyone else grows past its current near historical level, well willingly give up it sons and daughters. Those young people, traded off for an illusion of economic opportunity (30% of today's homeless are vets, sound like a great career path?) and the promise of patriotic glory.

The people I work with — responsible professionals, mature members of the community — are unabashed in comparisons between our country today and Germany in 33 - 36. This "administration" is the intentional end result of a program that began in earnest under Ronald Reagan (though many of the key operatives hale from that model of democratic leadership, the Nixon White House).

Even if Cheney/Bush lose in November and do not (or are prevented from) declaring martial law due to some "terrorist act", the campaign is not over. A mythology about the Bush administration will be built and sold while a Kerry administration will find it nearly impossible to govern unless the almost unimaginable happens and the republicans lose BIG in Senate and House races.

These are very dangerous times. Frank Zappa's "It Can't Happen Here" is more appropriate now than in the 60's (70's?) when he wrote it.
I recently admitted, in a comment on Emphasis Added that I suspect this may be the last election we Americans may have, if the Chickenhawk-in-Chief and his cronies win this November. That possibility will seem even more real if the election is delayed due to a terrorist act and/or "reasonable threat". Don't forget, the notion of delaying the election was a trial balloon floated as recently as just a few months ago.

Do I sound paranoid? Perhaps so. However, based on reports in other sources, there is a recent article in Vanity Fair which makes it clear that the infamous Supreme Court's infamous 2000 decision was motivated more by individual justices' political beliefs more than any ideal of constitutional law.

Recent events — such as gerrymandering in Texas — make clear this group has a different idea of ethical political behavior than most. Their ad campaign —even if you discount the infamous Swift Boat Veterans' ads — makes clear they have no regard for honest political discourse. Hell, if one of 'em said the sky was blue, I'd look out the window to confirm it.

Rob calls this group, which extends far beyond the current gang of chimps, Movement Consersatives. Be sure to read his entries for Tuesday, Sept. 28, and Wednesday, Sept. 29. There you will read a reasonable and cogent explication of a Movement Conservative's goals. Rob restates much of what Brother Dave has said above, but goes into greater detail. These two articles are part of a planned series, which I will follow with great interest.

Here's my Reader's Digest version of Rob's points: for Rove, et al, Might makes right. They are in power, so anything they do must be right. Anything they say must be right. And since they are right, they are justified to maintain their power ("might") by any means necessary. They are the kings of "the ends justifies the means".

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Pictures from Winfield, Part Three

While at Winfield, it's hard to keep track of the days.

Well, one has to at least be sufficiently in kronos to recognize whether the concert they want to hear is the current day, or will occur in the next two days. One thing that helps is the fact that there is a daily newsletter, which lists the concerts scheduled for that day.

The point being, it's sometimes hard to remember — especially in retrospect — whether something happened on Thursday or Friday. When, in part one, I mentioned that Thursday was a full day, I was actually thinking about Friday.

I had made myself a promise before going to Winfield: since Elsie was not coming, and I might feel lonely, I would seek friends to join at the concerts. That was the reason I had hoped to coordinate schedules with Nancy C—. As it turned out, I did see all but a handful of concerts on my own, but I survived without overwhelming loneliness.

I also decided, once I got to Winfield, that I would take things easy. I was not going to push myself to see every single concert every single day. It was a way to embrace chairos.

So: Friday, September 17th. I woke up around 7 am, took my time for shower and breakfast, drank a cuppa java with Joe, felt leisurely. Walked up to the fairgrounds a bit after ten, and caught most of the Flatpicking Workshop (as much of a workshop as Thursday's Fingerstyle), which featured Dan Crary, Tony McManus, and James Nash (of The Waybacks). Was feeling hungry, so I bought a burger on the midway. Just as I sat down, I noticed Sarah running back and forth with food. I tried to catch her eye, but missed.

The place I was eating was one of several picnic tables, set under a circus-sized tent. It's common to be joined by strangers; I was making it a discipline to introduce myself and try to strike up conversations. You know, the standard stuff - where you from, how long have you been coming, who do you like. For an introvert like me, it's good practice. This particular time, I was joined by a nice couple from Illinois; the husband is an attorney, and the wife is an artist (see her work at Like me, they are fans of Small Potatoes, so that gave us something to talk about. The husband also won a place in my heart by praising secretaries.

