Thursday, August 30, 2007

Harmony and equilibrium...

Nature is as arousing as a lover, as caring as a mother. She shows that beauty is everywhere and in everything. She is just as beautiful at dawn, at noon and in the evening because she incarnates harmony and equilibrium, in one word, she is life.
~ Auguste Rodin

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Today’s photo on Eric Tenin’s Paris Daily Photo blog features the Rodin Museum in Paris.

It brought to mind the Maryhill Museum, which has many of Rodin’s works as part of their permanent collection, including a small statue of "The Thinker". The Maryhill Museum is in a chateau sitting on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River in Washington state. It was built by wealthy entrepreneur Samuel Hill in 1914 and named after his daughter, Mary. Through his friendship with Parisian Loie Fuller, a dancer with the Folies Bergere, he acquired original works by Rodin. He later added a group of Russian icon paintings, and personal articles belonging to Queen Marie of Romania, who visited Hill at the mansion. Just down the road from the museum is a replica of Stonehenge, which Hill built as a memorial to local soldiers killed during World War I.

The museum is not in a town or city; it sits there alone, like a crown atop the bluff. Unusual to find such a fine house in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps this coined the phrase, "What in Sam Hill is that?" :-)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Knowing when to bloom

Well, with Larry Craig’s escapades, we have more than fires burning in Idaho. A "cloud over Idaho" indeed…

At least firefighters are making progress with some of the big burns, including the Castle Rock Fire that’s been threatening Ketchum. Because of the number of million-dollar + homes in the Ketchum area, at least one insurance company sent a private firefighting force to protect the property of their customers (and their own bottom line). So far, no person has been injured or killed, and no structures have burned. Some of those folks are serious art collectors; Gail Severn, one of the local gallery owners, has been assisting people with moving their expensive art collections out of harm’s way. Artwork by such artists as Picasso, Renoir, and Georgia O’Keeffe. One homeowner she was working with has a $10 million collection.

And today was the sad anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina. Although there has been some progress and rebuilding, it sounds like those hard-hit Gulf Coast areas still have a long way to go. If another hurricane was on its way, I wonder if an insurance company would send a private crew down to shore up levees to protect their clients’ homes?

In other news, scientists have discovered through new-found fossil evidence that orchids existed during the days of dinosaurs. And when the dinosaurs were killed, possibly by an asteroid hit, the orchids "bloomed" and spread all across the earth. Imagine the earth after an asteroid hit; uncontrolled fires, upheaval, destruction, chaos, dense smoke. Conditions that apparently lasted for many years. And here, in the devastation, delicate orchids bloom and grow. Like the new growth that pushes through the charred ground after a forest fire. Or new life arising after a flood.

When the emotions are strong one should paint bamboo; in a light mood one should paint the orchid.
~ Chueh Yin

Monday, August 27, 2007

Just another evening in August

It figures. What do I see in the news but that Idaho Senator Larry Craig, was arrested at the Minneapolis airport for lewd behavior in the airport bathroom. Great.

And speaking of politicians who have trouble managing their sex lives, Bill Clinton is going to appear on Oprah to promote his new book, although this one is not about his life (he already sold that story). This book is about "philanthropy and civic action," according to the article. Noble topics. Hopefully it will promote philanthropy and civic action where it is needed most.

A guard at a nuclear facility was found asleep on the job. Homeland security…

On the bright side: There will be a total lunar eclipse tomorrow night. If I were an astronomy die-hard and didn’t have to go to work the next day, I’d stay up and watch it. Or get up at 3 a.m. However, that isn’t my style, being a night person. I’ll watch for awesome photos instead.

And C has been playing Dave Brubeck’s newest CD, "Indian Summer," which is magnificent. Go out and get it. Pour a glass of wine, sit back, listen…

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Indian Summer
These are the days when birds come back,
A very few, a bird or two,
To take a backward look.

These are the days when skies put on
The old, old sophistries of June,
-A blue and gold mistake.

