Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Hodgepodge 94/365 - Poetry (e. e. cummings)

It's time for a poem. How about this one, by e. e. cummings, which I once made into a sweet little animation using Flash (it was for a class). I still have it, as an .swf file, but I don't know how to share it, sadly. I enjoyed making my little love letter: it involved words flying onto the screen, and for the "place of love" I used an old map of Paris. Seemed appropriate.

David also wrote a vocal work that featured this poem, which you can listen to here.

love is a place

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skillfully curled)
all worlds

Monday, January 30, 2017

Hodgepodge 93/365 - Writing in the Age of Trump

I feel like calling my Members of Congress is not enough, but I'm hard-pressed to know what else to do. My friend Kim just  participated in a weekend conference with Barry Lopez, who apparently gave some courage on how to weather this disaster as a writer. I don't know what he said, but that made me wonder what others have said (or written) on this topic. Here are some resources that my writer friends might want to check out. I'll try to add to it as I stumble on new references.

Aleksandar Hemon, "Stop Making Sense, or How to Write in the Age of Trump," Village Voice, Jan. 17, 2017. ["To write in and of America, we must be ready to lose everything, to recognize we never had any of it in the first place, to abandon hope and embrace struggle, to fight in the streets and in our sentences. It will not be even close to comfortable."]

Paul Stoller, "Writing Resistance in the Age of Trump," Huffington Post, Jan. 25, 2017. [Ethnography: telling real people's real stories.]

Laura Stampler, "13 YA Authors on Writing in the Age of Trump," Los Angeles Times, Nov. 9, 2016. [A reminder that this administration's trashing of our country will only affect me so long. The young people, though: I hope they learn to stand up and speak out for what is right and just.]

Literary Hub, "The Beginning or the End? Writers on the Age of Trump," LH, Nov. 7, 2016.

Gabrielle Bellot, "Queer Writers in the Age of Trump," Atlantic, Nov. 18, 2016.

Lara Zarum, "Advice for Journalists in the Age of Trump: 10 Helpful Primers," Flavorwire, Dec. 1, 2016. 

Jeremy L. Caradonna, "How to Talk about Climate Change in the Age of Trump," Resilience, Nov. 22, 2016.

Amory Silvertson, "Dear Sugar Radio Live: The Writers Resist, Part 1," WBUR, Jan. 20, 2017.

Maddie Crum, "What It Means to Be a Writer in the Time of Trump: 18 Authors Weigh in on Their New Responsibilities," Huffington Post, Nov. 18, 2016.

Cody Delistraty, "We Have to Resist: A Conversation with Rebecca Solnit," Dec. 22, 2016.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hodgepodge 92/365 - Indivisible 831

Today seventeen of us, both old friends and, as of today, new, met at our house to talk about how to take on Trump. It's the Indivisible project, based on an action guide put together by some congressional staffers outlining Tea Party tactics.

Here are our action items after a two-hour discussion:
  • call MoC (members of Congress) re Betsy DeVos nomination and lean on them to speak with voting GOP committee members
  • Jeff Sessions will be voted on by the Senate Judiciary Committee 1/31: I’ve seen instructions to tweet the committee expressing your disapproval (@SenJudiciary). Probably won’t help, but can’t hurt.
  • stay on top of Supreme Court nomination (to be announced Thursday 2/2)
  • postcard writing party
  • Laura: contact Howard Berkes, rural affairs correspondent for NPR (getting NPR to more places)
  • adopt a red NPR station
  • support swing counties via swingleft.org (our nearest: District 10, Fresno)
  • call Panetta and urge him to have townhall meetings as frequently as possible so WE can stay connected both to DC and to local issues
  • attend other Indivisible meetings: 1/31 at 1364 Fremont Ave, Seaside and 2/13, both in Monterey—will let you know when I know where and when—and in Santa Cruz
  • learn more about Monterey County Sheriff and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and what that might mean for Salinas as a sanctuary city
  • learn more about Salinas as sanctuary city and Monterey as a sanctuary county; identify leadership
  • nonviolent protest training (Kate—possibly through www.whitesforracialequity.org, a local group examining racism)
  • consider a monthly donation to the ACLU if you can afford it: they are going to have their hands full
  • CALL, CALL, CALL! Even those of us who hate the phone! (It gets easier.) The 5calls.org website provides scripts. If you leave a voicemail, also send an email (per instructions in the Indivisible Guide).
  • Keep your ears and eyes open for ways to link up with other groups
  • If you hear of any actions (sit-ins, marches), send them to the group. But let’s try to keep email traffic down...
And just now, thanks to David sputtering in the other room, I've gotten incensed about Steve Bannon becoming King of National Security—with no authority whatsoever. It's beyond unbelievable.

