Photobombing and the Far Side

Well, I looked up this word “photobomb” and I was right. This wasn’t a word before, say, 2001. Developing film was just too expensive to tolerate some idiot jumping into your picture, bombing one of your precious 24 photos per roll.

Nowadays, everyone snaps a photo of their lunch, so who cares if picture seventeen of fifty eight of the same thing is bombed. Hysterical! Amusing at least!

For some reason, the idea of photobombing in my mind is connected to the cartoons of Gary Larson, who created some of the greatest single panel visual jokes in modern history, entitled as a group “The Far Side”.  Many of the cartoons feature animals in a human situation with an ironic twist related to their species characteristics. I am sure you remember him.  His career encompassed most of our late teens and young adulthood, generally a less serious time of life, so perhaps I was inclined to laugh more.

Well, actually I looked up a bunch of them on line and they are still very very funny.

I can’t reproduce them here, so I’ll have to tell and not show. Apparently Mr. Larson is distressed by seeing them used all over the internet without his permission. Fair enough.

In any case,  I  find myself especially amused by the bird  themed cartoons.  A duck bringing chicken soup to his indisposed duck friend tucked into bed, and saying “It’s no one we know”.  Two birds driving a Cadillac, one complaining of the sun and her “migration headache”.   Birds human-watching, with binoculars and maps.

Hahahahahaha.

It was hard not to think of the Larson cartoons when I took this photograph:DSCN1522.JPG

This bird, in true Larson-esque fashion, believes in his heart of hearts that if he stands very very very still and sticks his beak up in the air, he will be mistaken for grass.

“Point your beak up straighter Jeffrey! Your sister really looks like grass, try to be more like her!”

One of the  problems with this bird is that he SOUNDS (and I do say “he”) like a belching walrus when springtime arrives, which sort of gives away the “look like some grass” strategy, in my mind.  Of course I am not a predator of this bird,  but consider that another animal might be. Will the predators overlook some grass that sounds like a belching walrus?  I have some doubt about that. Maybe the risk is worth it for the right gal.

“Oh Jeffrey, every time you go by that girl’s family nest you give away your position! Do you expect to LIVE to reproduce?”

In case you were wondering, this bird is called the American Bittern. I have no idea why and haven’t googled it.

Then there are the Far Side reminders that are a side effect of my limited photo taking experience.

A personal challenge for me as I venture into bird photography has been getting more than one species in a photo. Somehow this goal reflects a personal photo-bio-diversity that I want, or maybe I am biting off more than I can chew, not an unfamiliar tendency in my life. This early effort below resulted in what can only be described as a Far Side cartoon brought to life.

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“Barbara! Barbara! Did you get my picture with EVIE EGRET? IN the SAME PHOTO?!! OH MY GOD!”

Damn photobomber! The nerve!

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Birds and not much about flight mechanics

Well it’s been awhile, and most of that time has been ridiculously spent preparing my home for the next owner. Why work so hard for someone you’ll never know?I have a ridiculous amount of resentment regarding the fact that THINGS WEAR OUT whether or not you use them. But the carpet was certainly used, and the oven.

Home repair is another full time job even if YOU DON”T DO THE WORK YOURSELF.

Anyway, boring. Everyone does it.

In the in between spaces I’m trying to get over my disappointment with humanity and their dwellings by socializing more with my oldest living relative, my horse, and with BIRDS, the descendants of the most awesome creatures, ever..Dinosaurs.

Birds are a-okay. They are the living dinosaurs.RSCN1087.JPG

I mean what is this? They say it’s a heron, but isn’t it a pterodactyl?

I starting looking at birds when my daughter and I met up in Florida for a trip. There was some dry land back then in Florida, in the Spring of one-seven, and we took a look around the Everglades. We saw some interesting birdsDSCN9670.JPG

Can you believe it? I took this photo with my silly little camera. It’s an osprey.DSCN9680.JPG

This is my best picture of a roseate spoonbill, AKA pink dinosaur. I mean come on. That is a pink dinosaur.

Then I thought, well, maybe I don’t need to mourn the dinosaurs. Maybe they are right here.

I’m sure there’s some connection here to the physics of flight for our blog continuity, but my astronautical engineering is more than a little shaky.  What I know so far is that some birds are super fliers, some are just okay, and some are not able to fly at all. I like perched birds. I don’t have a good camera for flying birds. You might have noted that with the pterodactyl photo.

I have also learned that humans wreck things for birds (what a shocking surprise) and some of them are very clever and learn how to hide from us or get away from us. Good for them. I’m all for birds evading homo sapiens and his arsenals. Ironically, if you are a  member of the hostile homo S. only hoping to catch a glimpse, you must adopt the tricks of the hunter by hiding yourself and “shooting” pictures. For example, in this photo the sandhill cranes are pretty much hidden.DSCN0739.JPG

On the other hand, some birds take a counter phobic approach, i.e. accept reality and the total dominance of humans.  These not so rare members of the bird family know which side the Wonderbread is buttered on. You better get a good photo, they practically pose for you.

