Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Imprinting


Got up early with my insomnia to be greeted by this. (yes, I know that I should have brought all this inside long ago!)  Snow has already stopped and it now looks like some angry overwrought baker has spilled flour everywhere.  It all may start to melt by this afternoon.

One family in the city woke up to see their car in the middle of the paved street under four feet of water and part of their front yard being washed away due to a sink hole and a water main break.  No one warns you about stuff like that! 

On a lighter note, the fun part is going out once daylight begins and seeing what animals had the same insomnia as I and left their footprints across the yard!

Monday, January 26, 2015

The World Is Depressing Enough Without Chocolate


There is word of a major storm in the Northeast.  Newscasters salivated as they interviewed the snowplow drivers, the weather men/women, the mayors of major cities on the dangers ahead.  Three feet of snow is predicted in some places.  Winds of 60 miles per hour are predicted in other places creating deadly blizzards.  I do not know if I'd rather hear this news or the news of beheadings and terrorists across the land.  I know that I am tired of hearing who is running for the next election.  It seems that the first folks out of the gate get the money commitments and what they earn is more important than what they stand for, if anything.  (So absolutely thrilled to hear that both Sarah and Donald have thrown their hats into the ring.)

I was very sorry to learn that the Hersheys chocolate company had negotiated (bullied?) Cadbury into no longer being able to send their candy to our side of the pond!  Hershey chocolate is terrible stuff if you have eaten it.  Very sweet and not rich in flavor.  I wonder what other chocolates will be prevented from import now?  How will I live without good chocolate?  If I get cranky (crankier) you will know why.  As we approach Valentines Day and later Easter be aware of what you purchase!

Our weather yesterday was in the 40s with no wind, so hubby headed outside to get his exercise after finishing a novel he was reading.  He split a lot of wood as you can see in the photo, and if we lose power, our heatilator fireplace will keep a part of the house warm at the very least.  I truly think the storm will miss us once again.  Our luck has not run out in this new year regarding weather.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Meetings

Our garden group is starting its meetings once again after a two month hiatus.  I find that it takes all my willpower to go forth on these cold gray evenings and attend these.  Hubby who starts to fade without something social happening, even if it is just chit-chatting some stranger up at the pool, is the opposite of me and ready to go a half hour before we need to leave.  I sulk out of the house like a dog being told he has to sleep in the dog house.

I dread making small talk and am so stupid to think it is all about me.  I think I have the small soul of an artist wanting to be on the other side of the glass observing human nature rather than being observed.  Hubby is an open book and when we were first married I kept feeling as if my clothes were being stripped off of my body piece by piece as he stood beside me telling personal tales to people I hardly knew.  For him it was sharing and for me it was giving away ammo and increasing my vulnerability and taking away my "mystery."  I am sure that a psychiatrist could have a field day with this by exploring my youth and my relationship with my parents and maybe siblings.

It is all silly stuff, I know.  But I do envy those who sit right down in the crowd and are so comfortable with the brash and the quiet and the smart and the dumb, fitting in everywhere and being welcomed with open arms by everyone and not noticing the eye rolls when a joke is retold.

Yet, if you saw me at the meeting not long ago you would find that I am the one who volunteers a comment at least half the time, I am the one who talks with those on each side of me about their holidays, I am the one who looks like she is a social butterfly having a grand old time.  And when I am finally back home, I find that indeed I did have a nice time and it was good seeing faces I had not seen in some time and I am glad that I went but will forget all of this before the next time.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thanks for the Memories

While I was scanning a few of the hundreds of slides that sit in a dozen metal boxes in a cupboard, hundreds of slides that may well be meaningless to my children, and therefore, not survive much beyond their memories of their parents, I ran across this photo of the second place that I lived in the South Pacific.  It was taken from a tall rock that you can hike up to and then get such a breathtaking view.  This slide below does not show the house itself which would have been behind the trees in the lower right hand side, a brand new prefab built with a Japanese war reparations money.  Yes, I know, do not ask me to explain.



I will look for a photo of the nice little house, if I can.  What you see here is the rudimentary structure of a marine laboratory in the making.  Something only a young and optimistic person such as my husband would take on and see to completion.  Later there were ponds and pump houses and other structures and even electricity every once in a while to pump the water!

Isn't that water stunningly beautiful?  There was a little pocket beach off to the right side in this photo and we would snorkel there on lazy afternoons.  I would watch an octopus that lived in the corals just a few feet from the seawall.  Oh, you do not have to tell me, and as young as we were, we knew what a marvelous memory in our lives this was going to be!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Research, An Expensive Vitamin

Hubby got an email the other day from someone he had never met.  She was the niece of a research scientist that he had gone to school with many decades ago.  She was doing some historic exploration on her uncle, but not because he had passed away recently.  He had died a long time ago and she wanted to know more about him.  This uncle had taken a night dive off the coast of Oahu back in the 1970s and was never heard from again.  Some surmised that he had been taken by a tiger shark that had been cruising the area, but since he had had a diving partner who also never returned, there were other guesses of an accident and perhaps heavy currents.

I think this is a gray shark...photo taken by me back in the 1970's

I used to S.C.U.B.A. dive fairly often when I lived in the South Pacific, and I have posted on this time in my life earlier in this blog.  I look back on those years as if I was some other woman, because I never got out of the water until my tank was nearing empty; I was fearless.  Over the years, I preferred snorkeling, because there was more flora and fauna in the less than 30 feet water.  It was a wonderful time in my life.  We were young, just married, in good health, and the cost of diving, since we had just purchased a small outboard motor boat, was easy to swallow, as was the ability to enjoy the remote beaches sans clothing.  I should tuck a story or two away for my grandchildren to read someday so that they can think Grandma was just a little fascinating and not always a boring old lady sitting at home, because this was where my love affair with the earth kicked into high gear.