But I am heartened to have a small community now, which may grow into something, or maybe we'll all head into different Indivisible groups (there are plenty of them springing up). A few of us are attending another Indivisible meeting on Tuesday, and again on the 13th. And whoever wants to come to our next meeting on the 26th . . . we'll be here for them. In the meantime, I think I need to send out at least a weekly "reminder that we're angry and active" email. Keep the fires lit.

It is good to feel solidarity. I hope it lasts. I hope it makes a difference.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Hodgepodge 91/365 - Holocaust Remembrance Day

I remember vividly the first (and only) time I saw a concentration camp identification tattoo on a person's forearm: it was in a fabric store on University Avenue in San Diego, 1979. A lovely older woman helping me to choose material for curtains. The sight sent a bolt of lightning through my body. Never again.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Hodgepodge 90/365 - Green Gulch Farm Zen Center

Earlier this month I posted some photos of Tassajara Zen Center and Mt. Madonna Center, "Spiritual Places of Refuge." Today I'll finish up that series with photos of Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, like Tassajara run by the San Francisco Zen Center. It supplies organic produce to the award-winning Greens restaurant in San Francisco (also founded, in 1989, by SFZC). I've been to Green Gulch several times, a couple of times for workshops, once just to enjoy the quiet beauty of the grounds and buildings (which I wrote about here and here). That reminds me: maybe it's time to look at the schedule and see if there isn't an upcoming workshop that might inspire a return visit.

I have only seven photos from Green Gulch in my Flickr archive, which surprises me. But then, I haven't been using Flickr much lately. Which is a shame: it's an excellent place to store photos. I should get back in the habit.

Well, here they are, a couple with captions:

July 11, 2009: I've only been to Green Gulch once before, but then,
too, I was struck by the beauty of stillness, and of the life force.
Today was spent in a workshop called Yoga Body, Zen Mind,
combining yoga practice and zazen. After the workshop
Annie and I walked to the beach, through the farm.
All along the way are little shrines, benches to sit on, and rows and rows
of growing things—some of which (kale, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage) we ate
at our meals. This statue of Guanyin is in a potting shed—the center of
industry at Green Gulch Farm, it would seem.
Someone had placed a broken robin's egg in her hands.

Alcove in a potting shed (see detail above)

 This is the bell that calls the Green Gulch community to zazen each day
—many times a day, starting at 5 a.m. I sat this morning (once, at 9:25),
and after two short sits yesterday, it was relatively easy. Of course, my mind
was everywhere, and I wasn't working too hard at corralling it back in—
but that's okay. Some days are like that. It was just lovely to sit in a large,
beautiful, wood-and-stucco room of breathing, intention-filled people,
giving our energy and focusand loving-kindness to ourselves
and the world. And afterward, to hear Tenshin Reb Anderson
expound on . . . the tango (a.k.a., the dance with the
dependent co-arising of the world).

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hodgepodge 89/365 - Photo Projects

I have for years now had a couple of semi-ambitious photo projects in mind. One of them I've done some preliminary legwork on—I think I've written about it here. Let me check. Yes: #190 of my first blog-a-day madness: the Moss Landing power plant.

The other one involves taking photos at the borders of Monterey County—wherever I can find access: by road, by trail, by whatever means.

So far, I've got four photos logged. Here they are, all from the same place: somewhere on Old Stage Road out of Salinas heading north. 

