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Posts from April 2007

Evening Star


Paulo's Evening Star in the Jersey Sky / April 2007 (by Paulo)

April 2007 has been one of the bloodiest months (most deaths) for U.S. and coalition troops since the start of the war and occupation of Iraq. The horror and death continue for the Iraqi people. Let us hope that there are no more "bloodiest months."

". . . we are connected by man's harmony,
don't let us be mean but wise and strong . . ."

~ Croatian poet Tin Ujević (from the poem The Prayer for a Piece of Bread and a Dish of Lentil)

Uprisings and breakthroughs


The "money-tree plant" is a resilient improviser / April 2006

I'm trying to be positive today and pull out of yesterday's despair. Rob Brezney (see previous post about the Divine Wow) tells me that one of the most demanding and exhilarating transitions of 2007 is coming and how to get the most out of it (I think the list makes a good life philosophy):

  1. Be an early adapter, a quick study, and a resilient improviser.
  2. Hang out in places where things are just beginning.
  3. Intensify your commitment to the lessons that spontaneity can bring.
  4. Be a specialist in uprisings and breakthroughs.
  5. Give your generous attention to influences that are pure, innocent, and buoyant.

Never money to care


The House & Senate approved over 100 billion dollars to continue to fund war / April 2006

100 billion dollars to fight more war. Never enough money for health care -- especially mental health care -- or child care or veterans care. There is never money to care for each other, but always there is money to destroy each other. 100 billion dollars to kill and destroy. 1 million dollars times 100 is 100 million. How many 100 millions to make a 100 billion dollars? The number is so big it won't even fit on my calculator. Do they use their fingers to add up the sum? I can't comprehend it. It makes my brain hurt, not to mention my heart. 100 billion dollars. Always money and will to destroy, never money or will to care. What does this say about us?

All his fellow-beings for brothers


Mitza's black ribbon against war and violence / April 2007

George Santayana's mother wrote this to her husband around 1880 127 years have passed and still people are dieing at the bidding of some superior.” [3320 U.S. soldier deaths in Iraq; between 60,000 and 500,000 Iraqi civilian deaths]

I am glad that our son has no inclination to be a soldier. No career displeases me more, and if I were a man it would repel me less to be a hangman than a soldier, because the one is obliged to put to death only criminals sentenced by the law, but the other kills honest men who like himself bathe in innocent blood at the bidding of some superior. Barbarous customs that I hope will disappear when there are no Kings and no desire for conquest and when man has the world for his country and all his fellow-beings for brothers. You will say that I am dreaming. It may be so. Adieu.

~ Doña Josefina Borrás in a letter to her husband

I need to be quiet


Evening quiet / April 2007

George Santayana was a philosopher, essayist, poet, novelist, and cultural critic. I am reading his book Persons and Places, published in 1944. I came across this line and it struck a chord with me, as I need quiet, too.

I need to be quiet in order to be free.

~ George Santayana (1863-1952)

Creative Recycling


Recycling newspaper into something beautiful and useful / April 20, 2007 marked the 20th anniversary of the signing of the New Jersey Statewide Mandatory Source Separation and Recycling Act; with the signing of this act, New Jersey set the standard as the first state in the nation to mandate statewide recycling

It has become second nature for people in New Jersey to recycle bottles, cans, plastic, and paper. Every two weeks we set our pile of recyclables out on the curb. When we travel we often run into problems because we can't bring ourselves to throw bottles, cans, etc. into regular trash cans, instead we walk around aimlessly searching for recycle bins. I'm always trying to think of a way I can creatively re-use something and hate to throw things away -- it feels so wasteful. Once, as Paulo was installing a new toilet seat because the old one had cracked, he somewhat facetiously said, "I suppose you'll be wanting to use this in the garden." (Now, I do recycle all kinds of things for the garden, but even I draw the line somewhere.) The item in the picture is made of pieces of newspaper folded into thin 1/4" strips that are then rolled in circles; 14 small circles are attached with string to a large center circle. It is bright and colorful and looks like the sun or a flower and can be used as a hot pad or displayed as a work of art. For creative recycling inspiration, visit Great Green Goods, a web site that highlights products made from recycled materials.

