Wednesday, March 30, 2011
When I first saw the headline, The Return of the Class System, for this story in the Wall Street Journal, I thought, Hmm, that's different, isn't it? WSJ noticing that there's a class system in America?
Then I saw it was about cruise ships. Some people who can afford to take a luxury cruise are complaining that some other people who have even more money than them are getting special treatment. In other words, there's a class system within our class system. Thanks to WSJ for pointing out what everyone below the status of millionaire has known for awhile now.
Here's my suggestion for anyone who wants to really enjoy traveling to amazing places by ship: Take the Alaska Ferry.
Okay, that only gets you to Alaska and back. But where else would you want to go? Really?
Sunday, March 27, 2011
The talks were full of inspiration and valuable instruction for young women, their mothers, and their leaders.
If you didn't have a chance to see/hear it, you can watch Pres. Eyring's talk, "A Living Testimony," or listen to it in any of 56 languages. I don't see the conference text online yet, but I imagine it will be available soon.
Next week is general conference. If you'd like to see part or all of it, information about the broadcast is available at the church's website.
If you'd like to know what the church is doing to help the people of Japan, and what YOU can do to help, that information is also available online.
(I suspect that Madame L will have something to say about this soon. Madame L wishes more people knew about the church's humanitarian and relief work throughout the world, which is done for everyone, without regard to religion, race, or nationality.)
If you'd like to know what the Prophet Joseph Smith's early revelations looked like when they were first received and recorded, the church is publishing a series of books with exactly that.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Warning # 1: Some scenes in that short film clip are graphic.
Warning #2: The film may open your mind to new ideas about labor, labor laws, the global economy, and the clothes you wear.
Today is the 100th anniversary of that horrible fire that killed so many young women (and some older women, and some men).
There's a great summary of the history of the fire on Wikipedia.
It's getting a lot of attention this year partly because a lot of working-class and middle-class Americans are starting to see their safe working conditions and reasonable salaries on the line again.
Newly elected Republican governors in 18 states, elected on promises of creating jobs and turning the economy around, have turned the tables on their states' workers by legislating against the labor movement and state employees, lowering taxes on rich individuals and corporations, and raising taxes on the middle class, the poor, the children, and the elderly.
Rachel Maddow has been covering this issue thoroughly in her nightly reports. I was glad to hear in her broadcast last night that many of those governors, as well as legislators who have pushed the same agenda, will be facing recall elections within the year.
Even if you hated all your public-school teachers, even if you had a huge fire hydrant in your yard so you didn't need the local fire department to protect you, even if you weren't worried about needing the police to defend you, even if some poor old woman on welfare once offended you, even if you don't think your wife or daughter will ever be raped or need emergency medical care, even if --- what? --- what makes these politicians and rich people go after those who are sick, poor, old, or serving the public?
The only answer I can come up with is a cynical one: The politicians were elected with the help of the rich people, and they know the only way they can stay in office is by pandering to them. And the wealthy? I guess if you have millions of dollars and no conscience, your guiding light is greed. So no matter how much you have, you want more, and if someone else seems to be catching up to you, you want to smack them back down into their place.
Joan Walsh has written about why so much attention is being focused this year on the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. She reminds us that no labor gain in our history was won easily, many were won only after a lot of people suffered tragedy and inhumanity, and all can be lost.
1:45 pm, PST (4:45 pm, EST time, exactly 100 years after the first alarm bells sounded at the factory: I have just gone outside to ring a bell in commemoration of the 146 workers who lost their lives in that fire.
May God help us do a better job, beginning this year, in memory of those whose lives were lost so lamentably and so criminally, of protecting the poor, the weak, the young, and the old, workers and families, throughout the world.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
You owe Me.
Look what happens with
A love like that,
It lights the Whole Sky.
But here's the clinker: The Persian poet Hafiz apparently didn't even write this poem. Check this out, from an Iranian news site:
"Those who have gone and searched their Farsi books of Hafiz shouldn't have done so. That's just not the proper way. They should have been looking for the English version of the poem to see who has translated it and what the sources are. This is especially necessary for Hafiz, since historically it has been shown that translating his work to English is a complex process for which no definitive, accepted version stands out.
