Sunday, December 31

What a Wonderful World

Pics from 36 of the amazing people who share their pics on Flickr

click below to listen to Eva Cassidy's cover of What a Wonderful World while you are reading my post, and looking at the photos ....

or, you can listen to Israel Kamakawiwo'ole playing his medley of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow & What A Wonderful World" -- this is one of the sweetest renditions I've heard of these two songs:

New Year's Day, Planet Earth, 2007

Today, beginning, we take
our first steps into whatever
comes next, we open our hearts
to life and faith, we find
courage , we hold it out
to others
with the kind of compassion
that comes only
from having lost, or never
having known ...

we look out from
interior worlds through
handprints on the glass
we see behind us
know there is more
find the seed of
acceptance, somewhere
inside, or maybe
it was planted
by one who loved us
long ago or only
just this morning
when the sun
like it always

we go on
into the day
into love
into wonder
into joy
we go into our future
as if there is
only this


With this, I want to thank everyone who has inspired me, shaken me, helped me, befriended me, held me .... everyone who has been honest, real, connected, open. For every insight, compliment, helping hand, critique, loving or kind thought. For all of your comments, for sharing your lives with the rest of us, for sharing your knowledge, your place in life, your homes, your little piece of our home planet, Earth. Thank you for making the world a better place to call home

I wish for all of you the best in 2007. I wish for you the courage to go forward, to find your life, to find your place in the universe. I wish you all that your heart desires. May you all be blessed.

Helena, Rocky Mountains, Montana, North America

These photos I collected specially from Flickr, for my New Year thoughts for today. I hope you will go visit some of these folks photostreams. Flickr is such a cool thing!

1. [ L ' a t t e s a / L ' a m o r e ] VI, 2. Climbing The Stairs, 3. p u r e . j o y, 4. ., 5. Untitled, 6. Four pairs o' feet, 7. 1st capture_August 29, 8. After the thrill, 9. Treasure, 10. Mother and Child, 11. khalil_in_stall, 12. the west wind, 13. Perpetual awareness, 14. day 269: the feet of a future marathonist?, 15. Life is a journey, 16. Baby Hippo, 17. Boxmeer 2002, 18. fear, 19. Ranunculus, White, 20. January, 21. CRBR003088, 22. Gisimba Memorial Center, 23. Lines of Life, 24. First Step Into Water, 25. day 218: first step?, 26. Mother and Child, 27. Hello World, 28. First steps in the big world, 29. First steps..., 30. primeiros passos (first steps) ..., 31. His first steps!, 32. first steps, 33. First steps, 34. Img14532, 35. Taking It's First Step!!, 36. First Steps!

Tuesday, December 26

Band Names Generator

I guess I needed a diversion today. How I found this website, a band-name generator, certainly I don't know. Three page refreshes got me this cumulative list:

  • Ziggy Claypool and the Stellar Plumbers
  • Five Pancakes and Their Java
  • The Invisible Puddle Adventure
  • Venomous Alpha
  • Caustic Boy
  • Bob and the Constantinople Carpenters
  • Stone Claypool and the Toronto Angels
  • The Vicious Tapirs
  • Sylvester Phillips and the Stellar Accountants
  • The Bumblebee Conspiracy
  • Ziggy Edwards and the Universal Land Racket
  • The Invisible Purity Quartet
  • Leather Chain
  • The Ravenous Temple Encounter
  • Insane Snout
  • Buckaroo Johnson and the Young Tapir System
  • The Bishop Brigade
  • Gammaman
  • Plague of Rivers
  • The Leather Hammer Group
  • feargun
  • Confederate Men
  • colorgarden
  • A Temple of Fingers
hey, there are some pretty good name ideas there ...

Josh ( I think that's who has the word generators) has other word generators, Adolescent Poetry and Post Modernism Essays... reminds me of really really bad academic papers. The papers even have footnotes! '-D

Here are a couple of excerpts from "The Posttextual Paradigm of Discourse and Nationalism

In the works of Burroughs, a predominant concept is the concept of precapitalist culture. But Foucault promotes the use of semantic desituationism to read class. Nationalism suggests that the task of the participant is deconstruction, given that reality is distinct from language.

or this one:
In a sense, the premise of the posttextual paradigm of discourse holds that academe is capable of social comment, but only if Bataille’s critique of nationalism is valid; otherwise, Baudrillard’s model of the posttextual paradigm of discourse is one of “Lacanist obscurity”, and thus intrinsically impossible. The subject is contextualised into a postcapitalist dialectic theory that includes reality as a totality.

