thinking of my mother on father’s day

It’s Father’s Day tomorrow, and I’ll think about him then.

But today I’m thinking about my mother because we find ourselves in East Sandwich MA driving along roads that we drove with her a dozen or so years ago when I took her on the last vacation she had.

When I rented the house we are now in (for this week), I had forgotten that we all had been out this way before, before dementia took my mother away into her own world.

It was my son-in-law who recognized familiar sites — the place we had gone several times for ice cream; the miniature golf course where my mom actually did very well for a little old woman in her 80s. And then I remembered, too — taking her into Hyannis to shop, taking her on a nature walk through some strange grove of bamboo that also served as exhibit space for even stranger sculptures. She had time to sit and laugh with her granddaughter and grandson-in-law. It was a good time for all of us.

I think of her now after we walked on the beach this evening — my daughter, her husband, and the soon-to-be nine-year old.

Someday, after I’m gone, I hope that they will smile when they remember this vacation with me — despite my limping along with a bout of vacation-annoying sciatica.

I am thinking of my mom today and wishing that I had been able to giver her more chances to enjoy her family while she was still able to enjoy them.

I am looking forward to this week of relaxation and adventure with my family. (Even the drive out with several stops to ease my grandson’s car-ride queasiness was part of the adventure.) There are plans to go to Plymouth and make other day trips around the Cape. Chances are, however, unless my sacroiliac calms down, I might just sit on the deck and read.

After all, I’m on vacation, and Cape Cod Bay is just the perfect place to be.

proselytizing by any other name is still…

There are some things I will never understand, and one of them is why it seems so impossible for people to have strong convictions/beliefs without proselytizing.

Religious fundamentalists of all ilks are the big offenders, but I’m seeing more and atheists who are becoming similarly inclined. And it seems to me that there is a big difference between making one’s case/having an intelligent debate and trying to convert someone from her or his way of thinking to yours.

In truth, I’m a big fan of Pharyngula’s PZ Myers and Skepchick’s Rebecca Watson — both hard-nose atheists whose function in this larger world group of thinkers seems to be to press the offensive line of rationality against all who are against them. They are both incredibly brilliant, and, in that brilliance, incredibly arrogant. But, hey, they are so good at what they do that I enjoy the ride they take me on. (Watson’s clips on youtube are in-your-face riveting.) And they are not wrong in their analyses. But neither does that mean that they are all right.

Let’s face it. There will never be global agreement on why we are here and how we got here. Sometimes scientific evidence and religious beliefs might overlap. But usually their perceptions of reality are just too different.

I read somewhere recently something that explained that science is a way of knowing, and knowledge evolves as evidence is uncovered; religion is a way of believing, and faith/belief does not evolve.

There are many individuals who somehow can blend the two in a way that brings them both comfort and enlightenment. Deepak Chopra, one of them, recently wrote the following in his piece in the Huffington Post:

We often hear that humankind is on the verge of a major change in our perception of reality, a paradigm shift as it is called. But there’s no necessity for the new paradigm to break into laboratories and smash all the test tubes.

The brightest prospect is for an expanded science, one that takes consciousness into account. This is actually unfolding all around us. Even 10 years ago, a scientist who took consciousness seriously risked career suicide. He was likely to be rebuked with a common Physics slogan, “Shut up and calculate.” In other words, stop this foolish speculation and go back to what we trust — mathematics. But there is no getting around the bald fact that every human experience occurs in consciousness, including mathematics. If there is a reality beyond our awareness, by definition we will never know it. One branch of science after another, starting with the quantum revolution in physics a century ago, has been faced with mysteries that force it to consider consciousness. How does the brain produce thought? Why do genes respond when we interact or have experiences? Is biology a quantum phenomenon? Happily, there are now sizable conferences on these once unthinkable topics.

To be honest, I find the rantings of atheists more exciting and challenging then the writings of paradigm-shift philosophers. But that’s just me.

Like Walt Whitman, I’m just one big contradiction.

Because, in truth, I don’t get why we all can’t say “this is where I’m coming from, but/and, hey, whatever works for you is fine.” Of course, that all has to be in the context of some overarching values, such as “first, do no harm,” and “treat others the way that you want to be treated,” and “hey, you never know but you have to keep looking.”

I just don’t get what’s so hard about that.

Of course, proselytizing is what sells books, makes money, strokes egos, and earns notoriety. And there are lots of people who get off on that. And everyone needs to earn a living.

Finally, maybe it’s just that I’m getting old and am tired of the debate, and feel that, if you lead a life that is responsible to others and to the planet, what difference does it make what you “believe” on a religious or unreligious level.

And so, when I read something like the following, written by (much maligned scientist) Bruce Lipton in the Huffington Post I an inclined to hope his is right:

Humans evolved as the most powerful force in supporting Nature’s vitality. However, we have misused that power and are now paying the price for our destructive behavior.

The crises we face present us with the greatest opportunity in human history-conscious evolution. Through consciousness, our minds have the power to change our planet and ourselves. It is time we heed the wisdom of the ancient indigenous people and channel our consciousness and spirit to tend the Garden and not destroy it.