The poem that Mr. McGuinty recited comes from a book called "The Gift: Poems by Hafez the Great Sufi Master" by Daniel Ladinsky, American Sufi poet. It was published in 1999 by Penguin Books and was commercially successful. However, this book has nothing to do with Hafiz. Ladinsky, a Sufi who has spent years with Mehrbaba in India, doesn't even know how to read or write in Farsi. In fact, he claims that he has heard the poems from Hafiz himself in a dream. "I feel my relationship to Hafiz defies all reason" he says in the book's introduction. "It is really an attempt to do the impossible, to translate light into words... About six months into this work I had an astounding dream in which I saw Hafiz as a never-ending, boundless sun (God), who sang hundreds of verses of his poetry to me in English, asking me to give his message to 'my fellow artists and art seekers' ".
This has been rebuked by a lot of critics who accuse Ladinsky of out-right fraud and deception. Murat Nemet-Nejat, a modern Turkish essayist and poet, asserts "Ladinsky's book is an original poem masquerading as a translation... As God talked to Moses in Hebrew, to Mohammad in Arabic, Hafiz spoke to Daniel Ladinsky in English. Mr. Ladinsky is translating a dream, not a 14th century Persian text". He continues "As such, the book is worse than a failure; it is a deception, a marketing rip-off of his name".
The mystery is solved. There are no original Farsi versions of this poem. The verse that fascinated Mr. McGuinty so much actually comes from an American Sufi and his interpretation of "light".
Translation of Hafiz into English is indeed an enormous task yet to be undertaken successfully by anybody. "The most important matter is about things like Metonyms that carry a lot of weight behind them and can't be brought to English easily" Mostafa Azizi, Writer, Poet and a Hafiz expert, stated in an interview from Tehran. "The only way is for an acclaimed, great English-speaking poet to undertake the task of transforming Hafiz's soul and concepts from a language to another".
We don't know whether that is going to happen anytime soon but if it were to happen, Canada would be the place for it. Poetry is more popular here compared to other English-speaking nations and there are a lot of Farsi-speaking Canadians around. Before such a poet arises, those who would want to read Hafiz and not a fake, "dreamy" version of it, better resort to what Fredrick Engels, 19th century social scientist did. In a letter to Karl Marx, he wrote "I have made use of the opportunity to learn Persian... it is, by the way, rather pleasing to read dissolute old Hafiz in the original language".
Anyway, Aunt Louise speaking again, I'm still going to enjoy this beautiful poem, without caring who its real author was.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
I was recently listening to the sounds made by a 2-1/2-month-old baby, and I thought he was saying, "Ah-ghum." I think I remember hearing a lot of babies make exactly that sound.
But I don't know if anyone else hears it that way.
What did Mozart think his pet starling was singing? (It did a pretty good job of imitating one of his piano concertos, and Mozart transcribed the bird's imitation.) Did he think it ever said any words? I've certainly heard a lot of starlings making all kinds of fascinating sounds, lots of them clearly imitations of the sounds around them. Does that make them intelligent?
Birdley sings several songs. There's one in the morning when he first wakes up, sounding like he's in pain; one when he tries to court Piper, complete with bowing and wing-spreading; the classic cockatiel "wolf-whistle"; and an elaborate set of variations on the wolf-whistle. Someday I'm going to record his songs and post them here---but I'm not sure how I'll do it because he stops singing as soon as I respond to him---aha! I'll have another listener record his songs, because he does continue singing for some people.
Here's a more complete series of thoughts on the subject, "Out of the Mouths of Birds," from "The Nation," March 22, 2011.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
He told me about his ministry, which is called Waking The Passion --- Journey to Freedom, and about his own commitment to Christ as a young man.
Yet what we mostly talked about was our mothers and grandmothers. I told about my Grandma McBride, who during the Great Depression fed the hobos who came to her home in a small town in Arizona. They had marked her house with a symbol that let them all know that they would be fed there. I said, "I guess she understood that those men weren't homeless because they were bad men but because of circumstances they couldn't control. And it didn't matter to her, anyway, because she had the idea that her job as a Christian woman was to help those who needed help."
