31 December 2008

a one and a

on a scale of one to ten, originally uploaded by McBeth.

According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.

-- Jerry Seinfeld

21 December 2008

small medium and large

You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

-- Mark Twain

20 December 2008

ten inches deep

scarletta's snow day, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Worry is as useless as a handle on a snowball.

-- Mitzi Chandler

14 December 2008


anticipation, originally uploaded by McBeth.

We do not belong to those who only get their thought from books, or at the prompting of books, -- it is our custom to think in the open air, walking, leaping, climbing, or dancing on lonesome mountains by preference, or close to the sea, where even the paths become thoughtful.

-- Friedrich Nietzsche

11 December 2008

stillness in action

meditation, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Activity conquers cold, but stillness conquers heat.

-- Lao Tzu

28 November 2008

don't hold back

buffalo pilgrim, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.

-- William Arthur Ward

25 November 2008

close your eyes. listen.

This song is a childhood memory that surfaces from time to time. My older sister was in the Luther College Nordic Choir, as was my uncle Buzz. When I was young I dreamed about being in Nordic. I used to hit that soprano 1 note 4:23 in. But never ever will anyone be able to direct it like Weston Noble directed it. He was a elf of a man, slightly built and quiet. With Weston you got huge direction from his barely-there direction. It was like a magic trick you thought you'd see coming but each time you'd be surprised all over again. I say this like I know him well, ha. I did participate in a few choral events under his direction in my pre-college days. I didn't know him well and wasn't his student per se, but he knew my family and was so kind to the weird kid I was so, believing he took a special liking to me, I took a special liking to him too.

Each time I saw this piece performed by Nordic it was at the beginning of this song that I remember Weston's slim frame sort of hunched over forward as though burdened, or tired. Then, as the song unfolded he'd physically open up, raise his spinal colum, raise his chin, his arms, widen his posture until the shivery place there at the end of the piece, each time, when I realized I had just watched a man transcend.

24 November 2008

it is coming

first of the season, originally uploaded by McBeth.

There is no terror in a bang, only in the anticipation of it.

-- Alfred Hitchcock

21 November 2008


vanilla sunshine, originally uploaded by McBeth.

This is the mysterious world which is available to you if you can pass the jungle of questions and doubts and reach into the clear, where there are no questions and doubts, and no answers either. Just you are in utter silence, with immense clarity, with tremendous sharpness.

-- Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

20 November 2008

how does this thing work

bus stop, originally uploaded by McBeth.

We are forced to participate in the games of life before we can possibly learn how to use the options in the rules governing them.

-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

08 November 2008

it's not so bad

fork it over lady, originally uploaded by McBeth.

I bring to my life a certain amount of mess.

-- Kitty O'Neill Collins

05 November 2008

for so many, the beginning of prayers answered

looking up, originally uploaded by McBeth.

27 October 2008

The V is for vote

winds of change, originally uploaded by McBeth.

It might not hurt to take advantage of early voting by stopping by your local place where voting can be done (for me, it was the local town municipal building) and just get it done without lines, and in peace.

Knowing I took care of the important-est business I can now either pay attention or not for the next week.

Please vote.

24 October 2008

they did it with bras, we can do it with bills

kd and mom, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Mom spent the better part (or worse, depending on how you want to fill that particular glass) of this past summer either in hospital or in rehab center following a full knee replacement and a (hello St. Mary's Hospital? Yeah, this one is for you...) a seriously ugly major medical error in having given mom meds that she was known to be allergic to, as in meds listed on the charts as big hairy no-nos. As in, meds the intake nurse and the anesthesiologist and the other nurse and those other people all talked with her about, both pre- and post-surgery. Each person who went over her chart with her talked about medication allergies and this particular one came up repeatedly in discussions. I was sitting there, people. She might not have remembered much through that month but I kept a handy little notebook into which I jotted down the particulars, including the name of the doctor who authorized the panic. Just for fun I think it'd be a hoot to have the individual who made that landslide decision and all the short-tempered staff we had to deal with following the breakdown be fed enough of whatever pills could induce psychosis so they also are able share in the heartfelt experience, the joy of being even more unwell and in way less manageable ways. Please don't misunderstand, there were some very very kind and patient staffers, particularly nurses, who provided care for mom and who took the phone calls from her children, and the repeated questions and the follow-ups and the follow-up follow-ups. I would like to thank you few for the work you do. You are underpaid and vastly under appreciated, and I want you to know I saw the support you offered my mother and my family is grateful to you.

