April 23rd, 2006

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Good Morning!!

It is a lovely day. The skies are various shades of gray and the birds are singing.

I contemplate these words.

"Activity is not achievement. It is not enough to rush about beginning a lot of things and keeping busy. A well-spent life is one that rounds out what it has begun."

-- Eknath Easwaran

I am reminded of two Redwood sprouts we received when Jeff and Chris were young. We attended Scout-a-rama and Jeff and Chris were each given a small sprout about six inches long, wrapped in a wet, paper towel. We planted the sprouts in little pots, and, then, bigger pots. One never grew more than two feet tall. It was alive, but remained a short, stubby, little guy. The other one grew and grew until it divided into two and towered over our house. I think of it this morning as I consider my life and how perhaps to "round out what has begun."

There are many ways to grow, and I have full choice now as to how my life is honed. This, with the horses, is leadership training. It is a further training in how I lead my life. May we all sow a growing awareness as we honor the cycles of rain and sun.
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Treasure our wetlands!!

Here is an editorial from the NY Times today. Yes, our wetlands protect us, and they provide a place for birds, and great beauty too.

Published: April 23, 2006

While Trent Lott is doing cartwheels to glue tourism projects to the emergency spending bill, there is a Katrina-related project that really does deserve to be added to the legislation. It involves restoring coastal wetlands and barrier islands.

Wetlands restoration has been pushed to the bottom of a very long post-hurricane priority list. That may not be surprising, but it is a big mistake. The future of the region's habitability is tied to the health of its wetlands. Long before there were levees to hold back the floodwaters, there were wetlands acting as a buffer. This giant sponge can absorb the brunt of a hurricane; shrinking the sponge leaves that much more power in storms to wreak havoc.

Much of the wetlands-shrinking is due to a long line of bad decisions before the hurricane. Since the 1930's, Louisiana has lost wetlands equal to the size of Delaware. The Army Corps of Engineers built dams, levees and canals along the Mississippi River that held back or diverted much of the sediment that had naturally replenished the delta soil. Channels dug for shipping have allowed salt water to infiltrate and kill off vegetation. In effect, our tinkering starved the wetlands and barrier islands.

That makes it all the more important to seize this moment, when the whole country's attention is focused on making southern Louisiana more secure, and begin to undo the damage. The $100 million on the table now is small change for small projects. It would pay to begin diverting water back to the marshes. The corps also needs to close one of the worst canals, the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, to navigation so it can carry fresh water and replenishing silt to the wetlands.

Wetlands protection isn't pork, and it certainly isn't starry-eyed environmentalism. It would correct a flawed approach to public works that stripped the coastline and endangered those living beyond it. Louisiana cannot rebuild just for the sake of rebuilding while the ground underneath disappears.
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What we know -

CIA Warned Bush of No Weapons in Iraq

Saturday 22 April 2006

Washington - The CIA had evidence Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction six months before the 2003 US-led invasion but was ignored by a White House intent on ousting Saddam Hussein, a former senior CIA official said according to CBS.

Tyler Drumheller, who headed CIA covert operations in Europe during the run-up to the Iraq war, said intelligence opposing administration claims of a WMD threat came from a top Iraqi official who provided the US spy agency with other credible information.

The source "told us that there were no active weapons of mass destruction programs," Drumheller said in a CBS interview to be aired on Sunday on the network's news magazine, "60 Minutes."

"The (White House) group that was dealing with preparation for the Iraq war came back and said they were no longer interested," he was quoted as saying in interview excerpts released by CBS on Friday.

"We said: 'Well, what about the intel?' And they said: 'Well, this isn't about intel anymore. This is about regime change'," added Drumheller, whose CIA operation was assigned the task of debriefing the Iraqi official.

He was the latest former US official to accuse the White House of setting an early course toward war in Iraq and ignoring intelligence that conflicted with its aim.

CBS said the CIA's intelligence source was former Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri and that former CIA Director George Tenet delivered the information personally to President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other top White House officials in September 2002. They rebuffed the CIA three days later.

"The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy," the former CIA agent told CBS.

US allegations that Saddam had WMD and posed a threat to international security was a main justification for the March 2003 invasion.

A 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, to which the CIA was a major contributor, concluded that prewar Iraq had an active nuclear program and a huge stockpile of unconventional weapons.

