Photos for January Stones and April PAD 2012 property of M J Dills (exception 1/16)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Swing Your Lantern High

Our children need us. But we need them, too. I needed mine, God knows. They kept me stable, going from day to day, year after year, when things around me sometimes felt like more than an earthquake. I know what Biden is talking about here, climbing into bed with them and holding your hand on their little tummies, the up and down, in and out, knowing that one thing is consistent, their sweet breath, their complete innocence, their dependence on you. Bless you, Joe; my heart weeps for you. I won't ever forget hearing my grandmother telling a friend on the day she buried her youngest son "We aren't meant to bury our children."
As Vice President Joe Biden's son was dying of brain cancer this spring, he delivered a speech at Yale that addressed to his own losses and talked about how important his bond with his children was to him. . . Click on the above for Vice President Biden's full speech. . . Thank you for reading.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Zero for the Mother

I weep for the marbled murrelet,
mollusks, brown pelican, the cutthroat trout,
and southern sea otter, least tern, red throated loon…
an infinite list of
Innocent, defenseless life that swallows elixir of death
and then is
… gone.

We insist on constant exploitation of endangered habitat
With no concern for our stewardship
Oblivious to 
Extinction by numbers, perishing in bleakness, desperation;
For nothing but lack of concern,
gluttony for money.

From the ether come the screams of John Muir, Rachel Carson, Farley Mowat,
When a tube buried deep within the earth
Its contents slithering like a slick venomous serpent and
allowed for Mankind to be engaged, once again, in the decimation
Ten by ten,
Thousand by thousand.

Score for casualty, score for excess, score for greed, score for ignorance, score for suffering, score for death, score for oil, score for tragedy.

Zero for the mother.


Thanks for reading.


Endangered and Threatened Marine Species


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Far From the Madding Crowd – The Movie

I’m not sure I’ve done a movie review on my blog but the images of this film are firmly lodged and this keeps me from doing real work….

Hardy took his title, Far From the Madding Crowd from the 1871 Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, a lengthy poem in which Gray lifted phrases from Dante and Petrarch; lots of thieving going on here.

The place, far from the madding crowd, in Gray’s poem, is a graveyard. Reading the piece, one can almost imagine Gray having gone forward in time and looking back to write about regret, peace, retribution, forgiveness, love, envy.

Each one of Hardy’s Crowd characters can be found in this poem on one line or another. Gray’s poetry depicts sheep grazing over rolling hills as the sun lowers on the horizon; woods and farm animals taking to roost or burrow for the night; images of a happy family household; the small hamlet; the wealthy kingdom; earls and land gentry; rich and poor.

Tribute of a sigh is another line in the Gray poem that Hardy could just as easily taken to describe his romantic and tender novel.

In the outer hallway of the massive theater where we had escaped to watch our movie, ticketholders pressed against one another in anticipation of another movie, Mad Max in 3D, a movie full of special effects, raw language, terror, violence and bloodshed. Our screen held the attention of a mere forty or fifty moviegoers, comfortably seated and ready for a different type of action.

There's little bloodshed in Far From the Madding Crowd but there are soldiers and there is much death, tragic in all cases. There’s no sex but there is so much lust packed into about 4 minutes of the entire film that I turned to my friend, shaking my head and, feeling woe for all womanhood, whispered “fucking hormones” in her ear.

Thomas Hardy, father of the cliffhanger (in his novel A Pair of Blue Eyes, written in 1893, Hardy chose to leave a main character literally hanging from a cliff staring into the flinty eyes of a marine fossil embedded in rock that has been dead for millions of years), knew how to create suspense and just a little bit of terror. There was always enough to keep his readers on the edge of their seats and coming back for more. During a time when women wore cuffs to their knuckles and collars up to the chin, Hardy was able to portray sex scenes that deliberately left Victorian housewives and maidens trembling. You just won’t get that in Mad Max.

