Saturday, November 28, 2015

Post-Thanksgiving malaise: In search of peace, love & yard art

Taste: hibiscus-ginger sangria; Jerusalem artichoke blini, vegan camembert-Thanksgiving dinner at Cafe Flora
Sight: a bright moonlit river walk, tree silhouettes
Sound: "Good morning!" cheerful runners
Smell: turmeric, cumin, fennel
Touch: Mary Shelley's soft sides
Extra: helping a loved one with mental illness — even with skills, resources, knowledge — as disorienting and confusing as an adult as it was as a child; a relaxed dining atmosphere;
“I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.” ― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Grateful for: a good book, a good song, a long run

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Gratitude: Ode to a Perfect Day #2

Esperanza, adopted at Pasado's Safe Haven
A body of compassionate people wake to the scent of violence and death,
embrace one another and say, "We are the cure for murder." Our bodies connect
in mindfulness and taste nutmeats and coconut cream and rush to awareness
of each living being's own desire to walk and be. "I love. You love. We love."
Humanity regains strength refreshed by dreams and sleep.
After years apart, she wakes beside her husband playfulness and faith restored.

Every day, she spends inside, waits for something to happen.
At night, the leash comes out and she walks out into a fearful world.
Her mind wakes. Every sense startles: to passersby, fallen leaves, wind, possibilities swirl.
Danger waits. Every drifter chases. They seek to assault her, know her.
When she has spent so much time alone, it threatens.
Yet, she loves the night air and eases her head willingly forward to go into the chain outside.

People play in the park beside the water, a green utopia where cares go free.
Children climb rope ladders. Teenagers dodge ocean waves. Couples walk hand and hand
into the surf. On an overcast day, on a bright one, everyone comes to this oasis.
Humanity looks up from its devices and stares into the sea, into the sun.
They quote Rachel Carson, Walt Whitman, Wayne Pacelle.
People create utopic oases in time where they come together and connect.

She creates utopian menus and lists the ingredients for a perfect start.
People pour over them — savory and sweet — each dish so like themselves.
Only one may be chosen in time, but all promise delight.
The girl was once used for her parts, made to breed. She had a litter or two.
She miscarried, once, twice, becoming useless to the backyard breeder.
She was crated, imprisoned, strayed: awaiting rescue — to go out into love. 

Who wants to bring offspring into this cruel world? Many are forced.
Some lead a life that allows them to drink in the Golden Sunshine,
walk beside the river, sample a dozen ciders. Some sip beet and carrot juice.
Others lay in lean-tos on the wet sidewalk too despondent to move.
Given energy, they could assault the revelers and take what they are owed.
But life sits heavy upon the homeless, calloused skin, and no one give thanks.

Esperanza at Pasado's Safe Haven.
Every day she spends inside, waits for something to happen.
Her tail a twitch, her jaws stretch wide, fangs bared, as she watches the wind.
She stalks curled leaves and small birds hop in her eyes unaware seeking seeds.
At the end of the day, she's a languid pond asleep in discovery.
Come cities and listen to the lessons of Utah and build your people homes.
People don't live well in dark wind and rain. Bodies must be brought out into light.

Give everyone rights to health and happiness. Everyone. Someone.
Dogs, pigs, cows, cats all live lives of intrigue filled with senses.
Compassionate people come walk hand in hand until a feeling of bliss surfaces.
Go to the lake and be satisfied with bellies full of roast vegetables.
Watch the sunset and everyone walking. Return home and rest in languid ponds.
O, living, named, pardoned, celebrated turkey, hope moves in your purring body.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Gratitude: Sestina #2 For Father

A disruption wrests me from my overflowing bookshelf and my
mother has always had a good opinion of me, showering me with care and concern, but father
writes handwritten letters and just wants to do yard work, he walked
with a dog and encouraged me to try new things with naked
abandon and brought me to the waterfront, bright blue sky, light green trees into
transporting music, poetry, murals and urban art that ended in a pond.

Have you ever tried recipes that look wonderful, but are too difficult to prepare? You may as well throw those gorgeous cookbooks into a pond.
Sometimes all you need is routine and rest. But no wants to listen and take my
advice. You want friends who will listen to you cry and offer to help. Who are great chefs and delve easily into
complicated cookbooks. You appreciate gifts of time with loved ones. And you miss your father.
It's good to enjoy a feeling of discovery, but also to return home and rest naked.
Strolling in sympatico, enjoying the closeness and proximity, you remember how you walked.