No such weapons have been found, however, and US assertions that they existed are now regarded as a hugely damaging intelligence failure.

But Drumheller, co-author of a forthcoming book entitled "On the Brink: How the White House Has Compromised American Intelligence," rejects the notion of an intelligence failure.

"It just sticks in my craw every time I hear them say it's an intelligence failure," he told CBS. "This was a policy failure."
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Acceptance -

Yesterday, Karen and I spoke of the difficulty of watching our mothers age, and how to deal with them as they change emotionally and physically. Karen and I would like to be better prepared, so as to spare our children the challenge of knowing how to deal with us. Perhaps that is impossible. I don't know, but my intention is for more understanding in myself, and more letting go, so there is less ego involved and fear, as I face the change that might seem like an end.

I read an article in Ode by Zalman Schacter-Shalomi called "From old age to new sage: Make the most out of your life by becoming a spiritual elder." He suggests "harvesting" our life. He began his harvest by asking himself, "If I had to die now, what would I most regret not having done? What remains incomplete in my life?"

His first step in "harvesting" his life was to meditate on his children and pray for their welfare. He then wrote each one a letter of "mushy" stuff. He also set new priorities for his professional life and personal relationships.

He feels he visited the mountaintop where he saw a vision of himself as an elder, and then, set about to bring his vision down to earth.

Not all of us have children, and not all of us would choose to do it quite that way, but I think it is important for each of us to consider, no matter what our age, what we have now and what we foresee and want to create. The five year old is an elder to the four year old. How do we advise and inspire?

Yesterday, someone shared that she knew a woman who chose after she finished her cancer treatment to each day do something she once feared. She drove a motorcycle from here to Florida. Then, she looked for her next challenge to overcome. I haven't yet decided my way, other perhaps than to know each day I need some quiet time, some renewing time. Solitude is a milk shake I choose for a portion of each day. That is how it is today, and tomorrow, I may get on a motorcycle and ride to somewhere new in myself.

Consider. What do you want to do? What is yours to complete? What apple do you want to take from the tree, and eat?
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Earth Day!

Yesterday I didn't mention Earth Day, because when I looked at all the scheduled events, I thought it was Earth Month, or, at least, Earth weekend, but today, I see that the Google Logo is again plain without solar cells and windmills blooming from its G's and E's.

I think each day should be Earth Day, so enjoy the soil with its worms, and the sky with its clouds and birds, today and everyday!
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Yay, Seniors!!

The word "senate" comes from the Latin word, "senex," which means "old man" and is the root of the word "senior." Let's honor the wisdom of our seniors, especially as we become one of them.
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Welcome Clouds!!

Who would have thought?

Check it out: http://www.cloudappreciationsociety.org/

Here is the manifesto of the Cloud Appreciation Society.

The Manifesto of the Cloud Appreciation Society

We believe that clouds are unjustly maligned
and that life would be immeasurably poorer without them.

We think that they are nature's poetry,
and the most egalitarian of her displays, since
everyone can have a fantastic view of them.

We pledge to fight "blue-sky thinking" wherever we find it.
Life would be dull if we had to look up at
cloudless monotony day after day.

We seek to remind people that clouds are expressions of the
atmosphere's moods, which can be read like those of
a person's face.

Clouds are so commonplace that their beauty is often overlooked.
They are for dreamers and the contemplation of them benefits the soul.
Indeed, all who consider the shapes they see in clouds will save
on psychoanalysis bills.

And so we say to all who'll listen:
Look up, marvel at the ephemeral beauty and life life
with your heads in the clouds!
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from the cloud appreciation society -

    "John Constable (1776-1837), the English landscape painter, said that the sky was the ‘chief organ of sentiment’ in his paintings. He become so obsessed with the clouds that, for a period in 1821 and 1822, he did away with the ground all together and devoted himself exclusively to painting cloud studies. What a clever fellow."

    "Leonardo Da Vinci described the clouds as ‘bodies without surface’ and they are a challenging subject for any artist, especially given that they never sit still for a portrait."

        Consider painting clouds today, or what surrounds them, or what they surround.

        We painted clouds yesterday, though mine sat on the ground like the eyes of ponds.
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more from the cloud appreciation society.

