Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bill Moyers and Reverend Wright

This is TRULY must watch TV. If you have not seen Bill Moyers' show, then let this be your first time. [If you don't have time to watch it, you can read the transcript.]

Message I sent to Mr. Moyers:
Thank you so much for having Reverend Wright on your show. I am always
appreciative of your show, but I am especially grateful today. Anyone and
everyone who feels the right to throw the first stone should be first required
to learn something more about a person than a sound bite. You have provided this
glimpse.I am especially happy that the first question was how he was called to
the ministry. First things first, you said. Thank you again.
I am not a person of faith in any traditional sense, but I have a great respect for those who feel their faith strongly, and especially those who work from that faith with the integrity intended by faith not the prejudice frequently preached through orthodoxy.

Regardless of what stone-throwers might say, both of these men (Moyers and Wright) walk the walk. If only we had the courage to do as they do.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

quick update

Since we blocked the shed doors and my landlady placed the red pepper flakes and ammonia (in what looks like an altar to something...) we have had no raccoon sighting.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

more adorable babies

... for Earth Day....

Happy Earth Day

A little ray (or TWO) of sunshine for this Earth Day...
[This is what they WILL look like some day not the actual newbies.]

Carlos and Clara welcomed two new baby peregrine falcons this morning.

You can watch the new family here.

Photos from Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ruben Salazar

In these days of war when so many of our young men and women are marching into hell daily for reasons many of us cannot understand, it is entirely fitting to honor this man, who died during an anti-war protest march. On April 22nd, the United State Postal Service will honor this man with a stamp, so I am bringing him here at least through some links.
If you don't know who Ruben Salazar is, find out something about this man.

You can read all about him in Border Correspondent by Professor Mario T. Garcia.

You can read about the day of his death.

Get out there and buy stamps!! Or order them.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

this is war

It started several nights ago... in the middle of the night, I hear what sounds like someone walking on the roof of my bedroom. Then I hear noise in the backyard. I take up the small but powerful flashlight my father insisted I take with me last time I was home to visit and jump to a window. There he(she?) is... a rather large raccoon rummaging through the backyard. I trained the flashlight on him and he stared back at me completely unafraid. The only emotion I could ascribe to the look is annoyed, though I recognize that is just me putting human emotions on the animal.

Eventually after not allowing the light to leave him, he decided to leave, but not the way he came. Instead, he tried to get into the little flap that the skunks use when I startle them during foraging. Only this raccoon is a lot larger, so getting in through the flap meant breaking it, at least half of it. I hoped that the raccoon would figure out that maybe this wasn't a good place to live.

But I was wrong.

The very next evening he/she was back. This time, he/she scrambled up the top of the old garage and lumbered off. Again, I hoped that he/she would think that I was more trouble than this backyard was worth.

But, I think he/she may have already had started a nest nearby.

The following evening, just at dusk. I heard a loud sound coming from the backyard -- also how I enter my apartment -- and I went out to find the raccoon had opened one of the doors of the shed. Not only that, the opening from the flap area was larger, clearly he/she had been in there and just come out. As he/she stood in the doorway of the shed, I tried to imagine how I could get him/her out. My landlady was not home, so I was on my own. Even though I didn't want to leave him/her in there, I also didn't want to take him/her on by myself. I needed just one other person...but there was just me and the raccoon.

I grabbed a small rake as a self-defense weapon should the animal try to attack me... I walked as close as I thought reasonable, and I started to talk to the raccoon. Perhaps thinking I could talk a wild animal out of the shed was not my wisest notion, but I didn't have a lot of options. The raccoon did the typical stare down I have become accustomed to... and I talked. I told him/her that it was not ok for him/her to take up residence in the shed. I said over and over, come on out now. I looked from the raccoon to the opening under the shed, sort of hoping he/she would follow my eyes and figure out that this was a possible escape route.

I am not sure how long I was out there talking to the raccoon. But, eventually he/she did exactly what I had suggested was the best course of action. He/she walked out of the shed and into the opening. Great...

Now I wanted to get close enough to the shed to secure the door, but I didn't want to occupy my hands with the latch without a hand for the rake. Just in case... But the raccoon would not back down. He/she kept his little head with bright, staring eyes right on me from the opening. He/she would not move away from the opening as long as I was there. I talked and talked, but he/she was done doing as I asked.

There was nothing I could do... he/she had ceded as much ground as he/she intended for the night.

I went inside and hoped for the best...that whatever was in the shed wouldn't be ruined and that the raccoon wouldn't hurt itself on any of the gardening tools in the shed before morning.

The following morning, my landlady and I rigged a cover for the opening, now completely open thanks to the raccoon. We used whatever was on hand, piling logs, rocks and bricks in front of the opening. Not after some talcum powder, a big flashlight, and some reconnaissance. We also discovered the popularity of the opening was enhanced by the exit door on the other side. So we had to find a way to secure that opening as well.

