Cesar Chavez, Barbara Jordan, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sculpture of Cesar Chavez, West Mall, UT Austin campus

Note the larger-than-life feet and hands, which contrast with the exquisitely expressive face. Captures the spirit beautifully.

When I get my camera back, I'll get photos of the new Barbara Jordan statue, and the landmark statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A power to the people triptych.

Even more notable is that bronze likenesses of these three contemporary American s/heroes exist solely through student initiatives that reflect and define social justice as a cornerstone of democracy.


Broke that heat wave with two short rains

Karl Umlauf sculpture, FAC, West Mall, UT-Austin

It's been so long since we've seen the underside of 100 degrees, the two evenings of rain was like nectar from the gods and godettes. Think of Lawrence of Arabia. Think Plano Estacado. That monster high pressure system would just not let up.

It was a tough summer, and won't really cool down for a couple of months. If we're lucky, we'll get some late Fall early Winter rains, for the bluebonnets and Indian Blankets they always grow together--lovely contrast. Been without my camera for a week, it'll come home soon.

Autumn in Austin is full of all the studentsfacultystaff returning for one more academic year. Makes me doubly pouty that summer is groovy when the population drops by a cool 75,000 or so. But who could groove for more than a minute or two in 105 plus...

OMG freshpeople get younger every year. And they are the ones who need a little help and guidance, because they are such lost lambs and we rather do have a stern, mega-phallic chunk of land, hardly a mile north of the river. Very Lonesome Dovey.

All of which is to introduce you to War, Battering, and Other Sports by James McBride, Humanities Press, 1995. From the back cover...

In the United States, conservative figures estimate that 1.8 million women are brutalized each year by men who take pleasure in exercizing power over them both emotionally and physically.
And about McBride...
McBride teaches religion and social ethics at Fordham University. Trained in the interdisciplinary study of social ethics, he specializes in the intersection of religious studies with feminist, psychoanalytic, and legal theory.
I would draw your attention to the final following comma, one of my faves.

Those are my kind of interstices, my dendrionic dwelling places. My head has been full of Wittgenstein lately, because for some reason, The Fluent Self reminds me of his philosophies of language and meaning and the naming, of course.

Well, McBride names it. As someone put it, the "Dark Shadow" of the human mind. And this book got named in 1995, so by now, that 1.8 million women will certainly grow in proportion to the return of our service men and women with injured brains. I am more concerned about this than I am H1N1.

For a gripping drama that spanned several years, the movie "Heavy Metal in Baghdad" is all about the music. They are fantastic. What is even more incomprehensible is what life in Baghdad is really like. Stunning.

Coming up: Section 9 and other epiphanies.


One year ago today

Dutch farmhouse in the rain

I wrote a post titled "What a Long, Strange, HOT Austin it's been." That was the year the electrical wiring in my apartment finally disintegrated, and it was 100 degrees then, too. Found out today that the AC unit that was put in last April can't be replaced until Friday, which means emergency and/or alternative living conditions. If this isn't global warming--set to break the hottest summer on record--it's on a tall tree on a high hill right next to it. On the other hand, summer of 2007 was unnaturally verdant.

Not a day goes by that I don't completely relate to the fact that the average life span for a woman in Texas as late as the 1940's was only 40 years. I would not survive if I had to do hard labor these last few summers.

Oddly, Havi Brooks at The Fluent Self (who lives in rainy Portland, OR, and even they are having startling heat), threw out a single-cell writing exercise. Which began with Naming The Moon, and progressed to Naming The Rain.

Triggered a frenzy of surfing. Havi helps and attracts incredible creative people, and one comment on rain hit me between the eyes. It was from Barbara J Carter, an artist who creates divine dot paintings. Now, having become as one with the Aboriginal culture as was humanly possible while I was in Australia, I resonated most with the Mythical Dreaming and dot paintings. She must be a Gemini, because she does two styles--brilliant organic landscapes, and soft abstract geometrics. Her work evokes the ancient Aboriginal form on a spiritual level as much as a visual one.

Back to the rain bit, in the middle of gorgeous outpourings (sorry!) of wonderful wetness, Barbara says, (and I hope I don't commit a serious electronic faux pas by copying it here)

Southern California is the State of Perpetual Drought. What is this “rain” that you speak of? Water falling from the sky? How odd.
Well. Confluences abound. Me sitting here in the Texas MegaDrought, beseeching La Lluvia to bring us relief. Memories of living in California--my daughter was born in 1976, a historical drought. We had to stop using our well water--fecal count goes way up in a drought. The positive side is that 1976 Northern California wines are exquisite. A drought produces higher concentrated sugar in the grape.

