July 17th, 2008

Book Cover

Good Morning!!

I woke this morning thinking how easy it is when with a child to practice Right Action-Right Speech.   We don't want to harm them in anyway, and they look so innocent, soft and sweet.  They are innocent, soft and sweet.  They repeat what we say and do.  They are mirrors.

These words of The Buddha, can guide us when we don't have a child around.

If you take care of each moment, you will take care of all time.

- The Buddha

Today is a catch-up day.   My awareness is on my "list" and treating it and myself as kindly as I would a child that carries the candle of life with gentle strength like the whale, elephant, and gazelle.

alan's marigolds

Then and Now -

Steve found himself singing this song this morning that most of us remember the Kingston Trio singing.  It was written in 1953.

They're Rioting in Africa (The Merry Minuet)

They're Rioting in Africa (The Merry Minuet)
(Sheldon Harnick)

There are days in my life when everything is dreary
I grow pessimistic, sad and world weary.
But when I'm tearful and fearfully upset
I always sing this merry little minuet:

They're rioting in Africa
They're starving in Spain
There's hurricanes in Florida
And Texas needs rain.

The whole world is festering
With unhappy souls
The French hate the Germans,
The Germans hate the Poles

Italians hate Yugoslavs
South Africans hate the Dutch
And I don't like anybody very much

But we can be grateful
And thankful and proud
That man's been endowed
With a mushroom shaped cloud

And we know for certain
That some happy day
Someone will set the spark off
And we will all be blown away

They're rioting in Africa
There's strife in Iran
What nature doesn't do to us
Will be done by our fellow man.


Copyright Alley Music Corp. and Trio Music co., Inc.
Sung By Ellie Stone ca. 1958. RG.
Also recorded by Belafonte on At the Greek Theatre
deep sea turtle

I am thrilled!!!

I love the poetry of Kay Ryan.  I believe I have all her books.  She was just named poet laureate.   Wow!!

Kay Ryan, Outsider With Sly Style, Named Poet Laureate

Published: July 17, 2008

When Kay Ryan was a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, the poetry club rejected her application; she was perhaps too much of a loner, she recalls. Now Ms. Ryan is being inducted into one of the most elite poetry clubs around. She is to be named the country’s poet laureate on Thursday.

Known for her sly, compact poems that revel in wordplay and internal rhymes, Ms. Ryan has won a carriage full of poetry prizes for her funny and philosophical work, including awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and in 1994, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, worth $100,000.

Still, she has remained something of an outsider.

“I so didn’t want to be a poet,” Ms. Ryan, 62, said in a phone interview from her home in Fairfax, Calif. “I came from sort of a self-contained people who didn’t believe in public exposure, and public investigation of the heart was rather repugnant to me.”

But in the end “I couldn’t resist,” she said. “It was in a strange way taking over my mind. My mind was on its own finding things and rhyming things. I was getting diseased.”

Dana Gioia, a poet and the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, was an early supporter of Ms. Ryan’s work, describing her as the “thoughtful, bemused, affectionate, deeply skeptical outsider.”

“She would certainly be part of the world if she could manage it,” he said. “She has certain reservations. That is what makes her like Dickinson in some ways.”

Poets, editors, critics and academics around the country offered advice to James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress, about whom to choose to succeed Charles Simic as the nation’s 16th poet laureate, who was appointed 2007. Ms. Ryan’s work has “this quality of simplicity; it’s highly accessible poetry,” Dr. Billington said. “She takes you through little images to see a very ordinary thing or ordinary sentiment in a more subtle and deeper way.”

Ms. Ryan likes to take familiar images and clichés and reincarnate them in a wholly original form. “The Other Shoe” reads:

Oh if it were
only the other
shoe hanging
in space before
joining its mate.

Her poems are spare. “An almost empty suitcase, that’s what I want my poems to be, few things,” Ms. Ryan said. “The reader starts taking them out, but they keep multiplying.”

Ms. Ryan grew up in small towns throughout the San Joaquin Valley and Mojave Desert. Her mother taught elementary school. A nervous person, her mother craved quiet, so there was virtually no television or radio playing in the home, Ms. Ryan said. In “Shark’s Teeth” she writes, “Everything contains some silence.” The poem continues:

An hour
of city holds maybe
a minute of these
remnants of a time
when silence reigned,
compact and dangerous
as a shark.

Her father was a dreamer. She once said he could “fail at anything,” having tried selling Christmas trees, drilling oil wells and working in a chromium mine.

It was after his death, when she was 19, that she started writing poems. But Ms. Ryan said she always had mixed feelings about it. “I wanted to do it, but I didn’t want to expose myself,” she said.

After briefly attending Antelope Valley College, she transferred to U.C.L.A., where she earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English.

She moved to Marin County in 1971 and lives there now, with her partner, Carol Adair.

