Mother’s Day Quotes (Repost)

Hello Mothers of the world.

I don’t know about Spain or Costa Rica or Australia or Japan, but in the United States it is Mother’s Day on Sunday. I am sending every mother I know, and love, a greeting and a few quotes about mothers which I thought were nice (I particularly liked Aristotle’s take on it).

Some of you may be new mothers, some of you may be old(er) mothers, and at least one of you may be an expectant mother. We are all tied by a common thread and so,

Happy Mother’s Day!

God could not be everywhere and therefore he made Mothers
~old Jewish Proverb~

My mother had a slender, small body, but a large heart – a heart so large that everybody’s joys found welcome in it, and hospitable accommodation.
~Mark Twain~

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
~Elizabeth Stone~

Becoming a mother makes you the mother of all children. From now on each wounded, abandoned, frightened child is yours. You live in the suffering mothers of every race and creed and weep with them. You long to comfort all who are desolate.
~Charlotte Gray~

Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own.

The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.
~Henry Ward Beecher~

You may have tangible wealth untold;/Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold./Richer than I you can never be -/I had a mother who read to me.
~Strickland Gillilan~

Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.
~William Makepeace Thackeray~

A mother understands what a child does not say.
~Jewish Proverb~

An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.
~Spanish Proverb~

~When a woman is twenty, a child deforms her; when she is thirty, he preserves her; and when forty, he makes her young again.~
Leon Blum

Some are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same; and most mothers kiss and scold together.
~Pearl S. Buck~

And one added by my daughter’s mother-in-law:

Children hold their mother’s hand for a while, but her heart forever.

I hope all of you mothers do something nice for yourselves this weekend.

Feeling a Bit Apocalyptic

(Spoiler: this post may contain hyperbole.)

Things are looking bleak for the human race. Dire warnings from Al Gore have largely fallen on deaf ears and right-wing Republicans seem bent on steaming ahead spewing carbon into the atmosphere, burning as many fossil fuels as possible, gutting regulatory agencies, and generally acting irresponsible.

There are also fringe groups convinced the world will end in 2014 on 21 December 2012 because the Mayan calendar ends that year. I think they might have it down to a particular month, but the year itself is close enough for discomfort. And let’s be clear, a good segment of the Christian population is going by the Good Book, banking on the apocalypse for their final salvation, so there’s really not a large segment clamoring for restraint. Those are my friends and relatives and judging by the all the madness I think we’re outnumbered.

With the threatened meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plants in Japan (SIX of them in a row!), we are racing toward self-destruction at an unprecedented rate. The earth may be ready to be rid of us, too. I have this theory, based on a comment my father once made, “Final proof that there is intelligent life in the rest of the Universe? They have not contacted us.” My theory is that we were dumped on earth by those very beings—a bit like criminals sent to Australia— and they put those huge spheres, Easter Island statues, and perhaps the pyramids as warning symbols to any space craft that ventures too close to earth. STAY AWAY. Locos live here!

I watch the news coverage because I can’t pull my eyes away, so my days are bombarded by idiot humans fighting each other in Africa, corporate minions trying, without much success I might add, to contain a power source whose half-life is longer than most people.The arrogance to think we can control it!

Man makes his plans and the gods laugh.

I ache for the people of Japan and am sorry their culture has bowed to corporations now calling the shots when it comes to their public safety. Note to self: the Republicans are close to accomplishing the same thing in the United States by gutting the EPA and its ability to regulate. They are fond of saying that businesses feel an “uncertainty” with the current state of affairs under the Obama administration. Judging from the compassionate response of BP during the Gulf oil spill we are due to experience what the Japanese are dealing with on a unprecedented level soon.

Time for the wake up call, but I think it’s falling on the deaf, too filled with hate or greed or ignorance to care.

I prepare for the End.

New Book Review- Stolen World

My review of Stolen World: A Tale of Reptiles, Smugglers, and Skullduggery by Jennie Erin Smith is up at the Internet Review of Books.  I loved this book. It’s full of larger-than-life personalities involved in under-the-table activities.

“With a cast of characters straight out of a Carl Hiaasen or Elmore Leonard novel, Jennie Erin Smith takes her readers on a wild ride into the world of reptile trafficking. And, yes, much of her new book, STOLEN WORLD: A TALE OF REPTILES, SMUGGLERS, AND SKULLDUGGERY,  takes place in Florida, and it’s all true.”  To read the rest of the review click here.

