Tuesday, April 27, 2021

And then a full moon rising


Last night when I went to bed, it was still light outside.  I read until I fell asleep.  Not long after that I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep and so I got out of bed.  When I looked out my living room window, I saw the full moon rising in the east, extraordinarily bright.  I went back to bed to read until I fell asleep again.  In the past week, it's been warm enough to have all my screened windows open, but by this morning the temperature in my bedroom was 55 degrees.  No wonder I had such a good night's sleep after all.  The windows are closed again for now.  It's almost noon and still chilly inside.  I'm looking forward to a walk this afternoon on a hillside trail that it new to me.  The trail begins close to the home of a friend who lives about 15 minutes away to the east.  The road that goes to her house follows, more or less, the northern shore of Lake Whatcom, which is the 14-mile glacier-fed lake that I can see from my porch, through the trees.

When I was walking in the woods yesterday, I heard Great Horned Owls calling back and forth.  I called out a "Who, Who, WhoWho," as I had on April 20 but didn't see either of them.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Pileated Woodpeckers

Although I don't see them often, I am grateful to see these wonderful tricksters at all when they come to my porch or when I see them or just hear them in the nearby woods (-:

*Best seen with full screen*

Saturday, April 24, 2021


In my circle of friends is a young woman who was born in India and currently lives in India.  Yesterday, trying to find words, she told us what she and her family and friends and neighbors are experiencing in India as a result of the COVID-19 surge.  The heart of the world is torn in so many places.  We do our best to be there for each other no matter what happens.  The internet brings us together in a mysterious and healing way.  We were never alone.  We just never knew it as well as we do now.

"The Freedom of Real Apologies"


Above:  Layli Long Soldier and Pádraig Ó Tuama

"There’s an anecdote told about a person who asked a scientist how to make bread from scratch. Well, the scientist said, first you have to invent the universe. 

And there’s another anecdote, about a tourist who’s lost while driving around Ireland. How do I get on the road to Dublin? they ask a local. First thing to say is that I wouldn’t start from here, the local replies. 

They’re funny, those anecdotes, and also partially frustrating, which is where some of their humor lies. But they also contain profound wisdom: None of us are alone (you can’t make bread from scratch, you’re in a long-line of humanity that’s made bread) and there are poor places to begin something. "

From "The Freedom of Real Apologies"

Friday, April 23, 2021

With gratitude for food banks and the volunteers who make them possible / "Hineni"


(Drawings of food bank items by Shayna Rudoren)

From this article:

“I get here and the room is empty,” he said to explain why he named the pantry Manna, “and then by 10:30, there’s food in it. And then by 1 o’clock there’s not.” At the end of every day, he continued, “I’ve got nothing left — I’ve got nothing emotionally, I’ve got nothing physically, I’ve got nothing spiritually — I’m done. And somehow in the morning, there’s something there. To me that’s divine.”

Mike is a different story.

“I’m an agnostic,” he told me. Between confirmation in ninth grade and his 60th birthday, Mike said, “I was in a church probably a dozen times.” But his wife is a spiritual person, and when they were living in the Bronx, they got involved in St. Paul’s Lutheran Evangelical Church in the Parkchester neighborhood. Mike helped run the food pantry there, too, before they moved to Bloomfield, N.J., in 2019, and connected with Park United. 

“For me, it’s not religious,” he said. “I really don’t give a whole lot of thought to a Supreme Being. Maybe I should but I don’t. What the church has done for me is it’s provided me with good work to do.”

That’s hineni.



During the second half of 2019 and until our local food bank closed due to the pandemic, I stood in line there once a week because I was going into credit card debt for the first time in my life in order to buy groceries.  Not serious debt but something I needed to address before it did become a problem.  

