Saturday, April 12, 2008

My New Name For A Blog

What Digby Said:

There was a time when the Village clucked and screeched about "defiling the white house" with an extra marital affair or hosting fund raising coffees. I would say this leaves a far greater stain on that institution than any sexual act could ever do. They did this in your name, Americans.

The vice president, national security advisor and members of the president's cabinet sat around the white house "choreographing" the torture and the president approved it. I have to say that even in my most vivid imaginings about this torture scheme it didn't occur to me that the highest levels of the cabinet were personally involved (except Cheney and Rumsfeld, of course) much less that we would reach a point where the president of the United States would shrug his shoulders and say he approved. I assumed they were all vaguely knowledgeable, some more than others, but that they would have done everything in their power to keep their own fingerprints off of it. But no. It sounds as though they were eagerly involved, they all signed off unanimously and thought nothing of it.

Naturally, the saintly General C. Lukewarm Powell was his usual evasive self when asked about it. (And if I hear one more person say he should be on the Democratic ticket I'm going to have an aneurysm):

Powell said that he didn't have "sufficient memory recall" about the meetings and that he had participated in "many meetings on how to deal with detainees." Powell said, "I'm not aware of anything that we discussed in any of those meetings that was not considered legal."

The Attorney General(!) also present and approving, was concerned that this was being done inside the white house:

Then-Attorney General Ashcroft was troubled by the discussions. He agreed with the general policy decision to allow aggressive tactics and had repeatedly advised that they were legal. But he argued that senior White House advisers should not be involved in the grim details of interrogations, sources said.

According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."

That's what passes for integrity in the Bush white house.

He's certainly right about history not judging this kindly. Neither would a war crimes tribunal.

Derrick Jensen has a wonderful piece that he does about a time when he was still reluctant to use the word "apocalypse" to describe what's happening to our environment. A friend asked him, "What would it take for you to use that word? Would it take chemicals in the breast milk of every mother on the planet? We're there. Would it take dead zones in the Pacific Ocean? We're there. Would it take the extinction of carrier pigeons who were once so plentiful they darkened the skies? We're there. Would it take polar bears dying because they can't swim far enough to find the increasingly-scarce ice floats? We're there." And on an on.

I wonder what it will take for Americans to break themselves away from American Idol and Dancing With The Stars and America's Next Supermodel and take to the streets demanding consequences for this evil junta. Would it take the death of habeas corpus? We're there. Would it take warrantless domestic spying (almost certainly used on the media and Democrats)? We're there. Would it take lying the country into an illegal and immoral war that drained our economy of so much money that we had to go hat in hand to the Communist Chinese and look the other way while they slaughter Tibetan monks? We're there. Would it take the president of the United States of America shrugging and saying, "Well of course we discussed the sickening, obscene details of how to torture people"? Because, well, because we're there.

Anyone Who Thinks This Shit Keeps Happening By Accident Should E-Mail Me Immediately For A Great Deal On Beachfront Property In Arizona

Media Matters reports:

On last night's Hardball, host Chris Matthews and David Shuster focused like a laser on the things that really matter:

MATTHEWS: He's [Sen. Barack Obama] not that good at that -- handshaking in a diner.


MATTHEWS: Barack doesn't seem to know how to do that right.

SHUSTER: -- he doesn't do that well. But then you see him in front of 15,000 people in some of these college towns, and that's why, Chris, we've seen Chelsea Clinton and Bill Clinton in Bloomington and South Bend and Terre Haute. I mean --

MATTHEWS: What's so hard about doing a diner? I don't get it. Why doesn't he go in there and say, "Did you see the papers today? What do you think about that team? How did we do last night?" Just some regular connection?

SHUSTER: Well, here's the other thing that we saw on the tape, Chris, is that, when Obama went in, he was offered coffee, and he said, "I'll have orange juice."


SHUSTER: He did.

And it's just one of those sort of weird things. You know, when the owner of the diner says, "Here, have some coffee," you say, "Yes, thank you," and, "Oh, can I also please have some orange juice, in addition to this?" You don't just say, "No, I'll take orange juice," and then turn away and start shaking hands. That's what happens [unintelligible] --

MATTHEWS: You don't ask for a substitute on the menu.

