May 10th, 2006

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News -

I come to the computer this morning feeling a bit demoralized. I  am in physical discomfort. They put a metal strip over the scar before they take a picture. Having that taken on and off yesterday and all the marking and pushing on an already sore area has me feeling a wee bit miserable this morning, but I made it through my shower and I am dressed, and ready to write with Jane and then hop in the car and hope that today moves more smoothly than yesterday. I am moving a long a bit gingerly, though I'm not sure where that term came from since ginger has quite a bite.

So, with all that, I come to the NY Times and guess what is almost front page news today, our little Marin County Point Reyes Light, and a controversy between the new and present editor. I can only laugh at the nuttiness of this world in which we live. Here is an excerpt from the controversy.

    Though its origins run deeper than any single event, Mr. Plotkin and Mr. Mitchell agree, their disagreements spilled into public view after a conversation in Mr. Mitchell's car on Feb. 16 about a quintessential local controversy: a proposed land swap involving the park service and a ranch that would bring development close to the heart of town.

    Mr. Mitchell says he cautioned his successor that if he did not consider the ranchers' views, they would want to wring his neck.

    "I then parodied a rancher getting ready to strangle him," Mr. Mitchell explained. "This was in the context of satirically telling a story."

    Mr. Mitchell added: "Plotkin said I choked him without squeezing. Now, I think that's an oxymoron."

    If the editors of the Point Reyes Light can't get along, well, then, it doesn't bode well, so we also, have the president of Iran writing a letter to Bush informing him  that an invasion of Iraq can  not be reconciled with Christian values. I agree, but find it ironic that Bush needs the president of Iran to point it out. I thought he read the Bible, or maybe just the first page. After all, it is a really long, and, at times, rather dull book.

    I have decided to be present with the pain.  It is.   My own personal raindrops are falling hard today though the sun is brightly out.  In this moment, I have some discomfort, and I am ready to dial Jane, and that brings a smile to my face and soul.   Joy to you all!!
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presence and poems -

Today, in the shower, I thought about what I was feeling, knowing that presence is truly feeling and honoring what is there, and then, it can change.

When I went to write today, I found two poems from yesterday.  I decided I like them, so I place them here.   They are from last night, and then, there is the poem for this morning.  Jane and I were talking about the theme of  "Getting Along," and so we both began there.  Mine is more personal, my own parts getting along, and hers is more universal, all of us getting along.

May we all continue in celebration of  another whole day!

            Mind Full

I used to water quickly,
check that off my list,
and now I water carefully,
like a monk with one can,
and one plant,
one tree upon a star,
one rose,
with dew rising
up into my nose,
my heart. 



I play my energy today
like a slide trombone
in and out, up and down.
I want my notes to soar
on an open door that fans
the air in welcoming shouts
from the crowds that bobble
the stadium of care -



Getting Along


so many kinds of pain,
a symphony today -
the rash has its own tone
a grating sound
like a stick drawn across a board
formed as a porcupine,
each quill sharp and fast as a 32nd  note.  
The swelling is a drum,
Boom, Boom, Boom.
The scar is a triangle,
Ting, Ting, Ting.
My underarm is a violin,
long notes lifted to the sky.
My gut no longer believes in a grand finale.
The cello come in,
as tears fall,
plucking the strings of a harp.  


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Jane's Magnificent poem of the day!!!

Here is her proposal. May we make it true.

It would be like daylight savings time, twice a year.
We'd pick a moment, maybe the first second of each solstice
When midnight arrives in a boat on the New Zealand coast.
Wherever we'd be - each of us - we'd sit.
On the out breath we'd all say ONE.
We'd do this - all of us -for twenty minutes.
For awhile we'd all be in rhythm - seaweed in the current.
Sighing and bleeding together until the next time.

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Checking in -

I have to laugh as I read my friend Vicki's comments on how up-beat I have been, as I feel myself losing it a bit today.

As I lay there today, it was painful like yesterday, and I felt like I was in a torture chamber. I wish I had been better prepared for this part, and I realize each person's response to the radiation and pain is different, but I think hearing this was the easy part did not prepare me for what was yet to come. The problem is that any touch is painful right now, even my soft camisole, so the need to place a piece of metal over the scar and poke and write on me, and then, put plastic on me, and write some more is hard, but the template is now done, and I had radiation today which actually also felt painful. It was a minute after a set-up of probably 30 minutes. Francine doesn't work on Tuesdays, so I worried that a doctor I didn't know made the determination the new template is okay. It is a piece of lead shaped just for me so I am radiated in just the right place.

I learned today from a guy in the waiting room that the computers are so exact that the treatments are never exactly the same amount of time, because the power or force is programmed in, but the treatment is affected by the temperature of the room and the humidity, and so it takes everything into account and gives just the "right" amount.

