making a mark

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Each soul contributes.
Help earth know peace and justice,
she will remember.

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signs of life

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Spotted this little dude while out on a freshly walkable trail. The flood waters have receded, and the snow is mostly gone, so it feels good to get back out there.

The sun was shining on the little muskrat, lighting up his pretty fur. He busily munched on something while I stood not far away watching.

Later, I surprised two deer in the woods. Further on, I spotted two more deer across the river from me. We all studied each other intently before they decided they would go ahead and dip their noses into the water.

During my walk, I also noticed all the birds singing, and caught sight of that proverbial harbinger of spring in Michigan – the robin.

I love all these joyful signs of life. Yay for spring!

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ukulele update

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I am still happily wending my way down the ukulele path. I managed to graduate from my beginner group, earning a full set of ribbons, a nice whack at the gong, and – very cool – a nice strap for my ukulele.

Since then, I attended my first session of the intermediate club. This is not so much a class as a group of intermediate level folks learning some songs together.

I was very intimidated to attend. I imagined everyone else would be far, far ahead of me. As it turned out, some were, but some were also about where I am.

The first song we worked on made me wonder whether I could continue with the group. I did not know any of the chords for the song, and they weren’t especially easy chords, either. I was not the only one in that boat, though, so I just made the best of it and followed along.

Thankfully, when we moved on to the next song, I knew all the chords and had no problems at all strumming along with everyone. Even better, we practiced picking the song after we strummed it – super fun!

Finally, we worked on a third song that was relatively easy to pick up with just a few tricky spots to work on.

I could not believe it when we were done. The time had passed in a flash. I never before sat down to just play music with other folks like that – and it was a truly enjoyable experience.

I have my work cut out for me in terms of practice this week, but I am very much looking forward to my next session, strumming along with everyone else.

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a work of art, in progress

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Out roaming the local trails, I came upon the bit of graffiti pictured above. I couldn’t help but appreciate the intent, despite the misspelling: “Live your life like a peice [sic] of art.”

Still, it somehow missed the mark, and it was bothering me.

I realized that the graffitist’s use of the expression “piece of art” suggested to me something complete and static, something to stand back and gaze at. It evoked a painting on a wall, or perhaps a sculpture resting, unmovable, on a pedestal. Everything over and done with, you know. The expression does not reflect on the journey.

The phrase “work of art,” however, draws to mind various stages of completion or even incompletion. It suggests a process. It hints at the messiness and energy of art and other creativity. It implies the endeavor itself.

As I walked along, I realized there was an even better phrase to apply: “work of art, in progress.” Here, we have all the possibilities in the world available to us. This work of art could turn out to be anything – depending on our intent and our dedication to the effort.

I can be satisfied with that:

“Live your life like a work of art, in progress.”

I think that describes things pretty well, actually. It honors our aspirations and inspirations, creativity, the necessary problem-solving, the nitty-gritty work, muscle, tools, education, intention, insecurity, and hope. It implies deliberation, intention.

I do think, however, that plenty of folks actually do live their lives rather according to the initial maxim’s unintended advice: “Live your life like a piece of art.” I think plenty of people attempt to live in a way that looks right, perhaps, more than it feels right. I think most of us do it at least for some portion of our lives, and others for all of their lives.

I prefer to carry on in the studio, if you will, where there is paint spilled on the floor, and dirty brushes, and perhaps some swearing. It is, at least, my hope.

Despite my nitpicking, kudos to the graffitist who had the guts to put this thing out there. I’m ashamed to say I wouldn’t do it. I love someone brave enough to break the rules to make us think, purposefully. So a misspelling, who cares?

“Live your life like a work of art, in progress.”

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soon

veru3_11_19

cold wind blows over
brittle blankets of old snow
soon to melt with spring

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truth and transparency

veru3_10_19

Unbelievably, unthinkably, reprehensibly – Chelsea Manning is once again jailed. This news flits across the feed and is quickly buried. But we ignore this story at our peril.

Chelsea Manning is a truth-teller. In this latest go-round, she is again carefully and deliberately taking a stand for truth and transparency. It is a stand taken on my behalf, on your behalf. She is putting herself on the line for what is right and for the good of her fellow humans.

She is fully aware, after seven years in prison, of what she’s getting herself into. She is one of those few brave souls willing to stand up for truth, to hold the powers that be accountable, at a terrible personal cost.

Her story is, of course, obfuscated and tinted by those powers as they continue their long, cruel persecution. But the reality is that she is a hero, and deserves our support. 

Free Chelsea Manning. Truth and transparency.

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of animals and ecosystems

veru3_9_19Wolves were airlifted into the US from Canada at the end of February to bolster the wolf population in Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park. The purpose is to help control the moose population there.

This week, though, we heard that US wildlife officials are planning to lift protections on grey wolves in the lower 48 states, allowing them to be hunted.

Wolves have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1975, when there was something like 1,000 of the animals left in the entire lower 48.

The reintroduction of grey wolves to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 tells an amazing story about the trophic cascade that occurred there – impacting the ecosystem in surprising and extensive ways. Sustainable Human offers a short, lovely video about it here.

Let’s leave the wolves alone and let them do the magic for which they were designed.

We are losing species at an alarming rate. Let us stop willfully refusing to connect the dots.

We have learned that there is a delicate, precious balance in our ecosystems. Humans are part of the ecosystems, not the CEO’s.  

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