SHUSTER: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: David, what a regular guy. You could do this. Anyway, thank you, David Shuster. I mean, go to the diners.

The mind-blowing inanity of this conversation can't properly be appreciated through the transcript. When Matthews said "No" in response to Shuster's revelation that Obama ordered orange juice in a diner, he sounded as though he had just been told that Obama had punched a nun in the face. Watch for yourself.

When CNN's Candy Crowley suggested after the 2004 election that John Kerry's attempt to order green tea in an Iowa restaurant showed a "disconnect" between the presidential candidate and "most of America," it seemed unlikely that we would see a sillier attempt to find meaning in a candidate's beverage choice. Not only was Crowley taking the elitist attitude that simple Iowans couldn't possibly be familiar with green tea, she was also wrong. The Kmart in Dubuque, Iowa, stocked Lipton's green tea.

But last night's exchange between Matthews and Shuster was far worse. Offered coffee, Barack Obama asked for orange juice instead. And Chris Matthews and David Shuster pounced, aghast that he would dare do such a thing as ask for orange juice. A preference for orange juice was supposed to demonstrate that Obama is out of touch with "regular" people. (For what it's worth, neither Matthews nor Shuster so much as hinted that a single, actual voter who was in that diner was put off by Obama's interest in orange juice. But Matthews and Shuster were upset enough for everyone.)

MSNBC runs commercials for itself in which Tim Russert solemnly explains why MSNBC covers politics: "It's about the war. Our sons and daughters. It's about the economy. Our jobs. It's about education. Our schools. It's about health care. Our families' well-being. It's about everything that matters."

MSNBC doesn't run any ads that claim that what really matters is whether the candidates choose to drink coffee or orange juice. But that's what the cable channel's brightest stars (Matthews is reportedly paid $5 million a year for this nonsense) chose to spend their time discussing last night.

Orange juice -- and bowling.

Immediately after his exchange with Shuster, Matthews hosted Obama supporter Sen. Bob Casey. Here's the very first question Matthews asked this United States Senator:

MATTHEWS: Isn't that interesting, Senator Casey, that Barack Obama, your candidate, can walk before 15,000 people with complete calm and assurance, but he seems a little out of place in A) a bowling alley and B) a diner? What is the problem with your guy?

Obama ordered orange juice in a diner and isn't a very good bowler -- and based on these facts, which can only aspire to qualify as trivia, Chris Matthews demanded to know "[w]hat is the problem with your guy?"

Matthews has been positively obsessed with Obama's lack of bowling skills. He talked about it on Hardball on March 31 -- in two separate segments -- and announced, "[T]his gets very ethnic, but the fact that he's good at basketball doesn't surprise anybody, but the fact that he's that terrible at bowling does make you wonder." And again on April 1 -- this time bringing it up in three separate segments and opening his interview with Obama supporter Sen. Claire McCaskill: "[D]id you advise Obama to go out and try to bowl the other day?" On April 2, Matthews interviewed Obama himself -- and his very first question was about the presidential candidate's bowling. On April 8, Matthews said, "I'm actually surprised by the fact that neither Barack or Hillary have bowled much in their lives. Maybe that tells you something about the Democratic Party." He referenced Obama's bowling again on April 9.

A profile by Mark Leibovich in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine suggests that Matthews thinks his other television show -- The Chris Matthews Show airs on Sundays -- disproves the notion that he isn't serious. Leibovich writes:

When I asked Matthews about the bloviator stigma, he dismissed it as jealousy or at the very least ignorance among those who don't know him or who don't regularly watch his Sunday show or who have not read his books or who are not aware that he is a student of history and film or that he is on the board of trustees of the Churchill Center or that he has received -- did he mention? -- 19 honorary degrees.

Leibovich also quotes the executive producer of The Chris Matthews Show describing that program's audience as "smart people who want smart analysis."

But even on a show that purports to offer "smart analysis," Matthews can't resist focusing on Obama's inability to bowl well; he included a segment on the topic in last week's broadcast.

These discussions of bowling and beverages may be stupid, but they aren't pointless. They are part of a broader pattern of media portraying prominent progressives as elitists.

