haiku, politics

Cautious Optimism

«Because this is America, the 82-year-old hands that used to pick someone else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States Senator.»

~ Raphael Warnock (newly elected US Senator from Georgia) in his victory speech on 2021-01-05

(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

The first three weeks of 2021 gave me whiplash.

On 01-05, progressive Democrats displaced Trump toadies by winning both runoff elections for Senate in Georgia.  Knowing how badly the Dems had fared in several other Senate races that seemed close at the start of November, I had expected both Warnock and Ossoff to be swept away by a tsunami of dark money pouring into Georgia.  But they both won, by narrow margins much like Biden’s margin in Georgia.

Seal_of_Georgia_840x840

Great Seal of the State of Georgia

On 01-06, a mob stormed and trashed the US Capitol.  The Capitol Police had been complacent while Trump cultists swarmed into DC.  Some of the cops (and some members of Congress) may even have been complicit in the violence that Trump incited.  Yes, he did incite it.  His mild late admonition to be peaceful was meant to cover his ass, not to walk back his continued strident lying about the urgency of radical action to undo a “stolen” election in Georgia and other states that Biden won narrowly.

Voltaire_DJT_840x1038

© Rick Fausto

On 01-20, Biden took the helm of what remains of the USA.  Fortunately, what remains of the USA includes soldiers who remembered what they had sworn to defend and responded to the danger of an insurrection on 01-20 that would be better organized and better armed than on 01-06.  The National Guard was out in force.

BidenNatGuard_840x456

© Getty Images | Poughkeepsie Journal for 01-20

For now at least, civil war has been averted.  Fireworks were the only explosions on 01-20.

BidenFireworks_840x548

© Evan Vucci/Associated Press | Washington Post for 01-21

We are not home free.  That Trump is a fascist was obvious after truly nonviolent protesters were driven from Lafayette Square to make way for a sleazy photo-op on 2020-06-01.  (To some observers, Trump’s fascism was obvious long before then.)  And yet, as Molly Ball wrote in TIME for [01-18/01-25]:

Despite his loss, Trump notched millions more votes in 2020 than in 2016 and spurred unprecedented GOP turnout.  …  The real threat to America may be not that this GOP can’t win elections but that it can.

Whether the USA values constitutional democracy enough to forgo white supremacy and the rest of Trump’s cult will be severely tested over the next few years.  Get ready for more whiplash.

Build Back Better
|With luck and hard work,
|we may yet build a future
|better than the past.

Continue reading

haiku, photography

Rainbow Zen

The rainbow images that illustrate haiku here are in an elite group.  (Wish the images were mine.)  The rainbow does not just coexist with whatever else is in the scene; it works with the other elements and lifts a good image to greatness.  A bonus awaits those willing to read the notes and credits at the end of this post.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

Dramatic-Skies-31

Arizona Sky
|Wings gliding past arc,
|high above Mogollon Rim:
|raven and rainbow.

australian-rainbow_450x600

Out of Reach
|Hard fingers rise up,
|trying to grasp soft colors
|as the rainbow fades.

No Pots of Gold
|Seek ends of rainbows.
|You will not find them? Okay.
|The quest is enough.

§: Notes and Credits

While there are zillions of fine photos of rainbows, the images used here are in an elite group.  (Wish they were mine.)  The rainbow does not just coexist with whatever else is in the scene; it works with the other elements and lifts a good image to greatness.

Subsection headings below are also links to pages with more detail.

§§: Harvey Stearn’s Photo of Raven and Rainbow

Click on the link above if U have any interest at all in how dramatic skies can contribute to landscape photos.  No interest?  Click anyway and U will soon have one.  The photo I used comes near the end in a long series of splendid examples.

I first saw this photo as a standout among standouts in a collection curated by Mitch Teemley, whose blog has many great collections alongside funny and/or insightful original content.  The idea of a haiku with what became the last line of Arizona Sky came to mind quickly, but writing other lines I liked took longer.  Much longer.

§§: Randy Olson’s Photo of Termite Mound and Rainbow

I wrote No Pots of Gold and later found this splendid photo to illustrate it (and inspire some haibun prose).  The photo proved to be a gift that keeps on giving; it inspired Out of Reach.

§§: Naturalism in Haiku

Rainbows are one kind of spectrum.  There are many other series rather like the somewhat quantitative R-O-Y-G-B-I-V of rainbows, and sometimes it helps to think of those spectra as rainbows.  Two examples follow.