I left the light on just in case, hoped the raccoon would be dissuaded by the obstructions and find another place to live.

Wrong again.

This morning, the other shed door was opened, the pot with dahlia bulbs turned over and a small fence knocked down. If is possible for the raccoon to be annoyed and angry, I am voting for that. My landlady thinks not...

Today we secured the second door, sprinkled pepper flakes and left other not so nice smelling things for the raccoon. Let's see if that works.

It's a bad time to be wrangling raccoons -- breeding season. I am hopeful that this raccoon will decide to build a nest elsewhere. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


I am still searching for those happy stories... happy seems like such a problematic word. I want so much to define the kind of stories I want to read -- and I know they are out there in other places, but I WANT to find them in news media -- but every time that I do, the adjectives don't seem to fit correctly.

It seems easier to define what they are not -- downers, narrowly constructed stories that show the worst in our nature generally inflicting pain and/or suffering on others.

It's fairly difficult to find stories manifesting pure joy -- not that I think they don't exist, just that there is no one reporting it. Maybe it would be boring.

There is plenty of lemonade, though, and it is well worth reading. The DailyOM was feeling this search for how to make lemonade on April 10th...I am a little behind on my OM reading.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bright, Shiny Joy

This is what I heard this morning as I tried to talk myself into getting out of bed and going to work... and I thought to myself --- AHH Friday, that means StoryCorps.

No need to look high and low for a story that demonstrates joy/happiness and not JUST the silver lining...although this story could be viewed through that lens. I prefer to hear in Mr. Buford's story the strength, persistence and resilience that makes being human worth the ups and downs that is life.

I was so moved by his story, I did send him an email as requested at the end of the story. I almost included my blog address in the email to give him more to read, but I suspect that he can find some excellent reading material on his own.

Happy Friday!

Hilarious, but true

The problem with our coverage of the presidential race perfectly captured here.

NPR covered it on Day to Day playing the video as well as some commentary, that is, letting someone from ABC (not Gibson or his dum(B)my) defend the line of questioning of the first 45 minutes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Silver Lining?

It took nearly all day to find a story with a silver lining albeit tarnished as this one surely is. Thanks to my sister for finding this story and forwarding it on.

It's not truly upbeat, but it does present what could be our better side. To recognize that justice does not equal vengeance, to understand that compassion is necessary and important in a world full of hatred, and finally, to affirm that children are in need of protection regardless of what terrible deeds they may do.

Even though Larry's family is in denial about his questioning of his sexual orientation and has been offended by the way the gay community has claimed Larry as one of their own, at least these folks have the decency to stand up for what they believe is right. They are not perfect, but they get it.

Even though I am not one for praying anymore, I am praying for this young man. It sure would be nice if we could save this soul.

From my sis: Yes, hopefully he can be taught to communicate...and eventually live life as a decent human being.

This weekend we had been talking about the fact that the only "good" to come from this tragedy is that Larry's organs had been donated. I am very much in support of organ donation (it's been marked on my license since the first one I got), but it hardly seemed like consolation in this case.

I am hopeful that as a community we can learn some hard and essential lessons from this case:

1) everyone is entitled to be who he/she is

2) children must learn that all souls have worth, starting with their own

3) adults must take responsibility to teach communication, mediation and conflict resolution -- to believe that children will come upon this naturally is so backward I am struggling to find the right adjective to describe how inconceivable it is

4) all disputes can be resolved without violence -- but the process for reaching those resolutions must be taught and practiced

5) compassion is the best answer

If we could learn any one of these (if not all), if we could value these truths enough to pass them along to our children, if we could live our lives according to these beliefs -- even when we fall off the wagon -- then there may be some consolation.

We can start here... realizing that children do what they are taught to do; this boy was taught to resolve disputes with violence. That it was the wrong choice is indisputable. Should this one mistake mean that he must forfeit his life? Surely that is not justice. Justice requires compassion. Let's find a way to save this soul in exchange for the one that was tragically lost rather than compounding the tragedy.

