Everyday I feel as if it has been a long time.

Bird Droppings February 18, 2021
Everyday I feel as if it has been a long time.

“Teaching is lifelong moral quest. You never have it exactly right and you keep trying to get better at it. You keep learning from your students and what they are going through, how you can do things better.” Nel Noddings

I was sitting along the edge of reality somewhere in my backyard listening to the wind blow through the pines, it seems pine trees make a better sound then when the oak trees are leafless. Sort of a circular thing as the wind seemed to blow around the tops of the trees surrounding my house. The sound and movement in the air was exhilarating. It has been thirty-nine years since our oldest son was born. I was wondering as a parent and now as a grandparent have we done all we should or could. I think parents question themselves often. I think parents always wonder did I do the best job I could have. Perhaps even thinking about what could I have done different? As I ponder I am very proud of my children all three and now two daughters in law, a very serious girlfriend  and five grandchildren. Hopefully they know what ever roads they travel in life we will be there for them if they need and I am sure they will be happy and successful.

“You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around – and why his parents will always wave back.” William D. Tammeus

I have been to the nurseries at the local hospitals when my wife gave birth to our three sons and when my sisters and numerous friends and now my own children, nieces and nephews all having children. A few years back as we sat around eating I was watching my nieces, nephews, grandchildren, grandnieces and grandnephews. Several are still babies and there were great aunts, great grandmothers, grandfathers and grandmothers taking turns holding them. Great grandma was working on getting a photo of all of them together and trying to get fourteen or so little ones in a confined space for enough time to get one photo with all faces looking forward is quite an effort.

“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.” Joyce Maynard

I have watched my brother and sisters grow as they raised their children and now grandchildren. I have witnessed firsthand my wife and I grow raising our children and now the changes taking place with grandchildren. There are challenges and pitfalls, those moments that we will never live down. I recall a little spat between my middle son and youngest at Disney World when the middle son while my wife was watching for our ride to Discovery Island, karate kicks the youngest and he would of course holler and hit his brother who was claiming innocence to his mother. After three times I did intercede even though I had actually been videotaping the whole scenario watching it now it is quite humorous. It is funny even now my middle son still denies any wrong doing saying I altered the film.

“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” Robert Fulghum

So often I use the term setting an example, we as parents have that responsibility and we as teachers, it is a double edge sword and often there is no chance to goof off.

“If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.” C.G. Jung, Integration of the Personality, 1939

I recall my wife coming home from the hospital many years ago when she first became a nurse. She was working in GYN-OB and had delivery and nursery in her unit. She told me one day of a thirteen-year-old mother whose twenty-six-year-old mother was there and her thirty-nine-year-old grandmother was also there. The examples we set are seen by our kids every day and then they try and emulate. Watching my granddaughter try and imitate us as we make faces or stick out our tongue is amusing and her faces as she tries and mimics. Sadly, children are always watching and our behaviors beyond making faces are seen as well.

“Most of us become parents long before we have stopped being children.” Mignon McLaughlin

Each day as I used to walk down the hallways in the high school I am made aware of this with so many students pregnant and some even married.

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Elizabeth Stone

It was a difficult day today. My back was bothering me arthritis and old age and crazy weather. I am generally good about keeping it to myself. It could be the weather changes we keep having. I used to rely on Advil to keep me going but doctors have steered me clear only Tylenol. Although a good night’s sleep maybe even relaxing hot shower would be great. In a few months, my oldest son’s birthday. It is hard to believe as I went shopping with my oldest granddaughter several weekends past, that he was once just as small. As I finish up today so much out in the news around the world so please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

A morning meandering while the moon is glowing.

Bird Droppings February 17, 2021
A morning meandering while the moon is glowing.

Last night as I looked out at the night sky, I honestly am not sure if the moon was glowing or not it was too overcast. However, I started thinking back to tutoring a student trying to get caught up and return to public school. Eventually she went a different route and finished up homeschooling. My first thing this morning was reading through several old emails from my doctorate and graduate cohort friends as most have now defended their dissertations and are officially completed the program. In another set of emails based on an article on teaching memory that was reviewed by several teachers there were several comments on how these particular readings provided insight into successful educational adaptation of this program. I found I actually had enjoyed the readings and it made me recall a teaching principle I learned from my father who used it in the steel industry many years ago and I actually was taught this concept in a Red Cross course for instructors in 1968. It is called the FIDO principle, hence Frequency, Intensity, Duration and Over again. If you repeat something, often enough it will sink in. Granted in today’s educational system of teaching to the test we might be using FIDO a bit too much.

“I believe that the school is primarily a social institution. Education being a social process, the school is simply that form of community life in which all those agencies are concentrated that will be most effective in bringing the child to share in the inherited resources of the race, and to use his own powers for social ends. I believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.” John Dewey, My Pedagogic Creed, The School Journal, Vol. LIV, No.

I look at John Dewey’s ideas from nearly a hundred years ago and how we still call those ideas progressive education it amazes me. With all of the educational materials out now, many are only a few years old they are still called traditional when comparing to Dewey. One of our topics was looking at performance versus social support. I am of course leaning in the social support direction as this is an integral part of my day when I am teaching even with general education students. This is how I see kids and deal with kids. I go back to my idea in one of the postings I read earlier today of getting away from a swing of the pendulum and going in the direction of a pulse, no swing either way but a steady beat or energy.
We should try and steer away from that concept of right or left swing and go towards what is best for the kid not always for the society. I have worked with a large number of kids from a certain low-income housing area nearby. Many are very bright and all are very poor. The sixteen-hour syndrome as I call it is alive and well in that area. As I go by often several times a day between my mother’s house and my own, I see kids I have had and often new ones but always similarities.

As I look back at the years of teaching EBD students I have had more kids from that one spot in the county than any other specific spot. Sadly, in actuality many are marrying within that small community. There are more kids being born, coming from that environment. Many are on the fringe of society. Many of the kids are anarchists, punkers, suffering from divergent behaviors, drug addicts, alcoholics, and few if any have jobs. I wondered why as I drove by thinking of past kids from this enclave. Several are serving serious hard time; some have escaped and moved away, many will be going to our newest high school down the road next year. I wonder if anyone in that community was approached about their participation in the greater good.