After lunch, I went to Stage I to catch a bit of Pete Wernick's Live Five - which is a unique, and enjoyable, cross of bluegrass and jazz. The only traditional bluegrass instrument in the group is of vibes, clarinet, drums, and bass. The jazz they play is closer to swing than modern, and it's plenty peppy. Bill Ponterelli, on clarinet, deserves special mention; he's got some serious chops. I was sitting up in the 2nd or 3rd tier of the grand stands, where there is good shade. But, in spite of the shade and the peppy bluegrass/jazz, I started nodding off. When I tipped forward, and felt my acrophobia kick in, I knew it was time to go back to camp.

I napped for about half an hour. I went to the camp's shelter, and sat for a bit, to wake up. Rhonda S— joined me, and we had a very pleasant conversation. I had a chance to tell her how much I admired her steadfast pursuit of her dream (to be a concert promoter); she allowed as how she has, sometimes, come on a bit too strong.

I hung out. I wandered down to where Nancy C— was camping, to see if she (or someone else) wanted to join me for some concerts. I wandered the perimeter of the Pecan Grove, to see how the camps were decorated. I went back to the Grenola Camp, and hung out some more.

John McCutcheon was scheduled to perform at 6:30 on Stage I. I've become a fan of John's, partly through Sarah's influence. He's a popular performer at Winfield, and it's best to get to the designated stage a bit early. So, I went a bit after 6:00. Marley's Ghost was still performing. They're a fun band, and also quite popular; in fact, I had forgotten how much fun they were. One thing that was very cool is that while the stage crew was setting up for McCutcheon, one of the members of Marley' Ghost (Ed Littlefield, Jr) came out and played bagpipes for several minutes. He didn't need no stinking mike.

As the stage crew was setting up, I had a chance to scan the crowd. John and Sarah were sitting in the next section over, and about one level up. They were sitting next to Bill E— and Gail (friend of Bill). There was room next to Gail. I could have gone up and joined them. But, I had a feeling it would be too uncomfortable.

McCutcheon took the stage, and quickly had the crowd singing along. That's one of his talents, like Pete Seeger (whom he claims as mentor). No one wanted him to leave, and he did offer one encore. Sarah and John left as the crew was setting up for the next group, Pat Flynn, John Cowan, et al (Pat and John were in the group New Grass Revival). John made his way sideways down the steps, considerably hampered by crippling arthritis. What was odd is that they went down the steps right next to me.

Well, I had it in mind to more or less camp out there at Stage I for most of the evening - at least through Hot Club of Cowtown, who were scheduled to perform at 10:30. And I was certainly no lonelier after their departure than before, so I stayed put.

Flynn, et al, had played a couple of numbers when I noticed Sarah coming back up the steps. I was sitting right there on the aisle, and she was coming up the steps near where I was sitting. When she got just a couple of steps away from me, I invited her to join me. Well, what would you have done? It was a dream come true.

I told her my sedate plan of camping out at Stage I. After she shared what music she'd like to hear, I quickly revised my plans. I walked over to Stage II to hear a bit of the Waybacks. They started off OK, but then the lead guitarist (Mr. Nash) got into this meandering rock-style solo. We kinda looked at each other and said, "Well, that's enough of that."

So, we went back to Stage I to hear Tom Chapin and friends. Tom is known to lovers of children's records, and is also known as Harry Chapin's brother. In the future, he may become known as the father of The Chapin Sisters — whose harmonies are exquisite.

We'd been there about 45 minutes, when it Sarah admitted she was running out of steam. We agreed to walk over to Bill E&mash;'s camp site, to sing with him and his friends for a bit. It turned out that Bill wasn't there. Sarah had stowed her Martin guitar there; she pulled it out, and we started singing. We took turns naming songs that we had done together just a few years ago. I went first, with a sweet light number.

Sarah went next, and played a song that had been "ours" when we felt strongly romantic. I was, frankly, a little surprised she chose it. I don't think she was sending a message. Could be wrong. But, we had both behaved appropriately for our situation so far that evening. By appropriate, I mean that we had absolutely no physical contact, and did not mention how much we missed our relationship.

Well, I think we played for about 15-20 minutes when Bill and Gail returned. Then, Tom joined us. It became another song circle. People loved hearing us singing together, as they always have. Indeed — when our voices twine together, it's magic; the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. For both of us, song comes from the heart's altar; it is how we connect with our individual understandings of the divine. This common experience of the divine element of music is one of the things that drew us together.

You get Sarah singing, and her battery gets recharged. Same for me. We sang and played until 2:30 Saturday morning.

I walked her back to her camp, and we said goodnight. We did not even hug.

Next: Saturday and Sunday — Stay Tuned!