The machine was pressed against me to figure out the template, and that was not so much fun either. Anyway, I appreciate all these people running around and checking that everything is just right, and today, again, I felt like crying. I was literally shaking while trying to stay still. The radiation is cumulative even after it is done, so it is continuing to worsen, and will continue to do so, even though now certain parts are not being radiated. I realized today when I looked in the mirror that I am burned. When Mary Pat, the nurse, checked me today, she gave me a new ointment to use, instead of the Lanolin. It is Aquaphor and I will use it over the Hydrocortisone for the next two and a half to three weeks. The problem is mostly where I have been sunburned in the past. That area raises and new skin forms underneath, so when this heals, I'll peel and have a new layer of skin in some places. There are women who have been sunburned over the whole breast. Try to imagine that. Yech! I feel like an ad for covering up. I am really staying away from the touch of the sun right now.

So, the good news is that Mary Pat, the radiation nurse, called me yesterday and said that Dan had an opening for a massage today. I had not returned to him because I thought I was doing so well, and I didn't want to take the time, but I was not doing so well yesterday, or today, and so, I appreciate Mary Pat's call.

I have been reading a book on communicating with dogs so I just nodded a hello to Ralston, Dan's seeing eye dog, but he rose and came right over and gave me a full-on kiss, something that dogs, I now know from the book, "The Other End of the Leash" rarely do. They usually approach from the side.

I told Ralston how pitiful I felt when Dan was out of the room. Then, I told Dan that I was feeling miserable. I felt guilty last time complaining because Dan is legally blind. Today, I felt lousy enough to confide how lousy I felt. He was a baker, before his blindness took that away, and he knows just what to do. I explained it was painful to lie on my stomach, but we made it work. Last time I was there, we had quite a chat, and I think that is why I hadn't returned, but today, when I went to the bathroom and looked at myself in the little cotton robe, and saw the burns, I realized yes, I am really not doing so well, and it is okay to tell him that, and just feel the massage, so I did. It is just upper body and allowed me to feel how tense I have been, and to let go. He held my head.

In the waiting room, Kirk fed the fish, and said that he had just heard that porpoises actually call each other by name, that they have individual names for each other. I thought of the Bible and the power of naming. It seems we are not alone in that. Kirk also said that when he was in Hawaii snorkeling, he learned that sharks did not need to be feared if porpoises were nearby, as the porpoises attack any sharks that get aggressive. How wonderful to have porpoise protectors.

I remembered when we swam with the dolphins in the Bahamas how we learned that dolphins can tell if a woman is pregnant even before she knows. They treat her as they would a pregnant dolphin.

As I lay on the table feeling the massage, I felt like a cave with new openings in my being. The pain does route out new space for joy.

Dan said he learned a new quote. It was something about cremating disappointment rather than embalming it. It was appropriate as I have been feeling disappointed that my "ending" is not quite as I had envisioned. I wanted to float out of radiation on wings. I felt today like I was crawling out, crippled, and I know we can't walk until we crawl, so it is okay.

I am with the words, "To err is human; to forgive is divine." I see how in the medical process everyone is doing their absolute best and they are human. We all are. So, we have a chance to forgive ourselves, others, the world. It is a great opportunity that way. I could be angry that toxins are still poured into the world, but, why? We are all in this together. On the way home, I heard an interview on NPR that though Americans and the British are so wealthy right now, we are not as happy as we were when we were less so. Wealth increases choices, and, an array of choices, does not necessarily mean happiness. I understand.

Yesterday, a good friend shared something she has been through, something unbelievably painful for herself and others, though there is healing now. I realized today that we need to pull back and take a whole view. We can't know where we are on the ship. The bow may be going up to meet a wave, or crashing down. We may be in the center of the ship, or waving the flag in the stern.

These last few days have been important. I think I am feeling what I have been through, how long it has been, and how much I want to be done. I have had enough.

Someone finished today and brought in coffee cake. She was so busy handing out slices, she didn't want to go in for her final treatment. They told her you can't celebrate until you are done. I am ready for my graduation. I am willing for my seas to calm.
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Checking in -

Mandu determined that I needed to rest, so he left his place on the deck and sat on me in the chair and made sure I took a nap. I feel much better. Perhaps some of this is just feeling tired. I finished the book "The End of the Leash," which I recommend even if you don't have a dog. You are still encountering dogs, and it is a useful book on communication with animals, which are often like ourselves, though perhaps, a little more knowing than we. I love this quote by Henry Beston in "The Outermost House."

    "For the animal shall not be measured by man.  In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the sense we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.  They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth."

I love thinking of animals as other nations.  Well, we see how well we are doing there.  No wonder we struggle so with the difference between a meaningful hierarchy and domination and aggression.  Aggression leads to aggression.  What a surprise!

I place the first page of an editorial from the NY Times here. I continue to find it disturbing to see how Bush destroys to hide his mistakes.

Spy vs. Spy

Published: May 10, 2006

South Royalton, Vt.

