David Brooks on tap

You might enjoy this hour of David Brooks talking at the Commonwealth Club.  His new book (among several) is The Second Mountain; The Joy of Giving Yourself Away.

Whatever he says about his religious development, he’s primarily a rationalist in my view.

Recording (an hour):
https://www.commonwealthclub.org/events/2019-05-01/david-brooks-quest-moral-life
also available in a Commonwealth Club podcast

Brooks is a “moderate conservative” (he discusses this in the recording, saying he is really more of a 19th Century Whig) NY Times columnist, TV and radio pundit/commentator, book author, philosopher (as I see it), and now director of a social movement called Weave: The Social Fabric Project with the Aspen Institute (weareweavers.org – you’ll like his 2-minute video on this page; find out about the project in the text under the menu bar items).

I’ve been a big fan of Brooks for many years. I once posted a comment on his Twitter page nominating him for Secretary of Reason in the next White House administration. (I don’t use Twitter anymore. Or Facebook.) But I guess it wouldn’t make sense for the government to have a Department of Reason.

 

Disarming Disbelief – Playing for Change

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They push the heart toward believing more about the world than it seems to want believed, something more believable — more real — when they sing about it, something we need them to sing about, to keep the spirit breathing, to strengthen faith and disarm disbelief.

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How I Spent International Women’s Day 2019

It was Friday, March 8, 2019

Like many special days, the essence of this one is for every day.  That’s my excuse for being a week late posting this.

Did you know that President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law in 1963, requiring that women be paid the same as men?  He did!  But it applied only to minimum wage jobs.  Above the minimum wage, women would continue being paid 60% of men’s pay rates.

Today, fifty-six years later, well, keep your chin up, I suppose.  Now it’s way up to 80%!  Just think: at this rate, it will take only until 2075 to get pay equality.

You never know … maybe by then we’ll have a female president, too!  A Latina!  Alright, alright, one century-long step at a time.

There’s an explanation of the pay balance situation at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, which begins with this excerpt:

Women are almost half of the workforce. They are the sole or co-breadwinner in half of American families with children. They receive more college and graduate degrees than men. Yet, on average, women continue to earn considerably less than men. In 2017, female full-time, year-round workers made only 80.5 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 20 percent.

Women, on average, earn less than men in nearly every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio. In middle-skill occupations, workers in jobs mainly done by women earn only 66 percent of workers in jobs mainly done by men. IWPR’s report on sex and race discrimination in the workplace shows that outright discrimination in pay, hiring, or promotions continues to be a significant feature of working life.

There must be thousands of videos on the web about International Women’s Day.  I looked at a few dozen.  Many were terrific.  It was a good way to contemplate the day’s meaning.

Can you guess any of the five reasons why I chose this eight-minute video to post as a celebration of IWD 2019?  Or would you like to post a comment on what you like about it?

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Put a Woman in Charge (revised)

WordPress clobbered the previous post when I tried to add this note to the  reblog of Put a Woman in Charge written, illustrated and originally posted by Lisa Brunetti at Zeebra Designs & Destinations~ An Artist’s Eyes Never Rest, online home of an artist, naturalist and writer in Ecuador with a global heart, whose blog I would keep following if I could keep only one, for its beautiful offerings in education (in art and more), entertainment, and inspiration.  I wrote more extensively about Lisa in my May 27, 2017 post Nature Writers I Follow #1:Zeebra.

I should know better than use the reblog button instead of just reporting on the piece myself.  So just go to  Put a Woman in Charge and take the time to read all of it and enjoy the heart and the art of it.

Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2017

Since they named this holiday for me, though people will be inclined to say to me, “Thank you for your service,” I want to say to them, “Thank you for my service.”

Naval Aircrewman Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon Lanard, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron HSC-22 of USS Wasp carries evacuee off an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter following landfall of Hurricane Maria on the island of Dominica.  (As a former petty officer aboard two aircraft carriers, this picture strikes a particular chord in me.  It is so nice to see the Navy used this way.)

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Wildflowers extend lawn mower life and inspire love

It TAKES TIME to smell the roses!

Red clover

I suspect it will be a recurring theme in my scribblements, as it is increasingly recurring in my head: half the joy of a blessing is sharing it.  That leaves me with a puzzlement: I also find joy in quiet privacy and seclusion.  It’s not easy to share things in isolation.

Maybe my self-exile has developed to the point of being ready to capture the other half of the joys of quiet privacy and seclusion: sharing them.

This probably has something to do with the creation of TheBalsamean.com.

I have lots of clover in my yard. Last year there was more red clover than white; this year more white than red.  They, along with many other flower-producing plants, moved into my lawn and life naturally, after the house builder’s “lawn” died (good riddance) in 2010, the year he “planted” it.

My yard is a place for nature to show what she can do with an open space, a chance for her to decorate my home.  I’m grateful to her for showing me lovely things every time I step out the door.