Idée d’jour

When in despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they can seem invincible but in the end they always fail.
— Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

From your lips to G-d's ears, dude.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Idée d’jour

A visitor from Mars could easily pick out the civilized nations. They have the best implements of war.
— Herbert V. Prochnow, banker (1897-1998)
I question the use of "civilized" in this statement. Humans being territorial beasts, war may be more or less inevitable. But I doubt many (especially that hypothetical visitor from Mars) would call it "civilized."


I know it's taking a while to complete my Winfield serial. It's kinda busy at work right now. My sleep pattern is not totally back into the workday schedule. Past few evenings have been booked as well. Time spent playing with the kitten was more attractive than time spent staring at this screen with the door closed.

And other excuses.

Here's the teaser for part three of the serial "Pictures from Winfield":
   “While at Winfield, it's hard to keep track of the days.”

Monday, September 27, 2004

Idée d’jour

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.
— L.P. Hartley, writer (1895-1972)

Friday, September 24, 2004

Friday's Cat

Ah, look at you, being so cute!

I have a terrible confession to make.

I did not miss DJ while I was on vacation. The house was sans kitten three days before I hit the road, and one day after I returned, and I kept counting things I didn't have to worry about.
  • Don't have to worry about the kitten getting into my closet
  • Don't have to worry about the kitten getting into stuff in my study
  • Don't have to close the door when I use the restroom (she's fascinated by the sound of running water)
  • Don't have to empty the litter box, or fill the food bowl
I care for her, and she amuses me, but sometimes she can be a true pest.

You don't compromise with a kitten. Talking to it is even less effective than trying to reason with a two year-old. You can't say "DJ, you may come into my study only if you don't chew on my computer cords." At best, the words are a foreign language to her that she doesn't understand. So, I alter my routine to make way for this little creature. Sometimes, that's uncomfortable.

She does offer companionship. I have no idea whether she "loves me", as humans understand the phrase, or if she only sees me as oversize cat with poor hunting skills. If it amuses me to believe she loves me, then it does no one harm, and it puts me in the same boat as most other pet owners. We project human emotions on these animal companions with no idea of whether they are capable of such feelings. A case might be made for dogs, who are pack animals, but cats are rather dicey. They are (compared to canines and anthropods) relatively independent.

In other words, DJ may be coming to my lap only because it's a nice warm place to take a nap.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Pictures from Winfield, Part Two

Camping at the Walnut Valley Festival is roughly divided between Pecan Grove, south of the fairgrounds; and Walnut Grove, west of the fairgrounds

Tuesday evening, I wandered the Walnut Grove, seeking camps I have visited in the past, where I knew folk were likely to be playing music. I first stopped at the Carp Camp, where a large group of people play Celtic music. Then I literally stumbled into Bill E—'s camp. Bill is a mutual friend of Sarah and I, though he does not know that we were once romantically involved. Neither Sarah or John were there, so it felt safe to join the small circle. Eventually, Dulcimer Dan loaned me a guitar, and I more fully joined the song circle — in which each person in the circle had the opportunity to play a song, clockwise around the circle.

We must have played for two hours. I think I got back to camp around 12:30 a.m.

Woke up at 7 a.m. Thursday morning. Went down the road for my $3 shower, saw Nancy again, chatted her up for a while. Went back to the fair grounds alone, to stage 3, to hear the Fingerstyle Guitar Workshop. It really isn't much of a workshop in the common use of the word; each picker plays a tune, talks about his influences, maybe talks a little about technique. Most of the seating is on the grass, but there are some bleachers set two to three yards from the stage. There was room on a bleacher, so I sat down. I'd gotten there late, so I was focused on the music rather than who was sitting around me.

Maybe 10-15 minutes passed, and I realized that Sarah and John were sitting about two feet away from me on the same bench. I held my peace. I felt if I said anything, it would just cause trouble.

The concert was about over, and John left. He was well ahead of Sarah, so I could say hello. She smiled, and responded in kind. We each allowed as how we were doing well. Then, she went on her way.

I don't remember the other performers I saw that day. It was a few. I do remember that I went to Stage 1 to see the "Men of Steel" (Beppe Gambetta, Dan Crary, Tony McManus and Don Ross) at 1:30. Dan and Tony were playing a fiddle tune, and I started falling asleep in the grand stands. That's when I knew I had to go back to camp to catch some shut eye.