Apparently some other reviewers have hinted they don’t entirely believe in the veracity of the book. According to Smith, in a discussion on her facebook page, a few reviewers have suggested that she “embellished” it. They warn, at the very least, that her book be read with a skeptical eye because of her sources. To me, this is a bit like saying that Woodward and Bernstein’s Watergate stories should be questioned because of their sources. Perhaps those reviewers live in a world where they don’t bump up against the sorts of shady people in her book.

I happen to live in a place where cads and misanthropes far outnumber your regular citizenry. Maybe it’s because this Caribbean coastline is a tropical playground, maybe because cads and misanthropes always look for the easiest way to survive— make a living seems a bit of a stretch—think no central heating needed. Really, no house needed. Whatever the reason, they are here. So, I have no trouble believing her book is true.

I also note that Stolen World was published by Crown publishing. As she says in her rebuttal there were three sets of legal teams that went over the material, sometimes insisting on changes, or pseudonyms, because of legal issues. Surely the reviewers were aware of this. Or, as Smith put it:    “… I do think they would have to be aware that any nonfic book would have serious legal vetting/review when the sources involved are 1. alive, 2. named, and 3. feisty as all hell.


In Solidarity, but Tired

It’s spring in Costa  Rica, and I think my head needs a good cleaning. There seems to be more clutter in there than needed. I’ve been caught up in our seemingly endless law case (into Limón numerous times, to the courthouse for this and that, a failed attempt at the trial itself, and a meeting with our lawyer), books that need a review written (got that done yesterday), and various and sundry other things (those, whatever they are, are still pending). And the unsettling news from the United States. I’m thinking of turning the TV off and canceling all electronic newspapers. I guess we really can’t call them “papers” anymore, maybe news “feeds” is a better term, and I’m overstuffed.

It’s the news from the US that has me the most upset. It’s no surprise what the GOP and the Astroturf Tea Party is up to, it’s just that I’ve seen it my whole life, and I’m tired of fighting them at every turn.

This whole union busting thing in Wisconsin has me worried for the future of the American worker. Right now, as you probably know, there are thousands of teachers, nurses, and other public employee union members protesting and fighting for their very survival on the steps of the legislature in Madison, Wisconsin. Many of the demands the governor and the Republican leaders want are, if not palatable, at least acceptable to the union members. They have agreed to pay into their health care and to take a pay cut, but that’s not enough for Governor Scott Walker. He wants to strip them of the right to collective bargaining. Why would he want that?

Well, because if he, Karl Rove, and the Koch brothers can break the unions and their ability to organize and give to Democratic causes, there will be no competition for the money in the next election. The Citizens United decision already opened up Big Money for the Republicans in 2008, and the Koch brothers and the Chamber of Commerce flooded the coffers of right-wing candidates across the country. Now, it seems, they are bent on destroying the liberal-leaning unions and stripping the middle class of any collective power it has left.

It is a sad day in America, but the Right has fought to take complete control since the country was founded, and they have certainly worked tirelessly to obliterate any safeguards that Franklin Delano Roosevelt enacted for poor people. The part I find the most ironic (or is that moronic) is that the very people who are supporting these powers will ultimately be hurt by them.

I know that eventually things will come into the open. Perhaps it will become public knowledge that Clarence Thomas should have recused himself from the Citizens United case because he was involved with the Koch brothers. Maybe people will find out that the father of two Republican legislators from Wisconsin is the head of the State Police, a public employee union exempt from Gov. Walker’s red pencil. Maybe. But, if there is no decent education in the country it will be all that much easier to manipulate an ignorant population.

As I said, I think my head needs a good cleaning, but I’m not sure what to use to get it done. I will go for a walk and  meditate on my solidarity with the union workers in Wisconsin.

Book Review: The Tenth Parallel

My review of Eliza Griswold’s book, The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line between Christianity and Islam, is live at The Internet Review of Books.

“Journalist and poet Eliza Griswold spent seven years investigating and reporting on religious conflict around the globe. That she lived to tell about it is remarkable. Her travels took her to some of the most troubled, and often violent, countries in the Eastern Hemisphere: Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, as well as Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.” To read more….

While I found the majority of the book to be a fairly bleak forecast due to politics, global climate change, not to mention religious intolerance, I was heartened this past week when thousands of Egyptian Muslims stood watch as human shields so Coptic Christians could celebrate their Christmas worship without fear of violence. To see a modicum of tolerance and unity among differing faiths was uplifting.

