Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dreaming of the return of the light – and garden catalogs

I took this photograph today, a close-up view of fruit stacked on a market stand, creating a bold pattern of repeated forms and colors, a delicious treat, especially on this unusually drab and dark, overcast and rainy day stuck ignominiously between the shortest day of the year and the beginning of the New Year.

Because this produce looks so lush and succulent – plus guaranteed to be 100% organic – you yearn to just grab a piece and take a big bite, but you can't. The fruit displayed on this stand was painted by Gustave Caillebotte 130 years ago and it was his painted images I photographed today at the MFA in Boston.

Gustave's vibrant painting instantly transported me back to sun-filled days in our own lush garden last summer. And triggered happy memories of visiting similarly spectacular food stalls at the Common Ground Fair in Maine. (See blog entry from 4/4/09).
Common Ground Country Fair

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Times They A-Changin'

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'
For the loser now 
Will later to win
For the times they are a changin'.

Come senators, congressman
Pleas heed the call
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows
And ratte your walls 
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast.
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is 
Rapidly fadin'
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

Bread and Roses
Imagine World Peace

* The lyrics obviously from Bob Dylan's For the times they are a-changin'.
* The photographs are all by me, except for the last one, which is of me talking to new friend, Dave.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Return of the light after Winter Solstice

First sun over Jenness Pond after Winter Solstice*
Darkness can't drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Martin Luther King

* photograph taken 12/23/11 and polarized in photoshop.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice Greetings

Polarized version of a 27 year-old photograph I took of my son,
marveling at the new ice forming in Jenness Pond at dusk
To all my readers on this, the Winter Solstice:
May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you live with ease

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We are all one at Winter Solstice

Sun setting over newly formed ice on Jenness Pond: 12/21/11     J. Stimmell
“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.” – Black Elk

Sunday, December 18, 2011

They tell you we are dreamers

OWS photos taken at Duarte Park, NYC, 12/17/11        J. Stimmell      
The true dreamers are those 
who think things can go on 
indefinitely the way they are. 

We are not dreamers. 

We are awakening from a dream 
which is turning into a nightmare.

We are not destroying anything. 
We are only witnessing how the system is destroying itself.*

*Quotes above from a speech given by Slavoj Zizek at Liberty Square, NYC in October 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mother Earth undressing us, putting us to bed


Sun sinking 
Shutting off the lights
Movement ceases
Silence reigns*

Poem and photo of Pittsfield Cemetary (taken 12/12/11) by J. Stimmell

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Who will save us?

Graffiti at Sewells Falls: 12/9/11                     J. Stimmell©2011
The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a staggering rate.  Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a blinding pace. 

22 Statistics That Prove That The Middle Class Is Being Systematically Wiped Out Of Existence In America*
#1) According to a poll taken in 2009, 61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

#2) The number of Americans with incomes below the official poverty line rose by about 15% between 2000 and 2006, and by 2008 over 30 million U.S. workers were earning less than $10 per hour.

#3) According to Harvard Magazine, 66% of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.

#4) According to that same poll, 36 percent of Americans say that they don't contribute anything to retirement savings.

#5) A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.

#6) According to one new survey, 24% of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.

#7) Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.
#8) Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

#9) For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.

#10) In 1950, the ratio of the average executive's paycheck to the average worker's paycheck was about 30 to 1.  Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.
#11) One study found that as of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.

#12) The bottom 40 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.

#13) Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.

#14) In the United States, the average federal worker now earns about twice as much as the average worker in the private sector.

#15) An analysis of income tax data by the Congressional Budget Office found that the top 1% of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America's corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.

#16) In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.
#17) More than 40% of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.

#18) For the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.

#19) This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.

#20) Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.

#21) According to one new study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 - the highest rate in 20 years.

#22) According to Professor Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley, the gap between what the top 10 percent of Americans earn per year and what the rest of us earn has been widening sharply for the last 30 years.  His measurements show that the top 10% percent of Americans now take in approximately 50% of the income.

*The above copied from the website, The American Dream: http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/22-statistics-that-prove-that-the-middle-class-is-being-systematically-wiped-out-of-existence-in-america

Monday, December 5, 2011

Thomas Merton's poem prefigures OWS

Vaughn State Park, S. Berwick, ME: 12/7/10             J. Stimmell©2011
Where is the millionaire
Who squanderd the bright spring?
Whose lies played in the summer evening sky
Like cheap guitars?
Who spend the golden fortunes of the fall
And died as bare as a tree?

–From Thomas Merton's poem: Dirge for the Proud World–

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mind is a luminous quality of the earth itself

Marin County, CA: June 2009            J. Stimmell©2011
I'm aware it’s an affront to everything we stand for in our hyper-cognitive, ultra-individualistic society, but what if our precious mind is not unique to us and – even more counter-intuitively –  does not reside inside the squishy gray matter of our fleshy, three-pound brain? What if, instead, what we call mind is not inside our head but a luminous quality of the earth itself . This sentiment is beautifully expressed by David Abram in his latest book, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology:

“As soon as we breathe out, letting mind flow back into the field that surrounds us, we feel a new looseness and freedom. The other animals, the plants, the cliffs, and the tides are now participant in the unfolding of events, and so it no longer falls upon us, alone, to make things happen as we choose.

Since we are not the sole bearers of consciousness, we are no longer on top of things, with the crippling responsibility that that entails. We’re now accomplices in a vast and steadily unfolding mystery, and our actions have resonance only to the extent that they are awake to the other agencies around us, attuned and responsive to the upwelling creativity in the land itself.” (pages 131-132)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Occupy the Churches

Looking across the river from Water Street: Laconia 12/2/10

"The significance of this latest public protest movement, erupting all over the country, may eventually rival the impact of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, yet when comparing the two movements, there is one glaring difference: priests, pastors and clergy of every stripe are rarely in the forefront of Occupy protests.

"Instead, secular young people are doing the very work that Jesus from Nazareth would urge us to do. Just as Jesus condemned the injustices of his own day – and overturned the money-changing tables at the Temple – the Occupy protesters are challenging how Wall Street bankers and today’s rich and powerful are harming the masses of people.

"This week, religious people have felt proud of giving turkeys to the poor, but they should be joining the protests against the haughty rich. I maintain that Jesus would be a part of the actions in Portland, Denver, New York and many other cities. For Christians, the crucial issue should be “what would Jesus do”?

Above quotes from Would Jesus Join the Occupy Protests by Rev. Howard Bess, published 11/26/11 by Consortiumnews.com


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dandelions shame climate change critics

Dandelions in full bloom in December – in N.H.?

The Times They Are A Changing

 It used to be bone-chilling cold by the end of November.  In my younger days, I can remember skating on Jenness Pond on Thanksgiving Day. But those days are gone.  This last November, unbelievably, we had 8 days with temperatures topping 60 degrees.

What does this say about global warming?

Bill McKibben once wrote: "To declare, as some editorialists have done, that the warming has not yet appeared and therefore the theory is wrong is like arguing that a woman hasn't yet given birth and therefore isn't pregnant."*

Obviously these dandelions aren’t listening to the critics as they shamelessly birth new babies along the edge of the river flowing through Laconia under the weak December sun.

*  quote from The End of Nature