Friday, August 31, 2007

Joys and Trials

I swore I'd never do a meme, but one probably should never say never. (I probably shouldn'ta swore either, but "should" and "shouldn't" have never been guiding principles for me). Confused? I am. What were we talking about??

Oh, yes. To get to the point, a few days ago Em tagged me with the "Joys and Trials Meme" and I have been thinking about what that means ever since. Here are the rules:

"You have to use your own belief system for the meme.
No fair using someone else’s to make a joke or satire.
Being humorous about your own religion is encouraged!
You have to have at least one joy and one trial. More are encouraged. And no, they don’t have to be equal in length, but please be honest.
You have to tag at least one other person. More are appreciated!
Please post these rules!"

I have to admit that I’m not exactly sure what this meme is really asking. I’ve visited a couple of the former tag-ee’s sites, and they seem to have answered in religious/spiritual terms. Unfortunately, it has been so long since I gave serious thought to just what my "religion" is, that I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around a clear enough picture of my spirituality to couch my answer to the meme appropriately. If I base my reply on my heart's feelings (rather than what might be my "soul's") then my Joys list includes (not necessarily in this order nor limited to):

Nature – living things, beauty, weather
My family
People (or at least "good" people)
Going outside naked when it’s warm and windy
Words, images, songs
Good food and wine
Laughter and having fun

and my Trials list includes (not necessarily in this order nor limited to):

Nature – in particular, rats, voles, raccoons, woodchucks, hail, lightning and high winds, potato blight, Japanese Beetles, and sometimes deer
My family
The world
The degradation of nature
Fundamentalists of any sort
War and hatred and greed

A bit of background: My father was agnostic, my mother a Baptist. I was raised in her Baptist faith, but eventually decided that his agnosticism made more sense. Husband (who is Jewish) and I say grace every night, a grace that I learned when I was a young child and just never stopped saying:

We thank you for the food we eat,
We thank you for the friends we meet,
Thank you for our work and play,
And help us to be good all day. Amen.

It is perhaps an odd little ritual for two quite ripe adults, and it’s the only "religious" thing we do, but in its simplistic lines the basics are contained: thankfulness and the acknowledgement that being and doing good is right and proper.

I say this grace not because I believe in prayer as a way of communicating with a listening God (I don't), but as a reminder to myself of how fortunate I am and what I believe my human responsibilities ought to be. Grace is often followed by one of us asking the other (with a smile), “So, were you good today?” and then dinner is consumed as we discuss the events, experiences, accomplishments and trials of our respective days.

There are times when I feel that I am not a spiritual person at all. My belief that whatever power created this vast existence is unknowable is simply a rational thought. If that is the yang of me, then my yin is the deeply passionate belief that there is a purpose, a reason for and a connectedness of everything in the universe, not one living creature better, more important or chosen than another. In that context, my Joys list becomes:

The beauty and wonders of Mother Nature
The peace and happiness Love brings
The lessons of Time and Experience
The excitement of Creativity and Artistic Expression
The enrichment of my life by Friends, human and animal

And my Trials can be summed up in one:

People. Our arrogant, greedy, destructive, self-centered, irreverence for each other and – above all – for Mother Nature and all she encompasses, that which gave us life and sustains us. I am despondent over the degradation of the planet and the fact that so few people living today understand or care about the interconnectedness of the lives of humans with everything natural surrounding us. "Progress" and "economic growth" demand that we work to obliterate our very sustenance.

Yet, is there a god reigning over all that IS? Maybe. It does seem to me that there has to be some great unknowable power behind the mystery, but as Iris DeMent sings,

Everybody's wonderin' what and where they all came from.
Everybody's worryin' 'bout where they're gonna go when the whole thing's done.
But no one knows for certain and so it's all the same to me.
I think I'll just let the mystery be.

