Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

I do a lot of reflecting in my mind.  Every so often, I also do it with my camera.  This week’s photo challenge prompts me to share a few shots.  It’s not coincidental, probably, that my reflections show the natural world off some man-made surface.  A window.  A puddle in the pavement.  How often do you feel that you’re looking at real life through the rear-view mirror?  What is it that keeps you from turning fully around and facing it head on? 


reflections 2

Two-Minute Cosmic Worship Break

My mother serendipitously re-sent me a video that I had been searching for amongst my 4,000 saved e-mails.  I am in need of this video on a regular basis, and once you see it, you’ll know why.  I think I may have posted it before, but like looking up to see the horizon, it must be done often to stay sane.  Enjoy, re-blog, share…repeat.  (Not like shampoo instructions, which are entirely bogus.  Who lathers twice in one shower?)

I can’t seem to get the screen posted right here, so click this link until I figure it out.

Well, okay, it seems that WordPress requires a space upgrade to get the screen to show.  Please click the link, though.  I promise your two minutes will be rewarded!


Posting in High Dudgeon or How to Rant Gracefully

The precepts of Buddhism are on my mind.  I’m trying to be precise (aware) and gentle and graceful in this blog, but today, what I’m aware of is anger.  And this is very uncomfortable for me because I’ve built up quite a habit of avoiding anger at all costs.  I don’t like to find it in others, and I don’t like to find it in myself.  However, it’s a very important part of being human.  So, how do I face it gracefully?

Steve has some cassette tapes of Thich Nhat Hahn giving talks on relationships.  He speaks (or whispers, practically) about how to confront your loved one by opening with, “Darling, I suffer…” 

So, who is the loved one I want to confront?  Yahoo! news. 

Seriously, I am angered by a sense of false reporting that I feel every time I log on.  Important issues are sparsely represented.  Celebrity activity is ubiquitous.  The site reeks of phoniness, of Lifestyle but very little Life.  So, in my state of indignation, I wrote a kind of rant.  I will post it here with the graceful prefix:

Darling Yahoo!, I suffer. Unemployment isn’t news.  Celebrity divorces aren’t news.  Pet tricks aren’t news. Death isn’t news.  Where is the joyful message of Life?  The new moon, the new day, the new leaf, the new mutation, the new energy, the new decomposition, the new layer of sediment, the new moment, the NOW that has never been before and will be over immediately so that the next NOW can appear?  The earth, the stars, the Universe is moving and changing, and you’re afraid to report it.  The one thing we’re not making up, inventing for our own fascinated misery, gets shushed and shunted because certain people don’t want to hear.  What makes them so certain?  Their belief freezes everything real, stops it  mid-drip, or so they think.  Nonsense.  Wake up!  Get your mind out of those delusions.  You can make observations; you can’t make certain.  Bring me observations of the Universe, dear Yahoo!, and less of the machinations of man. 

That is all.


Cyber Monday

Scholar & Poet Books is the online book business that Steve & I run from our home.  We shelter books that we have rescued from Good Will, library sales, church sales and rummage sales.  We clean them up and put them up for adoption on Amazon, Alibris, ABE Books and eBay.  We find new homes for old standards, eclectic oddities, and arcane tutorials.  Pulp fiction with vintage cover art, lots of spiritual topics, Christmas and cookbooks and CDs and children’s books…you name it, we probably have it or something related to it.  So, if you’re in the mood for some cyber shopping today that supports the U.S. Post Office, a small business, and the non-electronic world of all natural BOOKS, you can browse our collection through this link.  We have a 5-star rating, but neither of us has a Facebook account.  If you like what you see and want to share the link with your friends, though, we would be very pleased!  Happy hunting, bookworms!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!  It’s Steve’s favorite holiday, and we’ve eaten turkey for the last 3 dinners.  First, it was the 20-pounder I cooked for us and his mom, aunt, sister and brother-in-law.  That occasion included a lot of cleaning up and rearranging books so that the book business didn’t take over the dining & living room.  The result of that work is being able to provide a comfortable place for people to gather, relax, feast, listen to music, and converse.  Holding a safe space open for life to unfold is a responsibility that I willingly accept, and I am thankful that I have figured out how to do that with the resources available to me.  I am very thankful for my partner and for the home that we have made together.  The day after Thanksgiving, we went down to visit my children in Illinois.  With all 4 of them, plus my daughter’s boyfriend and her godfather, we made 8.  She cooked another turkey and we brought our leftovers to share for this second feast.  I am thankful for my children, for the unique and wonderful people they are and for the fact that I have a healthy, happy relationship with each of them.  Yesterday, we drove home, past Glacial Park where we had our first date, back to our clean and tidy little duplex apartment.  Steve went back to work, I took a nap, and later fixed some more leftover turkey for supper.  Oh, but just before that, something else happened.  I had a good cry.  You see, my oldest daughter went shopping on Black Friday and bought…a wedding dress.  All by myself, back at home, I put on a Louis Armstrong CD, “What A Wonderful World”.  I felt happy and lonely, missing her father who died in 2008.  I wrote a sentimental bit of poetry, drank some vodka & cranberry juice, and let it flow.  Life moves and changes and goes on.  We are the bearers of our own memories, the crucible of our own journeys, and no one else shares that responsibility with us.  That can feel very lonely sometimes, but it also feels satisfying.  I am filled with the weight of my life and still have room for more.  For that, I am especially thankful.