Matthews routinely asks if Obama can "connect with regular people." Apparently, all those people who have been voting for Obama are irregular. And, just so you don't have to wonder exactly who it is Chris Matthews considers irregular, he spelled it out for you, continuing: "Or does he only appeal to people who come from the African-American community and from the people who have college or advanced degrees?"

New York Times columnist Gail Collins said Obama "can be disturbingly Ivy League." Candy Crowley, doubling down on her green tea comments, refers to Obama supporters as "latte liberals." The Chicago Tribune refers to Obama supporters as "wine-track" voters and chides the senator for referencing arugula while in Iowa. Obama's arugula reference drew a barrage of (inane) media criticism, with Glenn Beck falsely claiming "arugula is not even grown in the state." In fact, it is -- and it is readily available in Iowa supermarkets, too. Apparently they even having indoor plumbing in much of the state, despite what Candy Crowley and Glenn Beck seem to think. Even George Will got in on the act, mocking Obama for mentioning arugula to Iowans. Yes, George Will wants you to think Barack Obama is an out-of-touch elite.

And, of course (according to the media) John Edwards' big house and expensive haircut showed that he was out of touch with "regular people," as did John Kerry's windsurfing and Al Gore's childhood attendance of a private school and his decision to occasionally wear brown clothing.

Most people who are no longer in middle school understand that it isn't a great idea to judge people based on things like their haircuts, their wardrobe choices, or what beverage they drink. Most people understand that we shouldn't choose a president based on these things. Most people -- but not political journalists.

Most people understand that in a time of war, with the nation teetering on the edge of recession (if one hasn't already started), and the housing market collapsing, and an administration that views the Geneva Conventions as "quaint" and the Bill of Rights as optional, assessing candidates based on who would be the most fun to have a beer with is not the way out of this mess; it's the way we got into it in the first place. Most people -- but not political journalists.

Which isn't to say that there is nothing candidates can do to avoid having reporters relentlessly mock them as out-of-touch elitists: They can run for office as Republicans.

George W. Bush and Al Gore were both sons of successful politicians, both attended private schools and Ivy League colleges, but only one was portrayed by the media as an out-of-touch elite; the other was a "regular guy." Bush owns $13,000 worth of bicycles -- a fact that never seemed to come up when the media were portraying John Kerry's windsurfing as the pastime of the wealthy. Kerry was skewered for ordering a cheesesteak with Swiss cheese -- and when Bush lied about ordering his with Cheez Whiz, the news media politely stayed silent. John Edwards' expensive haircut was endlessly portrayed by the media as evidence that he was an out-of-touch elitist dandy --but how often have you seen a reporter mention that George W. Bush handpicks the cloth for his $2,000 suits?

During the height of the media frenzy over Edwards' haircut, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd made fun of him for visiting "the Pink Sapphire spa in Manchester, which offers services for men that include the 'Touch of Youth' facial, as well as trips 'into the intriguing world of makeup.' " But, as Bob Somerby pointed out, John McCain has also taken a trip "into the intriguing world of makeup" at the Pink Sapphire. Somehow, Dowd forgot to include that in her column -- and the rest of the media (except for the New Hampshire Union Leader) forgot as well. (A Nexis search for "John Edwards AND Pink Sapphire" returns 71 hits. One news report available on Nexis mentions McCain's visit to the salon. One.)

Last year, CNN's Wolf Blitzer called Hillary Clinton a "flip-flopper" because she sometimes drinks her coffee black, and sometimes with cream. The very same Associated Press article from which Blitzer learned this completely irrelevant fact also reported that Rudy Giuliani drinks his coffee with "Sweet'n Low or Equal, whichever is available," and that John McCain likes "[c]appuccino or coffee with cream and sugar." Blitzer saw no troubling insecurity in Giuliani's or McCain's preferences (and, to be clear: He shouldn't have. Just as he shouldn't have branded Clinton a flip-flopper because she sometimes puts cream in her coffee and sometimes does not).

And that same AP article also reported that Mitt Romney doesn't drink coffee at all -- but "has been known to have hot chocolate." Try to imagine how Chris Matthews would react if he found out that Barack Obama doesn't drink coffee -- and that, instead, he drinks hot cocoa.

