Newness for a New Year

Friday, April 23, 2010

“All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. His instincts prompt him to compete for his place in that community, but his ethics prompt him also to co-operate (perhaps in order that there may be a place to compete for).

The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.

This sounds simple: do we not already sing our love for and obligation to the land of the free and the home of the brave? Yes, but just what and whom do we love? Certainly not the soil, which we are sending helter-skelter downriver. Certainly not the waters, which we assume have no function except to turn turbines, float barges, and carry off sewage. Certainly not the plants, of which we exterminate whole communities without batting an eye. Certainly not the animals, of which we have already extirpated many of the largest and most beautiful species. A land ethic of course cannot prevent the alteration, management, and use of these ‘resources,’ but it does affirm their right to continued existence, and, at least in spots, their continued existence in a natural state.

In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land- community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.”

From “The Land Ethic,”Aldo Leopold’s final essay in A Sand County Almanac

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We walk up the beach in silence, but in harmony, as the sandpipers ahead of us move like a corps of ballet dancers keeping time in some interior rhythm inaudible to us. Intimacy is blown away. Emotions are carried out to sea. We are even free of thoughts, at least of their articulation; clean and bare as whitened driftwood; empty as shells, ready to be filled up again with the impersonal sea and sky and wind. A long afternoon soaking up the outer world.

But how does one learn this technique of the dance? ... When the heart is flooded with love there is no room in it for fear, for doubt, for hesitation. And it is this lack of fear that makes for the dance. When each partner loves so completely that he has forgotten to ask himself whether or not he is loved in return; when he only knows that he loves and is moving to its music--then, and then only, are two people able to dance perfectly in tune to the same rhythm. ...

Perhaps this is the most important thing for me to take back from beach-living; simply the memory that each cycle of the tide is valid; each cycle of the wave is valid; each cycle of a relationship is valid. And my shells? I can sweep them all into my pocket. They are only there to remind me that the sea recedes and returns eternally.

--Anne Morrow Lindbergh Gift from the Sea

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wallace Stegner in Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs says:

If you don't know where you are, says Wendell Berry, you don't know who you are. ... He calls himself a "placed" person. ...

The deep ecologists warn us not to be anthropocentric, but I know no way to look at the world, settled or wild, except through my own human eyes. I know that is wasn't created especially for my use, and I share the guilt for what members of my species, especially the migratory ones, have done to it. But I am the only instrument that I have access to by which I can enjoy the world and try to understand it. So I must believe that, at least to human perception, a place is not a place until people have been born in it, have grown up in it, have lived in it, known it, died in it--have both experienced and shaped it, as individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities, over more than one generation. Some are born in their place, some find it, some realize after long searching that the place they left is the one they have been searching for. But whatever their relation to it, it is made a place only by slow accrual, like a coral reef.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Earth Week

Since this week is Earth Week, I want to post some of my favorite quotes about the earth and our relation to it. Enjoy.

I think it is appropriate to start this week with a Thoreau quote in Walden from "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For"

"We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Book Repairs

So, I've been taking an at-home book curation class, which means that I am learning how to repair books. It has been very fascinating to say the least.

Tonight we le
arned a few things ... one of which deals wit
h removing tape. So, if you need to remove scotch tape from a page and it takes part of the page, like this ..

Then you take the piece of scotch tape with the text on it and you soak it in rubbing alcohol. You gently remove the paper from the tape like this ....

Then, you dry and press the paper before returning it to the page.

Very cool.

I also made a box for a book. If you have a book that is too damaged to be repaired or if it is too fragile, then you can make a box for it. This is what mine ended up looking like ...

The boxes were very fun to make. I'm thinking this might be my next project--book boxes!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Snow walk

This was my morning walk to TRAX. It was beautiful. It wasn't too cold, and I could already see blue emerging from the grey clouds overhead. A last bit of winter to make me long for spring.

