“Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” ~ Voltaire

Sunset at Pensacola Beach (NOAA Gulf Coast Collection)

  

“It is important to not let the fight become the life we live instead of the challenges we overcome.” ~ Skyewriter
Pelicans and Seagulls, Cortez, Florida (NOAA Gulf Coast Collection)

I was fortunate enough to glean the beautiful quote above in a comment that I received from Skyewriter on one of my posts. She and I share a sense of great sadness over the current situation in the Gulf. The biggest difference is that she is looking into ways of getting there to help with the cleanup. I am so impressed by her commitment to doing something instead of just bemoaning fate. I only wish that I could participate in the cleanup as well.

Several people have written to me to comment that they, too, feel that something is just out there on the periphery. By that I mean a sense that the escalating incidents of intolerance and madness bespeak a mounting swing of the pendulum; I know that historically, we swing from one extreme to the other, with short respites in between in which life appears to be calm.

There are so many rumblings now: acts of incredible violence, attempts to legislate intolerance, blatant disregard for the planet and its other inhabitants—it’s as if  there are billboards dotting the highway flashing warning signs, but no one is paying attention. Then again, perhaps I am overreacting. 

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about conspiracy theories or paranoia that someone is out to get me. It’s more a sense of feeling the pulse of the nation and noticing that something is not right, is off somehow.

“But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.” ~ Umberto Eco

The news in the past couple of days does not help to alleviate my feelings of dismay.

Gulf Crew Boat Offshore Cameron, Louisiana (NOAA Gulf Coast Collection)
  • In Kabul, Afghanistan, the Taliban has executed a seven-year-old boy for spying. According to The Daily Mail, the child was taken from his home by Taliban militants. He was taken to a neighboring village, put on trial and found guilty of working for the government.  Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai condemned the act as a “crime against humanity.”
  • In Salt Lake City, a leaked pipeline belonging to Chevron spewed between 400 and 500 barrels of oil into Red Butte Creek before being capped. The leak coated wildlife and cause the park to be closed.
  • BP Directors will meet tomorrow to discuss deferring payment of its next dividend to shareholders. Gee. You think? This move by BP comes as a result of President Obama’s request to the company to set up an escrow account for a third-party administered claims process. Meanwhile, more and more individuals who work on the water in the Gulf are watching their livelihoods disappear beneath a tarry sheen of oil. Dave Marino, fisherman and owner of a charter boat business in Myrtle Grove, Louisiana put into words what a lot of people are thinking: “My concern is that it’s going to tip the balance to where it’s too much to overcome. What happens when you tip the point to where there’s more death than life?”
  • In Arizona, Republicans plan to introduce legislation this fall that would deny birth certificates to children born in Arizona to parents who are not legal U.S. citizens—also known by the derogatory term anchor babies. Under the legal principle jus soli, or birthright citizenship, any child born in the U.S. is automatically a citizen. The term anchor baby refers to the belief that these children of illegal immigrants give the parents legal foothold in this country and allow for other family members to come into the country under sponsorship. Once again, state Senator Russell Pearce is spearheading divisive legislation. Pearce admits that he may have a Constitutional fight, but in his mind, illegal immigrants have hijacked the 14th amendment, which states that “all persons, born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”
“Disorder is merely the order you were not looking for.” ~ Henri Bergson
Shrimp Boats, Padre Island, Texas (NOAA Gulf Coast Collection)

Meanwhile, closer to home, we are getting ready for Brett’s graduation tomorrow. Today he went to a graduation party at one of his friend’s houses, which is a good distraction because he’s getting really nervous about graduation. I don’t know why, but he is.

On Friday at rehearsal, he received his honor tassel and gold cord, which he was really happy to get. He’s been .04 points away from being an honor graduate, and his counselor had said that she wouldn’t know whether or not he would be graduating with honors until final grades came through, which was Friday. We’re so proud of him.

So my last baby is leaving high school. I have so many mixed emotions about this, another life milestone, but luckily pride seems to be the overwhelming emotion. Once we get through graduation, I have to see about driving lessons for Brett as he still doesn’t have his license. Unlike Alexis and Eamonn, Brett has never had any desire to drive or to have his own car, but with college looming in the fall, he needs to learn to drive.