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In case you think I never got a better photo of the cranes, I’ll give you this one:RSCN0781.JPG

Which suggests I can both hide and use the Zoom function on the camera, I didn’t want you to think I can’t run and hide. Or just hide.

My last observation for today relates more to human behavior than bird behavior. Watching birds is an obsessive habit. You can tell that by noting that people interested in birds do a lot of counting of bird species so they can say with authority how many different types of birds they have laid eyes on. These people (and I am becoming one of them, I fear) are only encouraged by professional ornithologists to keep up this habit because it provides precious data about how many birds we haven’t yet managed to kill or run out of town or woodland areas. I have officially counted 41 species as of today myself. I’ve seen more, but it’s unofficial, so it doesn’t count.

I am a woman of honor.

Next up: Lying, the Far Side, odd photo captions I think about but have nowhere to put but here, and more

 

Absolute Zero

“If the positive absolute zero is the point at which all motion stops, then the negative absolute zero is the point where all motion is as fast as it possibly can be.”

Hey.  I am distracted.  I wish to respond to your post about dark, but somehow I’m stuck on absolute zero.  Zero and absolute.  -459.67 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

The Bee Meeting – Plath

Yesterday, I left my desk, walked half a mile to get to my car, parked in the dirt lot, took a tram a little way…and by the time I got from my desk to the car twenty minutes was gone. I then drove forty-five minutes to be fourteen minutes late for the dentist.  He rescheduled me.  I am still trying to find someone to get rid of the 200 yellow jackets in the siding by the garden hose.  The carpet needs cleaning.  Dinner needs to be made nightly- somehow. The dogs need baths.  I need to call the school counselor, who left a message that there are no more drop/adds.  We need a drop/add. That ended on Friday.  No one should cry about homework, not nightly.  Especially not my beautiful kid.  That is not as school is intended to be.  She needs more math before Physics.   It’s too much. 

I can’t abide the rules anymore.  I’m beginning to feel I’m hardly fit for this society.

“I’m tense and nervous and I can’t relax/I can’t sleep ’cause my bed’s on fire/Don’t touch me I’m a real live wire”  Talking Heads

“Tycho Brahe, Qu’est-ce que c’est /Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa?”   – The Klaxon Kluge

So let’s go back to dark.  Women were the shaman, or as men like to say, the witches, the keeper of the potions, the gatherers in the hunter gatherer equation.  Close to the herbs, gathering the food.  Somehow all that has changed.  Darkness…the absence of light….heart of darkness…dark emotional states… burning at the stake in the night.

(c) Paintings Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Eve and the Serpent.  William Blake

 Let’s get dark and make it better.  Dark like dance around the bonfire darkly.  Gypsy music dark.  Dark like we know the secrets of the stars better than anyone.  After all, we have things like “women’s intuition.”  I’m a firm believer.  I know the names of wildflowers.  Dark is like the darkest poetry.  Colombian Coffee.  Dark as if Plath came out from all of it alive and smiled at the wind in the leaves. 

Our children, my son, our daughters- they are good people.  So where do these others come from?  The ones with all the untenable rules?  The ones that see women as less?  The ones who are ok with viewing polite as subservient? The men who use “locker room talk?”   I’m afraid I’ll be unemployable soon…I speak my mind too much to work for someone who has a boss.  I need to be my own boss.  Or work from home.  Plus the drive is clearly really inconvenient.

I forget why we studied Absolute Zero. It reminds me of 2001 A Space Odyssey – the absoluteness. The weird music.  Something to do with laws of motion, liquid dynamics. Maybe the possibility of superfluid crystals.  Something happens, something about molecules slowing, lining up?  Is time travel possible at absolute zero?  Or maybe transporters?  Teleportation.  Maybe, being from Phoenix, I liked the idea of ice so cold it stops everything…and an orderly arrangement of molecules.  Order vs. chaos. Scientific god.

I bought a tote that changes colors when it hits daylight.  My nails are tiger eyes.  The nail technician uses a little magnet to pull all the glitter in the polish in one direction.  They sparkle.  Magnetism.   Thanks Carl Sagan. 

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My nails

Absolute zero is like little Madelines, -in an old house in Paris covered with vines,  lived twelve little molecules in two straight lines. 

