“Todo começo é involuntário.” (All beginnings are involuntary) ~ Fernando Pessao

  

December Snow, Anchorage, Alaska by Janson Jones  

“I’m astounded whenever I finish something. Astounded and distressed.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet 

Cold and rainy here today. No snow. Of course there is no snow. But if feels like it should be snowing. At least that’s what my inner voice is saying. Snow . . . snow . . . snow . . .

University of Alaska Campus, November 2009 by Janson Jones

We haven’t had a good snow in this area for years, which is probably best since everything comes to a complete standstill even with a light dusting. These people don’t know how to drive in the rain, let alone the snow.  And ice? Just stay home. It’s safer.  

Corey and I are talking about trying to make a trip to Ohio for a few days around Christmas. With any luck, it will be snowing, and maybe I can get some good photographs. For some reason, I feel most creative as far as my photography when there is snow. Maybe it’s because I’m really a black and white person as far as my own color palette. I mean, on those quizzes when it asks what your favorite color is, I answer black. On rare occasions I’ll pick red or purple, but mostly, it’s just black.  

I don’t have anything against color, I just happen to like black—black boots, black purses, black pants, black leather jackets. And then there are those 10 or so white sweaters that I have in my closet in various stages of comfort wearability. The oldest is probably from the early 90’s, and it is wonderfully comfortable.  

I know. You are probably thinking that I need to get out more, but even when I left the house on a regular basis, it was mostly black, with some red thrown in and occasionally shades of purple and lavender.  

So shooting pictures in the snow is very rewarding for me. I do have to admit, though, that I haven’t figured out how to set my digital camera to take black and white photographs, so I usually just take out the color in Photoshop.  Not my first choice, but it works. Years ago I had wanted to put a dark room in my house so that I could develop my own black and white film. As with most things, never got around to it, which is just as well since I shoot almost exclusively in digital now.  

“My perfectionist instinct should inhibit me from finishing: it should inhibit me from even beginning.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet   

White House Image of President Greeting Salahis

On the national front Tiger Woods is doing a mea culpa. Those White House gate-crashers, the Salahis, are still firmly holding to their story that they had invitations (sure, you did), and in Orange County, California, thieves broke into a warehouse and stole food and goods that had been collected for the needy. Robbing Salvation Army kettles, stealing donations—can’t these people pick their targets better? Not that anyone deserves to be robbed, but robbing from those who can least afford it?  Bah . . .  

Don’t ask me how I feel about President Obama’s speech in which he declares that he will be sending 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.  I am of very mixed feelings about the whole thing. I mean, Bin Laden was in Afghanistan in the first place. That’s where the war should have been fought, not in Iraq. Perhaps if the previous administration and Darth Cheney had been more focused, there would be no need to send anyone anywhere. I mean, 30,000 troops is a lot of people. A lot. And the proclamation that withdrawal will begin in mid 2011 is ludicrous. There is not way to know that in advance. Another open-ended incursion into another country—not the best news, to say the very least.     

And on a final note, I read a disturbing story about a 13-year-old Florida girl who committed suicide because of sexting bullying. Apparently, this young, impressionable girl sent a topless photo of herself to a boy that she liked. Okay. That’s the first problem. The fact that kids, teenagers, young people can take sexually-explicit photographs of themselves and each other with their phones and not be mature enough to realize the long-reaching implications is truly bothersome (the article cites a poll in which 20 percent of teens admit to sending sexually explicit photographs of themselves over cell phones).  Someone else intercepted the photo while using the boy’s phone, and that person spread the picture throughout the girl’s school and even to nearby high schools. Soon after, classmates began a campaign of fierce harassment, calling the girl a slut and a whore when she walked the school halls.  

What dismays me the most about this story is that at 13, girls are in the midst of one of the most confusing times of their lives. Hormones. Emotions. Body image. Peer pressure. It doesn’t matter what kind of home life these kids have, adolescence is adolescence, which is to say, it’s one of the most tumultuous, stressful, suckiest times of a person’s life. The girl did not tell her family about the bullying, and eventually, it became so bad that she felt that she couldn’t go on, and she hung herself in her bedroom where her mother found her.  

