Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas to All!

I haven't been able to keep up with my blog in the past couple of days because of necessities with my loved one in the hospital. But I do want to take this time to wish everyone a merry Christmas from Gonzo and me.

I hope you have a lovely day full of peace and joy. Seasons greetings from PrettyGonzo!

Monday, December 20, 2010

An InterFaith Prayer

Normally Monday is the day for my "What's Happening at the Shop" post. However, in the past week someone very near and dear to me ended up in the hospital and is in serious condition in an intensive care unit. Consequently, not much has been happening at the shop—although a lot has been happening at the hospital.

I found the following interfaith blessing online, and I thought it might serve today's blog post better than anything else. It was written by Abby Willowroot, and I am including a link to her site here: please click. This is her beautiful blessing:

Healing Blessing

Bless this day with healing, bless it with
radiant sun energy, fill each cell of the body,
bringing a flood of healthy energy to all the body,
banishing illness & disease, as healing grows.

May the abundant powers of health flourish within,
each day, may they expand & grow stronger,
bringing the gifts of vitality, strength & wellbeing,
Blessings flow now with ample energy & happiness.

                                                                                       ~ Abby Willowroot © 2009

Please note that this is copyrighted material and that the author kindly permits sharing for noncommercial purposes and also requests a link to her site. A link to information on ordering her book Life Changes: InterFaith Prayers & Blessings is here: click.

Many thanks to Abby for sharing this.

Perhaps for a moment somewhere between the last-minute shopping rush and Christmas preparations, we might all consider those who are less fortunate and able than us this holiday season, and send a little hopeful energy their way through a prayer, or the above blessing, or simply a positive thought.

Best wishes for a happy holiday season from Gonzo and me.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Poetry for Your Reading Pleasure: Dorothy Wordsworth

from Loving and Liking: Irregular Verses Addressed to a Child - by Dorothy Wordsworth

  Long may you love your pensioner mouse,
Though one of a tribe that torment the house:
Nor dislike for her cruel sport the cat
Deadly foe both of mouse and rat;
Remember she follows the law of her kind,
And Instinct is neither wayward nor blind.
Then think of her beautiful gliding form,
Her tread that would scarcely crush a worm,
And her soothing song by the winter fire,
Soft as the dying throb of the lyre.

Dorothy Wordsworth (1771–1855) was the sister of the better-known major Romantic poet William Wordsworth. Her poems were not published in her lifetime. The majority of her writing focused on nature, and her works include various journals and travelogues.

I hope you have enjoy this week's poem. The countdown to Christmas is here! Wishing you the best as you prepare for your holiday celebrations. Season's Greetings from PrettyGonzo!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

From the Photo Album: Mono Lake

Have NASA researchers discovered a new, arsenic-based life form in California's Mono Lake? The agency's recent announcement that findings from this desert lake suggest there is more to life than was thought has spurred a host of scientific criticism. Whatever the truth, the fact remains that Mono Lake would be the perfect place to find absolutes and expectations overturned.

Looking westward toward the Sierra Nevada, with tufa and birds in the distance

Just how interesting can a desert lake be? Well, this one is very interesting indeed, and beautiful as well. It's geologically active, with a geothermally active island (Paoha) that arose only 350 years ago, another island (Negit) formed from an intriguing cinder cone, and an active fault line running along its western side near the base of the Sierra Nevada. In certain areas on its shore rise towers of tufa, "lake-sculpted" calcium carbonate, that are wondrously strange and get the imagination rolling. And Mono is 2 to 3 times more saline than the ocean, and 80 times more alkaline.

A magical-looking hot pool with beautiful greenery despite the cold
Mono also supports an intricate and unusual life cycle that includes algae, brine shrimp, brine flies, and birds, and except for various microbes, supports no life other than those. It majestically mirrors the sky from its beauty spot not too far from the Tioga Pass into Yosemite National Park and an easy drive from Nevada's White Mountains and its forest of bristlecones pines—among the oldest living things on earth. Closer by are Mono Craters, the youngest mountain chain in North America, and Panum Crater, with its plug of shiny obsidian. An ancient lake, Mono is no younger than 760,000 years old, and seems the genuine caretaker of a lost world.

Looking across the lake at a low-lying cloud trying to deposit rain
I fell in love with Mono Lake in the late '80s, and luckily this special place is currently protected after decades of stream diversions for LA's water supply came close to destroying it. The people who worked to save the lake, known as the Mono Lake Committee, are not just national heroes, but global ones. This lake, one of the oldest in the world, can be counted among the greatest treasures on earth. And although the tufa is pretty, it does belong under water, not above it, and was a sign of the lake's decay due to those diversions. Someday perhaps the lake will reclaim its "bones," but for now they remind us that our resources are truly precious, and that what is ancient can revolutionize our thinking and make us wonder about the constituents of life itself.

Please note: All photos are from the late 1980s.