Things to think about more deeply for me, for future posts:
1)  There are those that live in the castles, and those that build them.
2)  There are people who can kill their own yellow jackets, and there are people who pay for that.
3)  There are those that can afford healthcare, and those who do not have healthcare or vacations.
4)  Women are lugging around a huge historical burden….from Joan of Arc to Amelia Earhart.   From Auntie Em to Auntie Mame.  From Marilyn Monroe to Mother Jones to Mother Teresa.  And all the women with one name. Cher, Madonna, Oprah, Eleanor,
5)  Many women change their surnames.  It’s rare for men.  John Lennon became John Ono Lennon.  There are also men with one name.  Bono. Cash. Rockefeller.  Hemingway.
6)  Things are very different for men and women at adolescence.
7)  Things are also different at menopause.
8)  Ms. Miss, Mrs.  —  men don’t deal with this.
9)  Both men and women WITH children live different lives than men or women WITHOUT children.  (And no everyone shouldn’t have  children. )
10)  It physically hurts for a woman to experience childbirth.  Also the most natural thing:  breastfeeding.   Men have no equivalent.  (and no, not everyone should give birth or even breastfeed.)
I just want to say….there are some pretty big differences happening here.   My experiences, major things in my life are very different from every one I meet.

I am not cooking any eggs.  Can you see her:   Sylvia?  She walks calmly down the sidewalk.  She doesn’t care about anything but the words in her head…the Van Gogh of colors on the distant hills, and the grey of the sidewalk at her feet.   She wakes up alive.  She writes.   But tell me, does she have to be tormented to be Sylvia Plath?  God I hope not.

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I wish I could stave off both outer and inner darkness, especially with winter coming. Nothing is absolute.  And zero, forget about it.  I see things changing.  I see some brightness ahead for women.  It’s just taking a lot of  time.   In the meantime, there are all these stupid appointments.

madeline

Daily Prompt: disobey

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Dark

imagesToday I am dark.  It’s September, my favorite month in Oregon and here I sit, dark.   I am dark even on this pleasant morning, when the weather is warm but cool, and even though today is predicted to hit the triple digits,  I can anticipate that in a few weeks the sideways light won’t erupt into an early autumnal scorcher.  Of course, it’s not quite yet fall. It’s still summer, just the end of it, so the season has  a right to be as hot as it wants. By the calendar we can’t even call it “Indian summer”, a ridiculous term anyway, because Indians didn’t make it hot and they bear no responsibility for heat waves.

I am dark about women, and how willing we still are to be oppressed, raped, dismissed, and told we have no or lesser talent. The New York times doesn’t help.  I read the article about how a taxi driver in El Salvador tells his fare about his expectant wife and how he doesn’t want a girl . “They are trouble” because they get raped and killed in El Salvador.  Now, my friend, how is it that the girl is trouble when that happens? Why isn’t it “I don’t want a boy, they go out and rape and kill people, they’re such trouble?”

Now I know you have a son, and you love him very much, and I am certain he would never do such things. I do not have a son, but I have met my daughters’ male friends and they seem honest, kind, unlikely to assault people, and basically good people. (for the most part). One of them pulled a drowning boy from a lake, just last week. Well done, lad!

Just because most men and boys are basically good people doesn’t answer my fundamental question, though. Why is it that women are blamed for their own assaults, abuses mostly inflicted by men, and the misbehavior of their husbands,sons, fathers, and so on? I knew women who complained bitterly about Hillary and clearly believed that she was “in on it” and didn’t stop Bill because she wanted it that way. Like you can stop someone from sexual adventures. Like you can stop anyone.  On the other hand, I’ve never once have a heard of a woman’s husband being blamed for her “wanton ways”. Have you ever heard “well, he didn’t keep her happy, so …who can blame her?” Nope. Never once.

She’s a whore and a home wrecker. ..but…He was unhappy.  People get mad at him for wandering, sure, but underneath (is it just me? tell the truth) we know it’s the wife’s fault. Sort of. She’s a the victim, the sad Madonna, but ..what did she do? Must have been something. Maybe something she failed to do.

Now here’s the next corollary on this topic, and I’m sad to report it. Last week my (female) boss and one of my colleagues at work, also female, apologized for their math.  One of them feigned ignorance and asserted her own incompetence to get a better explanation, something along the lines of “well, I’m not that bright, so maybe if you’d explain it to me”.  The other apologized for PERFECTLY ACCURATE MATH so as not to offend our (now get this) FEMALE boss in chief.  No men involved! Not a one!  I say this with the aforementioned darkened heart…they have internalized this myth about “it must be my fault”. What the hell?

I yelled at both of them. Not real loud, but I did insist that neither of them would apologize like that again.  Did you really think you didn’t understand the MATH?  I told my boss. That’s correct..you read that right.  I told my direct supervisor to stop fake apologizing immediately.  What, I ask you,  is wrong with saying, wow, I see that differently. My numbers don’t add up that way. I wonder how we’re coming to conflicting conclusions. Do you have to imply that you are somehow not that bright?