Oh, fraud that cannot cheat the bee,
Almost thy plausibility
Induces my belief,

Till ranks of seeds their witness bear,
And softly through the altered air
Hurries a timid leaf!

Oh, sacrament of summer days,
Oh, last communion in the haze,
Permit a child to join,

Thy sacred emblems to partake,
Thy consecrated bread to break,
Taste thine immortal wine!
~ Emily Dickinson

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Thinking about secrets

This photo could be a book cover, don’t you think? With a title of something like "A Time of Secrets", or "Dark is the Secret", or "What Remains Hidden". Perhaps you can think of more titles…

Thinking about secrets, family secrets, how many stories we are told that are different than what we remember taking place. The stories that have gaping holes with no information. Incidents that came about, yet we were warned not to tell, or to forget they ever occurred. What happens when people are driven to find out "what really happened," and if that’s ever possible. Stories that birth novels. Story within story within story.

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We dance round in a ring and suppose,
While the secret sits in the middle and knows
-Robert Frost

No one keeps a secret so well as a child.
-Victor Hugo

Secrets are things we give to others to keep for us.
-Elbert Hubbard

A woman can keep one secret - the secret of her age.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A lovely mystery

Is this a lily? Is it a type of spider lily? Is it part of the amaryllidaceae family?

It sat on a deck at a botanical garden amid many other plants, very near the carnivorous plants. Is it carnivorous?

Looked through many photos of lilies and carnivorous plants, but did not find any that looked exactly like this plant.

So, for now, it’s a mystery. But a lovely one.

Perhaps it is one of the 800 species belonging to the amaryllidaceae family. They have names that could become a story: Belladonna lily, Naked Lady, Amazon lily, Snowdrop, Rain lily, Christmas Amaryllis, Spider lily, Snowflake, Hurricane flower, Narcissus, Sea Daffodil, Jacobean lily, Zephyr lily.

A painter’s blossom, a writer’s flower, a dancer’s stage…

Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
~ Matthew 6:28-29

Bird of light

Bird of paradise
Bird of light,
image bright
perching free
reminds me
how easily
one can fly

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Brushstrokes of clouds across the sky
a vigorous canvas of imagination

It has cooled here in the City of Trees, at least for a bit. Windy, stormy, yet little rain. Lightning strikes ignite new fires in the forests and rangeland. Ketchum is under fire watch, with a huge blaze west of town.

Strange weather of this summer. Extreme drought and fires in the West. Too much rain, flooding in Texas. Temps in the Midwest have been over 100 degrees. A massive hurricane is churning its way to Mexico and Belize. Is it global warming? Naturally-occurring climatic change? Or a mix of both?

A scientist in New Mexico has suggested an idea to help cool the earth. Oliver Wingenter proposes to fertilize oceans so that more plankton will grow. Plankton gives off certain chemicals that creates cloud formation, thus more clouds, the more sunlight reflected back into space.

Other ideas from other scientists include launching giant mirrors into space and having fleets of jets spray out aerosols, both to try and deflect the sun’s rays.

Would they work? Would they cause problems we cannot now foresee?

Geo-engineering. Humans trying to use or modify the earth’s environment to create a better habitat, a better life. Nothing new. We’ve been damming rivers and mining for ages. Changing the land. Civil engineering.

Now, researchers are looking to the sky, as thinkers, writers, and artists have done for ages. Moving beyond what we know and can readily see, staring at this canvas with brush in hand. Modern day Michelangelos reaching for the hand of God.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Train engines circling a full moon.
Nude naturists in the trees.
A fisherman fishing on cobblestones.
The kissing waltz.
Musical butchers.
The footbridge of steam.
A woman floating amid glass paperweights.
A links jinx.

The physicist at a blackboard searching for the mistake in the equations. He soon creates the theory of wave mechanics, which combines the physics of light and matter.

It’s all a matter of light and matter…
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The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street.
~ Robert Doisneau

Monday, August 13, 2007

Three bowls

Three bowls,
an empty trinity

earth, fire, water
man, woman, child
too hot, too cold, just right

Nature abhors a vacuum
said Aristotle
but he was proved wrong

Nature abhors a vacuum,
says Henry David Thoreau
and if I can only walk with sufficient carelessness I am sure to be filled.