I added, "And then my own mother carried on in that tradition. People where we lived knew that if someone needed help, she would help them, even giving up a room in her home for them until they could get back on their feet."
President Henry B. Eyring (whose parents, by the way, lived in that same small town and knew my grandma) related in the October 2010 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints another example of this Christ-like behavior:
"...I grew up in a small town in New Jersey. Our branch of the Church had fewer than 20 members who regularly attended.
"Among them was a woman—an older, very humble convert to the Church. She was an immigrant who spoke with a heavy Norwegian accent. She was the only member of the Church in her family and the only member of the Church in the city in which she lived.
"Through my father, who was the branch president, the Lord called her as the president of the branch Relief Society. She had no handbook to tell her what to do. No other member of the Church lived near her. She only knew that the Lord cared for those in need and the few words in the motto of the Relief Society: “Charity never faileth.”
"It was in the depths of what we now call the Great Depression. Thousands were out of work and homeless. So, feeling she had her errand from the Lord, she asked her neighbors for old clothes. She washed the clothes, pressed them, and put them in cardboard boxes on her back porch. When men without money needed clothes and asked her neighbors for help, they would say, “Go to the house down the street. There is a Mormon lady living there who will give you what you need.”
"The Lord did not run the city, but He changed a part of it for the better. He called one tiny woman—alone—who trusted Him enough to find out what He wanted her to do and then did it. Because of her trust in the Lord, she was able to help in that city hundreds of Heavenly Father’s children in need."And that's all I'm going to say about that, today, anyway.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Thank you for letting me know I've received my annual REI dividend!
Even though it may be a disappointment to you (or me) that it's only for $16.95, I'm going to find a great way to use it.
Probably I'll use the 20% coupon you've also thoughtfully sent me, maybe to buy a cute shirt or hiking shoes for someone I know, because for sure I'm never going to buy anything there at full price, which is why I've only earned a dividend of $16.95 even though I've probably spent hundreds of dollars at REI over the past year.
Not that I have anything against your prices, because they're as good as I'd find for items of the same quality anywhere else, and you're a co-op. I'm just cheap, and I love a bargain, so I only do my shopping at your online outlet store or during sales.
So, really, thank you for the dividend, the coupon, and the sales,
Saturday, March 19, 2011
I'm not even a fan of BYU, but the game was on TV, and I was lying on the couch trying not to cough my brains out, and the only other thing I could stand to watch was another re-run of one of the Harry Potter movies, which went to commercials every 5 minutes.
And it seemed like a nice payback for the scoffers who derided the school for adhering to its honor code and suspending star player Brandon Davies.
It's an honor code. So thanks to BYU officials for honoring its code.
Matthew 5:15: Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
---Lots of other things.
Important thing: making March 12, 2011, the day that something good and memorable will happen for you.
Friday, March 11, 2011
It happened when I had two small children and was pregnant with my third. Back in those olden times, the moms weren't all at work every weekday, so in addition to our Sunday meetings of Relief Society, we had homemaking meetings on weekday mornings. We had stake Relief Society leaders for every class teacher, music leader, and every calling there was in the ward Relief Society organizations.
Once a month these stake leaders held a huge and amazing preparation meeting in our stake center. We started at 10:00 in the morning with opening exercises, went to our classes, and then had a luncheon. The stake Relief Society paid sisters to run a nursery for our children while we attended these meetings.
Those stake meetings became the highlight of every month for me. I was really new at teaching in Relief Society and knew next to nothing about the topic I was teaching, which was health. My stake leader had been a registered nurse before she decided to be a stay-at-home mom with her children, so she was very knowledgeable, and she was a great teacher.
One time, though, when I went to pick up my children from the nursery, the sister who had been taking care of the kids took me aside to tell me, "Your daughter is the worst-behaved child I have ever seen in this nursery. She is stubborn and obstinate, and I don't ever want to see her in my nursery again. You can leave her at home with some other babysitter, because if you bring her here again, I'll quit on the spot."