I ask you my friend, what are we to do?   There are entire countries where women are forbidden an education, young girls are forced into marriages with dried up old prunes, and many adjust their style of clothing so as not to provoke, upset, stimulate, worry, embarrass, or otherwise impinge on male sensibilities and self control.  What’s worse, I fear that they believe this is for their OWN GOOD and of course, if men are told they just can’t control themselves, in some ways it is for their own good, because who knows what can happen.  The US is no bastion of equality either.  One of my friends at work explained to me that she was the only girl in a family of boys, and was the only one who had to clean up the house, and of course, to clean up after her brothers.  She is younger than I am.  She’s from one of the fine neighborhoods depicted in Hillbilly Elegy, which, by the way, isn’t that great of a book.

I don’t even want to guess what it’s like where you live.

I think we’ve lost ground since the 1980s,  I’m dismayed to say.  I don’t want to wait for this to get better. We each have two daughters.  I do not doubt their intelligence and capability.   I was blinded in some ways by my adventurous mother who told me I could do anything I wanted. I thought there was nothing wrong. I can see more clearly now, so I am more in the dark. I do not blame my mother; she created the confidence I have and not being fully aware of the obstacles, I was able to flourish with less self doubt.  Others are not so lucky.

Here’s a start. For now,  I’m going to insist, each and every time I see it, that women do not apologize for the crimes and misdemeanors of others or imply that they are not capable.  Got any other ideas?

 

 

 

 

 

Spheres

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McMinnville, Oregon August 21, 2017 7:13 am

The sun, the moon, the earth.

The fortieth anniversary of the Voyager Spacecraft launching was eclipsed by, well, the eclipse.  Because our little party of five couldn’t cope with after eclipse traffic out of  the little town of McMinnville, Oregon, we took advantage of the local museum’s invitation to extend our visit after the moon blocked out the sun.  The  Evergreen Air and Space Museum had hosted an early morning coffee, donuts and parking lot event for those who could get to the edge of totality and could spring for a $5 ticket.  As an added bonus, the museum threw over its usual program of events for a free viewing of a program about Voyager I and II, the unmanned probes that managed fly by scannings of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

I cried my way through a lot of a big screen PBS documentary.

I might have been a bit overtired after the 4am departure time for the big event. I had driven my old (now my daughter’s ) ancient minivan, long without working air conditioning, for about an hour and then waited in the dark and early dawn in a car line at the museum parking lot entrance for another hour.  I stared at the sun for about an hour and 15 minutes before it went dark for the extraordinary 56 seconds. Afterwards, I  waited a long time for lunch at a local diner, because there was one heck of a lot of people trying to get some eggs and recover from the  stunning event in the sky.

Maybe I’m just an overtired old lady,  or maybe it was something else.

My parents’ “family room” had a wall of books and several shelves were devoted to copies of National Geographic. It’s hard to imagine now, but those magazines were considered near to gold to our family. They were not to be cut up, drawn in, or thrown away. They had the keys to interesting happenings all over the world, and there were color pictures.  I remember a giant tree that a car could drive through. I remember photos of huge white capped mountains, some of which I live near today.

Most of all, I remember a fold out color diagram of the solar system with a picture of the Voyager Spacecraft and the plan for its launch when I got to High School!!! and the dates it would pass by each planet. I looked at each date and I marveled at how old I would be when it got to each planet. I read about the golden record that was meant as a message to aliens. I wondered if I might be living on the moon, or at least have visited, by the time I was…what? 47?  Would I even live that long?  Would the aliens have found the record by the time I was that old?

Even at age 8 or 9, I thought the alien contacts perhaps a remote possibility.  I was a sensible kid.  A trip to the moon, well, maybe not so hard.  That certainly was possible. Perhaps on Pan Am.

Getting older in some ways is about getting more realistic. Since Voyager, by all accounts an astounding success (we are still receiving signals, and both vessels have left the solar system) we had the tragedy of two space shuttle accidents , more glories with the Martian Rover and some failed efforts with travel to the Red Planet as well.  As a younger person, I expected progress to be linear. Line em up, get it done.  If you can get to the moon, off we go to Mars. No unexpected explosions.  Science rules.

I  fully expected a Mars colony by now. Apparently not so simple.  Mars, as it turns out, is pretty far away, and there’s no air. Weird stuff happens to living beings when you stick them out in a small space capsule for a long time. Building materials are expensive to transport.  People are adapted to life on, well, Earth.

On top of all that they demoted Pluto.

I really do wish in some ways I could have been an astronaut, but my applied math skills are solidly above average and not outstanding. I tend to get motion sick and my eyes were out of focus by first grade. So, physiology and inclination led me in other directions.  I have had to come to terms with my limited contribution to human progress, and I’m not sure I’ve done much at all. I envy those space engineers who know, beyond a doubt, that they have contributed something extraordinary with the design and execution of Voyager.