Time travel

A weekend of purging old stuff, reconfiguring. The bright red eye of the bird through the lamp’s glow. Taste of iced coffee and chocolate. Writing out questions on yellow paper. Reading further of the story of Fos and Opal as the 1920s rush to a close, and people begin to notice the unseen effects of scientific wonders. Studying Doisneau’s photos of Paris, watching the sliver of a story surface with each one. Walking together, hand in hand, as the coolness of twilight gently settles over the neighborhood.

Moving back and forth in time, discovering or rediscovering. Planting seeds in the bed of an antique wagon.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Reflections on a Friday night

We spent Friday night supporting the local economy; going out for dinner, then shopping where we bought 2 new lamps to replace the ancient ones we’ve had. They are faux Tiffany lamps; fun to try after having boring traditional lamps for years. Adds color, warm glow, and good light.

This photo reminds me of Tiffany-style lampshades. Reflection of light through leaves, red berries. Ours have a tropical look; fruit and colorful birds. Reflection of humid places, where the forests are thick, lush, plants grow out-of-control. Heavy rainfall.

So, now each evening as the lamps come on, we’ll hear birdcalls, cicadas, frogs, and watch for lightning bugs to appear. Creating our little haven in the desert…

Friday, August 10, 2007

Swimming in circles?

A typical day--

Drove to work, checked the network, did paperwork, managed emails, phone messages, listened to Y as she vented about a family situation, did more paperwork, skimmed the local and national news, answered the phone and gave out helpful (I hope) information and phone numbers of various organizations to various callers, went to lunch with a friend, went to the other agency location to check that the backup I’d set up was working properly, fixed and adjusted a few problems on the server, fixed a minor problem on a staff computer, drove back to my office, searched for the file of a particular brochure because they need 330 by tomorrow morning and they hadn’t yet been printed, started printing the first 100 and realized I didn’t send it to the duplexer, cursed, corrected that mistake, cleared a paper jam, sorted through the first mistake to salvage paper, continued printing the brochures, turned on another computer so to speed the process only to find that the other computer didn’t have the right fonts loaded for the brochure and it was trying to send a fax for an unknown reason, tried to figure out why it was trying to send a fax but found no obvious reasons, continued printing the brochures and hoping I wouldn’t have to stay too long after 5 p.m., shut the other computer down, finished printing brochures, searched for a box to carry the brochures in, checked email one last time, shut down the computer and the office for the day, drove back home while some insipid Byrds clone band got their 15 minutes of fame on the radio, and arrived home to greet C, our cat, and talk about what happened during our day…

And ducks have their day, too, a list of their own: hunt for food, swim, rest on a platform, preen, search for food, preen, swim, fly across the pond to another location, hunt for food, hide from people coming down the path, fly to a safer location, rest on a platform, preen, nap…

And then evening comes. And some of us rest, some of us party, some of us work. Some of us nestle together and sleep. And as we drift off, the nocturnal ones arise, take up where we diurnal creatures left off…

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

What's left behind

Things left behind
when someone moves:
a cup, a shirt, broken fan,
some books, scratched CDs,
a cracked-back chair
now scattered on the lawn

Things left behind
on the moon:
abandoned spaceships, tools,
moon rovers, landing pads,
a dead TV camera,
U.S. flag
now scattered amid lunar dust

seems like wherever we tread
something is left behind...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Caught in a force unseen...

Reading a novel, "Evidence of Things Unseen." Weaves such a spell I didn’t blog last night. Caught up in the story of Fos and Opal, over-arching images of luminescence, the lyrical prose, the feel of the rich, humid air of Tennessee, life in the 1920s. Fos and Opal are of the era of my grandparents; many little details remind me of where I grew up and the feel of the rolling Missouri countryside dotted with farms and small towns.