Teenage Girls With Cell Phones

So many things wrong with this situation: the lack of privacy as a result of cell phones with cameras, the lack of good judgment on the part of those involved, the cruelty with which teenagers and children treat each other, never realizing just how horribly words and actions can affect a boy or girl who is already feeling isolated, or confused, or sad. It just makes me ache inside for this girl’s family and friends, and it makes me want to throttle the bullies, which, I know, is not the best reaction.  

“But I get distracted and start doing something. What I achieve is not the product of an act of my will but of my will’s surrender.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet 

I speak from experience when I say that teenage girls are most vicious when it comes to other teenage girls. I think that the jealousy hormone ratchets out of control with the onset of puberty. These young girls are so starved for attention, even the wrong kind, that idle gossip can soon turn to slander which can then escalate into bullying. Teenage boys, because they have pretty much one main focus, will easily become caught up in these campaigns. No one wins.  

The gossip-mongers learn that being vocal gets them noticed. Their friends don’t want to seem unsupportive, so they join in. The victims, not having endured workforce mongering and backstabbing, are totally unprepared for the onslaught. If you don’t believe that middle schools are hotbeds of jungle socialization, then you are living with your head in the sand.  

Is this solely a family problem? No, because no amount of good parenting can prepare a child for the ferocity of what can go on in school, any school, from one day to the next. Is this a school problem? No, but yes. Teachers and administrators aren’t responsible for peer pressure and psychological factors; however, that being said, they should be responsible for alerting parents and guardians to potential problems when they are aware of them, which in this case, they did not. Is this a societal problem? Yes, absolutely.  

I know. I’m beating that long-deceased horse carcass again, but it would be a lie to say that children aren’t socialized by countless factors from a very young age to fit in, to be pretty or handsome, to get invited to the right birthday parties in pre-school. It starts that soon.  

I know that there is actually no one right answer to this problem. I also know that access to technology is not always a good thing. Witness the number of adults who have made sex videos only to have them surface after the breakup of a relationship that was supposed to last forever.  If grown-ups don’t have enough sense not to do these kinds of things, how can we expect impressionable youth to know better?  

“I begin because I don’t have the strength to think; I finish because I don’t have the courage to quit.” ~ Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet   

I’ve worked myself into a lather, so perhaps this would be a good stopping point. Or perhaps, I should go back to boycotting the news. Whatever.  

Other than those tidbits, not a whole lot else going on. Everyone has retreated to the comfort of their own niches: Corey is on the computer in the dining room; Eamonn is sleeping in his room, and Brett is in his room, probably watching television. I’m sitting here in a white sweater and jeans, Christmas socks on my feet, and snowmen earrings on my lobes.  

Admittedly, it was hard motivating myself to write this post. I played a bit of spider solitaire and then sat here looking at the screen. Turned on one of my playlists and hoped that music would inspire me, but truthfully, it didn’t. So I thought that I’d just ramble for a bit and call it a day, but once I got started, the steamroller took over. Weird how that happens.  

More later. Peace.  

K. D. Lang’s “Barefoot”  

  

                                                                                                                                     

Lyrics to Barefoot  

When the sun goes down here
And darkness falls
The blanket of winter
Leaves no light at all
  

You search for shelter
To calm the storm
Shaking with an instinct
Just to stay warm
  

Chorus:
But I’d walk through the snow barefoot
If you’d open up your door
I’d walk through the snow barefoot
  

You hear the howling
Of dogs and wind
Stirring up the secrets
That are frozen within
  

The ice will haunt you
It lays so deep
Locking up inside you
The dreams that you keep

“To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the music the words make.” ~ Truman Capote

Trail of Blue Ice Portage Valley AK by JJ

Trail of Blue Ice (Portage Valley, AK) by Janson Jones

 

“Often when I write I am trying to make words do the work of line and color. I have the painter’s sensitivity to light. Much . . . of my writing is verbal painting.”
~ Elizabeth Bowen

Two of the worst words in the history of language: ignorance and indifference ~ L. Liwag

Few words tonight. Too many thoughts running through my head about the world in which we live. To much tumult to reconcile in a coherent post. Janson’s “Blue Ice” image is the perfect visual accompaniment to how I feel.

My overall mood can best be expressed by Dead Can Dance’s Lisa Gerrard singing “Now We are Free.” Many thanks to my compatriot Janson Jones for reminding me of their incredible music.

 

And to close the evening, here is “Host of Seraphim.” Let me warn you that this particular vid can be very depressing. I may try to tackle this topic tomorrow.

