Tuesday, December 30, 2003

What To Write When You Have Nothing To Say (but still want to let people know you are OK)

I have nothing to say. I have nothing to say. I have nothing to say. I have nothing to say. I have nothing to say. I have nothing to say. I have nothing to say. I have nothing to say. I have nothing to say. I have nothing to say. I have nothing to say. I have nothing to say.

But...it's OK because I am just suffering from a post Christmas hangover due to; too much traveling, too much food, too much drink, and too much noise. This makes me too tired to write.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

It's Christmas Eve!

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.

Everybody knows
a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.

They know that Santa's on his way
He's loaded lots of toys
and goodies on his sleigh
And every mother's child is gonna spy
To see if reindeer
really know how to fly.

And so
I'm offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it's been said
many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you.

The Christmas Song, written by Mel Torme

(I will be a little busy tomorrow so, "A very Merry Christmas to everyone and may all your Christmas dreams come true.")

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Passion (Part II)

passion: the state or capacity of being acted on by external agents or forces; the emotions as distinguished from reason; intense, driving, or overmastering feeling; an outbreak of anger; ardent affection; a strong liking for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept; an object of desire or deep interest.
-Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary

When I say that passion is the cause of most of the trouble in the world I mean the kind of passion that surrounds a belief which has been warped by hatred for anyone who does not share that belief. That kind of passion is why those men flew two aircraft into the World Trade Center towers. That kind of passion is why a man who believes life is sarced can kill and main others by bombing a Planned Parenthood clinic. That kind of passion is why a man will kill his wife or girlfriend when she leaves him and then himself. That kind of passion is a loss of self to a belief and that kind of passionate belief seems to be egocentric. A perceived attack on the belief is seen as a personal attack on the person who holds the belief.

Why does passionate belief seem to turn into passionate hatred? Philosopher Eric Hoffer wrote, "Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life." Is that why people slide down that slippery slope to hatred so easily? Could it be that before they found their passion their lives had no meaning or purpose? It is as if once passion walks in the front door, compassion scurries out the back.

My niece was visiting two weekends ago and while she was here we drove around town looking at the Christmas lights. Five of the houses had crosses laid out in lights. I told my niece I didn't understand why someone would put a symbol of Jesus' death up at Christmas. She went back to school and talked about this in one of her classes the next week. Some of the kids were offended by what she said and replied that it was OK to put a cross up because it was a symbol of Christianity. My niece said no, it shouldn't be put up because it was a symbol of Easter. The kids who were upset by what she had said were now upset because she would not change her mind. As my niece was leaving the room at the end of class one boy said to her, "I thought you were OK but now I know you're not." My niece was now an enemy because she did not believe what he believed. Can hate be far behind?

That is why passion frightens me and that is why what I heard at that "Shepherds Party" upset me. The people there were sincere in their belief in Jesus but I get the feeling that they are standing mighty close to the edge of that slippery slope that leads down to passionate hatred.

But...but I also envy the fact that they believed in something. Belief is like a warm blanket wrapped around you on a cold winter morning. It makes you feel all safe and content. I remember how safe and content I felt as a child when I still believed that my parents could and would protect and take care of me. I remember how safe and content I felt when I still believed that Santa was winging his way around the world on the way to my house and that in the morning I would wake up and find presents for my brother, sisters, and myself waiting under the Christmas tree. The people at the party have their religion to give them that warm blanket feeling. Me, I'm too leary of passion to wrap that blanket around me.

I do believe in a supreme being but I do not trust organized religions. Organized religions are just a bunch of little clubs and clubs are formed in order to exclude other people. Of course religions don't call themselves clubs, they call themselves churches. So far I have heard, that only Catholics go to heaven, that only Mormons go to heaven, that only Jehovah Witness go to heaven, that Catholics aren't real Christians, that the Mormons aren't a religion but a cult, same as the Jehovah Witness. I won't even mention the things I have hear about Muslims and Jews. Sorry, if you don't belong to our club (church) and believe as we do you are excluded from joining us in heaven. As Groucho Marx once said, "I don't want to belong to a club that would accept me as a member."