I forgot to mention Jayne, who had been playing at Bill E's camp on Tuesday. She plays 6 and 12 string guitar, autoharp, and is learning fiddle. Nice singing voice, too. Well, after my nap, Mary T and I go to a camp a couple of yards away from ours, where the daughters are practicing for their contests. I'm sitting there, enjoying the music, when a very attractive dark-haired lady comes up, smiles at me, and says "Hey, I know you!" And I think "What the hell," get up and give her hug (yep, she hugged back). Took me a while, but I finally realized this was Jayne. Well, she looked different — Tuesday night she was wearing her hair up, and had glasses; Wednesday afternoon, her hair was down, and she had no glasses.

I guess the Clark Kent trick really does work.

Didn't see many of the evening concerts on Thursday evening. I wanted to play music, so I went back to Bill E's camp. He wasn't around, but Dulcimer Dan took me to a near-by camp where they were playing c&w tunes, along with a little Credence and rock. They were one of the few folks in the camp grounds using an amp. We were joined by a different Nancy, from Bartlesville, OK. This Nancy plays penny whistle and boudran. Not much in the c&w catalogue needs either of those instruments, so when my turn came up in the circle, I played "The Water is Wide." Bartlesville Nancy was quite grateful, as we shall see.

Stay tuned for Part III; but first, this friendly word from our sponsoring feline....

Idée d’jour

If you don't find God in the next person you meet, it is a waste of time looking for [God] further.
— Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
I dedicate today's quote to Natalie.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Idée d’jour

Sunset in the ethereal waves:
I cannot tell if the day
is ending, or the world, or if
the secret of secrets is inside me again.
— Anna Akhmatova

Pictures from Winfield, I

Winfield Sunrise, 9-19-2004
Above, you see one of the three pictures I took at Winfield this year. This is sunrise on Sunday morning, Sept. 19. I have one more sunrise, which looks very much like this shot, and a picture of the grand stands.

My other pictures are mental. Some could not have been taken with a camera.

Arrived in Winfield early Tuesday afternoon. Mercedes helped me pitch my tent, and made me a turkey sandwich. Later, we were joined by Joe (camp founder) and Mary T. Went to the fair grounds to register for a songwriting workshop on Wed. Spent Tuesday evening in relaxed visiting.

Wednesday's workshop was scheduled to be lead by Crow Johnson, whose work I've come to admire. Unfortunately, her father-in-law is very ill, and she had to cancel. The songwriting class was lead by Alan Thornhill, who has worked with Chris Hillman (one of the Byrds), among others. Mostly, the workshop was a mutual encouragement time. The theme was "Don't let the music die inside you," which I may yet wrestle into a song. On the whole, I felt it was time well spent.

A woman named Sophie sat behind me at the workshop. She's written a lot of songs; she's sort of an average musician, but has an excellent ear for a tune. One of her songs is due to be recorded by the Farm Couple (a regional group) in the near future.

Sophie is a chatty soul. She's one of those people who seems to ask about you just so they can talk about themselves. I put a lot of store on being polite, and not cutting people off, so I let her jabber. But it wore me out.

I had ridden a shuttle to the workshop, which was near downtown Winfield. The workshop was from 9 - 4, and I rode the shuttle back with Sophie. The shuttle, by the way, was actually a 3/4 ton van with seats. Just as we were pulling into the fairgrounds' entrance, I saw Sarah and John driving out in their old green stationwagon. That station wagon holds heavy petting memories.

Wednesday evening, there was a pre-festival concert sponsored by Taylor guitars. Performers were Beppe Gambetta, Dan Cary, Doyle Dykes, and Tony McManus. On the way to the stage, I ran into Nancy C—. I had hoped to run into Nancy, so we could possibly arrange to see some concerts together. Not because I have any romantic feelings for her, but because I enjoy her company, and would appreciate the companionship.

Nancy and I know each other from a folk music organization, but we have another interesting connection. I dated Sharon for several months; Nancy dated Gary for a year or more. Sharon dumped me, and picked up with Gary shortly after. You can imagine the animus Nancy and I share towards Sharon. Well, it's a frequent topic of conversation, anyway.

So, Nancy and I sat at the right-hand side of the stage, on a slight slope. We enjoyed the music, and visited during lulls. As performers were trading out, Nancy went to the lady's room. She returned with a slice of home-made quality cherry pie from the 4H booth. She shared it with me. It was a sweet moment.

She asked whether Elsie was coming to Winfield. I replied that, due to her pastoral duties (as a Methodist minister), she was not able to come. It was not the whole story, but the situation was such that I could not tell her the whole story.

I will tell you the story, but later.

Nancy and I didn't see any other concerts together. We just didn't seem to the make connections to coordinate our schedules. I saw most of the concerts on my own.

I say most. Thursday proved to be an interesting day, and evening....