Interesting as I am having a difficult time getting started this morning wandering off a bit as if I had just driven by that community. I am always trying to stay up with youngest son thinking back I recall a day he decided to do a Godzilla marathon of the old Godzilla movies. I did not make it through the first one. When I got up the next morning the video was still on and he crashed somewhere after five this morning watching the twenty eighth movie featuring the man in a monster suit. He just found the latest installment which features every major other monster and a walk on by the computer-generated Godzilla. I often wonder if there is a hidden meaning to Godzilla the powerful beast who always eventually has a weakness. Sort of the David and Goliath of nature and humanity, and my youngest of course came to the rescue offering that the original concept of the monster was an antinuclear effort.

“The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach.” Laurens Van der Post

For many years I have been intrigued by this man whom I had not heard of prior to finding a quote several years ago and yet he has written literally hundreds of books and articles on Africa and numerous other countries. He was raised by an African Bushman woman and taught their ways and his philosophy of life. His writings are permeated with nature and the thoughts and aspirations of this primitive people. Van der Post was knighted by the Queen many years ago and actually is the Godfather to Prince William. He is the only non-royal to have ever been given that honor.

“It’s easier to go down a hill than up it but the view is much better at the top.” Arnold Bennett

“What is to give light must endure the burning.” Victor E, Frankl

As I sit this morning so often it is conversations and happenings of yesterday that drive the thoughts that inspire me as I write. Yesterday I was talking with some friends of where they had been and where they were going, adversity is a good word as we spoke. It is about looking the lion in the mouth and walking away knowing you have survived. Only a few days ago I was talking with a former student. She was a graduate of a respected associate’s program and was floored at one point by her rejection at a four-year school. She had gone to the two-year program on a full athletic scholarship and suffered grade wise in order to play on a nationally ranked junior college team. As time to graduate came close she had to quit softball and actually lost her scholarship in order to raise her grades and put more time into studying. She had conquered her adversary and now was trying to move on. She was after graduating with a four-year degree in business still working as a waitress but just a few days prior to our talking had been interviewed and got a job she had been dreaming about.

“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.” Maori Proverb, the Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand

“Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right.” Laurens Van der Post

“The chief condition on which, life, health and vigor depends on, is action. It is by action that an organism develops its faculties, increases its energy, and attains the fulfillment of its destiny.” Colin Powell

Overcoming adversity begins with action, with a step forward, with realizing shadows are cast by light with knowing that growth comes from effort. It is difficult to cross a stream if you never take the first step. In borrowing from the Zen teachings “You can never cross a stream the same way twice”. I was sitting here remembering old stories and thoughts in the past we would hike up a stream in north Georgia the Toccoa Creek and in that hike transverse about 500 feet up hill over rocks and boulders and such climbing up the creek. In the process of course, water is continually flowing against you and depending on the rainfall it could be a good bit. Cracks and crevices abound and more than several times you actually swim in rock channels ten feet deep and eighteen inches wide all uphill but at the top is a water fall.

“The view at the top is always worth the climb” Sir Edmond Hillary

Keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Thinking about other times

Bird Droppings February 16, 2021
Thinking about other times

“The song that I will sing is an old song, so old that none knows who made it. It has been handed down through generations and was taught to me when I was but a little lad. It is now my own song. It belongs to me. This is a holy song, and great is its power. The song tells how, as I sing, I go through the air to a holy place where Yusun will give me power to do wonderful things. I am surrounded by little clouds, and as I go through the air I change, becoming spirit only.” Geronimo, Goyathlay (“one who yawns”)

As I went out this morning just a few minutes ago to fill bird feeders it was a silent world, the air was still and the ambient temperature cold enough to keep frogs in hibernation. Later in the morning I will be running to the dentist for an annual checkup. Yesterday evening I passed by several opossums that had been killed during the night along the road. My oldest son and I were talking about this a few days ago as the warm weather and then cold days is bringing animals out and roads are busier.


It has been more than twenty years since I last went to Fort Sill in Lawton Oklahoma to see Geronimo’s grave. The Indian grave yard is set back in along a quiet bend in a small river with aspen trees all about. It is actually a very peaceful spot. The song mentioned above is a medicine song one he would sing at opportune times or simply as a prayer.

As he grew older Geronimo became a Christian as he would say just in case.

“I cannot think that we are useless or God would not have created us. There is one God looking down on us all. We are all the children of one God. The sun, the darkness, the winds are all listening to what we have to say.” Geronimo

An old man approached his new religion in that he felt this was a good example for living. Stories go that he never gave up his old ways as well singing his medicine songs and participating in rituals till he died. He died at eighty years of age at Fort Sill Oklahoma many miles from his beloved Arizona and New Mexico mountains. I wonder as I think so often how we say one thing and live or do another. As I was reading about Geronimo this morning and thinking a comment in his biography dictated when he was older at Fort Sill. He spoke of how his people the Apaches would vow to never do harm to each other of any kind and this was a bond of trust.


Here on a Tuesday morning, I am catching up on emails and reading blogs and I find the paradoxes interesting. On one hand speaking of their religion and faith and how steadfast and yet on the other hand a near opposite as you read from the same pen or computer near slanderous remarks about others and life in general. Such a paradox we humans provide. As I thought this morning even the soldiers knew if Geronimo gave his word it was done, nothing would change even though the US government changed, his word was bond. He was one of the most feared warriors of all time in the American west and soldiers knew they could trust him. There were no exceptions to him; if he said he was going peaceful he was going peaceful.


Chief Joseph as he surrendered told his people he would fight no more, and he stopped which became a bond that lasted till his death even though treaties with the Nez Perce were broken numerous times. I guess where I am going is we live in such paradox of saying one thing and living another of claiming righteousness, and really wanting only to party, of saying we believe on a Sunday and taking a break Monday through Saturday.

Recent news in Afghanistan of a Christian convert who was condemned to death for converting by their law. Our righteous nations intervened and he was released as a mental patient who could not be tried. Clerics throughout the country wanted him stoned and or pulled apart basically just dead and we are fighting in that country for freedom. Who can be free with that type of laws and beliefs but from another side of the coin who are we to impose our beliefs on them.