Thanks, Em, for giving me the opportunity to stand on my little soapbox for a few moments. I'm not sure I have answered appropriately, but I was honest. I tag Crabby - if she wants to accept the tag - (giving her full permission, if I may, to move the discussion away from the spiritual if she wants to...), and I leave you with this.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Air Time
Fly me to the moon
Let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On jupiter and mars

..................(Lyrics credited to Frank Sinatra)
Being a grandparent allows you to do some things you might otherwise miss out on. Last weekend we took Grandson (age 5) to Ottawa to see an air show featuring old and "antique" planes. There were also a number of beautifully restored antique cars.
There were many other people armed with cameras - some with obviously expensive gear - snapping photos left and right. It was easy to see that most of them were plane-lovers taking pictures... while I was a photographer who saw this as an opportunity to take pictures of a different sort of subject than often crosses my path.
Here, for your viewing pleasure (I hope), is a peek at some of what we enjoyed. Not being an airplane buff, I have not supplied names and descriptions for most of the craft, but I hope you like this little "album" in which I tried to capture some of the beauty of carefully tended, old machinery. Yes, every one of them flew.
. Click on any photo for a better look.


......................................Rain threatened but never materialized.



.............This Seabee's propeller is behind the cockpit.


. .....Uh, why are the "Mis -Terris" of the world always redheads...?


.......... A 1920's era Franklin beside several SeaBees
The show took place at an aeronautical museum, so of course we also spent time inside. I'll post those photos on another day. Right now I'm feeling that I need to look at something green and living...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


It was 2:30 in the morning. The alarm clock had been set for 2:45 but was rendered unnecessary by my own internal clock. I tip-toed to the spare bedroom for a good look at the full moon, but was disappointed to find it obscured by some wispy mare’s tail clouds, and I returned to bed. At 3:30, by my calculation still 24 minutes before the earth’s shadow would begin crossing the moon, the clouds had cleared and I got up and dressed for moon-watching.

The camera and tripod were waiting on the front porch, the remote shutter release by the door. The moon was so bright that no other light was necessary for me to make my way out from the shadows and into the moonlit front yard.

I could see a problem immediately: the moon was already low on the horizon. And then another problem: there was no sign of any dark, curved shadow on its beaming face. Was this the night after all? Thoughts of Karan and Shaman flashed through my mind, thoughts that they too would be up and outside… waiting…watching… waiting…

Inside the house again, I turned on the computer and checked the NASA website. It did say “The event begins 54 minutes past midnight PDT on August 28th when the Moon enters Earth's shadow. At first, there's little change.” Okay, 12:54 Pacific Daylight Time should be 3:54 AM Eastern Daylight Time… but then below the written descriptions of a full lunar eclipse was a timetable showing this:

..........................August 28, 2007, Total Lunar Eclipse

Time Zone............. Total Eclipse Begins.............Total Eclipse Ends
EDT (Eastern)................0552AM................................0722AM

Rats! Here I am all dressed up and no place to go for another two hours!! Why hadn’t I read this website all the way through?!?

I made myself a small bowl of granola, figuring I might as well have some sustenance as compensation for a lost night’s sleep.

Worst of all, I had told Shaman to get up by 3:54 too. I wondered what poem might come to her as she pondered why the clear sky held just another empty full (and of course beautiful) moon. Coyotes weren’t even howling. Maybe they had enough sense to be sleeping.

.....Fee fi fo fum
.....Sometimes wizards can be dumb

At five A.M. there was finally the hint of an arching shadow across the top of the moon – a moon which was now sinking low toward the horizon. I wondered if it would still be in view an hour from now when it would be reflecting all the great colors.

I took a few pictures as the shadow progressed, but soon the moon began to disappear behind the tree-tops on my horizon.
My bed beckoned and I answered its call as daylight began to overpower moon-glow.
At 6:28 A.M, this arrived from Shaman:
Lunar Eclipse

Chased the moon
around the house,
then around the yard,
got on my bike too,
but alas
I was eclipsed
by trees and time.