Friday, August 31, 2012

Labor Day

I've got maggots in my scrotum. Alas, these days, don't we all. Just one line of so many one-liners brilliantely executed at the Ellie Caukins theatre last night. The Book of Mormon was even better than all the hype that has come before it in the last couple of years. Three hours of brilliance in every way theatrical. Oh, those lines.Oh, those actors. And the music, dance, choreography, costumes, set - all brilliant.Can't remember when I've had so many laughs at the theatre - sort of an out-of-body experience and definitely an out-of-Denver experience.
Guess I underestimate the Denver culture. I would have expected that rousing, long standing ovation in NYC or London, but this was downtown Denver, and the audience was rocking. I'm counting myself so fortunate to have been there.

Fortunate also to have missed Clint Eastwood talking to an empy chair. Probably good intentions run amuk, but he sure made Obama's day. How does it happen that as man who is such a savvy director, a man for whom actors love to act, a man who's the master of acting couldn't direct himself and an empty chair? 

As Labor Day is the coitus interruptus between the two conventions, I'm wondering how each of the candidates is going to talk to and for those laborers? You know, the ones who will be dis-assembling props in Tampa Bay and those assembling props in Charlotte on Monday. I admit I'm a sucker for Labor Day, Joe Hill and all the gang. My uncles and one brother were hard-working, accomplished plumbers, the backbone of the plumbers' union. Who will be speaking for and who will be listening to all the laborers - high tech, low tech, no tech and whatever else people are doing to make the world go 'round?
Of course, another problem, at least as I see it, now that school starts before Labor Day how does anyone know what the Monday day off means? For decades, Labor Day was a day off for workers and a day to signal the end of summer and return to school. It was a significant marker in New England to pack away those white shoes and pants. Gone until Memorial Day. Those were the rules established by some matriarch in need of a shopping spree.
Regardless, I hope there are signs of hope and encouragment for US workers this holiday.
I'll be preparing for the first post-Labor Day at the beach this week. First time ever that the Beach Bum Bookies from Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Colorado will hit Rehoboth Beach in September. It's usually a June sort of thing, but things change. The urge to gather together never changes.
Speaking of change, the Winter Pilgrim will be heading off in two weeks to Rio DeJaneiro and begin putting one foot in front of the other until she reaches Mexico City...or wherever else the path may lead.
Embrace the weekend and all things good as we prepare to man up and woman up for the second convention.  Good news is there will be actual color at the coming convention.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Oh, those Mormons

I admit it. Last night I watched both Condi Rice and Paul Ryan. Some good speechwriting going on and some great delivery. I think Condi was the only one so far to not use the teleprompter. Spoke from her notes and her heart, so I surmise that she did most of the writing of her script, as she would not have been able to make so much eye and do so little looking down.
All the fact checkers are going crazy today, noting the various exaggerations, lies, spins, untruths, whatever in the Ryan speech. Can't tell you how many e-mails I've received, listing the wrongs - and all the e-mails have an ask attached. Truthfully, I'd love to send some money to Obama, but I know evern $25 would result in 250 more pleading e-mails per day. Maybe it's time to put a collection box somewhere so we can anonymously put some Obama dollars for me (you can choose your own candidate or function) so we don't get punished with texts galore for giving.

About the fact checkers. Do those folks think one of their false fact finds is going to change one vote? I'll give them a couple of votes from the 10% or so undecided voters, but the rest of us? 'Keeping them honest' as CNN likes to say. To what end? Sad to say, most of us don't even expect real truth from any of those running for office. We're accustomed to a big generalization, some fluff, lots of mirrors.  The facts? How quaint.
Some of us in the older set and others versed in film, know the Rashomon story all too well. Here's the truth from my point of view. I'm not even making it up; just telling it as I saw/heard it. Just because we hear and read so much more these days doesn't mean more we're learning more that is true, just more. How's that for a curmudgeonly critique.

No curmudgeon tomorrow. Won't be on computer, ipad, ipone or telly tonight. You're about to read why this post is titled as it is. As luck would have it, we're going to see The Book of Mormon at DCPA tonight instead of seeing today's numero uno Mormon, Mitt Romney, on television. Bet my night will be much funnier than yours. Maybe a bit more truthful also.  But there will be no fact finders available to prove it. Enjoy the evening. I will.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Seven Years Ago with Tricko

You all luck out today. I've spent another two bull-headed hours (Roscoe many more) trying to defrost Mozilla, but even with a new installation Firefox is playing freeze. I could whine more about that...or whine about last night's You Can Stand By My Man too and All About Me . Could even comment about how many times Born in the USA is used inappropriately. But that's too easy.
Frozen software and political posturing hardly stand up to flooding streets in Louisiana.