That's the comment that took me to Ms. Carter's Web site and to the magical dot paintings.

Tonight I am going to dream about rain. And gather all my writing about rain and give it name.The Blue Gum Rain in Australia. The Rain of 8,000 Lightning Bolts, Sydney Harbour. The Rain of Fourteen Lashings. Kettle Drumming with Rain Sticks. A Frog-Strangler Rain. And a Texas favorite, It's Raining Harder than a Three-Pizzled Bull on a Flat Rock Rain. The Let's Throw Out a Little Light-Weight Shit and See What The Rain Washes Away. My First Hurricane Rain. Southwestern Double Sun Dog Rain. Rocket-Shaped Hail Rain.

There we go with memories again. I am quite sure I could fill a chapbook with the Names of Rain. Thanks, Havi! I desperately need rain, and your game is the Rain of Redemption and Refreshment.

Go read those posts and see what I commented. Hint: it's about Wittgenstein, language, and meaning. Oh, yeah, about Naming, too.

Polder in the rain near Edam, The Netherlands


Fifty-six days and counting

So. Entonces. Looking like the hottest summer in recorded Texas history, and the air conditioner in my bedroom starts blowing air. Outside air. Cheap funky ass bargain AC. Thinking about sleeping in my car with the motor running. It's the coolest place around.

Failing ACs are rampant. A friend lost her truck AC. Now that's brutal. There are not the usual throngs of runners, bikers, walkers on Ladybird Hike and Bike. Those who are braving it look pale, peaked, and about to pass out.

They're shutting down Barton Springs for six months for maintenance. It's gotten to the delicate balance of Salamander vs. The Drought. The little guys and gals suffer when the water gets low, full of nasty stuff, and as if that weren't enough, they have to drain it to clean it. Sometimes at night before I go to sleep, I think about those shy critters only a few hundred yards away, and how precious they are. We're losing, what, 50 species of bio a month? A year? Most of the remaining are on a steady decline, except maybe for deer, nutria, 'roos.

1969--Velasco Street, Dallas Texas

Traveling in the early morning up the east coast of Australia, carcasses of gray 'roos, wallabies, wombats and other assorted marsupials strewn on the sides of the road before the clean-up ute comes through.

Picture this: dozens of grackles scattered around the yard, beaks all agape, every single one of them facing in the direction of a silent water sprinkler, faucet turned off, birds yearning for the source, as if their beaks were magnets drawn by the metal of the sprinkler head. I didn't get a photo, but the vision is engraved in my memory.

Sometimes I get sidetracked in a demanding job and am too exhausted to write. Or too depressed to write. Usually within six months or so I revisit things I've written and see a few patterns weaving together. Which in turn usually gets me going again. Seems the last 6 months I wrote mostly about the past. Subconsciously thinking back to more supportive, meaningful times in my life. I guess this is the definition of "reliving your memories." Thank goodness there are some good ones! We seek the comforting, energizing, creative times of our lives, which could be one definition of the word "love."

There are a lot of people and things that I love. The ever-changing but always there sussurration of the waves on the beach below Uncle Tom's Cabin at Dillon Beach. Whispering when becalmed, thundering like Thor's hammer in a storm. I even wrote a piece for 20th century composition class, with an ostinato bass that mimicked the eternal breathing of the sea. "In my little house overlooking the ocean, the waves never stop in their ceaseless clamoring to possess the beach." I felt the pull of the tides and the waves in my whole being. I love that.

There's a well-stuffed folder of dangerous memories in my head, too. Some I can write about, some I can't. The time the wind was so strong that it sucked out a window. My daughter was sitting on the table right by the window when it shattered, and I had a moment of panic thinking that she was so small she would be taken along with the glass. And the too-often times when my mind sank deep into the San Andreas Fault, which we lived right on top of. I would lie down with her for a bit when she went to bed, and feel the wall rhythmically and gently bump my head. Or sit by a table, leaning on the sturdy oaken top, and watch my arm move.

There's a lot that I love about the glorious and scary adventures of life in juxtaposition with intense maternal instincts.

Then there were the heart-dropping utter fear moments when someone else put my child in harm's way, and the heart-breaking despair that I could not protect her from all of it. Those memories are difficult to write. When I do, the intensity can sometimes be cathartic, or annealing, or a relief.

My memories help me define many words and ideas. Vastness: the Pacific Ocean as experienced on the western shores of California and the eastern shores of New South Wales. Diversity: the evolutionary distance among the flora, fauna and people that inhabit a land half-way around the globe. Took up nearly a decade of my life--seven years in northern California, two years in Australia.

The mythological creatures--Kokopelli on one side, the Bunyip on the other. I just hope we don't blow it in my kid's lifetime.