Thursday, June 19, 2008

Birthday Poem

June surrounds us like a green sea,
The harvest of accumulated
Tasks and errands; of a sprinkler arching
Beads of light over potted plants and mowed lawns,
When nesting birds feed their clamorous young
On worms and bugs caught mid-air.
The daffodil has withered
Beneath the hosta, whose leaves spread
In a victorious gesture like arms embracing summer.

Here, I sit, insatiable,
As passionate as a fast or a prayer,
Forgetting the years as I breathe in
The subtle scent of a summer night,
Mentally marking the moments
To store like snapshots in an album
In this season I hold
Most dear in my heart.

How soon we allow ourselves
To reap and exhaust the rich rewards
Of all our sanguine toil.
We make appointments and arrangements
Spending our innocent future,
Trading past pleasures and duties
For pursuit and desire
Like a tree endlessly blossoming.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

June 20th in History

In preparation of my birthday, I looked up the events in history of June 20. I found some interesting tidbits for your to ponder on, and filtered out the rest.

In 451 AD: Germans and Romans beat Atiila the Hun at Catalarinische Fields. This is a good thing.

In 1793: Eli Whitney patents his cotton gin. Another good thing, threatening the slave trade.

In 1837: Queen Victoria at 18 ascends British throne following death of uncle King William IV Ruled for 63 years ending in 1901. A very important symbolic figure of her time. The Victorian era represented the height of the Industrial Revolution, a period of significant social, economic, and technological progress in the United Kingdom. Victoria's reign was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire; during this period it reached its zenith, becoming the foremost global power of the time.

In 1866: Lord George ESMH Carnarvon born, England, egyptologist, who discovered the gravesite of Tutanchamon, or King Tut.

In 1895: 1st female PhD (science) earned (Caroline Willard Baldwin). Go, Caroline.

In 1945: Anne Murray, Canadian Musician, added to 'cleanse the palette.’

In 1953: Cyndi Lauper, born in Brooklyn, singer. Girls Just Want to Have Fun.

In 1968: Rita Finn, née Rita Turgeon, born in Newport City Hospital. Painter, graphic artist, wanna be poet. Full global impact yet to be known.

Hummingbird Heart

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for hummingbirds, the little jewels of the bird world. There's something fragile about them that I understand in an intangible way.
Every year, I grow pineapple sage and lobelia in hopes of attracting hummingbirds to my back yard. Whenever I see one, I run to get my camera and attempt to take a picture. It shouldn’t surprise you that I’ve never succeeded.

A hummingbird is about the size of a cork from a wine bottle, and its heart the size of a baby's fingernail. Comparing the bird’s weight vs. heart size ratio, they have the largest hearts in the world. When you consider that a hummingbird's heart whirs at 500 beats a minute at rest, and up to 1,200 beats a minute in flight, you wonder if they experience time differently than humans. With exquisite eyesight that gives them an ability to catch tiny insects mid-flight, their experience of a second must be more like a minute to us.

All living creatures have approximately two billion heartbeats to spend in a lifetime. Tortoises spend them very slowly, allowing them to live twice and thrice the years of humans. But hummingbirds spend them faster than any other creature, so they live only two to eight years.

Hummingbirds have metabolisms that I can only compare to the speed of light. Their little bodies, completely lacking fat cells, devour oxygen and calories faster than a jet engine. Ambitious in spite of their size, they live closer to death on a daily basis. They frequently die of heart attack. But when hummingbirds sleep, their heart rate slows to about 36 beats per minute, exhausted by the daily marathon.

So, the next time you fall, exhausted, into bed after a stressful and busy day, think of the frantic life of a hummingbird.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Little Birds

My apologies if I sound like a tacky chain email, but upon turning 40, I’ve realized a few things that have helped me over the years and I thought I’d share. My unsolicited advice on getting on in life:
  1. Find something you are passionate about and master it.
  2. Learn how to mamba. Or bake bread. Or fly a plane. Or play chess, or play the saxophone, or knit, or paint, or write, or speak French. Keep learning things, and whether you make a living from these things or not, they will be your dear friends throughout life.
  3. Do something a little scary every day. Step out of your comfort zone. Paint a room magenta. Introduce yourself to someone you admire. Sing in your car. Apply for a job that’s a little out of your league. Write a screenplay.
  4. Keep a few friends who are your friends because they like you, not because they want something from you.
  5. Buy a garment you can’t really afford and wear it when you need a little boost. Whether it’s a leather jacket, a killer pair of boots, or a fancy hat – putting it on will change your perspective.
  6. Be generous and honest with compliments.
  7. Think with your head and feel with your heart, and make decisions accordingly. Had I learned this ten years earlier than I did, I could have saved myself an endless amount of pain.
  8. Make friends with people who are better than you are at something or other and learn from them.
  9. Look people in the eye when you talk with them.
  10. Laugh out loud at least once every day.

    And keep these few lines I’ve borrowed from ee cummings in your mind:

    may my heart always be open to little
    birds who are the secrets of living
    whatever they sing is better than to know
    and if men should not hear them men are old

    may my mind stroll about hungry
    and fearless and thirsty and supple
    and even if it's sunday may i be wrong
    for whenever men are right they are not young

Sunday, June 15, 2008

How We Met

You know when you hear stories about people who’ve had their palms read or do some past-life regression, they are told they were the Queen of Bohemia or a witch who was burned at the stake in Salem? Not me. I was a milk maid. A happy milk maid, but a milk maid nonetheless.
Concurrently, if my husband and I met in a past life, it wasn’t in Ancient Rome, or 17th Century Paris, or even 1920’s Paris, much to our mutual dismay. We met at the Buena Vista Social Club in 1950’s Cuba. Our eyes must have met in the smoky dinner club, and surely we danced together while Ibrahim Ferrar and Rubén Gonzàlez played Chan Chan for us. Once in a while, in our present life, we turn the lights out and dance in our living room, pretending we’re back at the Buena Vista Social Club.
If you don’t have any of their CD’s or the documentary made by Wim Wenders about them, run out and get one now. Add a little romance to your life.

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