It's a brilliant post today, written by a man I'd vote for anyday, Pat O'Driscoll. Tricko, as some of us know him. Part of the Delinquent Writers Gang.  He posted this comment this morning in response to my post yesterday. He's moved on from newspapers to the National Park Service. Still a writing man. Thanks, Pat, once again.

Pat's Comments:
BTW, speaking of Isaac:
Exactly seven years ago this minute, I was making my way east by car through the wet western outskirts of the fading Hurricane Katrina. I had spent the night in Lafayette, LA, about 110 miles west of New Orleans, before the hurricane struck. I had flown from Tampa (!) to Houston and driven over to cover the story after spending Saturday in a "hurricane hunter" airplane flying through the building storm when it was just beginning its bowling-ball turn toward Louisiana from the southern end of the Gulf.

I found folks around Houma, LA, on the exurban outskirts of greater Big Easy, waiting at roadblocks amid battered fields of sugar cane, all certain they'd be able to go home any minute now. Little did they or we at the time know that no one would be allowed back in for a couple of weeks, and most for much longer.

Late that afternoon, Aug. 29, 2005, several of us news folk got the call from FEMA in Baton Rouge, offering a place in line with a search-and-rescue caravan heading, bumper-to-bumper, into New Orleans that night. We arrived close to midnight in a Sam's Club parking lot, where we bivouacked in our cars beneath a startling starscape the likes of which you only see in remote deserts. The first of many starry nights in a New Orleans without electricity.

We awoke to word that the door-to-door footsearch for rescuees would now be a marine operation, as the levees' failure had swamped a significant part of the city. Soon we were standing on 3-lane, eastbound I-610 where it disappeared underwater like a sloping concrete boat ramp at Lake Powell. Dozens of refugees were coming "ashore" from the swamped Lakeview and City Park neighborhood aboard anything that floated. Their stories were heartbreaking. Thus began my week of covering the immediate aftermath of a shameful disaster that didn't have to be -- or didn't have to be that bad, at any rate.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

One Giant Step

....Something about Neil Armstrong's death and Curiosity lumbering about Mars, pretty much in tandem, that makes one nostalgic for the sort of good old days, days when a President was going to take us to the moon and ask what we would/could do for our country. Those old days, days when  Neil Armstrong was a hero in a country that all too soon would dump heroes in favor of celebrities.
Those old days, on the anniversary of one of those old days when Martin Luther King blessed us with "I Have a Dream" in Washington DC.

The photos from Mars, the human voice up to Mars, the vast unknown slowly being navigated dwarfs the anachronistic republican and democratic conventions coming our way. Noone taking us to the moon on these platforms. Balancing the budget is numero uno. You'd think a few MBA's could go into a corner and figure that one out. But no. And then there are the social issues: pro and con gay marriage; pro and con abortion; pro and con immigration, and so it goes. I have strong opinions on all those issues (the answer is Yes) and believe the government should be able to handle its money at least as well as I can, but I'm looking for more. Not more hope, thank you. I have enough. Looking for action, looking for ideals, looking for the ever-elusive vision that can be transformed into reality.
Not expecting a giant step tonight. Maybe a few celebreties. No heroes.

But I'll give a shout out to Mother Nature, the absolute mother of all mothers, for showing up as if the southeast were hosting a Katrina Convention. Just in case we had forgotten her, thought we could plan around her, she's back. If things get rough with Isaac, I propose that all those delegates in Tampa Bay throw off their suits (yea, the women serving the guys also), follow Mitt to Costco, suit up appropriately and head for the flooded or damaged areas to help out. Reduce all the speeches to two tweets each and get on with it. There's a Shakespearean quote that should go right here, but I don't have it in my wordhoard today.

Speaking of wordhoards, if you notice a preponderance of misspellings in this post, blame it on the still frozen Mozilla Firefox. I'm on to another system, hating every minute of it, and can find no solution for the frozen firefox. Patrick suggested exorcism, but I don't have my certificate in exorcism yet....the Pope just won't grant me the authority. Curses don't work. For those of you who think there is a reason for everything, there is absolutely no good reason for me to have frozen Mozilla firefox.