Our local food bank was set up like a grocery store.  We would stand in line, be checked in at a counter by volunteers, and then would get a grocery cart which we would fill with all the food we could put in the boxes we brought for that purpose.  The boxes were supplied by the food bank.  We were encouraged to take a box and use it each time we visited.  Because of the generosity of local stores and local farmers and the many people who support the food bank, I had an excellent selection of fresh produce, rice, beans, oatmeal, and nut butters to choose from.  There were also milk and other dairy products, eggs, bread and rolls, tortillas, meat, canned and baked goods, which for one reason or another, I can't eat but are basics for so many people.

There were people of all ages who came to the food bank up to two times a week.  I heard people speaking Spanish and Russian or Ukrainian.  Several of the volunteers had name tags that indicated that they spoke Spanish.  My guess is that there was probably a volunteer who spoke Russian or Ukrainian.

With the pandemic, the food bank building was closed but the volunteers continued to come to the building to fill boxes of food that people could pick up outside the building from their cars or on foot.  Volunteers (many of them friends of mine) stepped forward to deliver boxes of food to people without cars or people who had any other reason that might keep them from being able to have access to food.   Because I have to be careful about what I eat, I was fairly sure that I wouldn't be able to eat much of what went in the boxes.  A friend who did deliveries offered to bring me a box as an experiment.  There was nothing in the box that I could eat.

Fortunately, since the beginning of the pandemic, the U.S. government has been giving those of us who quality for EBT cards nearly twice as much food credit.  With that help and the three stimulus checks, I am no longer going into debt.  I've adjusted my spending down and am sure that I will have enough to live on even when the EBT amount drops back down to what it was before the pandemic.

If I did not own my condominium outright, I could not live on as little money as I live on.  Before I retired, I called our local senior information center, told them what my low-end Social Security income would be and asked if it would be possible for me to live on that amount of money in our county.  I was assured that I could if I lived simply and made use of the many safety nets for low income people.  

I am considered "poor," but I don't feel "poor."  I deeply aware of how fortunate I am to have everything I need and want.  My life is rich and full.  I couldn't be more grateful.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Photo from the first Earth Day in 1970


(photo from a New Yorker article, April 22, 2020)

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Turning Points


From Forward

"... Chauvin’s conviction may represent a turning point in holding police accountable for the deaths of so many Black people, which the prompt laying of charges against the officer who shot Wright suggests. That officer will face a trial. Evidence will be presented. A jury will deliberate. And perhaps, like in the Chauvin trial, a guilty verdict will be returned. But once again, this is hardly a foregone conclusion. Accountability in the extrajudicial killings of Black men never has never been guaranteed.

But even if she is found guilty, holding police accountable will never be synonymous with justice. Nothing short of addressing the material conditions of Black Americans that have led to these violent encounters can ever be.

And so as we breathe a collective sigh of relief over the Chauvin verdict, let us gird ourselves for the fight ahead against systemic racism in all of its dimensions."

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

"The Owls of North America and Their Calls"

This morning I took what is my usual springtime walk up and down the hill on which I live at about the half way up point.  I walked out my door and headed up a street lined with modest houses, some of which are more than 100 years old.  At first the incline is gentle but within a few minutes, it becomes quite steep until I get to the open gates of Big Rock Garden.  Even steeper than the street is the narrow driveway leading to the small parking area next to the beautiful wooden gate in the wooden fencing that keeps most of the deer out of Big Rock Garden. Almost every spring, a pregnant deer finds her way into the garden to give birth.  Once inside, I walk on all the paths -- a complex and delightful maze.  This time of year, the rhododendrons are just starting to bloom, and the many varieties of Japanese maples are showing their delicate leaves.  

Leaving Big Rock Garden, I walk down its driveway in the shade of evergreen trees and begin the uphill climb again, still on a city street.  The houses beyond Big Rock Garden are larger and newer, built in the last 40 years.  When I arrived here in 1974, this part of Bellingham was at the edge of a dense forest that extended for more than a mile before coming to Highway 542 which goes for 50 miles, from Bellingham to Mt. Baker in the North Cascades, and ends at a parking lot with an extraordinary view of the North Cascades.  Sections of this forest, a mix of evergreens and deciduous trees, have been left untouched and are accessible by paths from the surrounding housing developments.  