I've heard that people can die by hospital error and frequently do, while hospitals still don't have to assume responsibility for making a person be dead. In fact, 18 patient safety indicators evaluated contributed to $9.3 billion excess charges and 32,591 deaths in the United States annually.

I think that sucks. Yes of course it's true that users and malingerers exist, people who want to swing from someone else's coin purse. But I just want to say here to the collective staff -and specifically, to the billing department, who probably only ever handles the credits and debits- at St. Mary's Hospital in Madison Wisconsin, who has been sending bills, including charges for the week of care they provided to my mother after they had to re-admit mom from a rehab center when she took that drastic allergic reaction downturn: My mother isn't one of those malingerers. She was merely trying to get healthier while in your care, and you broke her. After the insurance payments shake out she may have some out of pocket expenses for her first few days there, but as for the time and charges for the time following that mistake you made? You can eat that one.

She came out alive. You were lucky.

All this is to say, my mom is smiling and walking and is much more mobile with her new bionic knee. Not everything is easy to do yet, but not everything was ever easy to do. She's healthier, fitter, and looking sassy here on my brother's wedding day.

22 October 2008


snowdrops, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Pea gravel pellets
slap their open fists at the top of my head,
It’s impossible to do anything
but shiver life back into wet skin, I admit.

Five degrees’ warmth can
make all the difference in
today’s squalling
sodden wind.

Given conditions, I decide,
you would have to agree.

The brighter times,
when the swelling undertow of
buttercups drifted us toward one another,
to shake the apples
from the tree.
“They’re meant to be eaten”, you grinned.
There’s no harm in trying. Do you remember it?

That was a remarkable time,
Just before you bought me
the trip of a lifetime, that shiny
one-way ticket to the valley
beyond Coventry,
where it rains and rains
between fine moments.

When pressed, you’d admitted
your confliction,
spare though it was.
Disease ate at you
Like a plump caterpillar gorging,
wanting more and more after the
first lush taste on your tongue
of the underside of green.

Before the idea of you
and we dissolved like sand,
parenthetically between
the edges of my cupped hands
I leaned in to brush my lips against
the warmth of your cheek.

In this interminable downpour I surrender,
walking searching circles,
stepping a little closer to out there.
With each breath, each backward glance,
each prickling memory, scanning
for directions I seem unable to make
lead agreeably away,
toward anywhere.

None of the signs lead me away from you,
nor to, but I have an umbrella.
I will be fine.
If you’re ever able to find the field again,
bring me to the apple tree
dormant with her grief,
a bouquet of buttercups and daisies at her feet.
I will forgive you.

21 October 2008

hearing things

creepy crawlies, originally uploaded by McBeth.

I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!

-- Dr. Seuss

20 October 2008

inspection collection

leaf collection, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.

-- Henry David Thoreau

our task is to embrace

where we go from here, originally uploaded by McBeth.

A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

-- Albert Einstein

15 October 2008

don't skimp

whatsit, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Never neglect the little things. Never skimp on that extra effort, that additional few minutes, that soft word of praise or thanks, that delivery of the very best that you can do. It does not matter what others think, it is of prime importance, however, what you think about you. You can never do your best, which should always be your trademark, if you are cutting corners and shirking responsibilities. You are special. Act it. Never neglect the little things.

-- Og Mandino

14 October 2008

barging my way through

twostep, originally uploaded by McBeth.

A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for.

-- William Shedd

10 October 2008

seeing things

north was not indicated on the map, originally uploaded by McBeth.

The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.

-- Albert Einstein

01 October 2008

7. 14. 25. 5.

sunset in burnished gold, originally uploaded by McBeth.

When I'm worried or tired or sad or melty or feeling vulnerable I can sit still for hours, moving only my index finger to the 'refresh' button for inconsequential split-second updates on the number of individual image views of four consecutive pictures on my Flickr photostream. This can go on like that, with me unmoved, in that spot, for hours.

You would think there would be some ultimate reward for the devotional steadfast unmovingness, some personal satisfaction or reward, but if you did think that you would be wrong. The numbers stay the same. The numbers always stay the same. For hours and hours they will remain, unmoved,

Twenty five.


30 September 2008

walk this way

you can fly, originally uploaded by McBeth.

There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.

-- Beverly Sills

25 September 2008

cow magnetism

three cows, originally uploaded by McBeth.