In 1976 she finally realized that she could not escape the poet inside her. She had decided to ride a bicycle from California to Virginia in 80 days. Riding along the Hoosier Pass in the Colorado Rockies, she said, she felt an incredible opening up, “an absence of boundaries, an absence of edges, as if my brain could do anything.”

“Finally I can ask the question: Can I be a writer?” The answer came back as a question, she said. “Do you like it?”

“So it was quite simple for me. I went home and began to work.”

Public recognition came slowly. It took 20 years for her to receive acclaim for her work. “All of us want instant success,” she said. “I’m glad I was on a sort of slow drip.”

Ms. Ryan has carved out a life conducive to poetry writing. She has taught the same remedial English course at the College of Marin in Kentfield, Calif., for more than 30 years. When asked if she thought her new position would make it harder to write, she replied, “No, uh-uh. I think it will make it impossible.”

She has published six books of poetry and her work regularly appears in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Review of Books.

One of her first duties as poet laureate is an appearance at the National Book Festival on Sept. 27 on the National Mall in Washington. More formally she will kick off the Library of Congress’s annual literary series on Oct. 16 by reading her own work. The library doesn’t require much of its laureates, although in recent years many have undertaken projects to broaden poetry’s reach to children and adults. Ms. Ryan has no definite plans, but said she might like to “celebrate the Library of Congress,” adding “maybe I’ll issue library cards to everyone.”

For a woman who once shrank from exposing herself, this new position will put her in the public eye more than ever. But at this point Ms. Ryan is philosophical: “I realized that whatever we do or don’t do, we’re utterly exposed.”


One of my favorite Kay Ryan poems -

I use this poem as a guide when I feel a hesitation.


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.

       - Kay Ryan

palomar observatory - alan

The Moon -

The moon will be full tonight after midnight.  Look out and appreciate it as you think of the words of Kay Ryan's poem.

If the Moon Happened Once

If the moon happened once,
it wouldn't matter much,
would it?

One evening's ticket
punched with a
round or a crescent.

You could like it
or not like it,
as you chose.

It couldn't alter
every time it rose;

it couldn't do those
things with scarves
it does.

    - Kay Ryan


ayer's rock -

Toilet flushing -

Where I live is is common to walk into a bathroom and see a toilet has already been used.  We lived through a drought where we were confined to so little water use that we all kept a bucket in the shower, and then, used that water to "flush" our toilet.  It was a very conscious time, and it actually felt a little odd when the rationing was lifted.  I still consider each time I flush the toilet whether there is enough there to warrant the water use.  Those times return.

Why I Don't Flush

By Graham Hill, Huffington Post. Posted July 15, 2008.

The toilet is the biggest water culprit in the home -- gulping down nearly one third of your total water consumption.

When it comes down to it, it's no big whoop to let it mellow.
There are now great composting and low-flow toilets out there, but just by flushing a little less often (number 1 only please!), the amount of water you can save is huge.

I'll admit that it takes a little getting used to (mostly getting used to being ok with what your visitors may be thinking). But heck, much of the world doesn't even use toilet paper so clearly this is about perspective.

The toilet is the biggest water culprit in the home -- gulping down nearly one third of your total water consumption, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That means if you flush half as much -- say every other time -- you can trim your water bill by nearly 15 percent a month!

In the U.S., we use about 345 billion gallons of fresh water per day. How much is this? Well, enough to turn Rhode Island into a one-foot lake.

Unfortunately, our lakes and reservoirs are not bottomless. The frightening fact is the amount of usable freshwater is decreasing, according to the World Health Organization. We only have 2.5 percent fresh water on this earth, and every day, we are using more and polluting more.

This water usage calculator from the U.S. Geological Survey is a great way to figure out your household use.

William Blake - Jacob's Ladder

How would you vote?

Voters to decide: Bush memorial sewage plant?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

(07-17) 14:57 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco voters will be asked to decide whether to name a city sewage plant in honor of President Bush, after a satiric measure qualified for the November ballot today.

Backers of the measure, who for several months circulated a petition to place the measure on the ballot, turned in more than 12,000 signatures on July 7, said organizer Brian McConnell. The Department of Elections today informed those supporters, the self-proclaimed Presidential Memorial Commission, that they had enough valid signatures - a minimum of 7,168 registered San Francisco voters - to qualify for the November ballot, he said.

McConnell, who came up with the idea over beers with friends, often donned an Uncle Sam outfit to drum up support for the petition. Other signature gatherers - all volunteers - often carried around an American flag and blasted patriotic music from a boom box to attract attention. He said today that the campaign to pass the measure will be an equally grassroots effort.

The measure, if passed by a majority of voters, would rename the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant the George W. Bush Sewage Plant. McConnell said the intent is to remember the Bush administration and what the group sees as the president's mistakes, including the war in Iraq.

Some people aren't laughing, including the San Francisco Republican Party, which sees the measure as an embarrassment, even to this famously-liberal city. Chairman Howard Epstein has vowed to fight the measure with all means available to him.

A White House spokeswoman, when asked about the measure several weeks ago, refused to comment.