February 15th, 2006

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Night Shadow -

Who can say what happens in the night when we are awakened by the wind from dreams?   This night I rise and write what comes.  I offer no reason, no theme, only some need to twine myself with the stream.

Night Shadow

I am awake.
I cannot sleep.
The wind blows the chimes,
and scrapes the chairs on the deck.
They fall to their knees.
Snow is predicted on the mountain
at 2000 feet.
Will it reach the sea,
and feast on the desert in water,
Ignite like the light
in the cactus
where the pygmy owl burrow,
and wait in a hole
for the sun,
to color the world,
as it climbs the lines,
of the sluice?
Will it taste the air,
as it steps,
gingerly at first,
then, like a root, whole and curved,
tangled and pungent,
reach like the forests
to pine and curl, until,
petals beckon and core
life to fruit
even more?
Of course!
Feel your smile!
It soars!


There is no time
    in the night.
I am given beads on a bracelet,
     red, green,
     purple, yellow,
     blue, orange,
     a speckled egg,
     an olive tree -
             birds nest in me,
             singing from the roots,
                    roots octopied,
                         with keys -



Where lines the night with when
that doesn’t count until the sun
begins to mount and count the hills
with a hum igniting one,
even as shade,
hands, like apples,
orange, red, and brown,
to blue and yellow,
grounding green,
with leaves,
to shake the wind,
and teach it how to grow -
There, we feed our head and toes,
and sow
what is sung - begun
when lung was none,
then, gill, then rung.  

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Mr. Whittington -

I find myself sending prayers in the night to Mr. Whittington, who has mainly been identified as a lawyer, and the provider of easy jokes. What a tragedy this is, and, though, at first, it provided humor, and a deeper look at Cheney's convoluted political life, this is an elderly man with a pellet lodged near his heart. I feel very sad about it tonight.
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The cost of drugs -

There is an interesting article in the New York Times today on the cost of the drug Avastin which is used to treat colon cancer, and, sometimes, breast cancer. The current cost is $100,000 a year. Some insurance policies are balking at the cost, and probably, rightly so. Sometimes it only increases life a few months. Other times, it is effective, but much of this is unproven. Now, that I am more closely connected with all of this, I think it is time for us all to pay some attention. Because the producers of Avastin are charging such a high price, the fear is that other companies will do the same. I will have my shot of Neulasta today. The shot costs $5000.00. I have eight of them. My insurance is covering the cost, but, what if they weren't? Steve and I had decided we would pay it out of pocket when we were unsure, but that was a fixed one-time cost of $40,000. What if we had to come up with $100,000 a year? Where does it stop? Perhaps money already decides who lives or dies, but it is becoming more and more obvious, more clear. I read in The World is Flat, that we are willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to save the life of an American, but we won't spend a hundred dollars to save the life of certain people around the world. It is another moral issue we each have to wrestle with, another piece of how we divide this pie we all share.
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Watery News -

Remember the days when you waited for the newspaper to come. We were on the end of the route, so sometimes it would come after seven, and we would already be out in the world. Now, I can read the news of the day in the middle of the night. I know of chocolate and hazlenuts in Turin, and a bit more about drinking water. I also remember when I could go to a drinking fountain, and it consistently worked. Now, that flow is spotty, at best. It has gone the way of the phone booth.

I give the last few paragraphs of an article on water by Julia Moskin in the New York Times today. She writes of the additives in water that now mean it is really a non-carbonated soda. People don't realize that what they are ingesting is often not healthy, and, then, there is the cost of transport, and the concern of water sitting in plastic bottles.

Julia Moskin writes:

This month the Earth Policy Institute, an environmental association based in Washington, published a research paper outlining the global issues raised by bottled water. "Water is very heavy, and moving large quantities of it, for example, 8,000 miles from Fiji to New York, takes considerable resources," said Janet Larsen, the institute's director of research. "Nearly a quarter of all bottled water around the world crosses national borders to get to its market. Bottled water is not a global environmental crisis in itself, but it is an issue of global equity and of human rights; we believe clean water is a basic human right."

In the United States, water politics have led some communities to resist incursions by the world's bottlers. A group called Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation has pursued a five-year lawsuit against Nestlé, the owner of Perrier, Poland Spring, Ice Mountain and other brands. When Nestlé was temporarily barred from pumping water from a spring on private land in Mecosta County, the city of Evart, Mich., stepped in and offered to sell Nestlé rights to some of its municipal well water, causing a public outcry. "This water belongs to the people of Michigan, who will end up paying for it again when it is put in a bottle," said Terry Swier, the group's president.