Well, you can imagine how I felt. I gathered my children together and left as fast as I could so no one would see me crying.
What made it worse was that this sister was in our ward and her husband was a counselor to our bishop.
I kept going to church but went to incredible lengths to avoid talking to the sister or her husband. I mean, *really* incredible lengths, since the members of the bishopric stood at the doors to welcome people as they came in to Sacrament meeting, which meant walking all the way around to the other side of the chapel so I wouldn't have to shake hands with that counselor; and practically running out of the chapel when the meeting was over so I could drop my kids off in Primary and the nursery and get to Relief Society without seeing that sister; and then grabbing my kids and running to the car as fast as I could when the meetings were over so I wouldn't have to talk to anyone because I was afraid I would start crying if someone talked to me sympathetically.
I did that for the next 4 weeks.
When time for the next stake preparation meeting rolled around, my ward Relief Society counselor called and asked if I needed a ride to the meeting and I said, "No, thanks." I didn't tell her I didn't need a ride because I wasn't going to be there because ... why, I don't know ... I guess I was going from being hurt to being really, really, really mad. Anyway, I didn't go to the meeting.
The next Sunday, the stake Relief Society counselor, who was also in our ward, found me waiting in the car at the end of Sacrament meeting. She said, "I missed you at our stake preparation meeting. I hope there's not a problem that's keeping you from attending."
And, sure enough, I started crying. "Sister [Blank] told me I can't bring my daughter there any more, and if they won't let my daughter go there, then I won't go there, either."
That dear sweet sister started crying with me. She said, "I'm so sorry. Will you please forgive me?"
I said, "I don't need to forgive you. You didn't do anything. But I want you to know that there is nothing wrong with my daughter. That other person told me she's ill behaved and whatever, but she's just like all the other children that age. There's no reason for a grown-up to get that angry at a child. After all, she's a child..." And so on.
She cried some more and said, "I feel so bad that you have felt bad. I am the person who asked that sister to be our babysitter that day. Please do forgive me. I want you to know that she didn't come last time. And I want you to know that we love your daughter. She's a beautiful, sweet child, and I love spending time with her. We always want your daughter to come, and we always want you to come. Please forgive me."
I said, "Oh, I'm so sorry, I have been so childish, please forgive me."
And we cried together some more.
That sweet sister was too kind to tell me something that I later found out about the sister who had told me not to bring my daughter to nursery: She was extremely troubled, had problems with many adults and children in the ward, and was so desperately in need of love and kindness, that she didn't have any love to give to anyone else, not even to a small child.
Not too long after that, I read this article in the Ensign:
“Mormon Journal,” Ensign, Oct 1975, 65–66 “Take Those Noisy Kids Home!”
The Joneses were an active, stalwart family in the ward. Their six children, ages 13 to two years old, were lively youngsters, full of enthusiasm, curiosity, health, laughter, and loud noises. When we moved into the ward they were among the first to extend warm greetings.
We accepted calls to serve in various positions, and I found myself working happily in the same organization as Sister Jones. She was always faithful and cheerful, a good influence on all those with whom she came in contact.
Someone complained to her once that they had had their feelings hurt by another. They were embittered.
Sister Jones listened, and then she said, “Let me tell you about my own experience.
“We had moved into a new ward, and sometimes our six children were noisy in meetings. My policy was to take the noisy ones out of the chapel and talk to them, then bring them back in when I knew they would behave.
"During one testimony meeting I had to take three youngsters out. Since it was a beautiful day, I took them outside on the lawn and talked with them.
"As we returned to the foyer, one of the presiding brethren of the ward came up to me and said, ‘Sister Jones, you have the loudest, noisiest children in the ward. Why don’t you take them and go home?’
"At this outburst, I stopped; my mouth opened, but no words came. My children were watching me. I felt that Heavenly Father was watching me. And this man who held the priesthood was watching, waiting for me to answer him. I swiftly, silently prayed to the Lord to help me say the right thing.