Carey Mulligan’s Bathsheba Everdene reveals a handsome, stubborn, intelligent and independent woman, unable and unwilling to respond to the advances of two eligible men. She makes the worst decision of her life when she solves her problem by marrying a third and most aggressive bachelor. 

Matthias Schoenaerts, (a must-see in Rust and Bone) is outstanding as the Farmer Oak, who inevitably and deservedly will win the heart of Bathsheba. The supporting cast, especially Tom Sturridge as the sexy, bad-boy Frank Troy, are all worthy of statues. The cinematography stands alone, chilling and warming, all in stride. 

Skip Mad Max and have yourself a treat with developed characters and no special effects (unless you count Sturridge's ruby-red puckering lower lip.)
Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

May 3rd

This morning a writer friend sent a YouTube video via private message. It’s A Beautiful Day’s "White Bird." Not sure why James sent it, but no matter… it was a lovely gesture. "White Bird" has significance for me though I've not thought about the song in years. 
Today my mom would have been 94. The gorgeous woman with the camera here. The wind is blowing her skirt; it’s not a thread holding it in place, like a magazine shot. A gust just came along to make this photo perfect. She’s looking into the lens of a box camera and must have been heavily concentrating; one had to hold them very still to get a decent picture. A car is parked on the street behind her and I believe this is taken in Enumclaw. I wonder who is taking the photo of her but I can guess. 
I miss my mom. She was hard on me, most of my life, but she loved me dearly and I know that. It wasn't always easy being her daughter. She was demanding of everyone around her. She expected a lot. My mom had special disdain for people who slept well. She could not bear to let us kids sleep in and when we were adults, she deliberately made phone calls very early in the morning. The devil got his due when she was elderly and would miss the final moments of television shows and movies, nodding off.
My mother put me on rigid diets from the ages of about 12 – 15, until I rebelled. I was never fat but I was not sleek and thin like other women in my family. It bothered her immensely. And then I became a hippie. It nearly killed her but was nothing compared to what I did later, getting pregnant out of wedlock. Shame for the family. Twice. 
Mom and I became friends after my father died; he had always been my great defender and perhaps she felt the job fell into her camp. She read just about every word I wrote. She praised my writing and was proud. When she was dying, she asked me to print out some of my poetry and she would sit and read it, her head wrapped in a silly turban to hide the hair loss. I have a strong image of that. 
My mother shared her birthday with her sister, who was born on May 1st, five years later. They’re together now, having died two years apart. When I was young, our families got together for every occasion and made a very big deal of anniversaries, graduations, confirmations and such. There were a lot of photos taken; lots of shutterbugs in the family.

Many years ago I was living in Los Angeles and pregnant with my little girl. I had a close friend at the time and she was quite hip. Tanya’s mom owned a "poodle parlor" in San Diego and Tanya went by the last name of Lord, though that wasn't her real name. She moved in with me and we were soul sisters, doting on my baby boy and waiting for my next baby to be born. Tanya and I bonded in a way I never really have with another woman. Most people thought we were lesbians and we were not, but we never denied it. 
Tanya was a Taurus like my mom, and there were odd similarities I couldn't help realizing. it was a strange type of perfectionism they shared. Once Tanya took me to a party high in the hills of Hollywood. There were candles and flowers floating in the pool and famous people there but I'd been out of touch, having babies, so she explained to me who they all were. Tanya was very in tune with current culture and I've never forgotten when she brought albums home. It’s a Beautiful Day was one of her favorite groups. We listened to "White Bird," mesmerized by the melody and the lyrics. We spun that LP over and over until the grooves were deep as our thoughts and desires.
So this morning when James sent me the video, just as I was waking up and thinking about Mom’s birthday, clouds of images took over. 
I lost touch with Tanya long ago. I've no idea where she ended up. Mom's been gone for five years this July. My hair's turning gray and my children are different people from those to whom I gave birth. 

"The sunsets come; The sunsets go; The clouds roll by; And the earth turns old; And the young bird's eyes Do always glow…."

Happy Birthday, Mom and you, too, Tanya, wherever you both are.

Thanks for reading.