Sunday, February 25, 2007

gone fishing

Someone close to me needs very special care and attention over the next few days. So with that said, let's just say that spring is right around the corner ... and "I've gone fishing."

See you in two weeks!!

Hugs, Bibi.

Monday, February 19, 2007

connecting with nature

I’d spent many exhilarating hours sailing in the sunny bays of San Diego, but had never had an urge to kayak. Truth be known, I’d always thought kayaking looked slow. (Interpret that as dull!) And I wasn’t altogether too sure that I’d fit my Amazon-like frame into the tiny narrow cockpit of a kayak—let alone keep myself upright. (Interpret that as chicken!)

But then I moved to the emerald waters of the Pacific Northwest, and each weekend, as I explored a different lake or river trail, I felt land-locked as I gazed at the hundreds of brightly colored sails streaming by. At the time, I was a returning student; funds were limited, and the cost of hiring a sailboat prohibitive—maybe a plastic, blow-up dinghy?

Ditching that idea—and with more than a little trepidation—I took a four-hour introductory class to kayaking on Lake Washington and, within the first thirty minutes, became a lifetime kayaker.

Kayaks don’t merely float on the water—they put you in the water, at one with nature, allowing access to areas that other boats can’t get to. Down in the wetlands for example, where you can paddle within a couple of feet of blue herons blending almost invisibly into the tall wispy reeds. Where otters, busily gathering floating sticks and leaves, dodge around your kayak as though it's part of their terrain. And where mama duck, sensing that your quiet gliding action poses no threat, swims right alongside you with her babies.

One of the brightest blessings of kayaking is that you can get far away from the aggravation of noise pollution, forgetting for a few hours the cacophony of screaming sirens, freeway rumbles, boom-box low-riders, and raging leaf-blowers.

Quiet calms the soul as you surrender to the rhythmic heartbeat of a well-timed paddle lapping the water’s surface. Sensory overload releases its toxic grip as birds natter lyrically. And priorities shift, as cool winds wrap around you, gently whispering, nudging you on.

Doesn’t matter whether you kayak at sun-up or sundown, there’s always some new wonder to experience. For me, almost nothing matches the sight of a mighty bald eagle swooping down within feet of your kayak to capture an unsuspecting salmon working his way back to the creek. Or the simultaneous rush of panic and awe as the black and white arc of an Orca whale surfaces, just yards away, dwarfing your kayak.

I’ve gasped in child-like delight as I rounded a cove and Mount Rainier jumped seemingly out of nowhere. Or as a turtle suddenly popped his head at my side. I’ve felt a rush of warm comfort at the simplicity of a setting sun easing its honey-colored fingertips below the ridges of the majestic Cascades. And a midnight island coastal tour by the light of a Harvest moon? Well, let’s just say that puts the ‘ahhh’ back in romantic!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

life's seasons

I have three prints on my studio wall. I bought them in the tiny English fishing village of Mevagissey, Cornwall, several years ago while visiting family.

Something intangible drew me to the women in the prints; I studied their faces and the unspoken details of their body language. Each had a silent strength about them, a look of quiet courage deep in their eyes.

They represented three generations of a native Indian family, each understanding and embracing their individual and collective responsibilities within the tribe. They were women who could climb over or around any obstacle; who would do whatever it took to keep those close to them safe and warm and loved.

Each of the women became instantly symbolic of the three generations of women in my family. Myself and my sister; my mother, and grandmother. I’ve seen the prints that way for almost a decade, periodically drawing strength from the still courage and hushed knowing in each of the women’s faces.

But life goes on and the eldest of our generation died just weeks before my eldest niece-and-God-child, and her twinkle-eyed Irish partner, began their own family.

I knew that in the measures of time, things had shifted. I knew that we’d lost a generation, gained a new one. I knew that in theory I was no longer represented by the youngest member of the three strong Native Indian women hanging on my wall—and that I had a new role to fulfill in life’s cycles. Still, I was reluctant to move up, to be represented by the older, middle generation.

But when I flew to England and held my great-niece for the first time, what I already understood on an intellectual level, shifted on a more spiritual level.

I loved this baby from the second she was born, before I even saw her. And as I felt and smelled and kissed her soft skin, blew raspberries on her long fidgety legs, pulled up the pale pink socks around her ankles, I loved her even more.
I knew with fleeting, bittersweet emotion, that with the birth of this precious beautiful being the seasons had moved on without me. And by the forces of nature—like it or not/ready or not—I had already moved up to the middle of our tribe.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

what's in a word?

“I’m not a purist” he said, rolling his eyes to the ceiling, “but … stuft? Stuft?!” He ranted on, “I despair at the bastardization of today’s English language. In my agency, the copywriter would have been fired! For laziness, for lack of originality, for sheer bad copywriting … ”

I had to agree; I’ve worked with copywriters who have been fired for those very reasons. But over the last month or so I’ve noticed the following terms prominently posted on large ads in print and commercial media.

• Get your pix kwiker here (in-and-out photo developers)
• Adult filmz (does the Z make them more / less x-rated?)
• Pick up your kool skool gear (speaks for itself)
• Tableized or columnated (formatting preferences listed on software ad)
• Kleen green and mean to weeds (weed/word killer)

… and the list goes on. Even the limited and often questionable capabilities of the most generic word processor flags those terms in red! But is it a big deal?

I think it is, and I’ll tell you why. Literacy is important to individual, cultural, and societal development. Yet, regardless of native tongue, almost everything we read or hear in the media today is already reduced to high school’s 6th-grade level, which — for reasoning that eludes me — has been deemed an acceptable standard across the great United States.

If we allow further reduction of our language, via phonetic and cutesy or lazy phrasing in media, I question where we’ll find ourselves in 20, 10, or even 5 years, from now. Back in the cave, grunting along with our Neanderthal ancestors? Or, more realistically in our digitally-exploding culture, “ … txtng jst t-bscs nd rdng ths in bks nd nwspprs 2”.

As we lose and abuse the rules of language, we also lose an important part of our heritage. And no matter where we were born or raised, or where we choose to live, there are some aspects of heritage that are intrinsic to our being and that we have a responsibility to share with the next generation.

Let’s not roll over in complacency. I vote we embrace the nuances between the interpretations of one word, and one language, over another. And that we put pressure on advertisers and the corporations who drive our governments to hold to literacy standards we can be proud of!

What do you think … is it a big deal?