 

More later. Peace.

The Road Less Taken

Point Woronzof Park along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail AK

 Point Woronzof Park Along The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, Alaska by Janson Jones

 

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood

edward-hopper-rooms-by-the-sea-1950
"Rooms by the Sea," Edward Hopper (1950)

Today, my mind seems to be going in seventeen directions at once. I feel that I am being bombarded by thoughts and feelings too complex to unweave. Part of me is in Australia where a dear friend is going through some major life difficulties. To worsen things her daughter is also ill and experiencing ups and downs.

Another part of me is thinking about the wife of one of the writers whose site I visit. She, too, is ill and awaiting some kind of relief from her doctors.

Another blogger, one whose writing is just amazing, is anticipating the death of her beloved dog who has been with her for years.

A poet with whom I try to stay in contact has just lost her nephew. Her words are full of pain and sorrow, yet they are hauntingly beautiful at the same time.

Yet another compatriot is awaiting the birth of his daughter. The excitement that he is feeling is palpable, making me excited for him.

It’s so hard in some ways to be connected to so many people, to be intimately familiar with their lives and their loved ones. These connections bring me laughter, insight, opinions, joy, and sometimes, heartbreak.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear; 

It is the empathic side of me that feels too much, that perhaps delves too deeply into the pain and joy of others, leaving me bereft at times, and full of inner delight at other times. I have always been this way—too willing to take on the emotional burdens of others. I remember being a young girl and feeling such complete despair when one of my friend’s dogs was hit by a car, and then being filled with delight when a neighbor’s dog had puppies. Granted, these are probably normal childhood emotions, but it is hard to put into words the keenness I have always felt emotionally, the incisive way in which my emotions have held sway for as long as I can remember.

Henry County Indiana from When Worlds Collide
Henry County Indiana by Julayne from When Worlds Collide

I remember being devastated when someone I worked with at the newspaper died after a bout with cancer. And how absolutely crushed I was when I heard that John Lennon died.

My emotions have always guided me, which is why, I suppose, I have the incredible highs and merciless lows in my life. I’m not suggesting that this is the preferred way to live. On the contrary: There have been many times when I have wished that I could simply turn a switch, turn off everything that I was feeling. There have been moments in which I would have given anything not to be able to feel. To be numb, completely without thought, emotion, or concern.

No one has ever accused me of being a Stoic. For me, nature is not rational and perfect. I do not see everything from a fatalistic viewpoint. In Stoicism, whatever happens, happens, and nothing can change that which is determined, so there is no point in questioning or trying to alter things that are not within the individual’s power. I would never have been able to converse with Zeno, the father of stoicism and his philosophers of the porch. For each statement made, I would have asked why.

But why? Why does this happen? Why didn’t that happen? Why? Why? Why?

For me, every change is felt, not just within my psyche, but by my corporeal self as well. It’s as if my body is a barometer to my soul.

Admittedly, pure elation is an emotion that eludes me much of the time. That’s not to say that I have not been elated many times in my life. Of course I have: when I first held each of my children, on the day that I graduated with my B.A., when I finally completed work on my publishing degree, whenever I finish a piece of writing that I feel certain has come together well, each time that Corey returned home safely after being on the water, each accomplishment in my children’s lives, to name only a few.

As I have mentioned, the beauty that I find in the smallest things—flowers, birds, beautiful images, music, words—brings me a tremendous sense of inner peace and can affect my mood and sometimes reverse an impending low.

But spontaneous elation? I am mystified by people who are like that. You know the ones—they are genuinely happy most of the time. Very little seems to penetrate their cheery dispositions.

To be honest, I am uncomfortable being around people who are like that. Something in me tries to find the falseness behind the cheer. But sometimes, there is no falsehood. These people are happy, with every fiber of their being they are happy. I don’t understand that, nor do I particularly care for it, or perhaps the more accurate statement would be believe it.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not wish unhappiness for these people, but to have that much happiness all of the time? How does one go about feeling the inevitable calamities in life if everything is always good? Positive? When faced with tragedy, to speak homilies such as “well, it was probably meant to be,” or “you’ll feel better soon” seems to ignore the pain. And if pain is ignored, if the individual does not allow herself to move through it, embrace it, and come out on the other side, how can any knowledge be gained?

