Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bernadette - Sweet Kitty Girl



Our dear sweet companion Bernadette passed away over the holidays. I've been putting off writing this tribute to her because of the flu. However, I can not wait another second what a sweet, sweet, sweet kitty Bernadette was. Since her passing the house is thick with her energy. She did not want to leave and we hated to see her go. Like her sister Sylvia (from the same litter) Bernadette suffered Chronic Renal Failure. I would stress to all animal lovers to research this disease now before it is too late. Apparently the phosphorus content in even some of the higher end foods is too much for the Kidney's to sustain over a long life time for both cats and dogs. Sylvia bowed out after fifteen years. Bernadette's body gave out after seventeen years.

We miss her terribly. She was such a comfort kitty. She followed the sun from one side of the house to the other, an open window was always occupied. She loved being brushed and of course the comfy blankets at the foot of the bed were home. While both kittens slept on my chest Bernadette soon found out that if she positioned herself just so by my hand I could scratch her under her chin and pet her all night. Her tail would drape over my arm and go back and forth out of reach and then back around my arm. She and Sylvia would hop up on bed with me one under each arm. Sylvia was on the left side and Bernadette the right side.


She was such a big sister to Sylvia that even after Sylvia died Bernadette would pause still standing or sitting and wait for Sylvia to hop up on the bed before curling up to take her place next to me. It was as if she was waiting for Sylvia to magically appear. After all of fifteen years she knew Sylvia was missing but still paused thinking maybe tonight would be the night she returned to us. The actual time Bernadette would wait for Sylvia diminished from long and horribly sad to barely a noticeable moment. But even the last time she hopped up to doze off with me she still paused a moment to look for Sylvia before curling up. Even to the point where I commented to her,"still looking for your sister," it was one of those things.




Coming back from a brief Christmas road trip we found Bernadette in the closet, sad and confused and wobbly. She came down stairs with us and absolutely showed no interest in food, looked out the sliding glass door one last time and then went behind the couch. We were mortified but she rallied and hopped up on the coffee table imploring us to sit on the couch. So I quick got into my seat, flipped on the tube and she snuggled up in between my wife and I and purred for three hours. We spent a lot of time together on that sofa. It would be her last visit to the first floor.

Without going into the horribly sad and heart wrenching details I set up throw pillows in the closet and slept with her for two nights. She wasn't moving around much and certainly not jumping up on the bed anymore. We all said goodbye to each other a hundred times and her little squeaks and sighs just devastated us. Like a trooper she struggled down the hall to sleep with me that final night. I knew it was way past time for her to let go and collected my things out of the closet. Our animal companions do like to crawl off alone so I wanted to give her that space but still she followed me to the bedroom.

In the morning I expected to find her under the bed expired, but she was still hanging on. This time I found her in the spare bedroom she had made her own over the years. Bernadette did not want to die. She loved us and we loved her. Never did I pass her in the hall without loving her. We always sing song called her name when returning home or going from floor to floor. She always was at my feet by the computer rubbing up against the sharp corners of some working binders or in the window catching fresh air while listening to the birds.

She was a wonderful chow hound who always stood on her back legs for dinner. Her name came from the Classic Four Tops Song Bernadette. I just knew I was going to name a pet after that song. I love those lyrics and they fit Bernadette to a tee.



She was the original crumpled up paper kitty. In the process of transcribing my manuscript for Journey Home from paper to digital I crumbled up the finished handwritten story and would toss them one page at a time. Forget the cat toys a piece of crumbled up legal pad paper was all Bernadette needed. That paper would crumple and her head would rise on alert, and she would bat that thing around from on side of the room to the other. It was how we finally found her collapsed on top of and between several pieces of crumpled up paper. It was the last noise she ever heard before leaving her earth bound body fittingly so I suppose.

Such a sweet kitty she would lick our hands if we took a pause from petting her and laid our hand to rest. She would put her paw out to hold your hand down and then lick the back of your hand. She would also groom her sister around the ears until Sylvia had enough, and she would kiss you on the lips. That's right a little smoochy sound and she would put her nose to your lips. Dad likes tuna too but it became a life long habit no matter if we had eaten or not.

