WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: MOTION

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WP Blogger Jen H. says share a photograph that captures Motion.

I love the street entertainers in Barcelona. Buskers ~ a word that comes from buscar in Spanish meaning to seek or wander ~ are a colorful lot of musicians who add a vibrant touch to the city.

These talented artists are as much a part of Barcelona’s culture as Gaudí and the Catalan artwork that covers the walls of the city’s museums.

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This group was a standing-ovation getter ~ in the seaside neighborhood of Barceloneta during the day and on Las Ramblas, the city’s most famous avenue, at night.  Excelente! 

Toni 4/25/15

Arab Wars and US arms industry: 18 billion and counting. Fuel for the wars for fuel. And, well, when is enough enough? A Pileated Woodpecker chimes in. (A 420 character 9-liner born of delight in the latter and disgust with the former.)

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He’s hard to see, but look for that stylish red fob on his head in the center of the tree. Pileated Woodpecker lunching on the best carpenter ants in Northwest CT. Pounding away.

Pounding.

The Pileated is at our favorite carpenter ant tree,

arming himself for mating season & child-rearing.

Positive efforts, unlike the those of the US weapons industry.

A 2008 law requiring arms sales not to effect Israel’s qualitative military edge

figures into increased sales to some Arab nations.

Civilian populations have been hit with “our” arms

& the whole Middle East wants the F-35.: Incessant.

Pounding.

PATTY

AND ONE OF DYLAN’S MOST ENDURING SONGS FOR ONE OF OUR MOST ENDURING ENDEAVORS:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/19/world/middleeast/sale-of-us-arms-fuels-the-wars-of-arab-states.html

#TBT Did someone say it’s Throwback Thursday? Ringling Brothers poster comes from the closet in the Virginia classroom I “taught” in back in the early 70’s. It was old then and older now, but brings back important memories and life lessons. To sum it up: things got way better for me as a teacher and way worse for the elephants. And now, at long last for the poor elephants, we’re both retired.

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In the early 70’s we went to Virginia while Jack was in the Navy. I taught at Willis School: 40 kids, first year of integration, my second year of teaching, the first being in West Hartford where I was told I was God’s gift to education. This go-round I’d often escape the chaos to cry outside my classroom while Mr. Brown, my next door classroom neighbor put my class back into order, threatening all sorts of repercussions should they sass their teacher one more time. At the end of the year Ringling Brothers came to Hampton, and our principal told the teachers that we could walk our kids to the circus parade which would begin at 10:00. You guessed it: by the time I managed to get my class to the scene all we saw was the flip of the last elephant’s tail as it entered the tent. (Did I mention that it was on its way to 100 degrees?) To add insult to injury, when I got the kids back to the classroom I thought, “I’ll make lemonade from that packet I bought at the commissary.” The water was from the tap in the classroom. The packet had no sugar. A fitting note for a sour day.IMG_8078

(What did emerge from this year was that I recognized that “magical thinking” is rampant in education: I thought I was a good teacher because my West Hartford kids learned during their year with me. But when I did the same things during the Navy Year of the Circus Parade that Wasn’t and No One Learned, I realized that just because kids learn and teachers teach it doesn’t mean that the kids are learning the lessons the teacher is teaching. In West Hartford, the kids either already knew what was in the curriculum or parents filled in the blanks when they brought their homework home. In Hampton, without that out-of-school support piled on the turmoil of a first-year-of-integration setting, nothing happened.

It was the best lesson any person who wants to learn the craft of teaching could learn.

The elephants have had a bad lot of it:

(Many years ago, when our four kids were small, early one morning I brought them to the town baseball field where word had it we could see elephants pulling up the tent poles for the “Ring” Brothers circus scheduled for the weekend. Sure enough: there were three or four elephants involved in our local tent raising. I remember there being little sound to it all. The humans and elephants just tugged and tugged. I was naive about circus elephants at the time and so I don’t remember registering horror at the scene. There were no bull hooks in evidence.)

 

DID SOMEONE SAY #TBT?

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Brothers are as close as hands and feet.

– Vietnamese Proverb

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I LOVE THESE KIDS.

 

Toni 4/23/15

EARTH ~ A PLANET WORTH SAVING

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Every day is Earth Day.

 Celebrate it.  

Honor it.  

