Wednesday, September 30, 2009

KIVA Update

I had the wonderful experience of making two more KIVA loans this
afternoon, one to Nigeria and one to Mongolia. These were both made
with funds paid back from previous loans. It is nice to know the
small original investment I made - about $100 spread over a few $25
loans - has gone out into the world, helped several small businesses,
come back to me, and been sent out again.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Boom-Chicka-Boom

Among the "joys" of growing older is the interesting phenomenon of arthritis. There is the pain, an ever-present tempo that ebbs and flows to its own beat. Some days the throb is enough that I avoid moving at all, while others it is a background cadence as I creep around. In middle spots it is just an irritating accent, a sort of hip-hop beat nagging my journey.


There is a daily tallying of which joints are working properly, which are cranky, and noting those that might suddenly quit and walk away from the gig. Imagine a rusty automaton badly in need of oil. I creak, grind, and pop my way around wondering if today is the day the rust has eaten away enough to allow a finger to fall off, or a knee to buckle and dump me on my kettledrum. Who knew that surviving this long would mean I'd make my own rhythm accompaniment as I walk?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Seasonal observation

This morning was so very fallish. I woke to a ground-hugging, leaf-
drenching fog that quickly lifted when the sun got over the horizon.
Every spiderweb on the sheep fence was bedecked in dew and looked
like rows of fisherman's nets hung out to dry. Autumn in the
countryside is beautiful.

Then there are the afternoons. Some are golden and sparkling but as
many others are eye-irritating and throat-clogging. It is a time when
folks burn the brush piles of a summer of cleaning up, or the
ranchers burn off a field to encourage new grass for their animals.
Yesterday's fire was north of us. The smoke was came south with the
breeze, so thick I could barely breathe. No prior notification so
there was no opportunity to escape upwind before the air was turned
gray. It is hard not to curse the source as I scurry about trying to
ascertain if this is controlled or some wildfire headed my direction.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"You &%$& !!"

The rhetoric and name-calling in politics (I almost said American politics but isn't it universal?) gets me down. Rather than discuss or debate everything seems to devolve into a session of spewed venom, one side against the other. This seems to be the best we can come up with for dialogue and decision making. If we were kids playing in a sandbox with parents nearby we'd all be lined up for a spanking for acting this way.


Another observation on this by fellow blogger Snowbrush: Snowbrush: The way I see it

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Poetry

Monday mornings have become the highlight of my week. Each Monday,
from 10am until noon I gather with a group of writers to read and
critique each other's work. It is a wonderful two hours of mental
calisthenics practiced with smart, educated, and literate people who
love words and understand the labor involved in crafting them into
prose and poetry.

Yesterday was a typical session. Among the offerings read were a new
editing of a chapter from a memoir, a short story, and several poems.
We discuss the pieces, make suggestions or offer praise, correct
punctuation, and make observations on technique. We are audience and
classroom - teachers and students for each other.

Okay, that's the background. What I wanted to do here was shout a
"Hallelujah!" for time spent with poetry, with people who read,
appreciate, and write the stuff. Poetry was once a mainstay of
education as well as being the joy of masses. Knowledge was passed
generation to generation through verse and song. Somewhere along the
line it became a thing mostly ignored, touched sparingly in school
(usually in pain) and to be avoided whenever possible. Many people
look on it as snooty and beyond understanding. Of course we are
surrounded by rhyme in song lyrics and the books for children but, as
a friend said to me, "That hardly counts does it?"

I think it counts. I think poetry in all its forms counts: in music,
limerick, jump-rope rhyme, advertising jingle; in Shakespeare sonnet
and Wordsworth ode; in haiku or villanelle. Some is good, some bad,
and much more mediocre, but always it expresses our emotions. Hooray
for that!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I Want My Classic Arts!

Last night I discovered that one of my favorite TV channels, Classic
Arts Showcase, was dropped from the lineup offered by our satellite
provider, Dish Network. We get tons of stupid, culturally pointless
stations but the single one that consistently offered classical music
and dance is gone. I find it about as depressing as the music on
Sirius and CD they offer. Dozens of stations of rock, pop, rap, and
hiphop in mind-numbing variations (1990 pophiprap written between 4
and 4:30pm in Chicago on a rainy Thursday) are available while the
world music is generally limited to salsa and Hawaiian. What? No
other countries produce music? And the classical is severely limited
and tends to be repetitious as well as being badly notated re:
composer, selection name, artist.

I'm not historically a fan of classical music. I've always loved
Chopin and the familiar pieces most of us know - Beethoven's Fifth
Symphony, the 1812 Overture, themes by Tchaikovsky or Bach or
Prokofiev, but in the last couple of years I've learned to love some
Mozart and some Haydn as well and that leads me to want to listen to
more. Classic Arts Showcase was a wonderful place to discover a
variety of music, to see a bit of opera and ballet. Other than PBS,
whose programming in that area seems to slowly be eroding, where can
it be found - unless you live in a metropolitan area and have a
budget for tickets to real performances?

I'm saddened by the loss of access to an electronic venue for
something beautiful and meaningful in many lives. We all lose when
society limits choice to the most profitable. The world gets a little
bit duller as we get more constricted to mainstream.