This post’s series of haiku exemplifies the spectrum of naturalism in haiku.  Like Arizona Sky, many haiku are specific descriptions of a momentary observation.  Like No Pots of Gold, some are toward the other extreme: general expressions of attitudes toward life, with at most a metaphorical reference to nature.  Out of Reach is in between.

There is also a spectrum of compliance with the 5-7-5 rule, which is revered by some and reviled by others.  Like most of my own haiku, the ones in this post comply.  Tho I do respect the 5-7-5 rule, I also wrote a haiku that goes 3-2-5 and a haiku with just 2 lines.  No apologies.

Don’t submit blindly to restrictions on
subject matter and nuances of form,
for haiku or any other kind of art.
Let the rainbows glow.
haiku, photography, seasons

Hope at Sunrise

Patrick Jennings’ challenge #259 salutes the sun in the great outdoors.  Sunlight is both a source of hope and something to hope for.  The same is true in more intimate settings, and the New Year got off to a good start at sunrise on 2021-01-01.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

Hope ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #259

IMG_4803_840x549

Morning Sun on Winter Wreath
|Bird, bow, and berries
|scatter rays of hope to me.
|Today may be good.

(reblog), photography

Ash Trees and Artichokes

Apart from being plants, they have little in common.  But this particular ash tree and this particular collection of artichokes share a kind of solemn beauty in death.  My images respond to the image and words in Patrick Jennings’ challenge #258, which is reblogged (in effect) at the end of this post.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

ash-closeup_840x630

ash-hole_840x722

artichoke-bouquet_840x1119

© Patrick Jennings | Beauty ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #258

Dead tree & West Mitten Butte_840x560

There is beauty
In all things
Even death

To understand this
Is to master life

To master life
One must master death

haiku, photography

Seeking Solitude

«You may use my image in your post, or any image you have created.»  So say the rules of Patrick Jennings’ series of challenges.  For challenge #257, I did both at once.  (Details are at the end of this post.)  The image illustrates my haiku about solitude, which is sometimes an aspiration rather than a condition.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

Solitude ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #257

solitude-overlay-60_ragged-edge_840x408

Not Alone
|Lonely in the crowd
|and weary of empty talk,
|I seek solitude.

Image Notes and Credits

I was intrigued by the landscape’s azure sky in
solitude-landscape_840x404

© Patrick Jennings

While the sky is fine just as it is, it is also a good place for an overlay with text or another image.

I had already used a downloaded image of a wearisome crowd to illustrate the first 2 lines of my haiku Not Alone:
cartoon people in the crowd

© Igor Zakowski | 123RF Stock Photo
(Image has been cropped.)

I decided to illustrate the whole haiku by overlaying the landscape’s sky with the crowd image, opaque at the top and then gradually fading out of sight toward the bottom.  By the time I noticed that my photo editor does not support opacity gradients in overlays, I had my heart set on the project.  Hmmm.  Overall opacity of 60% in the overlay looks good, apart from the sharp horizontal line at the bottom of the overlay.  Hmmm.  My editor does have enough functionality to make that boundary a little blurry and wobbly, with one eye of Ms Purple Hair left staring at the viewer.

haiku, photography, seasons

Warmth and Light

Warmth and light are both in short supply outside at this time of year, but the plants in my yard know that relief is on the way.  Winter will end and they will rebound.  My haiku about their resilience can be a response to Patrick Jennings’ Pic and a Word Challenge #255.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

Warmth ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #255

green-peek_934x657

daffodil-leaves_934x900

Spring
|After the winter,
|green plants spring back to savor
|warmth and longer days.

humor, politics, seasons

Pulling a Calf

For late winter (also known as mud season), it was a nice day.  A few half-hearted snowflakes drifted down.  They vanished into the promise of spring wafting up from wet ground that had already thawed.  As I walked past a small farm about 2 miles from home, Everett called out: “Can U give me some help?”
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

I knew Everett from his being the part-time mail carrier who sometimes drove my home’s rural route.  He was also a subsistence farmer who had veggie plots, chickens, and some goats who wandered at will despite attempts to corral them.  While the Houdini goats were cause for resigned amusement, the predicament of a cow and her calf was cause for anxiety.