THE resignation of Porter Goss after 18 months of trying to run the Central Intelligence Agency and the nomination of Gen. Michael Hayden to take his place make unmistakable something that actually occurred a year ago: the C.I.A., as it existed for 50 years, is gone.

Once the premier American intelligence organization, the agency has now been demoted to a combination action arm and support service for the rapidly growing Office of the Director of National Intelligence, headed by John Negroponte.

The C.I.A. used to coordinate, write and sign all "finished national intelligence" — no longer. The C.I.A.'s director used to lead the meetings of the heads of the numerous organizations that make up the "intelligence community" — no longer. The C.I.A. used to have final say on many aspects of intelligence "tasking" — no longer. Last to go was the role that made the agency pre-eminent, responsibility for briefing the president. Now that job belongs to Mr. Negroponte, with his $1 billion budget and staff of 1,500.

What finally humbled and gutted the C.I.A. after decades of Washington bureaucratic infighting was a loss of support where it counted most: the refusal of the Bush White House to accept responsibility for the two great "intelligence failures" that prompted Congress to reorganize our services.

The first failure laid at the feet of the agency was the inability to prevent the surprise attacks of 9/11. In fact, the C.I.A. (and others) warned the White House often during the first eight months of 2001 that an attack was coming and where it was coming from, but the Bush administration did nothing. For reasons of broad national psychology, the White House's failure to stir itself was simultaneously overlooked and forgiven by the public, while the C.I.A. (and others) got held to strict account for failing to predict the day and the hour.

The second failure was the claim — "with high confidence" — in a National Intelligence Estimate sent by the C.I.A. to Congress in October 2002 that Iraq was making vigorous progress on programs for weapons of mass destruction. But this finding was in effect dragged out of the agency by the White House and the Pentagon. Agency analysts working on the issue assumed that Saddam Hussein was up to something, but they knew their evidence was thin and ambiguous; many of their superiors knew about contrary evidence but suppressed it.

Everybody at the C.I.A. — from George Tenet, then the director, down — knew the agency could not tell United Nations weapons inspectors where to find anything over a period of months. The C.I.A. knew it didn't know what sort of weapons program Iraq really had, and absent White House pressure the analysts would have written an intelligence estimate reflecting their uncertainties. (It is worth noting that the Senate Intelligence Committee, despite a promise to do so, has been conspicuously reluctant to examine the source of the pressure for the drumbeat of alarming weapons intelligence, or how the White House made use of it.)

President Bush might have accepted responsibility for these two failures. He might have followed the example of President John F. Kennedy, who took the blame for the disastrous C.I.A. attempt to put a rebel army ashore in Cuba in 1961. Instead, the administration hid the existence of the pre-9/11 warnings for as long as possible and continued to insist for many months after the Iraq war that Saddam Hussein's illegal weapons might still turn up, and it has blocked any official investigation of its role in exaggerating the slender intelligence that existed.

Blaming the C.I.A. for these failures led to Porter Goss being sent to Langley. First on his to-do list was to put an end to what White House perceived as a lack of loyalty to administration policy. This supposed treachery took two forms: leaks of pre-Iraq war intelligence findings that predicted problems the White House is to this day still trying to minimize; and pessimistic reports from the field that contradicted rosy announcements of progress from the Pentagon.

The article goes on, but I figure this is enough. Check it out if you want more.

Thomas Powers is the author, most recently, of "Intelligence Wars: American Secret History From Hitler to Al Qaeda."
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If Bush had ever read Orwell, would he understand?

I wonder sometimes if Bush is able to comprehend how destructive this is. Here is an editorial from the NY Times -

An Agriprop Guide to Cluck and Awe

Published: May 10, 2006

A furious collective heehaw is surely the only proper response to the news that ranking bureaucrats and other occasional speechmakers at the Department of Agriculture have been instructed to include "talking points" of praise for President Bush's handling of the Iraq war in their routine rhetorical fodder.

Detailed instructions on how to segue from, say, domestic soybean production to Mesopotamian nation-building were e-mailed to scores of department workers. Included was a caution that speechmakers should keep a record of their compliance, and turn in point-scoring summaries to be tallied for weekly reports to the White House.

The news of this latest exercise in Orwellian cravenness was broken by Al Kamen, the Washington Post columnist long trusted by the capital's career bureaucracy as an outlet for leaking the slings and arrows of political appointees pitching spin.

The suggested talking points for agency workers to use before farm and agribusiness audiences include the poultry angle: pointing out that Iraqi farmers use U.S. aid to buy American feed and are working to "update 25-year-old chicken houses" as national stability takes hold. A barnyard stemwinder could deal with the ticklish subject of civil rights by noting that Iraq "has been evolving for 230 years" and is "still working to become a more perfect union" with the administration's help.

And there's nothing like a fresh back story in the war on terror. "Iraq is part of the 'fertile crescent' of Mesopotamia," where mankind first domesticated wheat thousands of years ago, this suggestion begins. Then it moves to the clincher: "In recent years, however, the birthplace of farming has been in trouble."