All through history western civilizations have tried to impose their morals and civilization on primitives and anyone who disagreed. In Brazil it is now against federal law to interfere with primitives and when tribes are found that are still in the wilds of the Amazon. Boundaries are made and traffic is not permitted through that area. If you read jungle signs the various broken branches feathers skulls and such also indicate “Not Welcome.” We are pressuring countries daily in our quest for world peace using threats to garner peace there has got to be very little logic there.


However, one thing is lacking from the days of the Wild West and a handshake with Geronimo being his bond. There is no longer anyone to trust and six-thousand-page peace agreements are now broken the second oil or minerals are found and what was a peace agreement now has exceptions and or we lease from them. Trust is a powerful word and one that has lost meaning in our society. We know our politicians are crooks and we continue to reelect them beneath new banners of I will not be a crook this time I promise again.


Watching American Idol and sorry I do I recall a line from last year a profound statement from another broadcasting company’s comic relieve.

“35,000,000 votes were cast in two hours last night which really shows us the power of democracy I wonder how many would have text or called if it was a vote on Medicare or immigration”

We do have the power of the vote and yet American idol draws nearly thirty percent of the national vote in comparison to the last elections. A TV show in two hours received thirty percent of the possible national vote talk about paradox and I did not even vote on American Idol last year. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts
namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Reading a friend’s book a sixth time.

Bird Droppings February 15, 2021
Reading a friend’s book a sixth time.

I was so tired when I laid down last night after dinner and a bit of TV. I had spent the day driving around doing errands, cooking supper, and attempting to get into my reading and writing. My youngest son in now a travel nurse in ICU units in South Georgia, my son’s wife works in the Emory transplant unit, my niece a pediatric nurse in Savannah and my wife is a family nurse practitioner. There is a community among nurses. About six years ago five student nurses at Georgia Southern University were killed in a severe car accident on their way to a final clinical. This hit me yesterday maybe a note I read or post on Facebook.

As a graduate student from Georgia Southern this event impacted me. One of girls injured in the accident was a graduate of my former high school. She is now a practicing nurse. We tend to get protective and for some reason I got thinking about that crazy few days six years back. About that same time one evening as time wound down my son called trying to find his wife she was late from work. In spring of 2014 my son fell asleep on his way home from a long day at work and was involved in a serious accident. All of these made for an intense evening and troubled sleep.

My oldest and I have been working on some outdoor ponds essentially summer homes for several turtles and to various water plants. The rain has put a damper on any outside work for some weeks, perhaps a few hours of sunshine will let us get some serious work done this weekend. Physical labor since my leg injury and getting old seem to not be compatible. Last night you could hear the whippoorwills which was nice even though I was so tired. I got thinking about a good friend Dr. James Sutton’s and one of his book’s today.

Dr. James Sutton sent me a copy nearly nine years ago, What parents need to know about ODD. Dr. Sutton is one of the leading writers and authorities on Oppositional Defiant Disorder in the country. One of these days when, Bird Droppings a teacher journal, comes out the forward is by Dr. James Sutton. I have included his words in my dissertation. I have been reading academic books lately with numerous big words, long words, often times useless in normal setting words like post-structuralism, phenomenology; semiotics and hermeneutics are a few good ones. It seems many academics want to use words and pages to bolster their endeavors and then question why common folk don’t understand.

I responded to Dr. Sutton with the following sentence or two in response to his book. My first experience with Dr. James Sutton was going to a conference in 2003 in Macon Ga. and listening to his ideas on working with some of the hardest kids to deal with in education in Emotional Behavior Disorders. His ideas hit the nail on the head and this latest book, What Parents need to Know About ODD, is an easy to read, understand and to use tool for parents and teachers who daily have to deal with the trials and tribulations of kids who are ODD. I recommend this book to my student’s parents and educational associates almost daily. This was not a sales pitch but when combined with another issue our federally mandated NCLB, the law requires teachers to use evidence-based practice, EBP when dealing with exceptional children. This becomes a problem in special education because there is not that much to work with and as I thought today a good teacher with a good idea could be hindered by a packaged program that is an EBP and not as effective and there have been many cases where teachers have been criticized for not using a recommended program.

Every year we lose good teachers who are hindered by administration and packaged programs of which many were researched by the company publishing the program. I had a situation myself a few years back and was told this program was what I was to teach to a specific group of teenagers and it was research based. I called the publisher to verify what research was done. It was never done with a population anywhere near what it was being recommended for and the one study that was done was with kids ten years younger and 20 IQ points higher but it did work with them.

A Harvard study posted June 14, 2006 states “…the policy has had no significant impact on improving reading and math achievement since it was introduced in 2001, contradicting White House claims and potentially adding to concerns over academic competitiveness.” from the The New York Times referring to NCLB. Funny how we keep trying to make schools better or I should say politicians keep trying. I often wonder when teachers will be asked.

“I will stake my reputation and over thirty years of experience on this: Real change occurs when relationships improve.” Dr. James Sutton, What Parents need to know about ODD

I have watched wheels spun testing kids at the end of semesters and courses and at the end of high school and all because laws say we have to that are established by politicians. Yet all you are truly testing is what someone knows at that moment and not what they learned in any given time frame or how well a teacher taught. My son who recently graduated as biology major could take an end of course biology test without the course and pass it does that measure how much he learned or simply what he knows. Sadly, teachers and administrators are losing jobs and schools are being threatened by these tests.

Recently in a discussion in an online class I raised a question about NCLB and how kids were being left behind and a teacher an advanced degree teacher offered “well some children want to be left behind”

“The power paradox is a simple concept. It suggests that the more force we put into controlling an ODD child, the less effective those efforts become. Golf pros will tell you that, when you try to muscle that ball down the fairway, looking for distance alone, there’s no telling where it’s going to go. When you focus on form rather than force, however, the distance takes care of itself. It’s much the same idea in managing an ODD child.” Dr. James Sutton, What Parents need to know about ODD

So often when I read Dr. Sutton’s ideas they apply elsewhere in life. The power paradox is in education all the time it is in relationships between people, in government and definitely in the working of a school. Far too often we go for power not form as I recall many years ago the TV show Kung Fu in which David Carridine was a Shaolin priest who had escaped to America for killing someone in self-defense with his martial arts. It was not about power but form the swan or deer almost ballet movements yet lethal as well. It is so easy to get caught up in just words. I read numerous writers words each day in blogs, books and articles and a thought I have been having keeps coming up the reader has to be able to understand the writer for communication to occur.

