Archive for February 2012

(I-80 – CA) MARCHING ON

February 26, 2012

In yesterday’s post I showed you the beautiful road I take my walks on.

Today I show you my “traveling companion.”

You know,  there’s a stroller for him.   But he doesn’t always take the easy way.   Perhaps instinct tells him to get up and walk — march on, on your own.

I’ve just been thinking about this all day.   How often I’ve wanted things to be easy.    How nice to be just carried along by life,  sitting back in my own sort of “stroller” and thinking things are going well.

Looking at this little guy kind of reminds me I need to make sure I’m standing up, using my own power, and marching on. . . .

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(I-80-CA) FINDING SIMPLICITY

February 25, 2012

Strip away your familiar surrounding, your daily routine, take away your home and access to all your things. . .(as I’ve done now). . . what is left is the opportunity to focus on what is important.    Purley and simply important:

This was my pathway today, for about an hour.    I was pushing a stroller with a happy baby inside, talking and singing to himself all the way.

I tried to see this world of his through his eyes.    Trees around him, sky above, and a simple straight road ahead.   As his Grandma, I know that his “road ahead” will not always be so straight — and straightforward,  but I also know this:  that to give him the foundation he needs,  his family will teach him such simple things first.

If he learns these simple things well, he will have a firm foundation to build on, and his own personality and character will then be able to create solutions for the challenges that will come his way.

So let me remind you of two simple prayers that we teach our children:

“God is great;   God is good.   Let us thank Him for our good.   Amen.”

Is there any word that you don’t understand in that little prayer?    Is there any word that you truly do understand in its fullest?

And another:  

“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

From the beginning of our life, to our end,  is there anything that little nighttime prayer leaves out?

If we could understand the richness of these simple prayers,  what a good foundation we would have upon which to build a greater understanding of God and all the things needful to our souls.

Keep it simple.   Be where you are.    Reach down into what you know to be true.

(I-80 – CA) STATIONED IN THE OLD WEST

February 22, 2012

I did finally arrive safely.   Reasons being what they are, it took a while to find time to visit The Spruce Tunnel again.   At least I can show you where I am.

It required forested mountain roads to get here: 

And I’ll be driving on mountain roads like this to get….anywhere.    The children’s parks are pretty, though. 

And the town is a picturesque living historical little treasure.   Here is “main street.”     Notice the old “hitchin’ wagon”  parked out front.

Here’s a view from the end of the block, where the town starts thinning out.   You can see a line of snow white mountains on the horizon.

Looking southward: 

These are original  buildings from long ago, just the way they looked when the town was young and full of prospectors and railroad men.    The buildings now hold many artist’s shops and specialty stores.   Here’s a closeup of that building on the left.   Kind of makes you want to go shopping.     We peeked in another store that displayed a very sad sign….a very sad sign indeed for this winter sports area:

Can you read that?    It says:  “Pray for snow.”      Please don’t start praying too soon.   I need to descend out of these mountains some day.

Inside one of those many artist shops, I was fascinated with the wooden stairway that led to a loft filled with artwork made from original Historic Truckee Railroad tracks.   Looking down…..

Halfway down the stairs, I looked down again at a display of handmade gifts:Something for everyone.   Something made out of anything:   ceramics, wood, stone, bone, wood, wire, and feathers.

The town is interesting and charming on the outside, but, oh, so complex and full of decisions inside its many,  many buildings.    I don’t know what I should want;  it’s hard to know a good thing when I see it.

So much like life itself.

(I-80 – CA) – “FLEXIBLILITY”

February 19, 2012

Truly,  sometimes careful planning turns out to be only “an outline of possibilities.”

I’m supposed to be in Cheyenne, Wyoming, right now, but instead I did two days of traveling in one day, and I find myself crossing the Utah-Nevada border,  still trying to escape the snowstorm.

That’s the beautiful Blue car covered in snow.

When I began planning this trip, the snow was coming on Monday;  and then it was coming on Sunday.     So my planning contained a measure of flexibility,  no problem.