Hand in hand until a feeling of bliss surfaces, you and he walked.
and carried the belief that through small, generous actions the world can be made better all the way to the pond.
There are complications that are insensible until we come together naked
for all your good health, strong limbs and my
breath and our good fortune for living in these United States and gratitude to the founding father
there's the sudden and slow alignment of our behavior with our beliefs and the habits that we repeatedly fall into.

What I want are warm clothes, my favorite places, favorite meals, healthy teeth and something good to bite into.
Like an Arkansas Black apple. I want to travel by boat, travel by air, travel by foot. Yes, I walked.
All that way. However long I was gone I received weekly handwritten letters from my father.
He told me to embrace change, meet heroes and wished me success in my new adventures. In the end, I threw all the letters into a pond.
That first day at home was a great relief. Oh my!
There's nothing like returning home to rest in one's own bed and lying down naked.

As a child, as a teenager under the summer sun you enjoyed the freedom to run around or even Bungie jump naked.
You spent spring days planting trees filled with electricity and enjoying the great variety of senses you plunged into.
You had time to read and dream. You had libraries. If only, you thought, "My
mother would have believed I could arrive anywhere safely." When you had a night out, you walked.
As an adult, you arrived at a private club with candles and incense and long stemmed wine glasses and drank too much beside a pond.
Still, your mother always had a good opinion of you, and also your father.

You receive a great number of handwritten letters and wonder, "Who is this man, my father?"
He's a meliorist who just wants to do yard work and prefers not to be seen naked.
Welcome to the New Year when your father awakes and walks naked into a pond.
It makes you question your mythologies and wilderness and spellbinding planets. By chance there's a hero you want to run into.
A good doctor once ran along the river, the lake, the waterfront. Or maybe he just walked.
You reread father's letters to understand. Every sentence starts with, "My."

Father says, "You never know what you are getting yourself into. Human relations can be a naked struggle. You've got to remember that you won't have a choice so you'll find a way to communicate and get your ideas across." He never did though, until he walked. My love, even I am not sure what I am trying to say. The Earth's atmosphere is an effective altruist and also a pond.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Gratitude: Sestina #1

Perhaps the best gift a loved one can give is time
Appreciate mothers and grandmothers who make Easter brunch while time remains, and smart, thoughtful friends.
Precious are those who will listen to you cry and offer to help. There's joy to be found in something as common as a receding cold and as much a miracle as good health and strong limbs. Put forth effort and maintain it all by running.
Movement breathes life. Take advantage, living in these United States, of the gift of freedom.
Prisoners kept in solitary confinement can't see the bright blue skies and light green trees, while the free man may soar over all that can be found. Watch the eagle rise outside.
On inclement days, novelists, poets and nonfiction writers of all kinds free souls and warm minds like summer sun. Indoors, in libraries with overflowing shelves, open freedom and touch its pages, treasure the gift of books.

Meliorists believe that by taking small, generous actions the world can be made better and share the philosophy in dense books.
Eschew despondency and dystopian fantasy. By embracing change and taking new actions, the future brings events to look forward to in time.
"The question is whether any civilization can wage relentless war on life without destroying itself, and without losing the right to be called civilized," wrote environmentalist Rachel Carson in 1962 taking her argument outside.
Give the gift of power to feminists and activists, a good doctor, people who call themselves friends
people who talk about whole, plant-based foods and nutrition, who campaign for: human rights, the Affordable Care Act, marriage equality, freedom.
Keep all of these heroes in close proximity, even social media counts, poet! And meet the future running.

A woman once toddled, doomed across the lawn for months, and felt only gratitude, concerned but unseeing, for this dogged movement. No one noticed she was no longer capable of running.
She had many beautiful recipes that were too difficult to prepare and overflowing shelves of unused cookbooks.
She became more radical and outspoken as she aged and exercised her freedom.
She could putter, dream, read, write, while spending her days at home. She had so much time
But so little. The health and happiness of the people she knew across continents faded. She attended the funerals of many friends.
Then, in the end, she traded fancy ingredients for simple ones and was grateful to look out upon her garden filled with peppermint and passionflowers and sit for a while outside.

