Friday, December 19, 2008

On Rick Warren

I agree with Joe Solmonese of Human Rights Campaign, that Barack Obama's choice of Rick Warren to give the invocation at the presidential inauguration, is insensitive and insulting to the GLBT community. In affect, insulting to any of us who support inclusion and equal rights for all Americans.

Rick Warren, a right-wing religious fundamentalist has attacked GLBT people, putting their sexuality in the same category as pedophilia and incest. Further, "non-believers" have been attacked by Warren as having no place in public office. Does he also mean unless they worship a Christian god?

When Obama strives to "reach across the isle" to include many points of view, I wish that he would do so with a little more tact. If Warren was on record as having made racist comments about blacks or Asians, he certainly would have been disqualified from taking on this role. As one pundit on MSNBC stated earlier this evening, gays and "non-believers" are still fair game for attack.

That a President-elect would overlook this homophobia and divisiveness at a time when we need him to bring us together is truly disappointing. It reinforces for me that while Obama is willing to say he supports GLBT rights, he is not really committed to this issue. It's a reflection too of the many Obama supporters who voted for Prop 8 and the evident lack of regard Obama is showing for the many gay Americans who voted for him, in hopes that he would embrace their community as part of his over-all desire for unity.

Further, I don't understand why the separation of church and state doesn't apply to this religious invocation ritual to begin with. If Obama wants a blessing for his presidency he should do it in the privacy of his church. Since his decision to invite Warren to proceed appears largely to be a political move, it lends an especially phony and hallow tone to the whole inauguration.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Artist of the Week: Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian

Neo-Plasticism is a Dutch movement founded (and named) by Piet Mondrian. It is a rigid form of Abstraction, whose rules allow only for a canvas subsected into rectangles by horizontal and vertical lines, and colored using a very limited palette. Mondrian is also known as "the father of Geometric Abstraction".

Mondrian's early works were mostly still life and landscapes

Watercolor over pen

View of Winterswijk

Mondrian came into the art world at the tail-end of Impressionism, in which he too dabbled

View from the Dunes with Beach and Piers
oil and pencil on cardboar



Watercolor and ink on paper

Still Life with Ginger pot II
You can see the very beginnings of his abstract style...

which finally led to a canvas whose subject is titled but bears no actual resemblance to it.
Pier and Ocean

By the around 1915, Mondrian was painting entirely in abstract geometric shapes, and in the 1920's through the 40's, he created several series of abstract works for which he is most famous today.

Composition No. III Blanc-Jaune

Oil on Canvas

The Train

What can I say, I got to thinking about trains...

I'm not sure who the photographer is but I've linked this back to Terrain Gallery, home of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation.

Train Song

Victoria Williams
Musings of a Creek Dipper

'Tis NOT the Season for War Toys

click on warning to read Code Pink's take on how to take on the toy industry. I have to admit to having a deep fondness for these women. :-)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dar Williams

For Steve, a Dar Williams fan and because I just mentioned this song written by her about WRSI Radio in the "comments" section of the post below.

What's Goin' On / Christmas / Solstice

I'm very slow to recover from this plague, as Dianne calls it. At this point, it's a vicious circle of the physical and psychological; with the physical troubles coming first and going 'round and 'round.

The ear pain is gone but my ear is still fuzzy. I'm taking the damned antibiotics, even though I strongly suspect this is viral. I wonder if it's the medication that's making me feel so queezy and headachy and otherwise out of sorts. Today is the last day I take the stuff, as it appears not to be doing much to help me. I have very little appetite and I'm now facing a return to work tomorrow, which I would be looking forward to except that I still don't feel up to par.

I've tried today to shake off the psychological piece of this plague by getting dressed in something other than sleep clothes. I paid some bills; I'm contemplating a load of laundry.

I've yet to step outside since my visit to the doctor's on Thursday. The thought just makes me feel sicker. Some of this low-level depression is due to the weather's most devastating consequence: The Winter Blues or as the shrinks call it: SAD. There was a hint of sun when I awoke not-so-early this afternoon. Yes. I woke up at 2:30 p.m. after having been awake from 2:00 to 5:3o a.m. I feel totally useless and almost lifeless. But not hopeless. Just impatient for this thing to go away so that I can feel normal and get about the business of decorating the house for Solstice. Or Yule.

These terms for the holidays don't exactly roll off the tongue. I was raised with Christmas because of both my mother and my culture; the latter of which is highly Roman Catholic. When I was a little girl in Portugal; where I was born and lived for the first six years of my life, Christmas was exactly that: a religious holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. My father, being an atheist, was willing to go along with some of the traditions that my mother tried to uphold. I don't recall that we had a tree every year; I don't think we did. But I do remember one Christmas where my father found a bare tree branch and stuck it into a tin pail full of sand. We had these little clay knick-knacks around the house: little jugs with tiny hand-painted flowers (I have since bought a whole collection of these on visits to Portugal and we hang them on our family tree) and a few small, plastic toys that we strung with yarn and decorated the tree with.