Now imagine how Chris Matthews would react if Obama didn't drink coffee -- and was as rich as Mitt Romney is.

Remember when Obama supporters were telling us we couldn't nominate Clinton because the media would bash her for stupid stuff? And, as Susie points out, he's not helping himself a lot lately, but that's no excuse for the media to act like assholes.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Yet Again, Come, Come

Thorn explains in fourteen short words the true goal of the Craft of the Wise:

Showing up to my life with as much attention as is within my capacity.

Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, that's the challenge. It's just incredibly easy to say, but then we wake up late and get on a crowded metro car and get an e-mail that enrages us, worry about having enough time, get bored on a long call, and . . . .

And, of course, that's the challenge. To live with attention in those circumstances, the ones, in Adrienne Rich's words, already sounding as we're born.

And of course, there's only one thing to do and, of course, Rumi told us what it is:

Come, come whoever you are.
Wanderer, idolater, lover of leaving,
Come even though you have broken your vows a thousand times.
Come, yet again, come, come.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.

Art found here.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Creepy, Dirty, Rotten, Disgusting, Obnoxious Criminals

To the Hague.

There's nothing else for a decent person to say.

To the Hague.

Thanks, Sandra Day.

As a lawyer, and an officer of the court who had to swear an oath to defend the Constitution in order to practice the profession that I practice every day, all that I can say is that I believe, with every fiber of my being, that these pathetic perverts deserve a fair trial.

/Hat tip TheOtherWA in comments at Eschaton.


Well Mamma and Pappa Mourning Dove are now ensconced upon (what appears to my eyes to be a bit of) a haphazard nest in the v. same spot upon the grape arbor where they have nested for the last three years. This is, for me, a v. great blessing, a benediction, a sign of grace -- that the mourning doves keep coming back here and making their home up against the western wall of mine. Mamma, no matter how terrified she may have been of me, wasn't budging from her nest this afternoon, as I slowly walked closer and closer to her spot. I held out yarn scraps and kept telling her, "I'd never hurt you." She's intent upon either laying her eggs or keeping them warm, I can't tell which.

Tomorrow, I am meeting w/ my v. gifted landscape designer and I will have to explain to him that the work in the backyard will either have to go around the mourning doves or wait until their (generally only one baby or) babies are raised. These doves sing to me in the morning. Their sweet grey breasts grace my quince bush and my fig trees and my climbing rose. It's their yard, too.

Anyone know a great fixture to put on an outside wall that will please the doves as much next year as this arbor has pleased them lo these many years?

There's Little On Earth That I Love More Than I Love The Sound Of The Rain

Love, if you love me, lie next to me, be, for me, like rain.

My New Name For A Blog

What Sia Said

If you want to make the dominate culture crazy introduce a way of loving that involves a) happy, healthy sex b) multiple partners and c) has no negative judgements related to whether these partners are gay or straight or bisexual.

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?
The barbarians are due here today.
Why isn't anything happening in the senate?
Why do the senators sit there without legislating?
Because the barbarians are coming today.
What laws can the senators make now?
Once the barbarians are here, they'll do the legislating.
Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting at the city's main gate
on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?
Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
He has even prepared a scroll to give him,
replete with titles, with imposing names.
Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?
Because the barbarians are coming today
and things like that dazzle the barbarians.
Why don't our distinguished orators come forward as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?
Because the barbarians are coming today
and they're bored by rhetoric and public speaking.
Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people's faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?
Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
And some who have just returned from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.
And now, what's going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution.

~ Cavfy

My New Name For A Blog

What Carol Christ Said:

Last Sunday night I watched Wolf Blitzer’s discussion of the pope’s upcoming visit to the US with the president of the Catholic University of America. The conversation was cordial. The “crisis” in the church caused by priests raping children was mentioned, but immediately swept under the rug. Not one other controversial item of Roman Catholic doctrine, practice, or political activity was discussed. The pope was presented as a nice old man, shy and reserved, and a scholar. It was not pointed out that at the time of his election as pope he was Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (formerly known as the Inquistion), and that in this position he played crucial roles in “closing” the window that the Vatican II conference “opened” to the world.