So human beings are limited, and somewhat disappointing, and life is wondrous and disappointing and  and we occupy the tiniest bit of space and time, and it’s what we’ve got, and the eclipse, with its unexpected changes in the weather and the wind, along with the eery absence of daylight, was both shocking and awe inspiring.  Carl Sagan’s voice ( I smiled, I hadn’t heard it for years) in the movie, with  his signature “billions and billions of stars in the universe” and his eloquent description of the how the earth looks from Neptune, a tiny, tiny blue dot, with “everyone who you know, and ever knew, and everyone who ever lived” is on that dot, and how that dot  is barely visible from one of our nearest planetary neighbors, and how it is easily mistaken for a speck of dust on a photographic print.  Dr. Sagan’s voice is  clear, and in the movies I remember my childhood, and am aware that just hours before,  I watched a full horizon twilight, and watched the sun go out, and looked at my daughter’s face, and the faces of her friends, and knew that we take life, with all its limitations, and something as basic as the sun, and its satellite, the moon, for granted.

 

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McMinnville, Oregon August 21, 2017 about 10:18 am.  The sun.th

Dr. Carl Sagan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sb4WhNvLRFw  The Pale Blue Dot

 

Glass Spheres

“… The lunatic is on the grass./ The lunatic is on the grass./ Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs./ Got to keep the loonies on the path.” – Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon

No one from my office had a camera.  We looked around at each other and the human spectacle.  We looked at our feet on the sidewalk…we made small talk.  The sky was blue, and there wasn’t much wind.  Someone had a welder’s mask, like a ritual mask from a different time.

I was expecting an alien invasion with Independence Day destruction.  What else could there be, with tiny bright crescents in the tree shadows, the spiders taking down their webs, birds falling from the sky, mosquitoes believing in their blood dusk, the confusion of wandering herds, distant crop circles bringing in the day? 

An acquaintance of mine, a famous writer from some invaded place with trilled “rrrr”’s and Klingon sounding words… said that as children they would stain pieces of glass with smoke and soot by holding them over a candle….and watch an eclipse that way. 

We escaped the office, hundreds of us, to watch the shadow of the moon.  A group of strangers trading vision, a way to get outside, something different in the daily routine.  No camera to trap the images in paper, no souvenir to save.  Memory a useless thing. I saw the crescent of sun behind dark glasses.   No totality of darkness, just a moment of cold and soft light.  

The gathering of the tribe to watch the Sun…the immediacy of that moment…from the office to the meadow.  All of us….no bell sounded, we all journeyed out.  People who are looking at the world as if they’re not a part of it.  You’ve written about life seen from behind glass, the homeless people seen in the park from a skyscraper window, the sculpture of an Indian – a spirit locked in a museum, the perfect workers behind the boxes of one building, held inside the window of another.  Workers encrusted in the language of glass.  

It’s a point of view I understand, the outsider, the alien,  such a word with its many connotations… foreign, an immigrant, an outsider, an original, an emoticon, a stranger in a strange land.  It’s easy to feel alienated, disconnected, disenfranchised.  We’re riding a merry-go-round, travelers in a circle that seemingly isn’t going anywhere.  Time draws a straight line through it.  We look through a glass, darkly.  Not part of the culture of the office, not part of the people in the park….we live in our little boxes, on the hillside, with our ticky-tacky lives, seeking Melvina Reynolds songs to give us courage. 

It’s an interesting thought: we travel from screen to screen.  Maybe window to window, like a woman locked in a tower before she goes mad.   Glass screen to glass…the world filtered away, or focused into parts and realities we can choose and  can bear and carry.  Such a different reality from that of a man in a teepee, or a sod hut, a Hogan or yurt, or that of say, a woman in a cabin.  Their world being what they can see from the flap of a tent, or a nice knotty-pine porch.  The first people named the grasses and the constellations and the animals and the trees.  The wildflowers.  I feel like we can’t see the stars anymore…somehow we’re looking into the ground, into our own graves.

You reminded me of things behind glass…zoo animals, the butterflies of Nabokov,  pastries in Paris, or Lenin in his glass coffin…we’ve purchased tickets and are lined-up to visit.  A gruesome show to put a body behind glass.  Must stay away from glass boxes and go where the ragged people go.  Throw away the ticket stub.  And yet, how beautiful glass can be.  The altering of light.  Again I wish to alter time, to be with you when the sun went dark!   I could’ve, but so many plans I didn’t make.

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“Seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him, Or as flying in an airplane does to falling out of an airplane.”   –Annie Dillard 

Martian snow and diamond rain.  The words themselves a beautiful combination. 

“..let the sunshine, let the sunshine in…”  – Age of Aquarius, Hair

We are eclipsed by our faults, we can’t achieve the focus or experience of a lifetime now, too late.  Ironic now that we understand that the best way to make a difference is to focus on just one thing.  Jane Goodall always outdid us all.  And Yo-Yo Ma.  But how can a person not want to study everything, every single thing?  The best things I know are the names of wildflowers….but of course there is the accompanying image.  Useless information really.  It’s necessary to eat, and to take care of our own health and welfare.   On the grand scale, the focus of our society should be on human being’s health and welfare, and how obviously our madness has no bounds.  That is to say, mental health care should be of primary concern….

