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Archive for September, 2011

I Love Autumn

I love Autumn. 

But this year it snuck up on me, just like Sandburg’s catlike fog.  I was reminded of its arrival by a fellow blogger who reminded us all that memories of fall make the season that much better. The quote she shared was by P. D. James:  “It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.”

I immediately started reminiscing about some of my favorite times from past autumns:  Halloween costume parties, pig roasts in the park, football games on chilly nights, strolls through the trees looking for fall colors, my first visit to Yosemite, a great trip with my Dad to find fall colors in Bishop, CA—and of course Thanksgiving with all its colors and aromas and family times. 

Before the season moves on to the chill of winter, I thought I would share some photos that capture the wonder of autumn for me.  It truly is my favorite season.  I would encourage you to get outside and enjoy autumn as it settles in.  As Nathaniel Hawthorne says, “I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air. “  He is a pretty wise man. 

My Homage to Autumn in Word and Image

 Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.  Elizabeth Lawrence

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.  Albert Camus


Amidst the splendor of the scene

and the silence

I was filled with a wonderful peace.


It’s autumn in the country I remember.  Trumbull Stickney

I saw old Autumn in the misty morn stand shadowless like silence, listening to silence. Thomas Hood

The spirits of the road beckoned, and I could do no work at all.   Basho

 How beautifully leaves grow old.  How full of light and color are their last days.  John Burroughs

Every leaf speaks bliss to me fluttering from the autumn tree. Emily Bronte

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 For the Fall of the year is more than three months bounded by an equinox and a solstice.  It is a summing up with the finality of a year’s end.  Hal Borland

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.  Stanley Horowitz

Hands Full of Art

Hands are impressive.  In part, of course, because they help set us apart as humans, opposable thumbs and all that.  But it is what we can do with our hands that is truly wondrous. 

For one thing, hands help us express ourselves.  Some of us cannot really even talk without using our hands.  But even gestures alone can convey so much: thumbs up (or down), applause or wiggly fingers, hello or goodbye waves, okay signs, finger to lips shushing, stop (in the name of love), peace or victory sign, come hither finger curl, slap on the back, the universal you-are-crazy finger circle, the finger point, even giving someone the finger!  Of course, there is also the complexity and beauty of American Sign Language.

Then there are the more interactive options.  Although not exclusive to the use of hands, with our hands we can knead dough, bake pies, hold babies, give hugs and back rubs, shift gears, load the dishwasher, change light bulbs, tickle someone, carry packages, hold open doors, pack suitcases, arrange flowers, pinch a cheek, throw (or catch) wedding bouquets, tie shoelaces, open a coke can or beer bottle, juggle, play cards, change channels with the remote.  Obviously the list could go on and on!  There is even a famous Seinfeld episode that speculates how long someone can go without using hands in a very personal specific way! 

What fascinates me even more are the more creative tasks we put our hands to:  sketch, paint, sculpt, tickle the ivories, bang the drums, conduct a symphony, strum a guitar, play a harp, twirl batons, finger paint, write, doodle, to name a few.  But the real reason behind this entry is to showcase a truly unique artistic use of hands as the canvas for a work of art.  I have seen these wonders before but ran across them again today when I searched the web and thought I would share the following videos. 

The artist is Guido Daniele.  This first video shows part of his creative process as well as many finished products.  I think you will applaude once you see his work!

This second video shows even more of his creations with background music:  Elton John’s “Look Ma, No Hands.”  The artist’s copyright is super-imposed over each image, but you see past that pretty well to find the art.  I guess another use of hands is to steal images with the click of a finger.  Also, don’t hesitate to use your fingers to click away the stupid commercials that are being attached more and more onto the videos!

