Sunday, October 31, 2010

WHOOP WHOOP!~ Giants lead Rangers 3 games to 1!

Sad little Texas Rangers: Dive though they may, the Giants are steam rolling this series to their first national championship, and you just can't get any further away from the perennial power house of the Yankees than the Giants of San Francisco. It thrills me, it really does!

Brazil Enters Growing Club

By electing Dilma Rousseff today, Brazil enters a growing club of countries with Women at the helm. Here is a list of the other women who are currently in the position of President or Prime Minister.

1. Laura Chinchilla
2. Christina Fernandez de Kirchner
3. Julia Gillard
4. Dalia Grybauskaite
5. Tarja Halonen
6. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
7. Mari Kiviniemi
8. Jandranka Kosor
9. Mary McAleese
10. Angela Merkel
11. Roza Otunbayeva
12. Pratibha Patil
13. Kamla Persad-Bissessar
14. Iveta Radicová
15. Dilma Rousseff
16. Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir
17. Sheikh Hasina Wajed

That's 17 women governing nations with a combined population of 1,731,489,402 or about 25% of the world's total population (17.3% is represented by India alone!) Of the 10 largest nations women have held the reigns of leadership in two more of them in the past, Indonesia (4th) and Pakistan (6th) -- both decidedly Muslim nations, how ironic.

Can you Match them to their countries? Two of these women represent the same country, one as President and one as Prime Minister. (The italics represents the nation's ranking in terms of size in the 224 nations recognized as political sovereignties in the world today.)

A. Argentina (33rd)
B. Australia (52nd)
C. Bangladesh (7th)
D. Brazil (5th)
E. Costa Rica (118th)
F. Croatia (122nd)
G. Finland (112th)
H. Germany (15th)
I. Iceland (175th)
J. India (2nd)
K. Ireland (120th)
L. Kyrgyzstan (109th)
M. Liberia (125th)
N. Lithuania (134th)
O. Slovakia (111th)
P. Trinidad & Tobago (151st)

Other notable former women leaders of the modern era include:

Golda Meir who led Israel from 1969 to 1978 and was probably the first female head of state that I was aware of as a kid. I grew up in a family where the ritual of watching the nightly news together was more sacred than eating dinner as a family.
Indira Gandhi who led India twice from 1966 to 1977 and again from 1980 until her assassination in 1984. At the time of her death I was living in Costa Rica and this may be hard to believe, but without the internet and no cable TV, my only source of English news was shortwave radio! Voice of America called it a KGB plot, and Radio Moscow blamed the CIA--it was up to Radio Free Netherlands to get the call right and identify it as the work of a Sikh extremist!
Margaret Thatcher who held sway over Parliament in the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990.
Isabel Martínez de Perón of Argentina (a.k.a. Evita!) who's tenure from 1974 to 1976 actually only lasted 632 days, while the Musical that immortalized her flamboyant life managed to keep going from 1979 to 1983 and crank out 1567 performances. The people of Argentina should have been so lucky!
Vigdis Finnbogadóttir of Iceland! She is the longest serving female head of state in modern history with 16 years to her credit from 1980 to 1996. And she was the women who hosted the Reykjavík Summit between Reagan and Gorbachev that eventually stopped the madness of nuclear arms proliferation.
There were also, Corazon Aquino of the Philippines, Mary Robinson of Ireland, Violetta Chamorro of Nicaragua (I've driven past her house!), Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines, Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan and Megawati Sukarnoputri of Indonesia.

Who will come to join that club from the United States? Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, or someone still in the wings? A senator perhaps like Claire McCaskill of Missouri or the soon to be re-elected Independent Lisa Murkowski of Alaska? How about a governor? Maybe the soon to be elected Nikki Hailey of South Carolina, or Jan Brewer of Arizona? Or will we choose an outsider, like California did when they elected Arnold Schwartznegger as governor? Oprah Winfrey? I understand she's soon to be available!

The Answers To My Quiz From The Previous Post

A - 2
B - 3
C - 17
D - 15
E - 1
F - 8
G - 5 & 7
H - 10
I - 16
J - 12
K - 9
L - 11
M - 6
N - 4
O - 14
P - 13

Today's Sermon #41


2 Timothy 4:9-10

What you've heard is true—I've gone to Thessilonika.
I've taken a room above the agora with a view
of the harbor and wake too early to merchants' voices,
bleatings of every sort, and carpets being beaten.
The innkeeper and his wife bring bread—they are kind,
and their daughter is pretty, though she has a withered hand.