Born in the USA


We grow by reaching up and out: New Jersey tree that has seen infusions of many immigrants to create a wonderfully diverse state / April 2007

Post Office in New Jersey, April 2007: A Hispanic couple with a young son are waiting in the post office by the table with all the forms. A post office worker, an Asian woman, comes out from the back and asks the couple if they are waiting to apply for a passport. They approach the front counter. The Asian woman speaks in Chinese-accented English. The Hispanic couple speak in a combination of Spanish and broken English. They communicate as best they can, exchanging papers and information. The passport is for the little boy. His father carries him to another part of the building to get his picture taken. The boy runs back into the room without his coat. He is wearing a crisp white shirt, dark vest, blue jeans and a leather belt, polished black shoes. He looks like a million bucks. The post office worker tells the boy's mother that he smiled for the picture. They continue to try and get all the paperwork sorted out. I took several years of Spanish in school and am ashamed that I can't step in and help. [If the genie came and offered me a wish, I'd wish that I could speak at least seven languages; imagine the richness of the world that would be available to you if you could easily communicate with so many people.] I have been entranced by the scene before me as I mail my letters to relatives halfway around the world in Croatia. Suddenly I tune in to the song playing over the post office loudspeaker: New Jersey native, Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA.

"... New Jersey is an extraordinary place produced by sustained infusions of new populations from abroad."
~ James W. Hughes (Dean, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey)

We are sad enough to know


For my K, C & M and all the other Hokies; for the 18, 19, 20, 21, 22-year old soldiers that die in Iraq; for all victims of senseless violence especially those in Iraq / Fragrant White Hyacinth Blossom (Hyacinths are sometimes associated with rebirth) / April 2007

"We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning.

We are Virginia Tech.

We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend to cry, and we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again.

We are Virginia Tech.

We do not understand this tragedy. We know we did nothing to deserve it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS, neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by the rogue army, neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory, neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water, neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized. No one deserves a tragedy."

~ an excerpt from Nikki Giovanni's Convocation Address

You've got to be kind


[I wrote this post a few days ago, and it seems appropriate after the events of April 16 at Virginia Tech. I'm thankful that my niece is safe. I'm sad for the families of those who died and were injured. Why can't we all be kind to each other? And why can't we have better gun control laws in this country?] / April 2007

One of the things I keep reading about Kurt Vonnegut is his wise insistence that people be kind to one another. It seems to run counter to the current climate in our world, but is in keeping with what I was taught as a child. Parents, aunts, and uncles were always telling us kids to be nice to one another.

To Mr. Vonnegut, the only possible redemption for the madness and apparent meaninglessness of existence was human kindness. The title character in his 1965 novel, “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, or Pearls Before Swine,” summed up his philosophy:

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ”.

    ~ New York Times

Saffron Marigold


Saffron Marigold Midnight Lotus Sheer Curtain Panels / April 2007

After seeing the movie The Namesake, I couldn't get the images of Indian textiles out of my head -- their colors, patterns, and vibrancy. I searched online, and discovered Saffron Marigold, a company that sells home furnishings that are block-printed by hand in India. Shesham wood is hand-carved to make the blocks and each design may use from 3 to 30 blocks. Pigment dyes are used with the blocks to produce the luminous colors (read the full description here). I purchased two sheer curtain panels and they arrived in a beautiful package from Mumbai in five days (and the company didn't charge my credit card until they'd heard that I'd received the curtains -- how often does that happen?!). The ethereal white lotus blossoms floating on deep cobalt blue waters make my kitchen glow.


"The lotus, in which the gods discovered their grace and majesty ..."