I'm sure there must be all kinds of studies done on cows because, well, there are an awful lot of cows grazing around the globe right now so it'd make sense that if something exists somewhere, someone will start picking it apart to figure it out, including cows. But the one that recently caught my attention and a good deal of my chin stroking rumination time recently is this one. Someone wanted to know if cows responded to the Earth's magnetic North<-->South pull. So they found a way to start counting heads, researched it, and were pleased to announce that yes indeed, cows gravitate to the magnetic north.

We marked the cattle’s longitudinal axis by drawing a straight line with the Powerpoint drawing tools and estimated for each animal separately its direction to the nearest 5° by overlaying a circular scale with 10° steps.

I find this news not only fascinating, but deeply gratifying. All these years I've noticed this phenomena -and in southern Wisconsin there is ample opportunity for cow watching. I figured I was making too much out of it, or that I just kept seeing random occurrences and making up associations to suit myself. I do like making things up into far more fanciful compounds than they really need be. If I didn't, though, I'd get terrifically bored. But as it turns out this time I wasn't making anything up after all!

I'd love to see the extrapolated research on cow magnetism.

For instance, would it make sense, then, that if cows gravitate to magnetic North we could assume the cows would feel most natural, most comfortable pointed that direction? And if that's true, then would construction of the barns and milking houses based on the magnetic directional pull, specifically during those times the cows are standing to be milked or are eating, cause any difference in the milk production and the general contentment of the herd?

My mother tells me a story about old farming relatives, or it might possibly be farmer friends of my farming relatives. The specific 'who' is less important than the action, though, so lets agree not to pick nits about that one thing. The men of the family had to do something, go somewhere, be away from the farm for a few days, so the women of the family took over the outdoor chores, including milking the cows. The women sang while they worked, which the cows apparently loved, because their milk production increased several fold. There's another local guy, loveable salt of the earth musician farmer guy, who performs violin concerts for his cows. The cows have not written one bad review yet.

I'm not sure I can write a coherent explanation to express my impression, but might this magnetic pull on cows research might also support the argument for string theory and quantum physics? If this magnetic property exists in cows, then what other animals are similarly affected, and why does it happen? If it is true of humans then what might be the manifestations of a magnetic pull on us?

Next cow research I'll be scoping out will be evidence to support my theory that in every herd there will always be one cow evacuating its bladder or bowels when you pass by them at 55mph.

great and small

backseat driver, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do it well; whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself completely; in great aims and in small I have always thoroughly been in earnest.

-- Charles Dickens

24 September 2008

it could happen

oh please oh please, originally uploaded by McBeth.

You will never stub your toe standing still. The faster you go, the more chance there is of stubbing your toe, but the more chance you have of getting somewhere.

-- Charles F. Kettering

23 September 2008

start creating

I'm melting, mellllting, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand-and melting like a snowflake...

-Francis Bacon

20 September 2008

picture it

stand with your sisters, originally uploaded by McBeth.

An attempt at visualizing the Fourth Dimension: Take a point, stretch it into a line, curl it into a circle, twist it into a sphere, and punch through the sphere.

-- Albert Einstein

18 September 2008


gilt, originally uploaded by McBeth.

I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money.

-- Pablo Picasso

17 September 2008

either you got it or you don't

queen of the fire ring, originally uploaded by McBeth.

I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence but it comes from within. It is there all the time.

-- Anna Freud

16 September 2008

hold them close

dana and scarlett, originally uploaded by McBeth.

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.

-- Washington Irving

15 September 2008

stoking the fires

what's on your mind, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Egotism: The art of seeing in yourself what others cannot see.

-- George V. Higgins

06 September 2008


cranial yoga, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.

-- Carl Gustav Jung

04 September 2008

two choices

peacekeeping, originally uploaded by McBeth.

There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.

-- Denis Waitley

29 August 2008

our children's children's children

army of change, originally uploaded by McBeth.

If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in the struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.

-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

27 August 2008

i seen 'em

strangers among us, originally uploaded by McBeth.

I don't believe that there are no spiritual beings around us. I don't know what to call them, I don't know how they work. But I know they're there.

-- Martha Beck

25 August 2008

the dancer's foot

three of many, originally uploaded by McBeth.

In life as in dance: Grace glides on blistered feet.

-- Alice Abrams

21 August 2008

empty pockets

father of the bride, originally uploaded by McBeth.

You cannot hold on to anything good. You must be continually giving - and getting. You cannot hold on to your seed. You must sow it - and reap anew. You cannot hold on to riches. You must use them and get other riches in return.