At night I watch the fishing boats come in to shore,
hung with many lanterns. The men pull up their nets
and sort the catch in shifting light; they sometimes sing
a song about the moon seducing an old sailor
and drink a bit and fall asleep wrapped in their robes.
Later someone puts the lights out one by one.

In between, the days are slow, and I think of you often.
I know what some are saying, that I loved my father
and his estate more than truth and our way of life.
It wasn't the inheritance that called me back,
and I won't return to the assembly or his house.
Demetrius is here, asleep beside me as I write.

He has thrown one of his warm legs over me
in a dream, and two pears with a jar of wine wait
on the table for when he wakes. I wish you understood
how it feels to fear the truth while also loving him.
I still believe this present world is passing away,
but now it is impossible to rejoice with you.

Sometimes when I walk outside the city gates
and look up into the mountains, toward Rome
where all of you are waiting, I want to come back—
but it doesn't last. I walk home through the colonnade,
listening to the temple priests and fortune tellers,
the eastern caravans selling cedar, pearls, and linen.

The innkeeper's daughter greets me at the door,
the weak hand cupped to her breast. She has been
praying to a small bright god in the corner
of her room, for health and peace, as she has been taught.
I will go upstairs and place my arms around the loved
and living body of one who owns no household gods,

who confesses no world but this. We will watch
the sky turn dark and wait for the fishermen to light
their lamps and disappear across the invisible sea.
I pray to the God I remember, whom I love and fail
to love, knowing words are all I have to bind
us to each other, knowing they are passing too.

Grace be with you.

~ Kristin Fogdall

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Random Quote 119

"I have never been hurt by what I have not said." ~ Calvin Coolidge, 1872 - 1933

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Magic

After getting through a day that felt very much like this at one point, I came home to find "The Great Pumpkin" available for viewing on What joy!

LINUS: Hey, have you come to sing pumpkin carols?

LUCY: You blockhead, you're gonna miss all the fun just like you did last year!

LINUS: Don't talk like that. The Great Pumpkin knows which kids have been good and which kids have been bad. You'll be sorry.

LUCY: Oh, good grief!

LINUS: He'll come here, because I have the most sincere pumpkin patch, and he respects sincerity.

SALLY: Do you really think he'll come?

LINUS: Tonight the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch. He flies through the air and brings toys to all of the children of the world.

SALLY: That's a good story...

LINUS: You don't believe the story of the Great Pumpkin? I thought little girls always believed everything that was told to them. I thought little girls were innocent and trusting.

SALLY: Welcome to the Twentieth Century!

Oh, Indeed!!! And Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fly Me To The Moon...

Homemade Spacecraft from Luke Geissbuhler on Vimeo.

...and let me dance among the stars!

Republicans! Arg!

Don't we love to hate the ones we love to hate? Just sayin'.... You notice the house isn't handicapped accessible either. Damn pesky government regulations....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How Sue "C"'s Halloween

You know, Halloween is fast approaching: the day when parents encourage little boys to dress like little girls, and little girls to dress like whores, and go to door-to-door brow beating hard working Americans into given them free food. Well, you know what western Ohio? We’ve lost the true meaning of Halloween: Fear! Halloween is the magical day of the year when a child is told that their grandmother is a demon who’s been feeding them rat casserole with a crunchy garnish of their own scabs. Children must know fear. Without it, they won’t know how to behave. They’ll try Frenching grizzly bears or consider living in Florida.

So, moms, skip trick-or-treating this year. And instead sit your little toddler down and explain that daddy’s a hungry zombie, and before he went out to sharpen his pitchfork, he whispered to mommy, that “you look delicious.”

And that’s how Sue, “C”’s it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Asian Collection @ The National Arboretum

The National Arboretum was established in 1927. It comprises 446 acres of land located in the extreme east-north-east quadrant of the Capital. The northern perimeter is girded by New York Avenue, the western by Blandensburg Road. To the south is a residential neighborhood and a golf course, and it's eastern border is the Anacostia river (across which is a private botanical park called Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Once inside, its easy to forget you're surround by an urban and suburban population easily topping 1 million people.