The experiences and perceptions have to be there so what is written is understood? One excellent writer I read daily uses riddles and word puzzles and play on words and many have not a clue what is being said and or why. That is part of her mystic and then all of a sudden it hits you.

“Our single most important challenge is therefore to help establish a social order in which the freedom of the individual will truly mean the freedom of the individual. We must construct that people-centered society of freedom in such a manner that it guarantees the political liberties and the human rights of all our citizens.” Nelson Mandela, speech at the opening of the South African Congress

It has been nearly thirty years since South Africa truly became democratic and how long will it be till we here in the United States can say democracy is back and not rule of the dollar and lobbyist. Much of what I have been reading lately addresses the issue of education and how it is that today’s education is to make good consumers. Customer’s, one author calls college students and on many campuses that is the word used by the administration very much a corporate world. Historians have said over and over wars are always fought for money and if we look back at any war in history always money was a key factor. I questioned Viet Nam and Johnson wanted the war effort to continue as industry was getting a shot in the arm and the economy turned around. The power paradox in Iraq and most of the Middle East is a very interesting thought. I wonder have we ever focused on the form, for example the individual in Iraq. Maybe we need to ask for Nelson Mandela’s help in Iraq. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Listening to a philosopher

Bird Droppings February 14, 2021
Listening to a philosopher.

A beautiful sky this morning was missing again as I walked out and it is actually raining which is surprising, I can count the number of mornings with frost on one hand this year. The sky while partially filled with clouds was nearly vacant. The clouds presented a surreal picture for me as I walked around until I was too wet. I was reading in National Geographic an article on possible life somewhere out in the universe and all of the possibilities that continue to pop up. It has not been long since I fancied myself a philosopher of sorts. Perhaps it was my graduate work that got me truly entrenched in philosophical meandering and led to this conclusion or trying a million times to formulate a philosophy of teaching while it evolved before me. Actually, I think it is because I enjoy pondering too much. Wondering and thinking about all that is around me as I journey through life.

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“How people keep correcting us when we are young! There is always some bad habit or other they tell us we ought to get over. Yet most bad habits are tools to help us through life.” Friedrich Nietzsche

As I looked for a starting place for my daily journal, I was interrupted again so I could get back to my writing. As I went up and down the stairs and walked out into a sky as wonderful as it is this morning I recalled a period in my life when I would get up every morning early and walk several miles discussing philosophy, theology and other relevant issues with a good friend of mine. It was an interesting time and actually many concepts that I hold now came to fruition during those walks. Over the years as I look back and truly most things considered that I consider “bad habits” I had given up in the days past however they do provide tools for pondering ideas further and pushing thoughts beyond where they were. I have found however many people simply get mired in that bad habit or two and it becomes part of their life not merely a stepping stone or tool but a crutch and support. Perhaps even a cast of sorts locking them into that point in time.

“Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.” C. Everett Koop

Most folks won’t even recognize the name of Dr. Koop former Surgeon General of the United States and former head of pediatric surgery at the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital. As I thought of Nietzsche’s quotes and while not taking a walk today I did go and walk dogs twice outside so my wife and son would not have to get up as the holiday is officially over and we all are back at work today. I started writing a bit later today then I thought I would. Nietzsche as you read his work is often self-focused and negative and perhaps in some ways I like looking to his thoughts for contrast for adding a back drop to a brighter thought. Somewhere I started writing about Dr. Koop.


Dr. C. Everett Koop was instrumental in the anti-cigarette laws and anti-tobacco laws. On a personal note he was the surgeon for my younger brother many years ago when we lived in Pennsylvania. My father used to tell a story of Dr. Koop, his staff and my father all gathered together around John, my brother who was born with cerebral palsy and later developed encephalitis’s who approaching surgery. Dad would say having been in the Navy medical corp. and around death in WWII so much the aura around Koop was different, he exuded life he thrived on life and when he asked all to join hands and pray around John, he made my father’s day.


But one thing that has stuck with me from dad’s conversation with Dr. Koop was a quote very seldom seen, “Having worked with terminally ill children and seriously ill children for many years in all of those years I have never seen a parent of one of these children who was an atheist”. As I think back and remember bits and pieces, Dr. Koop’s comment and discussions with my father he wasn’t referring to religion as much as to faith. Faith also parallels trust and it was in that trust in Dr. Koop and or trust in the hospital that parents would have faith and hope. Dr. Koop was a man of hope, of future, and of faith.

“Faith has to do with things that are not seen, and hope with things that are not in hand.” Saint Thomas Aquinas

“Our faith comes in moments… yet there is a depth in those brief moments which constrains us to ascribe more reality to them than to all other experiences.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am ending with a simple idea for another day or actually several ideas to ponder and mull over as we ascend the plateau to view the vista. Tomorrow a new month ahead my friends have a glorious day today, build for tomorrow and keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your thoughts Namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

A series of paradoxes and bewilderment

Bird Droppings February 13, 2021
A series of paradoxes and bewilderment

I received the following in an email a number of years ago. A friend of mine sent it out and as I read the first time it was humorous. However, as I pondered then as a teacher I read deeper into what was being said. I listened by coincidence to a few words from a former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the House of Representatives in Washington, DC. I recalled about fourteen years ago early in the morning as I by chance I hit the AM button in my car. It was obviously a very conservative talk show and on the extreme conservative side. But the comment was “If a Democratic Congress gets in they will spend the first two years investigating the last two years of the current administration and then raise taxes and…”, and he went on. It interested me that is he saying something has been done wrong that needs investigating and now we are literally living this story again. The news stories daily seem to imply that, or are they just trying to stir up conservatives to get out and protect their money. Anyhow my email forward from a friend:

“Why do I tell you this? Because of the evolution in teaching math since the 1950s: Teaching Math in 1950’s – a logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit? Teaching Math in 1960’s a logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit? Teaching Math in 1970’s a logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit? Teaching Math in 1980’s a logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20. Teaching Math In 1990’s a logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers.) Teaching Math in 2005-6 un hachero vende una carretada de madera para $100. El costo de la producción es $80”

As I read this I wondered if this is really what the general public thinks. I realize in many ways people believe this. There are numerous books out on the dummying down of American education. No one ever mentions we are one of the few countries with free public education to all children regardless of race, sex, disability and or income and in turn the only one trying to hold accountable educational systems for getting everyone to the same level. I was just talking yesterday of NCLB and an edict that all children would be on grade level in reading and math by 2014.  There was a two percent group considered to be mentally impaired that would not attain grade level but all other children would.