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
 

Bear Lake Trail Everglades Fl by JJ
Bear Lake Trail, Everglades, Florida by Janson Jones

Admittedly, I am a cynic. I question everything, take nothing at face value, and tend not to accept glib explanations. Am I proposing that that is the way to live life? No. Sometimes, I wish that I could just enfold myself in the easy answers, ignore the nagging doubt. Wouldn’t that be easier?

But then, I would not be true to myself if I did so. I question. I doubt. I wonder. But once I believe in something, I will argue vehemently in support of whatever it is that I believe.

For me, the path isn’t always clear. Where it is going is never defined, but I would never change that. The not knowing is what allows for exploration, what encourages the soul to seek out the truth, even though the truth is not always what we desire or what we are prepared to accept.

The truth is such a complex animal. It changes with the wind. It is ephemeral. And that is why the search for it is usually not well-trodden nor lit with beacons pointing in the right direction.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:

andrew-wyeth-easterly detail
"Easterly" (detail), by Andrew Wyeth

My life has been one long search for beacons pointing the way, but just as sailors have been misdirected by false light, I too have been misdirected: by believing the words of the wrong person, by holding dear to someone who was not worthy of my heart, by listening to misleading echoes.

And then the path becomes unclear, no boundaries, no borders. And at these times, I have become lost. Yet I have always made my way back, whether it was a friend who guided me, or my love for someone or their love for me, or just being attuned to my esse—I have always managed to find my way home.

For me, the lie is the worst thing. It rips apart the existing reality. It causes shifts in time and space, and as a result, things must be moved around until a new pattern can be formed, and the result is a grey spot where the truth used to be.

But then the opposite holds true: each new friendship, each new person who enters my life in a meaningful way also causes a shift, but the resulting move to accept these new people into the fold increases the beauty of the tapestry, enriches the colors, emboldens the pattern.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— 

Even though I may wish at times that I had it within me not to feel things so deeply, I know that that will never be. I have my peaks and my valleys, and the movement between the two is an amazing journey, regardless of the pull on my psyche or the taxing of my constitution. My emotions are my plinth: They bolster me and keep me buoyant. But more importantly, they allow me to open my heart to others, to sustain my empathy, to avow the truths of my soul.

Arctic Valley Chugach St Prk Anchorage by JJ
Arctic Valley, Chugach State Park, Anchorage by Janson Jones

Admittedly, the pinnacles of my highs and the chasms of my lows do not make me the easiest person with whom to live, or even, to love. But I hope that the ferocity of my loyalty and my unstinting willingness to follow those for whom I care into the breach help to compensate for my ever-shifting spirits.

And so it is my hope that all of those individuals who I mentioned in the beginning of this post know that even though many miles separate us, my heart and my thoughts encompass them as fully as if I were sitting across the table from them, sharing a cup of tea.

I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference” ~ Robert Frost
 

edward-hopper-houses-of-squam-light detail
"Houses of Squam Light" (detail), by Edward Hopper

I do not know where my path will continue to lead. I only know that I am willing to follow it to its end. I hope that along the way I continue to meet new people, to enter new lives, to touch those who seek comfort, to share in the great moments of bliss, to ease the way for those who will allow it, and to love and be able to call myself beloved.

It is these stops, these waysides that make that path more enthralling and that make me want to continue on this journey. I do not know the full purpose of my quest; I only know that it began years ago and that I still have a long way to go, many more observations to make, and more words to write before I reach my inn.

I’ll leave you with this track from Die Romantik. Haunting song.

 

More later. Peace.

 

The Road Less Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 

“Just living is not enough . . . One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” ~ Hans Christian Andersen

 

a-birthday-by-emma-florence-harrison-1910  

“A Birthday” by Emma Florence Harrison (1910) (I love this painting)

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air . . .” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

labrador-and-waterWell, the weekend was beautiful, just as the meteorologists predicted. Go figure. It was in the 80’s with bright sunshine, only a few wispy clouds. Corey spent his time outdoors cleaning the pool and trying to get it ready for swimming. Tillie jumped in and was not happy to find no water, well, very little water. She still managed to do some splashing around anyway. Shakes, on the other hand, was mightily put out that there was no pool ball action to be had. I made it up to him by turning on the hose for a bit and letting him attack the water. Don’t ask.