Within it's acreage, there are 3 areas devoted to hiking: 1) The Azalea Collection, 2) Fern Valley, and 3) The Asian Collection. This past Saturday I spent time hiking the trails of the Asian Collection from which I took these photos.

The Asian Collection is actually divided into 5 separate eco-rich environments each with it's own history and purpose. From the map above: E) is the Camellia collection, D) is the Japanese Woodland, C) is the Asian Valley, B) is the China Valley, and A) is the Korean Hillside. My visit bypassed the Camellia collection and began in the Japanese Woods.

And it's here that I encountered a magnificent White Camellia in full bloom. And the best part were all of the Honey Bees that were collecting nectar from it for the hive.

Later on as I worked my way around to the Asian Valley portion of the trails, I encountered this Toad-Lily, Tricyrtis formosana, which is native to the island of Taiwan. Reminded me of the Solomon's Seal that graces my gardens in its foliage.

The Pagoda is a rest stop on the edge of the Asian Valley. You can sit in it, or you can progress to a point that was once an observation site over the Anacostia River, but is now just a dead end on an over grown trail. It could be an excellent site for a true pagoda, hint, hint....

After this I made the trek to the Anacostia and back up again to the China Valley plantings.

Here is a sea of pink anemone from that journey.

Another beautiful flower, but the name escapes me...

And finally, the end of the trail. Backlit, the foliage is like nature's version of stained-glass. Luminescent and transcendent; which is among my favorite combinations in nature!

Today's Sermon #40

Something Told the Wild Geese

Something told the wild geese
It was time to go.
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered,--"Snow."

Leaves were green and stirring,
Berries luster-glossed,
But beneath warm feathers
Something cautioned--"Frost."

All the sagging orchards
Steamed with amber spice,
But each wild breast stiffened
At remembered ice.

Something told the wild geese
It was time to fly,--
Summer sun was on their wings,
Winter in their cry.

~ Rachel Field, 1894 - 1942

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The National Bonsai & Penjing Museum @ the National Aboretum

One of the best kept secrets in the Washington, D.C. panorama of museums is the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum at the Naitonal Aboretum (another under utilized treasure!)

As the map shows, NBPM is not a traditional museum. It's not a sterile, climate controlled environment based on classical architectural symmetry. It's mostly an open air space, like a zoo for bonsai, if you will. And it's wonderful.

Today my first stop was the North American Pavilion. Here is one of the treasures I found there.

North American Collection #267: Foemina Juniper, Juniperus chinensis "Foemina". The plant has been in training since 1970 (for 40 years).

"In Training" is the constant status of a tree subjected to the Bonsai relationship.

From the North American Pavilion, it's a logical cross over to the Japanese Pavilion where I encountered these three Bonsai among so many others.

Japanese Collection #52: Trident Maple, Acer buergerianum. The plant has been in training since 1895 (for 115 years). This particular plant was a gift to the NBPM by Japanese Prince Takamatsu. The Trident Maple is also among the most popular/common deciduous trees for training in the art of Bonsai.

Japanese Collection #32: "Higo" Japanese Camellia, Camellia japonica "Higo". An example of a bush being Bonsai'd. This one has been in training since 1876 (for 134 years). It was simply stunning in reality. The trunk not only wraps itself around a stone, but provides a haven for a bed of bonsai'd ferns.

As you prepare to exit the Japanese Pavilion and enter into the intimate Japanese Stroll Garden, you encounter the crown jewel of the collection.

Japanese Collection #2: Japanese White Pine, Pinus Parviflora "Miyajima". This quintessential example of the art of Bonsai has been in training since 1625 (for 385 years). As a thing, this Bonsai is not overly impressive, and yet here you are; standing before a being that was alive 150 year before the found of the nation which it now calls home. Amazing is all I can think to call it.

Beautiful pink camellia blooming in the Japanese Strolling Garden.

Next I entered the Chinese pavilion through this beautiful circular entrance.

And the tree that first caught my attention was this Trident Maple, Acer buergerianum which was on display without any other pedigree--age unknown. Even the mongrels hold the power to thrill.

Chinese Elm, Ulmus parvifolia. In training since 2004 (for 6 years).

Further on in the Chinese Pavilion I encountered this absolute gem of the art of Bonsai and Penjing. Penjing is about the stone; Bonsai, the plant. They are placed on a platform that also allows for the inclusion of water. Altogether, the effect is that of an island, a miniature world in which the mind can escape.