But...but I still envy those people wrapped in their warm blankets. So, I need to find my own warm blanket. I do believe there is something beyond this world waiting for us after we die but I don't think I need to become a member of any organized religion to get there. I just need trust. Trust in the belief that there is a meaning and purpose to my life even though I am not sure what that meaning and purpose is. Trust in my belief that if I keep following the path that my life has been leading me down, I will find my purpose. Belief in this is my blanket. Trusting this belief is what keeps the blanket warm.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Passion (Part I)

I went to what I thought was a Christmas party Saturday night. The person who invited me called it a “Shepherds’ Party” and said there would be music, some readings from the bible (the story of Jesus’ birth), and then a light supper. Oh yes, and people would come dressed up like shepherds but that my husband and I did not have to do that if we didn’t want to. At first I wanted to say no but since I usually shy away from anything new I decided this time I would just jump in and said yes.

It wasn’t until my husband and I walked into a large room full of people (the majority of them dressed like shepherds in simple robes with ropes tied around their middles, Arab type head coverings, and sandals) sitting in chairs placed against three of the walls, each person holding a small candle, that I started thinking that coming to this thing might have been a bad idea. My husband and I had been given two small candles when we first came in and we each held one as we sat down in the last two empty chairs. As we sat down a man my husband knew ask him where his shepherd clothes were. My husband replied, “The Sheriff confiscated them after that sheep incident.” Fortunately, the man laughed. Everyone’s attention then turned to the other end of the room where a large Christmas tree stood in one corner with life size statues of Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, and two kneeling shepherds standing beside it. Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds were arranged around baby Jesus in his manger. In front of the tree stood a harp and two music stands.

The daughter of our hostess got up and went over to the harp and started playing. She played two pieces, neither one familiar to me, and they both sounded beautiful. After she finished a women (dressed as a shepherd) got up and sang a hymn about Jesus, again unfamiliar to me, to a recording of a chorus singing the same song. Then a young man (dressed as a shepherd) got up, lit his candle and touched it to the candle of the person sitting next to him and that person lit the candle of the person next to her and in that way all the candles everyone held were lit. When all the candles were burning the young man started reading lines from the bible. He read the story that told of the prophecy of the coming of Jesus. When he finished another woman (dressed as an angel) got up and did an interpretive dance to a recording of another song about Jesus.

That is when I realized we had been invited to a Christmas Pageant, the kind of amateur production that you used to see in grade school or in smaller churches. I wondered what my husband was thinking about this and later he said 30% of his thoughts were on memories of this kind of thing from his childhood while the other 70% of his brain was thinking, “Kill me, kill me now.” Which was interesting, since 30% of my thoughts were focused on the thought, “What have I gotten the two of us into?,” while the other 70% of my brain was thinking, “Kill me, kill me now.”

As I sat there feeling caught and cynical about the whole thing I thought, why? Why am I so threatened by all this? These are just people who want to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ and the beginning of their religion. They are doing it in what I, in my cynical view of religion, think is an over-the-top sappy way but who am I to judge? I decided to relax and go with the flow.

After the young man’s reading, another older man got up and sang another song about Jesus, again not familiar to me, again to a recording of a chorus singing the same song. When he finished the young man stood up again and read the story of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem and the arrival of the three kings. Right before he started reading three men in the audience got up and left the room only to return after the young man stopped talking to reenact the arrival of the three kings bearing gifts for the Christ child. They walked across the room and placed their gifts in front of the statue of baby Jesus in the manger and then left.

At this time the most enjoyable thing for me that evening happened. The hostess’ daughter played the harp again, along with her young son who played the violin. They played two pieces together, one being Angles We Have Heard On High, and the sound of the harp and violin blended together beautifully. Next, the boy played Away In The Manger, which was my favorite Christmas song when I was a child. After that, the young man got up again and finished his readings with the story of Herod’s search for the Christ child and Joseph and Mary’s flight to Egypt. Then the woman dressed as an angel did an interpretive dance about this story. The entertainment ended with the other woman singing another song I have never heard, which I think was called Emanuel. At the end she amused me by calling out, “Everyone join in,” and I was surprised when almost everyone did.

Finally, it was over and I was surprised to learn it wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be. In fact it was kind of sweet in all its awkwardness. I admired these people for being brave enough and comfortable enough to show how much they believed in their religion. Then everything got weird. Our hostess asked us to take turns standing up to tell everyone what we were blessed with and what we were giving back to Jesus to show that we were thankful that he gave it to us.

It started with a person about six seats away from me. He stood up with a lit candle and said how he was blessed and what he was giving back to Jesus in return. Then he handed the lit candle to the person sitting next to him and that person started talking. I was so freaked out by this charge from our hostess that I did not hear what people were saying until the man sitting two seats away from me started talking. He said he was blessed with a new life since he took Jesus into his heart 30 years before and he was giving this new life back to Jesus. He then passed the candle on to the woman sitting next to me. Crap, I’m next. What do I say? That I don’t want to play? That this is to weird for me? That I'll pass?

