Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What do You Believe?

When you were a kid did you wonder what happened to the miracles?

If you went to Sunday School as I did and heard Bible stories about pillars of fire, people turning into salt, Jesus raising people from the dead and turning water into wine, you might have wondered, as I did, that if they could do it then, why not now? Not that I wanted people turned into salt, but you get the idea.

The events around me were physical, a nuts and bolts life, not ethereal, or even mystical. Yet even in those days there was the concept of a guru sitting on the mountain, where people trudged up steep cliffs to ask him about the meaning of life.
And then there was the Wizard behind the curtain who tricked us by pulling leavers, and appearing in smoke. The Wizard, however, honored the gift we had exhibited, a heart, a brain and some courage, and he taught us that he didn't have the magic, we did.

And from the mountain the guru told us “Don’t worry, be happy.”

One must rise above the rank and file to accept that the idea that perhaps, maybe, not worrying and being happy just might be a good idea.

We had to advance to the place where we knew we were good people, we have a heart, a brain, and some courage, and we have a right to be happy.

We’ve come a long way baby.

But we’re not the first civilization on this planet to obtain heights of grandeur—there have been others. We would know that if we had not been knocked back to the Stone Age by a series of cataclysmic events.

About a week ago I heard Graham Hancock at Powell’s Book store in Portland speak to a packed house.  He has written the book Magicians of the Gods, and he not only proposes that much of the archaeology taught is wrong but he supports it with evidence. That mankind is not 5,000 years old, more like 350,000, that there were advanced civilizations long before we crawled out of the mud thinking we came from monkeys.

He spoke of an archaeological find in Turkey called Gobekli Tepe, where carved pillars stand vertical in the ground similar to the buried warriors found in China. These pillars are carved with reliefs, and writings yet to be deciphered, and there are five more layers of columns beneath those—they have ground X-rayed to find them. This incredible find was deliberately filled in with light weight soil and sand, and entirely covered with a mound of earth.

They preserved their story.

What story will it tell?

Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the Quiche Maya says this about the “Forefathers.”
They were endowed with intelligence; they saw and instantly they could see far, they succeeded in seeing, they succeeded in knowing all that there is in the world. When they looked, instantly they saw all around them, and they contemplated in turn the arch of heaven and the round face of the earth. The things hidden in the distance they saw all without first having to move; at once they saw the world, and so, too, from where they were, they saw it. Great was their wisdom, their sight reached to the forests, the lakes, the seas, the mountains and the valleys.”
Would that we would be spoken of in that manner…

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.  - Hamlet Shakespeare

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What's Your Perfect Christmas Gift?

Here's mine.

Carry on, and celebrate the Great High Holidays!

Love from Joyce

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Real Scoop

A funny thing happened on my way to my desk, daughter number one called to tell me about the cooking class she offered at her son’s school. It happened during a storm, and when thunder clapped louder than a train going through the building, the little ones hid under the table while the big one’s went outside to hold onto the flag pole to see if they could get electrocuted.

Before I could lay a pinkie on the keyboard, I get a phone call…

"This call will be recorded for quality assurance."

Garrison Keillor (The Prairie Home Companion show on radio) did a shtick about this sort of call. He wondered why they wanted to listen to his voice, so he suggested—backed up by his sound effects guy—that each time you call use a different accent.

“This is Senior Keillor , I teenk this is a torough explanation…”

“Bonjour, this is Monsieur Keillor…”

The scoop, folks, is, they don’t care how you sound.

They are not listening to you.

They are listening to their employee.

Same with email, Quality Control is watching the employee who is writing the email.  

They are making sure the responder is answering within the prescribed amount of time, that they don’t use contractions, (Horrors), and use proper grammar with no &%4 typos.

Companies are monitoring the very employee they background checked, fingerprinted, drug tested, and interviewed to make sure they qualified  for the job. and then they don't (contraction) trust them to do it.

It boggles my mind.

I hear #Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream is a joy to work for.  #Tom’s of Maine as well, and # Log Rhythms, the company that built our log house is terrific.

Just think, if we knew of companies that follow our ethical, humane, and logical way of thinking, and gave them our business…

I’m excited about the possibility.

Ha Ha: What’s a perfect pitch?

When you throw a banjo into a dumpster and it spears an accordion.

Thanks to Doug McMinn

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Go into a Wall-mart book section and what do you see? Mostly fiction. (I love fiction, the exquisite kind.) But on this Wall-mart shelf we see mainly murder, mayhem, illicit love stories, and world wracking events. The magazine rack is about the same, as is the TV news.

Nobody wants to be on the Red October, but we want to read about it.



Well, listen to this: Most people go to mind-numbing jobs, stop at McDonalds or the equivalent for lunch, don’t have the money for a Big Mac, so opt for a Quarter Pounder instead, go home, watch some TV, play video games, have chili and crackers for dinner, argue instead of making love with their spouse, go to sleep, and the next morning begin all over again.

But that’s not us right?

We have dreams and aspirations, and we are searching for how to achieve those dreams. We want an exciting life. We figure we are here for a reason. We endeavor to find that reason and realize it.  We want to be successful in life, finances, and family. Whew, that’s a tall order.

I was inspired recently by a NDE, A Near Death Experience, sent to me by an intimate friend. It was her experience, not mine to tell. The bottom line is, however, I want to be the sort of person my friend felt she was destined to be--one who makes the world a flourishing place for people, plants and animals.