Middle English lunatik, from Anglo-French or Late Latin; Anglo-French lunatic, from Late Latin lunaticus, from Latin luna; from the belief that lunacy fluctuated with the phases of the moon.

Our leaders talk in circles and we watch them from our tiny screens.   The shadow of the moon traveling across the U.S. at 18,000 mph, hits quickly, making history and destroying history….because it replaces the past experience of men…how did Orwell carry such truth in his human brain?   How quickly the past seems to change.  But to willfully destroy it?  Alright, try to control what is evil then…. but make a museum of misfortune, a tribute to tolerance, down the stairs, to the left, a padded room for screams of injustice.  To take down a statue is just giving evil a chance to pop up elsewhere, in camouflage.   The focus of the public eye changes so quickly, from flashing image to image…a montage of quick cuts…from healthcare to Korea, to Russia, to scandal and back….it’s a merry-go-round, but not merry.   Human history at the speed of light.

This is a world I feel unfamiliar with.  A world it’s difficult to look at directly.  But I think the glass is sterile and unreal.  I have had some success looking at the bright glimpses in the shadows.   If nothing else we can enjoy the teaspoons of Moon.

We walked through corridors and elevators and found ourselves outside.  Some sat on granite picnic benches and some gathered near trees.  And there we were, as people from centuries before, gathering to look up together at the sky.

 

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http://www.wnyc.org/story/annie-dillards-total-eclipse

Daily prompt, no corners

Visceral

j

Glass as Dark Matter

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I’m sitting on a train, moving rather slowly, then stopping.

Yesterday was business, busy-ness. A multicultural quorum links up in a glass enclosed, grey walled conference room with views of the next building. There’s a coffee robot programmed to autocoffee everyone and twenty somethings sitting in smaller glass boxes, together in body but not in spirit, eyes down on the screens. They are quite beautiful, in a perfectly science-fictiony sort of way. One of them sits with the elder brain trust hive-mind, her braided hair piled high on her head, precisely speaking in her workforce jargon. Clear skin smart and tailored, she really can recite the language. I think of a seven year old piano player I heard play once, a technically amazing child and his piano, not old enough for any musical feeling.

I want to tickle the twenty something assistant and ask her if she’d ever spilled anything. Or if she’s afraid to. She’s too sweet or too perfect to deliberately fluster, although I consider it, a rather unprofessional thought.

Outside, also science-fictiony, the city swelters at 95 degrees. The brain trust and the coffee robot are safe and cool and intellectually elevated, but the homeless people, in the park, hide in sweatshirts that are way too warm. I saw them when I walked to the cool office on the fourth floor. I’m sure there were heat related deaths as we met and thought and latted in the glass box. If I am right, it was the park folks that overheated, and that information won’t make the news.  On screen news is for the senator, the rock star, and the ex football star, the people who are welcomed into glass offices. I was tempted to talk with the park dwellers, how did they end up living in a park? I didn’t. The park people are time travelers and their stories may not correspond to my lines and boxes; I feel I’m a slave to a clock on a phone. I worry about being late.

I answer my own questions about them with well known theories about how people end up in parks and under bridges.

There’s trash on the edges of the train tracks, and the shattered glass glints and shines and looks a mess. It’s mixed with paper and plastic, waylaid on the route to recycling.

After my glass box time, I head to the museum. The poor we have always had with us, suggests the  exhibition. Here is a portrait of an industrialist who built roads and bridges and fed the hungry and exploited the workers and stole the land. Here’s an Indian who was hated and hunted in life and now his effigy lays carved in static elegant white marble, not worrisome in death, in fact, he can now go into glass offices if we could hoist him up there, but he’s rather heavy now and so he stays where he is. In life he would have broken the glass windows and showed up half naked in animal skins, a presentation now boxed into video pornography, pretend wildness purchasable with plastic. He is running right out of the woods, not just on a screen for someone’s sexual exploitation or carved still for some post mortem admiration, but for his own purposes.

And he runs into the city park, right under the windows on the fourth floor, where the brain trust tries to figure out what to do with him.  Again.20170720_171419

Properties of Energy

 

 

I write to you tonight because I’m thinking about energy.  The energy of my young daughter planning her wedding….the idea we’ve been bouncing back and forth of creating a beautiful party.   She wants teacups full of flowers, fairy lights, and fountains, a lace dress, a garden space, something outside….. and maybe some gypsy music, which makes my heart so happy I could dance a gypsy dance. With scarves.   We just got back from Boulder, so we’ve been in the car for a few hours today, and I’m feeling my age.

I remember your wedding and mine, the endless expensive champagne at yours, the rain and the tent at mine, no Chandon, but quirky and lovely….and I wish you were there!  I’m overwhelmed.  I want her to have expensive champagne!  We were so young. How did I plan a wedding?  It was quite beautiful to my memory. That’s what love will do….  And it is sad to have memory touched with what was broken, but that –that is life, always the imperfection….I suppose. That’s what makes our species survive, our imperfection. The flaws in our genes.

