Weekly Photo Challenge: Refraction

Refraction is the change in direction of a wave due to a change in its transmission medium.

Storm in Western Oklahoma

Storm in Western Oklahoma

We set off from Milwaukee, Wisconsin last Saturday on a cross-country trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico to attend the Wilderness 50 Conference.  As we got to western Kansas, we noticed clouds gathering to the west and north.  It’s difficult to judge distances across such a huge, flat landscape.  I thought maybe the storm was in Colorado.  We cut south through the Oklahoma panhandle, and tumbleweeds flew across the highway.  Steve thought this would be a great place to get out of the car and take a picture.  Unfortunately, I missed the lightning flashes on the horizon (I wish I’d brought a tripod to take a timed exposure!).  The winds were crossing in all directions, curling plumes of rainfall came down from the clouds in mixed directions, as if forming quotation marks across the sky.  What are the winds trying to say?  We camped that night in the Kiowa National Grassland, at the Mills Canyon Rim campground (elevation 5900 ft.).  The rain barely wet the high desert ground, but the WIND was fierce!  Eventually, it blew the clouds away, revealing a waning gibbous moon and a host of stars undimmed by human lights anywhere in the area.  In the morning, the winds were so strong that I had to put our camp stove underneath the picnic table and bank it with coolers in order to keep the flame from blowing out.  By the afternoon, the wind was gone, the skies completely clear.  When the sun set, the air got very cold, very fast.  And a blanket of stars swept over the sky, banded by the Milky Way. 

Waves of wind, changing direction, crossing different mediums (clouds and stars) are an example of refraction and one of the pleasures of wild space.  We are here at the Wilderness conference to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Preservation Act into law and to find our direction in the call to protect and respect Earth.  When the conference concludes, we will venture back into wild lands in New Mexico for more adventures.  Stay tuned!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreamy

Sailing off into the fog.  Setting off on an adventure with a sturdy ship, not certain of where it will take you, but fixed on a course nevertheless.

dreamy denis

  I am about to embark on a journey tomorrow, making real strides towards my dream.

cranesWe’re driving to New Mexico, to participate in the Wilderness 50 Conference.  I want to meet people invested in wilderness, in land and species preservation, in the future of our planet.

ranger

I want to work toward making a difference, taking a different tack, striking out on a new route toward sustainable living.

PG hiking

Dreams give us an awareness of ourselves, loosened from daily constrictions.  They give us a vision of change.

052Do you have the courage to live the change you dream about?

© 2014, essay and photographs, Priscilla Galasso, All rights reserved

Harvesting Hope

I have just finished reading a very informative book by Jane Goodall on the subject of Food.  Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating has led me to reconsider the way I buy and cook and eat food.  Much of it is based on common sense and natural practices (What would a chimp choose to eat?  Have you ever seen an overweight chimp in the wild?), and much of it exposes the insanity that is our factory food production here in the “civilized” world. How civilized is it to cram thousands of chickens together in a cage, remove their beaks so that they can’t peck each other to death, pump them with antibiotics and force them to cannibalize their own kind by giving them non-vegetarian feed?  And then to slaughter them, ship their polluted flesh over thousands of miles burning fossil fuels, and eat it?  I was not thinking about that when I bought Super Saver packages of chicken breasts at my local super market.  I think about it now.

And here is the surprising gift of hope: my children have been thinking about this for years.  I didn’t lead the way. 

Here is another arena of hope: reclaiming, salvaging and recycling living space.  My daughter and her fiance purchased a home that had been severely water damaged and mold and mildew infested.  The inhabitants had moved out to hospice care and died; the house was abandoned, but the water wasn’t shut off.  In the winter freeze and thaw, the pipes broke and flooded the place.  What a mess!  But Joe comes from a family line of carpenters and construction wizards.  He has completely re-worked the house: plumbing, electric, heating, floor plan and surfaces.  He’s gotten neighbors, friends and family involved in the labor and in donating fixtures. The final step will be relocating the back yard garden.  You see, this house is just a few doors down the street from the one they’ve rented for the past 3 years.  So, by their wedding date one year from this month, they will have their own home and garden.  They are marvelous role models for sustainable living, and I am so proud of them! Yesterday I went down to visit and take pictures.  They sent me home with a bunch of produce from their garden.  I am so grateful and awed by how life unfolds.  The next generation is certainly capable of taking responsibility and working hard in a sustainable direction.  Let’s just hope many of them choose to!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs

Some signs are meant to be helpful, but come across as completely confusing.  Like this one in the Milwaukee airport, just past the security checkpoint. 

RecombobIt took me a while to think through this one.  I had just been stripped of my shoes, my jacket, my purse and my backpack, been x-rayed, patted down, swiped and wiped, and I felt….discombobulated.  So there, with a few chairs underneath, was the designated area for getting recombobulated.  See, spell check doesn’t even recognize that word!  Helpful, sort of, but mostly not.  But amusing, definitely.  And absurd. 

