Friday, July 19, 2019

Trump stirs up his cult

At a rally in North Carolina recently, the President of the United States deliberately stoked up the coals of racial hatred as he attacked four Democratic congresswomen of color, particularly Rep. Omar. The crowd chanted "Send her back!"   but this woman is an American citizen and an elected official.

The cartoons and memes reacted.  Here are some of them:

and this:

and an old favorite of mine:

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Everyone's Gone to the Moon

I just can't believe that fifty years have passed since the moon landing.   I remember it well.

I wrote this poem about it  ( sort of )  perhaps thirty years later:

Everyone’s Gone to the Moon

Rousseau painted the gypsy sleeping under the full moon
in dazzling deep cobalt sky ,
dreaming face like a totem serene
in a dream of lute music.
Pipe song,
grazing wildeyed lion
huge behind him
standing guard over his dreams
bedhead mane stiff with moonlight
eyes wild white balls and staring corneas
tail at the alert

1969 and I’m serving drinks
at the Kennett Square Country Club,
so glad to be 21 and able to serve drinks.
The golfers at the bar stare with wild white eyeballs
at the tiny moonman in his white spacesuit
moving jerkily on the cratered surface
faceless, the glass in his helmet shining back
the distant earth
and I notice it without much excitement,
immersed as I am in being 21 years old,
thinking this will happen a lot
from now on.
In my dreams.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Reunion Planning

"All Together, all together, still, still we meet...

Hearts and voices light as ever, Alma Mater, thus we greet...

Friendship's links may ne'er be broken, bright is its chain

Though the parting words be spoken, through the years we'll meet again..."
 ( Alma Mater, Saint Joseph College, Emmitsburg Maryland)

Our thirtieth reunion

Our forty-fifth

Thirteen of us got together this past week to plan our fiftieth college reunion, which will take place in March, 2020.  We partied, too.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

A true garden is never finished

I've had successes and failures in the courtyard garden so far this summer.

The successes have been the perennials planted two, three, four years ago, which have prospered and grown.  Also the Swamp Milkweed which came up by itself...

One big failure was my fault:  I killed my beautiful Borage with too much water. The stem rotted at the base.  I've saved many seeds from it, though, and hope to have it again.

The Artichoke withered and died, too.  Don't know why.
And the flowers I attempted to start from seed?  Only Queen Anne's Lace  and  Larkspur made it.
The others:  Stock, Mignonette, and Shirley Poppy sprouted, but overnight one night some creature came and ate the seedlings!

Then the grounds guys came and did some necessary weeding and thinning and mulching. That was great, except the person wielding the weedkiller spray hit some of my plants, too.  That way I lost the Cleome, the Scabiosa, the Calendula, and possibly some of the Larkspur.  So it goes.

I read May Sarton's diary of her gardening,  Plant Dreaming Deep,  a long time ago and should try to find it and read it again now that it will mean so much more .  One thing she says:

"Gardening gives one back a sense of proportion about everything - except itself."

-   May Sarton, 
Plant Dreaming Deep, 1968

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Gardens Unfolding

"Gardens are not created or made, they unfold, spiraling open like the silk petals of an evening primrose flower to reveal the ground plot of the mind and heart of the gardener and the good earth."

-  Wendy Johnson, Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, 2000

Friday, June 28, 2019

Summer heat has arrived

No rain for five days and blasting heat.  My garden is showing the wilting.  I was out in it at 6AM with the two gallon watering can.

Lots of bees but very few butterflies.  I live in hope.

Here's a summer poem   by Sara Teasdale:

Summer Night, Riverside

In the wild soft summer darkness
How many and many a night we two together
Sat in the park and watched the Hudson
Wearing her lights like golden spangles
Glinting on black satin.
The rail along the curving pathway
Was low in a happy place to let us cross,
And down the hill a tree that dripped with bloom
Sheltered us,
While your kisses and the flowers,
Falling, falling,
Tangled in my hair....

The frail white stars moved slowly over the sky.

And now, far off
In the fragrant darkness
The tree is tremulous again with bloom
For June comes back.

To-night what girl
Dreamily before her mirror shakes from her hair
This year's blossoms, clinging to its coils?

This poem is in the public domain.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Hildegard and Herb Gardening

Anise Hyssop



In my efforts to plant things that attract pollinators, I've been drawn into herb gardening, because so many of the flowering herbs are beloved by bees.  Pictured above are three from my garden.

I've also gone back to my friend Hildegard of Bingen, who was a renowned herbalist, to see what she planted, and found these, some of which I have in my garden:
Lemon Balm
Milk Thistle
Rose (wild)

I hope to write more about both Borage and Comfrey, maybe even some poems.