As I continued to tour a little girl ran up to it and exclaimed, "Now, this is what I am saying is BEAUTIFUL!" How can you argue with that?

Here's a detail of the same Bonsai with a little statute of a fisherman.

My last stop was in the covered International Pavilion. This is the space in which they mount seasonal and/or topical exhibitions. Because it's an interior and the plants need natural light, the shows are usually brief and the space often empty. On the occasion of this visit, I discovered that a show was up: Fall Fruit & Foliage. And today was the actual opening!

Though only the poster let me in on this little fact. Lucky me!

Here are three of the trees in the exhibition.

North American Collection #214: English Hawthorne, crataegus oxycantha. In training since 1953 (for 57 years).

North American Collection #143: Pomegranate: Punica granatum. In training since 1963 (for 47 years).

Chinese Collection #141: Trident Maple, Acer buergerianum--age unknown.

What I'm Listening to #94

When I speak of R&B to my friends they inevitably imagine Old School music. But there's a New School out there, too! And Trey Songz is on the cutting edge of defining it. He is one hot package from toe to crown from intro to coda. Check him out.

Random Quote 118

"Mind like parachute - only function when open."

~ Charlie Chan, from "Charlie Chan at the Circus" (1936)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Modern Family Moment #01

CAMERON: While the spray-tanned starlet claims to be six months sober, sources down under say, she has been bar-hopping like a coked-up kangaroo.
MITCHELL: Aaah... What's daddy reading to you?
CAMERON: If I have to read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" one more time I will snap.
MITCHELL: Oh, it's not that bad....

Art With A Purpose

After years of unexplainable lawn slippage, the head gardener finally devised a solution that works!


Who are you going to ask? What have they to tell that matters anymore....that ever really mattered?

I would ask why a handful of shriveled up old white men who need viagra just to get a woody, and whose power leads so many of them to dump the wife/wives of their youth in favor of younger more sexy trophy brides, get to dictate policy and mores to the men and women who are willing and able to defend and possibly die for MY country?

Dante, O Dante?! Which ring of the Inferno is set aside for their ilk?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Today's Sermon #39

The Little Ghost

I knew her for a little ghost
That in my garden walked;
The wall is high—higher than most—
And the green gate was locked.

And yet I did not think of that
Till after she was gone—
I knew her by the broad white hat,
All ruffled, she had on.

By the dear ruffles round her feet,
By her small hands that hung
In their lace mitts, austere and sweet,
Her gown's white folds among.

I watched to see if she would stay,
What she would do—and oh!
She looked as if she liked the way
I let my garden grow!

She bent above my favourite mint
With conscious garden grace,
She smiled and smiled—there was no hint
Of sadness in her face.

She held her gown on either side
To let her slippers show,
And up the walk she went with pride,
The way great ladies go.

And where the wall is built in new
And is of ivy bare
She paused—then opened and passed through
A gate that once was there.

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 - 1950

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Absolutely Give A DAMN, Too!

The parade of celebrities continues in this campaign to give hope to GLBTQ youth, and combat the homophobes on the religious and political right who would rather enflame their base for short term advantage than seek a future where everyone is safe and free to discover their potential.

Thank you! to: Elton John, Cyndi Lauper, Ricky Martin, Wanda Sykes, Daniel Radcliffe, Dan & Terry Savage, Chris Colfer, Tim Gunn, Lilly Tomlin, Cynthia Nixon, Idena Menzel, Judith Light, Jason Mraz, Whoopi Goldberg, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Neal Patrick Harris, Chris Aiken, Anna Paquin, Margaret Cho, Bishop Gene Robinson....

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Today's Sermon #38


I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what's really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.

The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
- The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused - nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear - no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anasthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small, unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can't escape,
Yet can't accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

~ Philip Larkin, 1932 - 1985

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Canasta Anyone?

A friend sent me this image of his evening via his cell phone. It seems that R. is destined to participate in an a evening of Canasta with a group of gay men somewhere in Houston, Texas...and I'm green with envy!