The woman next to me passed me the candle and in a trance I stood up and with my eyes focused only on the candle flame I heard myself say, “I give back the joy and wonder that Christmas brings to me.” Then I sat down and quickly passed the candle to my husband. He stood, said, “Peace on earth,” and sat down. The man always does better under pressure than me.

Now that I was no longer under pressure I sat and listened to the other people in the room speak. As I listened I got more and more uncomfortable with what I was hearing. More people giving their life to Jesus, people giving their souls to Jesus, one person gave his body, while another gave her grandchildren. These people were giving what they loved the most to Jesus; their own lives, their souls, their bodies, even other people. And their faces were glowing as they did it-it was damn creepy. At first I thought they were saying these things because they loved Jesus and what he represents. Then it hit me. These people didn’t love Jesus the way a child loves his or her father; they were in love with Jesus. They were passionate in their belief and passion has always scared me. It is the cause of most of the trouble in the world.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Feed The Birds

In my yard I have two bird feeders that I fill with black sunflower seeds and a birdbath that I keep heated in the winter. The is also a non-pear producing pear tree decorated with small berries like Christmas ornaments. This morning when I look out at the yard it was overflowing with bird life. I stood and watched in amazement.

There were two Flickers drinking from the bird bath, five Cedar Waxwings plucking berries from the pear tree, at least 20 sparrows on the ground eating sunflower seeds, a blackbird feeding at one of the bird feeders while two starlings fed at the other one. Also feeding in the tree were more starlings, more sparrows, two female flicker, six robins, and a number of House Finches. On the back wall sat two Blue Jays, heads cocked in examination of all that was going on. Clutching tightly to the branch of a large Cottonwood tree across the alley sat a very fat squirrel nervously watching everything. He is fat because my husband over feeds him and I think he is worried that the birds were going to eat all the sunflower seeds before he gets to them.

The birds were in constant motion moving from tree to feeders to birdbath and back. I have never seen anything like this before. It is like one of them found the food and he or she told another bird, who told another bird,who told another bird until the information spread to every bird in the area. I can hear a symphony of bird titters and cheeps through the closed kitchen window. I watch for as long as I can, knowing that they could be gone in an instant only to show up again later.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Hurry Christmas, Hurry Fast

Christmas, Christmas time is near
Time for toys and time for cheer
We've been good, but we can't last
Hurry Christmas, hurry fast
Want a plane that loops the loop
Me, I want a hula hoop
We can hardly stand the wait
Please Christmas, don't be late.

Want a plane that loops the loop
I still want a hula hoop
We can hardly stand the wait
Please Christmas, don't be late.
We can hardly stand the wait
Please Christmas, don't be late.

The Chipmunk Song written by Ross Bagdasarian
Photo, Christmas Time, taken by my sister

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Google Me

Last three Google searches that lead to Santiago Dreaming:
1. "Santiago" -check.
2. "How hard is it to walk the camino de santiago" -check.
3. "Clyde runs after her, and as he does a big cloud passes through the scene" -WTF?

Monday, December 15, 2003

Saddam Hussein's Capture

Why doesn't this make me feel better? I was surprised when I heard but did not feel anything would change because of it. This analysis in the New York Times explains why the news did not affect me very much. This mess is not going to end anytime soon.

Update: But then again maybe it will if Whiskey Bar is right.

Angels In America


An angel is a belief with wings and arms that can carry you.
-"Hannah Pitt" in Angels In America

I watched the second part of Angels In America last night and am still trying to absorb it, which is why I cannot seem to write anything about it. I plan on watching it again next month when HBO shows both parts in a marathon six hour presentation. If you would like to read a couple of reviews, each with a different take on what the movie is about, go here and to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The St. Louis Post review also has a link to a short summary of the plot.

Friday, December 12, 2003

I See The Moon

I see the moon
And the moon see me,
God bless the moon,
And God bless me.