Then all day yesterday I heard the weatherman push that snowstorm ahead by a few hours, a few hours, a few hours, until finally I had no place to go but…ahead!

Here’s where the Life Lesson comes in.   From afternoon onwards, yesterday,  I tried to find shelter ahead of the storm.   And a place to sit down and eat.   In every single place I stopped along the way I had a frustrating experience.   That’s so unusual.   Most of the people were nice,  but vague and unhelpful.

Finally, nearing the western edge of Wyoming, a lady told me I’d better get all the way into Utah because they’re probably going to close I-80 by midnight.    As I wound down those treacherous,  steep, curvy Wasatch mountain roads into Salt Lake City — in deep black midnight darkness with speeding semi trucks all around me — I thought about what I should be learning from this.

It was almost as though it was Divine Guidance that brought me safely to port last night, in spite of my own good ideas.   I felt the heavy hand of providence saying “No!”  all along the way….until I was safe.

Those of you who know me, know I have a very heavy-handed guardian angel  (the exploding penin traffic  comes to mind)   and I’ve learned that Flexiblilty  is the first step in willing obedience to not-so-subtle guidance.

Flexibility.    It starts with humility.     I learned that one too, at the outset of this trip – but that’s for next time….right now that heavy hand on my shoulder is telling me to get my driving started for the day.

(I-80 – CA) “GROUNDING”

February 18, 2012

“Well begun is half done”  the old saying goes.    I’m fairly well begun.   The Blue Cruze loves to travel and sometimes takes off without me.   Never had such a willing car!    Sometimes it seems to read my mind – which is not good when you’re used to doing “other” things in the car besides….just driving.  I’m learning.

Putting all the rush of packing, preparing the house, thinking about the reasons for this trip, putting all that behind, once I got out into the heartland of America,   there was a peace, a tranquility, and a grounding.

Can’t explain the sense of “grounding.”     It was just being forced to watch the outdoors all day….the sky, the hills, the land, the fields,  the trees — okay, not many trees in Iowa, which you see in the above evening photo of Iowa.

It wasn’t just the so-called” monotony of the road.”    It really didn’t feel like monotony.  It just felt calming, like I was getting a perspective on all human complexities.  ” Grounding.”

Today should be a similar ride, across Nebraska and part of Wyoming.   The only difference will be going from agriculture to ranching.       Subtle difference for busy people,  but once you’re out there, out on the road, “calm and “grounded,”  you have time to begin to perceive differences like that.

I think there’s a lesson there.

I fear the “light snowfall” in western Wyoming, but that’s for Sunday’s drive.   “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,”  the Bible says.     There’s another lesson for me.

HAZELNUT IS US

February 16, 2012

Remember this picture from last December?

Well, I’m doing it again.

But this time I’m not driving Hubbie’s Big Red car.     I’m finally letting this Blue Beauty out of my garage.

   That will be me in a couple of days,  high over the mountains of the West.  At least I hope the roads will be gray pavement, and not white.   This car is supposed to be engineered to be especially able to “stabilize the traction” on slippery roads.    Hope so.

The reason I’m returning West is very important.  I’m needed, and I’m very willing to return to the mountains…. to Cooper Kenneth.     And a hazelnut has a lot to do with it.

Here is the bottom line of a beautiful story told by Julian of Norwich about the hazelnut:   “It lasteth, and ever shall last,  for that God loveth it.”

(Okay, the English is from several centuries ago, but from what I’ve learned and from what I observed, people who left us their writings from centuries ago were much  wiser than we are now, and they were capable of very great thinking. )

First, a couple sentences from long ago that provide the understanding for the hazelnut story.     “God, who has created everything in nature, also governs all things and directs them towards good.   Indeed, God so loves His creation that He re-causes it at every moment.”    (Anthony Mazzone)

Think again about what Julian of Norwich said.    It – creation,  nature,  the world – will last forever because God loves it.

“Also, in this,”  Julian says, ” He showed me a little thing”:

She saw a little hazelnut, lying in the palm of her hand.    She asked,   “What may this be?”

And it was answered thus:  “It is all that is made.”

All !