Brett and I spent a little bit of time outside on both Saturday and Sunday. I passed along Glister for him to read, but he wasn’t really enjoying it, said that it was too slow. It is a different kind of book to read. The action is slow in the beginning, but once the first-person narrator takes over, the pace quickens. It’s also a psychological thriller, and I don’t really think that he was in the mood for that.

So he’s decided to reread The Lord of the Rings, beginning with The Hobbit. I thought that for a quick read, in between The Lord of the Rings, I would reread Angels & Demons. I’m hoping that the movie is better than The DaVinci Code movie. Even though I love Tom Hanks, and pretty much anything that he has been in, I just don’t think that he’s the right choice for Robert Langford. Although, I’m not sure who I would have chosen. It’s nothing against Hanks, but more that the character and Hanks don’t seem to be a good fit.

In the meantime, I’m mulling over my choices for my top 100 movies. This is going to be a harder list to compile because I already had the rock ‘n roll list pretty much compiled in my lost notebook, so I had thought about a lot of songs, and they stayed in my brain (hard to believe with my short-term memory loss, huh?). But I haven’t ever compiled a list of my favorite movies beyond my top 10, so this list is going to take some thinking.

And now for an incisive character analysis for no particular reason

law-order-ciAt the moment, though, my big plans for excitement this evening are “Law & Order Criminal Intent.” This is another situation in which I’m not entirely sure that I’m going to be able to handle the casting. Jeff Goldblum, who I also happen to like as an actor, is entering the cast, replacing Chris Noth’s Detective Logan. Noth has been Logan for a long time, first on the “Original Law & Order,” and then reprising the role on Criminal Intent.

Logan grew as a character over the years, which is one of the reasons why I love the whole Law & Order franchise so much. The writers aren’t afraid to change their characters, let them move in new directions and do unexpected things. But this replacement of Goldblum as the new detective in the major case squad has me uneasy. Goldblum is sarcastic and can be hammy.

You would think that those traits would work well with the whole Vincent D’Onofrio quirkiness factor. But who knows. I think that part of me just really misses Logan, and for some reason, I don’t seem to remember a show in which he was going to leave. Did it happen at the end of the season and I missed it? If anyone else is a big L&O fan and remembers, please let me know.

My cold nose does not mean that I am a member of the canine family. Thank you very much. 

shakes-under-cover-bw
Shakes Keeping Warm in Bed

As a result of the very warm weather, we had to give in and turn on a few of the window unit air conditioners for a little bit this weekend. The problem with having very old windows is that most of our screens have holes in them—not huge holes that passersby would notice and be aghast at, but holes big enough for flying critters to make their way indoors (like the bug that was big enough to cast a shadow that kept buzzing my head last night). Hence, opening the windows and letting a breeze in is not really doable until we replace the windows (another thing that got put on hold with the smaller refund that disappeared).

We’re trying not to use the AC too much until we absolutely must. For one reason, I can’t sleep if my nose is cold. No, I’m not making this up. Corey thinks that it’s an excuse not to have the AC on at night, but it’s true: I swear.

If my nose is cold, I wake up, winter or summer. Don’t ask me why, but I cannot abide having a cold nose. It is more uncomfortable to me than having cold ears. Those of you in Alaska are probably snickering right now. Stop it. I know what you’re doing.

“Fear is the father of courage and the mother of safety.” ~ Henry H. Tweedy 

The other thing that really bothers me about having window units is the noise. I like to have a quiet house at night so that I can listen for intruders. Yes, I know. I have read entirely too many suspense books and watched entirely too many scary movies for my own good, but if the AC is running and I can’t hear beyond the bedroom, I get antsy.

bone-handled-balison-knifeI used to keep a real Philippine Balisong butterfly knife under my mattress when I was married to my ex. It was an exquisite hand carved, bone-handle knife that my dad brought back from the Philippines. I don’t know what happened to that knife, but my ex used to make fun of me for keeping it under the mattress.

He would say things like, “do you really think that you would have time to get that out and open it up before someone made it to the bedroom?” Actually, no I didn’t, but just having it there was comforting. Sometimes we do things that are impractical, knowing all the while that they are impractical, but if these things provide us with a little bit of comfort, what is the harm?

Another safety issue for me is having the windows open at night. Again with the movies and books. But we live near a park, and people to go this park at night, even when they aren’t supposed to. Granted, living near a park is not like living near a prison. But the point is that I am afraid of someone breaking into the house through a half-open window.