Whether curled up under the Christmas tree or on the arm of the sofa Bernadette was just as sweet as she could be. She fought like a champion to stay with us and would let out these heart wrenching sighs while being petted she knew the end was coming and inevitable. Watching her struggle down the hall to join me in the bedroom crushed my poor wife's heart. That she died quietly, peacefully in her room, in her comfort zone was the least we could do for her.

Through thick and thin over seventeen years Bernadette was always there. We are not running out and getting new pets. That is too much like changing light bulbs for us. We are going to honor her memory and took all of the left over food, and pet carriers to the local no kill shelter (Hope for Life Rescue). We are sad but glad Sylvia and Bernadette are back together. And we are calling on our friends and family who have gone before to look out for them. Something has already told us they are and the house is thick with their energy. Love knows no bounds and even if we don't get that day to day and with each other our animal friends are here to remind us...Who doesn't love a god that makes kitty cats?





Sylvia's Tribute

Monday, December 22, 2008

Richard Julian



I'm not up on all the latest music so something has to cross my path in an odd way for me to discover anything new. Who knows or cares what's going on in the world of pop music? However, every now and then I stumble into something I just have to share. Richard Julina's 2008 release "Sunday Morning in Saturday's Shoes" is a knockout variety of sound and lyric that will lift your spirits. Smart, smart, smart is the way I describe this guitar playing, song writer. A mix of folk and jazz with humor and melancholy, wonderful tempo and lyrics strung together in a mosaic that hides their complexity in seemingly simple syncopation.

His guitar playing is top notch but it's not a session of hot licks for the sake of hot licks. The man is building song structures, weaving, and fading, culminating and dissolving with his band featuring upright bass, piano and percussion. A Blue Note record group project more than worthy of that labels pedigree.

Great themes abound as songs about life run from the personal to the Syndicated. Spring is indeed just around the corner. If you get a chance on December 24th - Richard Julian will be making an appearance on SPECTACLE: ELVIS COSTELLO's show on the Sundance channel at 9pm. James Taylor will be the featured guest. This is the kind of music worthy of our attention and hard earned dollars. Richard get on down to Virginia Beach. I'll be the first in line. This is an awesome, awesome talent, and a great disc for both Jazz, Folk and singer songwriter fans. I can not overstate it and will be searching out his earlier catalog.


Paul
Author-Journey Home

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ascension by Phoenix Rising - Music Review


From out by the Pacific coast comes Ascension by Phoenix Rising a calm, ethereal album of meditative music that combines piano and flute along with several other instruments including cello, tabla, hang drum, guitar, goat hooves (shakers from Bolivia), voice and something called a guzheng a Chinese dulcimer of sorts.

Ascension creates an ambient, relaxing, peaceful listening experience. Think of Sunday morning with a fresh brew of coffee and the morning paper or good book. With song titles like seed, creation, nourishment, heartstrings, unspoken, insight and ascension you get the idea that we are reaching here for another place in time and space. It is always nice when performers reach for something beyond self and deliver to the audience something that lifts them out of their immediate concerns.

Ascension has a real sense of poetry and melancholy. Listening to this CD on a quiet, rainy day like this morning has enhanced that feeling. It's soft pace reminded me of the quieter offerings from the band "Ancient Future". The Cello is a nice touch and overall this is a calm, thoughtful, meditative, and harmonious listening experience. There are definitely Native American influences throughout and I look forward to adding Ascension to my music collection.

Relax, enjoy and support independent music. You can visit their web sites by clicking on the link above or the ones below. Congratulations on a fine effort.

Paul
Author-Journey Home

Wendy Loomis - Piano
Monica Williams - Flute

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

American's United for Separation of Church and State


This is a repost from American's United for Separation of Church and State. I thought it was excellent!
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December 9, 2008

Religious Right Stirs Up Strife In Season Of Peace, Americans United Charges

Watchdog Group Appeals To Americans To Reject Religious Right’s Divisive ‘War On Christmas’ Rhetoric

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today called on Religious Right leaders and their allies in the media to stop using Christmas as a vehicle for divisiveness.

