I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God...how my heart yearns within me!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Climate Change and Gearing Up for the Next Heave-Ho: It's Turtles All the Way Down, You Know!

Grow fast, little turtle! You've got a big job ahead of you!
'After a lecture on cosmology and the structure of the solar system, William James was accosted by a little old lady.
"Your theory that the sun is the centre of the solar system, and the earth is a ball which rotates around it has a very convincing ring to it, Mr. James, but it's wrong. I've got a better theory," said the little old lady.
"And what is that, madam?" Inquired James politely.
"That we live on a crust of earth which is on the back of a giant turtle,"
Not wishing to demolish this absurd little theory by bringing to bear the masses of scientific evidence he had at his command, James decided to gently dissuade his opponent by making her see some of the inadequacies of her position.
"If your theory is correct, madam," he asked, "what does this turtle stand on?"
"You're a very clever man, Mr. James, and that's a very good question," replied the little old lady, "but I have an answer to it. And it is this: The first turtle stands on the back of a second, far larger, turtle, who stands directly under him."
"But what does this second turtle stand on?" persisted James patiently.
To this the little old lady crowed triumphantly. "It's no use, Mr. James – it's turtles all the way down." '
—J. R. Ross, Constraints on Variables in Syntax 1967

"Men are making speeches... all over the country, but each expresses only the thought, or the want of thought, of the multitude. No man stands on truth. They are merely banded together as usual, one leaning on another and all together on nothing; as the Hindoos made the world rest on an elephant, and the elephant on a tortoise, and had nothing to put under the tortoise." 
      --Henry David Thoreau, journal entry, 4 May 1852--

"When you’re on deck, standing your watch, you stay vigilant. You plan for every contingency. And if you see storm clouds gathering, or dangerous shoals ahead, you don't sit back and do nothing. You take action — to protect your ship, to keep your crew safe. Anything less is negligence. It is a dereliction of duty. And so, too, with climate change. Denying it, or refusing to deal with it endangers our national security. It undermines the readiness of our forces...."
     --President Barack Obama, addressing the Coast Guard Academy Class of 2015 on May 20--

Heave Ho! My Lads! Heave Ho!
VERSE
Give us the oil, give us the gas
Give us the shells, give us the guns.
We'll be the ones to see them thru.
Give us the tanks, give us the planes.
Give us the parts, give us a ship.
Give us a hip hoo-ray!
And we'll be on our way.

CHORUS
Heave Ho! My Lads, Heave Ho!
It's a long, long way to go.
It's a long, long pull with our hatches full,
Braving the wind, braving the sea,
Fighting the treacherous foe;
Heave Ho! My lads, Heave Ho!
Let the sea roll high or low,
We can cross any ocean, sail any river.
Give us the goods and we'll deliver,
Damn the submarine!
We're the men of the Merchant Marine!

--Official Song of The U.S. Maritime Service 
Song of the Merchant Marine
Heave Ho! My Lads! Heave Ho! 
Words and Music by Lieut. (jg) Jack Lawrence, USMS, 1943--


Monday, May 11, 2015

Withering Into Truth...About Maidenhair and Mandrake

SAM, don't sit under the ginkgo tree with anyone else but me!

The Coming of Wisdom with Time

Though leaves are many, the root is one;
Through all the lying days of my youth
I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun;
Now I may wither into the truth.

(a poem by W. B. Yeats)

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

Now that the ginkgo (stinko) fruit produced last Autumn in the back yard has dried up, been raked up, and piled up in the corners of my mind yard, SAM and I can comfortably sit, soak up some afternoon sun this Spring when our work for the day is done, and possibly wither into truth. I daresay that we are working and living more wisely these days, and the ginkgo (maidenhair) tree may play a part in that supposition: SAM is able to work from home except when supervisory field work is required; we now live close enough to many amenities like the library, a small grocery, the bank, and a video store to walk to them; and I don't have to pay rent for my work space. Of course, I don't have many clients yet, but time and a few good referrals will take care of that shortage. I just need to make sure those future clients--if they arrive for the first time next Autumn--understand that ginkgo is just all right with me. In fact, it's more than all right. It's essential (as in oil extract), used for centuries as a medicine and dietary supplement (reputed for its positive effects on the circulatory and nervous systems), and loved by squirrels and birds--at least the ones locally--as a food source and nesting habitat.

American mandrake (Podophyllum) seen at Murphysboro State Park
Besides admiring the ginkgo we have acquired along with our house, we have taken to walking around the lake at Murphysboro State Park, which is about a 5-mile, quite hilly stroll (though we have seen some youngsters take a run at it). The Mayapples, otherwise known as American mandrake, are among the first plants to pop up from last year's leaves and attract attention in the Spring. The picture above was taken several weeks ago, and the flowers that were so attractive then have now formed small "apples" or fruit that are barely visible beneath the large leaflets. This article about the Mayapple from WebMD suggests that some people (despite most medical advice to the contrary) still use these plants for various medicinal purposes. I have to wonder...