Little fact for you here: “Between forty and fifty percent of burglaries are accomplished through unlocked doors or windows,” this according to Jean O’Neil, director of research and evaluation at the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC)

Both my daughter and my elder son never got this, especially since a half-opened, unlocked window is much easier to sneak out of than one that is closed and locked. I may be paranoid, but I’m not stupid.

One time I had to break into the house because I locked my keys—along with my cell phone—in the car. I moved the picnic bench below my daughter’s window at an angle, and kind of hiked up the bench and through her window, which I knew would be unlocked. Do you see how easy it would be to break into my house if I weren’t so adamant ab0ut locking windows and doors?

Let’s Be Careful Out There (and inside too) . . .

heavy-door
Now that's a heavy door

Another more serious example of why the front doors should be locked when you are doing yard work: My other mother-in-law used to have an elderly back yard neighbor, Ella Francis, who is no longer with us. One day, Ella Francis was working in the back yard. While she was in the back, weeding or planting, someone walked right into her house through the unlocked, open side garage door and robbed her. Luckily, Ella Francis was not hurt, except for her pride.

When Corey and I were first married, he would sometimes forget to lock the sliding door when he left for work in the morning, I almost had apoplexy. However, in his defense, Corey comes from a place that doesn’t worry about locked doors, as you will read a few paragraphs below.

Nevertheless, a little known fact is that more women are raped in the morning than at night. Two reasons:

First: Rapists who are staking out houses notice when the husband/significant other leaves in the morning, and if the stalker has been watching the woman for a while, he may know that she leaves later, or is alone after taking the kids to school.

Number two: For some reason, women let their guard down more once it is daylight. They get dressed in front of windows that they would never think of standing before at night, believing that the daylight has provided safety, when in fact the opposite is true. Peepers peep in the morning, too.

Who has the keys? Keys? What keys?

Okay, now that I’ve freaked you out with my little idiosyncrasies, I’ll leave you with a little funny story.

birds-keyhookOne time when we were visiting Corey’s family in Ohio, I was the last one to leave the house, so of course, I locked the back door. While we were gone, Corey got a call from his mom asking if he had a key to the house. He didn’t. In fact, no one had a key to the house with them.

I was completely flabbergasted. Who leaves the house without a housekey? Apparently, a lot of people in their little town. No one locks their back doors. They actually had to break into their own house because I had locked the door. All of the housekeys were hanging on the little keyhook on the kitchen wall by the door.

Not so funny at the time (except to me), but I find it even funnier now in retrospective, but in a positive way—kind of cool living somewhere where you really don’t have to lock your doors.

More later. Peace.

My Alaskan Dreams

And they were canopied by the blue sky, so cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful ~ Lord Byron

There is a site that I visit daily just to check out what new images have been posted. The site’s name is Floridana Alaskiana v2.5, and it is hosted by some extremely talented people who moved from Florida to Alaska.

Sometimes the photos are from Florida, sometimes from Alaska, but always beautiful. The other day, I came across an image that really just made me pause. It was of Bard Peak at Portage Lake taken in April 2008. The Peak is completely covered in snow and ice, and the sky is a stunningly bright cyan with wispy clouds behind the Peak.

What really drew me to this picture is that in my mind, these are the images of the Alaska that I have always wanted to see in real life. I know that Alaska is really quite beautiful in many parts, and this photograph encompasses that beauty.

 

6a00d83451652469e20111688d029f970c-550wi

 

If you would like to view more of this wonderful photography, please visit http://floridana.typepad.com/weblog/.

For a link to this particular page, please follow http://floridana.typepad.com/weblog/2009/02/portage-lake-12-april-2008.html#trackback.

More later. Peace.

On The Wings of an Eagle*

golden-eagle

Golden Eagle in Flight

We Dare to Dream Again of Friendly Skies As We Give Thanks

Okay. I’m going to do it. I’m going to write a blog about what I’m thankful for. A Charlie Brown blog, if you will. I debated whether or not this subject matter would be too trite, too overdone in the blogging world, but then I decided that my cynicism would prevail, especially in light of my recent entries, which admittedly, have been a tad on the nostalgic side. I’ve decided to write about unlikely things for which we, as in the collective we, can be grateful, in spite of the dire times we seem to be facing.

