Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Apartmaent Living

I've lived in apartments about half my life, counting early married years and (to stretch it a bit)  college dorm life.  I'm currently on the the ground floor of an H-shaped, three-story apartment complex with about 150 apartments. I know very of the residents and only those near me by name. I wrote about a poem about a current phenomenon where I live. This is the first verse.

When my radio alarm wakes me
the peson above me gets out of bed.
His or her footsteps go into the bathroom
With me. I hear the water running.
We walk into the kitchen together,
Crows announce their morning itinery
As gulls and geese arrive loudly.
I don't know if the person upstairs hears
Or turns on the TV for the news.
I hear only footsteps, never voices.
Many nights we go to bed at the same time.
I've never met him or her -- or is it them?

I go on to say apartment living suits me.  I like my own space and  freedom of movement although for many other years I lived with people -- my parents, of course and then my husband an kids. I think of living alone as an English garden with cultivated and wild flower and many tiny creatures; into which I sometimes invite visitors.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Gasland, Parts 1 and 2

This is a picture of Josh Fox; he looks like a hippy or flower child sitting by the river with his banjo. He has more fervor than most of the '70s activists had. He is a man of determination, skill perseverence. He produced, narrated, wrote Gasland parts 1 and 2, trying to tell us what is happening throughout, not only American, but the world as natural gas companies fracture the earth beneath out continent, pouring hundreds of chemicals into our aquifers, sickening people, animals and polluting the food we grow, all in pursuit of cheap fuel .... at the expense of the ecology, the health of millions and the beauty of the country.

Much has now been written about fracking -- search for it, read about it. I am too distraut to write about it.  I have seen both Josh's films in the last six weeks and I am unable to express my horror at what is not only happening to the ecology but also to a government that once did not bow to  the greed of corporations -- indeed did not believe corporations are "people" -- special people, who don't have to pay taxes in the same way other people do, corporations that can buy Congressmen with their huge contribution which, unlike other people they don't have to disclose. Corporations who have hired the best PR firms to brain the American people about the need for natural gas and it's "safety" the way we were taught to love Coke, cars, television and tranquilizers.

In the sequel, Josh Fox shows how fracking is being done in nearly every continent in the world; that utter disregard for human and ecological safety means they are even fracking at the Saint Andreas fault, and many other earthquake prone sites. Last week's NYTimes Book Review featured Al Gore reviewing Elizabeth Kolbert's book The Sixth Extinction. I'm not sure if Kolbert talks about fracking, but she is not the first to see that extinctions are happening throughout the animal and vegetable ecosystems. We are aiming to make ourselves extinct as well -- when our water becomes so pulluted we sicken, when the methane (which fracking dumps into the atmosphere at a greater rate than any other pollutant) utterly changes our climate -- and we are seeing that throughout the world -- we are headed toward chaos. 

Fox's documentaries and all the rest I know are simply too horrible to think about very long. Many people refuse to believe the well known facts; that's one way to live with what's happening. I believe the horror of what is happening even if I am able to life out the rest of my life with comfort and reasonably good health, as i expect will be the case, I am hurting about what is happening and I feel utterly unable to do anything but write and talk about it, And that's not enough to make a difference,

Saturday, February 15, 2014

An Accomplishment

A gestation of nine months, in this case, produced an anthology, Reflections 2013, which was entirely written by members of the Academy for Lifelong Learning a Cape Cod purely volunteer educational organization. It contains prose, (mostly essays, a couple of pieces of fiction) poetry, photography and a drawing by members of the Academy, all 50 years old or upward - soemtimes WAY upward. 

As Chairman of the committee I've been involved at every step, including soliciting some specific pieces, and aranging a launch party a couple of days ago at which several people read their work to crowd of about eighty.  I am sorry the flash faded out part of that gorgeous photo of the Hunter's moon seen through our autumn maples. The back photo, for those who are unfamiliar with New England, is a cranberry bog ready for harvest.

Topics covered in the book range from a 75 year old woman skinny dipping at daybreak with her dog in a secluded pond --and being warned by a policman to never again committee lewd and lascivious behavior, to a man's memory of buying a $14 Model T Ford, fixing it up and driving it around to impress his teenage friends, and many, many contemplations about life in this beautiful part of the US, many rememberances of family and friends, to a visit to the burning ghat in Varanasi, India and so much in between.

When purchased flowers for the woman who gave hours of her time and talent to achieve the beautiful look of and arrangement of the book. I purchased a bunch of daffodils for myself because their scent means spring to me, and it was a 29 degree day with snow on the ground.  But then I was given the great spray of flowers (first time in my life I've been given such a bouquet) so I have  more beauty to look at then expected.  I found myself rereading the book last night as if for the first time.  I enjoyed it.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Don't call them "Killer" whales

I knew the documentary was going to break my heart. I thought all week about whether to go or not to see Blackfish: Sea World of Hurt.  Lili usually doesn't reveal what we'll see in the documentary film class ahead of time but, because there were scenes of the an orca at Sea World attacking trainers she told us and gave us an opportunity to stay away. But I went. The violence done to the whales was light years beyond the violence of one much traumatized orca, Tilikum. He was the one most misused but all were enslaved and treated inhumanely -- especially the mothers whose calves were taken from them.  (Their piercing cries were almost unbearable.) 

