Friday, June 28, 2013

The Survivor

Nora Jacquez presented The Survivor at the Museo de las Americas last night and what a presentation it was.

Nora, using the storytelling tradition, takes on the role of Maria Rosa Vailpando, her grandmother seven generations removed. Having collected historical information and mulled over it for years, Nora pulled all the facts together and wrote a monologue. It's a grim story of a strong survivor, archetypal in type. Maria Rosa, a Spanish woman in New Mexico, had a Spanish son born in New Mexico, a son born of a rape by one of the Native Americans who held her in captivity, a son and two daughters by the Frenchman from Saint Louis, to whom she was traded and with whom she spent most of her life in a comfortable, happy relationship. Maria Rosa's story is the tale of war, competition, slavery, rape, bartering - a view of New Mexican history (1730 - 1830) rarely revealed. 

The monologue is Nora's way of preserving and passing on history and tradition, and she does so with grace and fervor. And someday Nora's story will probably be told to hundreds as a story of a strong and courageous woman.  Nora lives in Denver and Oaxaca, Mexico. She has a PhD in Spanish and has been a practicing lawyer. She's published fiction and a book of poetry.  Money from the sale of her books goes to non-profits which she supports in Denver and Oaxaca. She's a tireless volunteer for people in need and a lifelong worker and supporter of peace and justice.
I've been fortunate to be with Nora in non-violent communication workshops and in The Peaceables, a Denver group that worked for human rights and the homeless. Perhaps her granddaughter will follow the storytelling tradition and tell the tale of Nora Jacquez, The Survivor.

About fifty people were in the audience last night at the Museo when Nora, wrapped in a scarf and sitting in a rocker, told her tale in English. Forty-five minutes later, when she finished, we all stood, stretched, and sat down as she told the tale in Spanish. I was thankful I knew the words abuela, hacienda, a few other Spanish words and phrases. But most of the audience seemed proficient in Spanish, laughing and nodding in all the appropriate places. Alas, I would have understood little of the tale had it not been told in English.

If you ever have the chance to hear Nora, make sure you do. Just a suggestion - if you haven't had the opportunity to visit Museo de las Americas on Santa Fe Drive in Denver, get yourself there. It's a wonderful museum. And, of course, the tale of Nora's ancestral past will open the door to many thoughts about one's own ancestors. I have a feeling that's where my thoughts will be today.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Right Choices

Having just written and mistakenly deleted a long post about the Death of DOMA, I'm not going to repeat it. But I will say SCOTUS gave me a chance to experience anger and joy within twenty-four hours. Anger for the decision on the Voting Rights Act; joy at the decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act. Not a bad last act on the part of the Court this term - leaving us all with some sense of satisfaction. Choices made.

Speaking of choices, here's a quote from a great first work of fiction by Amor Towles, Rules of Civility.

                       ...I know that right choices by definition are the
                       means by which life crystallizes loss.

What do you think?


Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Mother Nature taking it easy this morning. No whistling of the tall grasses in the park, most of the birds are quiet and even the ducks and geese hover silently in a group near the water. The sun is shining early, clouds hiding, suggesting it's going to be a hot and dry day.

It's not a quiet before the storm kind of stillness, rather a lazy, carefree sort of thing. It's just a matter of time before the birds are all singing loudly, across and to one another. But the quiet this morning is just another type of beauty in the morning.

In another world, SCOTUS sure isn't taking it easy or keeping quiet. Today is the last day of the term for the collective to shower its words on us. Brought us lots of verbiage yesterday and more to come today. When is the last time you saw photos of Lyndon Johnson on television? Well, rip apart the voting rights bill and all those old civil rights activists show up on screen and in print. We're going to hear loud silence from some and  lots of verbiage about the Court's latest move from others. No tranquility associated with the sounds that came from yesterday's Court. And today's decisions will have us all talking. Think I'll keep that sweet silence from this morning in my back pocket today.

Now I hear more birds calling. Time for nature's music.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Post Reunion

Nothing like going to someone else's reunion to learn a little something about one's self. Just returned from three days in Minnesota, two of them spent at Roscoe's reunion at Carleton College.