Sunday, December 24

Peace in our Hearts ... and ... Peace on our Earth

May we each find our inner light,
may our dreams become real for us,
in this time of year when friendships grow,
when darkness recedes and
light grows strong again ...

in this *Winter*season,
this Solstice Season of celebration and change,
I want to thank everyone
who has helped me grow as an artist, a writer
and photographer -- and most especially, as a person --
through your kindnesses, your generosity
your friendship and your light.

May each of you be blessed with
the time to go inside, reflect on what
nourishes you, on what gives you
strength, on what makes you happy

May the light and peace of the Great Spirit always
shine in your hearts

Merry Christmas and a joyful New Year

Wednesday, December 20

Montana Web Blog Awards

retreat activity, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Wulgar over at the blog, A Chicken is Not Pillage, has posted a list of nominations for the 2006 Montana Blog Awards. Last year through the same process, I discovered some gems I have enjoyed reading over the past year. The awards put a spotlight on some lesser-known blogs as well as some gems in several categories, including political blogs and creative blogs.

Thank you, Wulfgar, for hosting the Montana Blog Awards. I know it took time and effort to put it all together. You are much appreciated!

So, to all of my blog readers: even if you don't live in Montana, if you enjoy my blog or any of the others listed below, please head over to Wulfgar's blog to vote for somebody -- anyone can vote.

Of course, I would appreciate your votes for either of my blogs, Raven's Nest or Land of Little Rain. And there lots of other blogs on the list that also happen to be some of my favorite regular reads: Bitterroot and Bergamot is one -- most of my blog readers already visit her blog regularly, but in case you haven't, check it out -- she has an eye for capturing the beauty of Nature - from tiny details to wide open landscapes.

Another of my favorite blogs is Karen's excellent blog about life on a Montana ranch: Karbon Kounty Moos.

Watermark is filled with creative writing and dynamic conversations with her blog readers, always stimulating to read.

Another Missoulian, Patia -- A Drivel runs through It -- writes about life, politics, culture with a subtle sense of humor that makes me snort out loud.

As long as I'm lobbying for votes for my own personal favorites, I can't leave out this irreverent blog, even if I rarely agree with his views. What I Think (as if you Give a Damn) is funny, honest and straightforward. Even if you are easily offended, I dare you to give it a read -- everyone needs a good chuckle now and then. Here's an excerpt on the weather (i'd much rather read about the weather on Justin's blog than watch the weather guy on channel 12 -- anyday!)

Why isn't there a market for snot? I've got barrels of the shit and no end in sight to the supply. So how about it? Anybody want to buy a barrel of snot?

Didn't think so.

Sorry to be so brief once again, but I seriously feel like ass. I'm gonna go have another Airborne and echinacea cocktail and go back to bed. Snow on the ground and one of our drivers is off for the week so I doubt I'll wind up with a night off. I guess if I'm going to be sick I might as well get paid for it. From what I hear, the snow's supposed to be short lived but the cold assed temps are likely to hang around for a few days anyway. Do yourself a favor and dress up like an Eskimo tomorrow night, I wouldn't advise the nude surfer costume.
Now, that's a weather report. Wish Justin had his take on the daily weather in his sidebar.

Here are the nominated Montana blogs, with links so you can check out some of the best blogs in the west.