In specific, Ratzinger silenced theologians--including Hans Kung and Matthew Fox--for their liberal ideas, insisted that professors at Catholic universities not be allowed to teach anything contrary to Catholic doctrine, called for the discipline of nuns and priests who advocated contraception and abortion, disenfranchised liberation theologians in Latin America, and issued the statement that women could never become priests because male priests are a symbol of the male savior. Nor did Blitzer mention that Cardinal Ratzinger as Dean of the College of Cardinals influenced the previous pope not to appoint any cardinals whose theologies might be considered liberal, thus insuring that his hierarchical, authoritarian, and male dominant understanding of the church could not be challenged.

Blitzer also did not bring up the political role of the Vatican in denying access to birth control and abortion and the condoms that might help to prevent the spread of AIDS. In a recent article in Feminist Theology 16/2, Roman Catholic theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether documented the role of the Vatican in denying reproductive rights and thus directly and indirectly causing deaths around the world. Ruether noted that there is now an international campaign organized by SeeChange that questions the Vatican’s Non-Member State Permanent Observer status at the United Nations which gives it the power to speak and vote at UN conferences. SeeChange points out that no other religious group has a similar position. Roman Catholic reproductive rights activist Frances Kissling, President of SeeChange, asks, “Why should an entity that is in essence 100 square acres of office space and tourist attractions in the middle of Rome with a citizenry that excludes women and children have a place at the table where governments set policies deciding the very survival of women and children?” A good question indeed!

I have another one. Why is the press afraid to cover theological dissent and disagreement regarding issues of human justice in the Catholic Church?

Christ blogs regularly here.

Today, the DC metro board took down an ad for subway usage that offended the catholic church. I have had all the "pope visit" I can stand and the assclown is still wearing his Prada shoes back in Rome.

Ratzi, stay home!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Or, Failing That, Invent

To add a little bit to my comment about The Mists of Avalon, it's almost trite to note that many women come to Wicca after having read that book. And it's certainly not a how-to book or even, necessarily, good mythology or good history. What it IS good for, I think, is for the process that Monique Wittig called for when she wrote:

There was a time
when you were not a slave,
remember that you walked alone,
full of laughter,
you bathed bare-bellied.
You may have lost all recollection of it,

You say there are not words to describe it,
you say it does not exist.
but remember,
make an effort to remember,
or, failing that,

One thing that is so sorely lacking from women's lives that we scarcely notice its absence, just as blind people scarcely miss the color cerise, is a vision of what it could be like to live in a society that recognized the divine feminine. Mists presents a complex world where, although it's fading, the feminine divine is real and recognized and articulated.

Remember, or, failing that, invent.

Monday, April 07, 2008

She's A Witch!

Recently, the women of my wonderful circle were discussing what information to best share with someone new to the ways of Wicca. All of the usual name were mentioned: Luisia Tesch, Starhawk, Shekinia Mountainwater, Z. Budaphest, Margot Adler, time spent observing a growing tree, T. Thorn Coyle, and on and on. I suggested that, trite as it may be, one could do worse than to read the Mists of Avalon by Bradley.

April Is National Poetry Month. How Cool Is That? An Entire Month To Enjoy Poetry

My Love Is Like to Ice" by Edmund Spenser

My love is like to ice, and I to fire:
How comes it then that this her cold so great
Is not dissolved through my so hot desire,
But harder grows the more I her entreat?
Or how comes it that my exceeding heat
Is not allayed by her heart-frozen cold,
But that I burn much more in boiling sweat,
And feel my flames augmented manifold?
What more miraculous thing may be told,
That fire, which all things melts, should harden ice,
And ice, which is congealed with senseless cold,
Should kindle fire by wonderful device?
Such is the power of love in gentle mind,
That it can alter all the course of kind.

My New Name For A Blog

What Starhawk Said

“If she didn’t from time to time make blind forays that turned out wrong, she would never learn a thing.”

Star, I love you, but your blog is fucking impossible to comment on. I am just saying.

My New Name For A Blog

What Mo Joey Said.

The use of tax dollars for a Bible Park is such a bad idea, on so many levels, including the fact that it's in abominable taste, that it's difficult to comprehend that some people are actually pushing for it.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Thank You!

