Saturday, April 26, 2008

Push Polling

Just because someone is engaged in living a peaceful life and doing things to help others does not mean that he won't take serious action when confronted with what he considers to be an affront to integrity in our political system. A pollster working either directly or indirectly for the Clinton campaign found this out the hard way when he called my friend David in North Carolina. David not only had the presence of mind to record the last part of the call, but contacted Scott Walterman, the head of news programming for XM Radio. After that, the story took on a life of its own. You can read it at one of the following links or at David's blog, World Changing 101, or you can google 'push polling David LaMotte' and read any of the 929 references that I just found.

Soundtrack for this post: For What Its Worth, Buffalo Springfield

Friday, April 25, 2008

Opportunity Knocks (X3)

We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another. ~Luciano de Crescenzo

Her Dogness and I were headed for the park when we saw the person walking up the road carrying a couple of market bags from our local grocery chain. We live on a dead end road that is about three miles or so long. It is probably about three and a half to four miles from the end of the road to the bus stop so not a lot of people use it and there isn't much foot traffic down here. There are a few people who hike up to the bus stop now and again but I had not seen this person before. I think what got my attention was that I couldn't tell if it was male or female. Tall and square shouldered, the person had a waist length ponytail and a gimmie cap pulled down over the top of it. Even a glance in my rear view mirror offered no clue but did reveal a walking cane.

It was a muggy day that promised to be hot a sweaty really soon. I wanted to get on with our walk and get back to the house before that happened if possible. We spent about twenty minutes or so in the park and headed home. As we made the hard left and started into the straight away that leads to our house, we saw the same person. This time, her loose hair was dancing wildly in the breeze of a passing truck as she struggled along the side of the road with her loaded bags. With a car just a few feet on my tail, I slowed down but was unable to stop. I got home and cleaned up a little, had a snack, gave Lani water and completed a few other mundane tasks that I can't remember before heading out again to fun some errands. I was almost to the end of the road when I saw her yet again. She had only gotten a few yards farther along from where she had been the last time I'd seen her. A truck close behind me but I stopped anyway.

"Do you need some help?"

"Oh, yes! I'll give you a couple of bucks to take me up the hill. Just get me up the hill and I'll be able to make it the rest of the way."

"Let me go up there and turn around."

The road is a narrow two lane affair with a center stripe but no sidewalks. I had to go about fifty yards to a driveway to turn around. Meantime, she is standing in knee high weeds.

"I can't thank you enough. I didn't think I'd have to do this today. I didn't know how I was going to make it up that hill."

There is a low water crossing just below my house, after which there is a sharp rise in the land which forms a short but steep hill.

"Where are you headed?"

"Just let me out anywhere after the S curve. I can make it the rest of the way."

"I might as well take you on home. I have to turn around somewhere anyway."

"You know where Etta (St.) is?"

"Sure, I used to live just past it."

I took her to her mobile home where there were a couple of cars in the driveway. She explained that her battery was dead and that they hadn't had time to jump start it.

"If you ever have trouble, I hope someone stops to help you."

"They already have."

She tried to give me two bucks but I was backing out of her drive already.

I passed her by twice before I stopped to help. I wonder how many others had passed her as she struggled with those bags. How desperate had she become to walk almost two miles to the bus stop and try to make it home with those heavy bags? I am grateful that I was given that third opportunity to make a difference for someone else.

Soundtrack for this post: Chuck Brodsky's
We Are Each Other's Angels (I just found this version and I love it. I hope you will give it a listen.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Favorite Poet

April is Poetry Month so I thought I'd post a poem by my favorite poet, Ranier Maria Rilke.(To be fair, I took Robert Zimmerman out of the mix. I think the fact that he was just awarded a Pulitzer Prize illustrates that there is still justice in the world.)

As Once the Winged Energy of Delight

As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over childhood's dark abysses,
now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges.

Wonders happen if we can succeed
in passing through the harshest danger;
but only in a bright and purely granted
achievement can we realize the wonder.

To work with Things in the indescribable
relationship is not too hard for us;
the pattern grows more intricate and subtle,
and being swept along is not enough.

