January 11th, 2008

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Morning -

I woke this morning and thought for today I would take a vow of silence, a day to quiet my thoughts.  Steve returns from Switzerland this evening, so I would wait until dinner to share words other than those necessary to function in the day.  My blog would be a beautiful, blank, white spot, but then, I began my morning writing and it became a rant, and then, something moved through and I remembered the past, and what is with me now, is that life works.  It always works.  We shift one way and then another and we continue looking for that fulcrum, that balance.  I give you my morning rant, in red, the color that seemed appropriate for letting the news of our governor move through.




Yesterday I was busy with thoughts,

piling them up like bricks,

mixing them in a pot of soup,

beating them into a devils-food cake.  

Today I vow to let thought rest

like a bar of soap

floating in a warm tub,

not even asked to meet a washcloth

and rub.


It is easy to catch the mud

flung by politicians

when they decide to cut and draw blood

by cutting funds for parks, elders and schools.


Yes, a balanced budget.

Who would think or expect otherwise.

It is wise policy to only spend the energy you have,

and to note which people in government

are sitting on their hands.


Catch anger before it molds

into a ball

thrown back.


It is to ask:

What is the purpose of government?

Why do we pay taxes?

We each have our own list.

Mine includes schools, parks, roads,

medical care, care for seniors and children,

an earth round with hope.


Surely in this land of consumption,

TV’s, computers, ipods, video games,

cell phones, and inane political ads,

there is room to fund our schools.  


What can’t a fire burn up, a flood take away,

Or an earthquake crack open?


What stakes our heads?



Writing the above breaks down my anger.  My heartbeat slows.


I see how making government workers accountable is work.  It is easier to just slash and take away what matters to us, to each one of us personally.

Wouldn’t a better work ethic at the county and state level make more sense?



When Prop 13 passed, schools in areas like ours suffered.  We parents got together and raised money through bake sakes, carnivals, and walk-a-thons.  Our children walked twenty miles in the heat for a little trophy, but we had money to fund computers, music, and art.  At the time, there weren’t computer teachers, so I and other mothers learned basic computer languages and taught the children with fingers and feet.   We were proud of our computer lab.  The teachers gave up their lounge.

We had huge discussions on whether since we were a school and it was for the better good, we could buy a program and copy it to all the computers.  We decided it was not ethical and did not, so one computer would have one learning program, and slowly, we made our way.  It meant for strong friendships.  Of course, at that time, housing prices were reasonable.  Mothers in our area did not have to work outside the home.  We were the last of a generation.  Most of us chose not to expose our children to television unless it was an episode of Sesame Street at 5:00 while we were cooking dinner.  How prehistoric this must sound.  

Sugar?  No way!  Their taste buds and bodies were sacred temples.  Jeff thought a sundae of home-made yogurt, avocado, and wheat germ was a special treat.  Yes, I actually made my own yogurt in those days and refried beans from scratch.  They are not what you get in a can.  

When we realized we needed more money to fund our schools, we worked to pass Measure C which added a couple of hundred dollars to peoples’ property tax.  Those over 65 were not taxed unless they so chose.  It passed, but I live in an area where people have time.  There were many mothers who worked, but were not paid.  We organized and got what we wanted for our children.  Not every school district has that.   And today as I say this, I know this is not that world, and rightly so.

It is not what I choose or expect for my daughters-in-law.  One is a doctor.  The other works for a non-profit and in her spare time is president of the young Democrats in the East Bay. My children were raised in an unusual time, and place, but what I see is that we have to honor our children and schools.  I did not vote for this governor, but, now there he is.  My sense is that if he could run for president, he would work a little harder to find a more sensible solution than what he is proposing.   And maybe this will get us back up in arms, volunteering in our schools, taking up the slack.


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Viewing the last post lifted my mood.  Now I need to clear my clutter and I'll be floating with the stars, the celestial ones.

I, also want to recommend the movie I watched last night called After the Wedding.

I don't think I will ruin the movie by saying that at one point a man tries to convince a child from an orphanage in India to come to Denmark with him.  He has already told the children that in the west the homes are far apart, and the children understand that the people live far apart too.

When I was in Nepal, my friend wanted to bring the child of a sherpa back with her to Marin County to educate.  She felt it would give him the tools he needed to "succeed."  It was kindly and generously meant but we were put in our place.  They saw that we traveled alone.  We each flew there separately.  We each lived alone at the time.   They had a village, with constant physical and emotional touch.   They felt sorry for us, and we knew the child, who was a young man of sixteen, could not survive here.

It is an interesting lesson today as we consider budget cuts.  Let's build a community and huddle close and not close anything that matters like schools, parks, and senior care.  Let's gather for the good of us all and yes, balance the budget in intelligent ways.

If a video like the one just viewed can be produced, then, surely we can have a budget in the great state of California that works!!

We have an actor for governor.  Maybe we the people need to write his script.
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Becoming more comfortable with the state of death -

Oh, I know you think I am now going to write about CA, a state that seems to be dying on the vine, but, no, I'm not.

In APR, David Lehman, has an article called The Visionary Walt Whitman.   I am going to pull one paragraph out because I think it is important to realize that we can become more comfortable with the death state before we die.  It is a practice, a practice of letting go, not our favorite or easiest practice, perhaps, but one that is important nevertheless.  

David Lehman:

    In a curious way Whitman's secret life overlaps with Emily Dickinson's.  Dickinson, the poet of dashes and telegraphic urgency, and Whitman, the poet of the deep breath and the long line, are alike to the extent to which they obsess about death.  For both, the problem of human mortality is an insistent challenge, not an abstraction but an experience somehow to be endured.  Death in life is real and vivid and (for Whitman) sometimes hauntingly sensual.  Like secretive notes, written without the expectation that they will ever be read, Dickinson's poems tell you that she died for Beauty, that she had a brief conversation with one who died for Truth, that she could hear a fly buzz, that she was able to stand up, and other privileged details that attendees of their own funerals seldom notice and never report.  From Dickinson's poems you might also suppose that she had died and written them posthumously..  "To have been immortal transcends to become so," she wrote as though having been in both states.

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Elephant dung paper -

When I wrote about elephant dung paper, I never expected to receive some in my very own mailbox, but Elaine read the post and was in Thailand in 2005 and she saw elephant dung paper being made and bought some stationery.  I knew it was special as soon as I saw the envelope in the mailbox.  The mailman had thoughtfully placed it on top of the pile.  He knows special too.  

Elaine and her family also saw elephants paint flowers on a canvas with their trunk.  Again I have read about it and seen some of their paintings in magazines, but now, I have a delightful collage of an elephant painting with his trunk, all from elephant dung paper.

What a treat.  It gives a whole new meaning to making lemonade from lemons.