Category Archives: Reflections

December Reflections about Connections

Carol A. Hand

The U.S. Post Office still delivers mail 6 days a week despite ongoing efforts to cut funding and services.

***

Connections to the outside

constructed social world

controlled by external forces

convenient when working

***

The White Pony waiting to be shoveled out.

***

Complacency ensues

capturing us unaware in

cyber-powered dependencies on

capitalistic competition and consumption

***

The radio/CD player that keeps Queenie and Pinto company by playing classical music during the day.
Two very old television sets for my grandchildren and parakeet: one TV only plays VHS tapes, the other only DVDs.

***

Creativity is nonetheless possible

Communities can come together across divides

cultivating new networks, knowledge,

comity, and common–wealth

clearing the ubiquitous chains of oppression

***

***

Words of Wisdom from the Old Days:

“Come on people now, smile on your brother
Everybody get together, try to love one another right now” (Get Together by The Youngbloods (1967))

***

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Morning Messengers

Carol A. Hand

She who is born to seek peace
will live through times of conflict
She who seeks light
will walk through dark nights of the spirit
She who seeks to live love and compassion
will sometimes be surrounded by
hatred and cruelty to test her earnestness
And she who seeks to live joy
will know the depth of aloneness and doubt
and the wrenching sorrow of witnessing suffering
she cannot heal

But one morning after 70 winters
she understands why it is so
as she gazes up at the morning sky
in mid-November before another winter
watching the last leaves fall
twirling, floating, and dancing
in the wind as they return to source

Leafless Willow – November 15, 2017

A little grey squirrel quietly joins her
and sits at her feet gazing up at her face
unafraid for the briefest of instants
Somehow the paradoxical journey
to this moment suddenly makes sense
But the moment passes
signaling the need to return
to a different paradoxical constructed reality

A November Morning 2017

Carol A. Hand

 

bright reflecting sunshine

a dusting of snow

bracing cold air

the heavy odor

of diesel fuel

outside

everywhere

remind me

winter life in the city

comes with circi

convenience 

and costs

requiring

care

***

Pensive Pinto – November 9, 2017

***

Note:

Circi, also spelled as sirsee, circe, surcy, and surcee, is a word used mostly in the southern U.S. that means “an unexpected, usually small, gift” (English Language & Usage Stack Exchange).

November Reflections and Connections

Carol A. Hand

Reflections – November 1, 2017

Do you ever have mornings when a question plays in your thoughts and you don’t know the answer? This morning, as I gazed at the trees on this first day of November, I wondered if they process carbon dioxide in the winter. The answers I found are fascinating. Maybe everyone else learned this and remembers. But just in case, I thought others might find the answers interesting, too.

The first question that came to mind – Do trees process carbon dioxide (CO2) in winter?

Birch Tree in November, 2016

The answer –

“Most of the land mass of the earth is in the northern hemisphere, and most of the vegetation is Northern hemisphere. During autumn and winter, the leaves fall and exhale carbon dioxide (through decomposition). Throughout the spring and summer days, leaves grow and inhale carbon dioxide. So, when it’s winter in the northern hemisphere, global CO2 levels rise quite sharply and fall again during the warmer months.” (Michael Bloch, 2006, November 30. “Deciduous trees and carbon dioxide,” available at greenlivingtips.com).

Another site offered a more global, connected perspective.

“In general, it is inevitable (whether or not trees lose their leaves) that photosynthesis should reduce during the winter months, simply because there is less sunlight through the winter months. The question is as to where greater photosynthesis is happening, in the southern hemisphere (with large oceans, and more marine algae), or in the northern hemisphere (much great land masses), so which winter is the more significant (that of the north or that of the south)? Then you have the additional issue that as oceans get colder in winter, they will dissolve more CO2, and as they get warmer in the summer they will release some of this CO2 back into the atmosphere (this is also made more difficult to judge because of the complexities of the ocean currents).” (The Naked Scientists, 2007, July 10. “Carbon Dioxide in Winter,” available at thenakedscientists.com).

February 3, 2017

Winter, or rather, below freezing temperatures, affect photosynthesis for coniferous trees as well. (Ayumi Tanaka (2007), “Photosynthetic activity in winter needles of the evergreen tree Taxus cuspidata at low temperatures (2007), Tree Physiology 27, 641–648 © 2007 Heron Publishing—Victoria, Canada).

There is so much to learn about the complex interconnections on earth and how much we all depend on each and every being that shares the same tiny home. The most critical processes are often invisible. It makes me wonder about an educational system that fails in many cases to recognize our interdependence and responsibility for inclusive stewardship. In school, I learned how to dissect things, name all their parts with Latin words, and a little about how other living beings interact with their immediate environments. But we often don’t learn about the interconnections within a larger context, and the importance of helping to maintain the delicate balance necessary for all life to harmonize as each unique being performs its functions as part of a grand symphony throughout the millennia.

I’m grateful for the winter that brings rest for trees and the scent of new fallen snow, even if the air is laden with more CO2.