Each of the educational eras has had issues in its systems. However, let me add I took a general biology course in my second year of college and the current general biology text for ninth graders at our high school is significantly more in depth and has numerous subjects and information not even conceived of in 1968. So, I look at the above email and see 1950 all was well, 1960 we are concerned about fractions, 1970 we are concerned about semantics, 1980 we are now worried about correct underlining too much Christmas treeing of answers on standardized tests and in the 1990’s we are concerned about environment and each other and asking why and how come questioning and wanting to perceive how this as wrong. I was amused at math in 2000’s and how it was touchy feely sort of kind of thing. They left out math in 2010 where a forester pays poachers in the rain forest of South America to strip a piece of land unregulated by any laws and sell to him at a dirt-cheap price and then wander off so literally we have a near 100% profit.

In 1919 John Dewey was using reflection as a teaching tool very successfully he was considerably ahead of his time. Sadly, reflection and discussion take time away from memorizing and with teaching to the test as we are now kids have to memorize volumes of material in every subject and many teachers do not have the time or they at least think they do not. Then looking back at 2005-2006 math comments and inferences to diversification it was not too many years ago women could not go to school and or hold positions in many companies and such. Even today women are stereotyped into certain positions.

A good friend is writing a doctoral thesis on gender biases in administration in public schools with all the public hoopla about immigration I still recall a parent conference five years ago when a good old boy wearing scruffy shorts no socks boots untied and dirty white T-Shirt explain it so eloquently to me. It seems he was out of work as he was a construction worker and at that essentially a gofer. He would be the one toting boards and bricks whatever. I was filling in forms since he did not read or write and his son was about to end up in the alternative school. I asked what he did for a living and he informed me he couldn’t get work. Obviously, I was aware of the construction situation in our area of few houses being built. However, his answer took me by surprise. He commented with a few expletives “The @#$% Mexicans work too #$@% hard.” For him it could have been Afro Americans, Native Americans, Eastern Europeans, and or Hispanics, it was anyone who was actually willing to work and not like him. Did I mention he did not smell very good sort of like a few old beers and cigarette stale smoke a paradox of sorts?

And so why am I bewildered we so often complain and whine and criticize and often only because we do not understand or lack of information. Simply put it is ignorance among the so many wonderful reasons. Parents expect wonders from teachers and many times we do deliver but years ago I wrote about the sixteen-hour syndrome. Teachers have kids for eight hours and are expected to work miracles only to go home to parents, TV, video, friends, drugs, and many other misc. other distractions and they have sixteen hours to undo all they learned in those eight. It is sort of a losing battle in many situations.

“Grown men can learn from very little children for the hearts of the little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss.” Black Elk

As I read this thought from Black Elk a Lakota Sioux holy man some years ago I was intrigued how we adults we take these innocents and make them adults losing all of their innocence. I used to watch the four-year old’s around school from our demo school they are inquisitive and wondering and yet in a few years they will be blank eyed and listless stripped of all of their joy and purity by our cultural efforts to make automatons and provide vehicles for the productivity of our manufacturing and corporate greed. Could be why I am bewildered that we have come to this in a free society and in reality, are more imprisoned than many so called third world countries. Imprisoned by our self-serving and self-centeredness and greed and watching calmly as monopolies are forming again and the big three oil companies are the only oil companies and ma bell is soon to be in charge again. I am paraphrasing and borrowing from an old folk song, where have all the steel mills gone or where have all the textile jobs gone simple they have gone to countries ever where. Then the chorus, oh when will we ever learn, oh when will we ever learn.


Paradoxes and complexities bewilderment and wonderment, I look at Black Elks words and wonder why can we not learn from children and maybe get back some of our lost innocence. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Looking for a window can be a chore if you do not know where to look

Bird Droppings February 10, 2021
Looking for a window can be a chore if you do not know where to look

I woke up very early today our dog was barking to go out and it was time for my wife to get up and get ready for work. It is hard to sleep in on days off when you fix breakfast and lunches. I walked out on my back porch only to catch a glimpse of the clouds moving getting ready for the coming rain along the tree line; a light drizzle was slipping in below the trees. It was just a coincidence that my dog wanted out exactly just before the rain was coming and dashed out of sight in the back yard. I view life as a series of interactions each interdependent upon the next and each interwoven with the previous. Over the past few days to a week I have bumped into six former students all wanting to talk and ponder.

A good friend and I often discuss Carl Jung and synchronicity. Those interwoven pieces of life that intertwine all that is and seem to be so “connected” and keep us all in place. I have held to and use the puzzle idea frequently when discussing life with students and associates. I borrow from Chief Seattle and throw out the idea of a web of life interconnecting the pieces as a glue holding all in place.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I meet people and try to understand where and why about each one I find so often many who are still seeking to understand themselves not clearly knowing who or where they are in relationship to all else about them. This is not to say I am searching for who I am daily.

“A person starts to live when he can live outside himself.” Albert Einstein

I was talking with a group of students working on projects for their class on learning how to teach a number of months back. They worked with a preschool class, each high school student works with a four-year-old on words, colors and all sorts of fun things. We were talking and a former student of mine came to mind. It has been nearly forty-five years since I took a picture of this child. He was about five years old and severely autistic. He was nonverbal and spent much of his time simply staring ahead. On a spring day he was looking out the window of the school which was in an old house in Paoli Pennsylvania in 1970. I went out the back door with my camera ran around the front to his window and took a picture. He had his nose pressed up to the window staring out. I often wondered what he was seeing as he stared straight ahead. Over the years as I look at that picture I find myself thinking he was trying to find a window. Even as he looked out the window he was still searching for a window that he could see through.

