The sun rises over St. Lucia
Well I can tell you now that I needed to get away. Quite badly as it turned out. Not particularly because the life I lead in the everyday world is something terrible, no, on the contrary. I needed to get away simply because without realizing it, I was well past due for a circadian resetting of my life rhythms; past due for a cartographic rerouting of the importance of getting from point A to point nowhere.
This was easier to accomplish without the fogging distractions of my daily patterns. Once the insane car driving of Houston highways, the repetitive chores of my housewife life had all been left behind, a radical 180 degree shift took place. Somewhere, soon past the starting of our arrival to St. Lucia, my husband and I rediscovered the joys of not having to go about decently dressed and properly coiffed; Of letting our kid run wild because no one, and most especially the sea, minded not a bit that he was more than his usual, rambunctious self; that my thoughts, trapped in the same mental asphalt I'd been pouring from in the last few months, would be easier to de-tar with the cadenced help of waves lapping at my subconscious.
I had forgotten what the stars looked like in the embedded setting of an indigo-hued sky. How clear the night could appear that when devoid of clouds, relieved of planes and spared the competition of man-made scintillation, that the erasing of many light-years worth of separation would seem an almost possible feat. I am almost certain that I touched their light these past few nights and if I didn't, well then I quite sure that their light touched me.
Now that I am back in Houston and away from the bountiful glory of the West Indies, I have promised myself to not overlook the axial grounding of sea and stars. I will look up more into the city-tarnished glow of the former and attempt to recall just as often the surging magic of the latter. And because I'm feeling a little sad after the closure of one of the nicest trips I have ever undertaken, I leave you with this melancholy little poem by Derek Walcott, Nobel Laureate and native St. Lucian. It seems to me that he echoes the archetypal solace one can always find in the sky and in the water.
After the Storm
by Derek Walcott
There are so many islands!
As many islands as the stars at night
on that branched tree from which meteors are shaken
like falling fruit around the schooner Flight.
But things must fall, and so it always was,
on one hand Venus and on the other Mars;
fall, and are one, just as this earth is one
island in archipelagoes of stars.
My first friend was the sea. Now, is my last.
I stop talking now. I work, then read,
cotching under a lantern hooked to the mast.
I try to forget what happiness was,
and when that don't work, I study the stars.
Sometimes is just me, and the soft-scissored foam
as the deck turns white and the moon open
a cloud like a door, and the light over me
is a road in white moonlight taking me home.
Shabine sang to you from the depths of the sea.
The sun sets over St. Lucia
The sun rises over St. Lucia
As I look out over the turquoise tinted waters, their ageless flow interrupted by the blondish heads of a tribe of European tourists, I think about the people who can afford to make their annual pilgrimages to some tropical paradise, the kind of place which the local inheritors of said geographic real estate gold hardly ever get to enjoy themselves; too busy as they are in keeping up with the needs of the invaders.
These past four days I have thought of myself as one, an invader. That doesn't mean that I haven't been enjoying my touristic colonization inmensely, hedonistically even. Wouldn't you? I mean look at this place!
Dock at Windjammers, St. Lucia
I find it difficult to move even a foot, such is the lethargy brought on by the existence of a conveniently lifted flag that signifies my desire for something, anything, whatever might grip my fancy. And there has been a lot of fanciful gripping since we arrived here. I have progressed from a mentality of offering to one of dedicated taking.
The New York Times like you haven't read it yet...
I originally tripped upon this mock New York Times page yesterday and thought it real until I began to peruse the headlines. Below is an extract of the Fine Print section. It explains what is behind this amazingly thorough effort. You will find that all the links are enabled. Do not miss out on the article titled Court Indicts Bush on High Treason Charge.
Published: July 4th, 2009
The dozens of volunteer citizens who produced this paper spent the last eight years dreaming of a better world for themselves, their friends, and any descendants they might end up having. Today, that better world, though still very far away, is finally possible — but only if millions of us demand it, and finally force our government to do its job."
From - Whose Line Is It Anyway?
I have never once seen this show on the television. Only online do I ever manage to catch their improvisational genius. Check out this segment Called scenes from a hat. Funny stuff.
The Oracle at Delphi was never this good.
Sometime in October of 2007, John Bird and John Fortune of the British satirical show Bremer, Bird and Fortune, which is Broadcast through Britain's Channel Four Network, did this satirical skit. Listen, weep or laugh...
So much to learn, so little time.
A few weeks ago I did a post titled Language Orgy. I sincerely do not know HOW I could have missed this particular site then but I thought I would add it here anyway.
From the website -"Wordie lets you make lists of words and phrases. Words you love, words you hate, words on a given topic, whatever. Lists are visible to everyone but can be added to by just you, a group of friends, or anyone, as you wish."