Apropos of absolutely nothing, I've been following those women in Togo who are doing the Lysistrata thing in hopes of getting rid of Togo's president. How many sexless nights will it take for the Togo men to join the women in deposing the president?
And I bet those women from Togo didn't have to read Greek tragedy to figure out that strategy.
Hoping Mother Nature will be kind tonight.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Freeze Frame

It's always something. I've been delightfully, ecstatically wire-free for the past ten days. Could have gone to the local coffee store and wired up, but chose not to. Loved giving over to being unwired, defrocked of all responsibility.
But I've been back home for a day now, laundry all done, house looking like the house I remember, except for one thing. The damned computer.
Fine for e-mail. Nothing else. Freezes the minute I go to any spot other than e-mail. Pages won't budge. Screen freezes. Even now, finally on this blogspot, I'm typing half these letters twice in order to get them to show up. And when they do show up, the letters look too large for me.
Didn't take me long to get into a total frenzy, feeling powerless and newsless without the news. No, I just won't turn on the television to see what's up. Who watches television, other than when there is a national disaster or an international fiasco? Serenity gone, left behind on the beach, rolling smoothly in the waves.
Hope to solve my mozilla problem tomorrow. Glad to be back at you! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Surf's Up; Wires down

Two or three days turnaround, and we're back on the road again. Before 6:00 a.m., we'll be heading to Mystic CT and then on to Watch Hill Rhode Island for the week.  No wireless at the cottage, so my posts, if at all, will be sporadic.

One can get on line at the small library in town, and there is one hotly wired little coffee shop where one can set up. But so many people mill around with a cup of coffee, looking for some spot to sit and get wired that it seems sort of senseless to stay too long at the connection show. And, truth be told, I think it's good for me to be disconnected from all the accessories that give me the illusion that I'm connected with the world, and actually connect with it. You know that world - the one with fresh air, salt, ocean waves, family chatter. The world that doesn't come in sound bites, slanted or airbrushed.

We don't have Olympic Games as the Romneys does on family vacation, but we do have a talent show, a secret potato chip club, a ride the waves club, and a nightly blast and boom from the boat club when the sun  says goodbye for the night. Pranksters everywhere you look. Tempers? not answering.
The competitive gene in each member of the family, regardless  (or maybe because of) family of origin, makes it hard to play games where there are winners and losers. Young or old, everyone is competing for the gold. Even playing poker with cheerios doesn't work out. Horse or 21?  Somehow 21 turns to 30 or 40 until the 'right' person wins.
Who rode the most waves? highest waves? Any variation of siblings. Who's tired? No-one.
Never been a member of this clan without an opinion and a fact or two to back it up. Everybody's right.

Within the group there are pescetarians, caffiene free, alcohol free, gluten free, sugar free,peanut free, salt unfreed, omnivores and carnivores. Fruit stalkers and filled with chocolate walkers.
Politics - hard core libertarians, democrats, maybe Republicans in hiding, don't give a damnicans, imperialists, proletarians, socialist, liberals, oligarchs, socialists. You name it and we have one, as most of us have two or three of those faces we can put on at a given moment.
Religion - don't even go there. Even though we do, you don't want to join us on that one.
Everyone is good-looking, smart and funny. Sometimes short on humility. Big on love.

There it is in summary form - all the good reasons to be disconnected.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Post-Olympic Blues

Have to hand it to the Brits. Two weeks of fun, fierce competition, and finesse. From my seat, all went swimmingly. I suppose we'll never know exactly how the security worked and what might have happened, but up against a crazy, unpredictable world, unity was the call of the Games.

The life and psyche of an Olympic athlete (and all those who try so hard but just don't make it) is so beyond me that I'm not sure how to respond. How ever does one train both body and mind to be in such harmony, to be at 'that sweet time' that transcends normal being? Sure there is raw talent and sure there are athletes trained by uber-technology, but there's the athlete who digs his own track, the athlete who separates from family, friends, culture in order to train. Everyone has a unique tale.
This year was more special than most. All those women from everywhere, following faiths and non-faith from everyone, cracking smiles, hugging and laughing, and then digging so far down, so deep, that some of us don't even know if we have that kind of depth.
 And if one has never seen inner beauty, there's lots of it showing up at the Games. Oh yea, lots of outer beauty also (has to be a reason for all those condoms delivered to the Olympic Village), but the combination prevails. Male, female, young and old - pure essential beauty everywhere.
How about those women? As a UConn fan, it's hard not to believe that Geno and the gang can pull just about anything off. And the women's soccer team? Let go of the Hope and Brandi twit and all was stunning. I know, some American jingoism and funky patriotism mixed in there, but those are the women I watch during real time.

It's the diving, swimming and track that set my heart aflutter, my breath puffing, my hands clenching, toes curling. Not quite the Barbie look, I don't even have to know who it is to get wound up over some of those moves....the head a tad too close to the diving board, the look backward, or long stride forward. Sitting on a couch in Denver, my adrenaline pumps, my teeth clench, my toes curl...and when the event ends, my body parts slowly unwind, my breath becomes normal, and I am smiling at no-one at all. Smiling at Dame Fortune, I guess.