Here's a lovely photo from one of the websites talking about Hildegard's medieval garden:

Monday, June 24, 2019

Nonstop Harem -Scarem

On Sunday mornings, I try to watch Meet the Press. This past Sunday, Chuck Todd interviewed Donald Trump.  The interview was predictably filled with Trump's fast -talking and glib lies.

What interested me were the comments by the men and women on the round table review of the interview, especially these:

( from the transcript of the show)


Yeah, Nixon China. He is in the position. And, and everyone knows the terms of the deal. Everyone understands what the Democrats want of it, want out of it. Everyone understands what the Republicans would like to see in terms of border security and a merit-based system. He's the one that can get this done. And I, I imagine it's frustrating. This politics involved. I get that. It's an election year. It's especially difficult to do immigration in an election year. But I still think the president's the one with the opportunity to do it and to go out there and actually get this deal done.


Peter, is he bluffing-- is he getting a, is he going to get-- it was interesting. Peggy said, "Always be closing." But is he going to get, going to get a reputation that he bluffs too much?


Yeah, that's a great question, right? In the last two weeks, basically, he's done this three times. He did the Mexico and the tariffs. He says, "I'm going to impose these crippling tariffs, unless you give me what I want." And then he pulled off, saying he got a deal. He did the same thing with Iran, not saying he got a deal, but he pulled back on the strike. And he's just done, this weekend, on these ICE deportations. "Well, Nancy Pelosi called me. So I decided to hold off for two weeks."


By the way, he wants to give Democrats the credit for that, which I find--


I know. Well--


--a bit of a head scratcher. On one hand, I get it with the base. But I don't know if that's smart with swing voters. But okay.


Yeah, it’s, it’s-- You know, he's being accommodating. He's saying, "Look, I'm going to be the reasonable guy here," even though it was a crisis he himself set up. This weekend is going to be the weekend of mass deportations. Well, maybe it's not. He likes to create a crisis and then be the solver of this crisis. It is part of the showman aspect, I think, of his presidency, to some extent. I think he looks at it as a way of getting to where he wants to go. You put out a maximalist, almost extreme version of what you want to get in order to push your other side to get 70%, 80% of where you want. Sometimes, that works. But I think a lot of the time, right now, he's just sort of, you know, coming up with a deal that's not much of a deal.


Chuck, in watching your exchange with him about these kids at the border, it made me think of that phrase that he uttered over and over again. "I alone can fix it." And I think he's deeply frustrated that he can't fix this problem. So he did walk right up to the line of these deportations that were supposed to start today and then say, "Look. Now, I'm calling on Democrats and Republicans to get something done on asylum." That's not going to happen. Talk to anyone. That's not going to happen. What could happen? They are considering these bills that would add more funding to DHS, to HHS, at the border. And he'll claim credit and say, "Look. We got this done, ultimately."


I want to talk about what he said about Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. One of your neighbors on the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Daniel Henninger, had an interesting observation about Joe Biden and the Sleepy Joe reference. And he says, it's "Trump's 'Sleepy Joe' Problem. Mr. Biden may be doing so well in the head-to-heads against Mr. Trump because many voters simply want respite from the nonstop Trumpian atmosphere of disruption and volatility. For them, 'Sleepy Joe Biden' may not be an insult. Political belief still matters, but maybe not as much as neurological relief from political and personality overload."




I thought that was a-- and in some ways, that interview and this column, you see how that could go together.


Oh, sure. Do you remember, on The Ed Sullivan Show, when we were little children, there was a guy who came and balanced plates? There'd be a stick. He'd put a plate up. He'd get it going.




He'd get another, get another. And then he'd run back and forth, just trying to keep them all up. Balancing plates is part of the tone of this administration and of this president. Look, it's nonstop harum-scarum. Even something that, in the past, might've been as cleanly, logically handled as the Iran thing became nonstop harum-scarum. "It has this meaning. No, it has this meaning. I did it for this reason." He is exhausting. I think a threat for the president is that he tends to exhaust, not into submission, but into ultimate aversion. Many people in the middle, who'd like to, you know, be sympathetic towards him but just think, "Oh, my goodness. This is too much.

Right. Stop tweeting. Stop talking. Stop taunting, whatever it is, right?


Stop all the drama.


But, but that's, that’s how the president gets things done. I mean, that's his style. This is who he is. I mean, it's this notion that you're going to change who he is. I think we should just give up on that, right? All the criticism about there being no process in this White House--


There won’t be one.


