Sunday, June 29, 2008

FGC Ukelele

Poodledoc, jr and our friend Muir arrived here at FGC yesterday. We were grumpy (well, Muir wasn't). It had been a two day car ride through Chicago road construction. We got here, and lots of folks were tired. Lots of frazzled Quakers. Finally getting a chance to sit down (and do Poodledoc, Jr's 3 metric tons of dirty laundry). Trying to avoid going to the FGC Bookstore. Ha! That won't last.

Poodledoc, jr is taking a ukelele workshop and really enjoying. After his fir session this morning, he'd learned two songs. He's working on "Stairway to Heaven". He's thinking of buying one for the trip home. That should be fun.

But, all kidding aside, the much maligned ukelele has a serious history. But maybe I'll save that for another post. My laundry is almost done!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Off to FGC!!!!!!!!!!!!

No, we don't have an ice hockey team.

No, we don't make oats or dress like the Quaker Oats guy. Plus, we dont' all look so....jolly.

But we do try to take stands for social justice in many areas.....

Friday morning it's off to pick up Poodledoc, Jr from Camp Itchybottom up north. Then it's off to Johnstown, PA for the week long Friends General Conference Gathering. It's an annual event that brings together Quakers from all over. It's a week of fun, workshops, worship, seeing old friends, and making new ones. I'm taking a workshop entitled "Courage for the Dark Nights and Deserts". The description reads in part: "Faith journeys include periods of fear, dryness, reproof, and doubt. Courage and understanding help. This workshop is designed to build up both our collective courage and our Quaker understanding". Who knows what will happen?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Congress Votes to “do absolutely nothing”

In what some see as a surprise move, The U.S. House of Representatives passed House Bill 666 which stipulates, in part, that Congress will “do absolutely nothing” for the rest of President George W. Bush’s term. The bill passed by a resounding 356 to 1 vote, the lone “neigh” vote was cast by Sparky, a former draft horse representing western Nebraska. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) told a packed press conference that the way to fight the Bush administration’s possible wrongdoings “is not by impeachment, which is, frankly, a lot of hard work, but by simply doing nothing!” One reporter asked Pelosi if maybe Congress had already been doing nothing for the last 7.5 years of the Bush Administration. Pelosi, visibly angered shouted at the questioner, “This IS taking action! We are ACTIVELY doing absolutely nothing! No longer will we sit by passively while the Bush Administration perpetrates high crimes and misdemeanors. The people want change----well that’s a change!”

The bill, which has options for extensions, is expected to pass the Senate easily. Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) was quoted saying the “only worry is whether the President will sign this bill”.

McCain, reached for comment in his headquarters somewhere in Wyoming felt this was good for the country. “If Congress does nothing”, he stated, “it saves the American taxpayer lots of money to use for gas, which will solve our energy problems.”

Obama stated that when he was a street organizer in Chicago, “doing nothing was NOT an option”. Speaking to a roaring crowd of supporters at Yankee Stadium in New York, he said “this is the change we need. We need for Congress to take the bull by the horns and ACTIVELY do nothing! No more passively doing nothing while this country loses its moral compass. I say to you today, this IS the kind of change we need in this country and if elected, you will see this change through my administration!”

Reaction was swift across the heartland. One politically active teacher in Madison, Wisconsin commented to this reporter that “I’m moving to Newfoundland”. Her husband added “It sucks”.

So, what does the future hold for Congress? Apparently, not much. In the words of Ralph Nader: “Congress is irrelevant and in addition, they’re not very nice to me!”

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Happy Solstice!

Happy Solstice everyone!

For me, this is a day where I celebrate change in my life and pnder the changes to come. A time to meditate on where I've been and where I think I might be headed. What does solstice mean to you?

It all opened up

Camped in a clearing
for over a year.
Maybe more.
The nightly ritual campfire was blazing.
That particular night
I stoked it higher than usual.
Maybe because I’d felt eyes watching me all day.
Scarier at night.
That’s when the voices started in
oozing from the many wounds in my soul.
Crying out at once.
Some kind of terror.
Throbbing heart
with blood pumping.

A single voice sounded out from the cacophony
And clearly said: jump in the fire.
The tone of this voice
was different.
I trusted it, although even today I don’t know why.
And I jumped right on in.
the flames felt cool.
The coolness burned away my clothes,
My flesh, my bones.
Still no pain. No more fear.

I became smoke,
Into the Milky Way, mingling with stars.
More darkness for a time,
I felt myself tumbling through the sky.

Heading east
into the sunrise
where the Light
pierced me,
an x ray into my soul.

I squinted into the light and warmth of the sun
and it all opened up.


Friday, June 20, 2008


I liked this prayer/poem by a Quaker, so thought I'd share it-------

by Brian Dunn

Eternal Spirit;
Oh, thou infinite ocean
Of love and light
In which we live and move
And have our being,
Awaken us, we pray.
Open our eyes
That we might see
The beauty and wonder
Of thy creation;

Open our ears
That we might hear
The still, small voice
Of thy Word;
Open our hearts
That we might respond
To thy indwelling presence
In every living creature.
In the dark labrynith
Of our pain and separation,
Sustain our faith, oh Lord,
And hear our prayer;
Illuminate the path
That will lead us home to thee,
And grant that we may be
A light to those we meet
Along the way.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Alone at the carnival

All recent days in memory
I was traveling,
not sleeping much.
Drinking a lot of coffee.
Trying to eat right.