-- Robert Collier

20 August 2008

not unusual

six legged, originally uploaded by McBeth.

The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes.

-- Andre Gide

18 August 2008

inside us

sshhh..., originally uploaded by McBeth.

It is important to remember that we all have magic inside us.

--Joanne Kathleen Rowling

14 August 2008

one day at a time

that was yesterday, originally uploaded by McBeth.

I've developed a new philosophy... I only dread one day at a time.

-- Charlie Brown

13 August 2008

come home

swoopy, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Dark clouds are comin' like an army
Soon the sky will open up and disarm me
You will go just like you've gone before
One sad soldier off to war, enemies that only you can see.

Dishes stacked, the table cleared
It's always like the scene of the last supper here
You speak so cryptically that's not news to me
The flood is here it will carry you
And I've got work to do.

Come on home, the team you're hitched to has a mind of its own
But it's just the forces of your past you've fought before
Come back here and shut the door
I'm stacking sandbags against the river of your troubles.

There is fire there is lust
Some will trade it all for someone they could trust
There's a bag of silver for a box of nails
It's so simple the betrayal
Though it's known to change the world and what's to come.

There's the given and the expected
I count my blessings while I eye what I've neglected
Is this for better is this for worse
You're all jammed up and the dam's about to burst.

I hear the owl in the night
I realize that some things never are made right
By some will we string together here
Days to months and months to years
What if everything we have adds up to nothing.

Come on home, the team you're hitched to has a mind of its own
But it's just the forces of your past you've fought before
Come back here and shut the door
I'm stacking sandbags against the river of your troubles.

-- Indigo Girls

31 July 2008

put your feet up

toll takers, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Rest when you're weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.

-- Ralph Marston

28 July 2008

secure yourself

stock and barrel, originally uploaded by McBeth.

The most intense conflicts, if overcome, leave behind a sense of security and calm that is not easily disturbed. It is just these intense conflicts and their conflagration which are needed to produce valuable and lasting results.

-- Carl Gustav Jung

22 July 2008

you just never know

j. and ray, originally uploaded by McBeth.

The manners of mankind do not differ so widely as our voyage writers would make us believe. Perhaps it would be more entertaining to add a few surprising customs of my own invention, but nothing seems to me so agreeable as truth.

-- Mary Worley

18 July 2008

say it like you mean it

anthropological research, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Few men speak humbly of humility, chastely of chastity, skeptically of skepticism.

-- Blaise Pascal

09 July 2008

coming together

silhouettes, originally uploaded by McBeth.

What's natural and right is to go with the energy of how it all has to work together. What's natural and right is interconnectedness, not individualism. What is natural and right is respect for the system, not killing the system. What's natural and right is love.

-- Susan Powter

29 June 2008


safely keep me, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Make me an angel that flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing that I can hold on to
To believe in this livin' is just a hard way to go

-- John Prine

27 June 2008

all of us

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

All of us, all over the globe, have the capacity for exuberance. Whether we explore that, well, that's another question entirely. But this guy knows what's what and has gotten his groove on all sorts of countries in all kinds of places. He professes not to be a good dancer (one dance and not very good at it, says he) but I gotta estimate it must be good enough that others pick up the spirit of the thing and join in.

Maybe we could all benefit from happy dancing more often. Let's start small. Headphones or home stereo, dancing not-in-public. Then we'll work our way up: dance in front of loved ones. Ignore their snickering, they're just jealous because they desperately want to be as hip and jiggy as you are when you do your happy dance. Invite them to join you. Then we all could start happy dancing out in our neighborhoods, our town halls, our grocery stores, in our schools, in houses of worship (yes, even you Lutherans. It's okay; God's down with it), in nursing homes and daycare centers.

Consider making a deal with me?
With my right hand on my keyboard and my left hand on the mouse, I hereby promise to happy dance 1x daily (not-in-public) for the coming week starting tomorrow. Will you try it with me - do a happy dance 1x daily? -- public or not, your choice. I'm looking forward to reporting back and, hopefully, hearing about your experiences.

C'mon, you know you want to.
Everybody does it.
It'll make you smile.

...c'mon ... it'll be easy.

Did you find the video sniffle inducing?
(yeah, me too.)
Okay then.


what's the rush

chores can wait, let's talk, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Slow down you're doing fine
You can't be everything you want to be
Before your time.

-- Billy Joel

26 June 2008


1969, originally uploaded by McBeth.

Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul.

-- Mark Twain

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