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In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.  Isaac Newton

Hold a true friend with both hands. Nigerian Proverb

 The fragrance always remains in the hand that gives the rose. Heda Bejar

You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist- Indira Gandhi

Remember, we all stumble, every one of us.  That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand-in-hand. Emily Kimbrough

9/11 Anniversary: It Takes a Village

It takes a village.  We all know the sentiment—and believe it!  It does take a village to make life more manageable, more enjoyable.  Especially with the hectic fast-paced, technologically engaged life we live today.  It is more important than ever to stop, pause and connect with the individuals around us.

In day-to-day life, the fellow villagers are the ones who help babysit, carpool, hold open the door, stop and ask how you are doing and really care about the answer, pack your lunch, put a love note in that packed lunch or suit pocket, call to see how the interview went, do the laundry even if it’s not their day, read a bedtime story, are careful to sit down with others for dinner, remind others that it’s okay to not do the dishes tonight or suggest a trek outside to watch the stars.  It’s the human connection, the interaction that makes the village work. The awareness that this sense of village needs to expand in ever widening circles even to the strangers in the crowd give rise to such movements as practicing Random Acts of Kindness.  We need the human touch.

When crises surface—whether it’s a house fire, an earthquake, a lost job or car accident—then the village is even more important.  And people step up, even strangers.  During the aftermath of the Northridge Earthquake—I lives in Chatsworth very close to the epicenter—we all were there for each other, giving a blanket, a hug, a bottle of water, a place to stay, updates on loved ones from other parts of the city.  If someone needed to pause and collect themselves, someone else stepped up to make sure they were okay, to help them take that next step forward.  We see this in the news all the time as villagers respond to whatever emergency surfaces. 

This weekend as we honor the 10 year anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11, the power of the village is even more apparent, and important.  We are reminded through the memories, photos, and specials of the villagers who stepped forward to be there during the immediate tragedy and its ongoing aftermath.  The first-responders, the ongoing helpers, the volunteers, the city workers, the survivors, the family members, the passengers on the plane, the newscasters, the distant communities sending help and prayers.  We are in this together—and we need to remember that, especially this weekend as we reach out with a touch, a tear, a prayer.

One great way we can all show our solidarity with the village this weekend is to display the flag proudly and prominently.  This idea was presented via an email from a friend.  It originated with the Activities Facilitator for the Greenfield Unified School District in Bakersfield, California. Every community across the country is planning some sort of event or activity to remember not just the tragedy of 9/11 but the strength and power of the village that kept us all going.  Those immediately impacted by the tragedy especially need our ongoing care and support, but all the village members also need a chance to join hearts and hands as we move forward, together.    

The Nation’s tribute is available through the World Trade Center Memorial. To view this website, go to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.  This site offers a wide array of information about the tragedy and the heroes of 9/11 as well as interactive opportunities to share stories, find names, appreciate memories, and build connections. Another site allows people to express thanks to the heroes of 9/11. 

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“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” Jane Howard

“We do no great things, only small things with great love.”  Mother Teresa

“Every time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. . . and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy. . . those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression and resistance.”  Robert F. Kennedy


Oh No! I’ve Been Hacked!

Well, this has never happened to me before.  My personal email account was hacked and spam email was sent out, making it look like it came from me. I received email from myself on one of my other accounts that I did not send!  I received a ton of bounce-backs from email that could not be delivered that I did not send.  The ones that got through to people had a different version of my email address, no subject line, and the only message was a link.  If clicked on, that link led to something about Viagra, I think.  One friend did open it—and then asked if I were trying to sell Viagra online as a money-making venture.  NO! 

I knew this sort of thing happened.  A few years ago, at work, the district’s chancellor’s email sent some racy messages to most everyone on campus (thousands of people).  But I never thought it would happen to me!  I was careful.  I had good passwords (not typical things like birthdays and such, involved a combination lower and upper case and numbers). I did not open emails from addresses I did not know.  I did not click on links to much of anything in an email unless it came from a trusted friend.  I always keep spam filters and security programs current and working. In response to this incident, a couple friends who know more than I about such matters said that changing my password should stop the problem.  I hope so. 