Sad to say, when I was younger and thought I knew it all, knew how desperately important it was to be cool, I missed out on getting to know the sorts of people who would choose to go to a school like Carleton.  And, living on the east coast, it was pretty hard to know what people meant when they talked about 'good, old mid-western values.' 

For those students interested in fraternity/sorority life, big-time athletics, serious partying, Carleton was not the place to go. For those students interested in intellectual life for its own sake, recreation for its own sake, Carleton was the place to be. I'm not saying there weren't people with similar values in my geographical area, I just wasn't part of such a social group.

I'm still sorting out what I observed at the reunion. The only other Carleton reunion I attended left me convinced that I'd never been in an environment filled with so many bright to brilliant people with so few needy egos, so little narcissism, so little need to impress. It's not that there was a total absence of arrogance or self-importance showing, just proportionally far less than the usual group. This second showing validated what I observed the first time. Such an affirmation of the good life in process.

Being in such a group, conjures up (at least for me) a 'what if I had chosen A instead of B, what if I had met someone who showed me the potential silliness of 'y.' 

There's lots more muddling through my mind connected to my participant-observer role in this reunion. Hope I can sort it out, but I do feel fortunate to have been with such a group of people still intellectually curious, still fully engaged in life, learning new things and meeting new people.

But just to put the world in perspective, to bring me back to reality, we stopped at the Mall of America on the way back to the airport. In the middle of this massive structure there are amusement park rides (indoors!), surrounded by on all 4 sides by 4 levels of football-field-length hallways with mall stores and restauranats on both sides of the hallways.  At the corners are the big multi-story stores like Macys, Sears and Nordstroms. 

Talk about juxtaposing alternate worlds.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice

Mary Oliver helps us celebrate Summer Solstice, my favorite day of the year. Enjoy the length and light of the sun.

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean-

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don't know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Packing my bags and heading to Minnesota early tomorrow morning.  Minnesota isn't exactly a tourist destination - at least not for someone whose roots and heart are in CT and home in CO. But I've got my mosquito repellant, so hoping I'll survive.

Actually this is my second trip to Minnesota; second Carleton College reunion I've attended with Roscoe. The suggested packing list includes a small fan, a water bottle and the repellant. Trying to make it a plastic bottle free reunion, so a couple of e-mails have encouraged the personal water bottle.
The fan? Ah, that's for the dorm rooms (aka residence halls) without air conditioning. There are a couple of these housing buildings that have been renovated over the years and equipped with air conditioners. I'm assuming we older folks will get those rooms, but bringing the fan just in case. These are hearty folks who decided to attend college where it's freezing in the winter and the sun emerges as the spring semester draws to a close.

But the bathrooms.  Remember walking down the hall, turning left or right and walking into the bathrooms? And the showers?  Ought to be a lot of traffic, with feet shuffling all night long back and forth. One of the curses of growing older is the need to constantly go to the bathroom at night. Just a week ago in Rehoboth the same concern surfaced -- the mattresses that go squeak in the night. So, for a weekend, strangers will experience things that go bump in the night.

All that said, I'm looking forward to the weekend. Being a participant-observer at a reunion is a good place to be. No-one I have to remember or impress, no-one who really cares what I've done or what I'm doing. Lots of fun activities and lectures scheduled, and good people to see. And I suspect tales will run amuck among the attendees. Hope to hear some good ones.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Top Stories

Facebook organizes entries by 'Most Recent' and 'Top Stories.'  I'm not a big FB user or commentator, so I'm not sure how much it knows about me. But I do know, left to its own devices, it sorts messages that I choose to receive by Top Stories. I always change to Most Recent and then scroll through the various postings.

No matter how often I try, I cannot figure out why certain things turn out to be rated Top Stories for me. I don't know what FB knows about me to make that decision.  I understand Amazon making recommendations for me; after all, it (whatever that means) knows what I order and what I preview.  I'm rarely stunned by an Amazon recommendation, but I am often stunned by what FB thinks is a Top Story for me. 