Apparently, even though he will be 18, he still will have to have his learner’s permit for a year before he can get a license. That’s how the law is here in Virginia. And he also has to have behind-the-wheel certification because of his age. He never bothered to take it while he was in school, and I never pushed it as I wanted him to focus his energies on his academic classes. So that’s his next big step before beginning college.

That’s all for now as I need to iron clothes for tomorrow. All images are from the NOAA site’s Gulf Coast collection, pre-spill.

More later. Peace.

Music by Damien Rice, “Grey Room”

“It’s just not easy to explain to someone else what you don’t understand yourself.” ~ Wislawa Szymymborska

“Water Lily Pads,” by Jaroslav Krupka

 

“All is mine but nothing owned, nothing owned for memory, and mine only while I look.” ~ Wislawa Szymborska

I found a new site:  Mosaic Moods. Skyewriter told me about it. Lovely writing and beautiful mosaics. Check it out.

Here is a poem that she included in her latest post by Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska (1996, Literature). I love it.

In Praise of Dreams

In my dreams
I paint like Vermeer van Delft.

I speak fluent Greek
and not just with the living.

I drive a car
that does what I want it to.

I am gifted
and write mighty epics.

I hear voices
as clearly as any venerable saint.

My brilliance as a pianist
would stun you.

I fly the way we ought to,
i.e., on my own.

Falling from the roof,
I tumble gently to the grass.

I’ve got no problem
breathing under water.

I can’t complain:
I’ve been able to locate Atlantis.

It’s gratifying that I can always
wake up before dying.

As soon as war breaks out,
I roll over on my other side.

I’m a child of my age,
but I don’t have to be.

A few years ago
I saw two suns.

And the night before last a penguin,
clear as day.

~ Wislawa Szymborska

More later. Peace.

Music by Nana Mouskouri, “En Partant”

“I must learn to love the fool in me the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries” ~ Theodore Isaac Rubin

*Snow Bath by Corey Fickel

“All my life I have been on the brink of either a break down or a break through.” ~ Diane Ackerman

Saint Francis in the Snow

Our Internet has really been acting funky, which has made it hard to post. We have a wireless network in the house, and given that our house is not very big, there really shouldn’t be problems, but of course there are. My computer is farthest from the router, but that hasn’t seemed to make much of a difference until recently. The other computers in the house have Internet service, but I do not. It’s very frustrating, but we don’t really know why this is happening unless the router is going bad, which may be the case. I suspect the router because replacing it would cost money, and that’s how things work in this house. If it’s a simple, cheap fix, it doesn’t break; if it’s expensive, then it will break. 

Anyway, yesterday, I wasn’t even able to look at videos on YouTube, without my computer locking up, so I decided to abandon any hopes of posting. Today, things seems to be working fine, so I’ll take my chances. 

I think that I’ve decided to abandon Facebook. I don’t have much to report in the status bar, and my life isn’t so involved that I feel a need to update everyone on what isn’t happening. I think that Facebook can be fun for the people who participate in the games and polls, which I don’t. And it has been nice making contact with some people from my past, but after that initial contact, is there anything more to say? 

I think back to my old post on becoming a hermit, which I wrote sort of tongue in cheek, but I really think that a part of me is very much like a hermit: I don’t crave the company of lots of people, and the more time that I spend here in this little corner of my bedroom, the less I feel that I am connected to the outside world. I’m not bemoaning my fate, just making a statement. 

“I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always . . .  ~ Yann Martel, Life of Pi

"I love this stuff . . ."

The port security company called Corey to schedule an interview, which is great. But now he is anxious, worrying about impressing them. I told him that it’s normal to be anxious given that he hasn’t really interviewed for a job in a long time, but he is convinced that he is not qualified. He finished his port security training with the Coast Guard but did not graduate because of his injury; therefore, he doesn’t have any certifications. I told him that he just needs to explain what happened, but he is tying himself up in knots over this. 

He does have the qualifications for this type of job. I just hope that he can make it through the interview. If he can do well in the interview, he has a good shot at the job. 

Being unemployed for so long has insidious effects, which are now coming to the front. Unemployment strips your confidence, makes you feel inadequate, and the longer the unemployment continues, the more you begin to believe that you are a failure, not worthy of consideration. Having had my own bout with unemployment, I truly understand what Corey is feeling, and unfortunately, all of the loving supportive words in the world cannot erase that overwhelming feeling of insecurity. 