And I want to enroll others to join me.

According to my friend with the NDE experience, when we dropped the bomb the world was in peril, peril like total destruction, but someone, some thing, something wise, intervened. And now it is our job to carry out the trust placed in us.

We need to hold the planet in awe. We need to hold it with soft hands and a warm heart.  We need to take care of each other. I don’t mean we have to love everybody, heavens, that’s a crock. We just need to see that their basic needs are met, exalt them to a higher plane, encourage them, and stop shooting each other for God’s sake. And while I’m at it, we can stop bellyaching about our childhood. Get over it. Millions of others are in the same boat.

And stop that mind-numbing stuff.

We aren’t lazy people. We just want to be challenged to greatness, to feel that we matter, to be acknowledged for our contributions, to have a job we rush to in excitement.

Some of the aborigines of Australia believed there were the keepers of the Earth, but because the resources are not supporting them in their preferred wild lifestyle, they are leaving. They are not reproducing themselves, and they are leaving that earth’s care in the hands of others.

We are the others.

Why we must start taking a stand against the system that’s designed to make us despise our work, and start being part of a new movement where work is centered in joy, contribution, and community—Jonathan Mead

#Paid to Exist

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Let's Sift Through the Sludge and Find the Gold

There are many areas where that title applies. 

One would be Thanksgiving. Remember how the pilgrims survived their first winter in the new land, raised their crops and with a bountiful harvest shared a feast? They needed a feast, the poor people were half starving. And so the story goes, they gave thanks, and invited their neighbors. Some of their neighbors happened to be the native peoples who lived on the land before they arrived. The Natives brought wild turkeys and corn, and thus introduced a tradition.

Few of us need a feast, but we do need to give thanks.

And now with Christmas coming up I want to find the gold, not follow a grumbling scenario:  “Oh yeah I need to cook for eight hours, eat for fifteen minutes, and clean up for seven days.”

I’m not doing it.

I want to find the gold.

The gold is to celebrate the great high holidays in a spirit of joy, gratitude, and glad tidings.  

The winter celebration goes back Pre-Christian. The Winter Yule, the Solstice, marked the shortest day, longest night. Trees that stayed green all year held in high regard, and so people took evergreen branches into the house to remind them that life would spring again.

The peoples of Germany introduced the Tannerbnaum, that was they brought an entire evergreen tree into the house. Before that peoples built wooden pyramidal shaped frames and decorated it with branches. Martin Luther, inspired by the twinkling stars, is credited with placing candles on the Christmas frame.

Imagine the delight of a Christmas tree beaming with candles? I can feel the awe in my bones.

Stockings hung by the chimney with care.  So the story goes, a poor widower had three daughters. Because he could not afford a dowry, he believed his daughters would never marry and thus never be taken care of, but he would not accept charity. Saint Nickolas heard of his plight, and on Christmas Eve he slid down the chimney, and seeing the girl's stockings hanging by the chimney to dry, he filled them with gold coins.

Imagine Christmas morning.

The winter celebration has a long tradition, embellished often, and special to the peoples around the world.  When Jesus was introduced into it, it brought new meaning to the faithful. A child is born. The angels sing. And what did they sing? “Good Tidings to all, and Goodwill to all men.”

"Dear Mother, I am writing from the trenches. It is 11 o'clock in the morning. Beside me is a coke fire, opposite me a 'dug-out' (wet) with straw in it. The ground is sloppy in the actual trench, but frozen elsewhere. In my mouth is a pipe presented by the Princess Mary. In the pipe is tobacco. Of course, you say. But wait. In the pipe is German tobacco. Haha, you say, from a prisoner or found in a captured trench. Oh dear, no! From a German soldier. Yes a live German soldier from his own trench. Yesterday the British and Germans met and shook hands in the Ground between the trenches, and exchanged souvenirs, and shook hands. Yes, all day Christmas day, and as I write. Marvelous, isn't it?“

(Future nature writer Henry Williamson, then a nineteen-year-old private in the London Rifle Brigade, wrote to his mother, 1914)

Captain Robert Patrick Miles, King's Shropshire Light Infantry, recalled in an edited letter that was published in both the Daily Mail and the Wellington Journal & Shrewsbury News in January 1915:

We are having the most extraordinary Christmas Day imaginable. A sort of unarranged and quite unauthorized but perfectly understood and scrupulously observed truce exists between us and our friends in front. Of the Germans he wrote: "They are distinctly bored with the war...In fact one of them wanted to know what on earth we were doing here fighting them." )

One Christmas Eve night, a man riding home in his sleigh, emblazoned the story of Saint Nickolas aka Santa Claus, into our minds and hearts. This father wanted something to give his six children, so he scratched out the poem, ”A Visit from Saint Nickolas.” That was Clement Moore, and his poem has become known as “Twas The Night Before Christmas.”

In Moore’s poem, St. Nicholas was a “Right jolly old elf.” “He was dressed all in furs from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.”
“He went right to his work and filled the stockings, and laying a finger beside his nose and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.“

And what did he call out as his sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer sailed off into the night sky?

 “A Happy Christmas to all and to all a Good Night.”

The Miracle of the Dog and the Babe:

This was a homeless dog dumpster digging when he found a human infant with its umbilical cord still attached. The dog carried the baby about 100 feet and gave it to a human who rushed it to the hospital. The baby was not injured by the dog, and it survived.