It's not news that privacy is quickly becoming a thing of the past; it's not news that somewhere out there someone or thing knows far more about me than I do, so I'm always somewhat pleased when FB is way off on something it considers a Top Story for me. Gives me faith in my idiosyncratic mind.

Speaking of top stories, within twenty minutes this morning I read: A. Afghanistan is happy the US has forged a possible conversation among the US, the Taliban, and Afghanistan and B. President Karzai of Afghanistan will not talk with the US and Taliban and is unhappy with the way the US has gotten together with the Taliban.  Choose between A and B for your Top Story.

We'll see what top stories and recommendations come my way today.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Little Knowledge

Yesterday morning at 6:00 the sun was hiding behind a black cloud; this morning not a cloud in sight. Even with sunglasses and a wide-rimmed hat, I had to keep my eyes looking down in order to see.  The grass and shrubs, having been watered even earlier, glisten in the sunlight. It's a magical world out there in the morning. No wonder all those birds are singing with joy.

It's also a world that leaves me realizing how much I don't know and understand about nature. For example, the Great Lawn Park has lakes, ponds, stream-like waterways, created, in part, by the crafters of the park.
This morning the waters were filled with ducks and geese. Tall, skinny pure white cranes swimming next to big, brown orange-billed ducks. I don't know if I always know the difference between a duck and a goose, and I certainly can't name the varieties I see. I don't know why there were none swimming yesterday and many varieties bathing in the waters this morning.
Is it the bright sun that attracted them? I don't know where they come from and where they go. And I don't know the names of the great variety of birds singing different songs to those ducks and geese.

As you can see, I have a lot of learning to do. It reminds me of a long ago time, when I would argue that knowing how a rainbow was created would ruin the experience of observing it. I stuck with that anti-science, pro-romanticism attitude a little too long, and let a lot of knowledge go by the wayside. Bad move.

It's all still magical, mystical, stunning. Knowing where those ducks come from won't diminish the beauty.  Time for a little nature learning.

Monday, June 17, 2013


A long, thin dark cloud appeared across the sky this morning as I began my walk. For some reason, a reason only a poet or climatologist would understand, the sun went behind the thin strip and stayed covered for an hour.  Somewhere that sun was peering over the landscape, but not in my part of town.

Heading home from my short walk around the park, I stopped and waited for a car to move ahead from its stop sign. No other cars in sight. After realizing the driver's head was somewhere else and he wasn't about to move, I decided to walk behind his car and cross. Wouldn't you know it...the minute I walked behind him, he put his car in reverse and started backing up. Fortunately, he heard my loud scream and slammed his brakes on. The car tapped my hand, but that was it.  His window rolled down, and sounds of "I'm sorry, so sorry" followed me down the street.

Happy to be sitting here, coffee in hand, right now.

On another note, yesterday was Bloomsday, as every June 16th is. Around the world people gather every June 16th  to read James Joyce's Ulysses, In case you didn't have the time or energy to join a group, listen or read the book, here are the last lines of Molly Bloom's stunning soliloquy - among the best of the best in literature - anywhere, anytime.
(NPR this morning noted that today is Judy Blume day. So I'll celebrate her a bit, but am sticking with Molly.)

"...I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. "

And here's Wikipedia's description of Bloomsday:

Bloomsday is a commemoration and celebration of the life of Irish writer James Joyce during which the events of his novel Ulysses (which is set on 16 June 1904) are relived. It is observed annually on 16 June in Dublin and elsewhere. Joyce chose the date as it was the date of his first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle; they walked to the Dublin suburb of Ringsend. The name is derived from Leopold Bloom, the Ulyssean protagonist.
The English portmanteau word Bloomsday is usually used in Irish as well, though some purist publications call it Lá Bloom.[1][2] The 2006 Bloomsday festivities were cancelled, the day coinciding with the funeral of Charles Haughey.[3][4][5]