To be continued.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Off to Winfield

Well, I'm off to Winfield, Kansas, for the annual Walnut Valley Festival. It began as a bluegrass music festival, but is today the home of all styles of folk musics. It's a four-day festival (Thurday - Friday), and many people camp out while attending. A small city grows up for those four days, with an incredible sense of comraderie. I will be among those camping out, and thus will not have means to view the Internet — much less post entries to this blog.

But, be assured I will be returning with pictures.

"Don't take it easy, just take it!" — Woodie Guthrie


Saturday was the third anniversary of the "attack on America." We have been told, as recently as the Republican convention, that this was a day that changed the world forever. Except for the fact that certain American leaders have used this attack as an excuse for everything from reducing its citizens rights to an unprovoked assault on a Middle Eastern country, I don't see much change.

And now, someone who has never put his life on the line or suffered the consequences of one of his mistakes is referring to himself as a war president.

This is the latest day in American history where a generation can talk about where they were.

I was in a 3rd grade classroom on November 22, 1963. It was my eighth birthday. Though I don't recall for something, it's possible the teacher said something about the assination. I have a very clear memory of Uncle Walter wiping away a tear after he reported the death of John F. Kennedy.

I was something of a news junky in 1968. Brother Dave was already in 'Nam, as memory recalls. I remember seeing the riots after Martin was killed. I remember watching Bobby's victory speech in California, delivered just minutes before he was murdered.

I was also very interested in the space program, and watched every Apollo mission; especially that moment when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon.

I remember hearing the report about the killings at Kent State. Padre and I went to a candlelight vigil on the State Capitol lawn that same week.

Every waking hour in the summer of 1972 was devoted to watching the Watergate Hearings.

Don't remember when Reagan was shot. Though I didn't like the man, or approve of his policies, that assination attempt was just weird.

I remember the incredible sadness I felt after John Lennon was murdered.

I remember the Challenger crash, and the Columbia crash. I ate breakfast in a fugue state after hearing about the latter.

The morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I had a job interview. I went to the interview just a few moments after the first tower was hit. The son of a woman in a near-by office was in New York City, worked near the Trade Center. She was quite frantic, as you can imagine. Her son, Steven had been in Oklahoma City on April 19, as well. On the morning of 9/11, he was in a cab heading to work - a bit late - heard the report on the radio and told the driver to turn around. He had been in this movie once before.

Each one of these events changed our view of the world. Or, at least, had the potential to. As Archbishop Rowan Williams has pointed out, the rest of the world has already known the scourge of terrorism — especially the Middle East. When we experienced that catastrophic event that Tuesday morning, the world embraced us. We had a chance to accept their greeting, and to acknowledge the pain our world neighbors have experienced in terrorists' attacks.

Instead, our president chose to go the way he had from the moment he entered office. Alone. We are the Leader of the Free World, and we dictate the terms. We are strong, and we need no one. We stand on our own.

And here we stand, two years after the invasion of Iraq, knee-deep in quicksand.

Here's a chance to change our little corner of the world — Defeat Bush.

Idée d’jour

The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer, theologian (1906-1945)

Friday, September 10, 2004

Idée d’jour

All political parties die at last of swallowing their own lies.
— John Arbuthnot, writer and physician (1667-1735)

From your lips to G-d's ears, dude.

Friday's Cat

Is it possible I've gone overboard with the cat pictures? Dr. Omed has suggested my fidelty in this matter reflects some sort of psychological displacement. Brother Dave has suggested that continuing in this manner may lead to an overdose.

Sam, who has four felines (or more) of her own, understands. In today's picture, Dame Julian appears to be ready for her close up.

DJ does a Dylan impression

It's odd how bound I have become to this little creature. I've resisted adopting an animal companion for some time, mainly out of concern that I might not be able to care for it properly. Additionally, I'm in & out so often, an animal might get lonely. This last may be more true of dogs than cats, but cats do get lonely as well. At the very least, cats get bored, and will create all sorts of damage in their boredom.

I can now admit it: I had an anxiety attack as I was taking DJ home, back on July 2.

I'm going out of town next week, and am leaving DJ with a co-worker. I'm not currently having an anxiety attack, but I do know that I will miss her.

I have no idea what I am to her. Oddly, she does prefer to be in the same general area that I am. That is, if I'm in the kitchen, that's where she will go; if eating in the dining room, she'll go there. And so on. I was under the impression that cats were not very social animals. According to Desmond Morris (Catwatching), cats perceive humans to be big cats - a little inept about food gathering, but cats nonetheless.