The Advantages of Watching the Cloud Channel
by Andrea de Majewski

The other day I lay down to watch the cloud channel, and I saw the most interesting show. A woman with long wavy hair was wearing one of those Jackie Kennedy hats with the big brim curled up, with a long translucent ribbon tied around it, which waved in the breezes behind her. She was looking up, higher into the sky, as if expecting something wonderful.

I closed my eyes to watch the woman some more, the rest of her outfit, her smile and eyes, and what she might be waiting for. When I opened my eyes, she was gone, of course. Actually I could still see where she had been, but now she had been transformed into a grimacing sock monkey.

The cloud channel has several advantages over regular TV. First off, you don’t have to choose between rabbit ears or taking out a mortgage to fund a dish or cable package or whatever. It’s free, and whether it’s on or not is completely beyond your control. Here in Seattle, it’s broadcast more often than many places. Move here, if you want to watch a lot. If it’s not on, you must do other things. The laundry, grocery shop, whatever. But if it’s on, you can postpone chores and lie down and watch it.

It’s very relaxing. One reason for this is that there are no ads. Not even the things on public television that are just like ads except shorter and more boring. No one tries to sell you anything at all on the cloud channel. So you can just relax, and enjoy the show. It’s been proven that ten minutes of the cloud channel is more relaxing than a whole night of TV.

But the kids, you say, what about the kids? They will never settle for one channel, and even if they did it wouldn’t be the cloud channel. Kids, it turns out, are actually big fans of not only the cloud channel but also the star channel and the grass channel. In fact, I learned about a channel the other day from the kid next door. The worm channel.

And if you look closely, you’ll find something on the cloud channel to please everybody, a real diversity of tastes. Once I saw Bullwinkle humping Whinny the Pooh, as Crusty the Clown looked on. Oh, that’s right. I should mention that there’s no rating, and no parental controls. No controls at all, remote or FCC-enforced. TV for those who hate control. The Cloud Channel.

© Andrea de Majewski
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The movie "Why We Fight."

The movie "Why We Fight,"  is still on my list to see.   I am sitting today with the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower in his final address as president.

    "We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.  This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence - economic, political, even spiritual - is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications...

    "We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.  The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.  We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes."

    Eisenhower, a five-star general, who became president spoke these words in 1961.  Can we hear them now, so many years later?  If we can, we can perhaps better understand what has happened to our representatives, and work for change.  I read  a review by Jay Walljasper of "Why We Fight"   in Ode Magazine. 

    One problem is this.  Chalmers Johnson, a former CIA consultant and president of the Japan Policy Research Institute says, "When war becomes that profitable you are going to see more of it."

    Ah, yes, profit.  The American dream used to be about freedom.  Now, it is profit, and anyone who interferes, beware. 

    "Historian and journalist Gwynne Dyer - who served in the U.S. Navy and taught military history at top-level military colleges in Canada and Britain, translates the Bush doctrine this way: 'The U.S. will do what it wants - and those who oppose it will be punished."

    Let's all see the movie, "Why We Fight," and be reminded of why we shouldn't.  
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William Stafford -

William Stafford was a conscientious objecter during World War II.

He says this, years later.

"I've had trouble with people in political discussions about pacifism, and so on. I remember once taking a stand: well, I can't stop war. Jesus couldn't stop war. Eisenhower couldn't stop war. Why should I blame myself for not stopping war? What I can do is, to do the things that are within my power. I can decide there's one person who won't be in it. That's a possibility. But I can't stop it, and someone who was there kept saying, "Well that answer's not good enough for me." You know, he had this John Wayne reaction: "I'm going to stop it." That leads you to terrorist acts that don't really do any good, but they relieve your conscience. I don't want to relieve my conscience; I want to do good."

On another note, in the last two days many women have said to me how they even lost their nose hairs with chemo. I must admit I never noticed that, but I am noticing my hair coming back, though not yet nose hairs. I have a lovely soft fluff on my head, and it is growing every day. I am figuring I am a couple of weeks away from no hat. Yay!!
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Poem by William Stafford -

Waking at 3 a.m.

Waking at 3 a.m. Even in the cave of the night when you
wake and are free and lonely,
neglected by others, discarded, loved only
by what doesn't matter—even in that
big room no one can see,
you push with your eyes till forever
comes in its twisted figure eight
and lies down in your head.

You think water in the river;
you think slower than the tide in
the grain of the wood; you become
a secret storehouse that saves the country,
so open and foolish and empty.