First Bloomsday celebration

Firstbloom: John Ryan, Anthony Cronin, Brian O'Nolan, Patrick Kavanagh and Tom Joyce (James Joyce's cousin); Sandymount, 1954
Bloomsday (a term Joyce himself did not employ) was invented in 1954, on the 50th anniversary of the events in the novel, when John Ryan (artist, critic, publican and founder of Envoy magazine) and the novelist Brian O'Nolan organised what was to be a daylong pilgrimage along the Ulysses route. They were joined by Patrick Kavanagh, Anthony Cronin, Tom Joyce (a dentist who, as Joyce's cousin, represented the family interest) and AJ Leventhal (Registrar of Trinity College, Dublin). Ryan had engaged two horse drawn cabs, of the old-fashioned kind, which in Ulysses Mr. Bloom and his friends drive to poor Paddy Dignam's funeral. The party were assigned roles from the novel. They planned to travel round the city through the day, visiting in turn the scenes of the novel, ending at night in what had once been the brothel quarter of the city, the area which Joyce had called Nighttown. The pilgrimage was abandoned halfway through, when the weary pilgrims succumbed to inebriation and rancour at the Bailey pub in the city centre, which Ryan then owned, and at which, in 1967, he installed the door to No. 7 Eccles Street (Leopold Bloom’s front door), having rescued it from demolition. A Bloomsday record of 1954, informally filmed by John Ryan, follows this pilgrimage.[6]

Friday, June 14, 2013

Return Flight

The trip back from Rehoboth provided a good jolt of reality. It became pretty obvious in the two-hour trip from Rehoboth to Baltimore airport that a huge storm was brewing. But the light rains only started as we boarded the plane, so I figured it was smooth flying. Straight into Denver.
But the rains picked up, so we sat, each seat stuffed with a body, ready for liftoff.
Suddenly an announcement came: "Get off the plane immediately. Do not take your luggage. Do not take anything. Move quickly."  So we did. Back inside the airport, the warning siren was going off and a voice came over the loudspeakers, "This is a tornado warning. Move away from the windows and any areas that are close to windows. So seemingly hundreds of us stuffed ourselves into a small area, waiting for the next announcement.
I must admit it crossed my mind that it would be somewhat ironic to have been fighting cancer for two and a half years only to die in a Baltimore airport surrounded by complete strangers. After anotherr quick thought, I figured there was nothing ironic about such a happening; it would just be a quirk of fate. So I moved my thoughts onward.
Some children cried; some grown men bought beer in the only restaurant open.  Just as suddenly the announcement came letting us know the warning was over and we could get back on the planes.
Quite a trick, as Southwest collects tickets when one gets on the plane, no-one has a ticket to show. So the honor system, along with a photo i.d. served as entrance to the plane. Everyone managed to get on and get back into their original seats efficiently.
Finally, four plus hours later we arrived in Denver to learn that some weather thing had happened and we couldn't land. So we circled for 45 minutes and finally came down. Cheers to the pilot who had filled the gas tank.
Back to some sort of reality, and Colorado fires. Weather sure is showing its stuff this June. Enjoy the weekend. See you next week.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pay Attention; Be Astonished

Getting close to having next year's book list completed. Added Transatlantic, Warmth of Other Suns, The Winter Sea, and Painter of Silence to the list. There are already 24 books on the 'other Great Reads' list.
Because next year will be the big Ten Year Reunion, we want to set the standards high. So what to add to daily walks, bike rides, yoga, swimming in the ocean, tai chi, aerial yoga, savroopa yoga, solving the economic, political, socio-cultural global issues and picking the evening's music?  That doesn't even include the daily preparation of those daily gourmet dinner extravaganzas.

I'm leaving the conspicuous consumerism chunks of time out of this for now because that takes a really rainy day to bring out the 'I just have to have it' shopping junkets or the beauty tips discussions.  We 're pretty adept at taking the high roads and the low roads - even on the same days. It's been a Mary Oliver 'Pay Attention, Be Astonished' time 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Here we are, nine years in to a yearly ritual and already thinking how to make next year's tenth get together even more special.