Reflections – November 6, 2017

The first Monday after
artificial “time” seasonal adjustment
allows me to wake “early”
greeted by the morning sun
streaming through the window
illuminating things that carry memories
with light and a golden glow

Morning Glow – November 6, 2017

I breathe in the light
so rare these days
highlighting poignant memories
of other times and places

The sewing table, now folded,
a legacy from my mother
like the skill I learned as a child
There was a time when I sewed often
with an old secondhand “portable” Necchi machine
if one can honestly call a 50 pound machine portable
but it traveled the country with me
from Los Angeles to Illinois,
to Massachusetts then Connecticut
to Wisconsin, Montana, and back
It’s how I clothed myself at times
and my daughter when she was a child
After decades, I had to retire the Necchi
when it could no longer be repaired

There are days when I can relate
to the feeling that one may no longer
be able to serve a useful purpose
The prayer flags hanging on the open door
symbolize family connections and repaired vision
but I honestly don’t know how
to repair a heart that keeps breaking
from senseless wars and destruction
or from cruelty and tragedy everyday

But today, I awoke to sunshine
with the awareness that I can still breathe
and do small things – trying to be mindful
and compassionate regardless of context
while I am here

Juxtaposed

Carol A. Hand

Watching the last leaves in the cottonwood trees

fluttering as they cling to branches in the breeze

then swirling and floating as they reluctantly release

landing on the earth with crispy whispers, at peace

blanketing both city’s pavement and sacred ground

Sunday morning traffic’s whir the only other sound

Nature’s gifts visible despite an otherwise bleak landscape

***

Sunday Morning View – October 29, 2017

***

“Name one interesting thing that you noticed today”

Carol A. Hand

The research class I teach class meets every other week for 2 hours on Saturdays. During the intervening weeks, students have online activities and assignments to complete. That may sound easy, but it’s actually quite challenging. Establishing and maintaining interpersonal connections, building meaningful online content, and creating and grading strategically-designed sequential assignments, are thought-provoking, time-intensive jobs.

***

Class Assignment Diagram

***

We begin our face to face classes with a check-in. The first question has already become a ritual. “Name one interesting thing that you noticed today.”

Students are now eager to share as soon as the Power Point slide appears. “I knew you were going to ask us that today, so I made it a point to pay attention and notice things this morning!

Hearing that is music to my heart!

It’s so important to listen to the different perspectives around the room as we reconnect with each other after the weeks we spent living our everyday lives in different places. Building meaningful connections with others and “doing re-search” both require attentive presence. Noticing what’s around us is a necessary first step. Listening intently to other views in order to expand our understanding of the world is the second.

Being witness to these “processes of practicing presence” is a precious gift. I’m so grateful for the students and colleagues who make it possible.

***

October Reflections

Carol A. Hand

As I greet the morning facing east
the rising sun is momentarily visible
between the tree-lined horizon
and the bank of clouds moving in
Multicolored leaves provide a filter
allowing light and shadow to dance
highlighting gardens and dew-laden grass
The cool pine-scented gentle breeze
kisses my face and graying hair
and sets the wind chimes singing
Rustling leaves on trees join with their own music
Wind-blown crispy fallen leaves clicking on pavement
add counterpoint to the murmur of city traffic
I wish I could share the moment with others
But of course my camera is inside

I stop to wonder
What is this perceived need to share really about?
It’s becoming more and more difficult to blog
Perhaps it’s because it’s harder and harder to hope
Perhaps it’s because my inner reserves are depleted
by so much suffering in the world
and the myopic selfishness so prevalent today
Perhaps it’s because I have too much to do
too many details that need attention
to allow me much time for poetry and music
Perhaps it’s because I know that silence
is often the wiser choice
Words carry power, conscious and unconscious intentions
to enlighten, to inspire, to entertain, to distract,
to wound, to heal, to repel, to attract

May these simple words inspire a moment of silence
to witness beauty with a deep sense of peace and gratitude

***

October Reflections – 2017

***

Connecting the Dots

Carol A. Hand

Does it matter whether or not
we view changing global weather
as natural or human caused?
Perhaps.

While some cheer on Armageddon
others live with the illusion
that perhaps our homes
will soon be safe if human behaviors
change.

Whether or not changing our behavior helps
stabilize weather in the future,
don’t we owe it to the earth and our children
to act wisely and responsibly
anyway?

Global floods and worldwide wildfires rage
while more oil and gas pipelines are being built

Who’s to blame?
All of us who take it for granted
that the ease of having
gas, water, and electricity simply
delivered to our homes is our right
without considering the real costs
and environmentally safe, sustainable, viable, non-exploitive
alternatives.

We need to see how connected our well-being is
to the way we care for our earth
and the way we care for all those who also live here
because our earth’s health and continuing bounty
depend on wise and loving stewardship as well as
worldwide peace.

Lake Superior Sunset, photographer Jnana Hand

 

Sending love and blessings to all those who are on the frontlines of floods and fire.

Sources:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/01/world/deadly-world-floods/index.html
https://www.theguardian.com/world/wildfires
https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/nasa-sees-intense-fires-around-the-world
http://www.hydrocarbons-technology.com/features/featureworlds-longest-oil-gas-pipelines-imports/
https://theodora.com/pipelines/