Perhaps the United States could take a cue from that event.

On a Morning Walk

I am participating in A River of Stones this month. The idea of the exercise is to develop close observation and capture what is seen in a few short sentences, a poem, a haiku, or simply a short  piece of loose form. To join click on their logo to the right of this post.

Here is my first:

After the rains…

a traffic jam of mud puddles on the road, reflecting the jungle overhead.

And, a patch of blue.

INS and Out

Today I decided to attack the dreaded bureaucracy of Costa Rica. Our marchamos are due again.  I don’t know why but last night something jolted me awake and yelled in my ear, PAY THE MARCHAMOS.

What are marchamos, you ask? They are the little tags for all vehicles proving you have paid your road fees and government (hear that Rush Limbaugh?), I repeat, government-run car insurance. They are renewed once a year. In December. Every licensed vehicle must get their tags by the end of the month (December) or face the traffic cops who are looking for… well, let’s just say they might be short of money after the holidays.  Which means, if you are late getting yours, you risk standing in long lines reading things like Harry Potter or watching endless brutal nature shows on the ubiquitous TVs mounted near the ceiling of every agency and bank in the country.

Years ago we had to drive to the capital and go to the central INS office to pay for our tags. So did everyone else so the lines were odious.  Slowly, there came to be satellite offices where you could stand in endless lines. Then came the Internet. My bank, Banco de Costa Rica, has a special icon that shows up when it’s time to pay each year. So, I went online and tried to order mine and have it mailed to my APTO. It wouldn’t work. I called the telephone number on the failed attempt notice and got a very nice girl who informed me I must now go through INS, the national insurance company. “They aren’t letting us do it this year,” she said. One wonders why they don’t take the icon off the website, but, hey, I pick my battles.

I went to the INS website and was directed through the steps and, lo, I have a receipt. I have no idea if the tag will actually arrive as planned, but I do have a receipt. A couple of years ago ours failed to come and it cost us a ten thousand Colone note to an upwardly mobile transit officer who pulled us over. When I showed him the receipt he claimed it had to be notarized.  It was cheaper to pay him.

Once I got the marchamos taken care of, I moved on to bigger things, like renewing our health insurance (also a  government-run health insurance company, Rush). I can do it through our insurance agency, depositing the money into an INS bank account, but I wondered if I could pay with a credit card. I went to their website and there, I swear to god, was a live INS Web Chat.  I signed in and had the conversation below:

Solicitando asistencia a un especialista…
Instituto Nacional de seguros, muy buenos días en que le podemos servir?
Usted: buenos dias. es posible a pagar mi cuenta de seguros en linea. mi cuenta es INS H.A.—#XXXX
Usted: y por favor disculp mi Español. 😉
Ins en Línea: Buenas tardes
Ins en Línea: Gracias por escribir al Instituto Nacional de Seguros
Ins en Línea: El seguro de que seria
Usted: seguro medical en el nombre de AGH -cuenta #XXXX con Proseguros SA
Usted: pero, es posible a pagar por internet
Ins en Línea: Ins medical no se puede pagar por ins linea
Usted: okay. muy bien. Gracias y tiene un bien diá
La sesión de chat ha terminado.

Now this might not be a big deal for you who live in the USA, but to find a live chat here was like finding gold in my backyard.  I wasn’t able to pay with a credit card online; I’ll have to do it the old way and deposit the money in their bank account, but in two hours flat I completed both jobs. Jobs that would have taken me a week not five years ago.

We have arrived.  Modernity has officially come to Costa Rica.

Lost and Found~

My uncle, Elliot R. Corbett, was one of those who fell at the Battle of the Bulge….

My uncle, Elliot R. Corbett, was one of those who fell at the Battle of the Bulge. According to the US Department of Defense website: “In late 1944, in the wake of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France, the German army launched what was arguably the last major counteroffensive of World War II in a final desperate attempt to break and defeat Allied forces. The ensuing battle, fought over an 80-mile stretch from Belgium to Luxembourg, began Dec. 16, 1944 and ended Jan. 25, 1945. It was the largest land battle involving American Forces in World War II. More than a million Allied troops fought in the battle across the Ardennes, including about 500,000 Americans and more than 55,000 British. More than 19,000 troops were killed in action.”