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Our genes were lucky.  We were so lucky, with great moms and family, and like a lady from “the handmaid’s tale,” I keep getting caught a little in that past.  Better to think of the beautiful things from my youth and my young marriage.   Of trout streams and walking in wildflowers, the land where I knew their names…the wild geranium, desert bluebells, the asters, Indian paintbrush, skyrockets. I wanted to be married there, by the little Colorado.  Still, my Iowa City wedding was amazing – cake and mismatched china, the car decorated and dragging cans, and we were so in love.

It’s good to have those memories…the ones time hasn’t tarnished like old silver or corroded like a rusty old truck where the photographer’s capture the bride in a posed moment that never really happened at these crazy expensive wedding venues.  (We looked at several and received the full sales pitch.)   I didn’t get married in a church– but outside, which is pretty much my church….so that is holy, no?  I have never wanted to be a smother-mother, a control freak…so maybe I’ve done my kids a disservice by not letting them rebel so much against me.  But I want this to be all hers.   It is so nice to see her happiness and thoughts and that she’ll share them with me.

Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea. – Dylan Thomas

I want to capture something of what you wrote, about starlight, about beauty and witness.  I am not sure there is time to put it all down, or to make my own dreams happen. Strangely, a friend of mine texted me in the middle of the night and he asked me what I feared.  I told him that I am not afraid of anything–maybe morbid things and stupid things.  I meant it….but when I think about it more deeply, the truth I think is that time is now what scares me.  Will I have my cabin in the woods before I am too old to want to live in it?   It makes me a little teary though, to see how beautiful it is to be young on a weary day.

Again, maybe it’s a pep-talk, or just an observation, but as far as I know we live this once. I’m putting up the fairy lights in the backyard.  Counting blessings.  I noticed something is going on with you and wild birds?

I anxiously wait for your response.  It is much easier not to do things alone.  Or at least to have someone out there who will laugh with you, and maybe help you plan for a party.

j

Daily prompt

Momentum

Sometimes when your life is going a certain direction, you put on the brakes but keep sliding.

The momentum of things, bad things, hardness, rigid people, tail-gaters, dead deer in the road, ex-husband wants money for trip to France,  no time, sick pets, bills, commitments, dinner, laundry, dishes, broken appliances, trees down in a storm,, stress. Stress. Stress!  Stuck in stress, continuing to slide.  Friction everywhere, but I’m still sliding.

Stuck in my rut…but still going.  If one is stuck, it should be in happiness, in joy, in music, laughter, wildflowers, watercolors, lightning and hard rain, bonfires and red wine.

This morning, suddenly, for the first time in weeks I woke up optimistic.

I woke up realizing I’d been trying hard to put on the brakes, but sparks have been flying, there’s friction, there’s forces of opposition. I’ve been lamenting my job, my lack of time, even the stuckness itself.  Looking back at the past instead of the future. o_parker-stevenson-shaun-cassidy-signed-the-hardy-boys-b76b

“I used to a lot. I used to go dancing.” — Parker Stevenson

I watched East of Eden last night w
ith my daughter. You know, with James Dean? I asked her to rewind one scene- the scene where his character, Cal, asks his mother for money and she 8f179c37411e2d0f1ba9fb67235d35bewrites him a check….because when she hands it to him…he doesn’t just take it. He hesitates, he brings up two fingers, hesitates again and he takes it delicately, scissoring it gently with two fingers, and twirling it into his possession. It lasts less than a second, maybe two. I said, “Wow, rewind that.” It was an amazing moment for me, to see his intention, to see how deeply he had thought about his character, or maybe his just natural gift of understanding that shy, troubled kid he portrays. It’s Art, watching James Dean is watching an artist, and kind of a cool thing to re-watch with one’s daughter.

I love Art. I adore Art, I think without Art and without conscience, what is the point!? Art is an expression of truth! I love language, and music. Truth and Beauty like Keats. Which maybe explains why I have so much trouble figuring out how I fit into this culture we live in. That’s what’s made me stuck. I also had an idea yesterday, that maybe when the kids are grown, I’ll try to be a professor somewhere, to teach poetry again. Because there are things that matter, and one shouldn’t be stuck.

“I think about myself as like an ocean liner that’s been going full speed for a long distance, and the captain pulls the throttle back all the way to ‘stop,’ but the ship doesn’t stop immediately, does it? It has its own momentum and it keeps on going, and I’m very flattered that people are still finding me useful.” –Leonard Nimoy

Many, many things to look forward to. Unstuck….. in space and time.

Daily Post

j

Splitting the Adam and the Eve

Splitting the atom unleashed a power that the world had never known. Taking a thing into halves that craves to be whole has consequences.  Energy explodes outwards, leaving radioactivity in its wake, the leftovers of the whole split into parts.  This energy could have been understood and harnessed, but there was a war, so it became a weapon.