As in years past, Religious Right groups are using the Christmas holiday to divide Americans and stir up animosity by falsely claiming that there is a “war on Christmas.” Americans United said it is ironic to see these groups using a season dedicated to peace and understanding to foster conflict.

“The best holiday present we could get this year would be for the Religious Right to stop using Christmas as a club to bash others,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “The Religious Right is making a mockery of the season with a litany of stunts cheaper than dollar-store wrapping paper.”

An example, Lynn said, is an ongoing controversy in Washington state, where government officials have allowed an atheist group to display a sign promoting non-belief near a Nativity scene in the Legislative Building in Olympia. Local Religious Right leaders and their allies in the media have attacked Gov. Christine Gregoire on the issue.

Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly has repeatedly blasted Gregoire on the air and did so again this week in a column distributed nationwide but O’Reilly is omitting key facts. Gregoire is merely following the law. Courts have ruled repeatedly that if religious groups are given access to government facilities to erect private displays, non-religious groups must be given the same right.

In fact, AU noted, Washington’s policy is in place because a Religious Right legal group, the Alliance Defense Fund, sued the state in 2006 on behalf of a resident who wanted to erect a Nativity scene in the building. That right must now be extended to other groups and individuals.

As the holiday season moves forward, AU asked Americans to keep in mind the following:

* It is not the job of government to promote religion: Christmas has both secular and religious aspects. Governments at all levels are constitutionally barred from promoting religion. People who want a religious experience at Christmas time would do better to go to a house of worship, not city hall.
* Private groups may be permitted to display religious symbols on government property if the property in question is a public forum but that means all groups must be given the same access: The Supreme Court has ruled that private citizens and groups can display religious symbols in areas deemed “public forums.” But this right must be granted to other groups as well, religious and non-religious. The government cannot discriminate against groups just because some people might find their message offensive.
* American society is diverse, and we should strive to get along. Religious pluralism has exploded in America. We have Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhist, Hindus, Wiccans, non-believers and others among our ranks. Christmas ought to be a time for building bridges of understanding. The Religious Right’s divisive campaign and attempt to take rights away from certain groups is counter to American diversity and our constitutional order.

“‘Peace on Earth’ should be more than just a slogan,” Lynn said. “But we’ll never get there if we continue to allow Religious Right groups to exploit Christmas for their own ends. I urge the American people to reject this mean-spirited campaign.”

* * * *

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Kennedy Assassination

This event - the assassination of JFK has always been with me. On my birthday every year I share this event. I've posted a simple video of the secret service standing down on the front page of my myspace site - one poster claims Kennedy ordered the stand down - well then why is the agent so confused. They would have had advanced knowledge of that not so insignificant order, and would Kennedy order a stand down just for the turn into the plaza. No it's sad to say that this man was blown away by a domestic plot. Not believing in Arlen Specters ridiculous single bullet theory or the Warren Report doesn't make you un-American or a threat to this country. In fact demanding the truth is very American. Here are three video clips of Jim Garrison himself. He doesn't strike me as a whack job. In fact he is articulate and obviously educated. In his own words I find it fascinating. You can get swallowed up by the Kennedy Assassination and that of his brother but I think a picture is worth a thousand words. That secret service agent shrugging on the stand down clip in disgust say's it all.

I hope the powers that be having destroyed our economy, environment, and reputation in the world realize that if we want to be great as a country, and as a people then we have to be great as individuals.

All of us have to excel at truth, education and effort in our personal lives. That the seduction of power leads to corruption. That the abandonment of the core principles that are the utmost value in our souls and mind compromise the very chance of living a decent life, and result in utter and complete defeat of dignity, reputation, excellence and the fulfillment of our dreams as varied as they might be. We know the difference between right and wrong and when we ignore that knowledge and act in direct opposition to it only disaster, and ashes will be the fruit of our labor.