A week out, I'm almost, although not quite, caught up on sleep after EschaCon '08. Attending was a real gift for me, meeting with and listening to so many v. smart, talented people. One of the neatest parts was getting to chat with the amazing spocko who, singlehandedly, took down one of the fixtures of conservative hate radio and who never stops thinking of ways to push the liberal agenda. He gifted me with the most amazing set of chi balls, which now hold place of honor on my altar. I've been using them during my grounding exercises. Miss Thing adores them and purrs so loudly, whenever I use them, that you'd think that spocko had given them to her. Other people gave me other amazing gifts and, you know who you are, you should have gotten a thank-you note by now. I don't know spocko's snail mail address, so I hope that he'll accept this virtual thank you!

Tennessee! Time To Shut This Bad Idea Down!

Even xianists are admitting that plans to use tax dollars to build a Bible (I am not making this up) Theme Park appear to be in trouble. As the The Christian Post admits:

A proposed Bible Park to open in Murfreesboro, Tenn., is drawing fierce opposition from opponents who claim the park will bring a host of unwanted problems to the community such as traffic congestion, noise, and unwanted commercialism.

For some, opposition to the Bible Park is strong because of the detestable notion of turning a faith into an amusement park. For others, the idea of using tax payers’ money to fund a religiously themed park is unconstitutional.

The majority of the residents of the small Tennessee community, however, seem to agree: “No Bible Park.”

According to one local legislator, as high as 99 percent of the responses concerning the park, in the form of telephone calls and email messages, were critical and opposed to the plan.

Bible Park opponents, organized into a group called the “No Bible Park USA” committee, gathered late last month to make their opposition vocal and known.

“Now is the time to fight, fuss, complain,” County Commissioner Steve Sandlin said, according to the Murfreesboro Post. “To me it’s just the wrong location.”

“I can’t imagine this beautiful area being covered up with fast food restaurants and hotels,” resident Kelley McCrary added, according to the local newspaper.

Most recently, Bible Park opponents achieved something of a victory when the developers of the Bible Park were turned down by the local County Development Committee Thursday in their request for a recommended Conditional Use Permit.

The notion of a proposed park in a largely residential area, the use of county-based Tax Incremental Financing, and other possible legal issues involving the separation of church and state were all cited as reasons in the Committee’s refusal to issue a permit.

Without a permit, it may prove difficult for Bible Park developers to receive the necessary approval when their proposal reaches review by the local County Planning Commission later this month.

Meanwhile, local letters to the editor seem to be running strongly in favor of opposing the biblical (I am not making this up) theme park:

A THEME PARK, no matter WHAT the theme may be, is NOT WELCOME here! FIX WHO AND WHAT IS HERE NOW; here's one suggestion that's been on the table in the past — combine the city and county governments and make us a metropolitan government!


A 280-acre Christian Bible park is proposed for Rutherford County. The proposal would dedicate millions of taxpayer dollars to fund the Bible park. What is wrong with this picture?
Taxpayer funds come from all citizens, not just Christians. The purpose of the proposed exhibit is obviously to advance the Christian agenda. Taxpayer funds should be used to benefit all citizens, not just a specific group or religion.
Can you imagine the outcry by our citizens if taxpayer funds were utilized to fund a project of one of the many minority religions?
Why has there been no objection raised to this flagrant misuse of taxpayer dollars?


Regardless of one’s personal religious views, it is difficult to fathom how the constitutional requirement for separation of church and state would allow even serious consideration of a proposal to use public funding for such a stated religious purpose.

That Clean Knife

It's a bit odd to blog about ripeness in April; normally one thinks, as the poetess did, of ripeness beginning in September and continuing on through October. The Mother, not the Maiden.

But this afternoon, I came home from work and sat in my car to watch a v. gravid mother mourning dove sitting on my grape arbor, directing the almost frantic papa dove as he lifted and flew with a v. large stick, up onto the arbor, to place it just where she wanted it, on the arbor, where for the four Springs that I've lived here, these doves have made their nest. Once the stick was safely in place, I opened my knitting bag in the car, culled lots of yarn scraps from G/Son's red, white, and black pirate sweater, and walked over to a spot a few feet from the arbor. I scattered the yarn scraps on the ground (this is not DONE in suburban Arlington!) and said to the anxious doves: "Here; this is for you and your baby. Good luck with your nest." That was my worship for the day, my ritual, my daily practice. Once I was inside, papa swooped down and gathered up a long black strand. That was my benediction for the day, my blessing, my sign that I am still and indeed a part of Mother Earth. And the only word that I could think of, looking at her bird breast sloping with such deep beauty into her bird belly, was: ripe.