Other activists see the bottles as more problematic than the water. The plastic used for bottling water is food-safe PET, polyethylene terephthalate, which is itself made from crude oil. It was the invention of PET in the 1970's that made the portable water bottle possible. Now, according to the Container Recycling Institute, a California-based group, about 90 percent of PET bottles tossed out by Americans end up not in recycling centers but in landfills, at a rate of 30 million a day. "There is a huge amount of byproduct associated with bottled water," said Kellogg J. Schwab, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Water and Health. PET is considered safe for the drinking public, and can be washed and reused, but nutrition activists have raised concerns about its long-term health risks. Dr. Schwab says that little is known about water stored in PET over long periods and at high temperatures.

Americans are just becoming aware that a bottle of water may have its own hidden costs. At Berkeley High School in the California Bay Area, bottled water was removed from the cafeteria six weeks ago and replaced by coolers filled with filtered tap water; students fill PET bottles or reusable Nalgene flasks, a badge of cool for young hipsters. Last month a Colorado company launched the first spring water bottled in a new kind of biodegradable plastic called PLA, which is made from corn. (PLA is used by Newman's Own in its food packaging.) Bottles of Biota spring water are designed to break down at high temperatures when empty, making them not only biodegradable but compostable.

Gretchen Rubin, a writer in Manhattan, says that bottled water has gone from a pet peeve to a crusade for her. "I absolutely refuse to buy it and once shocked a group of parents when I wouldn't buy water for my daughter at the playground," she said. "Remember water fountains? This is America! Our water is drinkable!"
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For my Mother Today -

by Kay Ryan

Intention doesn’t sweeten.
It should be picked young
and eaten. Sometimes only hours
separate the cotyledon
from the wooden plant.
Then if you want to eat it,
you can’t.
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Poem by William Stafford -

Ask Me

                   by William Stafford

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made.  Ask me whether
what I have done is my life.  Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt - ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait.  We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.
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Mothers -

Vicki sent me a booklet by Ajahn Amaro called "Who Will Feed the Mice?" It is a dedication to his mother who when he spouted the Buddha's words to her about how children can never repay their parents replied, "What utter balls!" "Why do you talk about it in terms of being in debt? What could be more wonderful and satisfying than bringing children into the world and watching them grow? It isn't like a job that you need to be paid for." I agree with that.

He also speaks of the downside of "an ever-present, totally loving mother," in that "you might actually believe that you are the center of the universe!"   I, also, can relate to that.  : - )

What Amaro seeks to place to rest for himself is his desire for nonduality, therefore, no separation into the me here, and the other there, and his desire to honor his mother, as his mother, as the incredible person she was.   He speaks of two men, two "great masters," who he perceives of as "two supremely detached beings" who "built their temples on their mother's ashes."   He says, "There's a mysterious twining here of both the realization of ultimate truth and the recognition of the unique quality of that personal connection on the material plane.  It's almost as if the mother is the primordial symbol of reality, as she is the source of life on the physical plane."

I consider this now, as I feel my mother as so much a part of me, and yet, also as  very separate from me.  Maybe this is all my imagination, what I want to believe, or maybe she truly is sprinkling me with sugar and spice, as she flits here and there, and all about, and, maybe it doesn't matter, and, of course, it doesn't.  "Nothing" matters, and nothing matters.   However it is, I am joyous in the spring, as I feel her within and without, as one with all, as am I, and as participatory with me, as the I that I also seem to be, for now. 
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I am re-reading Annie Dillard's "For the Time Being." There are some lovely quotes.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:

    "The immense hazard and the immense blindess of the world are only an illusion."

    "Throughout my whole life, during every minute of it, the world has been gradually lighting up and blazing before my eyes until it has come to surround me, entirely lit up from within."

    "Be pleased yet once again to come down and breathe a soul into the newly formed, fragile film of matter with which this day the world is to be freshly clothed."

Max Picard in The World of Silence:

    "In the pictures of the old masters, people seem as though they had just come out of the opening in a wall; as if they had wriggled their way out with difficulty. They seem unsafe and hesitant because they have come out too far and still belong more to silence than themselves."

One Midrash:

    "What a person arrives in the world as a baby, his hands are clenched as though to say, "Everything is mine.  I will inherit it all." When he departs from the world, his hands are open, as though to say, "I have acquired nothing from this world."       (Or, I might add, everything, and our hands are open to hold it.)


    "The more I work, the more I see things differently, that is, everything gains in grandeur every day, becomes more and more unknown, more and more beautiful.  The closer I come, the grander it is, the more remote it is."
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Evening -

I place my morning poem here tonight.  It perhaps completes what was begun in the night.   Steve wasn't sure he followed all of that, and so it was meant to be, like dreams.  This one, is perhaps, more clear, and is my response to the beginning of this day.  All is quiet tonight for me.  I am peacefully absorbing the night, as I peacefully absorbed this day.  


the wind has passed
the day is quiet
who would know the chairs
were blown over in the night
that I awakened in disquieting fright
concerned for the trees overhead -
there is nothing to say
if I listen to the day -
all was said
the light -