Friday, August 31, 2007

PT: Farewell

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region to all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider--
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give--yes or no, or maybe--
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

-- William Stafford

(William Stafford (1914-1993) taught English at Lewis & Clark for three decades, and was, in 1975, appointed Oregon Poet Laureate.)

Not mine, but a better one, to leave with you all...first posted on February 26, 2006.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

PT: Windows


Through the night mist on the mountain
I see far away a light in a farmhouse window on the plain,
the mist mellowing it until it grows yellow
as the kerosene lamp of my boyhood
by which I first studied, the lamp of a home far away in the mist.
I travel down the rays like a homing insect
beating the moth wings of thought until
I stand by a drab house at the edge of town.
Peering in, as though through time, at a little window
at the oilcloth table,
at my mother, my father, at myself
a child of five, reading a primer,
mouthing the letters.


Time, why did you run? Where is the polished brass lamp
the oilcloth,
where is the warm stove with the isinglass windows
by which we dressed in the cold mornings,
where is the old frame bed in which I huddled
with warm bricks at my feet?
Where are even the words of that time, some lost,
no longer spoken by living men?
Father, mother, take me back even though life was harsh
in the small kitchen.
Who would have dreamed
the universe so large?


Can there not be a miniature time? Some place where one stays
forever at the kitchen table,
on the same page of one's book,
with one's parents looking on,
an old photograph perhaps,
but that would have faded.
We would not truly be there.
Through the night mist on the mountain I put out my hands
but the light is gone, a fog is descending.
I do not recognize this alien grown-up body.
I will not recognize it ever.
I am there, there, in the yellow light in the kitchen,
reading on the stained oilcloth.
We are all there. I did not grow up.


I have rushed like a moth through time
toward the light in the kitchen.
I am safe now. I never grew up.
I am no longer lost here in the mist on the mountain.

--Loren C. Eiseley


Monday, August 27, 2007


Another interesting thing I learned from Michael Ballam last week: You are familiar with this painting Michelangelo made called The Creation of Adam, and you probably know he was rather famous for digging up dead bodies and making detailed drawings of muscles and organs and etc....but, have you ever noticed that in this painting, behind God, there is a heart? Or maybe, God and these angels are inside this human heart!

Is this not Cool?


Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Long "Cool" Story

I have been to the mountain again! This wonderful week has ended (BYU Education Week) and I can't begin to tell you how amazing it was. The mountains were gorgeous, the flowers were in full bloom, and the teachers were superb. While they offered a variety of classes in Communication and Finance, History, Religion, Government and Political Science, Law, Literature, Psychology, and the Arts --this year I spent all my time in Music classes.

Marvin Goldstein is a concert pianist and comedian (in that order): "Two fellows, a Jew and a Chinaman, walk into a bar...The Jew punches the Chinaman in the nose and knocks him to the floor. He gets up and brushes himself off. "What was THAT for?" he asks. "That," says the Jew, "was for Pearl Harbor!" The Chinaman replies, "But WE didn't have anything to do with Pearl Harbor. That was the Japanese!" "Japanese, Chinese, they're all the same," says the Jew. The next day the same two fellows are in the bar and the Chinaman punches the Jew. He gets up off the floor and brushes himself off. "What was THAT for?" The Chinaman says, "For the Titanic!" The Jew says, "The TItanic! WE didn't have anything to do with the Titanic! That was an iceberg!" "Iceberg, Goldberg, they're all the same!" LOL (And no, I am not a racist, nor is Marvin Goldstein, but he was born in Israel, where he practiced and practiced the piano until he got really really good! His friend Marvin Payne, who does fantastic R & B, joined him. "You're Marvin and I'm Marvin," said Goldstein. "Who would do that to a little child? But your father is Marvin, too, isn't he? My father is SAM!" he boasts. Later, picking up Paynes guitar (which he cannot play), he strummed a spontaneously atonal little chord. "I used to be a Jew," he sang. "And I still am!" Even though he converted to Mormonism several years ago....