Do you really expect there to be process in this White House? I mean, and the president arrives at decisions the way he's going to arrive at decisions. I just, I don't understand all these Democratic candidates out there criticizing on process. And I get it. I love good process more than anyone else. But why do that? That is not a compelling argument. He's going to do what he's going to do.


But it's not process. Nonstop harum-scarum is sort of an approach that can exhaust people.


And I think he's struggling with how to take on Biden. I mean, you saw that, when he was in Florida, launching his campaign. So he went back to his talking points on Hillary Clinton. Because in some ways, he's more comfortable there.


He's decided she was a great candidate now.




By the way, there was a reason he needs--


That’s interesting.


Yeah, because she's a great candidate, because it would make his victory seem more--


That much more impressive.


Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Image result for trump cartoon

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Candide and my garden

We've been having beautiful weather that will soon turn hot and humid, as it does in Maryland in the summer.  I have been gardening and loving my garden.

I am so tired of the contentious political atmosphere in my country.  It seems that Donald Trump has grabbed the attention of the nation by the throat. Every day a new crisis. He revels in keeping us all in confusion and anger.  In the meantime, nothing gets done.  People are suffering.

I can't do anything but pray at this point.  So I tend my garden.

In Voltaire's satire  Candide,  the title character ends by moving with his little group of people  to the country, and concentrating on tending his garden.  It's a metaphor for a lot of things.

Here is some of the garden I am tending.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Summer Solstice

I spent the long evening at a poetry gathering at a house called Sunnyfield up in the hills about Emmitsburg.  Lovely, peaceful place.  Horses grazing on the lawn, long shadows of the trees, robins, wood thrushes and pewees calling.

Here are some Solstice poems and thoughts. Not mine, but meaningful to me:

Over hill, over dale - from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
A wood near Athens. A Fairy speaks.
Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire
I do wander every where,
Swifter than the moon’s sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green:
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dew-drops here
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.
Farewell, thou lob of spirits: I’ll be gone;
Our queen and all her elves come here anon.

"O most honored Greening Force,

You who roots in the Sun;
You who lights up, in shining serenity, within a wheel
that earthly excellence fails to comprehend.

You are enfolded
in the weaving of divine mysteries.

You redden like the dawn
and You burn: flame of the Sun."
-  Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), Viriditas

 "This is June, the month of grass and leaves . . . already the aspens are trembling again, and a new summer is offered me.  I feel a little fluttered in my thoughts, as if I might be too late.  Each season is but an infinitesimal point.  It no sooner comes than it is gone.  It has no duration.  It simply gives a tone and hue to my thought.  Each annual phenomena is reminiscence and prompting.  Our thoughts and sentiments answer to the revolution of the seasons, as two cog-wheels fit into each other.  We are conversant with only one point of contact at a time, from which we receive a prompting and impulse and instantly pass to a new season or point of contact.  A year is made up of a certain series and number of sensations and thoughts which have their language in nature.  Now I am ice, now I am sorrel.  Each experience reduces itself to a mood of the mind."

- Henry David Thoreau, Journal, June 6, 1857 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Revisiting All the President's Men

I watched this movie again tonight.  It may be the sixth time I've seen it.  I liked it so much I actually purchased it on iTunes.

As I watched it tonight, I became sharply aware of the similarities between the Watergate story and our present situation with the present president.

The lies
the secrecy
and especially... the money!!!

I was also painfully aware of the limitations under which those young Washington Post reporters labored: the technology that wasn't in existence in 1972.

The film of the book was made in 1975, so the portrayal of the technology was very accurate.

Here are the reporters listening in on a phone call to one of the three.

So much of their investigative reporting was done on the hoof. Here is one of the women interviewed over lunch on the roof of the Kennedy center.

Here are Woodward and Bernstein reading all the index card sized handwritten requests for books.
No online catalogue!  No  Google!

and the lovely way the camera pulls back to show a view from the ceiling of the Library of Congress.

The present investigators have it so much easier in some ways, and so much harder in others.

But the obfuscation and the coverup are still the same.

I am haunted by the worry of how this one will end.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

April still comes

This is how it looks where I live.    Even with all the hatred and suicide bombings and catastrophes,
April still endures.

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 71.  I still can't believe I am this old.

Aren't I still this person?


 The years seem to have been gobbled up in a whirlwind of busyness and activity, especially all the years of the 1980's and 90's.   Even the first fifteen years of the 2000's.    I don't have any wisdom to impart on this observation.

I can't get down to writing in these months, sad to say.  I keep falling into new addictions: Playing Solitaire, and watching/reading about "Game of Thrones" which I have very recently come to.
It's even worse than "Breaking Bad" because the story is so much more complex.