Monday, December 15, 2008

The Extinction of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom

When I was young one of my favorite programs to watch on Sunday evenings was
Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom,
hosted by Marlin Perkins, one of the leading ecologists of his time.

Although I don't remember preservation being Wild Kingdom's message at the time, I can see now that it was certainly the predecessor of today's Animal Planet and The Discovery Channel.

Now, Some 40 years later,
there are Whole Networks dedicated to education and preservation of our animal kin.
But how disappointed I was then, when that one show itself became extinct.

But today, I learned something very hopeful.
Although many, many species face extinction due to hunting, fishing, poaching and the mysterious hand of nature herself, Mother Nature yet continues to create and surprise us.

Scientists, in the past decade have discovered over 1,000 new species in Southeast Asia's Greater Mekong region alone. Species, of plants, reptiles, spiders, mammals, birds and fish. And they weren't all discovered in remote jungles. A rat species, thought to be extinct about 11 million years ago was discovered in a local market and a brilliant green pit viper in the rafters of a restaurant in a National Park: walking among us.

But what I find as wonderfully awe-inspiring as what I learned 35 years ago on Wild Kingdom, is that Nature does continue to renew and replace her own.
Yes, it is true that many of our most amazing and interesting animals do face the possibility of extinction, but it's also true, that the cycle of life and death will continue, in spite of us.
But just as television nature shows run their course, and are gone for decades, technology steps in 30 years later and offers us DVDs to relive our sentimental past.
Who'da thunk it?
Certainly not me.

But, If a Rat, extinct for 11 MILLION years can resurface,
than just about anything is possible,
and hope does spring eternal.

If Mother nature can regenerate, and replace in ever more complex and creative ways,
like the discovery of a cyanide laced electric-pink millipede, then we too can resurrect our dormant selves, and re-emerge triumphant, across our ever melting, yet ever freezing tundras.

And species do exist
even in the arctic tundras
Although the climate is extremely cold
and there is little diversity
and short seasons of growth and reproduction

despite this

there are nutrients from dead organic material
-to support that limited diversity-

and on the tundra
there are shifts
-population oscillations-
which are inevitable
for it's nature's way

And that's a comforting thought.


Yes, It was disappointing when Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom finally became extinct in the 1980's.
But as history often dictates, and the future always shows, Tomorrow is a Mystery.
What may end up on The Discovery Channel tomorrow
might be the resurrection of something from the past, or something entirely different.
Odds are, one or both may happen.
So We need to Stay Tuned.....

"What future bliss He gives not thee to know,

But gives that hope to be thy blessing now.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast:

Man never is, but always to be, blest.

The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,

Rests and expatiates in a life to come."

-Alexander Pope

EPISTLE I:
Of the Nature and State of Man, With Respect to the Universe

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sydney's Catastrophe, and other Cat's Tails and Tales

Have you ever heard of a Cat named Cat-astrophe? I have, and I actually did, name a cat Cat-astrophe: hyphen and all. No, he did not have any formal records bearing his hyphenated name,for he was a cat, like all of my other cats, of "Uncertain Origin", and also of "Uncertain Veterinary care," but whenever I wrote his name, which I don't actually ever remember doing, It was hyphenated for comedic value. You see, I was one of those kids who came to the dinner table with my Handy Dandy
"Book of Corny Jokes,"
So I was fond of comedic value.

But, what has more comedic value, and what I
I thought you might really like to know, is that my first cat was named Sydney, and that he met an untimely and unfair demise whilst frolicking with his dear friend Smokey, in the middle of the Road, as Cat friends so often do.

Heart Wrenching!

My brother Michael proceeded to race me up the street to the church basement where my parents were at a church meeting of one form or another.
(One Form:
Marriage Encounter group,
Another Form:
Overwhelmed Parents of 7 group, praying for tuition)
The whole group was now involved, and predictably, to calm a hysterical 6 year old,
"Don't worry, we'll get you a new cat."
"But I don't want another cat, I want Sydney!!!!!!!"
And then, low and Behold, an Angelic voice from the crowd,
"My cat just had kittens, you can have one of them."

The Lord indeed works in mysterious ways,
when your doing His work,
in His Basement.

And my next Cat? in a long line of
"not really appreciated by her father, outdoor-cats":

Cat-Astrophe! Yes, that was his name.

