Tuesday, February 08, 2011
As long as nothing can be known for sure
(no signals have been picked up yet),
as long as Earth is still unlike
the nearer and more distant planets,
as long as there's neither hide nor hair
of other grasses graced by other winds,
of other treetops bearing other crowns,
other animals as well-grounded as our own,
as long as only the local echo
has been known to speak in syllables,
as long as we still haven't heard word
of better or worse mozarts,
platos, edisons somewhere,
as long as our inhuman crimes
are still committed only between humans,
as long as our kindness
is still incomparable,
peerless even in its imperfection,
as long as our heads packed with illusions
still pass for the only heads so packed,
as long as the roofs of our mouths alone
still raise voices to high heavens--
let's act like very special guests of honor
at the district-firemen's ball
dance to the beat of the local oompah band,
and pretend that it's the ball
to end all balls.
I can't speak for others--
for me this is
misery and happiness enough:
just this sleepy backwater
where even the stars have time to burn
while winking at us
~ Wislawa Szymborska ~
(View with a Grain of Sand, translated by S. Baranczak and C. Cavanagh)
Wislawa Szymborska was born in 1923 in Bnin, a small town in Western Poland. Her family moved to Krakow in 1931 where she has lived and worked ever since.
Szymborska studied Polish literature and sociology at Jagellonian University from 1945 until 1948. While attending the university, she became involved in Krakow's literary scene and first met and was influenced by Czeslaw Milosz. Szymborska is the author of more than fifteen books of poetry. She is also the author of Nonrequired Reading (Harcourt, 2002), a collection of prose pieces.
While the Polish history from World War II through Stalinism clearly informs her poetry, Szymborska is also a deeply personal poet who explores the large truths that exist in ordinary, everyday things. "Of course, life crosses politics," Szymborska has said "but my poems are strictly not political. They are more about people and life."
In 1996, Szymborska won the Nobel Prize. Her other awards include the Polish Pen Club prize, an Honorary Doctorate from Adam Mickiewicz University, the Herder Prize and The Goethe Prize. www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/340
Sunday, February 06, 2011
I thought I'd share a few photos of me on the Trek since I'm always referring to it, though it's not easy...since obviously *I* can't take them. So yesterday, I got Robert, my housemate, to take a couple and randomly asked students on campus as well. I bought the Trek Navigator in 1998 and it continues to give me great joy and excellent performance.
I've also spoken of Kitty Rama, a PetSmart-rescued cat (had all the necessary shots and med exams, etc.) selected by Robert. We picked her up just before I left for three months on "Maha's Magical Mystery Tour" in May 2010. I swear Kitty Rama is a balm better than medicine to dear Robert's soul.
From the looks of the woods, I believe this was taken in August just after I got back from my adventure. She's on my little Honda Civic.
Another summer photo of a svelte Kitty.
Summertime. Robert is saying, "Hurry up, Kitty has had enough of this. She says it's chow time!" She has Robert VERY well trained.
Taken day-before yesterday. NOW look at Queen Of The World As She Knows It in her winter furs!!! She likes to sit on my printer. My desk is just to the right, and I look out those windows as I *talk* to you all! That's where dozens of birds gather to eat the bird seed I throw out...and THAT'S why Kitty Rama likes to sit there! And you can see the sweet Toyota Dolphin, hibernating for the winter.
Yesterday, close to 40 degrees, as I was readying to take off on my 11-mile spin on the Trek. (No sun today though...gray, gray, and more gray!)
The circle near the Snow Performing Arts Building on campus where I take classes for the music minor.
I was getting warm -- minus the cap and gloves here, and later I also shed the down vest. The university library is behind me.
Here's another shot of Robert. I drove him to visit his ill mother and we stopped in Timbo (you won't find it on a map) at the Dairy Bar, where we both had milkshakes on a hot September day.
A different era, 1989, with Robert (and Swami Satchidananda)
Praise the light of late November,
the thin sunlight that goes deep in the bones.
Praise the crows chattering in the oak trees;
though they are clothed in night, they do not
despair. Praise what little there's left:
the small boats of milkweed pods, husks, hulls,
shells, the architecture of trees. Praise the meadow
of dried weeds: yarrow, goldenrod, chicory,
the remains of summer. Praise the blue sky
that hasn't cracked yet. Praise the sun slipping down
behind the beechnuts, praise the quilt of leaves
that covers the grass: Scarlet Oak, Sweet Gum,
Sugar Maple. Though darkness gathers, praise our crazy
fallen world; it's all we have, and it's never enough.
~ Barbara Crooker ~
(Abalone Moon, Summer 2004)
Or paraphrasing the ending:
Though darkness gathers, praise our crazy
fallen lives; they're all we have, and they are enough.
Friday, February 04, 2011
Maria Rodale is one of my sheros, an exceptional role model and leader. I love her book _Organic Manifesto_. Scroll down on this link to check out the synopsis and biographical information that will give you some fascinating insights about the book and her:
She wrote this preamble to the following letter posted in her Huffington Post column on February 1, 2011, "Straight to the Source:"
Every once in a while an issue comes along that is so shockingly wrong, that people seem to spontaneously unite in opposition. This is one of those times. I am very honored to post this letter, written by some of the most informed, passionate, and good-hearted people I know. Please, do what you can to fight against the GMO contamination of our bodies and our environment by demanding organic. Thank you.
--Maria Rodale, CEO & Chair, Rodale, Inc.
We stand united in opposition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) decision to once again allow unlimited, nationwide commercial planting of Monsanto's genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa, despite the many risks to organic and conventional farmers.
Last spring more than 200,000 people submitted comments to the USDA highly critical of the substance and conclusions of its draft EIS on GE Alfalfa. Instead of responding to these comments and concerns, including expert comments from farmers, scientists, academics, conservationists, and food safety and consumer advocates, the USDA has chosen instead to listen to a handful of agricultural biotechnology companies.