Often, I have the impression that I'm just a piece of big warm furniture. I've lost count of the number of times my chest was the perfect location for a bath.

I've read that the Desert Fathers kept cats as pets. For one thing, they would need good mousers as they were living in caves. For another, they inherited the Egyptian notion that cats were especially spiritual. But, I have come to believe that the Desert Fathers kept cats in order to help keep them humble.

It's working for me.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Oakerhater Honor Dance

You are invited to the Oakerhater Honor Dance this Saturday, September 11, beginning at approximately 2 pm. The dance is an annual pow wow to honor St David Pendelton Oakerhater, a Cheyenne warrior who became a Deacon and is the only Oklahoma Saint. This is the only pow wow with a Eucharist.

We invite all peoples to dance, worship, and share an Indian Supper. Come to some or all of the events and I promise you will enjoy the experience.

Example of Ledger Art

Above, you see an example of ledger art. This work was among a group of Oakerhater's effects recently donated to the Cathedral by Nellie Burnham, great granddaughter of Mary D. Burnham, a Deaconess who supported Oakerhater's work. According to art historian Mary Jo Watson, this particular piece may not have been done by Oakerhater, but it is certainly done in his "style". It was almost certainly produced during the time David Pendleton and his friends were being held as "enemy combatants" in a Florida prison.

Write me if you would like to come, and need directions.


Dream Words

Words are brighter in dreams.
They swim past the moleskin.
They crawl through the portals.

Words step lively in dreams.
They comb my hair in rivers.
They wander on cat breath.

Words linger in doorways,
in dreams; they ignite streetlamps.
They do the backyard goat dance.

Words unfasten dream latches.
They remember each player.
They record each dancing hand.

Words are brighter in dreams.
Then they fade.
Morning fog.

My Desk, Revisited

I know I posted a picture of my desk yesterday, but I decided you needed a broader view of my workspace:

More recent pic of desk
In this picture, you see the corner where I work. A couple of poems have referenced the paintings you see: on the left, Skull 479 (I think) by R. Michael Rahill; on the right, the boy Jesus (artist unknown). You can see the mostly bare bulletin board - the only item on it is a name badge from my five-year highschool reunion. You also see the stylish wind-up clock I picked up at a neighborhood garage sale. The stack of papers on the left is topped by my Moleskine Journal ™ and a QPB 2004 calendar (no other books of interest over there). You also see my Love's travel coffee cup, which normally contains green tea. With a magnifying glass, you might be able to detect my copy of the Book of Psalms (KJV), which is in pamplet form and represents one of the first books I possessed. Lamp. Pens. Elmer's Glue. Diskettes. Piles of paper. Stuff and stuff.

Oh yeah, you'll see a better version of the image displayed on the computer screen later this evening or sometime tomorrow.

A word about that skull: Mike Rahill was a high school friend, and he painted this during our junior year (if memory serves). I was so impressed with it, that I insisted on buying it from him. It has travelled with me from high school to the present. It is modelled on the earliest humanoid skull discovered at that time (mid-70s), a woman's skull.

I believe the painting of the boy Jesus originally belonged to my step-mother Wanda, but was willingly passed on to me early on. It has amazingly survived from my pre-teens to this morning.

Fair warning: cat picture tomorrow.

Something New from St. Leonard

It's curious. I've been singing Leonard Cohen's "Stranger Song" in ragged snatches for several days.

Just a few minutes ago, I sailed over to the Leonard Cohen Files to discover that he's recorded a new album. Dear Heather will be released toward the end of October. I want it now! I mean, it'll be worth the money for the album cover alone, not to mention hearing Leonard's cover version of "Tennessee Waltz".

While you're visiting the promotional website, be sure to check out the Photos section. The top two were taken by his daughter, Lorca; the top one is my absolute favorite.

I'll admit I was disappointed in his last studio album, Ten New Songs. The problem was not with the lyrics, which I think will stand time's test, but with the music, which suffered from a stifling sameness. All the songs on that were co-written with Sharon Robinson, a back-up singer who has been with Leonard since the early '70s, and I suspect the problem with the music was from her (she also shares a co-producer credit).

Many of the songs on Dear Heather were also co-written with Sharon. About an equal number were written by Leonard alone. Vocal arrangements are handled by number of different folk. So, I expect the new album will have more musical variety than Ten New Songs did.

Ah, something to look forward to!

“I told you when I came I was a stranger.”