And Why you ask?
Why Name a Cat Catastrophe?
Well, for all of the obvious reasons, like his running behind a stack of drywall and me following him, only to be slammed by said stack of drywall, and rushed to the hospital for numerous stitches on my calf.

If you really want to know, there was Toby, to follow, who indeed did follow me home from the convenience store, after I deftly lured him with freshly cut deli slices of "chip-chop" ham.
Sadly, he only had half a tail. It was just a stump. But I loved him just the same.

And then, there was Cola, yes, she was black as night, and apparently pretty popular at night time with the other out-door male cats in the neighborhood. She bequeathed both Pepsi, and Coca, one of which was sadly lost in a tragic bird pecking.

All true.

And what ever became of Smokey?
Yes, Smokey,
Sydney's dear friend with whom Sydney met his untimely demise.
Smokey was the Cat of Mrs. Francis, our "Indoor-Cat loving" neighbor, and he Lived to tell the tale, with a Jaw that was rebuilt and wired shut,( well I guess he had a hard time telling the tale with a jaw that was wired shut)
and he got a brand new,shiny glass eye!

Oh Mrs Francis was so lucky! Her Cat lived and My Cat died.

But Smokey Promptly ran away,
Leaving Mrs. Francis to tell the tale.
But I, I got a new kitten.
He wasn't Sydney, mind you, No cat could ever replace Sydney, but he was a pretty cool cat, who's name indeed was Cat-astrophe.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Remember, Math is Your Friend, or Math Ain't Everything



When I was a kid, I didn't have an affinity for Math. In fact, I satisfied my college math requirements by taking this series of Philosophy courses:

1. Logic. IF, there is an Option to Take Philosposhy instead of Math, THEN, I will not take math.

2. Ethics. Is it indeed ethical to allow students to take Philosophy instead of Math?

 and

3. Philosophy of Sex and Love. Does Love exist? Does Sex Actually Exist? Does the existence of either have anything to do with math?


 And as a Communications and English Major, I was no worse for wear. I can, however, calculate "30% off", and feel fairly competent at basic computations, especially when It's some form of a riddle.  So when my cousin Cindy, whose emails I always enjoy, sent me an email entitled, "Remember, Math is Your Friend", I was up for the Challenge. Here is what the email said:


 Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

------------------------------------------------

5th Grade Math Problem 
 
Good luck! 
 
This is a 5th grade math problem.  If you can open the spreadsheet, you'll see it's a very small list of people who have gotten the correct number. This is not a trick question. This is a real math problem so don't say that a bus has no legs.

There are 7 girls in a bus. 
Each girl has 7 backpacks. 
In each backpack, there are 7 big cats. 
For every big cat there are 7 little cats. 

Question: How many legs are there in the bus? 
(The number of legs is the password to unlock the Excel sheet.  If you open it, add your name and send it on.) 

Simple Enough. I got out a freshly sharpened no.2 pencil and Got to work. Here is how I went about it:

7 Girls x 7 Backpacks= 49 Total Back Packs

14 cats in each back pack(7 big,7 small) 14x49=686 total cats

each cat has 4 legs. 686 x 4=2744 cat legs

the seven girls each have two legs=14

2664 cat legs +14 girl legs=2758 legs all together, Right?

Um...Wrong.


I recalculated it again. Nothin Doin! That Excel Spread Sheet aint openin' No Way, No How!

I decide there must be some form of hidden trick embedded deep within this 5th grade conundrum.

I shoot a reply email to My cousin that goes Like this:


Dear Cindy,

Ok ,That wasted an awful lot of time for this English Major, An awful lot, and no I did not get the pleasure of passing it on With a proud grin on my face.

 Did you count the bus driver too? Do cats have only two legs, but also two arms?

Has the World Gone Mad? Is there a Bus Driver indeed on the bus? Are  there indeed 49 back packs, each  with 14 terrified cats inside, ready to scratch the living daylights out of your eyes for keeping them in a backpack?

 Is 7x7 actually 49?

I think the Bus Driver is Drunk….

He’d have to be to let 7 screaming girls on the bus with a ridiculous quantity of  cat-laden backpacks, wouldn’t ya say?