The city street dead ends at a relatively flat area on the hill, and there are footpaths to the right and to the left.  I go to the left which leads shortly to a tunnel that goes under the two-lane road that divides the older neighborhoods from the much newer neighborhoods with even larger houses that have what is left of the forest as their border.  

There is a small pond with cattails and ducks before the trail begins to steepen again.  Within a few minutes, I pass a tiny playground area behind a large house with a fenced yard and enter the forested area that has been named Northridge Park.  A wide graveled path loops through the forest.  Houses are visible from the trail but do not detract from the feeling of being in the woods.  The air is filled with birdsong.

At the top of the hill, I see into Canada over houses at the edge of the forest and as I begin the downhill walk home, I can see the city of Bellingham, the Salish Sea and San Juan Islands through the trees.

Just before I had looped around to the playground again, I heard an owl, loud and clear, and looked up toward the innermost part of the evergreen forest.  An owl was landing on a branch so high and obscured by other branches that I could only see its silhouette.  The owl continued to vocalize.  

Something prompted me to try to echo the sound of the owl.  My first attempt was laughable, but my second attempt sounded just like the owl.  As my voice trailed off, the owl abruptly flew across my field of vision, downward from left to right, through the trees, its wings illuminated in an astounding way by the morning sun still low in the sky!  In the next moment, I noticed a Brown Creeper on a nearby evergreen tree.  A little further down the trail was a young woman with a dog.  I asked her if she had seen the owl fly by.  She hadn't, but she was greatly excited at having heard the owl.  She said she thought at first that she was hearing a coyote.  Maybe that was my laughable first vocalization!  

After listening to all of the wonderful owls on the YouTube video, my guess is that the owl I heard and saw today was a Great Horned Owl.

It was today in 2008 that my R died just after 1 o'clock in the afternoon at the VA Hospital in Palo Alto, California.  Coincidence?  I don't think so. 

Time heals, after all -- although the clock that marks that kind of time has no hands.
(Suze Rotolo)

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Padraic O Tuama / "It is in the shelter of each other that people live" (an Irish saying) / "... for the rest of my life ..."

When this came up on my YouTube suggestions early this morning, I was reminded of Pádraig Ó Tuama's book that I learned about at Alive On All Channels.  It is a heartening book I hope to read again.

And then this arrived in my email:

I lived in divided Berlin in my 20s. And after the Wall in that city fell in 1989, I never imagined that there would be another event in my lifetime which would so clearly signify a Before and an After for the whole world. But the murder of George Floyd, in the context of the last year, was such a turning point and Minneapolis a new kind of ground zero. 

What happened here rippled out across this city and then across the world. What happened here was about our world. And what was world-changing is, in large part, what started to happen inside many of us. 

Ever after, when I use the word “we” or “us,” I understand in a whole new way that I do so in a White body. I will be walking and living and working with that understanding for the rest of my life. And — both/and — I hold that knowledge together with my clarity that when time becomes history, the generations for whom we are the ancestors will see an “us.” 

-- Krista Tippett

Friday, April 16, 2021

Listening to birds and frogs

This morning as I was out for a walk in the woods and listening to all the different birds, I began wondering about the differences between crows and ravens.  There is one part of my walk where I pass a pond where frogs live.  I rarely see frogs but do hear them in the spring and summer.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

"The Kind of Heroes We Need to Actually Save the Planet"

Renowned Nisqually hero Billy Frank, Jr., said, “We have to work together, all of us. … In the status quo we don’t have long. We have to somewhere make a transition.”

(quoted from an essay by Rena Priest in YES! magazine -- "The Kind of Heroes We Need to Actually Save the Planet")

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Martin Luther King, Jr (January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968)

There are three ascending levels of mourning: with tears — that is the lowest. With silence — that is higher. And with a song — that is the highest. (via Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel)