Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Peace, Sweet Peace

Gull by paynehollow
Gull, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.

As I walked to work, I came upon a genie's bottle
(or, if you prefer, a djinn's bottle)
and I invited the genie out.

He asked me what three wishes I'd like to make. I couldn't quite hear what he said though, as a car went roaring by.

"I wish all cars were silent"
I complained.

And instantly, cars everywhere stopped in their tracks.

The constant roar of the freeway - ominous and everpresent - chuttered down to a whimper, then a whisper.

The teenaged rattling boombox car fizzled and became moot. And mute.

The zipping, clipping, clunking, junking, greasy-mouthed yelling of cars battling down the streets around me

And there was silence.

It was an accident, but a happy one and I let that wish stand just as it was.

With the carrumble ended, I can hear the wind sweetly gossiping with the birds in the trees who, in turn, spread the good news to the squirrels and they chatter away unencumbered by the Everpresent Noise. It's incredibly...


how full and rich and complete
the peace has become
now that cars - and their noise - are gone.

Some have since argued, "Why couldn't the wish have been granted by simply magically making cars silent when they ran, rather than actually stopping cars from running?"

And I have replied, "just because... that's the way of wishes. They tend to have unintended consequences."

But I'm not complaining in this case, nor am I wishing away my wish.

I still have two wishes. The first worked out so well, I thought I'd stop while I was ahead... although, I'm giving a great deal of serious thought to the whole Airplane Conundrum.

For those who wish to complain about the whole no-car thing, I wish you'd take it up with the genie rather than me.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Since Then

Mother Berry Statue by paynehollow
Mother Berry Statue, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.

I found myself among the trees
What time the reapers ceased to reap;
And in the sunflower-blooms the bees
Huddled brown heads and went to sleep,
Rocked by the balsam-breathing breeze.

I saw the red fox leave his lair,
A shaggy shadow, on the knoll;
And tunneling his thoroughfare
Beneath the soil, I watched the mole--
Stealth's own self could not take more care.

I heard the death-moth tick and stir,
Slow-honeycombing through the bark;
I heard the cricket's drowsy chirr,
And one lone beetle burr the dark--
The sleeping woodland seemed to purr.

And then the moon rose: and one white
Low bough of blossoms--grown almost
Where, ere you died, 'twas our delight
To meet,--dear heart!--I thought your ghost....
The wood is haunted since that night.

A poem by Madison Cawein, Kentucky poet, 1865-1914

Friday, January 11, 2013

Preventing Violence

New Years Princess by paynehollow
New Years Princess, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.

President Obama is looking at trying to find ways to prevent/mitigate acts of mass violence following this latest school shooting. It is a lofty goal to try to figure out ways to prevent such tragedies when they happen (and even better to try to find ways to prevent them BEFORE they happen).

Having said that, what I've heard mostly coming from him thus far appears to be focusing primarily on gun-restriction-themed solutions. I am no gun advocate, and don't have a problem with dealing with the firearms angle of this problem, but I hope he doesn't end his efforts there.

What I've heard thus far mentioned is something about limiting the number of bullets that can be stored in a clip. That might help reduce the damage done, but beyond that, it wouldn't serve to stop the assaults in any significant way.

I'm wondering what else can be done - what ideas are being floated (or are not being floated but ought to be) to deal with our murder rate and acts of violence in our nation.

I would think it is important to keep in mind that there are multiple aspects/types of violence and each might have different approaches to reduce the harm - mass violent acts done by disturbed individuals like in Connecticut are one type and they tend to get the most coverage at any one time, but there are other types of violence (local crime-directed violence, local drug-crime violence, spousal/familial violence, etc) and they are the ones with the overall greater impact on society.

Some suggestions/approaches I think we should be looking at would include...

* increasing support for/awareness of mental health concerns;

* increase educational/awareness/preventative efforts at combating spouse/familial abuse; increase support for families in general;

* end the war on drugs;

* improve efforts at rehabilitating former convicts... having job opportunities so that they don't return to a life of crime is a big deal;

* encourage stronger communities, more "porch-time," more people walking/less driving (violence that occurs in urban settings are often crimes of opportunity - if more people were walking and otherwise outside and there were fewer times of isolation, there'd be less opportunities for random violent acts) - these actions can be done at the individual level, but support at the community level - gov't and private - would improve the approach;

* review how weapons of mass destruction/firearms wind up in the hands of the mentally disturbed and find ways to decrease those opportunities;

* this is a rather complex issue involving multiple concerns of liberty - for one thing, a person may acquire firearms while they're not exhibiting signs of mental disturbance... how can we respect patient privacy and yet find ways of raising red flags when a person is experiencing a lack of control and move to remove weaponry from their reach? I don't know that anything is currently in place to deal with this and would be open to ideas;

...for starters. Does anyone else have sound ideas of places to start and solutions to implement?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Old Barn, by Gordon Trabue

Old Barn by paynehollow
Old Barn, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.
The picture above is a pen and ink drawing my father did a few years ago. Since he's retired, he's turned to art as a productive past time.

As a young man, he studied art in school and did some incredible work, including an amazing life-sized painting of Christ in the Clouds behind a baptismal pool in a Baptist church in rural Kentucky. He recently visited the church and it's still there.

Following college, life, work and raising six sons (as well as being unofficial parents, friends and mentors to dozens - hundreds - of young people) took up my parents' life, and that was time well-spent, I'm sure they'd say.

But since retiring (off and on, roughly 15 years ago), it has allowed my parents some time to travel and my father some time to draw. Mainly, pen and ink drawings like the one above.

He's drawn sketches of all the covered bridges in Kentucky and Indiana... these have been his main subject. But he's also done sketches of old barns, lighthouses and other interesting roadside views.

Dad's had Parkinson's Disease for over ten years, but it's always been a mild case and only slowed him down a little. He still was able to draw, to paint, to travel and do what he and Mom pleased.

Over the last year, they've finally had to start slowing down significantly and this has been difficult for them. The good side of it, though, is that it has pushed me to be more involved in their lives. Me, my brothers, cousins, nephews and nieces are all taking time to spend with these wonderful people and being thankful for the gift of Bill and Mary to this world.

I have long had a thing for old barns and structures that stand by slow, abandoned roads, being claimed by time and nature. I can hardly pass by fields and forests haunted by past lives and buildings without wanting to stop and investigate. Many times, the desire to get out and walk around and breathe in this common history wins out and I do just that.

In my increased time with my parents of late, I realize anew that I come by my love of nature and traveling small old roads by way of an inheritance from my Mom and Dad. Just another way they have been a blessing in my life and, I know, the lives of many others.

Thanks, Mom and Dad.