In response to this problem, one of my nephews shared this website about things all of us could do to keep our computers as protected as possible, and I thought I would share it with you.  It is Ed Bott’s Stay Safe Online: 5 Secrets Every PC (and Mac) Owner Should Know.  But I am also writing to say, “Sorry!”  If you were on the receiving end of my hacked account, I hope nothing more problematic or drastic happened to you.  This is certainly NOT the sort of reach-out-and-touch campaign I would ever advocate.  So, please, learn from my experience and stay extra vigilant about your system’s security.

In light of my attempt to find things to be thankful for, I will share the following:

  1. I am thankful no further damage was done; at least so far it seems fairly self-contained.
  2. I am thankful for friends who responded quickly to alert me to the problem and make suggestions on how to make corrections.
  3. I am still thankful for email, since it offers such a quick way to connect with people, even if we need to be really careful.
  4. I am thankful that I can see the irony of warning you earlier in this post about problems via the Internet by saying, “Here click on this link.  Really. You can trust me!”
  5. I am thankful it is Friday—and that I have some good chocolate in the house!
  6. I am thankful for the cute little book Go the F%&k to Sleep—since it reminds us how life typically unfolds and that we usually have very little control over much of anything. 

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“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”  Albert Einstein

“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

“Any idiot can face a crisis—it’s this day-to-day living that wears you out.”  Anton Chekhov


It’s Labor Day: Praise the Workers

Labor Day is Monday, 5 September 2011. But the Labor Day Weekend has already started, signaling for most a time of rest and relaxation.  As a holiday, Labor Day was first celebrated in New York in September 1882.  Then, in 1894, President Cleveland turned the day into an official national holiday in response to some deaths of workers by the hands of police and military during the resolution of a labor strike.  In response to the potential of more strife, Congress unanimously passed the proposal into law in a mere six days.  Imagine that!

According to the proposal for the first celebration, parades and speakers would exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor unions.”  Eventually all workers were honored by this day, not just union members.  And those workers are everywhere.  They may not all be great, but they are there.  Even if you complain about poor service, long waits or non-responsive attitudes in the workplace, you still value those workers out there with whom we interact as we live our lives:  teachers and day care works, gardeners and maids, gas station attendants and waitresses, military personnel, stay-at-home moms/dads and entrepreneurs, babysitters and lemonade stand owners, farmers and mechanics, computer geeks and programmers, carpenters and plumbers, production workers and managers, bank tellers and finance advisors, medical personnel and firefighters, store clerks and service providers, even lawyers and insurance agents and administrators and politicians.  The list could go on and on.

We like to have services available 24/7 and to be  able to order most anything online and have it appear at our doors within a few days.  We trust we can call 911 and get a response or get help during a traffic accident.  We appreciate being able to drive-thru so very many fast food places, often late at night. We complain about the cost of gas and unsavory interactions with car salesmen, but we love the variety of cars we can buy and that gas stations are found on so many corners.  All of those conveniences require workers!

This year, with ongoing budget woes, high unemployment rates, and attacks on unions across the land, it seems especially important to remember that this holiday is more than the end of summer and the start of football season.  This year, while you celebrate, take a minute to say THANKS to all those workers who make our lives a little bit better! For me, the surgeons who got me through 4 major surgeries will always be my heroes.  But there is also the tow truck guy who waited to make sure the place could work on my car and then drove me to my hotel.  The mechanic who fixed something simple on my car that was making a huge noise and just said, “No charge.  Have a good day!”  I could name others, like the pizza delivery guy! Please share a little about some of the many workers you value and appreciate!

To help you celebrate, here is a great video to sing-along with:  Dolly Parton singing the title song from the movie Nine to Five:

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 If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here live a great streetsweeper who did his job well.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

 Far and away the best prize that life offers is to work hard at work worth doing.    Theodore Roosevelt

 You’re only as good as the people you hire.  Ray Kroc, founder of McDonalds

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