"My prayer was answered and the words came. Softly I said, ‘Brother, this church isn’t your church. It isn’t my church. It isn’t my children’s church. This church is the church of Jesus Christ. And he wants you in it. He wants me in it. And he wants my children in it.’
“Then I gathered my three youngsters and went back into the chapel.”
So, this is what I want everyone in my family to know: This church is the church of Jesus Christ. And he wants you in it. He wants me in it. And he wants all of us in it.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
When we were not-too-long married and living in Illinois, we took a road trip to Kentucky to visit Aunt Luretha and Uncle John in Somerset. What a welcome we received! Aunt Luretha had spread out a meal fit for a king, with a huge beef roast and a ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, candied yams, peas, corn, baby carrots, and cake and ice cream for dessert. She said with her wonderful Kentucky drawl, "If I'd a-known you-all were a-coming I would've had some pies."
Aunt Luretha was the sister of George Andrew Wynn, Jr., known mostly in our family as Grandpa Wynn. When we knew him, he'd lived in California so long that he had absolutely no trace of a Kentucky accent. He loved his children and adored his grandchildren.
Luretha and George had a brother, James Lincoln Wynn, who survived the Battle of the Bulge and ended up in a German prisoner-of-war camp. Uncle James lives now in Greenville, South Carolina, with his wonderful wife Alice.
Here is Uncle James's testimony:
"I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and committed my life to Him and to following Him as a born-again Christian believer the first week of January, 1944. I had no idea at that time how soon I would experience what a wonderful and perfect helper the Holy Spirit would be. He helped me maintain a complete trust in His presence and His watchful care and He gave me a special inner peace that I enjoyed throughout all the experiences mentioned in this very memorable episode of a long and exciting life. At this time in my life; through experiences, considering past events and daily seeking the will of God, I have come to this conclusion: If you seek the will of God and His direction in every decision you make, it will lead you to a true joy in His Presence forever."
The second endowment I helped with today was for Ellen O'Toole. She was born in Dunkirk, New York, in 1838. She married Peter Curran and with him had a son named Francis Peter Curran, who married Alice Margaret Barrett. They a son named Charles Aloysius Curran, who married Emmeline Patricia Smith, and they had a daughter, Patricia Mary Curran, who married George Andrew Wynn, Jr. They had a son, Jeffrey Curran Wynn; and a daughter, Barbara Ann Wynn.
And you know the rest.
I add my testimony to that of Uncle James: That if you seek the will of God and let Him direct you, you will be led to true joy; also, through the restored gospel and priesthood, through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all of us, including those who didn't have a chance to know the fulness of the gospel while they were on the Earth, will be able to experience that joy and be sealed to their families.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
I met Ann and Laura at 9:00 in the morning at the Kelso Park-and-Ride, and Laura drove us to a series of sites where we looked for amphibian eggs.
Here are some bird prints in the mud next to one of the runoff/restoration ponds next to the Castle Rock High School playing fields.
This long-toed salamander was hiding under a mattress someone had dumped at the Mint Farm restoration site. If I'd been able to take a crisper photo, you could see how this tiny critter gets its name: the fourth toe on each back foot is longer than the others. Also hiding under the mattress was this field mouse, who hung around posing for some photos before scuttling back under.
Mint Farm restoration wetland
I don't know where this industrial center's name originally came from, but I doubt anyone could grow mint there now. The wetland may help, eventually, but today we found no egg masses there of species that would indicate it was getting healthier.
Eventually we went to a Columbia Land Trust restoration site near the Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer (I'm guessing this is the longest-named wildlife refuge in the U.S.). There we found egg masses of the Northwestern Salamander (on the left, above) and the Northern Red-legged Frog (on the right, above).
We also heard and saw some adult Pacific Tree Frogs but couldn't get one to pose for a picture.
It was sad to find many egg masses that had frozen and become dessicated during a freeze last week.
The last part of our day required using a canoe in part of a slough on the property. Ann and I went in the canoe looking for eggs in the center of the slough while Laura walked and looked near the shore.