Splitting is also a term used in psychology, essentially describing the tendency of young children, and immature adults, to split the nature of others into “good” and “bad”. Maturity is marked by the ability to understand that all people have the capacity for both great compassion and great aggression and harm towards others. Understanding that capacity in yourself and others deepens empathy for how others might experience their lives.

Early in my career, I thought that “splitting” in  adults was rare, something for the mentally ill or underdeveloped.  Those people all had official psychiatric diagnoses. Most people grew past that, I thought. People who couldn’t see others except as all good and all bad were living the lives of children. They got stuck in time because of abusive parents. That was probably it.

Now I think splitting is  a fundamental feature of stunted growth in America.

In November, over forty percent of college educated women voted for a man who bragged about molesting women, grabbing them and leering toward them to assert his dominance over them. How possibly could his publicly admitted and even bragged about behavior be accepted by these women?  If you are not female, perhaps his behavior could be ignored or minimized. As you point out, the experience of women can only be experienced in imagination by men.  And frankly, I think most men would rather not think about it. But women? Some of whom, and perhaps many or most, have had to deal with unwanted sexual advances, even rape?  They voted for him?

There must be some splitting going on here. One side says “strong dominant man with conservative values, who will fight for us and keep us safe”. The other side says  “crass and crude, at the worst, a rapist”. These two extremes are not reconcilable. There is a split. You have to pick one, because that noble man cannot be a rapist.

Apparently, many women chose to see the “strong dominant man who will fight for us and keep us safe”.

I know a very kind and intelligent woman who works at the same company  I do.  Very little is publicly acknowledged, but most everyone understands that she keeps the clinic where she works operational..financially, technically, and organizationally.  Like many women, she works hard, she is largely unnoticed, and she accepts this with a combination of resignation, humor, and a degree of martyrdom. Yet one day she told me, in a frank discussion about the election, that a man is better to lead. I was utterly bewildered.   I said clearly to her that I believed that she was running the show in her current position, so how is it that men are better? She agreed she was doing the work,  but she felt that she was just waiting for the right leader, a man, to show up. She even agreed that it was alright for me to lead, but it wasn’t for her.

She is waiting for that strong dominant male to fight for her and keep her safe, and perhaps, less grandly, simply relieve some of her workload.

I so much want to put my hand on her shoulder and tell her,  “you know, my dear, he’s not coming”. And ..”you have everything you need already”. But instead this lovely women waits.

I cannot wait for that noble man, my friend, and I know that you can’t either. It hasn’t a thing to do with hating men; it has everything to do with what women can do if they accept their own intelligence, athleticism, artistic talent, and many other qualities, and create their own stories.  When we don’t speak out against the splitting, when our need to be saved by the hero is so severe that we ignore the abhorrent and endorse the leadership of someone who looks half the part, then we are in trouble. We then cast ourselves as the weak princess in the castle, the little girl never grown.  We tell our sons that the hypermasculine is the ideal, and that the women they love will never equal them, that men alone receive both the glories and the burdens of leadership.

We split the Eve as well as the Adam. We teach both that an equal partnership based on mutual love and the best development of both partners is impossible. Each is reduced to half of what could be.

As always, I want to say something about physics.  Last weekend I saw the movie Hidden Figures, about the profound contributions of three African American women to the space program. I enjoyed the story very much, but what deeply distresses me is that I am now 53 years old, and I never knew about these three women-all  deeply intelligent; one likely a mathematical genius.  Without them, and especially Katherine Johnson, it’s unlikely John Glenn would have succeeded in his first orbital journey.

When I sat down to write about splitting, and thought about physics, and splitting the atom, a tiny bit of Wikipedia research revealed another gap in my knowledge.  I did not know that  a woman named Lise Meitner, a physicist of unbelievable stature, had a key role in developing nuclear fission.  Her history includes a journey to escape Nazi Germany, because as a Jew, she couldn’t continue in her post as the head of the physics department at Kaiser Wilhelm Institute.  Later, she refused to participate in the development of the bomb that devastated Japan, although she co authored the paper that explained the theoretical underpinnings of nuclear fission.  The science was not meant for war, in her view.

Naturally, she was denied the Nobel Prize in chemistry. The prize went to her male coauthor, blah blah blah.

Not really a shocker.

But what if that perception of those women had been different?  What if they had been treated as equals, not as just women, or just blacks, or just a Jew, what energy would have been released? What if  Dr. Meitner had received the Nobel Prize, been recognized as a fully fledged scientist, and an advocate for peace… and what energy would have been released if Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson had been recognized for their contributions at NASA?

I think as a young woman interested in the space program, I would have felt that energy.  The energy of a fused self, all aspects together. Fusion over fission.

I bet a lot of other people, men and women, would have felt it too.

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Dr. Lise Meitner

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