"By acquiescing in an act that can cause such suffering to a living creature, who among us is not diminished as a human being?" wrote Rachel Carson in Silent Spring, the book that led to the Endangered Species Act and drew the nation's attention to the destruction taking place outside.
She was the kind of person who focused her blue mind and took long walks along the water and stopped to watch a river otter and paid attention to running
water of every kind. She would have liked In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan, perhaps, but she died from breast cancer, liver cancer and a heart attack in 1964, two years before it came out. Helpful friends
rallied around her. She never read this line, "Or you walked someplace. There were flowers all around. That is my name. Perhaps you stared into a river. There as something near you who loved you."; but she may have appreciated it. She placed great warranted faith in books.
She wrote down what she saw and told stories. She had little of it and carefully expended time.
She drew attention to the Earth's atmosphere, which humans depend upon for their freedom.

One man saw the United States as great poem expressing freedom.
Walt Whitman wrote Leaves of Grass in 1855 in joy of being outside
even in death, "I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles." he wrote. Imagine every breath taken in routine and rest as a gift of time.
Whether a man travels by boat, travels by air, travels by foot, or strolls in sympatico with a beloved companion his time falls short, always running.
To slow time, delve into transporting music, read poetry, examine murals and create urban art. Read a Gothic Western, The Hawkline Monster, Pretty Deadly, mythologies, comic books.
Remember: "We're a cause made up of converts; the doors of this movement are open to anyone whose heart and mind leads them inside," writes Wayne Pacelle of The Humane Society of the United States in The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them. A good life ends surrounded by friends.

So, come together, join a book club, share a thumb drive, write handwritten letters, express care and concern for a multitude of friends.
Appreciate the gift of speech — “Do anything, but let it produce joy.” — of freedom.
On occasion light candles and incense and sip Vampire Cabernet from long stemmed glasses as indulgences for the unearned blessing of being born into these United States in this incarnation, but practice effective altruism for the next. Read: The Life You Can Save, The Most Good You Can Do, Doing Good Better — Start with these books.
Fight for the lives of happy ducks, lambs, chicks, hens, rabbits, turkey and sheep. The onset of spring blossoms like a spellbinding gift. Indulge a great variety of senses. Begin running outside.
Run over the water, along the waterfront. Watch the rising moon. Watch the lowering sunsets. Pace with the rain, everywhere running.
The gift writes, takes long walks, shows up, arrives anywhere safely, enjoys freedom and time.

Cherish the good opinion of mother, father and friends. Cherish mythologies and wilderness, planets, trees, trails, farmer's markets, Seattle, new flavors of chocolate, warm clothes, favorite meals, favorite places, and time spent outside.
Enjoy the freedom of a perfect day. Hit the ground running.
Enter a New Year filled with books and refreshed time.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Gratitude: Ode to a Perfect Day #1

Here I am up early writing with a silver pot of coffee thinking of the man who
portrays himself as purely kind and generous, but acts as a glutton and sloth.
See his belly bloated with murdered animals and unexpended fats and meats.
He sucks sugar down and feeds his spiraling depression and draining self-worth.
Every man lies helpless under his own culture. Habits bind him. He cries in pain.
But does he, a passive pawn, deserve sympathy? Who cares for his fate?

We care deeply. His beautiful soul shines. His goodness glows. He appreciates,
finds and shares beauty. His sensitivity and love signal a shared planetary pain.
How can he be so callous, then? Dear friend, dear brother, the one who died
paralyzed and listening to Pearl Jam. I placed my hand under his, holding him with breath.
His discomfort is all of ours. If we cannot ease it; we sit in it, we inhale it, gasping.
Here is the work of dogs and cats close at hand helping.

Every one argues so adamant in their position, but they haven't read a good book
nor so many as I. Even a modicum of interest sends me to the library, bringing
home stacks of books. So why wouldn't they believe that I have read several
studies by at least 10 doctors who agree that meat and dairy causes cancer,
while everyone knows that vegetables and fruits cure a variety of ills.
Diet as medicine. Nonfiction informs. Fiction pleases, but subtly changes the world, too.

Activists who spend their lives bringing light and bearing witness to horrors
find peace in visits to farm sanctuaries. The purring turkeys and all easeful
ducks, chickens, sheep and pigs live beautiful lives of leisure here.
It's worth the long drive to witness. Everyone loves the demonstration cows
placed beside the highway to graze while most of the cattle crowd in dark rooms.
Animal factories are hidden away, because the pain is too much to bear.

Pain and injustice (allowed to one) comes to many. What can be done, will be done to you.
Injustice radiates out and the man feels it however removed he thinks he may be.
He wonders where it comes from which adds to his pain and confusion. Why? Why?
It comes from meats. Instead we could create a cushion of compassion buffering ourselves
further from pain. All the unwanted are treated as cattle, which is easy to forget
in a charmed life of wine and chocolate tasting.