How easy it would be for that little hazelnut to roll right out of her hand, onto the ground, and perhaps break.   “I marveled how it might last!   For methought it might suddenly have fallen to naught, for littleness.”     How small and precarious life is,  and yet, as you read above,  God loves it all and   “re-causes it at every moment.”

Julian:  “And I was answered in my understanding:  It lasteth, and ever shall, for that God loveth it.”

We are alive now, we are that little hazelnut, and we are kept safely in existence at every moment by God’s love for us.     God’s loving care keeps things going.

We are the only ones who can bring that love into this precious little hazelnut of a world.   We need to bring His love into the world and spread it about wherever it might be needed.

And that is why I’m going back out to the mountains of California, so soon again.

For those of you who are on speaking terms with our Creator, please pray for my road trip and for the beloved ones out West.     I’ll still be thinking and rambling and writing down “random thoughts,”   but I have no idea what will be so interesting…..on that “I-80 straight line” pathway to California again!

THE MAN TODAY

February 14, 2012

So, what will the world think of you in a few centuries?    Or in about 1,700 years?

Today we celebrate the witness (martyrdom) of a man who lived a long time ago, who was known to be a good bishop and a comforter of those who were about to die a terrible death.  Here is his icon.

An icon is not a “picture.”   It is a story to be read and meditated upon, but I can’t read icons very well, so I’ll just tell you what we know about this man of long ago, Valentinus, or Valentine.   He was a priest, then bishop somewhere in the Roman Empire in a region that doesn’t even have a recognizable name to us now.

He was honored by his contemporaries in the third century A.D. as a good man, a saintly man, and one who became involved in preaching to the young soldiers in the Roman army, the ones who were Christians and who were forced to leave their wives and to pay homage to the pagan gods.It was a dangerous time to be a Christian.    The State powers didn’t trust the Christians or like them.   Rumors, lies, calumnies, and politics all created an intolerance for Christians and for the very name Jesus.

Eventually Bishop Valentine himself was tortured and executed.  At his death, his relics were carefully collected, protected, and in happier centuries they were enclosed under Church altars, and eventually venerated publicly.    “How long, O Lord, holy and true, before you judge the inhabitants of this world and avenge our blood?”  (Revelation 6:10)

Here is Church instruction on the life of Saint Valentine:  ” The ravages of time have deprived us of the details of his life and sufferings, so that extremely little is known of our saint.  This is the reason of there being no lessons of his life in the Roman liturgy….He is one of those many holy martyrs who meet us at this period of our year, and encourage us to spare no sacrifice which can restore us to, or increase within us, the grace of God.” 

I wish I knew more details about the life of Saint Valentine, but those sentences should be  enough to inspire me onwards, and eventually upwards.

Many stories have been created to fill in the gaps of what we know about Saint Valentine.  They are repeated so often they begin to sound like “resources”  for the facts of his life.     The realities of his life are a lot less romantic, but far more wonderful.

So, how will your life be remembered a few centuries from now?!

THE GOOD SHEPHERD COMES NEAR

February 14, 2012

Huge insurmountable problems burden The Spruce Tunnel these days.

“Insurmountable”  because I have no role in solving them, but I am  the Ear That is There.    The willing Ear.  Sad news/bad news, from one direction;  and I pray….    Sad news/scary news; and I share the waiting, and pray….   Ongoing overwhelming tangle of family relationships; and I feel the pain, and pray…..Sad news/ horrifying news, unexpectedly; I’m participating in the anguish, and I pray.

Just a phrase from the Readings on this past Sexagesima Sunday.  Since the 600’s A.D.  this Bible passage has been read on this particular Sunday, and in exquisitely perfect timing,  I needed to hear it just at this time:   “….My grace is sufficient for thee, for power is made perfect in infirmity…”

    Such gentle words.   Tender words.

   He came to find the wounded sheep, the lost lamb, the hurting ones.   He came with healing and with His grace.

He says His  grace is sufficient for us, for our needs, grace to be channeled through us to others.

In all these serious situations which have come up all at once,   I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know what to say.     St. Paul tells us: “Owe no man anything, but to love one another…” (Romans 13:8)    I can do  that.  The pain is guiding the way.

