Sunday, February 22, 2009

(Actual date of this post: Feb. 26.)
A considerable few days ago, a blogger to whom I link asked his readers if he should decrease his blogging frequency from every day. And I've been wondering if I should increase my frequency. I'm approaching the first anniversary of the TAO 61's and I am quite aware of how FEW posts I make. Another of my friends has apparently discontinued a blog, I hope because she plans to publish its content in the real print world, although her copy editor will surely throw up hands in despair. There is an advantage in the world of on-line vanity publishing: NO PESKY EDITORS!

As a result of these events, I began thinking about the what and why of this blogging thing, self-publishing in the vast sea of noise that is blogland. I think a blog, being your own private publication (I exclude the sites meant to keep family and friends up with intensely personal activities), finds its nature in frequency and its topic and tone. Are you a daily newspaper (a shopper or the New York Times), a weekly news magazine (Time or People), a monthly review (The Atlantic Monthly or Vogue), a quarterly journal (Granta or Tricycle)? Such distinctions also describe the nature of the subscribers to those publications. My own blogging tendency, it is obvious, tends toward the biweekly essay (partly because of the compulsive copyediting). I admire Anna Quindlen, who turns out a piece for Newsweek about every other issue, alternating space with the more conservative George Will (a yin/yang thing). I'd love to have a gig like that, although I have little interest in politics, sports or the minutiae of current events. I aspire to be an essayist, not a commentator or entertainer, and I write mostly for myself. It's difficult for me to toss off the quick irate and irascible daily posts characteristic of so many bloggers, frequently not well written or edited or thoroughly thought out. (My rants turn up in personal emails.) I am still THINKING about events that happened a year or decades ago which I bring up from time to time to make a point. I am writing history (and possibly a novel).

So it happens that today, while reviewing the events of the past week or so, on the morning after the new moon (and Ash Wednesday) I feel the yang energy rising out of the empty yin. As it has been quite cool in the mornings here I said to the Wizard, "I wish I could go somewhere warm and just bask in the sun and relax." Then I remembered the many folks who are here in Hawaii right now from Minnesota and elsewhere doing exactly that. That's yin/yang relativity.

Later at the elevator (which at my building is outside), impatient to get to work, I was delayed by a small boy wearing hardly anything who came runnning to the door to hit the down button repeatedly. Then two more boys with the same military haircuts, an older and younger brother, the younger in the older's arms, arrived and blocked the door. "We have to wait for our mom," the half-naked one said. I was a little irritated; I needed to GO. But after a few moments she arrived. "Aren't you cold?" I asked the shirtless one. "No," he said, bouncing off the walls of the elevator. "My Dad's coming home today...from Iraq." Mom looked very weary and explained he was returning from a 15-month deployment. The youngest boy couldn't have been 15 months old; his father had never seen him. I abandoned my irritation and wished the family a happy reunion. These rambunctious boys and the weary mom have been in my mind since as a kind of prayer.

Another observation earlier this week, on Mardi Gras, I saw that someone had finally discarded their Christmas tree at the dumpster. So someone else lives season-to-season, event-to-event. Maybe it was the boys' tree. (The poor dry brown thing would surely be depressing for Dad's homecoming.) I bet whoever finally cleared out Christmas probably doesn't blog every day either!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

It's a real heartbreaker when trees become a hazard. The H-2, my parking area and lanai view, and now Waimanalo Beach. And to think that it is because of lack of respect and proper care for the trees. The Outdoor Circle can do a lot for the trees, but overall there has been a loss of the understanding of what trees, in their natural environments do for us to provide health and beauty. (Admittedly, I am speaking as someone who likes a real Christmas tree--that's why it is a kind of sacrifice.) Education is important. But even there, we focus more and more on science and high tech education, but environmental education, the kind that instills love and respect for nature, is a luxury no one wants to pay for anymore. A lot of us were indoctrinated into nature by our grandparents during quiet explorations in the woods and picnics at State Parks. If you can't give money to support organizations that promote these values, at least try to spend time with a young person in nature and pass on proper respect and your love for nature. Leave the handheld electronic devices at home, please. (Except for a cell phone for real emergencies!)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Yesterday, Punxsutawney Phil (was) returned to his burrow from which he (was) emerged, to let us all know it's still winter for a while. Even in Hawaii. PP is a part of my childhood; I have roots in that neighborhood of Pennsylvania Germans. Imagine my surprise when he became a national phenomena (mostly due to the movie), but he is not well understood in Hawaii. So I always bring my plush stuffed Phil to work on Feb. 2 to spread groundhog/whistlepig/marmot/woodchuck/ground squirrel awareness. Everyone in the office insists he's really a rat, a beaver or possibly an overweight mongoose. (You could get a nice one too, although mine is actually a marmot acquired on a trip to Pike's Peak in Colorado. He kept us good company when the transmission on the Explorer went out about a mile from the summit.)

Groundhog Day is co-located in time with the Catholic feast day of candlemas (40 days after Christmas) which celebrates Jesus as a "light to the world." There is a purification after childbirth reference too, and it is supposed to be when Christ was presented at the temple. There's that light thing again, solstices and other pagan seasonal markers, but I never understood why the groundhog would go back in his hole when he saw the sun. He's afraid of his shadow! I guess he would like to live in Seattle. Of course, I tend to pull the blanket over my head when the sun comes in the window in the mornings, especially on days I have early meetings scheduled. I return to the burrow; let me -- and Phil --get up when we want to.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


"Those who love their own noise are impatient of everything else.  They constantly defile the silence of the forests and the mountains and the sea.  ... The urgency of their swift movement seems to ignore the tranquility of nature by pretending to have a purpose. ... It is the silence of the world that is real.  Our noise, our business, our purposes, and all our fatuous statements about our purposes, our business, and our noise: these are the illusion." 
Thomas Merton

After the opera --I know  some people consider THAT noise, but actually this particular Puccini was quite quiet--a company party and the Superbowl. I feel like Punxatawney Phil.  I will try to pop back in my burrow tomorrow!  Six more weeks of winter...and silence.

The opera was indeed peaceful except for the last act in which Manon Lescaut dies in her beloved's arms in the desert of Louisiana. The Wizard remarked that he wasn't aware that anyone ever died in New Orleans for LACK of water.  Puccini's sense of geography seems a bit off.  It was nice to arrive at our seats, just in time after a lovely dinner at Cafe Sistina (perfect opera starting point) to greet last year's season ticket holders to our right.  She and I caught up on the grandchildren...a great-grandchild!...during the intermissions while our husbands paid no attention.  The Wizard was Googling with his Blackberry, her spouse was doing between-act stretches in the aisle.  

Although we were out until midnight, the next night, a company party, was not so easy. These events are always too small-talk, too compulsory, too gamey for our taste...gamey because it was a casino theme, and we don't gamble, even with play money. We left early, after applauding the awards for the more hardworking employees, and before the door prizes.  I might have lingered, but it was too...noisy.

Today I looked for peace and quiet, reading, cooking, painting, but noisy Superbowl revelry was to be heard through the trees.  I'd been invited to a Superbowl party, but one more evening out was too much, though I would like to see the friends.  Another quieter time perhaps.  The only thing I took notice of regarding the Superbowl (football, right?) was a Pepsi ad on the Yahoo homepage which featured Bob Dylan, weaving his "Forever Young" in and out of a more contemporary hip-hop rendition. This gives me mixed feelings.  It just seemed like...noise.

Ah, but as Thomas Merton reminds me...the noise is all illusion.