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Site Visit

A number of folk have been posting pictures of where they sit when composing their blogs. Of the folk listed on the left, Dr Omed, Feral, and Augustine have accepted the challenge. I think I have posted this picture in the past, but here it is again:

My Desk
This is my desk at home. My current practice is to compose as much as possible at home, and post via e-mail. You may notice my area is almost as tidy as Dr. Omed's. Incidentally, that desk has survived a number of moves; it was obtained when I was but a sprout. In fact, I think it originally belonged to Brother Dave. So, even though it isn't a "computer desk", and does not have a handy spot for the mouse or the keyboard (I use desk drawers for this function), I'm inclined to hang on to it. Sentimentallity and such, you understand.

Occasionally, with an inspiration strike, I'll post from work (as I am currently doing). May post picture of day job station in the near future. No time at the moment....

Chickenhawk caught telling truth again

The Chickenhawk-in-chief has lied so many times, I have come to the conclusion that - like some mirror-image Pinnochio - his nose grows every time he slips and tells the truth.

I suspect his nose grew a bit last Monday, when he told Matt Lauer that the "War on Terror" could not be won.

I suspect it grew even more when he tried to dig himself out of that slip by admitting that the "War on Terror" is not a traditional war, that will be ended with peace treaties or the like.

Do you suppose Uncle Karl took him behind the wood shed for that one? Their cynical "1984" perversion of language is not going to be effective if they admit that they are not using words with the words' traditional meanings. In this case, "War" means "an ongoing conflict that continues so long as it suits our interests."

Bin Laden could come over the hill waving a white flag, petitioning for peace, and they would ignore it. Unless it would profit Cheney's pals at Halliburton and their other business buds.

The Chickenhawk slipped again later last week when he was speaking about medical malpractice reform. As you'll see in this clip, he wants to protect ob/gyns' right to "share their love" with women. The guy's working from a scripted speech, and he still slips? I understand that everyone misspeaks now again, but to do so when the script is right there in front of you?

Aside from the typical malapropism, the Chimp touches his chest with his hands curled. As any fan of frat boy humor knows, this is the international sign for a woman's breasts. So, now we know what Mr. Chickenhawk would be doing if he were a gynecologist.

If you care to get a peak of Uncle Karl's vision of an American utopia, read this article concerning the "security measures" taken in NYC during the Repugnant Convention. It's scary stuff; even the late Richard M. Daley might be appalled.

Idée d’jour

Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.
— Charles Dudley Warner, editor and author (1829-1900)

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Idée d’jour

One has to be a lowbrow, a bit of a murderer, to be a politician, ready and willing to see people sacrificed, slaughtered, for the sake of an idea, whether a good one or a bad one. — Henry Miller, writer (1891-1980)
Henry Miller is one of my spiritual mentors. He's best known for "dirty" books, such as Tropic of Cancer, but I don't read the books for the sexy bits. I read them to share in his struggle to become a human being.

Part of that struggle involves sex. By today's standards, Miller's attitude toward women seems antediluvian. Compare his views to other male writers of the same period – such as Papa Hemingway – and that attitude seems pretty typical of its time (between the World Wars).

Unlike many male authors (DH Lawrence comes immediately to mind), and many romance novelists, Henry's view of sex is not some gossamer religious experience. It is earthy, and raw, and passionate. It is not le petit morte, as the French say. Henry's sex is the encounter of two flesh-and-blood human beings, filled with life and desire; not the cosmic union of eternal archetypes.

When Henry Miller met the woman he calls June, he met a woman who could stand up for herself. She encouraged him to follow his muse, but she was not willing to sacrifice herself as he did so. His greatest work, The Rosy Crucifixion is dedicated "To Her."

Most of his books were banned in America, supposedly because of their sexual content. I disagree. As I wrote when he died (June 7, 1980):
... sex scenes are brief in Miller, and are certainly the less important elements of his books. No, his books are dangerous, like Catcher in the Rye, or Huckleberry Finn, because they are full of life, full of living ideas. And, as a self-admitted anarchist, Miller is especially threatening to our status quo institutions.
Henry Miller, like Jack Kerouac in the post-WWII generation, saw the emptiness in the Great American Dream of material acquisition. He turned his back on a decent enough job to become a writer. He turned his back on getting ahead and keeping up with the Joneses and battling for empire in order to fullfill his destiny as a fully realised human being.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Idée d’jour

The sense of living is joy enough.
— Emily Dickinson

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Quote d’jour

[One cannot compete and his very bread is in peril] "... to human beings, this is a much more hate-inspiring thing than is any detail connected with religion. With most people, of a necessity, bread and meat take first rank, religion second."
— Mark Twain, from the essay "On the Jews", originally published in 1899; reprinted in Mark Twain on the Damned Human Race, op cit.
This is not a comfortable essay to read, if one admires Twain. He perpetuates the common Shylockian sterotypes concerning Jews — money-grubbing, secretive, etc; the only thing he leaves out is the hook nose. The essay is also full of admiration for Jews, but many of the positive qualities he lists are much a part of the stereotype as the negative.

