Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Psst, Judge! Waterboarding is torture.

Illustration taken from Wikipedia. A drawing of torture in Cambodia.

Get a clue, Judge. Waterboarding is torture.

The Geneva Conventions say waterboarding is torture.

Our immoral vice president may not care, but waterboarding is torture.

If you cannot admit that pouring water over a captive's gagged mouth and covered face until he is convinced his death is imminent is torture, you are either too stupid or too evil to be Attorney General of the United States. Waterboarding is torture.

Olympia Snowe knows. John McCain knows. John Warner Knows. Lindsey Graham knows. I know. You, Judge Michael Mukasey, know. Waterboarding is torture.

Say it or do not become Attorney General. Waterboarding is torture.

This was America. We will make it America again. We will not allow the hoodlums in this administration any more leeway to tear down America. Waterboarding is torture, you incredible jerk. Waterboarding is torture.

America does not approve torture. Waterboarding is torture.

It is not about who they are. It is about who we are. Waterboarding is torture.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Poetry Stretch: Water - a found poem

The "Living on Earth" series interviewed our dear friend Philip Greear* a year or two ago. When Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect put up this week's Poetry Stretch -- "Found Poetry" -- challenge, I immediately remembered thinking Philip's words in this interview sounded like poetry. This short segment made the best poem, I thought, edited slightly and arranged to emphasize the phrasing.

Who Owns the Water?

Who owns the water?

I hear a cricket
somewhere now
and that cricket thinks
it owns the water
just as much as I do.

And I hear a bird sing
and that bird thinks
"This is my territory!"
That's why it's singing,
"This is mine."

But neither of them
will modify it
beyond the ability
of the territory
to recover itself

I may drink the water
that comes out of the ground,

But it's not mine
except the temporary use I make of it.

At my age I know it's temporary.

I'll be returning all of it pretty soon.
by Philip Greear
as interpreted by Terrell Shaw

* Dr. Philip F-C Greear was chairman of the department of biology and earth sciences for many years at Shorter College. His efforts in the sixties and seventies resulted in Interstate 75 being rerouted to lessen its environmental impact -- and, by the way, saved the government a pile of money in the process. That story was written up in Reader's Digest. We got to know the Greears in about 1971 but became close friends in 1977 when we helped Mildred in her campaign for the Sate Senate and in the early eighties when we joined their successful fight to stop Reagan from selling off the Chattahoochee National Forest. Before, in retirement, they moved back to Helen, Mildred and Phillip were practically surrogate grandparents to our young daughters. Phillip is now blind, but his brilliant mind is still sharp. Philip Greear is one of the gentlest, kindest, wisest, most honest, men I know.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Love and Remembrance

Daddy died 21 years ago. He was one of five boisterous sons of my gregarious barber grandfather and my demanding, determined, assertive, grandmother. The five Shaw boys were a joy to be around. Laughing. Joking. Backrubbing. Teasing. Hugging. Four of them served in the military, each in a different branch: a marine, a soldier, an airman, and a sailor.



Only Uncle Grady is left. He is 81, I think.

We lost Jackie when he was only 47, almost a year before we lost my daddy. Eleven months after Daddy left us at 67, we lost Bill who was only 56. Uncle James held on for another six years.

Jack (the Uncle) and Janice (the Niece)

Seeing Grady feels a little like visiting with my absent father. The same joy for life. The same build, and walk, and caring. Yesterday I got that visit. It was our first Shaw family reunion in several years. Way too long without seeing these wonderful, loving, people.

A Christmas gathering at Mama Shaw's about fifty years ago.

Our gathering yesterday

Grady's wife, Aunt Margaret; my mother; Jack's widow and her husband of twenty years now; and Bill's widow, Eugenia were all there as well.

From my generation were four of my siblings, Jack's two living children, two of Bill's girls, and Grady's son. And of course several spouses. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the Shaw boys filled out the 40 or so revellers.

The food, of course, was delicious and plentiful. But the joy came as we gathered the whole crowd into Mother's big den and started telling stories. Everyone participated. One Mama Shaw story elicited another as my aunts and uncle and mother took turns chiming in. We in the next generation told a tale or two from our perspectives. I picked up the shoeshine kit that my daddy carved with his initials 75 years ago and he and Mother saved from the trash heap when Daddy Shaw's barber shop was emptied after his death. We commiserated about enduring the heat in my grandmother's home (She must have had terrible circulatory problems!) and enduring the slave labor that was imposed on those in her charge - though none of us could out work her.

Mother and Daddy

I was forced to give an abbreviated version of the Swimming Hole story. Debi told the tale of my Daddy's memorable (and aborted) first day of school. Two others of my contributions included: the story of Daddy Shaw jumping prematurely from the train from Atlanta to Conyers and having to walk twenty miles; and reminiscing about pumping the spare barber chair up and down while drinking a six ounce coke filled with ice slivers and a few Tom's peanuts. Grady remembered sliding down the rocks in Botush Creek using a small stone in each hand as guiding outriggers. Eugenia remembered Bill's childhood friend who in later life claimed he was coerced into more work for Mama Shaw than he ever did for his own mother.

No one wanted to break things up! The crowd did not begin to disperse until 5:30 or so. Annie and Jerry live in central Florida and had a two day drive ahead of them!

Uncle Grady called a few minutes ago to express his appreciation and to do a little rehashing of events. I love that man.