Montana Blog that best represents popular culture:

Better Living Through Blogging
Bah Weep Grahna Weep Ninny Bon
Patia Stephens/ A Drivel Runs Through It
City Lights
Thoughts From The Middle Of Nowhere

Best Montana History Blog:

A History of Montana By Kodak
Electric City Weblog
Karbon Kounty Moos
Prairie Mary

Blog That Best Represents a Montana Lifestyle:

Karbon Kounty Moos
Thoughts From The Middle of Nowhere
A Chicken Is Not Pillage
Pragmatic Revolt
What I Think (as if you give a damn)

Most Creative Montana Blog:

Patia Stephens/ A Drivel Runs Through It
Raven's Nest

Best Photography:

Thoughts From The Middle Of Nowhere
Bitterroot and Bergamot
Out There With Tom
A History Of Montana By Kodak
Karbon Kounty Moos
Land Of Little Rain

Best Written Montana Blog:

A Chicken Is Not Pillage
City Lights
4 & 20 Blackbirds
Dave Budge
Intelligent Discontent

Most Humorous Montana Blog:

The Monkey Cage
A Secular Franciscan Life
Bah Weep Grahna Weep Ninny Bon

Best Left Leaning Blog:

A Chicken Is Not Pillage
4 & 20 Blackbirds
Left In The West
Intelligent Discontent
Montana Netroots

Best Right Leaning Blog:

MT Politics
Electric City Weblog
Montana Misanthrope
The Hammond Report

Best Independent or Libertarian Blog:

Dave Budge
Pragmatic Revolt
The Last Best Place

Best Political Blog:

Left In The West
4 & 20 Blackbirds
Intelligent Discontent
MT Politics
Montana Netroots

Blog That Had The Most Impact on the Elections of 2006:

Left In The West
Electric City Weblog
4 & 20 Blackbirds

Thanks again, Wulfgar.

Tuesday, December 19

The Road

PatryFrancis wrote an interesting post about Cormac McCarthy's newest book, The Road. I stumbled on her blog post when I was looking around at all the many blogs that have used my photos from flickr (it's really cool that I can find websites that post my photos -- keep an eye on how the images are being used by others ...) Anyway, I was drawn in to her post because I have recently finished reading The Road. I ended up writing a monster of a comment about the book on Patry's blog. And I thought -- I should post it here, too. So here's the comment I wrote:

I just finished reading The Road. We had given it to my 25-year old son, Mickey, as a birthday gift -- something he requested, as he is an avid fan of C McCarthy's. Mickey finished the book quickly (as always) and brought it for me to read when he came home at Thanksgiving. He told me it was very very very sad (exactly his words) but that he thought it was worth reading. He also told me he didn't think I would like it, as in "Wow, this is such a good book!" but that I would probably think the book was a good book anyway. (if that makes any sense ...)

The Road was the saddest book I have ever, ever read. I read all the time. I actually don't mind sad. But this was extreme! Somebody else commented on Patry's post about how sad the book, No Country for Old Men was... well, The Road is definitely more sad than that one.

Others wrote about it being "scary" ... for me it wasn't scary. I just felt incredibly sad for the Earth, for humankind, for all the plants and birds and insects, fish, creatures ... though I know it was fiction, it is so close to what is plausible ...

McCarthy's way of writing dialog -- sparse, stark, succinct ... and his way of not naming his characters ... so that the 2 protagonists were "the boy" and "the man," makes it even sadder. So much more real. The way the primitive mind might think. (by that I mean, the deep human mind that lurks under our conscious mind) So much closer to what might really happen if we somehow destroyed the world, life, everything save for a few not-so-lucky souls.

I had a hard time sleeping each night when I would put the book down on my nightstand. My husband didn't want me telling him anything about the story. I tried to a few times, just to have someone to console me. He just fell asleep. Sometimes reading the story as it plods along unapologetically, trudging with the boy and the man along a half-hidden asphalt road through absolute 100% devastation ... sometimes I would be reading through tears. Tears running down my cheeks. And then, sobs. Sobs -- out loud. I mean it when I say, for me, The Road was the saddest book ever! It wasn't the kind of "sad" I've felt reading a book like "The Color Purple" or Wendell Berry's "Jayber Crow" where the story takes saddish turns now and then. The Road was thoroughly, deeply sad. When I finished The Road, I gave it to him. He put it on the bottom of his pile of books under the nightstand on his side of the bed. I know he won't read it.

And yet, the man and the boy, each the other's world entire, have such love -- that love sustains them along their forced journey through a bleak and ashy world. McCarthy conjures a vision of the worst that could happen to our world - through human fault -- and the best part of the human soul. There is 100% destruction of everything around them. Except for the tenderness between this father and this son.