I hope you have enjoyed this week's wee installment of "From the Photo Album." Good luck with your holiday shopping! Season's greetings from PrettyGonzo!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Poetry for Your Reading Pleasure

To Mrs. Reynolds' Cat - by John Keats

Cat! who hast pass’d thy grand climacteric,
How many mice and rats hast in thy days
Destroy’d? How many tit bits stolen? Gaze
With those bright languid segments green, and prick
Those velvet ears—but pr’ythee do not stick
Thy latent talons in me—and upraise
Thy gentle mew—and tell me all thy frays,
Of fish and mice, and rats and tender chick.
Nay, look not down, nor lick thy dainty wrists—
For all thy wheezy asthma—and for all
Thy tail’s tip is nick’d off—and though the fists
Of many a maid have given thee many a maul,
Still is that fur as soft, as when the lists
In youth thou enter’dest on glass bottled wall.

Keats was inspired to write this beautiful sonnet by an old cat owned by a friend's mother. The poet inhabits the world of the aged  feline as if he were a curious young cat eager for tales from the alley of life. His humane tenderness cannot help but shine through, though, and his praise of the cat's fur, soft despite the hardness of life, brims with compassion. The aged feline may have entered life on a wall designed to hurt and discourage passage with its broken glass, but the cat has made it over the wall—of time, of age, of maids doling out a mauling—and triumphed with its fur no less lovely for the wear.

John Keats lived a brief life, from 1795 to 1821, but his status as one of the great English Romantic poets has long outlived him. Schooled to be a surgeon, and on course to success in the field of medicine, Keats abandoned his studies for poetry when in his early twenties. His struggle with ill health began shortly thereafter, traceable to the young poet tending to his brother Tom, who had tuberculosis and would die of it (as eventually would John). Keats also suffered from the weight of family responsibility and financial problems, and his early poetic efforts were not well received. Despite these troubles, the young man managed to write some of the best-known and most beloved poems in the English language. He is also renowned for his letters, which include correspondence with the woman of his dreams, Fanny Brawne, and offer insights into his poetry as well as a philosophy of poetry itself.

The world's loss of Keats at such a young age was tragic, and his knowledge of impending death heartbreaking. Nonetheless, there is a beauty to many of his poems that transcends sadness, and his belief in "the truth of the Imagination" has never lost its vital significance.

I hope you have found this week's poem to your liking! I wish you all a holiday season full of beauty and imagination. Cheers from Pretty Gonzo! 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cat Quote of the Week

There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats. — Albert Schweitzer

Thursday, December 9, 2010

From the Photo Album: A Buddhist Shrine in Chicago

A few years ago, I visited the Windy City and came upon a small Buddhist temple in Chinatown. I believe it was associated with a Buddhist peace fellowship, although I'm uncertain about that. What I do know is that I wish there were such an island of peace amid the hubbub in my corner of the world. The place was astonishingly beautiful.

The highlight of the shrine is shown below—it's a statue of the Bodhisattva Kuan Yin in a thousand-armed aspect. I was practically speechless when I first saw it. Kuan Yin is beloved for compassion, and this is the face of compassion indeed!

I love how Buddhist offerings tend to include fruit. That seems so right and meaningful, and reminds us how precious the fruits of the spirit are.

My final photo for now shows a statue of Kuan Yin in a more traditional aspect. Very lovely, if not quite as magnificent as the first statue.

I hope you have enjoyed this week's little installment of "From the Photo Album." The holiday rush is upon us, so please be careful out there! Season's Greetings from PrettyGonzo!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Poetry for Your Reading Pleasure

The Naming of Cats - by T.S. Eliot

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey—
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter—
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum—
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover—
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

As a matter of note, T.S. Eliot (1886–1965) wrote Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, on which the popular musical Cats was based (and the source of the poem above). Eliot is a major 20th century modern poet probably best known for his poems The Wasteland and The Hollow Men. His Four Quartets are among the best poems ever written in the English language

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cat Quote of the Week

How we behave toward cats here below determines our status in heaven. Robert A. Heinlein

Thursday, December 2, 2010

From the Photo Album: Tober Nault — An Irish Holy Well

 Thursday is photo day at Greetings from PrettyGonzo. Hope you enjoy!

The photos here were taken at Tober Nault, a holy well in County Sligo, Ireland. I've been to Ireland three times, and have explored many of the rich antiquities of the Irish landscape. Stone circles, ancient dolmens (and court tombs), Celtic high crosses, and passage graves such as Newgrange all rate high on anyone's list of those antiquities. But few people seem to realize that Ireland has many holy wells, and most of these are centuries' old. Holy wells have pre-Christian origins, and, clearly, in Ireland the Christian worship at wells has pagan Celtic roots.

I've visited over fifty holy wells in Ireland, some in disrepair but the majority still in use (at least judging by the offerings at them). Each well had something unique about it, and I was able to observe their use by people on several occasions. Tober Nault is one of the best known wells, has a history that can be dated back to ancient times, and must be one of the most peaceful places on Earth.

 I hope you have enjoyed these photos! Happy Holidays from PrettyGonzo!