Everyone longs to be out of doors in the sun and blue sky, but instead finds
themselves earning dollars in factories and offices for the majority of their life's breaths.
Then it doesn't seem so wrong to confine animals too. We confined them, we confined ourselves.
It seems justifiable and safe. It's a legacy of World War II and the industrial revolution.
We are still suffering from the war we won.
We die of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and depression. We suffer.

What's worse than death? Suffering. Peace comes with release and to die
matters not to the departed, but we left behind live in endless grief,
which grows greater over time, bearable but huge and carried forever.
It's nonsense to be glib about cancer, when we and those we love are so fragile.
We carry the great, dense weight of frustration, but take the meliorist perspective and prepare
to improve the world slowly over time. To find peace, I took Trooper for a walk.

Trooper is a small dog with a silly name who has lost her sister. She has a white
spot upon her forehead made for kissing. She fears wind and leaves
and the combination of those is terrifying. She reminds me that fear is a useless thing.
"Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful," writes Mary Shelley in Frankenstein.
I walk little Trooper along her usual route and look into her trusting eyes
yet she never, ever feels safe. I walk her and take an afternoon nap.

When we come together, I forget the world's evil. All my doubts and judgments fade
and I live in a glorious, joyous interconnected time of love.
There's a spice to the surface of his skin. Oh, everything about him shines!
Who would have guessed we'd be strolling in simpatico one day and eating
pick me up tiramisu the next? So much good fortune once seemed impossible
and now it's found simply on Sunday walking, walking until bliss rises with my husband.

If I could go back in time I'd tell my 16-year-old self to spend less time crying
along to Tracy Chapman and no time worrying about her hair and thank her for
becoming vegetarian on Thanksgiving. "You rock!" That girl had so much passion.
One day she will visit all the islands she has dreamed of and more.
She may look forward to many days of dining out and dancing.
I look for my 70-year-old to arrive one day from the future, will she say: "Be radical! Move!"?

It's not enough to enjoy a life of leisure while others suffer and even the righteous
may be sloths and gluttons at heart. It isn't reasonable to always work, cry and strive.
But some heroes do and we can't relax our ethics while the world cries.
Once, it seemed better to be alone to recharge, but that may be a lie or untruth.
In fact, it feels better to expend energy, to be with people, go and do — and act!
Once I said hello to friends and was comforted that we are all in this together.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A New Thanksgiving Tradition: Posting Gratitude Poems

My "grateful for" words of the year.
I started this blog of the senses, a writer's journal, a sensorium, to be more aware of sights, sounds, tastes, touches, smells and experiences in day-to-day life. I included an "extra" sense section to record dreams, ideas, and quotes (whatever more ethereal senses that weren't captured in the more worldly ones) — it functions as a commonplace book. It began in 2007 and I had no idea I would continue on with it for so long. At the end of each year, I compile my "best of the year" (most notable or memorable senses might be more accurate). Last year, for the first time, I also added a "worst of the year" post.

In 2011, around Thanksgiving time, I added a "grateful for" section. That was also the year I made the Adopt-A-Turkey program part of my Thanksgiving tradition. Payton was my first turkey. In 2013, I celebrated my 25 vegetarian anniversary (Clove was my turkey that year). In 2014, I decided to write a poem compiling all the gratitude words of that year.

This year, I've expanded upon that Thanksgiving poetry tradition by writing four poems: two imperfect sestinas (inspired by the book Obsession: Sestinas in the Twenty-First Century) and two odes (because I recorded two "perfect day" senses in the gratitude sections this year which seemed to suit passionate odes). See a perfect day and Perfect Day #2.

I'll be publishing these poems (a hodge-podge of all the "grateful for" senses) one each day Monday through Thursday of Thanksgiving week. I do find that this practice has made me more aware of the senses each day and more grateful, mindful and present.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Chunked, grated, blended, fermented Ambrosia apples

Taste: vegan cheeses - Miyoko's Kitchen - Aged English Sharp Farmhouse, Punk Rawk Labs, NuCulture, Heidi Ho, Vtopian; whiskey sour cider, sour cherry cider, ginger tonic; massaman curry sweet potato
Sight: the cat's orange upturned chin; Bizarro comics; Mutts
Sound: blending apples
Smell: fermented apples; woodsmoke
Touch: rain soaked; cutting fruit with a sharp knife
Extra: Portland VegFest; every day a smoothie and a salad
Grateful for:homemade almond milk, hummus, applesauce, an everything salad; vegan community; plant-based athletes