I think Our Good Shepherd  would tell us:   Be gentle with each other.  Be tender and compassionate.   Be there.   Love.

Okay.

UGLINESS YOU SHOULD KNOW

February 11, 2012

Today – Saturday – The Day After Calvary, when Our Lord seemed so far away.

Just when the Spruce Tunnel wished to focus on the beautiful things of creation —  the evil in this world intrudes.  

The above photo made the rounds on the Internet recently.   That’s us on the ground, on that  paper under the black shoe, and scattered about.   It was the Plan for governing our country.  It was the pattern,  the roadmap, and most of all the means to restrain a power hungry State Rulership over us.

I think we forgot that we had to stay vigilant.  (“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”)

Here’s the ugly part…the latest one.

Remember when we were all watching the Super Bowl on February 5?  And then for the few days afterwards, the news readers on TV directed our attention to a discussion of the Halftime Show?

Something else happened on February 5 this year.

So then, I have no comment.      These area all just factual occurrences.   Congress has the only power to declare war for us.  I don’t know where they are.   It could get really ugly this year.   2012 America.

One more photo for you.  This one was published a couple years ago.   The man who signed that new order for war was reading this book on his “vacation.”

Some photojournalists got curious about what that book was.  In the inset, if you turn your head sideways, you can read the title of that book:   THE POST-AMERICAN WORLD.

RESTRUCTURING . . . US

February 10, 2012

Well, what a grim start to the day, as noted in the last post;  last few posts, actually.    The news today got worse and worse.

And then I heard on Internet radio someone recite that beautiful verse, II Chronicles 7:14  –  “If my people, who are called by my name,  will humble themselves and pray, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and heal their land….”  

Or as Jesus says, at the End of all things:  “Behold, I make all things new…”  (Apocalypse 21:5)

I also hear on Internet radio programs from time to time people referring to something called “restructured water.”    They know things to do to make water “more healthful.”      Well.     I’m not going to believe everything I hear, but the idea seems so plausibly hopeful.

And I remembered some scientists in Japan first, and then in other countries, were able to watch water crystals form as the water was being influenced by various sounds,  sounds from words and sounds from music.

The beautiful sounds and words that carried beautiful intentions formed crystals that were richer and more beautiful than even normal crystal formation,  patterns like this:

You can Search for Websites that show the results of some of their experiments.

They used different kinds of beautiful music, classical and lyrical melodies.

 Under the influence of “beautiful intentions”  expressed in loving words, the patterns of the crystals became gem-like.   The most beautiful of all were formed under the influence of words that expressed gratitude.

A century and a half or so ago,  a European violinist who was also interested in the effect of sounds on physical objects once drew his violin bow over the edge of a plate that was filled with a layer of sand.   To his surprise, the bow on the edge of a fine porcelain  plate caused the sand to reshape itself into lovely patterns.

You can Search the name “Ernst Chladni.”

Here is another gorgeous shape:

See?   This is all the effect of sounds, beautiful sounds,  and sounds that reflect beautiful intentions.  The sound waves seems to be able to “restructure” matter in a way that reflects beauty and harmony and  order and proportion.

Think of those two earlier verses from the Bible.   Our God is the source of beauty and harmony,  order, proportion, peace, love and justice.

And He can help:  “Behold, I make all things new.”

And after an overdose of bad news today,  dire and imminent, insurmountable disorder and danger, maybe I won’t believe everything I hear on the Internet,  but I think I can have confidence in the promise God made to His people so long ago:

“If my people, who are called by my name, would humble themselves and pray….”

 

And…HOW ABOUT SOME NEW MATH?

February 9, 2012

Yesterday a new vocabulary word;  today maybe some new math.

 

Somewhere on the radio, in my sleep last night, I had heard there is a little snow in our forecast.  I use my television very occasionally, basically just for football and weather, and today I had to make a “weather check”  just to see if I should think about putting my class on the road tomorrow morning – or not.