Special Photo Challenge: Inspiration

The WordPress Daily Post sent me an interesting challenge: “For this special mid-week photo challenge, we want to see portraits of you doing something that inspires you to blog.”  The challenge for me is that I am rarely in a photo, as I’m usually the one behind the camera!  However, I found a selection of 5 photos that may serve this purpose. 

The theme of my blog is “Striving to live gracefully in my 50th year.”  I began it on my 49th birthday, and its purpose was to give me a vehicle for sharing my journey toward maturity in writing and pictures.  I find inspiration for growth all around me.  These pictures illustrate just a few examples.  Here is a self-portrait of me wearing the corset that was part of my costume as a historic interpreter.  That job inspired many posts about history, lifestyle, and preservation.  Here is a picture of me with my father before he died of Alzheimer’s disease.  I have met others who are caring for a parent with dementia through this blog, and questions of facing mortality, change, loss and frustration with grace have inspired many posts and comments.  Here is a picture of me hiking in Zion National Park.  Nature inspires me and demands my maturity every day.  How are we to live in harmony on this planet with all other living and non-living things?  Here is a picture of me with my children and my partner and other members of Team Galasso setting out on a walk to raise funds for the American Diabetes Association.  My husband died almost 5 years ago from complications of diabetes, namely heart disease.  The process of grieving his death and parenting our children drives much of the writing which finds its way into my blog.   And finally, here is a picture of me beside a campfire with an abandoned lamb who is dying of starvation without its mother.  It illustrates the compassion that inspires me to blog, to connect with humanity through words and photos, to face the reality of our common suffering without looking away, simply to be present in the world, aware, and alive.

Hiking in Hunting Season

It was a quiet Sunday along the Ice Age Trail…until the Packer’s football game ended.  “Blaze orange” jackets and shotgun blasts began to add noise mid-afternoon.  Steve and I are both creeped out by the gun culture.  Not that we don’t acknowledge the usefulness of procuring food and enjoying exercise.  The violence that these weapons invite seems to us completely unnecessary.   Is that an integral part of “hunting”?  Why is hunting a social norm in the Midwest?  I don’t remember fall being a time when people went hunting when I lived in California…they were mostly anticipating ski season.  Anyway, here’s what I shot on my excursion:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Green

Like Kermit says, it’s not easy being green.  It’s not easy building green, either.  My son has a degree in Construction Management and is interested in green design.  He’s having a hard time finding an entry-level job in this field, but it seems like a very useful career in the long run.  7 billion human beings generate a lot of construction; we need to be wiser about how and what and where and when we build because it makes a huge impact on our environment.  That’s common sense.  What does it look like when that is taken into consideration?  It takes time.  It takes money.  It takes intelligence and skill.  So, “forget it” is the conclusion many construction companies take.  Fast, cheap and easy…up goes another WalMart with a parking lot the size of an inland lake. 

I’ve visited two LEED certified buildings here in Wisconsin.  (click on the links to read about their energy-saving and environmentally responsible features) The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center was certified on the Gold level.  It houses a pre-school, among other facilities.  The Aldo Leopold Legacy Center was certified on the Platinum level.  Built where Leopold died while fighting a brush fire, it houses office and meeting spaces, an interpretive hall, an archive, and a workshop organized around a central courtyard.  I took some pictures for my son at the Aldo Leopold Center, and this prompt is the perfect opportunity to post them and share!

You Know It’s November When…

The temperature drops 30 degrees overnight.  Oh, but we were warned, so we went out to embrace the front, the wind howling from the south, still warm.  The clouds gathered in the valley, the sky darkened, the weeds shuddered…very gradually, drops began to fall.  It rained all night.  This morning, I went through the house pulling the glass panes down over the screens in all the windows.  The furnace rumbled to life every few minutes.  The trees are mostly bare.  It is late fall at last and winter is just around the corner.  I dearly wish I had a fireplace or woodstove…