“I have a great deal of company in the house, especially in the morning when nobody calls.” Henry David Thoreau

I watched him as he approached the window, it was not the view he wanted but the temperature, the coolness of the pane of glass against his cheek. I was seeing a window and he was feeling a moist pane of cool glass. I was pulling out various books and ideas as I talked to this group of students who worked with little students. I shared author Shel Silverstein and a copy of The Giving Tree with CD, and also William Stieg and CDB a whimsical word puzzle (CDB – see the bee), and as I looked and thought many memories flooded back. Of working with children who probably still do not speak. Of searching for my own windows through in my life and occasionally only feeling the cool glass pane

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Henry David Thoreau

As I think back over my discussion with those teachers to be, we started talking about people we would like to meet. Somewhere in an internet profile or such I wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, I added Gandhi the other day as we spoke. Most of the students were choosing contemporaries and most were celebrities. I thought over the years how our views change. For youngsters trying to find a window can be a chore not knowing where to look or maybe not even being tall enough to see out once there. As we get older the rules change we know where to look but have we drawn the blinds. We are tall enough to look out but do we really want to? Or are we content to simply press our nose to the glass and feel the coolness, never even attempting to see what lies beyond. It is a clear morning finally, although it is cold as stars fill the sky and a slight wind is blowing through the pine needles. A new day please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Do we have a desire for freedom?

Bird Droppings February 9, 2021
Do we have a desire for freedom?

“Brute force, no matter how strongly applied, can never subdue the basic human desire for freedom and dignity. It is not enough, as communist systems have assumed, merely to provide people with food, shelter and clothing. Human nature needs to breathe the precious air of liberty.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama

In life as I look back humans also while seeking freedom also seem to have an urge to subjugate others as well. When I was riding down to Emory University’s Oxford campus a quite a few years back to drop my youngest son off for a summer workshop we were talking about people who need to feel in control, in power, to be in charge. So often people take teaching jobs subconsciously for that reason I have found over the years as I observe teachers. In talking with my wife about the same topic she was looking from a medical stand point and as I so often look from a psychological view.

By chance I ran into a former student yesterday while taking grand kids to McDonalds. The only time I go is with grand kids and what’s funny is it’s the playground at a specific McDonalds they like. If they want food only there are several other places they want to go first. My former student back in the day was a fan of anarchy and had the anarchy logo emblazoned on his back pack. I had forgotten about this episode from ten years ago when I ran into him at a local BBQ joint where he was cooking. I had saved his back pack in my jumble of boxes from school after he got kicked out and eventually quit high school. It dawned on me when we met up all those years later and I recalled just seeing this back pack and the next day took it by to him. As we talked at McDonalds of all place’s synchronicity as always, he reminded me of the story. He was with his fiancée and their kids. Funny thing adding to this story was running into his former roommate two nights back at Publix, another of my former students. As I think of freedom and these two individuals my former students both never succumbed to the rigors of public educations straight rows of desks and such. Freedom was not “just another word” but a point of life for them even at a young age.

We each in our own way see the idea of freedom perhaps in differing lights and lenses. While attending a wedding shower recently in a subdivision in another part of the local community I was definitely not a free person. In my existence I tend to be somewhat monastic picking and choosing times to be social and spending much of my day by myself reading, writing, and pondering uninterrupted by the where and whys of social interaction.

However last night watching a an old rerun of House on Netflix and a blogger who laid her life out in minute detail in her blog while living in somewhat isolation communicated and interacted on a level that was in many psychological terms very social. At that shower I was lost in a crowd of people that I did not know or really care to be among and eventually walked outside after sitting for nearly an hour and a half talking to my cousin who was the father of the groom to be. But as I look at my first paragraph I had no control of the situation.

Does this apply to learning and education most assuredly as we place children so often in places where they have no control and they have few if any liberties? Often the response is one of flight or of negative behavior as we define the norm and allow only what we as teachers deem appropriate. Freedom is just another word was the song from the early 1970’s and mid 1960’s written by Kris Kristofferson. Working with children who have Emotional problems and whose affect is impacted for whatever reason has me looking at the kids I work with differently than most teachers may even attempt. I am sitting here with no phone zone signs ready to go up in my class room at Alcovy High School. I have never felt it necessary to compete with an electronic device until this year. When kids are glued to phones 24/7 they have little desire to hear or see anything else. “I can google it.”

But in my own research the past few months I found that in the early 1950s a group of educational psychologists came up with several learning domains. One of these aspects or domains is the affective domain.

“Receiving, willing to listen, Responding, willing to participate, Valuing, willing to be involved, Organizing, willing to be an advocate and Characterization, willing to change one’s behavior, life style or way of life” Cindy Vinson Ed.D.

These are the five areas of that domain outlined above, so what does an affective domain have to do with freedom? What do bossy people have to do with either? Literally we set ourselves up for failure so often in life. Internally a desire for liberty confounded by structure in societal entities, school, work, social organizations and such where we are told what to do by a teacher, boss or president. So many years ago I recall listening to someone discussing business and management back in the day my son would say. I had dinner with my father and the great management guru Peter Drucker at a management meeting in Chicago.

“So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.” Peter Drucker

As I read the great business author Peter Drucker’s thought and pondered how often is teaching much the same. I reworded the statement a bit with, could it be then that so much of what we call teaching consists in making it difficult for students to learn. But it was later when discussing that this thought I remembered another quote from a book my father wrote a number of years ago.

“It is not about telling workers (students) what to do, it is about asking them to do it and further if they believe it is their idea and they take ownership of that idea far more will be accomplished” Frank E. Bird Jr., Practical Loss Control Management

In educational research students having empowerment and ownership significantly increases the level to which they will achieve. I have seen this premise work in industry many times as workers take ownership of an idea and turn a company around in safety programs. I have seen students who have input in a classroom light up and move forward so much more so than when manacled by a dictator like teacher. In my own research and studies as I work on my dissertation, I borrow from my studies in The Foxfire Approach to teaching. This statement below was the number one Core Practice. As a teacher this is how we should be doing education.

“From the beginning, learner choice, design, and revision infuse the work teachers and learners do together.” Foxfire Core Practice one

As I have been involved directly or indirectly now for nearly fifty years in training and teaching when a learner be it adult or child has ownership of the idea so much more is accomplished. Work goes from tedious to enjoyable. Success becomes the norm rather than failure. As teachers how do we give ownership to students of material such as Algebra or US History? How can we take student ideas and intertwine with mandated curriculum? These are not simple questions and there are not simple answers. It does take effort and work and often not being totally in control to allow this to happen and to flow.