As she slogged through the mud and silt, she also pushed us along and at one point almost ended up in the canoe, grabbed onto the side and held herself up, to avoid having water flow over the top of her chest waders in an unexpectedly deep spot near the bank.
When we finished, at 4:30, we stopped at the Baskin-Robbins in Longview where Ann and I got Lucky Mint cones and Laura got some kind of peanut-butter-chocolate cone, which then I wished I'd gotten, too.
Anything there was better than freeze-dried frog eggs, though!
Finally, I spent the evening in the Watershed Steward class I'm taking through the WSU-Clark County Extension Service. In tonight's class, we learned about benthic macroinvertebrates, which include some amazing critters. My lab partner Mike and I found 6 kinds of "bugs" in our stream sample, which came from the East Fork Lewis River: two or three species of mayflies, some stoneflies, two aquatic worms, two species of caddisflies, some midges, and an aquatic beetle.
Monday, March 7, 2011
This message is for the dearest sister-in-law a woman could ever hope to have:
Thank you for your love and support over the many years we've known each other.
Remember when your mom sent you to check up on me when your brother told everyone back home that we were going to get married? Even then, you approached me with an open heart and an open mind, prepared to love rather than to find fault. You must have reassured your mom, because when I met her, she was also kind and loving.
Remember when you came to visit after Lisa was born? You were the best aunt a little baby could ever hope to have, and then you continued to be a wonderful and loving aunt for her and for all our children.
Remember when you came to visit us in Venezuela? You had so much fun with all of us and you brought a breath of fresh air that we really needed at that point.
Remember when you came out for Cory's wedding? You helped in every way possible, including staying with the little ones the evening before the wedding so Jeff and I could go to the wedding rehearsal and the two moms could spend some time together.
Remember all the times you reached out to me when I was sad and lonely? And there are many more memories I could list, but these sum them all up nicely. You've been a friend and a support
Thank you, Barb, for being an example of loving kindness, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Mada loves to take a bath once every week or so, but usually only when "Daddy" is there to help him.
And he also has to work himself up to it: Climbing up on Daddy's hand and watching Daddy play with the water with his other hand, finally stepping up to the edge of the bowl, and then stepping in. After many stops and starts, stepping in and out, testing the water with his feet and beak,
finally he puts his head in the water, splashes water all around on you, the cage, and the floor, and tosses water back on to his wings.
Just when you think he's done, because he steps out and shakes water all over you, he steps back in and splashes some more.
You can see Sunshine in some of these photos. She loved to watch Mada take his baths, but never wanted to take her own baths that way. She would wait until it was all over, then sit down in her own tiny water dish, and bathe herself.
Do you see that look on her face? Does it remind you of any other harried mom you've ever known? Even the circles around her eyes... No, really, I'm not kidding. The white circles around her eyes usually look smaller than since she's laid those eggs.
So, I was trying to figure out what the right word is for a bunch of eggs laid in one series, and I found a great Web page:
Names of Animals, Babies, and Groups. I've learned a lot in just a few minutes. For example, did you know that a sea urchin "baby" is called a larva, pluteus, or juvenile, depending on its age? But that there is no word for a group of sea urchins?
It has links to other pages, like the page on birds. Did you know that while most groups of birds are called flocks, a group of nightingales is called a "watch" or an "enchantment"? That a group of crows is called a "murder" or a "muster"? That a group of cranes is called a "herd," a "sedge," or a "siege"? That a group of larks is called a "bevy," an "ascension," or an "exaltation"? And that a group of doves is called a "dole," a "flight," or a "piteousness"?
This Web site seems to be a resource for home-schoolers, and you can subscribe to get more complete information, but it's great that it's available for the casual browser, as well.
You can get pictures to print out and color, like this picture of an aardvark and this whole book of Australian animals.
A group of parrots is called a "company" as well as a "flock." I found no specific name for a group of cockatiels, but I like "company." And in our home, we call our four birds (plus Sunshine) part of our family.
Next time: Mada takes a bath! (more incredibly cute photos of an incredibly charming-when-he-wants-to-be, mean-as-a-murder-of-crows-when-he-doesn't, conure)