Friday, April 2, 2010


baba ganoush+tomato and spring bulgar dish+warm pitas=heaven

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Crazies in Salt Lake

Many of you know that I tend to attract crazy people. I think my first recognition of this fact was when I was 17 and on an art history trip to San Francisco. We were walking up by little Italy one evening and a man approached our group. He started taking swings at me with his stick. Little did I know then that this was only the beginning of my interactions with crazy people.

This past week I had 2 interactions.

1. I was riding TRAX to work. In my attempt to ward off some crazies, I always have my earphones in, even if I'm not listening to music. Well, this morning, I was in fact listening to music. But, a word to all you who don't run into crazies that often ... real crazy people are not deterred by an iPod. A woman got on the train and sat next to me. I know exactly who she is. I've seen her many times, and I've even read the plastic-covered paper she shows everyone on every train she's on. It is some psychology paragraph that she apparently had published. She is a harmless crazy though, so I'm never bothered by her. I do enjoy watching people interact with her and respond to her though, especially since I've heard her story before.

I had taken my iPod touch out to change the music, which gave her the perfect opportunity to cut in. Here is our dialogue.

"Can you get American Idol on there?" she asks.
"No. Well, only if I download the music."
"Oh, that's just for music? I sure do love American Idol. What do you think of it?"
People are starting to pay attention. They want to know what I am going to say.

"I haven't been following it this year."
"Oh, really. I just love the musicians. They are so great this year."
"That's great."

Why hasn't she asked me to read her new sheet of paper? It looks like she has a new one.

"I always watch it. I just have hope for those kids," she says.
"Yeah it is great for them. Well, here is my stop. Have a nice day."

That wasn't too crazy. I just had a normal conversation with the crazy woman. Does that mean I'm crazy or that she indeed has moments of clarity? I may have a renewed hope in the crazies of this city.

Scratch that thought.

2. Tuesday night I was making a left turn onto North Temple. There was an older man walking across the street, carrying a large backpack and a half gallon of milk. There are cars coming and he is walking slow, so I inch out into the intersection and wait. As he gets half way across, he stops and looks at me. He proceeds to flip me off and motion for me to turn. He stands there finger raised, ranting about something--I don't roll my window down to hear him. I motion to him to cross and then point to the oncoming cars. He continues to rant and hold his finger up to me. He finally notices a car ahead turning right in front of him ... this distracts him enough to move toward that car with his finger pointing at the driver. My path clears up, but I'm not so sure he won't step back out in front of me. I proceed with caution, but I realize he is now engrossed in cussing out and flipping off some other driver. I finally turn. Wow. That is all I have to say--wow.

I'm sure there will be plenty more of these stories ...

No words

I just received an email from a dear friend of mine. She and her husband have been separated for the last month or so. Tonight, this is what she wrote me: "A lot has happened since we went to dinner but it culminated today with Joe (name has been changed) telling me he slept with this girl on Monday."

The news swept up off the page and knocked me with a clear pang of sorrow for her. And, I knew that if I felt such pangs, I couldn't even imagine what she must be feeling. How do you reconcile your soul to such news? What happens to your concept of life in such moments? I'm not sure.

I have no answers and no words. I feel for her pain, even though I can't even begin to understand how acute it must be. I do know that she is strong. I know that she will get through this because she believes that life can produce goodness and beauty. I know that she must be broken right now.

Dan has a song lyric that says, "See if heartbreak makes you whole." When he first talked to me about that line, I scoffed a bit. I didn't understand how pain and heartache could ever be part of wholeness. At that time in my life, I didn't really believe that wholeness was something that I would ever achieve again. I was wrong. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but I believe that the wholeness means so much more because of the sharpness of the heartbreak. And so, maybe to truly feel whole we must, at times, feel broken. In the contrast we find meaning in wholeness.

We can never really know what life will throw at us. But to believe that no matter how broken we become, we can fight for wholeness is perhaps the balm that soothes the pain. So, to my dear friend I wish you the balm of hope--hope that the pain, with time, will subside; that you will reconcile your soul; and that you will surround yourself with people who truly love you.