Paltry. I need to get to work!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Hodgepodge 88/365 - Winnie-the-Pooh

Because I'm feeling lazy. And because this is pretty much always true.

Though it does come in this variant—which on the rare occasion, when I haven't had enough to eat and we've walked too far and I'm feeling super cranky, rings equally true:

Ah, memes. (And as is so typical of memes, both of these meme-creators could have been a bit more fastidious with their punctuation. Grr.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Hodgepodge 87/365 - Fired Up

I've never been political. I've read the news ("liberal rags," of course: my hometown Los Angeles Times, and more lately the New York Times and Washington Post); I've had my mild opinions; I marched in an anti-war rally once, when Bush was about to strike in Iraq. (I was too young for the Vietnam protests.)

Now is different. Now requires action. And I find myself, surprised, stepping up to the plate. Today, for example, I wrote letters to the president and members of Congress stating my concerns about the ACA and Medicare. Yes, I've heard that phone calls are most effective, but it helps me to put my thoughts down in writing. Maybe I'll make those phone calls tomorrow. One step at a time.

I am also considering getting to know, on a personal level, our newly elected representative, Jimmy Panetta. If his opponent, Casey Lucius, had won the race, you can bet I'd be wanting to get to know her, and let her know what I believe. I may think Jimmy is on my side, but I need to make him know that I'm serious about what that means. Over and over.

One problem with living in California is, our votes don't count. The electoral college has said so.

But a good thing about living in California is the likes of this: Governor Brown's State of the State address (1/24). He takes on facts; he embraces people's needs; he is for a healthy environment, as well as progress—integrated. We don't need to destroy one to have the other. And he is against Trump. I am with him on all that.

Call me an elite liberal, go ahead. If you'd like to engage me in conversation, please do. Though I have to say, I'm learning all the time. I'm reading, and trying to position my thoughts. I'm aligning my priorities (science, the environment, human rights, health care, and more). I am happy to listen to alternative viewpoints (but not, thank you very much, to "alternate facts"). I want to discuss.  I do. So long as you do too. I don't want to butt heads. I want to share visions of the best that we can be—as a nation, as citizen of the Earth.

At the age of sixty-two, I find myself, perhaps for the first time, called to really—actively— care about this country. In a far-flung sense. Not me in this country. But the vision of this place, the hope, the promise, the inclusiveness. Not just living here, passively enjoying the benefits of these United States; but passionately fighting for all that the Founders envisioned: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Inalienable rights, no matter who you are.

As long, that is, as your interests don't revolve solely around the almighty dollar. There, we must draw the line. The Founders didn't care about money. Or sure, they cared about money. But they cared about that other stuff a whole helluva lot more. That, I believe.

Hodgepodge 86/365 - Airport Music (1/23)

The irony of piped-in music: This afternoon, sitting in EWR (Newark International) awaiting our delayed rebooked flight, after having missed our scheduled flight due to bad weather out of Dulles, the terminal speakers have been offering up such chestnuts as "Dock of the Bay" (taunting us as to our final, yet oh so elusive, destination, San Francisco), "Life in the Fast Lane" (as we sit patiently, hoping the aircraft will indeed arrive, as promised), "Feel Like Makin' Love" (not so much, no, not at the moment), "Set Me Free, Why Don't You Babe" (I'm directing that song in my mind at EWR personally), and right now, "Stayin' Alive" (I've always enjoyed the opening sequence of Saturday Night Live ☟). Fortunately, we just saw a wave of passengers stream out the door of Gate C82, so apparently the aircraft has arrived. Things are looking good! Ah, and now: "Hard Day's Night."

At least the music is good. And it's kind of a fun exercise to test its appropriateness to the current situation.

Final song, waiting in line to board: "10th Avenue Freeze-Out." Anything by the Boss is appropriate to our current situation (I mean that existentially). I couldn't help but dance.