That tenderness was, for me, the tiny flicker of hope in all the sadness, grief -- and anger -- I felt reading the book. The faith held between the man and the boy, that they were carrying the fire ... somehow carrying a seed of humanity's true essence -- in the face of the world's total destruction, that seed is hope.

Fire is an important part of the spiritual path I share with my husband. Maybe that's why the hope really sank in -- touched me deeply. Somehow this dark, dark tale made me glad to be alive, lucky for all the blessings and gifts we have -- now.

And for that reason, I would read the book again. And recommend it to anyone who knows they like Cormac McCarthy.
Here is a comprehensive NYT book review of The Road, with excerpts.

Truthiness: Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year

What a cool word! Truthiness
I love how the English language is constantly changing -- it's a dymanic language, rather than being stuck, static. New words keep the language alive.

Truthiness is Merriam Webster's Word of the Year for 2006. This is a quote from their website:

By an overwhelming 5 to 1 majority vote, our visitors have awarded top honors to a word Colbert first introduced on "The Word" segment of his debut broadcast on Comedy Central back in October 2005. Soon after, this word was chosen as the 16th annual Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society, and defined by them as "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true."

Merriam-Webster's #1 Word of the Year for 2006 based on votes from visitors to our Web site is:

tada .... wait for the drum roll ...

truthiness (noun)
1 : "truth that comes from the gut, not books" (Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," October 2005)
2 : "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true" (American Dialect Society, January 2006)

more about truthiness:

"I think there's a serious issue lurking behind the popularity of the word truthiness," said John Morse, President and Publisher of Merriam-Webster Inc. "What is it exactly that constitutes truth today? This isn't just a political question-it's relevant to a broad spectrum of social issues where our ideas on the nature of authority are being challenged. Adopting the word truthiness is a playful way to deal with this important question."

Traffic to Merriam-Webster OnLine now encompasses 100 million individual page views per month. On average, the website responds to approximately ten lookup requests in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary or Thesaurus per second. During peak hours, this may increase to more than 100 requests per second. Here are the other 9 words in the top 10 words of the year:

2. google
3. decider
4. war
5. insurgent
6. terrorism
7. vendetta
8. sectarian
9. quagmire
10. corruption

I like quagmire. It reminds me of when my boys were much, much younger and they, along with me and an adult friend, Jeff, got my VW Rabbit stuck in a big mud puddle -- actually it was a mixture of mud and cowshit. Mickey had just learned the words, quagmire and cesspool. He delighted in saying them over and over -- laughing -- while we tried to get unstuck.
Pronunciation: 'kwag-"mI(-&)r
1 : soft miry land that shakes or yields under the foot
2 : a difficult, precarious, or entrapping position : PREDICAMENT

Monday, December 18

Groceries or Gifts wrapped in Furoshiki?

The furoshiki is a square cloth, dyed in a variety of colors and patterns, that is used for wrapping, storing, and carrying things. The name "furoshiki," which combines the words "furo" meaning "bath" and a form of the verb "shiku" meaning "to spread," dates back to the Edo Era(1603-1868) when public baths were in fashion, and people carried their belongings in a square cloth, then spread the cloth for use as a bath-mat.

Over the years, people realized the versatility of these cloths and began using them in many ways. Very large furoshiki can hold futon (Japanese bedding set) and small furoshiki can wrap just one teacup. The typical furoshiki is 70 square cm and until very recently, Japanese would not leave home without one.
They are folded like a napkin or handkerchief when not being used, so a furoshiki will conveniently fit in a briefcase, purse or backpack.

I would love to get our local natural food store, and the food coop we belong to in Bozeman, to start providing furoshiki as one of our choices at the check-out-stand. They now give shoppers a choice of using a plastic bag or purchasing a cloth bag (or, of course, you can bring your own cloth bags or reused plastic bags -- this is what we do now.)

I'm going to experiment with wrapping miscellaneous groceries in a furoshiki to see if it might be a practical thing for the Real Food Market to begin offering as a choice.

