Saturday, April 17, 2004

Today the challenge was: button
Leo showed me where it was.

Friday, April 16, 2004


This is a letter I wrote to the Albuquerque journal last year, in response to a
plea from a North Valley resident for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District
to cease scraping the acequias while the ducks were nesting. I have lived on the
ditch for many years, and I am sad to report that the destruction of wildlife and
especially wildflowers has been devastating. I don't know what else can be done,
beyond pleading and prayer.
This is a post to the ecotone wiki, a collaborative
website for writing about place.

I anticipated the standard response from the MRGCD in reply to a recent letter to the editor,protesting the destructive, unconscious mowing of North Valley irrigation ditches, but I suppose this plea will likely be simply ignored.

I am sure the conservancy district employees are hard at work mowing here, mowing there, for months on end, removing the elms, grasses and other unwanted vegetation from the many miles of ditches, with no particular time-table or concern
for the nesting habits of ducks.

In fairness, constant mowing is required to keep pace with the outrageous weeds
that will be towering over the paths after a few summer rains. Russian thistle and
tumbleweeds, goatheads and pretty little ferns that turn to woody thornbushes
are growing quickly, since they have no competition from other plants.

My experience as a ditch-walker over the past twenty years in Corrales is
that the multitudes of native plant species and colorful wildflowers that once
were commonplace along the ditchbank are now gone forever, the result of commitment to a policy of systematic destruction by bulldozers and mowers.

I remember when, from August to October along the acequias, we enjoyed a brilliant display of fantastic, ten-foot multi-headed sunflowers, black-eyed susans, white asters, purple asters, Indian paintbrush and larkspur, gallardia and cosmos, penstemon and hollyhocks and Mexican primrose...until--along came the bulldozers, late in the summer, but too soon for the seeds to have ripened and fallen.

The next year there would be fewer flowers, and fewer the next, and they too were crushed at the height of their beauty, and the ditch was scraped, back and forth.

Eventually the softclay silt of the banks became unstable, and the gophers moved in, so that in many places the dump trucks came to shore up the banks with concrete chunks. The main canal I used to walk was completely cemented, so as to save the water that grasses and wildflowers might drink while doing their job of holding the banks together with their roots.

Now there is not much left out there on the ditches except weeds and thorns, thistles and goatheads. We still have the perfection of a clear blue sky, sometimes, and the mountain’s glory, but down here on the ground where I walk, I haven’t seen a single native sunflower, nor a purple aster yet this season– only the isolated goldenrod, gourd or globe mallow. On a Sunday morning early this spring, I observed two men dump garbage bags full of beer bottles into the water at a shady turn, then run away, jump into a SUV and drive off.

The very next day, I watched a pair of mallards with a family of baby ducklings paddling bravely up the flow, restoring hope and great wonder that they still can do it--in the face of such odds, such lack of respect. How much longer, till we look back through the eyes of memory, and wonder when it happened that all that beauty went away, leaving only a dry concrete channel full of trash, a dusty ditchbank and a wall of weeds?

Thursday, April 15, 2004


I have taken on a new challenge - it's called -
Every day a new word is posted on the site, and the object is to take a
photograph which expresses that word. Today's word is curve
and I took a photo of the lilacs at the gate. Some of the photographers
that post at this collaborative site are coming up with amazing images.
Take a look--take a picture!

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

On a Lighter Note

Ariana and Jody sent these photos of the Cherry Blossom Festival
in Macon, Georgia....and Noah dyeing Easter eggs.

"Channel Firing"
by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

That night your great guns, unawares,
Shook all our coffins as we lay,
And broke the chancel window-squares,
We thought it was the Judgment-Day

And sat upright. While drearisome
Arose the howl of wakened hounds:
The mouse let fall the altar-crumb,
The worms drew back into their mounds,

The glebe-cow drooled. Till God called, "No;
It's gunnery practice out at sea
Just as before you went below;
The world is as it used to be:

"All nations striving strong to make
Red war yet redder. Mad as hatters
They do no more for Christés sake
Than you who are helpless in such matters.

"That this is not the judgment-hour
For some of them's a blessed thing,
For if it were they'd have to scour
Hell's floor for so much threatening....

"Ha, ha. It will be warmer when
I blow the trumpet (if indeed
I ever do; for you are men,
And rest eternal sorely need)."

So down we lay again. "I wonder,
Will the world ever saner be,"
Said one, "than when he sent us under
In our indifferent century!"

And many a skeleton shook his head.
"Instead of preaching forty year,"
My neighbour Parson Thirdly said,
"I wish I had stuck to pipes and beer."

Again the guns disturbed the hour,
Roaring their readiness to avenge,
As far inland as Stourton Tower,
And Camelot, and starlit Stonehenge.

*Rachel Hadas comments:

"Hardy's 'Channel Firing,' written a few months before the outbreak
of World War One, is, alas, perennially relevant and true. It also
commands a mindbending range of tone and scale, from the fearful mouse
and drooling cow and the convivial skeletons to the gruff ("Ha, ha")
voice of God to the far more remote and chilling evocation of places
remote in space and time, but not in their connection to human
violence, at the poem's close. It is somehow characteristic of Hardy,
an unclassifiably great poet, to cram such diverse material into a
short poem whose gesture and overall effect are nevertheless unmixed
in their sheer authority and power."

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

For some reason, the cottonwood trees this spring are
sporting long dark red flowers. Quite unusual!
Easter Bunny-cakes

These are really silly, but they cheered me up...