Orcas (probably all whales) have much larger limbic systems than humans. This indicates more intense feelings (so far as we know). It's clear from whale behavior that they are deeply, emotionally attached to their families (pods) which lives together  as human tribes once did. Each pod has its own language. To throw unrelated whales together in a place like Sea World is traumatic, disorienting and cruel, as is keeping them in tanks that can never approximate the freedom of the open ocean or the inlets they like in the wild.

The very idea of places like Sea World is entirely for the profit of the owners -- one has only to see the crowds at Sea World to know that those who run the place will do anything to make it profitable. In this case that means not only cruelty to the animals but misinformation to the usually idealistic young "trainers" and to the public. The exposure of their practices has not led to changes for the better and losing court battles has not lead to anything but appeals. The place will do anything to maintain that revenue for Disney.

In the span of human life, so called "civilization" is an immature idea.  Humans have become more in synch with the natural world in a one step forward, two steps back fashion (that is not a typo). As money and greed came into "civilization" wars, torture, slavery of people and animals(and the earth itself/ecology)  has progressed horribly. Yes, I knew this documentary would leave my heart and head bleeding but I gathered some information and I cannot stop believing that information is necessary to balance the bleeding heart with the rational understanding of the world we live in.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Boycotting Saturday Night Out

Enough about the weather!  The illustration is actually several time more congenial than the experience that most people have on a Saturday night in a restaurant (especially in winter  when no one has the choice of an outdoor cafe.  As of last Saturday I've gone to my very last Satuday night dinner in a "serious" restaurant.

We were four, we had reservations but had to wait fifteen minutes in a very crowded little area with two sofas, one coffee table and no other waiting area except the crowded bar.  We asked for a booth in the vain hope it would be  a bit quieter than a table in the middle of the room. It wasn't. The sound was so intense it could have been baled and used for ballast in a ship. Conversation was almost impossible which was very frustrating as I was with people who have many interest. A conversation would have been enjoyable had it been audible.

Noise is my main complaint. I have long accepted the fact that restaurants make a killing on drinks, both wine and coffee. The simple house chardonay was actually very good but not quite worth what it cost. The servings of food are generous in an all purpose restaurant (not into haut cuisine and fancy presentations). In fact, they are generous enough older people, as we were, are not inclined to have appetizers or salads. I could not finish my pasta choice but there was not enough to do the doggie bag thing.  Only one person -- who had just had a birthday and wanted to celebrate -- had a dessert which proved to be a disappointment to him.

In short, nothing was actually pleasant about the evening except the wine (and that was probably because it was a bit later than I usually eat and I was hungry). By the next morning I had decided: no more Saturday nights in restaurants. I know it's a  tradition here in middle American but I've been there, done that (and enjoyed it far more at a younger age, in less popular restaurants). 

I think how very easy it is to make a simple meal for friends -- at least at my age when I've also "been there, done that" with fancy main dishes. A simple entree, a roasted chicken, a pot roast, grilled fish with a very simple vegetable and with rice, potatoes or a pasta, is almost stress free. People can sit in a comfortable living room, have some wine or a drink, dunk a cracker or stiff chip in some purchased humus, or have some other simple appetizer. And talk, maybe share some piece of news or a new thought,even if you know one another well, there is always somehing to say. I won't change anyone's restaurant going habits -- except my own.  Certainly my one-person boycott is not going to do the local economy any harm at all. I'm too old an grumpy to be uncomfortable and pretend I'm enjoying  something that seem pointless.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Another Winter Day

The sun was bright, the snow was very white.  It was a lovely day, even the 39 degree weather was comfortable without a wind to chill me. We seem to be having back to back snows this winter.  Yesterday's 8 hour snowfall, was of the fluffy kind and stuck to trees turning the leafless ones into lace, the evergreens seem trimmed with ermine scarves.

The prediction is for more snow starting tonight and continuing through part of tomorrow. I truly enjoyed the beauty of today and did not even mind the five minutes it took to clean off my car.  But about more snow I'm ready to say "enough already!"

We really do have these amazing blue skies here at every time of year.  I cannot see too much blue in the sky.  As I write at 4:30 the bright blue is gone and a milky blue that looks like some of my gently hand dyed quilting fabrics stretches across my window.  If the snows come tomorrow, I, indeed, have quilting projects to keep me busy.

Plus I went to my favorite Goodwill store today and found a wonderful pair of Cole Hahn water resistant short boots in just my size for approximately a tenth their original cost. They are in wonderful condition. Considering that the boots I was wearing today were purchased nearly twenty years ago (and still have some years in them--but they are a different style altogether so I have need for both, or so I believe) these new boots will probably last the rest of my life. That could be considered a sad thought but I find it a very satisfying one. I have long looked at that brand of shoes and admired them and felt the price was too extravagant. So I consider today's find a real gift. Oh, and I also found the perfect red leather lady's wallet (Ralph Lauren brand) that matches my every day red leather purse. And while I'm gloating, I also found a used but unmarked edition of Thoreau's Cape Cod, and Henry Beston's The Outermost House -- two Cape Cod classics I actually have never read ... but will soon. 

Did I have a good day?  That's only part of it.  The free tai chi classes have begun again; the 45 minutes of mindful movement were wonderful. And then my poetry class offered both happy, lighthearted poems and very serious, beautifully written poems.  Some days are SO good... and this was one of them.