Here goes:

  • The nation’s first president of color, a man of incredible presence, intelligence, and insight. I can only hope that the fates are good to him and surround him with good karma. If he runs his presidency with just one half of the calm, executive demeanor that surrounded his campaign, then there is hope that his White House will never be likened to a college fraternity without any adult supervision.
  • A new administration, one headed by a president who won’t mangle the English language. No matter what your political leanings are, you have to be grateful for a man who is articulate
  • An apparent real goal for an end to the Iraqi war, or at least a major draw down of troops in that country, even if it means that we will have an increase of troops in another country
  • An attempt to provide access to some kind of health insurance for everyone in the country, even if it takes a couple of years. Hillary Rodham Clinton first attempted this during Clinton’s first term in office and was roundly criticized for not sticking to her role as first lady. After that aborted attempt, nothing has ever been done nationally until now.
  • A chance to regain our status in the world as a nation that can be respected as a leader
  • A chance to turn our economy around and stop the practice of “Trickle Down Economics.” The plan, of course, was that everything would trickle down in an equitable manner. Um, so sorry, but WRONG. When Ronald Reagan took office, our country could be described as a diamond, with most of the country falling in the middle of the socio-economic ladder. What we have now is an hourglass, with almost no middle class, an upper class and a very bottom-heavy lower socio-economic part of the ladder. Anyone who tells you that America is a class-less society is still in their naive idealistic phase.
  • A commitment by an administration and apparently a nation to harness alternative energy and preserve resources. A long overdue wake-up call has finally been answered, and more and more people are doing what they can, in big ways and in small, to help the environment. As someone who has been recycling for over almost two decades, it is refreshing to see the changes all around. I don’t care if it’s trendy, as long as it makes an impact.
  • More awareness of post traumatic stress disorder as a real problem with far-reaching issues that can affect people for years
  • The fact that Sarah Palin and her family are back in Alaska, at least for most of the time, but the governator still can’t seem to find enough work to do as governor, so she hits the road every other week.
  • A big win in the House and Senate, but the pressure is on to deliver. Remember: with great power comes great responsibility Spider Man.
  • Law & Order, the original, is back on Wednesday nights.
  • Rachel Maddow’s show on MSNBC is kicking butt big time.
  • Virginia went blue for the first time since 1964, and Thelma Drake lost her seat in Congress to newcomer Glenn Nye thanks in large part to a grassroots effort.
  • The first amendment allows people like me to write things like this whenever I want, which still makes this the best country in the world in which to live.
  • colorado20river20from20deadhorse20point
    The Colorado River from Deadhorse Point
  • With any luck, President-elect Obama will be able to reverse some of the more egregious laws that Bush has signed into law, in particular, those that allow drilling near state parks in Utah and Colorado, and those that ease pollution laws. Because after all, it would be nice to leave a legacy to our children, you know, something like majestic trees, clean rivers, the Grand Canyon, some Golden Eagles, and maybe some uranium-free land. Or maybe I’m being naive and full of youthful idealism in spite of my age.
  • And finally, with any luck, the next few years we will see some glimpses of that hope we held onto so tightly when we stood in line to get into those rallies. When we stood at those rallies waiting to hear the words we needed to hear. When we heard those words of hope and better days and we actually allowed ourselves to dare to believe, even when our cynical hearts did not want to. Yes, we can dare to hope. Yes, we will believe.

These are the things that I am thankful for as an American this Thanksgiving. Perhaps I’ll write about what I’m thankful for personally later, or maybe not. But it’s nice to think that maybe this time next year, there will be a change a coming.

Peace be with you.

*On the Wings of an Eagle, song by John Denver

Dinner, Drinks, and a Smoke With that Deregulation?

The Trifecta of Rogues: Cheney, Palin, and Bush

Dinner With Darth Cheney

President-elect Obama and the lovely Michelle had it pretty easy. I mean, they only had to visit with W. and Laura, and well, Laura is an intelligent, well-read woman who can converse on numerous topics with ease. And W., well, let’s just say that it was probably not a hard conversation for the President-elect to follow as long as President Bush didn’t speak about OB-GYNs, and putting food on families, and human beings and fish co-existing peacefully.

However, I’m really not sure what Vice President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden should expect when they tour their new quarters with Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne. I mean, what’s going to be on the menu? Pheasant? Won’t that be awkward

Biden: Well, well. Pheasant. Who, I mean, where did you shoot it?