There is another site similar to Wordie which, if I had to explain as succinctly as Wordie explains itself, could only be described as Like Flickr, but with video. Try Wordia out. You'll love it.
For if you missed it - they were people worth knowing about:
" Studs Terkel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose searching interviews with ordinary Americans helped establish oral history as a serious genre, and who for decades was the voluble host of a popular radio show in Chicago, died Friday at his home there. He was 96."
You may read his New York Times obituary here.
Yves Boucau/European Pressphoto Agency
“When you hear this message, I will no longer be there,” the voice, characteristically spirited, confident, just a little bit cheeky and familiar to all of France, said on a tape released this week.
The words were those of Sister Emmanuelle, a nun revered for her work with the disenfranchised, especially among the garbage-scavengers of Cairo, and renowned for her television appearances in France as an advocate for the poor. She died Monday at a retirement home operated by her order, the Congregation of Notre-Dame de Sion, in Callian, in the south of France."
You may read the remainder of her New York Times obituary here.
Via Joe Stirt at Book of Joe
Hope you had a great weekend everyone.
Jane Birkin -
"After a career dominated by the influence of her charismatic ex-husband, reinterpreting his songs and re-recording his lyrics, she has produced her first album made up entirely of her own music. Enfants d'Hiver (Children of Winter), out tomorrow, is a Serge-free zone with none of the usual covers or tributes."
backstory on this album at the UK Guardian
Here is the 62 year old chanteuse and songwriter singing Période Bleue - Blue Period from Enfants d'Hiver. Enjoy its poetic sweetness in this, one of her best musical moments.
Here is another song of hers I've loved for a long time. It's called Je m'appelle Jane - My name is Jane. She sings it with Mickaël Furnon of the rock group Mickey 3D.
R and I
You were born of course. Your appearance capped a marathon 36 hour birthing that seemed more like 366 hours to my exhausted mind. I'd been carrying you inside my belly since sometime in mid-February of 2004 but truly it wasn't until you were seven months grown in there that I began to hug you all the time. Constantly rubbing at whatever part of you kicked outward into the world.
I often wondered what you'd be like before you were born. What mother doesn't toy with the mental rearrangement of family features in loving expectation of her child? I kept saying that I wanted you to look just like your Baba jan, and so you do but, only much later did I secretly admit to your aunt Alex that I also regretted that you had had nothing that was recognizably mine in your features. What did tía answer to that? "But Mili, he's got your laugh" and I have to admit that the truth of this statement pleases me like few others. Not particularly because I like my laugh, but because I love that you like laughing as much as I do. To hear it constantly bubbling forth out of those rosy lips is my confirmation of your continued happiness with life and, should there be anything of mine that I would always hope to see in you, then that cheerful disposition towards the world in general, is about the best legacy I could ever have passed on.
Happy Birthday child of my heart. Laughter for you always for as long as you live.
Tu Mami que te adora.
June 1, 2008 Mitchell, South Dakota: Barack Obama addresses a rally on the street in front of the Corn Palace in the final days of the primary season Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty
I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. To reach the port of Heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it - but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, SR.
Marian Wright Edelman, President and founder, Children's Defense Fund:
A cartoon published in the early 1960s depicted a Black boy saying to a White boy: "I’ll sell you my chance to be President of the United States for a nickel." At the time the cartoon appeared, Barack Obama was a toddler. There were only five Black Members of Congress and about 300 Black elected officials nationwide. The Voting Rights Act hadn’t been passed and the overwhelming majority of Black Southerners were disenfranchised.
On the ballot this morning was a Black man for President of the United States, marking the culmination of a long evolutionary struggle for political empowerment among disenfranchised Americans. My fellow voters—of all races in every corner for America—will consider Obama’s presidential candidacy on the basis of his proposals, his vision and his intelligence.
This is a world-defining and nation-defining election. This morning as I stood in line to vote, I was moved by the realization that finally this is the day on which my fellow Americans are willing to do what Dr. King envisioned: vote for a President based on the content of his character rather than the color of his skin.
If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other islands, but a continent that joins to them.
Dennis Hopper, Academy Award nominated actor and filmmaker:
Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.
Madeleine Albright: A letter to the next President04/11/2008
Congratulations on your success. You have won an impressive victory – but with that victory comes the responsibility to guide a troubled America in a world riven by conflict, confusion and hate. Upon taking office, you will face the daunting task of restoring America’s credibility as an effective and exemplary world leader.
This cannot be accomplished merely by distancing yourself and your administration from the mistakes of George W. Bush. You must offer innovative strategies for coping with multiple dangers, including the global economic meltdown, two hot wars (in Iraq and Afghanistan), al-Qaida, nuclear threats and climate change. In every realm, you will need to recruit a first-rate team of advisers, apply the principles of critical thinking and develop a coherent strategy with a clear connection between actions and results.