As I thought a bit more I wonder if by accepting an inherent desire to be free as stated by the Dalai Lama and Dr. Vinson’s idea of an affective domain and building upon that we might just end up have successful students and workers. Imagine if we could build upon this in schools and improve schools because kids want to and not because of federal standards and demands. This concept is essentially the premise behind democracy in the classroom and much of John Dewey’s work on education and democracy in our own country. Every major politician is now for or against specific policies and each has a differing reason but I find it still necessary to end as I have now for nearly fifteen years. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts. For so many years as I look back and each day find in harm’s way goes so far beyond the wars and tribulations of man. Several friends have battled cancer and won and as I look even at within my own family over the past few years the emotions and heart wrenching in harm’s way is a rather broad term. We need to be looking behind each corner and searching our hearts and keep as humans uplifting rather than tearing each other down. The potential for man is so great but we continually allow ourselves to be sucked into the vacuums of greed and denial. How do we rise up and offer a hand? How do we become a nation of people rather than of profit? It takes understanding and it takes as Dr. Vinson offers we need to be in the affective domain.

“Receiving, willing to listen, Responding, willing to participate, Valuing, willing to be involved, Organizing, willing to be an advocate and Characterization, willing to change one’s behavior, life style or way of life” Cindy Vinson Ed.D.

So, another week ahead and I sit pondering what might I bring to the table today as a teacher. Hopefully something that will impact students in a positive way and I close as I have for nearly fifteen years please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

An owl calling

Bird Droppings February 8, 2021

An owl calling

Last night I woke for a few minutes, as it turns out I forgot to turn on the ceiling fan. While up I stuck my nose out the door perhaps intuition who knows when wandering about the house half asleep. Deep in the pines an owl called and of all memories to unlock an instance eight years ago flashed before my mind’s eye. It was about three o’clock in the afternoon just after school I was made aware of a situation that at first caught me by surprise. A former student from years gone by had been arrested in another county and was being held for immigration to be deported. She had been in the US since she was three years old and was raising her three kids here. As it turns out she had never received a green card and her boyfriend of seven years as well was illegal. Both worked hard and she had graduated from high school where I knew her as a student. I was asked to go see her as along with all of this she has a severe learning disability in reading. Even back then all the news about deportations was on my mind.

I seldom bring up being ordained but being ordained has certain privileges and after all scheduled visitors are permitted into the jail pastors can go in. So, I went in and I visited for nearly forty-five minutes with one of my favorite students of all time at the county detention center. We talked about how nearly twelve years prior she had come to me with a big what if. She proceeded to tell me a friend of hers is pregnant and what could she do and who should she go to. It only took a few minutes till I realized the friend was actually herself. I recalled how she sat on the sofa in my room propping her feet up as she completed school while pregnant and would come in my room to rest.

She nearly came to tears as started talking about her babies who I have pictures of hanging on my door at school and have held and laughed with several times. I said no crying since I did not want to cry in front of a former student. We talked about jail food and how as soon as she was out she wanted a homemade tortilla and eggs and all the trimmings. It was nearly nine when I walked the almost half mile from the visiting room to my car which in my haste had locked my car keys in and had to have a police officer help me get into. As I drove home I recalled all of the publicity of illegal aliens and immigration laws and how business men provide jobs at a cheaper rate. An article on banks in former bailout of applying for nearly twenty-one thousand visas for white collar positions since they can get foreigners for less money in attorney and accounting positions over US citizens. Then I am brought full circle to our current frenzy to build a wall. When will we look in the mirror? We are building a wall about us not anyone else. We are afraid of ourselves in this disposable world we live in.

I thought of a young girl who had worked and had finished school and raised three kids and was being held because of where she had been born not where she was raised and grew up and gone to school and yet we had people receiving huge bonuses who created and caused one of the worst financial crises’ in history walking around free and going on vacation. I was mad when I got home thinking of how greed had driven our society to where it was. How jobs for immigrants are provided for by the very people wanting a wall.

I wrote some of this a little over six years ago however last night early in the morning a great horned owl called several times waking me up and brought back many memories and thoughts beyond the memories of a wonderful person who had been sitting in a jail cell away from her kids.

I sat listening even though half asleep as I do every morning and today the pine needles have made a lace pattern in the spaces between the twigs against the clarity of the sky. The sky is cold and clear and stars are everywhere as I wandered out. When I first went out a faint chorus of crickets greeted me or so I thought but it was the cold ringing in my ears, but off in the distance a great horned owl called. It has been several years since a student at school asked if I knew what an owl meant. It is funny how bits and pieces of memory come back.

It was not all that long ago that several times a student reminded me to call her mother about the pow-wow coming up in the spring. Her mother coordinates the local Native American gatherings and dances. Perhaps this is what got me thinking as many southeastern tribes consider the owl to be a harbinger of evil or dread. For some eastern tribes an owl calling was considered a sign of death, as you move across the Mississippi the various tribe’s attitude about owl’s changes. Owls become symbols of power, of wisdom, of a fine line between here and the spirit world.

Owls calling in the dark, it is a haunting sound for one person and darkness yet a few days ride away the same haunting sounds bring light. As the weather warms up I will hear owls nearly every morning often several will be calling to each other. It has been sometime since I was up in the North Georgia Mountains with my middle son on an environmental field trip. We stayed at a spot I consider very special, Camp Mikel, a summer camp owned and operated by the Episcopal Arch Diocese of Atlanta.

The camp lies in a valley along two ridges. The cabins are on one ridge and across the fields and marsh another ridge and the camps famous cross on top of the mountain. The camp has an ongoing program with a group that provides for school educational experiences in the mountains on habitat ecology and environmental workshops. It was about nine o’clock and our group went out onto the playing fields with a tape recorder. We started calling owls. In a matter of a few minutes several were calling back. Owls in our area range from a tiny screech owl to the great horned owl.

One of our other exercises during the day was dissecting owl pellets. It seems owls eat various creatures and the parts which are not digested are literally barfed up in a ball and dropped usually at their roosting spot. Scientists can study diet and health of the owl population through the pellets. One of the students in our group as they opened up the brown mass of their pellet uncovered a skull. Soon several of us had found skulls of shrews and mice rats and squirrels. Our instructor was interested in this first one it was different and carefully cleaned it off. It was a screech owl skull. The great horned owl had devoured the smaller owl.