And, it's a bit odd for a witch, who celebrates poetry at Imbolc, in February, when we honor the Goddess Brigid, patroness of smithcraft, and pregnancy, and poetry, to be celebrating national poetry month in April, even though April is the "official" month for poetry. But any month, in truth, is a good month for poetry. Here's one from Roger Housden's Risking Everything: 110 Poems of Love and Revelation


Ripeness is
what falls away with ease.
Not only the heavy apple,
the pear,
but also the dried brown strands
of autumn iris from their core.

To let your body
love this world
that gave itself to your care
in all of its ripeness,
with ease,
and will take itself from you
in equal ripeness and ease,
is also harvest.

And however sharply
you are tested --
this sorrow, that great love --
it too will leave on that clean knife.

~ Jane Hirshfield ~

(The October Palace)

(This picture shows the peony shoots just now emerging directly beneath the doves' nest. So the doves nourish these peonies and make them healthy. And that reminds me of a wonderful Mary Oliver poem:

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open ---
pools of lace,
white and pink ---
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities ---
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again ---
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?)


April Is National Poetry Month

What Julie Hanus Said:

We pay ourselves a disservice every time we dismiss poetry as a lump sum. Oh, I don’t like poetry. Really? None of it? It’s as strange a statement as saying you don’t like music (nope, not one note). But we don’t say strange things like that about music, because for the most part we’re equipped with sufficient acoustic literacy to recognize genres, make aesthetic judgments, and sort out what is pleasing from what is displeasing to our ears.

With poetry, such facility is hardly the standard, and that’s OK—I’ve no illusions about poems suddenly gaining top-40 appeal. But I do secretly suspect that somewhere out there, there’s a poem or a poet that would tickle everyone’s fancy, as instantly and effortlessly as you know that you love a certain song the first time you hear it play. Encountering a few poems, however, and then dismissing the entire field, seems a bit like scanning the radio for a few minutes and then deciding all this noise, this so-called music, is not for you.

The loss, of course, isn’t that people might miss out on poetry; certainly not everybody must have affection for every single art. It’s that the broad-stroke dismissal throws a hurdle up between people and great thinkers like Mary Oliver, whose work would otherwise most likely startle, electrify, and delight .

Buy This Book! (Athenae's, Not Feith's!)

The beautiful and brilliant Athenae reminds us that:

I'm sure by now you've heard that one of the greatest
assholes of our time, former Undersecretary of Defense
for Policy
Doug Feith (he of Office of Special Plans,
Niger yellowcake fraud, let's disband the Iraqi Army
fame) has a book coming out on Tuesday.

Isn't that nice for him? I'm so glad he won't starve.
War and Decision should pad his resumé and his kids'
college funds quite nicely.

Since Feith is likely to be making the talk show
rounds, spewing his lies to admiring hosts who will be
taken in by the book's premise (that he planned a
GREAT war and George Bush fucked it up, according to
the Washington Post), I thought I'd remind folks on
the reality-based side of things that plenty of
liberal bloggers were on the Feith story long before
the traditional media could be paid to give a damn.

A book called Special Plans: The Blogs on
Douglas Feith and the Faulty Intelligence that Led to
War (2005, William James & Co).
I was privileged to
work on this collection of the work of bloggers like
Josh Marshall, abw at DailyKos, and Jack K. of the
Grumpy Forrester in detailing Feith's misdeeds.

Since this book -- which also predated the
blogger-authors craze by some months, never let it be
said liberal bloggers are not prescient -- came out
shortly before our collective national awakening that
Bush and his war kind of suck, it made nary a sound,
but now, with Feith back in the news, the story it
tells is more necessary than ever.

. . .

Our side doesn't get nearly the credit it deserves for
being right all along. And after all, isn't that what
we all promise one another each day that we'll


More here.