Disarming Disbelief – Playing for Change

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They push the heart toward believing more about the world than it seems to want believed, something more believable — more real — when they sing about it, something we need them to sing about, to keep the spirit breathing, to strengthen faith and disarm disbelief.

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How I Spent International Women’s Day 2019

It was Friday, March 8, 2019

Like many special days, the essence of this one is for every day.  That’s my excuse for being a week late posting this.

Did you know that President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law in 1963, requiring that women be paid the same as men?  He did!  But it applied only to minimum wage jobs.  Above the minimum wage, women would continue being paid 60% of men’s pay rates.

Today, fifty-six years later, well, keep your chin up, I suppose.  Now it’s way up to 80%!  Just think: at this rate, it will take only until 2075 to get pay equality.

You never know … maybe by then we’ll have a female president, too!  A Latina!  Alright, alright, one century-long step at a time.

There’s an explanation of the pay balance situation at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, which begins with this excerpt:

Women are almost half of the workforce. They are the sole or co-breadwinner in half of American families with children. They receive more college and graduate degrees than men. Yet, on average, women continue to earn considerably less than men. In 2017, female full-time, year-round workers made only 80.5 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 20 percent.

Women, on average, earn less than men in nearly every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio. In middle-skill occupations, workers in jobs mainly done by women earn only 66 percent of workers in jobs mainly done by men. IWPR’s report on sex and race discrimination in the workplace shows that outright discrimination in pay, hiring, or promotions continues to be a significant feature of working life.

There must be thousands of videos on the web about International Women’s Day.  I looked at a few dozen.  Many were terrific.  It was a good way to contemplate the day’s meaning.

Can you guess any of the five reasons why I chose this eight-minute video to post as a celebration of IWD 2019?  Or would you like to post a comment on what you like about it?

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Endangered Animals Dreaming and Singing for OUR Future

If you liked Les Mis, you’ll love this.  Or absolutely hate it.

I suppose this post is about my faith in art to shape the future.  It is also about my often daunted faith in humanity to gradually see itself more as it really is, not merely as it is in dreams and delusions.  It is also about faith in the good in humanity, the humanity of humanity.  After all, somebody made this art about humanity, this video of listening to animals singing about a broken dream, a shamed belief, a shattered hope.  Somebody saw our place in that process.  Many people do.  So there is hope for us yet.  If you watch this 3-minute flick with an open heart, somebody is you, because we are what we eat. Continue reading

Historic Public Lands Legislation

This is a follow-up to my earlier post, Renew the EXPIRED Land and Water Conservation Fund #SaveLWCF of .

Congress passed a Public Lands Package (S.47) in nearly unanimous bipartisan fashion.

Source: Historic Public Lands Legislation About to Become Law – American Hiking Society

Every so often Congress overcomes its partisan battles and joins together to enact critical legislation. Today is one of those days! Congress just passed a Public Lands Package (S.47) in nearly unanimous bipartisan fashion (92-8 in the Senate and 363-62 in the House of Representatives). The legislation is far-reaching in scope (read it all here). Among the many provisions it creates new National Monuments honoring civil rights icons and Civil War heroes, provides over 1.3 million acres of new wilderness designations, and prohibits mining near two National Parks. Highlighted below are some of the key provisions for hikers and public land lovers.

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Put a Woman in Charge (revised)

WordPress clobbered the previous post when I tried to add this note to the  reblog of Put a Woman in Charge written, illustrated and originally posted by Lisa Brunetti at Zeebra Designs & Destinations~ An Artist’s Eyes Never Rest, online home of an artist, naturalist and writer in Ecuador with a global heart, whose blog I would keep following if I could keep only one, for its beautiful offerings in education (in art and more), entertainment, and inspiration.  I wrote more extensively about Lisa in my May 27, 2017 post Nature Writers I Follow #1:Zeebra.

I should know better than use the reblog button instead of just reporting on the piece myself.  So just go to  Put a Woman in Charge and take the time to read all of it and enjoy the heart and the art of it.

Aranyaka – Part 4 (The End)

Continued from Aranyaka Part 3

Aranyani is a member of a family of forest goddesses and legends around the world.  Among many ways that Aranyani-like attributes appear, there is the goddess Abnoba, worshiped in and around the Black Forest

Abnoba by Günter Pollhammer -2016

I respect the way that Pollhammer depicts the goddess as she is in nature, herself, not just personified as a gorgeous naked woman as so many goddesses are.  Most modern artists miss her essence just to make a pretty picture.  Remember though, from the Vedic hymn, that she is elusive.  She doesn’t pose for pictures.

There are not many contemporary forest goddess paintings or digital creations that are more than whimsy.  The ones true to the ancient myths are rare, and it has been that way throughout the ages.  She is not one to be captured in pictures, neither in the Black Forest nor India.

It seems Pollhammer knew this.  How did he approach this elusive subject?

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Thoreau’s Love for the Living Spirit of the Pine Tree 

I will return to this topic with photos when they get done harvesting all the straightest and tallest white pines from the predominantly pine forest on the 50 acre lot adjacent to Balsamea.  Harvesting is one thing.  It’s another thing to kill thousands — maybe millions — of other trees and myriad other things living above and below ground to get that harvest, and leave the forest ugly, sick, and disgraced.  When it’s a forest you knew well, which truly is now no more, an alien thing left in its place, it’s the kind of thing that can almost make you wish your eyesight was now no more, too.

Forest immersion can do that to you, as it must have done to Thoreau:

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Aranyaka – Part 3 – Thoreau, Shakespeare, Maharshi, Jung and Aranyaniism

Continued from Aranyaka Part 2.

Pine flower. Thoreau discovered them by climbing a big pine to the top. I got lucky. This one was on a tree bent low to the ground. I’m not sure, but I think it’s a scotch pine, of which we have very few at Balsamea. I’ve never seen another one of these “flowers,” so I feel lucky.

If I were to invent a religion, it would be centered on forest immersion.  It need not be a highly social alliance of souls, because silence and solitude are like vestments of immersion.  Other critical components of the Order would be creativity, play, liberality and education.

Religion that has lost its playfulness can be dangerous.from an article by Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn

This new religion is wrapped around a core understanding that there are not two natures, human and non-human.  There is one Nature and we are part of it.  Forest immersion can make this knowledge holistic, both visceral and intellectual, drawn from the primordial biophilia in human nature, and from burgeoning modern science on the topic.

Adherence to this religion calls for daily walking through forest or field, ideally twice or more per day, at least 40 minutes at a time, ideally 90 minutes or more.  That would be merely casual adherence.

You never know what may happen during deeper immersion, if you let go of the usual tight grip on yourself and let “wild mind” roll.  For instance, here’s Thoreau doing it (in one of a thousand possible ways):

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