Life happens. Our family has had its share of troubles along the way. But I'm awfully glad these are my folks.

There is still material for future reunions. There was not a single mention of Trouble the Boston Terrier or fireworks. Nobody said a word about the day the barber shop burned or the day a cow jumped in the car.

PTSW : Some People

Hear me children, this poem has truth in it.

Some People

Isn't it strange some people make
You feel so tired inside,
Your thoughts begin to shrivel up
Like leaves all brown and dried!

But when you're with some other ones,
It's stranger still to find
Your thoughts as thick as fireflies
All shiny in your mind!
— by Rachel Field

Brown leaf. Brittle. Pouting. Complaining. Put-upon continually by everyday hurdles and stumbling blocks. Dreams squelched by unfair imperfect reality. How tiresome. Keep dreams in such a presence and you, my child, are a firefly.

You know the firefly. A light from within, illuminating the challenges and opportunities in those hurdles and blocks. Building with the same tools at hand, never wasting precious time in misery over that beyond control, but ever striving, building the real and imperfect into dream.

Child, do not be defined by disabilities. Take charge. Be a dream builder. Be the one who spurs those swarms of firefly thoughts.

The series of posts, A Poem to Start the Week, is my little anthology of poetry, many of which I have used with my students in elementary schools during 27 years of teaching.

Previous Poems to Start the Week:
Some People • Custard the DragonStatistics 101The Spider and the Fly
Back to School
The Inchcape RockOgden NashTrash
Hearts, Like DoorsCasey at the BatAlways a RoseHome at Last
Bag of ToolsCarpe DiemPoems About PoetryMan's Best Friend
Spelling is Tough Stough!
Blue MarbleTacks, Splinters, Apples and Stars
Oh, Captain, My Captain!MetaphorIntroducion to Poetry
Loveliest of TreesFlax-Golden TalesThe Dinosaurs Are Not All Dead
Owl PelletsMummy Slept LateJust My Size
The Kindest Things I KnowMiles to GoLove that Brother
Oh, Frabjous Day!

Other Posts about Children's Literature:

The Lion's Paw top kid's OOP book!
Aslan is Dead!
Multiplying People, Rice, and Readers
A Teacher's Life

You can read some of my own efforts at poetry here.
And then there's Alien Invasion.

A weblog dedicated to Poetry for Children.
Watch Sonja Cole's reviews of children's books at
The PBS series Favorite Poem Project

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday Concert: Dolly

How 'bout a little country today? Here's Dolly and Vince Gill. I Will Always Love You.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Walk at the Fair

Sheila, Mother, and I enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the 43rd Chiaha Harvest Fair today. As I type this I can hear the music from the festival stage directly across the river. (Our proximity to Ridge Ferry Park is often a blessing, sometimes a curse.) It's been years since I have been to Chiaha. Our late (RIP) Out and About Georgia's Rome magazine was the official magazine of the Heritage Holidays (of which Chiaha is a member event) for several years so we used to be there every year with boxes of magazines to distribute and the trusty Yashica camera to capture images for future editions.

Today we were stirred to attend by a gracious invitation from our blogging friend, The Questing Parson, who helped Ms. Parson set up her display of gorgeous stained glass. I'll bet he wishes she'd stick to her pretty windows and window hangings -- those concrete benches with inlaid stain-glass designs look heavy! We enjoyed seeing her art and meeting the artist and her daughter, and other friends who happened by during our visit. Unfortunately our timing was off and we missed the parson altogether.

Our purchases were few. We had our fried peach pies, of course. I didn't see the free cider from the big iron kettle, a tradition from the earliest days of the annual festival that must have somehow fallen by the wayside.

At the library booth we picked up a used copy of Jimmy Carter's Christmas in Plains.

At Joe Cook's booth we admired his beautiful nature photography and purchased a copy of the two wildflower guides with his photography: Wildflowers of the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains by Leonard M. Adkins with photographs by Joe Cook; and Wildflowers of the Appalachian Trail, 2nd edition also by Leonard Adkins with photographs by Joe and Monica Cook. The AT book won the Design and Artistic Merit Category in the 1999 National Outdoor Book Awards. Both books are lovely, high-quality soft-bound books with full page color photographs of the wildflowers and facing page description of the flower and information about its bloom season, its leaves and stems, and its range as well as several paragraphs of commentary by Atkins.

{Excuse me while I rant a moment}

Cartoon from CRBI. Used without permission. If anyone objects please let me know and I'll take it down.

Joe's day job is as director of the Coosa River Basin Initiative. Please let your state and local officials know your opinion of the interbasin transfer of water. The Atlanta folks are currently diverting millions of gallons of water a day from our watershed (the Etowah) to theirs (the Chattahoochee) and NOT returning even the treated wastewater that results. If the new Georgia water plan is approved that will increase. Now I figure it's not the fault of the flora and fauna (including Homo sapiens) that inhabit the Etowah/Coosa/Alabama River basin that a gazillion people decided to live on a little bitty (Chattahoochee) river in North central Georgia. We shouldn't have to have to lose our livelihoods, recreational lakes, and, in the case of some critters and plants, our lives, to flush Atlanta toilets! If they want our water they should at least have to pay for the infrastructure to allow the return of wastewater to the Coosa. We are willing to put up with modest transfers IF the wastewater is returned to replenish the Coosa.
{End of rant}

Thanks for the invite, Parson. Sorry we missed you.