May 17, 2006, at the Foreign Press Center/Japan found Japan's Minister of the Environment, Ms. Yuriko Koike demonstrating the use of a furoshiki she designed and produced, which is made of recycled PET bottles. She encourages the audience to start using furoshikis instead of the many, many paper and plastic bags used to carry purchases home. Here is an excerpt from her talk:

I am introducing this furoshiki [square cloth used for wrapping objects] that I designed and produced myself. The picture is a bird-and-flower painting by Ito Jakuchu [1716–1800], a Japanese painter who lived in the middle of the Edo period [1603–1868]. At first sight it might look like a scarf, but I made it as a furoshiki. I called it the “Mottainai Furoshiki.” Mottainai [waste not, want not] is a Japanese word that is extremely difficult to translate. This furoshiki can be used as a scarf, but I also suggest that you take it with you to the convenience store or other shop and use it instead of a plastic shopping bag to carry home your shopping. The furoshiki is very familiar to the Japanese, but it is not used very much these days. So I am now involved in a campaign to revive this piece of Japanese wisdom about the environment. I have tied the two corners of this cloth. If you tie the four corners, you can used it to wrap up this globe. (I am the environment minister, so I brought along a globe!) You can also use it to carry two bottles of wine, which I’m sure you all like very much. You can wrap the two bottles like this and then take them to your friend’s house. The good thing about the furoshiki is that it can be used to wrap both round things and square things. And this furoshiki is made in my constituency of Toshima Ward. It is called the “Red Furoshiki of Happiness.” The design shows how you can use it to wrap things. Both of these furoshiki use fiber recycled from PET bottles.
I said just now that you can use the furoshiki instead of a plastic shopping bag. In Japan, 30 billion plastic shopping bags are used every year. We are carrying out a campaign so that the use of the furoshiki, eco-bags, and personal shopping bags becomes something quite natural. This was the case 20 or 30 years ago, but then people succumbed to convenience. Our campaign is a kind of admonition of this trend. By making such easy-to-understand, enjoyable, and rather fashionable presentations, we hope to enhance the consciousness of the people. Regarding the two pillars of environmental administration, we hope to share easy-to-understand contact points with the public and proceed smoothly toward the two goals of building a low-carbon society and a sound material-cycle society.
later in a question answer period, Ms. Koike elaborates on what she is doing to encourage furoshiki use in Japan:
... department stores like Mitsukoshi have (now) set up furoshiki corners. Previously furoshiki were hidden in a corner of the kimono section, but we have been asking stores to put them right in the center as much as possible ... Also, recently I have been recommending Japanese companies and foreign companies as well to make furoshiki instead of expensive paper bags when they are offering a service ... Furoshiki are a familiar item for Japanese, but I was delighted that foreign companies have shown a good understanding of the furoshiki idea as well.

How to tie a furoshiki around round objects such as a bowl of fruit or a melon, from WAKU:

This Two Knots Wrapping(Hikkake-zutsumi) style is used for rectangular articles. It is useful when the diagonal length of furoshiki is not long enough to be tied. Two corners facing each other on the short side of the box are just twisted around each other and each corner is tied with the nearest on the long side of the box. The style looks neater when the two knots are aligned in the center of the bundle.

Sunday, December 17

Me as Pop Icon

Me as Pop Icon, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Well, since I am still w/o camera or computer, I am reduced to playing around ... ahem harumph. Reduced to playing around with my previously posted flickr photos ... I'm having fun anyway. Here's me -- Warholized -- as a pop icon. Not bad, eh?

Wednesday, December 13

A doorway, a mirror, a meditation

Raspberry Leaf Autumn Nierika
copyright 2005 by Maureen Shaughnessy

Amur Maple Nierika
copyright 2005 by Maureen Shaughnessy

Cleome Flower Nierika
copyright 2005 by Maureen Shaughnessy

Soup for Body and Soul

This week I had to postpone two root canals (oh darn!) because I have a sinus thing/chest cold going (it would be hard to have my mouth crammed with fingers and dental tools when I can't even breath through my nose.) I'm taking all kinds of goodies for it: echinacea, osha, occiloccinum, garlic tea, kill-the-cold hot drink, hot baths ... that old phrase, "Feed a cold starve a fever" (or is it the other way around?) keeps running through my head though nothing sounds appetizing to me right now.