As I repeatedly pressed a “channel up” button to get “up” to the Weather Channel,   I saw a picture of someone holding a little chalkboard with some numbers on it.   The numbers were from the United States government.  Two numbers caught my attention:

$ 32,446             and       $ 32,748

The number on the left is the current average salary earned by  an employed person in this country.

The number on the right is the current average amount of money  received by an unemployed person in this country.

The ones who receive the money do not pay any taxes, of course.   There are 67.3 million of them (not paying any taxes and receiving more money, on average, than an employed worker earns)   according to the numbers from the government.

So I was wondering if they’re going to come up with a new kind of math.   One that would make this work out for us. . .

. . . .because,  just basic, average knowledge of history will bring to our minds the fact that “no republic in the history of the world has ever lasted more than 200-250 years.”    That’s about how long it takes for citizens to discover they can vote for people who promise to keep giving them money, and  then the republic can no longer sustain itself.

And that’s how long it takes for those who have been voted into power  to find a way to restructure the governing forces to keep them in power – and to begin dictating to the citizens, and not waiting for their “votes.”

 

LEARN A NEW WORD

February 8, 2012

Recusancy:      (noun):  refusal to submit to established authority; originally the refusal of Roman Catholics to attend services of the Church of England

This noun is from the word “recuse.”      ….to recuse yourself…

The State that rules over us has in past times allowed people to not submit to a certain law that they find repugnant or morally offensive, but for a price, usually a very high tax.     This works pretty well for families with the means to pay the high taxes, but it is ruinous to the average family.

THE HAMMER THUDS

February 7, 2012

We all shared an “odd” feeling after my Bible study class tonight.     I might not be the best teacher in the world, but often we leave laughing or sometimes thoughtful or sometimes continuing the conversation all the way out to the parking lot.

But this time we were grim and serious.    We were out of words, nothing to say.   We were quiet and heavy-hearted.  The Bible portion we were studying left us all with a big thud on our hearts, like a hammer.

It killed all frivolousness, I know that for sure.  I felt it in myself and I felt it in my class.   And I felt responsible for saying something “lighthearted” and snapping us out of it.   But we were studying  something not only serious and deadly, but real and contemporary.    It wouldn’t have been right to cajole the class back into frivolousness.

I read in the news this week that one of the bishops of the USCCB said that it was time “to go Maccabees”  on the government and fight back.    The Big State that rules over the American people has said that any of us who have a conscience will have to think of some way to violate our consciences (their words, not ours)   and obey their new laws,  and the State has given a certain amount of time to do it.

  So these bishops of the USCCB are trying to find a way to stand up against the State.   And so are some Jewish leaders, and so are some Protestant leaders, and I think they assume some Moslem leaders will also stand up and fight rather than give up their beliefs.

Coincidentally,  the books of the Maccabees are what we are studying in our  Tuesday class.  We read this about the ruler of that day:  “And king Antiochus wrote to all his kingdom that all the people should be one, and everyone should leave his own law. . . And the king sent letters ..to Jerusalem and to all the cities of Juda;  that they should follow the law of the nations of the earth…”

The books of the Maccabees show how thoroughly and ruthlessly Antiochus IV tried to stamp out the worship of God.    The fear and cruelty and death that resulted was chilling because we all realized this is factual;  these events really happened.

 For the first time in the history of the world,  a ruler attacked the religion of the people living under him.   

And tonight the realization had hit us all that this has happened several times afterwards in history, and we could recognize it beginning again.

                                                           Judas Maccabees.   Judas the Hammer.

GNATS

February 5, 2012

Funny little things.       Not.

I wrote many more posts for the Spruce Tunnel  last night than just those last two that actually made it up here.    Then I deleted all the others.     I guess my Draft folder got quite a bit fatter last night.   But it was too much information, too many troubling topics all at once.

We all get lots of information every day.    Much of it is troubling.    The American people, the majority, don’t want something to happen,  but then we find out it has already happened.      Or we want something to happen,  but then we find out our rulers have done the opposite.    “Good news” turns out to be not true,  and the bad news comes at us unexpectedly in great numbers, big issues, little issues,  one after another and sometimes in swarms of information bytes… like gnats.