If Eve were Lilliputian in size, perhaps the Mayapple was the forbidden fruit she coaxed Adam to eat. After all, one of its common names is the Devil's Apple....


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Unearthing Earth Day: The Earth is a Crystal Ball


The Earth is a crystal ball you see
It holds the future for you and me
The crystal held within its sphere
Is salty brine or fresh, it's clear

The people who would make Earth "Mom"
Would truly like to read the palm
The outstretched one that You laid bare
To help them out of their despair

That drowns their thoughts of Providence
And takes away their common sense
As ebbing tide will wash the shore
Or springtime floods sweep forest's floor


There is this trouble about special providences--namely, there is so often a doubt as to which party was intended to be the beneficiary. In the case of the children, the bears, and the prophet, the bears got more real satisfaction out of the episode than the prophet did, because they got the children. -- Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar --

Steephead or drainage swale in Murphysboro State Park

Though SAM and I both were brought up in the '70s when Earth Day began to gather steam, we both find peculiar this strange fixation on the health of the planet. Who would have the audacity to think we (alive and present on this Earth) are any worse or better at changing the Earth--for the worse or better--than the generations that came before us? It takes a pudd'nhead, I guess.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Spring (and Love) is in the Airing

video

Although this Sunday was an exception (it being Easter!), SAM and I enjoy taking in the sights, sounds, and sips of wine that an early springtime visit to a winery can offer. As the video above reveals--taken shortly after our return home from Florida several weeks ago--the loud music lovers had not yet invaded The Bluffs Vineyard and Winery in nearby Ava, Illinois. Now, it's not the music that we find objectionable. It's THE VOLUME! I'm sure the frogs you hear in the video, if they could voice an opinion, would agree: TURN IT DOWN! Let nature speak, softly, of love instead....

...For, nor in nothing, nor in things
Extreme and scatt'ring bright, can love inhere,
Then as an angel, face and wings
Of air, not pure as it, yet pure doth wear,
So thy love may be my love's sphere,
Just such disparity
As is 'twixt air and angels' purity,
'Twixt women's love and men's will ever be.

--from John Donne's "Air and Angels," c. 1633--

Sunday, February 22, 2015

How Great the Art?

Twist but don't shout at Bonnet House in Fort Lauderdale





In a recent twist of fate, SAM and I were invited to stay at a distant relative's condo in South Florida. As fate would have it, this invitation coincides with our 35th wedding anniversary. The place is ours to enjoy for the time being, and what a place! I won't post a picture of the inside of the condo since it's not mine to show off, but I will say that the art it contains is inspiring.









Daughter, don't sit under the camellia tree with anyone else but me
 Before we traveled that far south, though, we made a pit[hy] stop in Tallahassee to visit Daughter and her hubby and to deposit Peanut.

Peanut makes herself at home while visiting Daughter and Son-in-law

She (the cat--and possibly I--not the daughter!) has/have put on quite a few excess pounds whilst living up north. Is it the stress of the cold or just living in Illinois that "comPounds" the problem of weight gain? If Peanut could talk, she would probably tell me to take a chill pill and relax. You can't make the wheels of Illinois' state government turn any faster than they are used to moving. Just because Florida could issue a professional license in short order (10 days) doesn't mean that Illinois can or will do the same for me (9 weeks and counting).


Speaking of wheels turning, while waiting on the license, I've been working on a train song. I always have liked that genre for some reason. Daughter gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2013, and I am finally trying to learn how to play the darn thing. Since we gave him a guitar this past Christmas, Grandson and I have been taking lessons together from a teacher employed by Mike's Music in Carbondale, Illinois. Ever since I saw Tommy Emmanuel in concert, I've been wanting to try my hand(s) at the art.

"Trunk art" at Bonnet House in Ft. Lauderdale
I wonder...If this tree we saw at Bonnet House Plantation in Ft. Lauderdale could be turned into an instrument, what song would it sing?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Timing is Everything

Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States, who met his Maker on this day in 1924
The past several months since we have moved to Illinois have certainly been interesting if not at times overwhelming. Deciding to move (for work), selling a home, buying a home, enduring another Illinois oil industry bust (loss of work), losing a mom (SAM's), telling our son that we have no choice but to "unemploy" him, anticipating another grandchild....

Anyway, I noticed in the local morning paper (Southern Illinoisan) that today is the anniversary of the enactment of the 16th Amendment to the United States' Constitution which, among other things, supposedly buoyed our national confidence and helped fund our involvement in the War to End All Wars (World War I). Yes, indeed, folks, we now (still!) have the privilege of annually (or quarterly, as the case may be) enriching the U.S. Treasury with our hard-earned dollars, or in other words, paying our federal income tax. Thank you, W.W. and your fellow Progressives, for this privilege. We shall forever be indebted to you (and your successors). May God have mercy on your soul(s)!