Saturday, February 28, 2015

Egyptians, Ancient Artifacts and the Color of A Dress

What was it about the banter over the color of the sequined dress that captivated us? Was it that our opinion was asked of? Was it a mindless distraction to much weightier things going on in the world? I confess I was sucked in to the dress debate just like anyone else. 

I was lulled and lured so I wouldn't have to think about the atrocities that I'd seen on the news this past week. I could not wrap my mind around what I'd seen. I couldn't accept it. Total denial was adopted.

And I turned to the talk of a dress and who was colorblind (or blind?).

Instead of sobbing over 21 innocent Egyptians slaughtered for their faith.

Instead of facing the images of priceless, thousand year old sculptures being viciously bludgeoned and defaced.

No more.

Gone.

History and Art that elevate the human condition.
Art that washes from the soul the dust of life, as Picasso put it.

All gone. Now a heap of ruins. A pile of dust.

I'm struggling to understand the mentality of those that would do such things. In the name of a god that promotes death to any who hold thoughts, beliefs or ideologies contrary to theirs.

This is so far from our ideal of freedom of speech, religion, and press, that I wonder why we aren't crying out over the radicals' blatant hatred and death threats.

I wondered why my mother's generation didn't do more about Hitler. He sounded like a crazy man on the radio, my mother said. She was in her twenties and had more to think about than the possibility of genocide, torture, brutality and the firing squads existing in eastern Europe.

So I sent my email to the White House to ask what their response would be to this slap in the face of our Republic.

We better pay attention. Take care we don't lose the privileges and peace we enjoy,

As we debate about the color of a dress.

Monday, February 16, 2015

I Know I Saw A Pelican!

What a month to have been laid off from my job in! I couldn't be more grateful to be the casualty of a department restructure! February in Florida is when it feels most like California. The humidity disappears, the skies are cloudless and it is 73 degrees everyday!

Just after my son in NYC texted a photo of him bundled up to his nose saying, "it feels like 4 degrees out," and my daughter in Virginia texted back that it was 26 there, I did a gleefully evil thing.

"I hate to tell you all this," I typed away," but dad and I are off to kayak at John MacArthur National Park on this beautiful Sunday afternoon."

"You know you love telling your Northern kids that," my daughter wrote from VA.

Yes, I do enjoy flaunting our fair weather while they shiver.

Surprisingly, there was very little wind as we launched the double kayak into the cool lagoon. Normally we paddle out to a distant island in the greater intracoastal, but having less time we decided to go north into the upper enclosed part of the inlet. As we skirted the mangroves once and a while we put down the paddle and listened to the quiet; the waves barely heard from the beach side of the narrow peninsula, soaking up the weaker, but warm winter sun. Then we'd push forward . The birds were abundant; herons, blue and white, snowy egrets and others we weren't sure of.



Finally, we reached the north side of the pond. A great blue heron stood stately near the water. Above him to the right a huge pelican puffed up his wattle-like pouch below his bill, and fanned his feathers, reaching his massive beak to the sky.


 To his right, after we squinted and paddled closer, there sat another pelican, (am I seeing it right?) yes, on a nest!! Thus explaining the defensive dance of the first pelican. I confirmed with hubby that indeed it was a nest he was sitting on, the white stain of droppings extending below the perch, like snow, showing she had resided there a while, warming her eggs. There is nothing like seeing wildlife in its natural habitat! What an awesome sighting!


After our rowing, we hopped the shuttle across the inlet to the beach side. I excitedly shared with the driver that we had seen some beautiful birds including the nesting pelican.

He immediately discounted my delightful sighting by saying, "Oh no. They breed in North Carolina this time of year. You couldn't have seen a pelican. It must have been a blue heron."

"No, I'm pretty sure it was a pelican. Herons are slender with short beaks and this bird was stout with a long thick bill, " I pleasantly argued (especially after my last post promising to be nicer this year).

"Well," he continued in a condescending tone, "I'm a big Audubon buff and those birds go to North Carolina this time of year to breed. It must have been a blue heron."

I couldn't believe this man was about to kill my joy. It irked me that he would try to tell me something I know I had seen, so much so, that I couldn't let it go all through lunch on the beach with hubby who was siding with the shuttle driver, as being more of an expert!!

The argument with the driver continued in my head. The nerve! Yeah, have you read Audubon in Florida? I know a little bit about the guy. I've read 3 biographies of his and my great-grandfather's original print hangs on my living room wall. I know a little bit - enough to tell the difference between a heron and an pelican, for goodness sake!

I wanted to call my birder-brother, but I'd gotten my iPhone wet, so my vindication never came.
Until I got home and googled where Florida Pelicans breed in winter.

And yes, pelicans nest in the mangroves perched high over open waters, so they can soar in and out after fishing. So There, Mr Park worker!!

 I know I saw a Pelican!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Birthday Blogs - Saturday Night Live, 1990

I've been thinking about birthdays, as I hit another one today.

This one comes after an difficult job loss. I have more time to ponder.

My husband channel hopped to a throw-back SNL episode with Patrick Swayze hosting, a fine specimen of a man (though not my type) with his Fabio style locks coiffed with a layered cut and blow dry. They did racy skits poking fun at Dirty Dancing, Ghost and other hit films of the day.
I got the impression that it was hip and big and everyone in that New York studio felt cool and with-it and important to be a part of it all.

25 years later, who remembers? Who thinks about it? Are those names revered or reminisced?

Another year gone by, I ask, Did I do anything that was remembered?

What will I do this year that will be captured in anyone's mind?

Or is that the point?

No, it's not. Fame and the pursuit of making a name are foolish ambitions.

Stumbling on Ecclesiastes this morning, I read the same.  Solomon writes "For what has man for all his labor, for the striving of his heart (stress) and for his toil under the sun?....I made my works great, built houses, planted vineyards and gardens, orchards and pools. I gathered herds and flocks and servants, musicians and instruments- all the things that delight the soul."

He had made it.

He had arrived!

But it wasn't enough, for he laments that he will leave his accumulated wealth, possessions and accomplishments to another.

The point is to do good. That is what truly satisfies. Even God said it at the very  beginning.

God created ...... And it was good. Was the 'good ' in reference to the excellence of His created object? Yes.. But might I say it was also referring to the fact that God was satisfied in doing something good.

Do something good and you will be satisfied.

When we cut corners or cheat or hate, it leaves an undercurrent of  anxiety. We are vexed inside. We exist with this sludge in our hearts. All the pleasures and possessions in the world won't alleviate the problem. The quick fix dies fast.

But when we do good, the heart feels light and free and clean. When we resist lashing back when we've been unjustly treated; when we love our enemies and pray for those who have wronged us; when we pursue relationships instead of recoiling in bitterness, the satisfaction of doing right enlivens us. We can put our heads on our pillows in the comfort of peace.

Later Solomon gets it.

"For I know there is nothing better for a man than to rejoice and to do good in their lives.."

Here's to a year of pursuing and doing, to the best of my God-given ability, what is good.


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