Here’s hoping . . . 

“You can never have too much sky. You can fall asleep and wake up drunk on sky, and sky can keep you safe when you are sad. Here there is too much sadness and not enough sky. Butterflies too are few and so are flowers and most things that are beautiful. Still, we take what we can get and make the best of it.” ~ Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street

Snow Buddha

I’m back to not sleeping. I have no idea what’s going on, and I’m at the point at which I don’t even try to ascertain reasons. Last night, for example, I fell asleep somewhere between 5:30 and 6 a.m. I got up at 7, 9:20, and 11 to let the dogs out. I don’t really think that they need to go out, but they get restless. I finally fell into a deep sleep after 11. 

This is so backwards. I did have a migraine for three days, so that probably contributed to things. Funnily enough, a representative from my long-term disability insurance called for an update a few days ago. I told her that absolutely nothing had changed. Still seeing the same doctors, still taking the same medicines . . . she asked about my days, as in what did I do. What could I tell her? I sit at the computer for a few hours, read, watch television. She wanted to know if I do any cleaning. I told her that I do some things but not others. 

Those periodic conversations really bring into focus how much my life has changed in the past two years, how I have gone from working a full day and then going to classes in Alexandria, how I have gone from cleaning my whole house to cleaning parts of my house, how I have gone from sleeping 6 hours to sleeping 10 hours. It is more depressing than I can begin to describe. 

I spend hours with ice packs on my head. I spend hours on the heating pad. I take my pills, and I look forward to small things: new episodes of NCIS, a good book, a movie, my favorite coffee. So while I have lost so much, I have also relearned the art of appreciating small things. I don’t exactly see it as a fair trade-off, but it is what it is for however long it stays this way. 

“And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. when you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” ~ Haruki Murakami

In the news: Ben Stein, commentator for CNN (why should anyone listen to the former Nixon speechwriter?) says that he knows why Republicans are not in favor of healthcare reform: “. . . The answer is much higher percentage of Republicans are taxpayers than Democrats and the Republicans are the people paying for it, and the Democrats are the people receiving it.” 

Surface of Frozen Pool (or Ben Stein's Brain)

Let me just pause here for a moment while I collect my breath . . . First, and probably most importantly, the IRS does not have a spot anywhere on its myriad of forms that asks taxpayers to indicate their political affiliation, if any, so how, pray tell, did Stein come up with that factoid? Second, and this is personal, we pay a boatload of taxes, always have. A January 2009 report by Forbes magazine stated the following: 

“The 400 highest-earning taxpayers in the U.S. reported a record $105 billion in total adjusted gross income in 2006, but they paid just $18 billion in tax, new Internal Revenue Service figures show. That works out to an average federal income tax bite of 17%—the lowest rate paid by the richest 400 during the 15-year period covered by the IRS statistics. The average federal tax bite on the top 400 was 30% in 1995 and 23% in 2002.” 

This report says nothing about political parties, just income levels. In my many years of paying taxes, I have never had a 17 percent rate. Never. Stick it Ben Stein, you blowhard. (Thank you Skyewriter for the heads up.) 

In other news, former Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis only received $32,171 in compensation for 2009. Poor Lewis. Oh wait. I forgot to mention: Lewis also received $73 million in accumulated compensation and retirement benefits, which brings his net to $73,032,171, approximately . . . 

Fannie Mae wants another $15.3 Billion, yes with a B, in aid. Okeedokee.  Let’s take these things and compare them to the fact that unemployment benefits for millions of people expire this weekend, but lone Republican Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky is holding a temporary extension hostage over concerns about the deficit.  On Thursday, the House passed a bill temporarily extending the programs for a month until lawmakers can address the issues long-term. The Senate tried to follow suit, but the lone Republican Senator held out. 

Don’t get me wrong, I, too, have issues with the deficit. Perhaps we can ask Ken Lewis for a contribution, say $73 million or so? 

Enough financial news. It makes my eyes water and creates a sharp pain behind my right eye. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Imogen Heap, “The Moment I Said It” (heard it on “Criminal Minds,” which has a soundtrack almost as awesome as “NCIS.”) 

 

  

*Corey took all of the pictures featured the day after the snow storm we had here a few weeks ago.