Take your practiced powers and stretch them out
until they span the chasm between two
contradictions...For the god
wants to know himself in you.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Soundtrack for this post: Ray Wiley Hubbard's The Messenger.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Good Cause

I have made several references in previous posts to my friend David LaMotte, a wonderful singer/songwriter from the Asheville, NC area. I just returned from one of his concerts and was reminded of one of his many projects. David and his wife Deana spent their honeymoon in Guatamala where they visited several schools. One of the schools had several glaring needs....water run from the well to the restrooms, a place to prepare lunch for the kids and a few other things. The cost to build the lunch facility and run the water line was about $1000.00us. David returned home and began telling his audiences about the situation. He collected the needed funds in only three shows. That was the beginning of PEG Partners, a grass roots organization which now provides funds for several schools in the country.

I invite you to take a look at the PEG Partners website and be sure to watch the video. Contribute if you feel like it, but if you don't, just soak in the inspiration. Enjoy.
Photo is borrowed from David's website.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Where Is He?

I have been following this story with some interest since I am familiar with the area in which it is taking place. I can't help wondering why Gov. Goodhair has been completely silent during this event. These people are being housed in a museum. Ft. Concho is a restored post Civil War fort that is pretty much in the middle of town. It was not restored with the idea that anyone would actually live there. There are no fences around it. There is no way that there is sufficient plumbing (bathrooms, kitchen facilities, etc.) for four hundred people to stay there for very long. I would be surprised if there were any showers at all. The only places that could possible house that many people comfortably in San Angelo are the schools and the university which ,of course, are not available this time of year. Where is our state leadership?

Monday, April 7, 2008

A Question

Why is it that listening to Funk 49 is just not the same unless you are lying on shag carpet with your head between a couple of speakers so big they have to be counted as furniture?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

What Spring Looks Like Here

Last year at this time, the park where Lani and I walk looked like the picture in the header of this blog. Cooler temperatures and a dry winter have delayed the wild flowers this year and they are just beginning to bloom a little. However, there are some flowering trees that are just beautiful. Click on the photo to get the full impact of it.

Friday, April 4, 2008

You Asked For It, You Got It

I expereinced a small disaster when my spring form pan sprung a major leak. I probably lost an half to two thirds of a cup of this ambrosia all over the oven. Luckily, most of it got on the cookie sheet that I had placed under the pan and on my baking stone which came from Lowe's and can be cheaply replaced if need be. The cookie sheet and the spring form pan will be replaced today.
I have tasted some of the overflow and it is delicious and worthy of the home made cream cheese.

The Great Cheesecake Weekend

All of this talk about cheesecake reminded me of this story.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was living in San Angelo, TX . I was in a very unhappy marriage and working a job that could have driven anybody crazy. The thing that saved any sanity I might have had was the community of people I found at the Kerrville Folk Festival. These were people who lived life on their own terms and I really had never seen that done before. Kerrville in those days was the great equalizer. When a person is covered in a couple of days worth of caliche dust, it’s pretty much impossible to tell if he or she is a pauper or a millionaire. Nobody much cared either. After the second year, I started camping with the same people every year. One cold, rainy weekend we named our camp ‘Camp Stupid’ as in ‘just shut up and camp, Stupid’. For the first four or five years that I attended the festival, I did not keep in contact with anyone during the rest of the year. It was always a surprise to see who showed up, who didn’t and who was the new Kerrvirgin.

About ‘92 or ’93 I started going to the three day festival on Labor Day weekend. It is officially called the Wine and Music Festival but most of us just say Little Fest. In ’94, my daughters and I got to the ranch and did not see anyone we knew. We put some pup tents in the middle of what was then the meadow and before long some friends came and fetched us. I remember a couple of guys just pulling the stakes up and carrying the tents down the hill and putting them under the tree where they were camped. One of them kept saying that he could not wait for me to meet his girlfriend. This was mildly surprising since I had met his wife the previous spring and I was a little bit wary of meeting a woman who would be his girlfriend. As it turned out, the girlfriend was close friends with the other tent carrier for whom I have the ultimate respect. We became close friends very quickly. Neither of us can figure out to this day what she was doing with that guy. He turned out to be quite a character, a shifty one at that.