This was in the early 60's when neither consumerism nor democracy had yet arrived in Portugal. Regular, working people went to church and prepared a slightly more special dinner and desserts than usual. I remember baked chicken, rice pudding in small saucers, with cinnamon designs sprinkled on top. My brother and I got to choose what type of design we wanted for our individual pudding and my mother would sprinkle a start or a spiral with cinnamon.

People went to church for midnight mass but we did not. My father didn't believe in it and though my mother was free to go if she wished, she chose to stay at home with us. One religious custom I recall is that my mother would have my brother and me each fetch one of our boots to leave out for the Baby Jesus to put something special into. It was always something very humble by American standards; even of the early to mid 60's: a couple of clementines, walnuts or a sweet treat. Purchased presents were largely unheard of in our family, though other relatives who were more affluent would get a few toys. We got sweaters that my mother hand-knitted for us or new winter boots, socks; practical things.

I'm not wanting to call the holiday Christmas anymore because I'm not a Christian, firstly. And if I were, why would I want to celebrate the birth of Jesus in December? What I'm really celebrating is The Winter Solstice. Let's face it, the darkest time of the year deserves some merriment; a celebration that the days will soon become a bit longer and we will gradually see the return of the sun and all the life and light it brings. This I can wrap my mind and soul around.

We've given up on the consumerism of the season almost altogether. We give very small, inexpensive gifts to one-another. Our children understand and appreciate that they're fortunate to have the gift of $2oo, 000 educations. At least that's what the full "retail" price of it is. The Girls have worked hard and benefited from much private merit and needs-based help. The government gives us very little, as we are not "poor" enough. That's okay. I don't think it's unfair that the uber-rich parents of their college mates are helping to foot the bill through endowment contributions. Thank you very much.

My contribution to The Season is to decorate the house with those Pagan touches: a tree with a lifetime's worth of two families' respective ornament collections, lots of table-top decorations and lots of indoor lights and real candles, greenery and touches of red everywhere. We also make a wonderful meal and stuff stockings with practical items and candy. We enjoy it. We don't make ourselves crazy and stressed.

Honestly, in preparing my gift list for WP, I came to the conclusion that I don't really want anything. Actually, that's not true. I want a new Imac to replace the ancient, heavy HP laptop that sits on my desk. But I don't need it. This one will do me for some time to come. SG1 will soon need a new computer to replace the one she's had since freshman year. That will be the priority before she starts graduate school in 2010. I want but don't need an Ipod. I had one briefly that WP found on the sidewalk in San Francisco but it only worked for a month before the battery went dead. Neither the battery nor the gadget will be replaced any time soon. I want but don't need a couple of gorgeous sweaters and tops that I've been ogling in online catalogs.

What I wanted most is almost finished: a new floor for a huge area of my house. It's replacing the oldest, ugliest linoleum you have ever seen; dating back to 1952. I kid you not. I'm grateful for the kindness and generosity of my loving partner who knows how much "home" matters to me. And even though the long process of this renovation project has been exasperating at times, it's taught me that our relationship is more important than the instant gratification of a new floor; presto. And so I've learned to be patient throughout the long ordeal of WP trying to fit in doing the floor work with his own job and other matters that come up routinely. If I'd had my druthers, I would have had someone install it in a day but WP is a thrifty man and he insisted on buying the flooring from the least expensive outlet he could find and putting it in himself, saving us about $2,000 in the process.

Oh and a few days ago, I knew even more certainly that I'd found the right man when he came home from the library with a John Lennon biography for me to read. Sometimes I think he's not paid attention to what floats my boat and it's only five years for us; but he is proving that he does indeed listen and care about what matters to me.

I think it was Betmo (sorry, Bet, but I can't find the exact post) who said in a recent post that the best gift is the gift of time. I can honestly say that I have that from WP. We are inseparable. We can spend an entire day going about our respective tasks, in the same house, hardly speak to each other until dinner and still feel connected. Of course, we do find each other frequently throughout the day and we give each other a squeeze or a kiss or a touch on the shoulder. This so works for me! And then there are other times when we spend an entire weekend day watching movies together; snuggling and feeling very lucky and contented.

Time is a gift indeed and I don't intend to miss out on it just because the rest of the world is going holiday-crazy. Time spent also brings the gifts of understanding, acceptance and unconditional love. You can't have those things if you don't invest the time in the people you love.

Namaste, my friends.

P.S. I want to thank my friend Bobbie at Almost There for this post, which inspired a few of my own Christmas (as it was then) memories.

The Christians & The Pagans

I thought this song rather fitting for the post I just wrote. Enjoy.

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