This is I next to some soft coral.

Crinoids which were my favorites when they waved their feathering "arms" in the current.

An other life form bored by all the paparazzi. (squid)

I remember seeing small sharks (3 to 5 feet long) at the edge of reefs on half of those diving days.  They ignored us and we just kept an eye on their distance and dorsal fin to check their mood as we cruised looking for interesting stuff.  (A dorsal fin is like the hair on the back of a dog.)


I digress.  Getting back to Hubby's email, Hubby thought back over his relationship with this former colleague and said he remembered that the guy was super-focused on his work which was to research cave fish that came out only at night, and therefore he had to do a lot of night diving before his grant money ran out.  There are always those that take dangerous chances for their passion and sometimes inadvertently give their life.  In spite of what conservatives like to tell you, scientists are like policemen, teachers, journalists, doctors, nurses, parents etc. They feel their work is important even if it revolves around cave fish, they do like their work, and they are as honest or dishonest as the next guy.  The huge majority of scientists are truly focused on finding the facts, taking that chance and making the world a better place with their discoveries, not on beating a drum for a preconceived agenda, or doctoring results so that they can get that pittance of a grant that barely pays for the boat fuel once a graduate student's salary is paid and lab materials are purchased.

I have worked very briefly on a committee reading and reviewing grant applications, and politics never came into the discussion on whether a grant should be awarded.  It was always whether the grant was well thought out, well written, had an accurate budget, fit the discovery of the granting institution and of compelling interest to the citizens. There were always many more grant applications than money to grant.  Scientists and their assistants spend much time writing even while researching and many good applications fall by the wayside.  Regardless of who gets the money the search for INFORMATION is the key.  (In this cave arena information involves bacteria that may have applications in cancer research, data showing changes and evolution in species adapting to environmental change, etc.)

There was a recent bill passed in the House of Congress (H.R. 1422--little chance of it ever being moved and signed but let's continue to waste the taxpayers dime) that has restricted independently funded scientific environmental experts from being appointed to boards of the EPA, because Congress feels these scientific experts "have an agenda."   It also restricts scientists that get grants from EPA to serve on the boards; I am assuming that Congress feels their results will be questionable as well.  The same bill makes it easier for petrochemical scientists to be on the boards of EPA though, because this will erase any "appearance of impropriety".  Pretend that someone who studies viruses finds that his data foretells a preventable epidemic and he gets his funding from NHS, but he must pretty much keep from talking to the primary institution and hope they read it and grasp its importance.. but those who could take action on it are well informed by pharmaceutical companies that have a new weapon against this self-same virus. (Can you tell I am furious with this ignorance or actually the greed of self-serving politicians?)

Research scientists that work for universities and the government are not the ones bringing down big salaries and making money off of polluting the air and the water and causing this documented increase in small earthquakes near fracking sites or the tremendous increase in carbon dioxide being now held in ocean waters---soon to reach its limit.  Yes, it will cost you and me money to breathe clean air and drink clean water and stem the tide of the rising oceans and mitigate the long droughts.  But at what price is a healthy world?  Although in reality it is too late to prevent some of this---islands and low lying parts of countries are going to go underwater and we will have waves of refugees leaving their sunken land in coming decades.  (A glacier recently calved a piece of ice the size of lower Manhattan and three miles wide!.)

As an aside, in my research, the FBI website lists eco-terrorists as more active in this country in causing havoc than ISIS.  I am NOT advocating that!

By the way, neither political party gets even a B from me on their environmental report cards. And sadly I think most people do not seem to care what kind of world the meek will inherit much less what they leave their grandchildren because many of faith in Congress leave it all up to God and those of money know they can build their castle high on a hill in a better climate.  I think Sophocles wrote, "No good e'er comes of leisure purposeless; And heaven ne’er helps the men who will not act."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sleeping Bits

They lay scattered like Legos
Across the cluttered space

Hard for me to see
beginnings and endings
Hard for me to judge
rhythms and emphasis
Hard for me to paint
colors and shadows.

Thinking that there must
be keys of pattern
Thinking that there must
be swells of justice
Thinking that there must
be piles of hope

Selecting each small word
Rotating it like a jigsaw
Selecting each small symbol
Turning it like a key
Selecting each abstract sound
Listening for the music

to begin
again.



Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Shoes

Chiharu Shiota is a Japanese contemporary artist.  It is difficult to find much on her except she was born in Osaka and now lives in Berlin.  She attended schools in Japan, the United States, Germany, and Australia.  Her works are original and interesting, and perhaps, full of social commentary more than artistic spirit.  Below is an exhibit that was on display at the Freer/Sackler museum which I seem to be writing about endlessly these days.  It is an exhibit of 300 discarded and found(donated) shoes (not pairs) and donated notes about each shoe tied to a piece of red yarn that goes back to that point in the corner.  The artist has collected these over the years because they are reflective of the bits and pieces of our lives that we leave behind.  I could not read the notes while I was there since most were in Japanese. I later found this link that tells the story of many of these notes.



In this photo above I included the guard who was there, I am sure, to keep small children and evil adults from playing with the display.  (I wonder if some days his feet hurt?)  You can find some interesting information on the installation here.

Shoes are often symbols of our travels across this earth via our life.  I have not had enough courage to visit the Holocaust Museum, but they have a room full of shoes that once belonged to living human Jews with precious and important lives.

Shoes represent who we are and what we think of ourselves sometimes.  Symbols of our essence maybe?  Sometimes given more importance than they deserve.  I recently posted about shoes on this blog.