We went through the e-reader transition a while back, and this year's tech frenzy has been apps.
Unfortunately, it rained most of yesterday so no bike rides after yoga. Oh, a couple of people checked  out a discount store or two and several signed on for massages, but all the action in the house was about apps. What do you like, what do you use most, is it free and how do I get on we're the questions of the day.  I came to learn how many of my apps I use only partially or have to back off when it comes to a second level. Lots going on at the surface level, but don't go digging very deep.

Took advantage of the sun today and all met at the beach to discuss last year's book selections. Some came with notes, background articles and lots of thought.  Never quite full agreement on any one book, but why should there be?  There's rarely full agreement on any particular issue. That's what friends are for....back and forth, give and take.

Tonight, after dinner, we continue the discussion and choose next year's list. Everyone gets one choice for the almost required list.  But there is an opportunity to add other books to a 'great reads' list. I like the fact that we each take a stand, each say 'this is my choice.'

So far, The Path at the End of the Universe and Proof of Heaven have been chosen for next year. There's a clue to our rambling range of reads. I'll let you know the rest when the master plan is completed.

Off to the nature preserve before the free-ranging, organic, farmer's market gourmet dinner tonight.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What Have You Read?

Following are some notes from Hurle Waldman on the Rehoboth Beach Bookies ways we've tried to organize the 'so what have you read this year that you loved?' annual conversation.
I'd write more by way of explanation, and perhaps will fill in details of this year's approach late this summer, but...went to an extraordinary Andre Boccelli concert last night and ended up losing/misplacing my car keys. It's a long story, and an irritating one. Needless to say, on this day of packing for a 6:00 a.m. flight tomorrow morning, hunting down lost car keys wasn't on my list. I'll try to check in from Rehoboth next week.

Hurle Waldman's description:

In the beginning, sitting on the beach in the late afternoon or after dinner, someone would say “Have you read . . ? It was a bit of a Rorschach test in the beginning, splotches of book ink thrown in the air, each interpreting one another’s interpretation. Titles of books, brief descriptions would roll off our tongues and spill into the ocean. After a while, it became fairly obvious that retaining all these names and titles from the beach wasn’t so easy.

Linear minds finally prevailed and we came up with a plan. The plan was for all members to read the same twelve books over the year so we could discuss them in our week together. But what would the protocol be?

We started by choosing book categories: best sellers, classics, women's issues, global issues, etc and writing them on slips of paper. Each woman drew one slip secretly until all the categories were chosen. That way we'd have a good mix of books. Each member was to read one book a month, and mail it on to the next person on the list.

The strength of this organizational method seemed obvious. We were all just competitive enough (never acknowledging so) that we’d do our homework. Too many school teachers, too many years of education amassed by all of us to not follow the rules. The weakness of this plan was that the book would get hung up at one member's house and not get passed on promptly. It only took one person being out of town for a couple of weeks to mess up the plan. And a few, not mentioning names, felt the need to pay the postage every month to pass a book on far outweighed the joy of receiving a new book in the mail. The beauty of this plan was that we all read some books we would never have chosen on our own. We had a second list of Great Reads (any category).

Over the years, we gradually loosened up – remember, we started in the pre-Kindle/Nook days. These days, most of us are crossovers – Kindle for one kind of book, paper for another category. A few line up as ‘real’ book only and a few are only virtual. But we all read. Vociferously is the adverb that would describe our habits.

So that now we each just choose one favorite of any category for the Recommended list. We still have a second list of Great Reads. During the vacation week, people add their favorites to the lists. Over the year, we read at our own pace whatever books we want from the list. We still have a good mix (biog, history [fiction & nonfiction], global, economic, self-help, women's, global, short stories, travel, mystery, cooking, health, etc) thanks to the varied interests of our members. We also have a list of good films.

One night of our week together we devote to discussion of the books on the recommended list. Some people make notes on the books to help them remember. Others' memories are jogged by the discussion. The problem is that not all can enter into the discussion if they haven't read the book.

