Saturday, January 28, 2017

Fact Checking

This beautiful meme caught my eye on Facebook this morning. I'm a huge Ansel Adams fan...he's my photographic hero. But, I thought, did he really say this? In a time when television news, the internet and Facebook are full of 'alternative facts,' fake news and click-bait stories, I wanted to be sure my hero actually said these prophetic words. I'm happy to report, YES, this is a quote from an interview Ansel Adams did with Playboy magazine in 1983. He is correctly quoted in the context of a discussion about environmental issues during the Reagan administration and Secretary of the Interior James Watt. Reading the article brought back powerful memories of that time! I'm happy to say that I signed a Sierra Club petition calling for the removal of James Watt from his position. Which, BTW, happened.

I feel that it is the responsibility of everyone who posts or shares things on Facebook to check their sources for accuracy. Even memes like this which support your position should be vetted before sharing. The up side of taking the time to do this is that you may discover, as I did, an interesting story. Although the interview with Ansel Adams is very long (the quote here comes towards the very end of it), it was a fascinating glimpse into Adams' creativity and his politics. You can read it here.

Here's a short video that prompted this exploration posted on FB by my friend, Jane. Take a moment to watch it as well...

Saturday, January 21, 2017

On Strike!

I had coffee yesterday morning with some of my Parisot Writer's Group friends here at Anita and Richard's lovely converted school house. We chatted about books, writing, personal news, and eventually the topic turned to politics. I announced that I was 'on strike;' they all immediately knew that meant I was boycotting the inauguration. (which I did, which I am!) Then Tracey told us about a group of people, French and Brit ex-pats, who were hanging an effigy of Donald Trump in her tiny town of Laguepie last night in protest of the Trump presidency. Find Laguepie on Google maps, folks. Like my village, it's here deep in the middle-of-nowhere France. It's not populated by Left Coast Liberals, Eastern Elites or even rascally big city student protesters. This is rural France, far from the big cities. These are people who are genuinely frightened by what Trump's foreign policy might mean to them and who are genuinely appalled by his cruel, disrespectful and divisive rhetoric. If you think the whole world isn't watching America and shaking its head in horror and disbelief, you're wrong. The negative vibrations are felt even here.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Streets of Venice

I just received a new book in the mail, Peter Ackyrod's Venice: Pure City. I'm anxious to dig into it and learn more about the city that enthralled me during my 2015 visit. Sitting next to my reading chair, it's inspired me to wander through my photos from that trip. Here are a few street scenes you haven't seen before....
Be sure to have your sound turned on...I'd hate for you to miss out on Pavarotti!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Reading Rilke

Shadows in the Cloister
I love poetry. I think most of us begin life loving it...all children seem delighted with nursery rhymes and rhyming children's songs. And most of us give up poetry when a well-meaning grade school teacher forces us to memorize it or worse yet, interpret it. Who knows what the poet meant by that phrase? My guess is that even the poet didn't really just sounded right! I've continued to love poetry in spite of that. Right now, I'm reading Rilke.

Ranier Maria Rilke, born in Prague in 1875, was already a published poet when he wrote the poems that comprise his 'Book of Hours' which I'm currently reading. Rilke became enthralled with the landscape and spirituality of Russia during a visit there in 1899. These poems came to him over the next two years as intense 'inner dictations' which have been described as 'inward conversations with God.' Rilke uncharacteristically kept these poems secret for years, perhaps reflecting how intensely personal they were to him.

The translation  that I'm reading is by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy. I've included a sound file of Joanna Macy reading "Go to the Limits of Your Longing" for an 'On Being' broadcast. It's the poem that first brought me to the wonders of Rilke.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


We laid our friend, Jean-Paul to rest this afternoon. At least 200 people packed our little village church that holds 75 worshipers on a good day. They were literally standing 2 and 3 deep in the aisle and entry; several people clustered outside the open doors to listen to the Mass that sent Jean-Paul to his eternal rest. The family spoke, there was lovely music, tons of flowers, some tears and a few chuckles as people remembered JP's quirky sense of humor and love of les petites blagues...little jokes. Mourners left the church and lined the pathway as the casket was carried out and placed in the funeral van. Then the procession formed walking behind and following the slow-moving cortege to the cemetery. The priest said a few words; those who wanted do blessed the casket with holy water before walking up the hill to the Salle des Fetes for a reception hosted by the family. Cloudy, 35 F, trees high on the hillside frosted with last night's frozen fog...a cold, sad day full of warm memories of a special friend.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Ring in the New!

Bell of the Campanile
St. Mark's Square
Venice, Italy
Ring in the New

Let us ring out the old and ring in the new.
Let us leave behind the bad and carry only the good into 2017.
Let us remember the triumphs and the happy times in our hearts and
ponder the failures and lessons in our minds.
Let us move forward in joy, seeking peace and unity,
opening our hearts to love one another.
Let us keep our minds focused on the hard work of creating
the joy, grace, and goodness
that our hearts desire not only for ourselves,
but also for the whole world.

New Year's Day 2017