(We finally got home at 2 a.m., only six hours late. Could've been worse. The music sure helped.)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Hodgepodge 85/365 - Abraham Lincoln

Today we were able to go up into the Lincoln Memorial. As always, it shook me. The monumental statue; the wise face, looking noble, solemn; and today: the words. The Gettysburg Address, of course. But I'd forgotten that on the northern wall is his second inaugural address. Which was all the more heart-rending because of the inaugural speech that occurred the day before yesterday. (I won't even dignify it with the word address, since to my mind it felt more like a stump speech—still!—directed not at the nation as a whole but at the 24 percent.)

So I thought I'd post that address here. Notice that the term carnage, or anything close, did not appear in this oration, despite the fact that Lincoln spoke these words just as the Civil War was drawing to a close. Neither did he gloat or rejoice. His words were heavy with sadness, and with recognition of the unmistakable evil of slavery. It is a staggering, beautiful speech. Mr. Trump would do well to walk up there and read it, slowly, carefully—and then head over to the nearby Martin Luther King Jr. memorial and read those walls (shorter, easier—could easily be tweets). Oh, but right: he doesn't read, not for serious content, just to find out if he's popular. It's beyond "sad."


At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully.

The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Hodgepodge 84/365 - Women's March on Washington

Today was the long-awaited day, and it did not disappoint. First we had to wait as packed train after packed train (all filled with pink) arrived at the Metro station. I finally said, what the hell, and stepped on. None of my group followed me. So there I was, on my way—hoping I'd find my people again. Our plan was to meet at L'Enfant Plaza, near the start of the march, but then the driver announced that that and the next station were being bypassed: no room for more people. So I got off at the Smithsonian and started walking. When I arrived at the entrance to the Hirshhorn, the crowd was starting to back up (that's about five blocks from the rally stage), so I figured it was a good place to stop—and my friends would know where to find me.

And they did! (Okay, a text message helped. And yesterday's visit to the Hirshhorn came in awfully handy by way of bearings.)

And so the long day began. I won't go into details (some of those I can post in photos, though I didn't take many—for reasons not worth going into here). But it was great to see so many positive, creative signs covering so many issues; to witness the unifying sea of pink pussyhats; to hear longtime heroes Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis, in person (omg!); and it gave a good reason to YELL a lot, and CHEER, and enjoy righteous anger and fierce resistance en masse. My favorite slogans were the call-and-response, Tell me what democracy looks like? THIS is what democracy looks like! And Trump, Trump, we're here to stay! How are you liking your first day? And oh—just that moving sea of humanity! We are the people! We care about our country, our countrywomen, countrymen. We will not be silent or silenced!

Here's a couple of photos from the New York Times. I didn't even realize until I saw the lower one that the Mall was full of people too. We were on Independence Avenue, which itself was packed. So, wow! I'm eager to learn how many they estimate were there. More than at the inauguration, without a doubt. No matter what DJT might say about the issue.

THIS is what democracy looks like!

And at the end of the day, the Metro people just opening up the gates for free rides, and the security shouting, "Thank you, ladies!" as we poured down the escalator onto the platform. Our efforts were widely appreciated. And my pink hat (thanks to Kim Steutermann Rogers) is now a badge of honor. For sure! I will wear it often and proudly.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Hodgepodge 83/365 - Washington, D.C. II (Hirshhorn Art Gallery)

We braved the Mall around 11, shortly before the noon inauguration. As we emerged from the Metro we saw a long line to get onto the Mall, but we sidestepped that, went down a block or two, and . . . no line, no problem. We bypassed a few LOVE JESUS/REPENT protesters with huge signs, one small protest with a series of vicious signs (BLM hatred, social welfare hatred, PBS hatred, etc.), and soon we found ourselves in front of the Hirshhorn. Just as the first words of the inaugural speech were wafting through the air. I couldn't really hear (and tried not to), though the word yuge did seep into my consciousness. Clearly, it was museum time.

Inside, my daypack was searched, no problem, and then we were faced with a beautiful exhibition of orchids. And it felt like a sanctuary. Downstairs, Barbara Kruger and some animated art; upstairs, an installation of obsessive line art (which I loved); and up from that, an exhibit called World Time Clock and some pieces from the permanent collection. It was a great way to spend a couple of hours. Here are some photos from this part of the day (with artist/title info where I remembered to get it). (As always, click on the photos to see them large on black.)