Forgot about that balance beam. Forgot I can hardly balance myself enough to walk on the curb without stepping into the street. Sounds so corny, I know, but to me the Olympic Games represent all that is good, kind and powerful about humanity.  Ok -- revision: I'd add the Nobel Prize winners to the lot of Gold Medal winners. Now there's a party - and gene pool - to pave the future.

The Brits and their music. What a great move - all those icons from the past - Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, David Bowie mixing it up with Monty Python and funk, getting people in every color jacket and shirt, English speakers or not, waving and dancing together.

"Without music, life would be a mistake" is what I think Nietzsche said. I'm not quite sure that is right, but life with music gives us meanings we would not otherwise imagine.
Singing those post-Olympic blues, but so honored to have participated from my spot on the globe.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

We're All Pilgrims

Buon Camino! The six pilgrims who set out from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Denver on July 22nd logged 350 miles and walked into the Sanctuario de Chimayo in New Mexico yesterday afternoon. That's a lot of walking, hiking, riding, driving in the hot sun. That's a lot of good community members and church people providing food and shelter along the way. That's a lot of blisters and sunburn... more than anything, so it seemed to me, it was a whole lot of feeling good for those six who started out and hung in for the whole trip.
Not surprisingly, Winter Pilgrim Ann scrambled up mountains and sauntered through the hillside relentlessly. Also, not surprisingly, the others had to adjust their early, ambitious goals. Set. Reset. Set Again.
Much of life seems to be about lowering and raising the bar, accepting one's reality, embracing our humanness with humility. So, with an adjustment here and there, backpacks carried in a sag wagon, followed by another support car, a portapotty in a truck for the camping out nights, help from friends and family, the six pioneer pilgrims completed the journey. Forever they will be the pioneers who followed the route, set by Ann, from Denver to Chimayo. And kudos to Ann for now having created and walked that route twice.

Anyone up for doing it next year? Yesterday, I walked a mere 7-8 or so miles from Las Truchas to Chimayo, conveniently picking the spot where the slow descent into Chimayo begins. Backpack left in Roscoe's car, so it was just my phone, a bottle of water and me traipsing by the side of the road. Could I do twenty a day?
I'd have to do some serious training in the sun to pull that off, and after just having the major zapping of chest, arm, face pre-cancerous and squameous spots done, I'd probably have to train in full white burka. Not black.
I think not. Maybe a burka made of the White, light, outdoor, sun defense cloth found in REI-type shirts, but not the heavy, heavy traditional burka material. So body covering, for the likes of me, has become a major consideration.....although you can't tell it from this photo taken yesterday on my mini-pilgrimage.
All three pilgrimages I've done have been of the pampered pilgrim type. Support van that carried backpacks, stopped for delicious snacks during the day, and transported us back to distinctive farm houses along the way.
Sure, we walked, and walked 13-18 miles a day. And we walked the last 100 miles (yes, miles) contiguously, but we always knew, at the end of the day, we'd have a sweet room with a bed, mattress, toilet and shower...And festive Spanish dinner. So I did fine being a pampered pilgrim, but not sure sleeping on the floors of school gymnasiums, in the woods, or on church benches, and borrowed cots would wear well with me. Just thinking about my back on a wooden floor hurts. Could I suck it up and do it?
From the little I know and have observed about the pilgrimage to Chimayo and the huge amount I know about me, I think I'd make it through the days but crumble at night. Just thinking.

When the pioneer pilgrims entered the Sanctuario de Chimayo, each pilgrim had some one or ones waiting for them. One had a wife, another her mother and little daughter, then there was a husband, sister from Our Lady of Guadalupe,, pride and love for their pilgrims. So powerful. Andrea, Eileen and I showed up for Ann and brought her back to Taos to a delightful B&B and healthy (ok..not so really healthy) dinner.  Note Ann's tan mark on her arms. Now, does that light, sun-protective white burka I was talking about make sense?
The Pioneer Pilgrims' Camino de Chimayo was a Catholic, Lady of Guadalupe Church supported group. The pilgrims had mass every day, served by Padre Benito, Priest and now Pioneer Pilgrim from the Church. He said mass at the Sanctuario after everyone assembled for the ending. Holy. Sacred. Catholic. The group had a religious conviction that supported their journey, a conviction that God was with them, providing strength for their individual ways of completing the pilgrimage.