A few weeks later, I drove to Abilene, TX to a Bernice Lewis concert. It turned out that Ol’ Shifty was the promoter. (He could be several posts or one long one but we won’t go there now.) He started insisting that I come to New Braunfels the next weekend for a Halloween Party that my friend, with whom he was now living, was having. He got my phone number and they called me up and talked me into coming. It did not take a lot of talking on their parts since by then I was needing to get away from home and from my job as often as possible. My friend, A, was living in an old catalog house on a farm on the outskirts of town. She was house mating with D and they were raising their daughters together. The three younger girls had a room in the attic which A and D had remodeled themselves. This included hanging drywall and everything. I did not think that there was anything that D did not think that she could do. She seemed to think that anyone could do just about anything if they put their mind to it. The oldest daughter had a room to herself in the front of the house. When I showed up with my girls, there were six girls and three women. That’s a lot of estrogen in one house.

I went to the party and maybe someday I’ll write about the Halloween parties we had in that old house. This was the beginning of my almost monthly visits to New Braunfels. It became my haven in a lot of ways. Yes, there is a tie in to cheesecake.

I always tried to take something special for everyone when I went down there. Sometimes it would be a special bottle of wine or rum. One time it was croissants for breakfast. One particular weekend lives in our memories as the Great Cheese Cake Weekend. I made a huge cheesecake and we polished it off pretty quick. D got it in her head that we needed another one. She and I went to HEB and got the ingredients. As soon as it was baked, we put it in the freezer. About three hours after the first one was finished, we started on the second. D was still talking about my cheesecakes the last time I saw her, just a few hours before she took her leave of this realm. I had taken her one a few weeks before while she could still enjoy it. It seems that beating cancer was the one thing she didn’t think she could do.

The house came from a catalog
So many years before
Every time I drove up
I found an open door
We’d meet there in the summer
Sometimes in the fall
Two sisters, four daughters
They welcomed us all
New Braunfels days mmm mm New Braunfels days

A smile of lights
Over a makeshift stage
That tall Canadian sang
Fairies danced
Upon the grass
I wished that night
Would never pass
New Braunfels days mmm mm New Braunfels days

We were howling at the moon
The train whistle blew in tune
New Braunfels days

Now those daughters are grown
They're out on their own
The sisters both have moved away
Sometime I drive
South on 35
See that old house up on that hill

New Braunfels days
I start thinking about
New Braunfels days
I’m always thinking about
New Braunfels days
I love thinking about
New Braunfels days


Since I don't have an uploadable version of that, the soundtrack for this post is Lowry Olafson's
Blanket In the Cold

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Are We Really This Greedy?

I have been working with the Law Of Attraction since before I had a name for it. The essence of the Law is that we are in some way responsible for everything that comes into our lives. ( Living and working with it is a little more complicated than that, but that is because we make it so.) In theory, this means that GW, the war in Iraq, the mortgage crisis, etc. are manifestations of our consciousness. Of course, so are beautiful music, flowers, great food and all the other things that we love. One of the ways that I have been using this information is by becoming aware of what I give my attention to. Because of that, I have given this story the least amount of attention that I could manage. I have focused on a good outcome for everyone involved. While it seems that there has been a positive resolution for the family involved, I am still appalled by the sheer greed of the corporation I usually refer to as 'the Evil Empire'. It appears that the corporation had to become fearful of the negative publicity it has been receiving due to the major media finally picking up the story and publicly shaming it before it was willing to reverse its direction in this matter. In reading the company's comments, I couldn't find anything that remotely says that the people directly responsible feel any regret toward what this family has been put through or that they are taking steps to make sure that this does not happen again. I wonder how many other people have been treated this way and the media either never found out or did not report it. At any rate, critical mass as to what our society will put up with in the amount of greed targeted toward individuals in such a blantant manner appears to have been reached. I hope that other corporations which have been engaging in this behavior sit up and take notice. In the meantime, I am sending am email to my congressman asking that he consider introducing or supporting legislation to stop this.

Soundtack to this post: Stephen Taylor's Better World

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Update on the Science Experiements

The cream cheese turned out better than I had thought it might. In fact, it is wonderful...sweet and creamy, almost too rich to eat but I think we will manage somehow, just in small amounts. maybe I'll make a cheesecake. That is what someone who lives with me is hoping.

The beans? A total disaster. They not only smelled awful even after rinsing more times than I counted, but after 5 hours of cooking, they were not getting the least bit soft. We put them outside to cool and Stephen threw them over the back fence into the woods.