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Fallujah Massacre - Easter Sunday

Please read this FALLUJA NOW -

Do what you can to send this information out..

Additional information confirms this report (4/14/04)
Democracy Now with Amy Goodman
features an interview with Rahul Mahajan - who is in Baghdad now. He keeps
a blog called Empire Notes - and his
first-hand experiences are chilling. "Fear is transmuting into anger," says Rahul.

I don't feel the need to post all this information, you can go read it and judge for yourself. As I said before, Read it and Weep.
Meanwhile, our "Fearless Leader" swaggers and smirks, admits no mistakes, makes
no apologies, never looks back and says It's All Good -- Finish the work....
A question of faith: 'Da Vinci Code,' 'Passion,' Jesus action figure: What would Jesus think?April 10, 2004
from the Star

The three divergent phenomena of Dan Brown's novel "The Da Vinci Code," Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ" and the Jesus action figure reveal a culture that is fascinated with religious themes but prefers to explore them on a superficial level. Though Gibson's film has a maturity to it, Brown's novel (especially given the plethora of blatantly erroneous statements to be found in the mouths of his characters) and the action figure operate on a lower plane. Even given the quality of the film, the media furor it has generated somewhat eclipses the piece itself, and it is this media fascination -- often operating on a rather shallow level -- that is probably the more accurate gauge of popular interest in the religious sphere, rather than the film itself. Were he engaging in his earthly ministry today, I daresay that Jesus would make every effort to tap into this fascination with religion, but I am convinced that he would also seek to draw interlocutors into a deeper dialogue regarding questions of God, faith and religion. These events could serve as a stepping stone or a starting point, but hardly a terminus of any kind.

In lieu of the recent fascination with religion and more specifically with Jesus Christ, it is my belief that Jesus would be highly displeased with the manner in which he is being marketed for profit and not introduced for peace. Indeed as it relates to Jesus, because of the recent media and movie frenzy, many are engaged in the right conversation for the wrong reasons. While we flock in droves to movie theaters and watch in sorrowful disbelief at the horrific punishment inflicted upon Jesus, while we read with heightened curiosity the spiritual nuances lifted in "The Da Vinci Code" or buy a Jesus action figure for our children, those who create these things make the economic discovery that Jesus is profitable. As one movie producer recently stated, "The hottest name in Hollywood right now is Jesus." To answer the cliched question, "What would Jesus do?" Jesus would inform us that he did not come for the financial windfall of moviemakers, authors and toy manufacturers. I believe Jesus would take this opportunity to enlighten us of his divine identity and the purpose of his death, resurrection and imminent return.



David Denby hits the nail on the head with his review in The New Yorker (3/1/04) of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ"
Having read this, I see no purpose in subjecting myself to the cinematic experience.

In “The Passion of the Christ,” Mel Gibson shows little interest in celebrating the electric charge of hope and redemption that Jesus Christ brought into the world. He largely ignores Jesus’ heart-stopping eloquence, his startling ethical radicalism and personal radiance—Christ as a “paragon of vitality and poetic assertion,” as John Updike described Jesus’ character in his essay “The Gospel According to Saint Matthew.” Cecil B. De Mille had his version of Jesus’ life, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Martin Scorsese had theirs, and Gibson, of course, is free to skip over the incomparable glories of Jesus’ temperament and to devote himself, as he does, to Jesus’ pain and martyrdom in the last twelve hours of his life. As a viewer, I am equally free to say that the movie Gibson has made from his personal obsessions is a sickening death trip, a grimly unilluminating procession of treachery, beatings, blood, and agony—and to say so without indulging in “anti-Christian sentiment” (Gibson’s term for what his critics are spreading).

For two hours, with only an occasional pause or gentle flashback, we watch, stupefied, as a handsome, strapping, at times half-naked young man (James Caviezel) is slowly tortured to death. Gibson is so thoroughly fixated on the scourging and crushing of Christ, and so meagrely involved in the spiritual meanings of the final hours, that he falls in danger of altering Jesus’ message of love into one of hate.

And against whom will the audience direct its hate? As Gibson was completing the film, some historians, theologians, and clergymen accused him of emphasizing the discredited charge that it was the ancient Jews who were primarily responsible for killing Jesus, a claim that has served as the traditional justification for the persecution of the Jews in Europe for nearly two millennia. The critics turn out to have been right. Gibson is guilty of some serious mischief in his handling of these issues. But he may have also committed an aggression against Christian believers. The movie has been hailed as a religious experience by various Catholic and Protestant groups, some of whom, with an ungodly eye to the commercial realities of film distribution, have prepurchased blocks of tickets or rented theatres to insure “The Passion” a healthy opening weekend’s business. But how, I wonder, will people become better Christians if they are filled with the guilt, anguish, or loathing that this movie may create in their souls?

I read The Da Vinci Code and I thought it was a
real stinker. What a disappointment! The research was quite shallow and the writing
--a "fast-paced thriller"-- was a preposterous chase scene. I am dismayed that excellent books, written with care and attention, transformative and transporting works of art, fall by the wayside - while this tripe earns accolades and millions for
hitting the right note - ka-ching! in the cultural mainstream.

The only thing that interested me was the revelation that Mary Magdalene is
seated at the right hand of Jesus in the famous "Last Supper" by Da Vinci.
Funny, I never noticed her before! That is a woman, undoubtedly...