 

Individually,  a gnat is a tiny little thing.      One little gnat bite is so annoying.  It hurts with a deep little sting way under your skin.    But the darn things don’t come flying at you one at a time.

Here’s a group of little black gnats, next to a finger so you can see their size.

Did you know that at certain times of the year, the gnats way up north can stampede a whole herd of caribou?

Caribou are herd animals.   They eat and rest and relocate themselves in great groups.   There are particular movements and patterns in herd behavior that help defend themselves in the presence of predators.

One of these defensive herd behaviors in Running Away.   Anywhere.

Thoughtlessly,   Mindlessly.   Without a plan.   When the gnats are attacking in great numbers their only urge is to get away.

It was a bright, sunny day today here in the Far North.    It would have been a perfect day to do some thinking in the Spruce Tunnel.  It’s only two miles from my home, but I didn’t make it there.  Instead I chose to do some spring cleaning in the back yard:   raking leaves, picking up sticks,  feeding poison worms to the moles (heh heh),  shoveling extra dirt into low places to improve drainage,  washing the car, fixing the bird feeder, finding a surprising amount of live little bugs  (ick !)    ….   Spring in February!!

So, I wasn’t taking a nice walk, but I was still doing some outdoor thinking, especially about all those annoying bits of bad news that are swarming all around us.   And I thought:    it’s all information,  just “information”  and no one can do anything sensible about mere information.

The human intellect is capable of gathering information,  but also of gaining knowledge and of developing perspective and wisdom and formulating plans to affect one’s world.

   The urge is so strong to just run away from all the news, just like the caribou running away from all the gnats.

It all starts with information.    (Stay informed!)   And then we ought  to go on to a knowledge level.    (learn about the issue!)   And then there is the “gaining wisdom” part.    There is objective truth.   There is objective reality.   There are objective values that are a true standard to measure current events against.

That’s so much work!!!       But I don’t think humans were meant to live with a “herd mentality”  where our behavior is already prescribed for us.

Another quote from George Orwell?

“She had not a thought in her head that was not a slogan; and there was no imbecility, absolutely none, that she was not capable of swallowing if the Party handed it out to her.” Orwell, 1984.

He was not paying “her”  a compliment.

And she wasn’t living in a free society.

‘NET PROTEST WORKED? NEVERMIND

February 4, 2012

Remember the campaign of a week or so ago, a day of Website blackouts to protest two new laws going through Congress which would open the door to total Internet control?   The laws were called PIPA  and SOPA.   I had that little banner in the upper right corner to remind those who might be interested to let their Congressmen know what they thought about it.

Did the campaign work?       I’ve read newspaper articles that it did.

But,  honestly?     No.    Congress has decided to “postpone” their vote on it until later this summer.   That kept some of us wondering.    Are we going to have to fight this fight all over again?   Will there be something going on then  to  distract us?    Or will these laws come back in a form that we can’t easily recognize?

Well.    Nevermind.

 

While we were focusing on these two laws,   another broader and more insidious censorship law was being signed by our rulers.  It’s called A C T A.

It’s okay, though.     Such laws have to be debated and passed in Congress – by our elected representatives.   And our rulers didn’t call it a “law”  so the Congress didn’t have to be involved.    It was called an “agreement.”  It was an international agreement.    So the only signature needed was from the hand of the man they put into the living quarters of the wh it e   ho  use.      Signed, sealed, and delivered to us.    People in Europe protested this law and pointed out the dangers.   Leaders from various countries warned against this law.

But we didn’t protest.

Well.   Nevermind.

We won’t feel the changes too quickly.     I read in the newspapers that we “won” the protest about the other two censorship laws.     But be careful what you write anywhere on the Internet.