I’ve been living in the West for over 30 years, yet there’s some part of that past that continues to reside inside me. Like the deep color of a shell you find on a familiar shore.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Emptiness is nature’s strong attractor, she learned as Fos showed her how vacuums attract. She watched the fields of energy subtend between voltaic cells, she watched the way the stars fell through vast distances in patterns of attraction. She learned that attractive force resides in every form of matter, latent, waiting for the single spark to fire it with life.
~ from "Evidence of Things Unseen," by Marianne Wiggins

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Listening to presences

Listen to presences inside poems,
Let them take you where they will.

Follow those private hints,
and never leave the premises.

~ Rumi

Friday, August 03, 2007

Diaphanous potpourri

Here it is, Friday night. Smoke has cleared out somewhat, so taking a walk was not such a "lung-burning" experience. And we could actually see the sky instead of haze.

We went out to a local Middle Eastern restaurant. There, we ate babaganoosh, gyro, dolma, Basmati rice, kabobs, and talked about the week. Scenes of Jordan on the wall, along with framed needlework pieces done by the owner’s mother. It was busy enough, but not too crowded. Good place for conversation. Afterwards, a short drive so I could show C a strange house being built near my office. The streets were fairly quiet; our walk also peaceful. It looks like a lot of folks left for the weekend.

It was a relief to hear that the number of deaths and serious injuries from the Minneapolis bridge collapse is much lower than they thought. Still, it should not have happened in the first place. (See my comments on last night’s blog entry).

I see in the news they have found the tomb of an ancient Aztec emperor. I wonder what they will discover as they continue excavation? Also, the Yankees beat the Royals. (My mother will not be pleased.)

In perusing the dictionary, I came across "diaper" and found it has other meanings than something odiferous an infant wears. A diaper is also a fabric with a distinctive pattern, often used for tablecloths; and refers to a pattern of small repeated geometric shapes.

I also found "diaphanous," as in "she floated down the staircase, wearing various diaphanous garments" (from a book I read long ago by an author from England.). It refers to sheer, delicate fabric which can be seen through. Think ballerina’s tutu. Diaphanous can also mean "vague, insubstantial." How my minds feels sometimes—gauzy. Like on a Friday night…

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A time to repair

Not a good view from this part of the world today. We’re socked in with smoke from fires. The city in a haze, red air alert. Two small towns east of here had purple air alerts.

But this is nothing compared to the tragedy in Minneapolis. To have a busy interstate highway bridge just collapse like that—something is seriously wrong, far beyond the structural problems of the bridge. At both the State and Federal levels. Sometimes it seems like we’re so busy going after the next new thing (or conquest…) we forget about taking care of the old infrastructure systems already in place. Systems our daily lives depend upon.

I hope this forces budget-makers to divert more dollars into upgrading our bridges, levies, dams, and the like. Perhaps a start would be to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq and use the "savings" to take care of what we need to fix at home…

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A man builds a fine house; and now he has a master, and a task for life: he is to furnish, watch, show it, and keep it in repair, the rest of his days.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.
~ John F. Kennedy

Smoky inspiration

Smoky days sometimes result in sunsets like this; as if the clouds are reflecting the flames raging throughout the West. None are raging in Boise itself, but in the surrounding range and forest lands. The hottest July on record for Idaho.

Smoke carries several meanings, double entendres. Creating a smoke screen to confuse or for escape. A smoking gun. Nothing but smoke and mirrors. That Alfa Romeo really smoked the competition. "Went upstairs and had a smoke; somebody spoke and I went into a dream…"

Ah—to have a dream that isn’t just smoke, isn’t just a beautiful sunset. Still going down the road trying to make out what’s up ahead…

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One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul and yet no one ever comes to sit by it. Passersby see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way.
~ Vincent Van Gogh

You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what's burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.
~ Arthur Polotnik

My land is bare of chattering folk;
the clouds are low along the ridges,
and sweet's the air with curly smoke
from all my burning bridges
~ Dorothy Parker

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Leaf glow

The glow of inspiration warms us; it is a holy rapture.
~ Ovid

The glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than money.
~ Thomas Jefferson