Act. 

imagesWant to be part of part of the biggest grass-root effort in history? Plant a seed/tree as a ‘give back’ to Earth. It’s an old Native American tradition that when you take something from the Earth, you must put something back. Earth Day 2015 will be a global ‘give back to Earth’ event, as an offering for all the planet gives us. Start with a visit to Forest Nation here.

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The Earth gives me the gift of peace every day.

My mind is used to running amok and having its own way. So I garden. It quiets the mind, allowing it to sink into a calm inner spaciousness, free of the usual babble and drama. Just one of my reasons to give back to Earth. And I’m in good gardening company with Margaret Roach.

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My backyard flower garden

 

Margaret Roach, author of And I Shall Have Some Peace There, reached a point of dissatisfaction with her out-of-control city life, exited the corporate culture fast track and started up a new road. At Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Margaret’s financial and professional rewards were Beyond Big. But she couldn’t seem to quiet her ‘monkeymind’. And so began the shift away from a lonely life among six hundred colleagues to a more joyful, creative, and meaningful one.

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She deleted her mroach@marthastewart dot com identity, loosened the grip on her old life, and took time ~ lots of time ~ to reflect….and garden.

 

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Like an insect that shuts down to avoid harsh conditions in its environment, Margaret hunkered down in the garden to survive. Here, doing rote chores, she is in the moment, her mind and body at peace, at attention and one with the task. In her memoir, Margaret takes us into the garden that saves her. She teaches us a simple truth ~ that the longest journey begins with a single intention.

For peace comes slow, dropping slow.

Her journey is brain-draining, heart-plundering, soul-shearing, sit-down-and-brace-yourself amazing.

Sounds hard? It is. Is it worth it? Ask Margaret. Her 1drfl website is pure Linnaean genius, full of horticultural how-to and woo-woo with links to swell stuff. HNL (that’s texting code for whole ‘nother level) ~ The Woman and The Website.

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Margaret Roach. Gardener. Author. Sage. Her new book, the backyard parables, is full of life lessons, stories from a life spent digging, in and out of the garden.

 

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Margaret is not a remote, distracted onlooker of life, but a poetic gentle-minded person who cultivates, digs, and hoes, turns, buries, and loosens, pats and smooths, mixes and stirs, leaving what she finds for us to receive with head and heart.

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In spring, Nature turns green. And red, pink, crimson, rose, violet, and scarlet. Fat buds burst with fragile plumes, lacy fingers, wispy down.

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This is a glorious month for a gardener. And to visit gardens. Especially Margaret’s garden in Copake Falls, New York. (This year, it’s open to visit on May 9.)

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On my visit last spring, I drove the evensong-mellow road flanked by horse farms and fields to her garden.

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The sky on Saturday was a dull illuminated gray. My shoes were damp, but not my spirits. I got to tromp around the emerald green grass, follow stone paths and knobbly walls, as Spring pressed in on this plot of earth. A wide expanse of green slopes down to the house, an invitation to meander and meditate. Anchorage for the soul.

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Small pleasures fill a gardener’s mind, and there is much to admire here.
Margaret has made a little Wonderland for gardeners, a place where each of us can be Alice.

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There is a special grace in the many colors and textures. Fairy tale trees lend a bit of whimsy, shrubs grow in eye-catching harmony, and plants loll about doing Nature’s business with a flourish.

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In it all, there is an artist’s sense of design and it sets ideas burning in my head. I am inspired by her garden and her resolve. Gardeners may not see a newly-planted tree grow old but what an act of faith it is to plant one.

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Little things turn a strange land into a home, as Margaret knows.
Her house has a bright red door and two porches, elegant in their simplicity.

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I can almost picture the upstairs window, in the kind of dark night found here on Valley View Road, with a single light shining yolkily out and stippling a small swath of the stone landing.

I didn’t see beyond that door or inside the potting shed but I imagine them to be full of Mason jars, jelly glasses, pails and pots, crocks and tools for body and mind.

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Margaret graciously stepped out of the spotlight so I could meet Jack. What an asset he was (RIP Jack), this self-possessed cat she introduced me to on her blog, the place I find ideas in a smart syllabus for self-education. Pure honey.

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I am grateful to the Earth and gardeners like Margaret Roach. What I need is here in the garden, where it’s always a good day.

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A joy of obsession, I carry it around in my earthly mind, know that it’s waiting for me when I get home ~ a place where compost is religion, a place to put down roots, grow up, grow old, and have some peace.

My spring peas

My spring peas, beans, and asparagus

 

Happy Earth Day, Everyone.

 

Toni 4/22/15

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