 And, I’d like to add to that question, How many pieces of Cat crap does each back pack now hold, and do you really think teenage girls would be willing to clean it up?

Love, Glo


When My Daughter Avery comes home that night she happens to tell me that she was the only one in her math class who got a certain Math Challenge Problem Right. I'm Noticeably proud. I have three Children, and they are all Math Capable. I'm So Glad I married an Engineer! As you might expect, I really Do want to know how many legs are on that Bus. In fact, I've redone the problem so many times, that even my dog's head is spinning like a backpack full of angry cats trying desperately to get off a school bus. So I  march her to the Computer to show her the problem, which she eagerly tackles.


 Now, Dear Reader, use your 5th grade reading skills and predict what happens next.

Do you think that  Avery, math capable child that she is, got a spot on that coveted Excel Spread Sheet? .....

Good Question, Dear Reader. Good Question. The Answer is no, not on the first go 'round. She did, however, quickly see the error of her ways, and took her rightful spot on that hallowed Excel  spread Sheet of yore.

But, how did she do it? What is the Key? 

This is the answer as Best as I can Figure:


*First of All, She Quickly saw the error of her ways. Quickly. She didn't waste any time recalculating the problem in the same way as she did when she got the problem wrong.

 *Then, immediately she shifted gears, as kids are so capable of doing, and addressed the problem in a different way. 


Elementary My Dear Watson, Elementary! 


*The other thing she did was Simplify the Problem


Yes, she made it simpler. Simpler than I did.

She solved it as if there was just one girl with seven backpacks, and 14 cats per bag. She broke it down to its most simplistic form, and took it from there. And she got the problem right. 

She showed me what I  did wrong numerous times so I could write this little tale, but I still don't understand. Terrence and Lindsey have tried to teach me too. They get a real kick out of it. Any way, as I learned in college Logic class, If I had gotten it right, and told you the answer, then I would have robbed you of an opportunity to 


*See the Error of your Ways  *Shift Gears  and  *Simplify the Problem


And that just Wouldn't be Ethical.

So once again, my kids teach me something new: A Life Lesson about Problem Solving. And Me? What have I taught them this time? 


As long as Iphones have calculators, math ain't everything. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chanting Om


One of my favorite parts of Yoga class is chanting Om....
in lotus position, hands calmly resting on our knees
thumb and forefingers together.

Sometimes class will begin this way, and sometimes it's how it ends
But
Some Yoga teachers don't dare tread there.
It's too "Out there"
though
Some go there whole-heartedly
with full and resonant "Ah-oh-mmm..."

But Why Chant Om in the first place?
The answer is simple.

It unites us.

Om is believed to be
the sound of the Universe
made up of three principle sounds

ah
oh
mm
And Generally it is chanted 3 times,
each a full breath's worth

And when you gather up your courage,
and close your eyes if you must
take a deep, courageous, preparatory breath
open your mouth and trust--
a sound will indeed come out
and if you can suspend judgement of how you sound
or if it sounds "right"
or how you look
or if you look "right"
You'll notice something very interesting:

Even though each participant may not start on cue
when all are exhaling the three part sound together
each at his or her own pacing
and breath rate

The sound does indeed become one sound
and it couldn't sound more
right

and this 3 part sound of the mantra Om
can be felt as a resonance within each One
at the heart center
and all around the body
For the Oms have joined hands
And the Oms have joined hands with all of the Oms
chanted before we were even born
since the sound itself is energy
which is neither created nor destroyed
It just exists

but together
we are bringing it forth
Intentionally

And the truth is
It keeps resonating
It keeps traveling forth
And when our Oms are exhaled
They are neither created
nor destroyed
-but brought together-
Intentionally--Recycled
and in so doing
We utter audible evidence
of our
One Voice

Monday, November 3, 2008

Over-Steering, Buoys and Debris

Yogi Berra, once said
“ You can see a lot by observing.”

Cruising the Chesapeake Bay in the Autumn months is a blessing.
As a passenger, I am feeling the scenery
as we are present
this first day of November
In what feels like the peak of the Fall foliage.
The water's lull marries
the freshly-raked
leaf-fragrant air,
and
the specially chosen sound track
weaves this experience into my being
Its resonance carried aloft
absorbed into the air
absorbed into the brackish
Chesapeake Brown-Green-Gold

I am Grateful for this opportunity
to appreciate this day
in this ever apparent
tailor made way.