You look over all that the darkness
ripples across. More than has ever
been found comforts you. You open your
eyes in a vault that unlocks as fast
and as far as your thought can run.
A great snug wall goes around everything,
has always been there, will always
remain. It is a good world to be
lost in. It comforts you. It is
all right. And you sleep.

—William Stafford
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If you are looking for a good cause to which to donate, the Integrities Foundation is one of many. For $15.00, you receive their wonderful publication. The address is IF, 160 Sunflower Lane, Watsonville, CA 95076. The phone number is 831-724-5526. Donations are tax-deductible. Some things they do are help provide land for houses for poor people in Guatemala, support women's soup kitchens in Peru, "give a voice to grassroots leaders who speak for the poor of the world," and "facilitate networks of ecology, justice, and peace."

I pull from and quote from their Journal 19, No. 1 2006.

"Historian-philosopher Rosenstock-Huessey felt that we are called to put together a world that keeps falling apart. "Every generation," he wrote, "has the divine liberty of recreating the world."

He viewed social crisis and disintegration as a wake-up call. "Social disintegration is a blessing in disguise because it compels us to wake up!"

In the aftermath of the First World War, Rosenstock declared that Europe had to become a community of people or else destroy itself. He spoke prophetically. The European Union that we know today came of out of worlds falling apart and finally being rebuilt.

Our ability to create a different future is the divine spark in humanity. "God's specific quality in us is the ability to overcome the established forms of mind and body and create a new future.""

They suggest searching out reliable sources of information.  Check http://news.google.com, and the London Guardian at http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest, and sign up at http://democracynow.org for a daily digest of the news sent to your email address.  They also suggest reading The Nation which has been with us since the Abolition Movement and the Civil War.  The Nation is on-line at http://www.thenation.com/.  Enjoy!

We know what we have spent on the Iraq War.  In Belize, children need pencils.  A young man from El Salvador who learned to carve water birds said he never saw a pencil until he was fifteen.  Does it seem like the world's resources are not evenly spread?   Perhaps a contribution to IF can help. 
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The primary is coming up -

I am surprised to receive my pamphlet on the June primary so early, but then, I see it is nearing time to apply for absentee ballots and soon we will be voting. I note that Arnold Schwarzenegger is too busy and self-important to write a candidates' statement. Also, he does not accept voluntary spending limits. Imagine the number of commercials with which we will be bombarded. Of course, no Republican is running against him. Why then, won't he accept spending limits? He continues to amaze.

Jackie Speier is running for Lieutenant Governor. Remember when she was shot and left for dead by the People's Temple fanatics in 1978? She pledged herself, then, to public service, and has continued in that form. Good for her! She is an easy vote for me. I definitely will not vote for anyone who does not accept the voluntary spending limits. That is the first weeding, and it goes from there.

Jerry Brown is running for attorney general. I do not find a candidate's statement for him, and he,also, will not accept voluntary spending limits. Hmmmmmm! I will be interested to see if those who limit their spending can win. I hope so. I think if we make that the first criterion for our voting, we may see a real change. I encourage that. The list of who is accepting spending limits is on page 28 and 29 of your California voting pamphlet.
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Poem by Eavan Boland!

               AND SOUL

My mother died one summer -
the wettest in the records of the state.
Crops rotted in the west.
Checked tablecloths dissolved in back gardens.
Empty deck chairs collected rain.
As I took my way to her
through traffic, through lilacs dripping blackly
behind houses
and on curbsides, to pay her
the last tribute of a daughter, I thought of something
I remembered
I heard once, that the body is, or is
said to be, almost all
water and, as I turned southward, that ours is
a city of it,
one in which
every single day the elements begin
a journey toward each other that will never,
given our weather,
fail -
          the ocean visible in the edges cut by it,
cloud color reaching into air,
the Liffey storing one and summoning
the other, salt greeting the lack of it at the North Wall, and
as if that weren't enough, all of it
ending up almost every evening
inside our speech -
coast canal ocean river stream and now
mother - and I drove on and although
the mind is unreliable in grief, at
the next cloudburst it almost seemed
they could be shades of each other,
the way the body is
of every one of them and we
were all moving now - fog into mist,
mist into sea spray, and both into the oily glaze
that lay on the railings of
the house she was dying in
as I went inside.

                                  -  Eavan Boland