Your first job as president will be to re-establish the traditional sources of international respect for America: resilience, optimism, support for justice, and the desire for peace. As you recognised during your campaign, America’s good name has been tarnished. Your message to the world should be that the United States, though unafraid to act when necessary, is also eager to listen and learn.
That first step is important, but you will need to do much more.
Starting on Inauguration Day, you must strive to restore confidence in the economic soundness and financial stewardship of the United States. The October crash proved that our current leaders have lost their way. All eyes are now on you. Pick the right people; show discipline; stick to the rules you establish; and push for an economic system that rewards hard work, not greed.
Overseas, you should begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. If you hesitate, you will be forced _ by an evolving consensus within Iraq _ to do so nonetheless. By initiating the process and controlling the timing, you can steer credit to responsible Iraqi leaders instead of allowing radicals to claim that they have driven us out.
The troops that remain as the redeployment proceeds should focus on further preparing Iraqi forces for command. Despite recent gains, the country is still threatened by sectarian rivalries. These have a long history and can be resolved only by Iraq’s own decision-makers. American troops cannot substitute for Iraqi spine. The time for transition is at hand.
In Afghanistan, an unsustainable stalemate has developed in which the majority of the population fears the Taliban, resents Nato and lacks faith in its government. Given the stakes, you may be tempted to “do more” in Afghanistan, but that alone would be a reaction, not a strategy.
Our own military admits that the current approach is not working. We cannot kill or capture our way to victory. We need more troops, but we also need a policy that corresponds to the aspirations and sensitivities of the local population. Under your leadership, Nato’s primary military mission should be to train Afghan forces to defend Afghan villages, and its dominant political objective should be to improve the quality of governance throughout the country.
Economic development is crucial, and you should encourage global and regional institutions to take the lead in building infrastructure and creating jobs. Diplomatically, you should concentrate on enhancing security co-operation between Islamabad and Kabul. Overall, allied efforts must go beyond killing terrorists to preventing the recruitment of cadre to replace them.
In addition to the Taliban, the reason we are in Afghanistan is al-Qaida, which remains an alien presence wherever it exists. Even its roots in Pakistan are not deep, and the failure of its leaders to articulate a positive agenda has reduced the allure of Bin Laden-style operations even to potential sympathizers. Al-Qaida, still dangerous, is beginning to lose the battle of ideas.
Targeted military actions remain essential, but you should avoid giving the many in the Muslim world who disagree with us fresh reason to join the ranks of those who are trying to kill us. This is, after all, an important distinction. Closing Guantánamo will help.
From the first day, you should also work to identify the elements of a permanent and fair Middle East peace. Cynics are fond of observing that support for peace will not pacify al-Qaida, but that is both obvious and beside the point. Your efforts can still enhance respect for American leadership in the regions where al-Qaida trawls for new blood.
Only effective regional diplomacy can persuade Israelis and Arabs alike that peace is still possible. In the absence of that hope, all sides will prepare for a future without peace, thereby validating the views of extremists and further complicating every aspect of your job.
The dangers radiating from the Middle East and Persian Gulf are sure to occupy you, but they should not consume all your attention. Just as an effective foreign policy cannot be exclusively unilateral, neither can it be unidimensional. You should devote more time and resources to regions, such as Latin America and Africa, that have been neglected.
As a leader in the global era, you must view the world through a wide lens. That is why I hope you will establish a new and forward-looking mission for our country: to harness the latest scientific advances to enhance living standards across the globe.
This initiative should extend to growing food, distributing medicine, conserving water, producing energy and preserving the atmosphere. It should include a challenge to the American public to serve as a laboratory for best environmental practices, gradually replacing mass consumption with sustainability as an emblem of the American way. Such a policy can serve the future by reducing our vulnerability to energy blackmail, while conveying a clearer and loftier sense of what the United States is all about.
Mr. President-Elect, the job once held by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and the Roosevelts will soon be yours. In years to come, you will be required to maintain your balance despite being shoved ceaselessly from every direction, and to exercise sound judgment amid the crush of events both predictable and shocking.
To justify our confidence in you, you must show confidence in us. End the politics of fear. Treat us like adults. Help us to understand people from distant lands and cultures. Challenge us to work together. Remind us that America’s finest hours have come not from dominating others but from inspiring people everywhere to seek the best in themselves.
Madeleine K. Albright was U.S. secretary of state from 1997 to 2001. She is the author of “Memo to the President: How We Can Restore America’s Reputation and Leadership” (HarperCollins, 2008).
Via the UK Telegraph