Children's nursery rhyme, author unknown
Photo, Moon In Ice Water, taken by my sister

Thursday, December 11, 2003

To George W Bush


Look out how you use proud words.
When you let proud words go, it is not
easy to call them back.
They wear long boots, hard boots;
they walk off proud; they can't
hear you calling--
Look how you use proud words.
Carl Sandburg

Mr. President, it is time to stop fighting the whole world. Time to stop thinking only America knows what is right for the world. Time to stop being spiteful. Time to stop being judgmental. Time to stop thinking the prideful thought that only America knows what is best for the world.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003


What do you think? After seeing Blue Witch's new layout I decide to turn down the volume on my text. BW's page is a lot easier on the eyes and that got me thinking about my page. Mine (to me) was hard to read, so I've muted the color some and think it is now easier to look at.
(Eyeballs give a big sigh of relief)

Monday, December 08, 2003

Random Thoughts

I have been on a new diet, well, not a diet but I have made some changes in what I eat. I was tired of feeling listless and groggy in the morning so I decided to see if it had anything to do with what I was eating. For two weeks I ate nothing but meat (chicken, beef, fish), salads, and certain kinds of vegetables. No carbs, sugars, caffeine, or grains. After a week I woke up in the morning feeling awake and rested. I also notice I no longer felt like my mind was racing all the time. After the two weeks were up I slowly added other foods back in one at a time. I found I am intolerant of wheat (no more breads,pasta, or cereals) certain carbs like white potatoes, sweet potatoes (yams), and peas. I am also lactose intolerant but have a hard time not drinking milk in the winter because I love hot cocoa. I have tried replacement milks like lactose-free milk (yuck, taste like condensed milk) and soy milk(yuck, taste like yuck) in cereal but not in cocoa. So last week I tried hot cocoa made with soy milk. Not bad, it gave the cocoa a malted chocolate taste. I think if I add a little peppermint schnapps to it, it will be even better.

Last week I took Emma to the Vet for her wound check and to have her hips X-rayed to see if she has hip dysplasia This is something that may show up in Brittanies around the age of two and Emma is close enough to that age to have her hips checked. She is fine and the x-rays will be used as a base line if there are any problems in the future. Dogs have to be sedated in order for the X-rays to be taken and when we got back home she was still a little doped up. Her pupils looked like basketballs. After a nap she woke up hungry and I fed her but she was still hungry so I gave her more food. She ate that up and came to me begging for more with an urgently I had never see before. That's when I realize she was suffering from the drug munchies. My poor little dog was a stoner dude. Far out!

Last night I watched the first part of "Angels In America" , the film version of the Pulitzer Prize winning play. Magical. I have been wanting to see the play for ten years and I signed up for HBO (movie channel) this month just so I could see it. Part two is next Sunday.

At Amazon.com customers can write reviews on the book, movies, and CD's that Amazon sell. Sometimes I read the reviews and sometimes I don't. I was looking for a Christmas present for my niece last week and found a "....For Dummies" book about The Lord of the Rings called, The Origins of Tolkien's Middle-earth For Dummies. There is one review by misterb1020. I read it and thought, "Is this person nuts?", then I went and looked at all the reviews misterb1020 had written and saw that he was goofing on people. All of his reviews were tongue in cheek. In a review about a 5-disc DVD player he gave the product a bad review because he was disappointed by the fact that you could only watch one movie at a time. Three out of 63 people found his review helpful. That means 60 people were annoyed by his review so badly they took the time to click the not-helpful button. Good job misterb1020!

Added caminolinks to my Camino Links. Caminolinks is a site out of the UK that lists Camino pages that are in English. Has a good "tips for the trip" page, too.

I am thinking of getting rid of the Enetation comments because I am very happy with how Haloscan is doing. At first I was hesitant about doing this because I will lose all the comments that are there. Then I thought comments are really like conversations and not all conversations should or would be "saved" forever, even if they could be, so why should comments on blogs be saved forever? What do you think about it?

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Enlightenment Is A Gamble


Coincidences are spiritual puns
-G. K. Chesterton

Time to cash in your chips
Put your ideas and beliefs on the table
See who has the bigger hand
You or the mystery that pervades you

Time to scrape the mind's shit
Off your shoes
Undo the laces
That hold your prison together
And dangle your toes into emptiness

Once you've put everything
On the table
Once all your currency is gone
And your pockets are full of air
All you've got left to gamble with
Is yourself

Go ahead, climb up onto the velvet top
Of the highest stakes table
Place yourself as the bet
Look God in the eyes
And finally
For once in your life

Photographer unknown
Author unknown

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Someone To Watch Over Me

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.
- Albert Einstein

Five years ago my husband and I were returning home from a trip to Alburquerque, New Mexico. It is a 10-hour drive so we planned to stop about half way and spend the night at Colorado Springs. We reached the Springs about 6:00 PM and stopped at a restaurant for dinner. This was in the summer so it was still light out and would stay that way for a couple of more hours. At dinner we talked about how we were only about four hours from home, how we still felt good, and how nice it would be to sleep in our own bed that night. That's when we decide we would just keep driving and not spend the night there. So, after dinner we got back in the car and started driving to Limon, Colorado, where we jumped onto I-70.