Now a pause.
Good bye to all that
For now.

I know my desk is not moving, I say to myself.
everything else IS moving.
yet able to function and launch into a dream
where I’m never good enough.
A chorus of voices
of constructive criticism
and destructive criticism
and just plain nastiness,
pounds lines in my face,
and clogs my pores.
Strips the color from my hair.
An atom bomb survivor.

Well, not really.
How could I be
SO disrespectful
to even dare to THINK
thoughts like that?
Do I think I am special?

Go away.
Go away.
I want to be at the carnival alone.
Away from the meanness.
At least for a while.

Never seeing the womb again

Waking up
I found myself
sitting in the middle of the freeway.
Cars and trucks.
I am immobile.
But breathing.
Not one vehicle touches me.
To my surprise,
and then my clinical interest,
I see I am getting younger.
Losing weight
And gray hairs
I’m 40.
An infant again.
Dust and sand kicked up by the cars
Mingles with exhaust
And pings off my chubby infant skin.
Smaller and smaller I get.
I dissolve into dust
Never seeing the womb again.

Together Under the Willow

The old dog’s out under the willow tree
They said.
The two women led me there.
I knelt down to stroke his fur.
I supposed he knew why I was there.
Turning to ask the women a question
they were gone.
I was scared.
How could I go ahead and inject the drug
that would end the pain
by myself.
I wanted the women back
To help me do this.
Help me hold the dog
so I could do the deed.

Turning back to the dog
I was startled to see that
He was holding out his leg to me.
The eyes said I’m ready just do it.
Applying the tourniquet, I found the vein easily.
Viscous pink fluid squeezed in.
The eyes closed and
body relaxed after so much pain.

Together under the willow for a while
A breeze fluffed up from somewhere.
Tickling it’s way through his fur,
the branches,
and my hair.

Me and the tree and the dog
were all connected at that moment,
I knew where the breeze had come from.
Life was different for me after that.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Secret to Success in Publishing: Bash Bush, With Nods to a Classic

Published: June 16, 2008
New York Times Online

The manuscript — unsolicited and addressed simply to “Editor in Chief, Little, Brown” — arrived at its destination in a clear envelope, “which was very clever,” said Geoff Shandler, the Little, Brown editor in chief who received the package. “Without opening it, I could see some of the cover image they had designed.”

Such was Mr. Shandler’s introduction to “Goodnight Bush,” an unauthorized parody of the 1947 children’s bedtime classic “Goodnight Moon,” written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd. (to see the cover and text samples, click here)

For generations, weary parents have intoned: “Goodnight room. Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon. Goodnight light, and the red balloon.” And who can forget the bowl of mush and the quiet old lady who endlessly whispers “hush”?

The cover of “Goodnight Bush” looks almost exactly like “Goodnight Moon — green and orange, with an image of a window and fireplace — and uses a similar rhyme scheme. But there the thematic similarities end.

The authors, Erich Origen and Gan Golan, set their story in “a situation room.” There is no bunny snuggling into bed, but rather George W. Bush, grinning and wearing a “Mission Accomplished” flight suit. Instead of three little bears sitting on chairs, there are “war profiteers giving three cheers.”

Subsequent pages tell of “A grand old party to war in a rush/And a quiet Dick Cheney whispering hush.” The vice president is illustrated seated in a rocking chair — with a shotgun in his lap and bunny slippers on his feet.

“I thought it was brilliant,” said Mr. Shandler, whose company also published the parody “Yiddish With Dick and Jane.” That book, from 2004, prompted the owner of the rights to the classic “Dick and Jane” primers to sue in 2005, alleging copyright and trademark infringement.

The publisher of “Goodnight Bush” is counting on the fair use doctrine, which allows limited amounts of copyrighted material to be used without permission. “Parody as fair use is a developing area of the law,” said Pamela Golinski, an entertainment lawyer in New York, “and as a result, whether a given parody merits the shield of the fair use doctrine is a complex question.”

A spokeswoman for HarperCollins, publisher of “Goodnight Moon,” said the company would have no comment on “Goodnight Bush.”

While the authors’ considerations were largely political, the publisher worried more about sales potential. At 48 pages, “Goodnight Bush” is the sort of short read that publishers fear will be quickly digested in stores and thus will not make it to the cash register.

“But this had so many brilliant gags,” Mr. Shandler said. “You could spend so much time looking page by page.”

For example, the mouse that flits about the pages of “Goodnight Moon” has been replaced by a tiny scurrying Osama bin Laden. At the beginning of the book, a pristine Constitution hangs on a wall; by book’s end, it is full of crayoned redactions.

An afterword to “Goodnight Bush” notes that the first lady, Laura Bush, placed “Goodnight Moon” first on her list of children’s books and that the president’s brother, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, called it one of his childhood favorites.