But spiritual pilgrims abound - here, there, everywhere. Introspective pilgrims inspired by the beauty of nature, the power of connectedness, the synchronicity with others take the same journeys, have transformative experiences. Sacred and Holy Experiences. We're all together on that. The photo below just shouted out to me as I walked the barren roadside, spoke to me about what can happen to us when we make our pilgrimages, big or small, nearby or far away. We flourish. Against all odds, we flourish.

Journey to Grand Lake tomorrow. We'll see what that brings.  Shout out for US Women's Soccer Team!!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

All Roads Lead to Chimayo

Well, maybe not all roads, but follow the paths or break a trail or two, and you might find yourself having gone from Denver to Chimayo. That's what a small group of pilgrims have attempted, and they are pretty close to reaching their destination. Buon Camino or Buen Camino, as you prefer.
The Camino de Chimayo (you can google the site and find updates) is a 345 mile journey in the blazing, blistering hot desert sun. Various churches have hosted these pilgrims and provided them with food. They have a couple of trailing cars that provide water, transportation, food, tents and even a portapotty when needed. Not commenting, just listing. Very much a 'It Takes a Village' sort of thing for most of the group. Ann Sieben, our beloved Winter Pilgrim, is another story...just puts one foot in front of the other and blasts those 20-mile hot hikes off, one after another. No stopping her.
We're leaving as soon as I finish this post to catch the pilgrims in the final stages. They went from Questia to Taos yesterday, and take off for Penasco from Taos this morning. They're probably making their way as my fingers are doing my morning walking. So we'll get to Taos today, and hope to find them in Penasco. We'll drive back to Taos tonight, and spend tomorrow walking and driving to Chimayo, meeting up with the pilgrims at the end of the day.
Felt a little guilty for a minute or two about not walking from Taos to Chimayo, but guilt disappeared quite quickly. I've done my 18 miles daily in the sun on the Camino de Santiago. True, we stopped at nice little coffee/water bars on the way, meeting other adventurers, slept in quaint places that had toilets, and feasted on great Spanish food. You can call it pampered - I call it perfect for someone in her sixties. So over the Girl Scouts and my journey through the rings of higher education administration cured me of ever having to prove anything to anyone again. So over that.
BUT...I can't wait to catch up with these heroic desert pilgrims as they walk into the Sanctuary de Chimayo. One of the most spiritual places the world has to offer. We don't have to share blisters to share the spirituality.... and to pay honor for those who made the journey. See you in a couple of days.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Curiouser and Curiouser

Having spent the past 45 minutes filled not with curiosity, but total frustration, I still haven't gotten the free Olympics app I want on my IPad. Why? Simple. No matter how many times I put in the correct password, I get a message that says 'incorrect password.' Time and time again. I typed the letters and words slowly and quickly, humbly and angrily, nonchalantly or with intensity - didn't matter. Incorrect password.
However, when I got a message to update two apps, I went to the site, put in the same password I had pounded out previously, and everything was fine. Forty-five minutes is a long time to waste when the day is running down and a posting has to go up. Trust me, I have the right password, and endless scraps of paper, computer lists, lists of passwords tucked away. Letters and words. It's the right one.

Truth be told, I let some other time drift on by earlier in the afternoon, when I arrived home and found the Women's soccer team tied 3-3 with Canada and in overtime. Semi-final game, and the US women have never lost in the semis. Didn't lose this time either. The US finally scored in injury time, taking the game from Canada, and moving on to the finals with Japan. USA - Japan is being hyped as a big revenge match, with the USA looking for revenge for losing to Japan in the World Cup via penalty kicks last year.
Another piece of truth - we (meaning me) were all happy for the Japanese women taking the World Cup, winning something for their tsunami-flood whipped country. Sentimentality and sweetness on hold for this Olympic final. Curious how that happens.

Lots of grim news out there - Wade Michael Page, originally from CO, had taken his hate-song band and and hate-group memberships with him to Wisconsin and yesterday killed six people in a Sikh Temple. Just one gun, but got the damage done. "And so it goes," as we learned from Mr. Vonnegut. So it goes. Let's just let that one grim event represent all the horror and sadness in the world right now. So it goes.

But there's one more line, one more voice haunting me these days. W.B. Yeats always comes a calling to me when the world is at its best and at its worst:  At its worst, words from Yeats' Second Coming:

The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity. Seems like a permanent headline these days.

"But, but, but. . . " I say to myself. What about Curiosity landing on Mars? Perfect landing, perfect name, perfect symbol to represent the power of possibility. Curiosity. We don't know what Curiosity will find on Mars, but the possibilities are endless.

And with Curiosity roaming around on Mars, the world and the human mind is at its best. I'll give Yeats this one also.

Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly.              98% sure Yeats said that. If he didn't, I'd love to take credit for the line.

May your day be curiouser and curiouser.