But Soon I am asked to take to the helm, as my husband needs to attend to the engine momentarily. It is a large vessel, and I am fairly comfortable with navigating in the wide open, but the Chesapeake is dotted with Crab Traps and unfortunate slabs of wood and other floating debris.
I must sharpen my awareness, and shift my focus, scanning the expanse both to prevent damage to our props, and to spy the upcoming red and green buoys in order to keep on course.
It is a large Stainless steering wheel beneath my hands, and as soon as I spy the buoy I am to aim for, I cross hand over hand, and begin towards my course. I shift my gaze from the water to the GPS to see how far off the next focal point will be. I see the small boat-like figure that represents our vessel on the screen, and quickly note that It looks as if it's intending to spin on it's axis.

I've over steered.

Steering a boat is nothing like steering a Car. It's Much more subtle.
I correct my over-zealous attempt at capable navigation, and try to steer less.
It takes some thought.(or possibly less thought) I decide to focus more on the expanse ahead, and strain to find the next red buoy which I am to keep on my right.

I am finding that less is more when it comes to steering a course with no obstacles to avoid. Sharp Turns are reserved for Avoiding collisions with undesirable debris.
Just Keeping a course actually requires much less severity, and much more trust.

Steering the Vessel that is my Life is the same.
It's subtle.
Only there's no external GPS to follow.
It's a combination of internal GPS
And trial and error.
Sometimes, I just narrowly miss the debris
and sometimes I hit an unfortunate slab
dead on,
and my "props" get bent
I am left dry dock, nursing my wounds.
When I have repaired,
My propulsion is fresh
As if I never took that bum steer
And hand over hand
I begin again
with the knowledge that
obstacles
indeed debris
are to be expected
and if I need to take a sharp turn to avoid a collision at the last minute
than so be it
But it will take sharpened Awareness
and a shift in focus

But Cruising is a Blessing,
if not an Adventure
And if I am intent on Feeling the Scenery
then I must scan the expanse
for both debris and buoys
if I'm to stay on course,
And it's not always the course I originally charted

"One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again."

Abraham Maslow
1908-1970, Psychologist

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Now is the Time

Now is the Time
Now is the Place
Here is the Moment

Beginning
Experiencing
Allowing

Experiencing
Living
Experiencing

For it is only this Way
That The Way can be Seen
It is only this Way
That The Way
Can be gleaned

And if We only Can be Present
For just a short While
Then Let's Be there Fully
And Let's Be there While
The moment is recognized
The moment is Clear
To be seen
and be Felt
To be claimed
and to hear

And then later
We'll notice
When It's time to Heed
A moment that needs tending
Which is then brought to seed
To water
and then flower
and hence to reseed
thus connecting the moments
connecting indeed

And when we connect them
we become more aware
And Awareness
is the answer
And it's becoming
Less Rare

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pictures of Christ, Incarnations and Representations


When My son made his First Communion, We gave him a picture of Jesus. It sits on his desk, along side his lap top, and his mug of pencils and pens.

Every time I go into his room, I am drawn to it. 
It's called "Head of Christ."

 This Particular Incarnation really resonates with me.
 
Resonate: to relate harmoniously : to strike a chord

The eyes draw me to him, and I feel loved. He looks, to me, like someone you might see on the street, or in the grocery store or on the soccer field or a yoga class.
It makes me feel a sense of Deja Vu.
                
But
 There are Many, Many Incarnations of Christ:

 The Christ of Godspell
 The Christ of Jesus Christ Superstar 
The Christ of The Passion of Christ

The Christ in the Christian Church
The Christ in the Mosque
The Christ in the Buddhist Temple

And we too
are incarnations
of Christ Ourselves
Being Different forms

And They
The Christ on the Street
The Christ in the Grocery Store
The Christ on the Soccer Field

They
Are Incarnations of Christ,
Themselves

For
Every Artist's Incarnation
Every Artist

Each Unique.