In 2011, I counted at least 20 kinds of wildflowers through spring and summer.  I lost count somewhere over 20.  This included so-called weeds, such as dandelions, which I only wish flowered longer.

White clover

Lately every day I see butterflies and bumblebees browsing the clover flowers. Besides their beauty, these critters are important pollinators.  More pollinators, more fruit.

I grew up conditioned to enjoy a blanket of nice, dense green grass.  A golf course looks nice.  It has its own kind of attractiveness … at a price.  However, the birds I watch from this window near this keyboard like my lawn the way it is.

I could create a monochrome green lawn at considerable expense in lawn products and water to create something that would not naturally grow here, or I can keep what nature provides freely, without running the water pump to sustain them, in a kaleidoscopic range of colors and shapes.  For me, the choice is obvious.

grass

As with Hallmark and card-giving occasions, I suspect that solid green, “weed-free” lawns are an invention of lawn-product makers.  How did the Scottish inventors of golf maintain their greens before Scotts lawn products came along?

In some areas where I have tossed a little grass seed here and there over the years, the grasses have taken over almost completely, without the help of weed-killers, fertilizers, or lime.  They are hardy grasses, the ones that naturally want to grow in this acidic soil and hard winter conditions.  They are the right grasses for my yard, where my yard lives.  For as long as the wildflowers want to grow before grass takes over, I will let them.

This year a new Balsamean moved into the front yard.  Daisies.  Scads of daisies.  Loads of them, spreading rapidly.  Now THESE, we have in such great abundance, and they take to a vase so well, I don’t mind cutting some.  They bloom for a long time, in a succession of new blooms timed over several weeks.

Please don’t mow the daisies

With this natural cornucopia, I don’t have the heart to mow the “lawn” until the wildflowers have matured, so they can reproduce.  But new ones occur each season.  So I’d have to avoid mowing altogether to let them all grow.  Beginning this year, my strategy is to reduce the size of the areas that I mow, to let the wild things flourish at least around the perimeter.  And, throughout the lawn I mow around some patches of wildflowers.  “Lawn mower gardening.”

I have a small clearing out back, a few hundred feet from the house.  It was a logging header about a dozen years ago.  Everything grown on it got completely wiped out during the house construction, because that’s where I let them bury tree leftovers from clearing space to build the house.   We did not replace the topsoil.  I did not seed it.  (Actually, I’ve been tossing pine, spruce and balsam cones into it.)

Blackberry flower

Blackberry flower

Over the period from 2005 to 2010 (the year it was excavated), I kept that area mowed.  Since then, I let three-quarters of it regrow naturally.  The other quarter I mowed.  In the spring of 2011 and 2012, as snow melted in the mowed area, it turned to deep mud.  Being the cover over buried tree stumps, I wondered if it would cave-in under me.  (Among small depressions, there was one serious cave-in back in a corner, big enough for the dog to get in there.  What a job it was to fill that cavern.)

In the un-mowed area, we have FAR MORE beautiful, natural grass per square yard (among a plethora of wildflowers and loads of new berries).  This year (2102) I’m not mowing all of that formerly mowed portion of the back lot.

It is very hard to get a clear shot of a pollinator when it is busy

Instead, I’m mowing only a walking path through it.  Each year I’ll alternate the mowed path from side to side, to let the non-mowed parts go to seed.  That seed will fill the area with grasses.  They are coming along great … tall grasses of four kinds, among other plants.

It’s not just a tactic to avoid mowing.  I enjoy mowing and snow clearing.  They are forms of moving meditation.  But I do like to reduce wear-and-tear on the machines, and reduce consumption of fuel and production of pollution.  Still, these are side-effect benefits.

The objective is to let the yard fill with things that naturally want to be there, and they are all good things.    This year blackberries flourished.  If I don’t do SOME mowing, they will take over, and they are no fun to walk around in, especially barefoot.  Thorny.

Many people would be aghast at what a “terrible” lawn I have.  This is just one of the many reasons it is such a good thing that I’m the only one who has to live here.

I like the yard more every year.  I look forward to what it will produce next year.

Bless all its natural inhabitants for extending the life of my lawnmower!

When I sit and think seriously about such things – the beauty I live in, and the freedom to enjoy it in seclusion – I mean really think about it, contemplate it, meditate upon it, as is what happens while striving for the perfect photo, then studying the thing in the photo as I cannot do with my naked eye in the field, then writing about it and choosing how and where to incorporate the photos into the writing – then go out again and see them, these friends of mine, happy and free, inspiring me to love – well, seriously, when I give it this much attention, it brings me to tears to be so blessed.  Seriously.

“Inspire me to love?”  Yes.  As the love of beauty grows, so grows the beauty of love.

Yeah, so I’m a tree-hugging flower-brained pinko pussy.  So sue me.

What are your thoughts on any of this, large or small?  How does your garden grow?  Use the comment box here or contact me privately.