Jill: It looks lovely, really lovely.

Cheney: (teeth gnashing) mutters something incomprehensible, looks around for a shotgun

Lynne: Thank you. It’s an old family recipe. (checks watch)

Of course, I’m only surmising how the conversation might go. I could be totally wrong here. I am wondering if good old Joe will get taken on a tour of all of the double-secret locked down locations, you know, just in case.

Someone Get This Woman A DIet Dr. Pepper and a Spokesperson. Posthaste

Remember the good old days when Sarah Palin didn’t speak with the media? Remember when the Republican campaign still had control over that half of the ticket? Remember when a wink and a parade wave was enough to make everyone go ga ga, and all that we had to go on were guesses?

Ah, the good old days.

Seems that Governor Palin got back to Alaska and went into bright light withdrawal. Quick. Someone find the ex-candidate a cameraman and a microphone. She has something to say. On the record. Does it make sense? Who cares, gee golly. To date, she has spoken with Today’s Matt Lauer, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Larry King, local Alaska reporters, Santa Claus, the Abominable Snowman . . .

Some of her comments/arguments/complaints: “I know that I know that I know . . .” On the clothes fiasco: “Nobody is coming up to look at anything . . . Who said that anybody is coming up to look through closets?” Or how about the media: “There have been some stinkers, though.” Or on her interview Katie Couric: “What do you mean what do you read in Alaska? I read the same things that you read in New York and Washington State.”

I have a word of advice for the governor: Get yourself a spokesperson. You are a governor. Governors do not go on national television calling people stinkers, gee golly. That is why governors have spokespeople—to make themselves look better, look professional, look polished. When is the last time you remember a governor, or someone who aspired to higher office (hint, hint: the presidency) going on national television and calling people stinkers? The correct answer, by the way, would be NEVER.

Sorry, governator. You may be trying to appear to be an everyday kind of gal, but people really don’t want jane the plumber to lead them. In fact, people don’t even really respect jane the plumber when jane says berky kinds of things. So do yourself a favor, and go out and hire yourself a spokesperson to handle those media types that you can’t stand. That way, you save yourself some aggravation, and the Todders doesn’t have to worry about saying dumb stuff either. Okay? You betcha!

But one thing is for certain: We have not heard the last of the Governor, whether it’s the Senate seat that’s up for grabs or the presidential election of 2012, Sarah P. is just waiting for a door to open . . .

 Should I be mean and say what I really think should happen to her if there is an open door in front of her?

Executive Orders Withstand the Test of Time? I Don’t Think So

So what is W. doing in his final days in office? Just hanging around smelling the roses? Oh if only it were so. Like every president before him, Bush is busy signing bunches and bunches of Executive Orders, hoping to get them enacted within that sixty-day limit that makes them untouchable by President-elect Obama, or at least harder to touch. What W. is doing is “akin to fouling the water well,” according to Constitutional scholar Jonathon Turley of The George Washington University.

Some of the real beauties that Bush hopes to push through include the following:

  • a rule that allows natural gas pipelines to operate at higher pressures
  • a new limit on airborne emissions of lead
  • a rule that would ease limits on pollution from power plants
  • a rule that would allow current emissions at a power plant to match the highest levels produced by that plant, overturning a rule that more strictly limits such emission increases
  • a related regulation that would ease limits on emissions from coal-fired power plants near national parks
  • a rule to lift a requirement that environmental impact statements be prepared for certain fisheries-management decisions

But not so fast, Kemosabe.

Seems the Obama contingent has already familiarized Prez 44 with Congressional Review Act of 1996, which pretty much prevents the effectiveness of presidents from pushing through Executive Orders at the end of their administration. Public Law 104-121, which was signed by President Clinton, effectively takes any problematic rule and subjects it to review by Congress (go to http://www.thecre.com/pdf/congress-review-act-1996.pdf for specifics). in effect, there is a sixty day wait before anything can become effective, and another wait because Congress has adjourned, and then another wait before the new Congress is seated, and another wait for the new Congress to review, by which time, President Obama will have worked out the details for killing said stupid statutes such as the above.

We can only hope . . . coal-fired emissions near a state park? He’s kidding, right? Right? I know. He’s not. Which is why we love him so and can’t wait to see him go. W. W. He’s our man . . .

And on that note . . . more later. Peace.