 

 

THE PRICE OF FREEDOM

February 3, 2012

“Georgia”  has still been very much on my mind this week.  “Georgia,”   that half-longed-for better place that we once knew and would like to return to.     I’ve long felt very “wistful”  about our country that used to be.   Maybe we can get back to it,  but we would have to be committed to becoming a nation of equality before the law again;  we would have to return to the principles of our Constitution.      We would have to remember what our Founding Fathers told us:  “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

My Dad can illustrate what I mean:

Here is my Dad in his home, “way down south.”      He is always like that, in his world of music.    He is a classical and a jazz guitarist, and he has always played in bands of some sort, usually Big Band Era dance bands.    His mother was very aware of political things going on in the world, and I am, but he is fairly unaware — or at least uninterested.

However his world of guitars was recently brushed by the dangerous side of political dictatorship that seems to be rising in our country.   My Dad seemed only vaguely aware of the issue that arose last summer.

There are a few really good guitar manufacturers in our country, but this issue involves two of them:   the Martin company and the Gibson company.    Both have been making fine guitars for many decades.     Both are well-known, legitimate, law-abiding companies.   Both use Indian rosewood in their mainline guitar models.

Now, my Dad chose to go with the Gibson guitars, possibly for musical reasons I don’t understand, and possibly because he has talked to some of the famous musicians who use Gibsons.

So what’s the difference?   

The difference is the Martin company makes regular donations to one political party – as is their right – and are personal friends of some members of the current rulers in Washington.    And the Gibson company makes donations to the other political party, the one not currently in control of things.

What’s the problem?

“Out of the blue”  for the American public,  suddenly the Gibson company was charged with “using Indian rosewood”  which India regulates in its export laws to conserve and manage their crop of rosewood.   (“Trees are a renewable crop.”)        India’s internal laws restrict the use of rosewood for manufacturing – in India –  but has allowed the use of rosewood, under specified circumstances, in this country.

As the two aforenamed guitar companies do.     But in August of last year, the current  attorney general  “charged” the Gibson company with the “crime” of violating India’s internal laws….Indian law, not American law.       And it was more than just a “charge.”   It was a raid on their manufacturing facilities and a confiscation of material property and private documents.

Among the stuff seized were many pallets of rosewood — legal obtained rosewood with their accompanying legal paperwork, documenting the legal sale and receipt of the rosewood.      The paperwork itself had accompanying documents certifications from the Forest Stewardship Council. . . .

Didn’t matter.

Now, if you’re at all interested, you can read about it in various newspapers, such as the Wall Street Journal,  but what you won’t find in all those articles about the Gibson raid is a long list of all the other companies and businesses that have been raided, charged, penalized, or  shut down in our country in the past few years.

I remember a few, but this one rankles.    This one hits close to home.   Gibson is an honorable, lawful corporation doing business according to the law.    They just happen to be on the wrong side of the political spectrum.    A cynical response would be “this has always gone on.”   Perhaps.   Perhaps not to this degree, but perhaps.   But the party bosses didn’t always get away with it for long.

We were a nation of law and of equal protection before the law.      If we are not once again, then we are indeed in danger of allowing a dictatorship of personal politics to rule over us.    It’s not fun to live in a republic.   It’s hard work.    “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

From George Orwell, who foresaw all this:  ““Until they have become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”

I”m delighted to have found a speech written by a young man, a young American who “gets it.”   I will state first that I don’t agree with all of his examples,  America is full of all kinds of viewpoints and lifestyles,  but I do agree with the point he is making, and it is this larger point that is so important for us to remember.       He has graciously said that his speech may be reproduced….and I will do so if anyone would like to read “more”  and to possibly consider another discussion illustrating  the importance of vigilance.

(more…)

GEORGIA ON MY MIND: GEORGIA….GEORGIA….

February 1, 2012

GEORGIA…..GEORGIA…..THE WHOLE DAY THROUGH…….

I owe a little apology to one of my friends.   Or perhaps a little explanation.    She was on her way over for a nice little evening of supper and conversation, but she wasn’t sure quite exactly when she’d get here.

That was okay.  Everything was ready.     I “killed some time”  by sitting down at my piano and wandering up and down the keyboard for a while.    The music made me moody-broody;  melancholy.   I had landed on this song:

 JUST AN OLD SWEET SONG…KEEPS GEORGIA ON MY MIND…..