USDA's decision to allow unlimited, nationwide commercial planting of
Monsanto's GE Roundup Ready alfalfa without any restrictions flies in the face of the interests of conventional and organic farmers, preservation of the environment, and consumer choice. USDA has become a rogue agency in its regulation of biotech crops and its decision to appease the few companies who seek to benefit from this technology comes despite increasing evidence that GE alfalfa will threaten the rights of American farmers and consumers, as well as damage the environment.
The Center for Food Safety will be suing on this decision.
In the coming months, we will be seeing USDA proposals to allow unrestricted plantings of GE sugar beets, and GE corn and soy crops designed to resist toxic pesticides, such as 2-4D and Dicamba, highly toxic pesticides that pose a serious threat to our health and the environment. To win these critical and difficult battles, the entire organic community, and our allies in the conventional food and farming community, will have to work together.
Now is the time to unite in action. We need to work together to restore sanity to our food system, stop the deregulation of GE crops and join together against the forces that are seeking to silence hundreds of thousands of Americans.
As we move forward, we are united in opposing genetically engineered organisms in food production and believe that pressure to stop the proliferation of this contaminating technology must be focused on the White House and Congress. The companies responsible for this situation are the biotech companies whose GE technology causes genetic drift and environmental hazards that are not contained as the deregulation of genetically engineered alfalfa goes forward. The organic community stands together with consumer, farmer, environmental and business interests to ensure practices that are protective of health and the environment.
We urge you to join us today.
Joan Boykin, The Organic Center
Christine Bushway, Organic Trade Association
Jay Feldman, Beyond Pesticides
Michael Funk, United Natural Foods Inc (UNFI)
Elizabeth Henderson, NOFA Interstate Council
Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield Farm
Liana Hoodes, National Organic Coalition
Kristina Hubbard, Organic Seed Alliance
Faye Jones, Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Service
Robby Kenner, Robert Kenner Films
Andrew Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety
Russell Libby, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners (MOFGA)
Ed Maltby, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA)
Robyn O'Brien, Allergy Kids
Keith Olcott, Equal Exchange
Michael Pollan, Author
Maria Rodale, Rodale Inc.
Eric Schlosser, Author
Robynn Schrader, National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA)
Corinne Shindelar, INFRA
George Siemon, Organic Valley
Michael Sligh, Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI)
Megan Westgate, Non-GMO Project
Maureen Wilmot, Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF)
Enid Wonnacott, Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT)
CONTACT PRESIDENT OBAMA (I did!):
CHECK IT OUT -- Even fitness guru Jillian Michaels loves Rodale's work: "Maria’s pedigree gives her the authority and credibility to educate Americans on this important subject matter. The information in _Organic Manifesto_ will empower you not only to save your own life and the lives of your family but also to do your part in saving the world. If you read one book this year, please make this one it!" -- Jillian Michaels
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
Celebrate this unlikely oracle,
this ball of fat and fur,
whom we so mysteriously endow
with the power to predict spring.
Let's hear it for the improbable heroes who,
frightened at their own shadows,
nonetheless unwittingly work miracles.
Why shouldn't we believe
this peculiar rodent holds power
over sun and seasons in his stubby paw?
Who says that God is all grandeur and glory?
Unnoticed in the earth, worms
are busily, brainlessly, tilling the soil.
Field mice, all unthinking, have scattered
seeds that will take root and grow.
Grape hyacinths, against all reason,
have been holding up green shoots beneath the snow.
How do you think spring arrives?
There is nothing quieter, nothing
more secret, miraculous, mundane.
Do you want to play your part
in bringing it to birth? Nothing simpler.
Find a spot not too far from the ground
~ Lynn Ungar ~
(Blessing the Bread)
FEB 2, 2011 BREAKING NEWS:
Punxsutawney Phil emerged just after dawn on Groundhog Day to make his 125th annual weather forecast in front of a smaller-than-usual crowd who braved muddy, icy conditions to hear his handlers reveal that he had not seen his shadow.
Including Wednesday's forecast, Phil has seen his shadow 98 times and hasn't seen it just 16 times since 1887. There are no records for the remaining years, though the group has never failed to issue a forecast.
The celebration took place on Gobbler's Knob, a tiny hill in Punxsutawney, a borough of about 6,100 residents some 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
The celebration is rooted in a German superstition that says if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on Feb. 2, the Christian holiday of Candlemas, winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow was seen, legend said spring would come early.
Friday, January 28, 2011
SENSATION OF THE MYSTICAL
The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience
is the sensation of the mystical.
It is the sower of all true science.
He to whom this emotion is a stranger,
who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe,
is as good as dead.
To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists,
manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty,
which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms --
this knowledge, this feeling,
is at the center of true religion.
~ Albert Einstein ~
(The Merging of Spirit and Science, cited in
All Things Give God Glory, ed. by S. Rena)
Dreams are real as long as they last. Can we say more of life?
-- Henry Havelock Ellis
When we wake up from a dream into waking consciousness, we do not pass from unreality to reality; we pass from a lower level of reality to a higher level. And, the mystics of all religions say, there is a higher level still, compared with which this waking life of ours is as insubstantial as a dream.
Yet until we do wake up, nothing sounds more absurd than the assertion that we are dreaming, and nothing seems more solid than this world of the senses. Why should this be so? If original goodness is our real nature, why are we unable to see it? The answer is simple: because we see life not as it is but as we are. We see "through a glass darkly," through the distorting lenses of the mind -- all the layers of feeling, habit, instinct, and memory that cover the pure core of goodness deep within.
-- Eknath Easwaran
Easwaran's exceptional book, entitled ORIGINAL GOODNESS:
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