As I thought of my morning, pondering what the day would bring and listening to the Great horned owls calling all around me the sense of oneness with nature was over whelming. Back at my environmental retreat I did learn each owl has a very distinctive call.  I was also intrigued at how we all surmise differences in the same stimuli, not only the owls and owls calling but it could be in words used in a hallway at school. One person hears humor another slander.

“The Lenape Indians believed that if they dreamt of an Owl it would become their guardian. To the Mojave Indians of Arizona, one would become an Owl after death, this being and interim stage before becoming a water beetle, and ultimately pure air. According to Navajo legend, the creator, Nayenezgani, told the Owl after creating it “…in days to come, men will listen to your voice to know what will be their future” California Newuks believed that after death, the brave and virtuous became Great Horned Owls. The wicked, however, were doomed to become Barn Owls. In the Sierras, native peoples believed the Great Horned Owl captured the souls of the dead and carried them to the underworld.” Deane P. Lewis, Owls in mythology

I was listening several years ago to several students, for one what appeared to be just a comment became words to fight for and I had to intercede. I listened as one of my students in a group exercise about the classic novel The Time Machine by H.G. Wells said if she could go back in time she would go back to the civil war and tell the south how to win the war. If she had been telling me that I would have expected it knowing her and her family but her group consisted of two Afro-Americans and the comment offended them.

My student probably was not even aware of her comment being offensive; she has serious issues with social skills. But the same words in another group of students here in rural Georgia may have been accepted and applauded. It could have been the exact same words and yet a significantly different reaction. I heard the owl and sought to listen deeper.

How do I respond to a person who hears only the dark side and believes only darkness? How do we listen and try and rationalize words with so many meanings so many interpretations? A college student from South Georgia was writing about how we change society. I offered by example but that is so difficult only one person at a time in life we interact each day. If we maintain our example and interact in genuine trust and honesty that connection will be seen and understood and eventually copied.

Not everyone will make the connection but some will and those will continue the call. I heard the owl today and I will listen tomorrow and I will tell others and maybe one day who knows. Take each moment and each second live as you whole heartedly believe and live with trust and set the example. Others will see and hear and soon two people and soon three and maybe before the end of times we can all hear an owl in the same way. Maybe peace will be a word spoken and understood in the same manner tribe to tribe family to family person to person. Maybe the puzzle pieces will fall in place and the final picture will be one we all can be proud to have been a part of. So please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Hearing an owl and thinking about happiness

Bird Droppings February 7, 2021

Hearing an owl and thinking about happiness

“If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that has rolled under the radiator.” W. Beran Wolfe

Within this life we want to feel as if we are pursuing happiness. Many people feel that this aspect, happiness, of who we are is illusionary and so many times as I look at various students, former students, and friends and associates it may be. Is it the peer pressure perhaps, the group psyche coming into play and molding that which we see and what we are perceiving others seeing into a common thread or weave though it may be purely in our minds?

For me however happiness is an individual entity, it is something from within not a transitory effort to have or to be like everyone else. I have become a fan of few television shows but have taken to watching mostly random Netflix shows and occasionally finding my way back to NCIS and Gibbs. The main character is always building a boat in his basement by hand even though we never know how he gets the boat out. It is while he is working with his hands on his boat you generally see a smile on his face.

While reading emails and looking through other electronic mailings and postings I happened to read one about how the ideal guy would wear specific clothiers or have specific hair color, eye color, or even physical build. Sadly, nowhere it seems do we look deeper. We seem to want the trappings and it is this outward appearance and back to my first paragraph that is what seems to bring happiness to far too many. We want this ideal person to be who we want to be, and who we want to be around.

As I do so many mornings walking out into the darkness listening to the sounds of the night and or morning as today seemed to be. About two years ago I woke and looked out our eighth-floor window onto a lit-up bay. Boats and such each with a mast light or some such thing. I thought back to a day when I had awakened from a very vivid dream and gathered myself and let our husky out only to encounter two owls calling across the stillness and it was still chilly from the night. It was not raining although a front can be felt moving in unfortunately and the crickets and the tree frogs were silent from the chill. Perhaps the owls were on the hunt, my oldest son tells me often of being awakened by the owls hearing them at night out here in the country. I too hear them often but have never been awakened by them however this was my first experience hearing them so close as I went out.

The dueling owls went back and forth for several minutes in the stillness. As I sit here thinking and pondering still trying to recover from whatever has been bothering me for several weeks, in my imagination so many myths and legends of owls. For some cultures there is great magic in owls for others they are harbingers of evil and death. But as I listened to the two back and forth mimicking calls perhaps territory perhaps a pair hunting perhaps the visages of spring have sparked a more sensual meaning to their calls.

For me there was not a fear but a sense of grandeur as the sounds soon dissipated. I wondered why tonight or I should say this morning as the crescent of moon gleamed in a clear sky about 4:30 AM or so. I pondered reading this simple quote that I started with by author Wolfe and then searching further.

“One important source of unhappiness is the habit of putting off living to some fictional future date. Men and women are constantly making themselves unhappy because in deferring their lives to the future they lose sight of the present and its golden opportunities for rich living.” W. Beran Wolfe

Perhaps the owls were a reminder of things needing to be done or of stopping the procrastinating. For there is joy in life for each of us now, it is not a distant event to be reached when the right clothes, job or thing is finished done or bought. Happiness, true happiness is now with us if we choose. It is in the contentment of knowing you have succeeded and you are where you need to be right this minute, this second. It is that all you have done in your life has been to get you here to this point. Wisdom is about accepting what and where you have been and are learning from this now. Happiness, true happiness is being content, and most of all it is about being alive. I am sitting here writing as the water from a bamboo and fish tank provides a relaxing venue for which to ponder.

I had wanted to work in the garden a bit more this weekend but my leg still limits me in certain physical undertakings. So, I will do some reading and writing for grad school I have put off. It always amazes people when I say some of my happiest times have been sitting on the mower going in circles thinking, imagining, pondering and assuredly content for that moment. Please dear friends keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

“It does not require many words to speak the truth”

Chief Joseph, Nez Perce