        Talking sticks and timers have had their run as has taking turns, but reining in a group of independent thinkers isn’t easy. This year one member served as an informal discussion leader to keep the discussion moving along. She took her assignment seriously, so the informal discussion leader is at the top of the ‘how to’ list for now.

We'll see what changes this year brings.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Notes from Myself

 ---I'm not sure this ever got posted, as it shows up as a draft in my log. So I'm just re-posting to make sure it's available)  Sorry if it's a duplicate.
Just three days before the plane takes off and the ninth annual reunion at Rehoboth Beach with a group of interesting and diverse women begins. Yes, it's an all-women group. And having been the one person who invited a male (my brother) to stay one night in the early years, it became pretty apparent that it's an all-women's group. And we're all the better for it.
 Last summer I began writing pieces on the origin of the group, how the week at the beach became an annual ritual, and what we do with our time.
In preparation for the trip the end of this week, I pulled out some of my musings from last year and thought I'd post various excerpts here for a couple of days.

Following are my notes trying to describe who we are. Hope you get some sense of the tribe.

Rooted in tradition and the American Dream, we are the women who grew up reading Jane Austin and watching Mary Tyler Moore. We loved Lucy but wanted to look like Twiggy.  The Beatles, Martin Luther King and Gloria Steinem were our heroes. We came of age wanting to end the Vietnam War and start the War on Poverty. We walked the fashion line from Shetland sweater to tie-dye, and some stopped at every fad along the way. Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest kept us awake at night. None of us went to college to get our Mrs. Degrees, but many of us still grasped the ‘happily ever after’ visions of our fairy tales and soaps.

Knowing almost nothing about India, we wore madras and dated men who wore Nehru jackets. We shaped and were shaped by the women’s movement, whether we knew it or not. The Baltimore Catechism and the Birth Control Pill best represent the push and pull of the times in which we came of age.  Virgins came and went. Yale admitted undergraduate women in 1969 and in 1971 the Boston Women’s Health Collective published its first edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. Something was going on, something about Identity. Regardless of whether one was on the early side or the late side, the deep core within each of us was jostled by the psycho-socio continental drift of the times.

Some of us recognized ourselves in Hairspray immediately; others fell in with Sarah Jessica Parker in Girls Just Want to Have Fun and became happily re-acquainted with her in Sex in the City.

So who are we today? The same but different. One still has her first prom dress and hauled it to Rehoboth as a treasured item from the past; another brought a new surgical scar, just a new nip and tuck. Some continue to reveal everything about themselves after a “How Are You?” and others hold their personal cards ever so close to their breasts (including the reduced and/or enlarged), revealing one card at a time, ever so slowly. With that said, here’s what I can tell you:

·         Single, married, divorced, re-married, with a partner; in love and out of love.

·         Self-employed, employed,  unemployed, part-time employed, retired

·          Teachers, professors, librarians, software developers, social workers, entrepreneurs, consultants.

·         Readers, thinkers, talkers, laughers

·         Democrats, republicans, indifferent and appalled

·         Religious, semi-religious, a-religious, spiritual, still figuring it out

·         Short, tall, broad, thin, soft, muscular; all shapes and sizes

·         Athletic competitors, observers, wanna-be’s, fans and sports allergic

·         Risk-takers and risk averse. ‘I’ll do it if you do it’ types

·         Outgoing and reserved. Both.

·         Vegetarians, meat-eaters, variations along the range and the fields

·         Drinkers and non-drinkers

·         Introspective and extraverted

·         Quirky – in individual ways

·         Hi-techies and luddites

·         On the move: plane, train, automobile, bus, boat, bike and foot

·         Writers – journals, poems, blogs, if then else statements, lists, checks, thank you notes

·         Cosmetically enhanced, makeup free, surgically enhanced, somewhere in between

·         Shades of blond, shades of brown, mixed and pigment-challenged

·         Lettered: MSW, ADD, PhD, OCD, FOMA. We cover the alphabet and then some