Jenny Oaks Baker is a concert violinist with many CD's to her credit. She used to be first violinist in the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC. She graduated from Julliard and Curtis Institute of Music, but is now raising 4 children under the age of 6. One of the phenomenal pieces she performed was Paganini's piece for unaccompanied violin, which she did flawlessly 10 years ago. "I'm going to try it again," she said, "but it's really,really HARD!" Her fingers flew across the strings. At one point she made a mistake, and started again. Then stopped, and started again, apologising. "Oh, my gosh!" she said. "I did it better than this in the bathroom this morning!" But she got a standing ovation anyway!

Michael Ballam (the guy with white hair) can't be compared to anyone else. He is the main reason I keep going back He's sung all over the world, and in New York, has made a ton of CD's. Now he is the founder and general director of the Utah Festival Opera Company. He is The Most Impressive of All. I'd follow him anywhere. He spoke on Music and the Brain. "In the arts there should be no wrong answer," he says. "The arts should be a safe environment, where you have permission to be unique." He also began the Utah Children's Opera in the public schools, where kids between the 2nd and 5th grades write, direct, perform, paint sets, publicize and finance their own operas with no adult input. They have 3 rules. Nobody Gets Hurt. Everybody Participates. It's Entirely the Children's Own Work. He went to the Utah school with the lowest grade averages, in the worst part of town, and gave every child a violin. They all learned to play. They performed. They practised the first 15 minutes of every class. (The math teachers were angry, at first, telling him they had little enough time to teach math as it was). Surprisingly, the academic scores began to rise, and now they're among the top in the state. The math teachers now have their own violins and they all play together for the first 15 minutes of class. "Not very well," admits Ballam. "But that's not what matters." He says, "The most important things a child can gain from education are a sense of community, the ability to communicate beyond words, and creative thinking. THese are much more important to know than that the capitol of Vermont is Montpelier."

James Oneil Miner played a lot of Golden Oldies: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Autumn Leaves, Misty, that sort of thing....

Btw, I kept hearing myself describing things as "Cool." Isn't it just the most asinine thing to hear a woman old enough to be your grandma saying "Cool?" All I needed were some bongos and a headband.

Anyway, to make a long story longer, I took scads of notes. The turkey and cranberry and cream cheese sandwiches were out of this world, as was the burnt almond fudge ice cream cone I had. The weather was nice. And I am tired.

Lost in Translation: The legendary stone marker that announces the motto of BYU should read "The World is our Campus." The photo is not mine, and was probably meant as a joke, but it works for me either way. The campus is a world unto itself, as well as being a part of the world at large. BYU has a couple of other mottos: "The glory of God is intelligence," and "Enter to learn, go forth to serve." Next time I'll be more careful (or use my own camera). Thanks, slick.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Some Things Are Not What They Seem...

Are square A and square B the same color? Trust me. They are! This illusion (called,
appropriately, the Same Color Illusion) shows that some scientific observations, even seemingly direct visual observation, may be inaccurate.

So there! (Well, we are only human....)

*Wikipedia, Edward H. Adelson


Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I woke up this morning having dreamed of a tarantula on a rock. He was the same color as the rock, sort of a disguise (what is that called?), and when I poked him, he climbed off and crawled away....

This is one of the most detailed photos of the Tarantula Nebula, in our own local group of galaxies, taken by the ESO Observatory's Wide Field Imager. If the Tarantula was as close to us as the Orion Nebula, it would take up fully half the sky. Imagine that!


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

One More for the Road

One year old, and counting....


Sunday, August 19, 2007

When The Family Gets Together

...and we learn to love each other popping corn and having the song goes. We didn't pop corn this time, but we all had a lot of fun during our week together. We visited Kennecott Copper Mine, a mini-Grand Canyon, went to a water party in the park, and ate hot dogs and potato chips and ice cream. We went swimming. We set off alka-seltzer rockets in the front yard, and flew styrofoam birds in the air. We "went to Mexico," as Simon says (actually, a Mexican restaurant) and stuffed ourselves full, had a terrific bar-b-que with sushi and watermelon, celebrated Bookworm and Starfsh's birthdays with cake and ice cream and lots of presents, found a mouse in the backyard, had a mouse funeral with flowers and a mouse elegy. Issac made a wonderful dinosaur with sticks and tape --see, it has a long tail, two big back legs and two small front legs, even tusks! Ate again at a cowboy buffet (we ate a lot), talked a lot, laughed a lot, and loved our week together. Good times like crazy!