Canasta (Spanish for "basket"; pronounced /kəˈnæstə/ in English) is a card game of the rummy family of games believed to be a variant of 500 Rum. Although many variations exist for 2, 3, 5 or 6 players, it is most commonly played by four in two partnerships with two standard decks of cards. Players attempt to make melds of 7 cards of the same rank and "go out" by playing all cards in their hand. It is the only partnership member of the family of Rummy games to achieve the status of a classic.
The game of Canasta was devised by attorney Segundo Santos and architect Alberto Serrato in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1939.[1] In the 1940s the game quickly spread in a myriad of variations to Chile, Peru, Brazil and Argentina, where its rules were further refined before being introduced to the United States in 1948, where it was then referred to as the Argentine Rummy game by Ottilie H. Reilly in 1949 and Michael Scully of Coronet Magazine in 1953. The game quickly became a card-craze boom in the 1950s.

I embraced the game as a child under the tuterledge of my paternal grandmother. Along with her co-conspiritors: She Zola Bible (right), Pluma Teeter (back left) and Ethel Twigg (front left) taught me to play Canasta. I know that this is a painting by Grant Wood of 3 women who were members of the Daughters of the American Revolution from Cincinnati, Ohio--BUT, it has always borne an uncanny resemblance to the woman who taught me the sport of canasta on the wide porch of my grandmother's home in the little hamlet of Flintstone, Maryland in the early 70's.

All Aboard!

Tooling around the web tonight on a completely different errand, I suddenly found myself fascinated by vintage postcards. And what I found particularly interesting was the focus upon railroad stations. It seems that images of railway stations were all the rage. And why not? At the time, railroads represented the future. They took impossible distances down to size. Trips we take for granted, commutes to work, trips to shop, the movies, vacations with our families were completely off the radar of most Americans back then. And trains were like rocket ships that could transport you to places that your grandparents never imagined being able to go to.

So is it a stretch if I equate Train Stations with churches? The biggest ones were like cathedrals without the Bishop's seat! And the religion?--modernity. The postcard was the relic that not only served the same purpose of awe and remembrance, but like all things modern, was mass produced by processes and technologies that the purchaser's grandparents could have hardly comprehended either.

Here for your pleasure are 8 to appreciate!

Jacksonville, Florida

Las Vegas, Nevada

Mount Vernon, Ohio

Somerset, Kentucky

Salina, Kansas

Lawton, Oklahoma

Pocatello, Idaho

Westfield, Massachusetts

Thursday, October 07, 2010

SCOTUS 2010.01 ~ Religious Hate Speech

Jacob Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in front of the Supreme Court on Wednesday

The Supreme Court of the United States opens it new session with a case that rubs us to the core of our constitutional rights...I hate it, but I side with free speech. It's inanely ugly and horrible and this is the most extreme example I have ever seen, but it proves the adage that "sticks and stones.....but words never hurt me." Words hurt and define the speaker, not the hearer. There lies the magic!~

The Feast Day of Matthew Shepherd

In liturgical calendars saints and martyrs are given Feast Days upon which their murders are remembered. The believers use this association to create a service of remembrance and worship complete with prayers and holy writ that recalls their lives and virtues and even the grisly circumstances of their torture and murders.

October 12th is the anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepherd. A most unlikely saint. A young man who could have never imagined an afterlife of such honor or notoriety. To me, the perfect candidate for sainthood.

And to honor this memorial, I recommend the following: Read his mother's memoir, "The Meaning Of Matthew."

This is the most profound and personal way to honor his life. It takes this gentle and troubled soul off the cross of martyrdom and pedestal of icon, and presents him as real, accessible, no less beautiful. I can't recommend the book enough. Judy shows us how a profoundly intimate tragedy becomes an international cause celeb and then redeems her son from the myths of popular imagination back into a delightful, delinquent, delicate soul...i.e. real. And it's in the plain song of his true self that the full horror of his death finds it's most resonant chord. We are so quick to embrace ideas and idealize the things we embrace, this book made Matthew real for me in a way that has deepened by understanding and appreciation of all that his torture and death have come to represent. Just sayin'....

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Glee Goes All God On Our Asses!

From a Jesus on toast moment to the near death heart attack of Burt Hummel; Glee goes from reprobate Britney Spears episode to help us O God in our hour of distress. Is this show eclectic? All encompassing? or Schizophrenic?

And yet, it is endearing. When Sue lets her sister win at checkers, when Emma runs down the hallway to get Will to tell Kurt about his father, even when Santana expresses her concern for Kurt's dad. What is coming next?