Another sign I found on my travels.  A possible answer to the question, “Can you handle this?”

handling bats

Turns out, you can’t handle this.  114They never said I couldn’t photograph it, though.

Some signs need translation. The town of Embarrass, Wisconsin on the Embarrass River is nothing to be ashamed of.

I wanted to go into the Post Office and ask about their deep, dark secret.  Instead, I went home and looked up the history of the town.  Turns out, it was settled by French Canadian loggers who found it difficult to get their floating logs past this point on the river because of snags and debris.  In French, “embarrass” means to impede, obstruct or entangle.  Oh. 

Will you recognize the signs of the times?  Well, the times, they are a changin’. 

leaves

By this time next week, I will be unemployed and heading toward New Mexico for the Wilderness 50 Conference.  Yes, the signs are telling me that it’s time for a change. 

The Old Homestead

Back in August, I did a blog post about Steve’s childhood home and his mom’s move out.  You can see that post here.  At the beginning of September, I traveled back to California to see my mother’s new digs and how my brother has renovated the old homestead and made it his own.  Our mothers are only 3 weeks apart in age, both are turning 80 this December.  This seems to be a rite of passage – relinquishing home ownership and the mental and physical effort it requires.  I’m happy to say that both our moms have found communities of vitality and interest and that they are enjoying new friendships, new activities, and comfortable surroundings.  Here’s a photo gallery of the Los Gatos trip (mostly for the edification of my kids who haven’t been there in a while). 

100 Thousand Poets for Change

As a core team member of The Bardo Group, I have been invited, encouraged, challenged to participate in the 100 Thousand Poets for Change event.  For more information about this event, and to be stirred and prodded in you own artistic lethargy, click here

I yearn to be a poet, an artist, a musician.  I often find a piece that seems so right, so seemingly effortless, so fitting that I think it can’t be hard to craft a work like that…it simply lays over its theme like a glove.  Not so.  Listening to music on my way to work yesterday, I heard a poet’s frustration: “I don’t know why I spend my time / Writing songs I can’t believe / With words that tear and strain to rhyme.” (Paul Simon: Kathy’s Song.)

I feel this theme of Peace and Justice coursing through my life, my thoughts, my work, my hopes, and I wonder how hard it would be to write a poem about it.  I talked to a young man half my age who has studied forensic justice and just interviewed for a position as a mentor, a parole partner, someone who will help perpetrators and victims get together and talk, face to face.  I thought it was a great idea, for both parties, for all parties.  Here’s my attempt to let that idea percolate:

Let’s Face It

Behind the veil, the dirty shroud, the black burka, the white Klan sheet,

the knit ski mask, the heavy gas mask, the transparent oxygen mask, the impenetrable death mask,

the dense fur, the redwood bark, the shiny scales, the matted feathers,

the protective shield, the official badge, the repeated slogan,

the coarse beard, the perfect make-up,

the injections, the implants,

the scars, the screen

 

There is a face, a viable being.

 

When eyes recognize

kin and skin, then peace begins.

Face to face is the starting place.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime

I gotta admit, my first reaction was something along the lines of “WTF?  Who takes photos at night when there’s no LIGHT?!”  But this is supposed to be a Challenge, right?  (an aside….Steve mentions in passing that he’d be great at making up one word photo challenges.  “Yeah, like what?”  “Crouton,” he said, not even skipping a beat.  I am glad that “Crouton” is not this week’s theme.  I have zero photos on that subject.)

Recently (well, almost 2 months ago now), we had a marvelous nighttime adventure in Chicago with my youngest, Emily.  We went to Ravinia, the outdoor musical festival, for a Brahms concert.  We bought only lawn seats, not the more expensive Pavilion seats.  It rained all day, not too fiercely, but fairly steadily.  We found that we were among the few diehard music fans that did not let that deter us from setting up a picnic on the wet lawn and dining happily under our umbrellas.  When the music started officially (after a brief practice during our picnic), we packed up the food and huddled beneath the umbrellas.  The rain was falling in earnest by then.  At intermission, an invitation came over the loudspeaker for anyone on the lawn to move into the pavilion, as most seats were empty.  A kind man handed us tickets to a box seat well under the shelter, and we moved in to warm up and dry off.  It was a thrilling evening, being out in the elements, listening to live music played by real, live, dedicated musicians from Germany…and the occasional roll of thunder.

But my photos from that evening did not come out as I expected.  Trying to adjust for low light is very tricky.  Still, the sparkle and color and blurry atmosphere is rather fun. Pretend you’ve had a few drinks before you look at them. :)

BTW – on the menu: 5 different kinds of cheeses,  3 salads, handmade chocolate-dipped strawberries (thank you, Emily!), a light Chardonnay and the best beer on the planet (from Belgium – Maredsous).