beauty desert peace

I love the desert. Except when I am driving on the ragged coast, there is no place else that feels more like home. The dry air, the strong wind, the smell of the earth and this incredible vegetation. Each landscape has its own sense of beauty, and I appreciate the lushness of the bushes in New Jersey's tropical rain forest summer, and the tall green trees of West Virginia and the green grasses of Kentucky, etc. But there is just something about the desert. I had never experienced it in spring and I was OVERWHELMED with the beauty.
I am not saying that the desert is the MOST beautiful place in the world. It just calls me in a way that other landscapes don't. It inspires in me a sense of belonging. As soon as I take my first breath in the desert air, I feel calmer, different. Maybe it is because it is a place where you need to be strong and flexible and resourceful to survive. It almost, ALMOST, made me want to go out and buy a camera. I have lived without having to try to fit something into a little viewfinder for so long, I am not able to control digital cameras when someone asks me to take a photo with one. Yet, I did long for someway to capture these beauties.
These photos really do no justice at all to the staggering beauty.
I was thoroughly enjoying each new variation on life in a place where you would least expect such a rush of color and pride. It is a good thing that I was running because I had to resist the temptation to pick one of each flower to press and keep as if you could somehow harness their energy and save it for later. I kept telling myself to live in that moment. Enjoy those beautiful flowers and all their lives embody in the place they needed to stay.
These (below) were my favorites, even though it seems against the law of nature to choose one over the others. These caught my eye as we were driving to Mount Charleston.
There was just something about the hardiness of the stalk and the seeming vulnerability of the bloom. And, well, that gorgeous color. So, even though the photos dominate my post (thanks to the god(dess) for protecting my post from crashing as I uploaded all these pics!), these are not at all like the real thing. I wish you all the chance to get out there and see the desert in bloom sometime in your life.

I am looking forward to making a summer trip to Utah and then another fall trip to see how the seasons change the desert!

***I borrowed all these pictures from a wildflowers in the desert websites. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Faith and a New Determination

I am no longer a practicing Catholic, but I don't think you can ever really be ex-Catholic or whatever religion you were raised in. Faith lives in the same space in your heart, soul and mind regardless of the faith experience you choose to express. Even if you begin to practice another faith the feelings will show up in the same place where your previous training lives. All that to say that when I hear deep faith expressed, especially when it comes from a Catholic, it touches that faith memory.

Though I can't even be a "cafeteria Catholic," choosing some beliefs and eschewing others in order to create a comfortable place in a Catholic church, I still admire those who feel a deep calling to God through the Catholic church and those who express their deep faith in their everyday lives. So I was especially touched by this story. You can hear the depth of the faith these seminarians feel. It is not that they do not see the challenges life offers, it is that they believe.

A New Determination:
The media offers us so much input, it's hard sometimes to decide how to filter. Yesterday afternoon, I had a conversation with a colleague about taking a break from media. I was remembering Andrea's post about taking a week off to see what making time for the rest of the world would offer. I realized that I had just come off a few days of very limited media access -- since I listen to NPR all day at work, having only a few seconds of local news or even CNN is like a media blackout for me! I recognized in this conversation that having a few days without all the media input had helped me to relax.

I didn't realize it at the time, but as I listened to the news yesterday morning, trying desperately to catch up with the Obama "bitter" comment controversy, my shoulders started to hunch up and feel tense. Granted, it is a lot of computer sitting making me stiff, but it was also about the tension that I could feel myself taking in from all the bad news I was reading and listening to. Newspaper editors and local news producers know what people like to read: crime, death, and any other mayhem. I am no different than the market research will tell you; so, yes, I choose the stories that I listen to on npr and the stories I read in the newspapers I always read online.

I spent some time, in the back of my mind, thinking about how I might filter my media input. Can I limit my npr-listening, tv watching or news-reading? I was recalling the lovely time I had this weekend out in nature; seeing the treasures of the desert (will post more in the VERY NEAR FUTURE on this). But, let's be real. I am a NEWS JUNKIE. There is no chance that I am going to give it all up completely. It's like saying I will never eat dessert again. I have been able to give a lot of treats with my new eating habits over the past three weeks, but I still make room in my calorie intake for dessert.

This morning on the bus, I decided that one of the tens things that I can do RIGHT NOW to improve every day of my life is to look for AT LEAST ONE story that demonstrates happiness or joy or at least a SILVER LINING to tough issues that we face each day. I am not sure if the story above about why there aren't a lot of new recruits to the seminary is the best one to demonstrate happiness or joy...except that hearing these two men talk about their calling made me feel lighter.

When the interviewer wishes them peace at the end of the conversation, and they respond in unison "and also with you" a whoosh-like sigh moved through me. It was the memory of saying those words, and meaning them, during mass. It was knowing how meaningful those words can be regardless of it being part of a script we had all internalized. It was the faith these men had described that made me believe they believe.

May peace be with you.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Conversations with an almost 4 year old

I asked, "What did you do in Las Vegas?"

He answered, "I burped."

"What else did you do?"

"I farted."

"Me, too."

Stopped moving, eyes wide, surprised then laughing.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Where does the time go?

I have been walking around composing blog notes in my head but never quite getting the energy to type them in.

But, as I thought about time and how quickly it passes, forty started to hit me pretty hard.

FORTY years since MLK, Jr. delivered this speech? Tomorrow it will be FORTY years since his light was taken from us. Just 10 months before I was born.

Well, you get the idea.

Martin can say it much, much better than I. Listen, remember and visualize your place in this.
[This is just the last few minutes, but you see and hear him.]

[This is much longer, but it is only audio with pictures.]

[Second half of the longer piece.]