When my friend knocked on the door, I let the music drift off somewhere, and let her in.   As she was taking off her coat, she said,   “I didn’t know you played piano…”       Her comment caught me by surprise.    She’d probably heard something from outside.   And I don’t really play.   And I told her so.

See,   reading notes and moving your fingers is NOT playing piano.   At least it’s not being of any use to anyone, musically speaking.    I used to accompany a men’s quartet (trio, sometimes!)  but I can’t do that anymore.  That was a long time ago, when I lived in a very different world.   And when your own father is a superb jazz musician who has been in the company of Les Paul and Johnny Smith and the Tommy Dorsey Band….well, you get a kind of skewed idea of what  music “should” be.

So I told her “no.”   I don’t really play piano.   We chattered on about other things,  but my answer has always bothered  me, lingering in my mind.     And maybe for that reason, so does that number I was playing….Georgia….”on my mind.”

What is this song?   What does it do to people?

This is where it’s  played, sometimes.    Dark, smoke-filled rooms.    There’s a small band in the back.  Or sometimes just a lonely guitarist, with maybe a sorrowful horn or sax  following along.     People sitting.   Drinking.    Smoking.   Feeling.    Maybe remembering some of its lyrics from long ago…

GEORGIA….GEORGIA….NO PEACE I FIND……

Brooding.

  Trying to figure out . . .what.    What happened, how’d I get here, do I want to do anything about it…. do I want. . . .

Is there anything even to figure out?    The song strings out  a series of lost and lonely longings for a person, a place, a state of mind that is somewhere, just out there, just beyond reach.    There is an urgent but vague unease that keeps a heart unsettled and sad, as though there is a loss which shouldn’t have happened.

JUST AN OLD SWEET SONG …

We suspect we’re entitled to a little happiness.    We want to be able to look around and say,  “Well, things are all right, really…”     We  should be able to find some sweet things, some innocent refuge where there are no cares weighing down on our soul.     Maybe like childhood.   Maybe like a woman who is comfortable with you.  Maybe like the old days, when your spouse was still around…

KEEPS…GEORGIA….ON MY MIND….

And maybe a person just longs for a time when the world seemed like a decent place. . . .

That’s a golden moon rising over Georgia swamps.   Basic and beautiful.    Simple and direct.   You know what the dangers are — and there are some —  but in general,  it’s not going to rise up and ambush you with a dark side that you didn’t know was there.

Georgia.    It’s just a metaphor.    The desirable woman named Georgia that got away.   The place that is impossibly beautiful and peaceful, and that you had to leave behind.    Or the world as it should be if only evil ones had not deceived their way to the top.

MELODIES BRING MEMORIES THAT LINGER IN MY HEART /   MAKES ME THINK OF GEORGIA, WHY DID WE EVER PART?

Not long after that evening of my friend’s visit, with the song “Georgia”  still in my  mind, there were a few days of news articles about an occurrence in Georgia.    The acuteness of the song’s melancholy longings had faded a little —  until I read these articles.    

The state court of Georgia had appointed a recent certain date for the appearance of the person that was placed into our nation’s capital’s wh ite ho use.   He was to appear with simple identification papers.   He didn’t show up.   His attorneys didn’t show up.    He could present no papers  to prove his identity.    And so Georgia has removed his name from their ballots for this year’s presidential election.

 Seems like a simple question from a more innocent time.     Who are you?    There are three names associated with this person.   More than a dozen American Social Security numbers used by this person.      Three continents associated with this man’s background.   And two religions.     We have photocopies of his school papers.    But they don’t show what  he wants us to know.   

Georgia is not “weird.”    Georgia is one of several of our states which are trying to right some wrongs that we had allowed,  but I don’t think we, as a nation,   will be able to do this.            

Remember those “brooding” questions up above?     What happened?  How’d we get to this place?    Can we ever get back…?   Do we even want to?      I wonder how many of us know the facts of this case in Georgia’s court.    We are quiet and subdued,  like the people in the smoke-filled room.

Thanks, Georgia.

IT’S A SAD SWEET SONG….

It was nice for a little entertainment……