Mama was a small cow whose tryst with a large bull had produced a calf too large for her birth canal.  Mama was lying on her side, with just the calf’s nose and front hooves protruding.  Neither Everett nor I knew how to contact and compensate a veterinary surgeon who might perform a bovine C-section on short notice, but Everett had a plan.

He had tied the middle of a rope around the hooves.  He would pull one end of the rope while another guy pulled the other end in the same direction, straight out from Mama.  I would be the other guy.  There was no mention of the possibility of pulling with a tractor, and Everett probably did not have a tractor anyway.

Rope fraying

© S. Silver | 123RF Stock Photo

Was it thin rope or thick twine?  Either way, it was old and frayed. (Before we started pulling, it was not quite so badly frayed as in the image above.)  As we pulled, I feared that either the rope would break or some boots would lose traction.  Either way, one or both of us would suffer an ignominious pratfall in the barnyard’s morass of mud and manure.

The rope held.  So did our boots.  Mama endured the ordeal with quiet stoicism, as her calf emerged slowly.  Both survived.

My one and only obstetric accomplishment was decades ago, long before the 2016 election saw the USA’s ignominious pratfall into what passes for conservatism nowadays: a morass of mud and manure, with quicksand too.

Along with many others now, I am once again pulling on a frayed rope.  Constitutional democracy has been badly frayed by dark money, gerrymandering, troll farms, and vote suppression.  Will it hold long enough to extract my country from the morass?  (We need two unlikely wins in Georgia on 2021-01-05 to flip the Senate.)  When the future looks bleak, I think back to Everett’s frayed rope.  We pulled; it held.

flowers, haiku, photography, seasons

Snow Fall

Carpe Diem Haiku Kai has the theme “autumn leaves” for November of 2020 and the subtheme “colors of life” for the CDHK episode posted 2020-11-17.  Where I live, snow rarely falls before the leaves do.  When it does, the resulting colors may foretell the colors of awakening life in the coming spring.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

Carpe Diem #1839 colors of life

SnowBurningBush_840x718

Snow Fall
|Bright white and strong pink:
|early snow on burning bush
|predicts apple blooms.

apple-blooms_840x574

history, politics, riff

Riff on a Churchill Quote

On 2020-11-07 (around 11:30 AM), CNN declares that Joe Biden has won the electoral vote and will be the next POTUS.  Of course, the state-by-state vote counts that determine the electoral vote are not yet official.  Lawsuits and recounts loom.  Violence from “militia” thugs goaded by Donald Trump’s incendiary rhetoric is possible.  And so on.

Tho I am not quite old enough to have been following the news on 1942-11-10, I remember what Winston Churchill said then to mark the victory at El Alamein:

“Now this is not the end.
It is not even the beginning of the end.
But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

That first victory in 1942 ended the beginning of the long hard slog to rid the world of fascism.  The riddance was temporary.  Perhaps 2020 can begin the long hard slog to repair the damage done to the USA by about four decades of coddling plutocrats and four years of coddling bigots.  Perhaps 2020 can begin to free the USA and other nations from creeping fascism disguised as conservatism.

For the moment anyway, here is the answer to the question about 2020 that I posed soon after the disastrous 2016 election:
s-s-b-386x342

Our flag is still there.

(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)
history, politics

I Cried Today

Tho I do not tear up easily, I have teared up and even cried a little at many moments in this dismal year.  Today I sobbed and moaned and gushed tears.  Like I did nearly six years ago, when my wife died.  This time it was not personal grief.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

As soon as I could see clearly again, I started this post.  Tho I am a compulsive polisher and normally let things marinate for many hours before I revisit and revise, I pressed the [Publish] button after less than an hour.  I had to get back to the battle, to doing what little I can to help organizations like VoteVets fight for constitutional democracy against the corrupt fascist in the White House and his enablers.

humor, photography, seasons

Four Months in the Hudson Valley

This post’s little ode takes some poetic license.  I really can do some of my raking in September (when some dingy leaves fall) and defer much of the rest (to after October).  But I cannot entirely avoid October raking.  The leaves blown into the garage would be above my ankles, and any dropped bolts or keys might never be seen again.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

The prophet month has come and gone:
|July foretold the fall.

prophet

Then August did its autumn tease:
|sly hints and that was all.

goldenrod_840x1130

September barked “Start raking leaves!”
|I did not hesitate.

RakeMe_sat-10_temp-22_840x630

October, just around the bend,
|was when such chores must wait.