I guess I'm hungry though ... so I'm going to cook up some Immune Soup. This is a recipe from Thia, the wellness manager at the Bozeman Community Food Coop. We live in Helena but we are members of the Bozeman Coop because we have no coop in Helena (sad but true) and we support the concept and mission of food coops over for-profit natural food stores. Unfortunately we can only shop at "our" coop once every couple of months, but when we do, we really stock up.

Here is Thia's recipe for delicious Basic Immune Soup:

5 cloves of garlic
2 medium onions
1 T olive oil
8 broken shiitake mushrooms
2 pieces astragalus
1 reishi mushroom
½ c up each chopped broccoli, cabbage, carrots
1 small handful of sea vegetables (kelp, dulse, wakame, kombu)
(optional) 1 3# hormone-free, cooked chicken with skin removed
(optional) 1 cup cooked beans, barley or brown rice

Chop garlic and onions. Saute’ in olive oil until just brown. Add chopped vegetables and astragalus. Break reishi mushrooms into small pieces and to pan. Add shiitake mushrooms and water to make the desired consistency. Add sea vegetables.

If desired, simmer the chicken in the soup. Add cooked beans, barley, or brown rice. Simmer for 2 hours. Make miso paste: Remove ¼ cup of broth and add 1 teaspoon of miso FOR EVERY CUP OF WATER you add to the soup. Add miso paste to water, and mix thoroughly.

Remove astragalus and reishi mushroom pieces from soup; their therapeutic value has already been added through simmering. Serve soup hot and enjoy.

Slurp your soup from a bowl and use chopsticks to eat the mushrooms and other solid ingredients. Here (left) is a little diversion to get your creative juices flowing again (I know being sick can drain those juices real fast ...)

I must have been thinking about the Food Coop because I had planned to make a shopping trip there while in Bozeman today for my root canal work (Helenans have to travel 90 minutes or so to Bozeman for root canals) -- shopping at the food coop is a great pleasure, even though I generally don't like grocery shopping (or any kind of shopping, for that matter) so it's my way of making a less-than-ideal situation pleasurable. Anyway, I thought I'd check the coop's website to see what kind of specials they have this week -- and I found this delicious sounding soup.

As Thia wrote, "You don’t have to have health problems to benefit from an excellent immune-strengthening diet." Enjoy good health and Thia's delicious Immune Soup.

And if you like soup, making soup or eating soup, PCC (a co-op I belong to from the early 70s in Seattle) has an excellent list of soup recipes here.

Tuesday, December 5

Soul of a Tree

The Festival of Trees #6 is up at Arboreality ... and here is a link to the main Festival of Trees blog. I'd like to share this slideshow with my blog visitors, in celebration of trees, photos I have taken over the last 4 seasons:

If you'd like to see any of the slideshow photos individually and/or at larger sizes, just click on the photo in the slideshow window and it should take you to that photo's page in my flickr account. For the large sizes, you have to click the button above the photo that says "all sizes"

Thanks for visiting my blog, for reading and (hopefully) enjoying the photos

Sunday, December 3

He is Fire to my Water: we're stayin' warm this winter

He is Fire to my Water, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Although I am still without a computer or camera ... I was able to access ... oh, maybe 6 of ... my photos from the dvd of salvaged data from my fried/dead hard drive ... using my husband's laptop and Picasa (he doesn't have photoshop on his computer - sob sob) Gives me a whole new appreciation for what I had ... and for making backups (which I hadn't done adequately) So, I've been playing around with that half dozen images just to ward off those drooling, wolf-like symptoms of withdrawal for a bit longer. heheh (more sob sob)

I made this digital "quilt" from a photo of skeletal leaves ... just playing around with levels, saturation, etc in Picasa (fun program, but nothing compared to Pshop) It's a reminder to stay warm in this winter. I made this specially for Tim, in celebration of his 59th birthday which is today, December 3rd. I am so blessed to have Tim in my life. He keeps me warm in many ways: in my heart and in my body. His voice has a warm timbre, his hands are always warm, his arms are warm, his thoughts and whole personality is what many people think of as "warm." He's a furnace: fire to my water.

And the love of my life.

Happy Birthday, Tim!