I never met my uncle Yottie, as my mother always referred to him, but I gather he was a charmer. I’ve seen pictures of a dark, curly-haired man grinning for the camera as he stands easily next his horse, reins in hand. He was a handsome and easy going man who loved the out of doors. I understand he had a girlfriend before he was drafted, or enlisted, but no one in my family seems to know what became of her after Yot’s death.

Apparently, he tried to join the 10th Mountain Division to fight alongside his brother, Alfred, but the Army refused his application.  According to my mother, he was sent without training of any kind. Like so many, he ended up as cannon fodder in the European theatre. Alfred came home. Yottie did not.

But the Battle of the Bulge happened five years before I was born, and I am now sixty one. All this may seem like old history, and it is, but yesterday my 92-year-old mother wrote to say that a woman contacted her a couple of weeks ago. She wanted to know if my mother was a relative of Elliot Corbett. Yes, she said, she was his sister. The woman said, the Army will be contacting you shortly. Four days later the Army called to say they would be sending some articles for the family.

After Yot’s death my grandfather, with the help of his political friends, established the Elliot R. Corbett Memorial State Park, located off US Highway 20, fourteen miles west of Sisters, Oregon. It is mountainous country and the park is only accessible by foot. I have hiked there among Ponderosa, sage and wetlands and felt a kinship with the uncle I never knew. It is a living testament to Yot’s love of nature.

This week, true to their word, a small package from the US Department of Defense arrived in McMinnville, Oregon. In it were some papers from my grandfather assuring the Army that his son should be buried in the Margraten cemetery in the Netherlands, some official forms, and documents.

And, Yottie’s dog tags. Sixty-five years after his death. His dog tags. Where have these things been all this time, and what do we do with them now?

I just finished reading a book by Craig Childs about artifacts and the conundrum of where they belong and to whom they should be entrusted. Childs’ view is that they are best left where they were found; it gives the land a sense of history. As he points out, an artifact can outlive you, your children, and your grandchildren, so once they are in your possession the responsibility is enormous.

My mother asked me what I thought she should do with the dog tags. I told her I didn’t know. But what I thought was, I want to hold them for a moment’s reflection and then fling them onto the field where he died.

That is where they belong.

Inversion Therapy~

I have wanted an inversion table for the longest time. Ever since I first saw one, over 20 years ago, I just knew my back and hips would feel divine if I could only hang upside down for a few minutes a day.

All he needed was a ball-point pen and a paperclip

My husband is an original MacGyver, pronounced here in Latin America as Ma-Gee-ver, accent on the middle syllable. According to his wiki page, MacGyver’s “main asset is his practical application of scientific knowledge and inventive use of common items—along with his ever-present Swiss Army knife.” Alan doesn’t use the knife, but he is the master of reusing, recycling, salvaging, and reprocessing.

He is also (not surprisingly) a hoarder. I am the great liquidator. I, for example, would toss all leftover parts from broken appliances or scraps of rubber or wiring or plumbing or anything else he keeps.

I rarely go in his shop. The shelves are full of pieces and parts of all sorts of things. I can never find anything I’m looking for out there, anyway, and he gets pretty testy if I move something. On the other hand my house is spotless. Well, I admit I have a bit of an If It’s Out of Sight It Doesn’t Count as Clutter mentality. But, really, it’s pretty tidy in here.

I suppose we keep each other balanced.

But here is the thing. I have wanted an inversion table for the longest time. Ever since I first saw one, over 20 years ago, I just knew my back and hips would feel divine if I could only hang upside down for a few minutes a day. I never felt I could fork over the bucks for one when I lived in the States, and then we moved to Costa Rica. Until recently things like “exercise equipment” has seemed redundant to people who evolved from an agrarian based culture. Want exercise? they’d  say, Go out and chop bush for ten to twelve hours a day. Then see if you want to “work out.”

Alan has known about my bat-like desires for a while now. The other day he asked me what project he could do next. That is something else about him: he is always busy with some venture or another and one reason our house is as beautiful as it is.

Would you make me an inversion table? I asked.

We looked online and have studied YouTube videos of various models. I printed off a couple of brochures for him to peruse.

He is almost finished with it. I will post photos and video here and on facebook when it’s done.(I think I should pre-flight it in private and over a very soft surface.) He has welded it together using parts from bicycles, motorcycles, paint rollers, plumbing tubing, as well as wood from a tree that fell a couple of years ago. I can hardly wait to try it out.