The story of human life on Earth is yet to be determined. Our evolution depends on whether we are willing to make changes in our individual and collective beliefs and behaviors, and whether we are able to make these changes in time. The good news is that biology and evolution are on our side. Evolution — like heaven — is not a destination, but a practice.

But I’m still a fan of PZ Meyers and Rebecca Watson, because while people like Lipton and Chopra are pulling at one end of the envelope, those other two and pushing at the other.

Do I contradict myself?
Very well, then I contradict myself.
I am large, I contain multitudes.

Walt Whitman

Whaling Blues — a found poem

Whaling Blues — a found poem
(take one of the blues, the largest…)

Lying at the ocean’s surface,
he is an island in the sea.
He does not fear others.
Others do not fear him.

His only victims
are two-inch crustaceans
(doubtlessly too primitive
for anxiety).

His body is used
for the satisfaction
of skillful motion,
not combat;
he is as harmless as flowers
and, in his silver swimming grace,
as beautiful.

Buoyant with blubber
and virtually weightless
in his glossy yielding element,
he is freer than the birds.

Monogamous –
mating in one year,
raising an infant in the next —
he strokes and glides along
his partner’s body
(although their specific interest in sex
is limited to the spring).

Good will, devotion:
he will stay
with his wounded mate
as long as life lasts,
even while knowing
death is certain.

The best of neighbors,
he will tirelessly
hold up to breathe
an ill or injured friend –

even that pygmie, man,
who hunts with harpoons
and his insatiable hunger
for car wax,
lipstick,
and shoe polish

bled
from the last
of the blues.

c elf 1960s

One Million Pissed Off Women (OMPOW)

From here:

From breast pumps to Big Bird, and from food stamps to family planning, the GOP is waging a war on America’s women and children. Full-​fledged Republican battles against women now include anti-​abortion bills, anti-​contraception efforts, bills that literally would allow women to die in hospitals across America to protect “conscience rights” of doctors, attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, and GOP-​sponsored bills that reduce, hamper, or even attempt to eliminate women’s constitutional rights to abortion and reproductive health services.

Yes, despite the fact that 64% of Americans say unemployment and the economy in general are “the most important problems facing this country today,” the GOP has chosen to focus on effectively eliminating the constitutional right to abortion.

And so a new Facebook group has been formed:to raise awareness, consciousness, and the determination to fight back to a level where the lawmakers around the nation understand that women are 51% of the population and we are TIRED of others making our laws and decisions for us.

Founded in April of 2011, OMPOW’s Goal is to take action to bring about equality for all women. OMPOW plans to bring the Public Spotlight on Elected Officials and our Political Parties through accountability for their actions directly impacting women. We intend to work to eliminate discrimination and harassment against all women, in the workplace, schools, the justice system, and all other sectors of society; secure abortion, birth control and reproductive rights for all women; end all forms of violence against women; eradicate racism, sexism and homophobia; and promote equality and justice in our society.

So, join OMPOW, and share the following with anyone and everyone who needs to read it.

From here:

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.
2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!
3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!
4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.
5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!
6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.
7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.
8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.
9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!
10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.
And, ALWAYS REMEMBER: if you didn’t ask permission and then respect the answer the first time, you are commiting a crime- no matter how “into it” others appear to be.

the blessings of white picket fences

>

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy,
they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom
.
– Marcel Proust

I am enjoying the blessings of white picket fences, pink clematis, and red rugusa roses — and those who house and care for them. And me.

My formula for living is quite simple.
I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night.
In between, I occupy myself as best I can.

– Cary Grant

_______________________________________________________________

On the other hand,


Every passing minute
is another chance
to turn it all around.

– From Vanilla Sky

not quite Kansas

The dark sky made it obvious that a storm was brewing the other day as I sat on the front steps, waiting for my daughter and grandson to drive back from Holeyoke, where he had a vision therapy appointment. I went inside and put on the weather channel, just to find out how bad the storm was going to be.

TORNADO WARNING!

Huh? A tornado in western Massachusetts? And it seemed to be developing just behind the path along which my daughter would be driving — Route 5, and I91. I called her. “I’m almost home,” she says, when I tell her there’s a tornado warning and I hear the stunned silence at the other end of the phone. “I’m almost home,” she says, again.

I go back to the television, where the live sky cam on top of a local tv station in Springfield is showing the gathering clouds and slowly forming funnel.

In a few minutes, my family is home, unloading groceries. I am glued to my television as I watch the funnel sweep through the city and cross the Connecticut River less than 5 miles from our home and across the highway that my daughter had traveled on not that long ago.

It’s been three days since we’ve been able to watch tv or flick on a light switch to see where we’re going in the dark. But we have flashlights and batteries and a gas stove and a public library in the next town with power and wifi.

And that’s where I am now, charging my dead cell phone and catching up with email on my netbook. Even my Nook is recharging, since about all we’ve been able to do for entertainment in the evenings is read. By booklight. I’ve also been able to listen to some books on tape that I had downloaded from the library onto my iphone (which is part of the reason that I’m now recharging it).

Now I’m going to go and look at the news sites to find out just how bad the tornado damage is just a few miles from me. Without the television and internet, I have no idea. Thank goodness for free public libraries and wifi.

What a world!