Paul
Author- Journey Home
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Here are the Garrison Clips - the secret service standing down clip is on the front of the Journey Home MySpace page on the the left hand side.


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Here are the Garrison Clips - the secret service standing down clip is on the front of the Journey Home MySpace page on the the left hand side.



















The World of Malcolm Gladwell - Reply



The Dumb, Dumb, World of Malcolm Gladwell - Reply

Andrew Orlowski wrote the article linked in the title of this posting. Not knowing Malcolm Galdwell or even reading any of his books I thought I could reply to Andrew's article unbiased, and answer his question, "how can we explain the demand."


Here is the quote that sends Andrew over the edge, "...In embracing the diversity of human beings we will find the true way to human happiness."


Although Andrew dismisses that comment as a "hallmark" greeting card he forgets a bit of stark, dark, unfortunate reality. Here is my response to Andrews article

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"...In embracing the diversity of human beings we will find the true way to human happiness."


Andrew, unfortunately not everybody believes or accepts that “hallmark” remark that you dismiss as an obvious truth – a known – known - if you will. There are people who are dying, killing not only themselves but others for the “sameness” of religion, of politics, of behavior, of thought, of financial systems, of lifestyles and behavior. In fact across the board people fear different behavior, ideas, and attitudes and a vast majority never thinking for themselves, blindly accepting, and assuming, go along to get along in choosing their ideas, loves, identities and behavior, to the point of mimicking the behavior, dress and even dialogue of celebrities, personalities and talking heads. They spew back in casual conversation the talking points of the evening news, radio broadcasts, and papers regurgitating political spin.


47% of the voters in the U.S. voted for McCain and Palin – does that not speak to the lack of awareness about the inherent good in diversity - wanting only to “drill baby drill” to find future energy sources…unwilling to embrace diverse ideas (wind, solar thermal, geothermal...etc)? I would put to you Andrew that the guy with the fro I’m only now just learning about him (Malcolm Gladwell) is speaking perhaps a known and respected truth to some, but hardly a known and respected truth understood by all. That the stating of what may seem obvious needs to be preached outside of the choir, but the choir confronted with the violence and outright, unfounded, hatred that is resistant to diversity and unaware of it’s benefits - from Dick Cheney to the Taliban – would like to hear it again, and again. Hoping that those so fearful of diversity and “other cultures” and those who rejoice in the sameness of it all, as comforting instead of stifling come to realize the full magnitude and beauty of diversity and the cornucopia of life in all its many forms and ways.


Being a contrarian only takes you so far. Someday when respect is finally paid to "different" perhaps we will finally live in balance and harmony within our environment, upon our earth and with each other. Until then let the dude in the wild fro speak and others as well who would carry a message of understanding and acceptance other than fear and hate and violence.


Good for us who understand variety is the spice of life. The more who speak to that theme will hopefully accelerate the acceptance of the misunderstood, the different and rejoice in our own individual ways the existence of not more of the same but the variety, and the "different", of art, culture, music, style, fashion, thought, belief, word, deed, and creation in all its infinite variety and glory. Perhaps then consciousness will one day float effortlessly upon this planet in harmony.


Until then destruction, war, greed, hatred and violence is perpetuated by those who fear diversity in thought, word and deed, contrary to the fact that immense diversity surrounds us all in every way and in every day throughout our lives and mutual existence across the globe and where we live. Diversity makes us richer, and fulfills us in ways unimaginable to the sameness of it all. Rent the movie Pleasantville for a fun refresher course.


Just because an idea is simple to state doesn’t make it any less profound, true or worth repeating. Good for those unafraid by the politics, fashion or time of man who speak out the universal truths that obviously we don’t all embrace. Don't resent the Gladwells of the world when they find an audience desperate in the shrill of intolerance. That there is an an audience - "a demand" - in a world of humans waging war and killing each other for money, power, and greed that perpetuates fear as a tool of manipulation is more than understandable.


The only thing to fear is fear and the only thing to hate is hate - simple, true and worth repeating.


Paul

Author-Journey Home