Barbara Kruger, Belief + Doubt = Sanity
Our View from Here by Linn Meyers (below: close-up)

Jean-Paul Riopelle, Large Triptych

Bettina Pouttschi, World Time Clock
(Asuncion, Dubai, Cape Town)

Reynier Leyva Novo, The Weight of History: 5 Nights
On the left: Hitler's Mein Kampf
Jannis Kounellis, Untitled
Alexander Calder, Fish

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Hodgepodge 82/365 - Washington, D.C. (Arlington Cemetery and the Mall)

Visited Arlington Cemetery this morning: I'd never been there before, and it was beautiful. All the graves—and there are a lot of them—were decorated with wreaths (still from Christmas?). We headed up to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for the changing of the guard—which, for me, was curiously unmoving. A lot of clicking of patent-leather boots and manhandling of rifles and yelling, and a very careful inspection of the incoming guard: as if the sergeant-at-arms was looking for a stray mote of dust on the soldier's gloves. What did move me was the beautiful playing of taps (as wreaths were presented by high school students, twice) and seeing all the servicemen at the bottom of the hill in their camo stand at attention.

On our way to find John F. Kennedy's grave we stumbled on Arlington House, the home of Robert E. Lee—actually his wife's house, inherited from her great-grandmother, Martha Washington and her first husband, Mr. Custis. I did not know that connection. We got a private tour of the basement, with its beautiful big kitchen, and the upstairs bedrooms (the Lees had seven children: it must have been quite the busy household).

Arlington House is at the top of the hill and was the oldest part of the cemetery. It was the center of the Lee plantation. And the view is spectacular! Here are a few photos from the morning (click on them to see them large):

The broad street on the left is the Arlington
Bridge, leading to the Lincoln Memorial.
We had planned to walk across it into
Washington, but it was closed to all traffic
because of a concert celebrating the inauguration.
The Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial,
and Capitol are also in the picture.
The kitchen of Arlington House.

The JFK eternal flame and
Arlington House at the top of the hill.

After that, because we couldn't walk into town, we took the Metro all the way around. Got a late lunch, then walked to the Mall. It was amazing to see Constitution Avenue trafficless: just a long line of police cars parked down the middle and dozens of horse trailers along the sides. Everything is cordoned off: workers have been putting in lots of hours to make this little festivity well controlled.

Still, when we reached the Mall, it was totally open. Well, barricades everywhere, but they weren't fully set up yet. (It must be crazy out there tonight—all the last-minute security being put in place.) So we walked to the Capitol, enjoying the inaugural busyness, but also sorry we couldn't enjoy this place in all its open views. (One of our party, Lynda, has never been to DC before. She's definitely getting a unique first experience of the place—and will have to come back to enjoy it in its splendor.)

We met a fellow from Charlotte, David, here with his eight-year-old son, Blake, for the inauguration. David has been to many of them (maybe all of them?), ever since he first came with his father in 1989, for George H. W. Bush's inauguration. He is a civics teacher, and said his household was all for Hillary—but this is a lesson in democracy and he wants his boy to experience it. Good for him. (He also had photos of Blake getting an autograph from Joe Biden, and his daughter hanging with Chelsea Clinton. Living in Charlotte has its perks when it comes to political celebrities.)

We also ran into a few people who are here for the Women's March. We seemed to recognize each other. (In the case of a pair of sisters, pussyhats helped.) But mostly, we saw people wearing Trump hats, or star-spangled scarves, or flying Trump flags. People are definitely here to see the man become president, though I wouldn't exactly say they are here in "droves." The downtown area is surprisingly empty, in fact.

Here are a few photos from the afternoon:

It's a beautiful city, and it is kind of amazing to be here for an inauguration. I just wish I wanted this president. But that's why we're here: to protest this guy and his minions. It'll be a fascinating few days.