April 17th, 2006

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Good Morning!!

The day is exquisite, and the moon shining in the sky this morning is truly breath-taking. I realize this morning a view like that only happens once, only once can the lighting be just so, and each day is like that. Each day, like us, truly is unique.

Mandu is here, not happy that everyone is leaving the house today. He likes having a home full of visitors, and now, Steve is out the door, and I am soon to follow. Radiation is now at 8:30 and this is a blood taking day, and it is beautiful and no rain is predicted for four days, and even then, only a slight chance.

I read in the NY Times today, that medical programs are adding humanities classes to their curriculums. Art teaches observation, and an ability to look at the whole person, not the problem. What a great way to learn.

Here is an editorial from the NY Times. I am happy to pay taxes. I just want it to go toward helping the world, not destroying it. I also don't want it mis-used, which seems to be something the Bush administration struggles to understand. Health clinics, Yes!! Mismanagement to the point of murder and theft, No! Here is a NY Time editorials on Iraq.

An Unkept Promise in Iraq

Published: April 17, 2006

Two years ago, the United States government promised to build more than 140 badly needed health clinics in Iraq, bringing basic care to underserved areas outside the big cities. That could have done a lot of good, saving innocent Iraqi lives and building good will for the United States in places where it has grown dangerously scarce. A generous cost-plus contract was awarded to Parsons Inc., an American construction firm, to do the work, supervised by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Now, with roughly $200 million already spent and financing from Washington set to run out in less than nine months, it appears extremely unlikely that most of those clinics will ever be built. As The Washington Post reported earlier this month, the Army Corps of Engineers predicts that no more than 20 clinics will actually be completed — out of 142.

America's good intentions should not be allowed to expire with so pathetically little achieved. The country's three years in Iraq have been a cavalcade of squandered opportunities and unanticipated outcomes. Many of those are now, sadly, beyond retrieval. The health clinics are not.

There appears to be plenty of blame to go around for the health clinics fiasco. High on the list comes the Bush administration's stubborn refusal to factor the deteriorating military situation into reconstruction planning. By the time this contract was awarded, in the spring of 2004, it should have been clear that special security measures would be needed in many areas.

Beyond that, there appear to be some serious questions about the performance by Parsons and the quality of supervision by the Army Corps of Engineers. The office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction is looking into many of these issues and is expected to issue a report later this month. Sorting out the specific responsibilities is important for avoiding similar contracting debacles in the future.

Just as important is delivering on the original promise of health clinics. A new plan should be drawn up, taking a more realistic account of security conditions, and new financing needs to be found. New, and tighter, contracts need to be written and enforced.

Recent decades have been cruel to the children of Iraq, a country that was a regional leader in health care 30 years ago. Then came Saddam Hussein's diversion of Iraq's wealth into weapons, wars and palaces, 12 years of crushing international sanctions and finally, the invasion, occupation and insurgency. More children have probably died from lack of clean water and sanitation, malnutrition, and lack of health care than from the missile, bomb and rocket attacks of invading armies and insurgent militias.

That terrible history cannot be undone. But Iraqi children and their parents can still be helped to overcome some of the enduring health consequences. Let it not be said that thousands more Iraqis died needlessly because America walked away from its promise of health clinics with less than 15 percent of the job done.
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Checking in -

I have radiation this morning, and when I lie down for the procedure, I feel how tired I feel there. I don't think I am tired all the time, but there is something about the place and the enclosure that when I lie down, I just want to go to sleep. Of course, I do hop quickly out of there when I am "freed." I am out of there today with morning to spare so I stop to get my blood taken. It is cold outside, 43 degrees when I leave this morning, and she is having trouble getting blood from everyone, and I am not easy. My veins cuddle inside when it is cold, and, not only is it cold outside, but the office is cold too. I sit there shivering in my jacket, so, I leave disappointed that I have to come back this afternoon, after being poked painfully in my arm and my hand. I feel discouraged. Steve mentioned that the few poems I have written of late don't seem to be in my usual flow. I can't seem to find my flow with so much medical intrusiveness. I am trying to stay in the moment, this moment, and I do feel a bit unbalanced right now, and so, it is. I will just let it be for now. Good care to all of you.
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more thoughts -

As I try and warm up in my freezing cold house, I consider my day so far. I left here at 7:30 and got to South Eliseo in time to walk, and see and hear children riding their bikes to school. They were exuberant to be out on their own after months of rain. I read the opposing opinions in the Chronicle and decided to let all political thought go. Then, I saw the headline warning about the Big Quake that is supposedly going to happen any moment. Why would I worry about that? The letters in the paper were huge and bold, as though we should all be practicing our leaps from one side of the gaping earth to the other. Is there no other world news?

Last night, I began reading Shana Alexander's book on the kidnapping and trial of Patty Hearst, "Anyone's Daughter." Shana writes of the disruption of the times, and the children from Vietnam who were adopted by American parents who believed they were rescuing Vietnamese children. In contrast, many of the Vietnamese parents believed their children had been kidnapped.

Shana Alexander says that in April 1975, many American children were running away from home. That is when Operation Baby Lift began. "Leaving Vietnam at long last, we took with us as many children as we could. We filled the skies with "war orphans," tiny peace symbols born aloft in a final paroxysm of war guilt, sentimentality, and bad judgment. They were ferried out by the same pilots on the same planes that had flown in the bombs that had made them orphans in the first place, and then they were adopted by American families. Except, of course, that they were not all orphans."

We want to help, and the way is not often clear. We bombed Vietnam, and, then, "rescued" some children. When I traveled in Nepal, my friend wanted to bring back a wonderful young man to study here. Then, we realized he felt sorry for us, and he would be miserable without his village, his community. He belonged there, connected. He saw us as solitary and alone. How could we travel without our families? Our idea of independence was unfathomable to him.

I read that one of the reasons the crime rate is going down in this country is the number of immigrants. The Hispanic people tend to be more connected to their families, and the result is less crime.

Chris is reading a book on the years of political maneuveuring by this country. I think it is time to shine a light on our shadow, the shadow of the United States. We are the country that dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We have interfered in country after country. Maybe it is time to end the division within this country between those who see it as lily white, and those who see it as no good. I would like to see some positive banner headlines, headlines of what love can do, a positive slant of what each one of us can do with each breath, and a smile. Maybe then, there will be less fear.

So, with that, I find myself wanting to go within and nibble there, and then, come out, and nibble here. Nibbling seems right to me for now, taking in a little bit at a time. I am in bunny mode, my nose sniffing cheerfully about. I do not understand this current, created world of fear.

I consider my life, the blessings. I feel I have been traveling in a circle. I pause and nibble along the way. The enclosure of my circle, the boundary in and out, is so precious to me now, so lively, and alive. I have fulfilled my dreams, and I'm sure there are a few more pictures to put up on the wall, a few more steps to make, but I feel fulfilled, the circle complete, and maybe like the rings of trees, we just keep adding circles, adding to our bark, until our space is a little more ours, our roots more connected, and our tops on the way to the stars.