By the time we reached Limon it was dark and I (the driver) was more tired than I expected to be at that point but knowing I would be sleeping in my own bed that night kept me going. An hour later my husband fell asleep and I drove on with that disconnected, alone feeling I always have when I am driving at night. There is something about driving in the dark surrounded by a cocoon of steel that makes me feel isolated from the rest of the world. The only connection I had with the outside world was the radio. Since we were pretty much in the middle of nowhere radio stations were few and far between and the ones I could find would fade out after a bit.

It was now about 10:00 PM on a Sunday night and there were not many cars on the road. So, I'm traveling along, listening to the station drift in and out on the radio when I decide to find another station. I glance down at the radio and start pushing buttons. I did not realize how long I had my mind and eyes focused on the radio until I saw a blinking red light in the passenger side view mirror out of the corner of my eye, and then saw the red and white blinking lights streaking across the dashboard. Crap, I had a cop car behind me. The second I saw the light I looked up and out the front windshield. My car was heading off the highway at a 25-degree angle. The right front wheel was over the white line designating the edge of the road and about a quarter of the front of the car was in the breakdown lane. "Shitshitshitshitshit!" I could not believe it, I was driving off the highway with a cop car right behind me and I was doing it while speeding. I was in deep, deep, doo-doo.

At this point my mind kind of split in two. Part of it was freaking out, not believing this was happening, while the other part was calmly steering the car back to the highway. I can't explain how fear can coexist with utter calm. I just know that I did such a smooth job of getting the car back onto the highway that I did not wake up my husband. Once I was back on the highway I felt a great sense of relief, which only lasted about a second as I thought about the cop behind me.

I looked in the rear view mirror and saw- nothing. No cop car, no flashing lights, nothing. I looked in my side view mirror-nothing. I looked in the passenger side view mirror again-nothing. I looked behind me over my right shoulder-nothing. I looked over my left shoulder-nothing. I swivelled my head and looked all around me-nothing. No cop car, no other cars, and no lights on or off the highway -nothing.

Now my heart was pounding and I swore out loud, waking up my husband. He asked me what was wrong and I explained what had happened.
"Are you sure you didn't see the reflection from something else?"
"Look around, Honey, there is nothing out here."
He then asked why I did not wake him up sooner. I said I was a little busy at the time and besides, if he had been awake none of this would have happened because he would have been the one to notice I was driving off the highway. He reluctantly agreed with me.

Monday, December 01, 2003

For Antonio

I did not realize today is World AIDS Day until I read about it at Blue Witch's blog. A friend of mine, Antonio Lopez, died of AIDS in 1987 and today, while looking through old photos, I found a Polaroid that he took of me. I first met Antonio one summer when my mother and I spent a weekend at his place on Fire Island. We went to the tea dance the first afternoon we got there and the place was a sea of men. It was there that I heard the first whispered rumors about a disease that was killing gay men. Now, I think about all the men who were there that day and wonder who is still alive. I have not thought of Antonio in years but when I do I remember a sweet, talented man who loved his daughter very much. He was a good man who did not deserve to die so young.

BW also mentions the Aids Memorial Quilt. Antonio is represented by one of the squares in block 00070.

You are getting sleepy, very, very, sleepy

A very belated Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrated. I am surprised by how long it has been since I last blogged. I can only blame the trypthophan coursing through my veins from all the turkey I have eaten in the last five days. You see, I have eaten two Thanksgiving dinners (one on Thanksgiving Day and one yesterday) and I feel as stuffed as that noble bird when it is prepared for the oven. The second turkey was the one I ordered for the Thanksgiving dinner that my husband and I planned for ourselves before we were invited up to my father-in-law's house. Since it was a fresh turkey my sister pointed out that it would be silly to freeze it and I agreed so, two big turkey dinners in the space of three days. We had left over turkey for lunch and will have more leftover turkey for dinner tonight but before then I have to go take a nap. I hope to get back to you sometime this week.