Every Christ on the Street
Every Christ on the Soccer Field
Every Christ in The Grocery Store

Every Christ
In fact
in the Yoga Studio

Every Incarnation
Every Representation
Each Unique
But Familiar
But Resonant

Ourselves in Another
Another in Ourselves
                                                                                                                        
          
              

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wondering Aloud



Wondering Aloud
Wondering Again
Growing and Learning
I can not pretend

It is not my destiny
To sit this thing out
It's my responsibility
to find out about
myself and my areas
that need fixing up
and to drink till I'm full
from the overflowing cup

The cup that allows
all needs to be met

The cup that holds nary a
seed of regret

but a cup
that's refilling
and we owe it no debt.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Background, Color and History


The Question:
Can you give me any background, color, or history regarding your creative writing talents and gifts ??

The Answer:
Well, As far as the writing goes, it comes from connections I make in the world around me:
especially with nature,
children
and animals,
and also experiences.
They stare me starkly in the face, at times.
The connections, that is,
As well as the Children and Animals;)

I am a thinker and a gesticulator, and I love the great outdoors.

I am of a more introspective nature, and am not afraid to look deeply into myself and evolve.
I learn an awful lot from observing, and Feeling, but mostly feeling.
Empathy is my strongest suit.

I feel deeply.

I am often moved to tears
I am an independent thinker, and I am a proponent of Individuality.
I believe we are just how we are intended to be, and that we are what and who we are
for a reason

I believe that there are no coincidences.
I believe that I married the man I did and am parent to the children I am for a reason.
I think there is a master plan.
I think that we have to be willing to go along for the ride, though, to play it out.

I have loved to write since I was a child, but wasn't a very good school student.
I always liked to write free flowing verse.
I began college as a Journalism major, but was disillusioned. Wanted to be more creative, and ended up as an Interpersonal Communication Major, with of course a minor in English.

I believe that my writing was somewhat stunted however because I edited myself too much.
I wasn't submitting to flow.

I only began writing again last year as a therapeutic measure, to get what was in out.
An exhalation of sorts.

So I began Blogging...and enjoying the self expression of others just as much.
I think abiding in the 'every day' has the most capacity for abiding in contentment.

Self Expression is paramount to my well being. I guess in some way, I would like to be an example of just freely being, I enjoy others individuality, and I smile inside to observe someone's skill or style. I like to encourage expression in all of its forms especially with kids.

I think everyone has something extraordinary to share with the world,
And I also think that everyone should just Be, and not judge or compare themselves against any other. Really, and Truly.

I have lots of struggles. I go through periods of Anxiety and Depression, but know that it is cyclical.
My kids are growing and Evolving,
I am growing and Evolving,
My Marriage continues to grow and evolve.
I continue to let go, I make mistakes, I correct them.
Flux, Flux, Flux..

..However, always growing and moving forward.
Obstacles to climb over, but stronger legs as a result.

We are here to grow, and I consider myself a lifelong student, right up until the last breath.
I love creative pursuits of all varieties, and don't judge whether what I am creating is "good" or not.
It's just expression.
I generally like what I see because it's an exhalation of essence
Which Is What we Are All Made Of

I think convention enslaves the soul, personally,
and I truly believe that a universal desire
is to be seen- as is.

Friday, September 5, 2008

There's Something I've Been Thinking...


There's Something I've Been Thinking
And I truly think It's So

I like to Practice Yoga 
But Not so much Tae Bo
I just don't think it really is 
a practice one can feel
Like the way you feel your Yoga
( or like walking in High heels)

Because when I practice Walking
In heels of Any height 
I can make it meditation 
or a prayer in its own right
 
I can even add a little
Tai Chi to My Yo-ga
Because it makes Me much more Present
Like the practice of Doga
(practicing Yoga With My Dog....)
 
But What really matters most
is just to breathe
and just to Be
Whether Practicing My Yoga
or my Yoga-like Tai Chi

Or even just to stop each day
And Breathe one moment out
Because moments are for feeling
But if I take a different route
then I may end up obsessing
over things that matter not
like what may have happened yesterday
or that I haven't got
a better felt connection
to myself and to my land
when all it would have taken
is a second and a hand
to feel my heart that's beating
like a boat upon the sea
just like moments 
that are fleeting
Take Some Time, My Friend 
And Be.

So I try it every morning
I try to rest 
and try to breathe
before I get up out of bed
and before
I have to leave
and greet the day before Me
the potential yet to be
a day that I can savor
I think I'll Climb a tree...