·         Ageless.  We cover three decades – 50’s – 70’s. But call us ageless

The group represents almost every woman in general and no woman in particular. A little bit of this and a little bit of that. With two exceptions: First, we are all Caucasian. That probably has more to do with our ages and the initial way our group emerged – a friend from high school, friend from college, old neighborhood, church, travel friend, etc. For most of us, multicultural and diversity were not part of the familiar wordhoards  in our neighborhoods or schools. Today, in affinity groups other than the Beach Bookies, one of us is the only American on her work team; another teaches in a bilingual school; all have ethnically and socially diverse close friends;  two teach and train the severely disabled. One supports an African Women’s organization; another collaborates with people in India to preserve Tibetan culture. We all live and flourish in diverse, multicultural communities.

Second, we are somewhat financially diverse, but not so diverse that we can’t afford to get away for a week at the beach. There’s no non-profit or philanthropic organization that supports anyone’s Rehoboth adventure. So we don’t represent everywoman financially. No-one shows up in Money magazine as among the country’s wealthiest. Still, I suspect there’s some ripe old money behind a person or two.  Some new money also. On the other hand, for some this is their summer vacation, financed by their paychecks. For sure, in this group, there’s no way to make a judgment about anyone’s money hoard based on what they spend. For some, nothing is too much; if one new sweater is good, two are better. For others, everything is too much. If there isn’t a coupon, that woman is just not buying. There’s still enough old New England, buttoned-up lips who still believe it’s impolite to talk about money.

Another way of figuring out who we are might be to ask “If you met today, somewhere else, under different conditions, would you exchange e-mail addresses or meet for coffee?” 

The answer? I don’t know. Some of us would probably never cross paths. Others might, but not be inclined to follow up. Another few would probably become best friends. Eight years later, we’re still complicated.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

This is It

Always we hope
someone else has the answer.
some other place will be better
some other time it will all turn out.

This is it.

No one else has the answer
no other place will be better
and it has already turned out.

At the center of your being
you have the answer;
you know who you are
and you know what you want.

There is no need
to run outside
for better seeing
Nor to peer from a window.

Rather abide at the center of your being.
for the more you leave it, the less you learn.

Search your heart
and see
the way to do
is to be.
                   - Lao Tzu

Monday, June 3, 2013

Urban Battles

Over the weekend, I heard about a rather ferocious debate roaring at an upscale high rise building near where I live. Seems as if the geese have landed and those geese seem to like the area surrounding the building. So they have gotten the message out to their brothers and sisters, and now the grounds are filled with geese and the various droppings that geese leave behind.

Now there are two camps at the building - those who are 'pro-geese' and want to leave the geese to roam freely and do what they do. The 'anti-geese' folks don't like walking through mounds of goose poop and want to get rid of the geese by any means necessary. This group also has been know to go looking for goose eggs and destroying them.  Everyone is lined up, friend against friend, committee versus committee. Where will it all end? And how in the world did so many geese end up in Denver? I thought they were Canadian. Are they lost or found?

But it's not just in the high rises or condos; mini-differences show up on posters surrounded by uber-landscaping.This morning I noticed the potential for another type of neighborhood dispute. Interspersed among the homes with finely mowed grass, grass buzzed by expert grass barbers are big, beautiful houses with scruffier patches of grass and signs that say something about a drought. Again, division among the neighbors. Scruffy lawn versus finely manicured lawns bump up against one another, one attempting to represent conservation, the other aesthetics.

Oh, there's also the right to chickens in the yard or not, and countless other stands for people to take. For now, I'm sticking with the geese and the drought.

Life in the Denver or Anywhere USA; values confront values; neighbors speak graciously to one another but not about one another.  Lines are drawn, positions are taken.
Neither of these mini-battles will lead to anything more than several meetings and some bruised feelings. I suppose wars have been fought over lesser issues than these, but somehow I am relieved this early sunny morning that these are the only local battles brewing. It's not Turkey; it's not Syria or other places where the lines are ingrained in the land, hearts and souls of the people.And I'm glad I don't have to reveal which side of the goose wars I am on.