Thursday, September 29, 2011

There is Another Way

While listening to KFAI (community radio) something on the news headlines made me stop and listen again. (I was listening to an archive show from Tuesday so I could rewind).

The announcer said that the U.S. now supplies 1/2 of all new weapons orders for developing countries and it is the eighth year in a row we will lead the world in global arms deliveries.

#2486 - I am grateful to listen to a radio station that considers this important news.

#2487 - I am grateful for the google search it led to and though I had to go back to 2007 to find a prominent newspaper that thought this was important, I found an article in the NY Times.

#2488 - I am grateful that, according to the aforementioned article, the global weapon sales to developing nations was around $30 billion in 2005 and 2006. Okay right there are $30 dollars that could be used for education or health care. Wala. It's like magic!

#2489 - Then I looked up the world military spending - $1.5 trillion in 2009 according to the Christian Science Monitor. Right there, $1.5 trillion dollars (if say we just took one year off military spending). So I'm going to add the environment to my education and health care spending redirection list.

#2490 - Now I haven't tried to do a mathematical equation with the number 1 trillion for a long time, if ever. I wasn't even certain how many zeros to use. But based on my (please correct me if wrong) calculations, that is about $230 per person/per year (based on a population of 6.5 billion).

So I found the per capita income throughout the world, and in 2009, there were three countries where we could double their per capita income if we just gave them that $230 per person back.

There are 37 countries where people could get a raise of 25% or more for the year if we gave them each (averaged out) their $230 back.

This really could be quite a depressing issue but the fact of the matter is writing this completely energized me, our world is a big ship and it is not necessarily easy to steer it in another direction, but there is no way you can tell me there isn't somewhere else we could choose to go.


Monday, September 26, 2011

How Little I Know

During certain times of the year my father has problems with small woodpeckers or black-capped chickadees pecking holes on two corners of his house. His way of dealing with this has been to put sticky pads in those locations.

Once, a few years ago, I saw a black capped chickadee struggling and stuck in this pad. My dad would not be home for a while so I agonized over what to do for the bird. There was no way the bird would fly again even if taken from the sticky pad. I emailed a woman who was a mentor to me, and one of the most compassionate people I know, asking if/how she would kill it. Knowing the bird would starve to death (at worst) or at best be killed when my dad got home was hard, but my mentor's response (that a shovel would work in this situation) did not come that day. I highly doubt I could have implemented it if it had. Instead, I researched alternative preventative methods (which I emailed my father) and imagined the bird's struggle until I angrily told my father to deal with the bird when he returned.

A few years later my dad still uses the sticky pads and today I found a second bird caught it its mess, a downy woodpecker. Once again my father would not be home for hours. I quickly tried to find a way to free it, trying to be calm and not frighten it too much (if that is even possible). It didn't work and it was clear the wings were badly damaged.

I could leave it to struggle until my dad dealt with it, but that would be late and maybe he'd even wait until the next day. I remembered what my mentor had told me (those are times when a shovel comes in handy) and now I wondered if I could do it.

I remembered my original motive for becoming a vegetarian (though it was actually the crappy meat at college that helped me implement my motive), I thought it was hypocritical for me to eat meat that I wouldn't kill myself.

I also remembered after not eating any meat for four years starting to eat fish again in part because I lived in a place where we taught people where our food came from. There I had seen animals butchered and though it was difficult to watch, I also observed how it was done with respect, reverence even.


Which was what I attempted to bring to downy woodpecker today. I took some deep breaths extracted the sticky pad from the side of the house and placed it on the ground. Then I sat on the step a bit away with a shovel and tried to calm my energy. I did not want to kill this bird filled with fear. It took me a long time and I didn't know if I could do it.

I did.

Afterwards I felt some of my judgment of my father wash away.

I looked up other options for preventing this situation.

I knew today was a blog day and questioned that although this might make a slightly more "riveting" story than what I usually write, if it was exploitative. And I wondered if I would come across self-righteous. And I wondered if I would come across cruel. And, I thought and felt a lot of things I usually don't today. And so though this isn't a typical gratitude of five. They are all in here.

And I am grateful for that little downy woodpecker.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quotes from my Journal

In the front and back covers of my journals I write quotes. While looking for something last night in a journal, I was struck by the quotes there. All 12 of them resonated with a similar theme, one that is no less meaningful to me today. So I'd like to share these as my gratitudes.

"What you can plan
is too small
for you to live."

David Whyte

"The fire within is what causes our real family
-those we are always drawn to when we see them-
to identify us."

Malidoma Some

"Living on the edge of a dream is not easy.
It requires a willingness to accept all possibilities."

Maria Housden

"When the right thing happens,
the whole body knows."

Robert Bly

"Let life happen to you.
Believe me.
Life is in the right.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jill's Path to Peace

(I sampled a scrumptious plum tree at my aunt's. It was planted in her lilacs by some squirrels.)

  • "Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." Lewis Carroll from Through the Looking Glass

  • Picking up a Storyhill CD from the library. It reminds me of college and I realized I will still have it to listen to when I plan to visit my college town later this month.

  • In Oprah's magazine they highlighted a blog of a woman my age who writes about simple anonymous ways she brightens the world. One idea I like was leaving a simple message in library books (on a slip of paper) when you return them.

  • My brother's continual assistance of trying to fix a redirect virus on my computer. (I think after three days he got it!)

  • I'm jumping in off schedule, but I want to share this gratitude, a writing by my friend Jill, so I just wrote them all -

Saturday, September 10, 2011


#2891 - Displaying a new piece of artwork (my second acrylic painting.) Like the first, it was done with the materials and assistance of a second cousin. I picked a much simpler subject this time (a flower). The green background is vibrant next to my orange walls.

#2892 - My Dad's similar sentiments to my own about the 9/11 anniversary.

#2893 - Soon after getting home from my aunt's wanting/needing to play my new song on guitar.

#2894 - Getting my aunt to go to her local farmer's market (where she was very excited about the produce she picked up and some goat's milk.)

#2895 - Asking my aunt what kind of tree was behind her kitchen. "Let me tell you about that tree," she said. "It wasn't growing and I was going to mow over it with the lawn mower." [When I was a child] "You told me, 'You can't do that,' so I didn't, soon after it started growing. Tammy, it has the most glorious flowers in the springtime."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Are There More Butterflies?

  • Some people own very large vehicles, my Dad on the other hand fixes pretty much everything by himself and has never needed one.
  • Over the years my Dad has mellowed and I have become more assertive, so helping him with something like this is certainly less stressful.
  • I used up the cottage cheese. (I'm not a big fan. I bought it for a recipe and I had extra.)
  • Butterflies - Has anyone noticed a large number of butterflies this year? I see them all the time. When I was in CO in July I thought, "They have a lot of butterflies here." Then I returned home and I thought the same thing.
  • Items from the garden - tomato, green pepper, cucumber and pesto (from the basil) making a delicious sandwich.