He claims to know over 480 Jews. I suspect this is typical Twain hyperbole, but if he did, and he shared any of these prejudices with them, I doubt many of them counted him as friend.

To which this fan can only say that Sam Clemens was a human being, and was susceptible to the prejudices of his time.

What strikes me about this quote is how it anticipates Maslow's hierarchy. And it makes me wonder about our current "War on Terrorism".

The chickenhawk in chief would have us believe that the terrorists hate our freedom. Many who have promoted the conflict in Iran see it as a clash between Christian and Moslem; a new Crusade, if you will. But what if it's really the poorest of the poor striking out at rich nations in the belief that these nations are also their oppressors?

Certainly, many on the terrorist side (e.g. Osama bin Ladin) talk about the corruption and decadence of the West. These are the people with money; they can afford to worry about stuff like that. The man or woman who straps a cluster bomb across their chest and sets it off in a crowd is a person who perceives themselves as being already dead. Their choices have run out, they cannot feed themselves or their families. They know they will die as penniless as the day they were born.

In this situation, it makes a sort of perverted sense to take as many of your oppressors down with you as possible.

Idée d’jour

A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.
— Theodore Roosevelt, Twenty-sixth US president (1858-1919)
Somehow, this seems like a variant on Woodie Guthrie's famous line that some will rob you with a six gun, and some with a fountain pen.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

How to tell if you're a Democrat

Based on Gov. Ahnold's speech to the GOP last night.
My fellow immigrants, my fellow Americans how do you know if you are a Democrat? I'll tell you how.

If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, not the people to the government ... then you are a Democrat! If you believe a person should be treated as an individual, not as a member of an interest group ... then you are a Democrat! If you believe an integral aspect of decent society is assistance and empowerment of the less fortunate ... then you are a Democrat! If you believe that all Americans are responsible for the education of our children, and that this is a shared responsibility of parents, teachers, and school administrators ... then you are a Democrat! If you believe this country can be a beacon representing the hope of democracy in the world, and can be a responsible member of the world community ... then you are a Democrat! And, ladies and gentlemen ... if you believe the best response to terrorism is supporting freedom and hope throughout the world ... then you are a Democrat! If you believe retaining our basic freedoms, and aiding those around the world who would also share in those freedoms, is a stronger weapon against terrorism than guns and smart bombs ... then you are a Democrat!

There is another way you can tell you're a Democrat. You have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of ordinary American people. Not the millionaires, or the conglomerates, or the mighty industrialists, but the common ordinary American people, working together.
“You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.”

Barley Moon

Barley Moon
Picture taken the morning of Monday, August 30 when the new moon was one day waning.

The caption actually relates to something I saw as I was driving home late last night.

Still, you can see the water swirling around this moon.

Quote d’jour

Practically speaking, a life that is vowed to simplicity, appropriate boldness, good humor, gratitude, unstinting work and play, and lots of walking brings us close to the actual existing world and its wholeness.
— Gary Snyder, quoted in The Little Zen Book
Hard-core fans of Jack Kerouac will remember that Snyder (called Japhy in The Dhrama Bums) introduced Jack to Buddhism. That tradition informed Kerouac's writing from Bums through the end of his life — when Buddhism became intwined with his natal Catholocism.

Synder also helped Kerouac get his job as a fire look-out on a local mountain, an experience recorded both in Dharma Bums and Desolation Angels. I suspect Jack might still be with us if he had stayed on that mountain. For one thing, he had limited access to booze.

Gary is still alive, one of the few survivors of the "Beat" generation. He continues to be a practicioner of Buddhism, and is a respected student of that discipline.

The phrase that stands out for me in Snyder's quote is "lots of walking." When I was a teenager, I walked everywhere — about 5 miles to a local mall, 7 miles to high school. Not because I had to, but because I enjoyed the time to myself. Gave me time to reflect. I also walked a lot during my college career — being sans vehicle for most of that time — and actually wrote some poetry in my head while walking.

Boy, I've got to start walking again!

Untitled Octologue

who I never knew,
had a sign
on his door.
I know. I saw it:
“Door open.
equals theft.”
Based on conversation heard in passing.

Nominations being accepted for a title.