Chiaroscuro_0_temp+6_tint-18_840x485

birds, flowers, haiku, humor, photography

Ozzie Had His Head on Straight

David Eppley’s photo of a bald eagle named Ozzie was among the fan favorites in the Weather Channel’s 2016 Photo Contest.  The same excellent photo inspired a haiku that can respond to a CDHK challenge about daffodils.  Really.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

Carpe Diem #1832 Narcissus (Daffodils)

DavidEppley_EagleDrinking_840x568

© David Eppley

Mythornithology
|When we saw himself,
|Narcissus forgot to drink.
|Eagle had more sense.

daffodils-close
Click here to see more images and read interesting facts about flowers in the genus Narcissus (AKA daffodils).

Click here to see more images from the Weather Channel’s 2016 Photo Contest.

haiku, photography

Eight Years and Counting

The year 2020 is not all bad.  Carpe Diem Haiku Kai (which is one of the islands of light in an ocean of darkness) celebrated its eighth anniversary on 2020-10-01.  The fine haiku poet who founded and curates CDHK suggested writing “a nice festive haiku or tanka” for the occasion.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

multi-horiz_800x328_Adj_B-25_C+70_S+50

CDHK Celebrates its 8th anniversary – Carpe Diem 1829
Introduction to a new month.

My response salutes the pluralism and progressivism implicit in CDHK.  We can honor and build upon the past w/o being confined by it.

Old Pond & Beyond
|To sing of all that’s
|true and good and beautiful,
|write haiku poems.

JM_2017-10-27_BKR_800x442

history, photography, politics, serendipity

Machu Pichu Endures

The colors of glistening pineapple and watermelon may distract the eye from something unusual about how these chunks of fruit fell into a bowl.  Let’s remove most of the color from the image and nudge a few other sliders in a photo editor.  Does the accidental arrangement look somewhat familiar?  Ever been to Machu Pichu?
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

While I have only been to Machu Pichu vicariously, I have long admired the skills and can-do spirit of Inca stonemasons who made sturdy walls from precisely aligned stones of various shapes.  Precise alignment is a lot harder with stone than with fruit.

The exquisitely crafted walls of Machu Pichu’s now-roofless buildings have endured centuries of frost heaves and neglect.  What high purposes might the buildings have served?  Were any of them schools or hospitals or research institutes?

Panorama of Machu Picchu ruins in Cuzco, Peru

Nope.  The buildings were summer homes for the emperor and courtiers top 0.1% and temples think tanks for the priests pundits who told them that their wealth and privileges were rewards for pleasing the gods creating jobs.  Machu Pichu endures in more ways than one.

Remember in November.

Image Sources for Machu Pichu

mundane miracle, photography, serendipity

Aurora Serendipita

I glanced down one day and saw the Aurora Borealis (aka Northern Lights).  Down?  From aboard the International Space Station, orbiting the Earth?  (I wish.)  No, I just noticed yet another of the mundane miracles that console involuntary homebodies who are alert to them.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)
Click on a thumbnail to see the full image in another tab.
Scroll down to see where the images come from.

I glanced up another day and saw the Aurora Borealis.
At my latitude.  Indoors.  By daylight.

Click on a thumbnail to see the full image in another tab.
Scroll down to see where the images come from.

The shallow glass bowl of my birdbath was spending the winter as a decoration in the living room.  While cleaning the room, I happened to set the bowl down under a window where sunlight could reflect from the bowl and then from the ceiling.

The Northern Lights came to mind when I glanced up at the reflections on the ceiling, and I later darkened the gray look of the dimly lit white ceiling to accentuate the effect.

The adjective [serendipitous] was coined long after people stopped speaking Latin routinely.  I guess that either [serendipita] or [serendipitis] would work, if the Vatican ever wants to modify a feminine noun with a Latin version of [serendipitous] in a papal bull.  I went with the one that sounds better and looks less like a spelling error.

humor, language, photography, science

Squirrel at the Center of the Universe

Science says there is no place special, so the center of a coordinate system can be any place convenient for the purposes of the moment.  While the fluidity of centrality would have freaked out Aristotle (and still induces some queasiness), squirrels take it in stride.
 
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)
 

Centre ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #247

«Hey, stupid!»
«My empty gut is the center of the universe.»
«Refill the “bird” feeder and I’ll do rest.»

Squirrels also take it in stride when
science says space has no special directions.

Do they chow down or chow up?