Thursday, August 16, 2007

PT: Better Late?


wanting to be hidden,
I wait for the old woman in the bed

half-dead already, though not yet through
with dying, to quiet.
All along the window ledge
dead brown leaves blown across
the yard by a cold wet wind
grip against the glass with clarity
and precision of vein and broken edges.

She used to cry all the time
now she only whimpers and asks
with a voice that grasps like hands,
Are the holidays here?
Not yet, I say. That seems to satisfy
I do not know
and a voice in me wishes her away
or myself gone from this place
I am afraid
seeing myself in this white-lacquered bed
grasping toward strangers.

On Christmas Day the sky clears
and the splash of wind against water
sprawls ice and sighs on sidewalks and doorsteps
the boy brings the paper
which has, beside a picture of African
and American travelers getting out of their
vehicle at Nkongsambe, West Cameroon
a picture of the Branchini Madonna
in a gown of acorns and oak leaves
in punched gold, an altarpiece in gold
brocade most perfectly preserved
and rare
She holds the standing Christ Child
in her arms, the two of them
upheld by seraphim
white doves, cornflowers and marigolds.

The glass glitters with frost
and the air is filled with smoke
Meanwhile, not enticed by such glories
as frost on glass, fragrance of smoke
nor Madonnas
she stirs, waits for the light to go
for the thudding of her heart to stop
for the frock-coated whispered gathering
and I am afraid
seeing myself in the white-lacquered bed
grasping toward strangers

(A true story)

The Branchini Madonna, painted in 1427 by Italian artist Giovanni di Paolo. -- It's clickable!


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Meteor at the Pass

Three times during the night on Sunday my husband and I got up and stood outside looking up and north, watching for meteors from the Perseid shower. As far as we could tell, nothing was happening except for the crickets singing under the stars and a lot of lost sleep....

But my son Deadboy (not his real name) and some friends went up to the top of Guardsman's Pass where it was nice and dark, without any competition from city lights, and one of his friends took this lovely picture!

Thanks for the great photo, @nt!x. (Click it!)


Thursday, August 09, 2007

PT: Thursday Again!


I dreamed of you going away
to Switzerland with a puppet lady
a little Swiss cottage

like something off a clock
stuffed with deer antlers
and hanging puppets

like naked bodies
one or the other of us
behind bars

some kind of zoo
I might have loved you
I said

then came the screaming man
with a crushed hand
I took a brown bag of

leftover potato chips
home to my husband's


Saturday, August 04, 2007

A Party! A Party!

We adopted Tinki and Lucky a year and a half ago, when they were three years old, but we never knew when their birthday really was. So we decided to decide when it would be. August 1st. And we baked a cake (honey-banana), and frosted it (Chime ate all the frosting off while we weren't looking!) and Jake found some old candles in the junk drawer (apparently the dogs are 183 years old--although that may be in dog-years). We sang the Happy Birthday song, and blew out the candles. Who could ask for a more celebratory celebration than this???

Then why are Tinki's eyes so red? And why does Lucky look so unhappy?


Thursday, August 02, 2007

PT: Quote of the Day

"Don't shoot the bird
while the bird is flying!"

(Good advice given to my daughter-in-law by her sweet mother, who got it from her father. So, what is your take on this old Philippino proverb?)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Where Have We Been?

We went to the top of the mountains, to Silver Lake, up above the world famous ski resort Solitude, and spent the morning where it is cool and beautiful. We walked around the lake, saw a herd of ducks and dragonflies, climbed on the rocks, and chased squirrels and birds. The river water is cold and fast, fish jump in the lake leaving concentric circles on the surface, Simon climbed up the crevices in the rocks like a long-legged spider monkey, and when the ducks saw Jake, they climbed out of the water and came to greet him. He thought they were in attack mode and hid behind a tree. All in all, it was a lovely morning, and only about 15 minutes away! These pictures are the next best thing to being there!

(All the pics are clickable for a better view. Look for the dragonflies in the clouds!)