Friday, April 29, 2011

"The Richest Hole on Earth"...or "In 1906 This Was a Mountain"

The "Richest Hole on Earth" is in Utah. I did not make this name up...see the photo below. It is the Kennecott Utah Copper Bingham Canyon Mine (part of the giant global Rio Tinto company), in Bingham Canyon, south west of Salt Lake City. You can see it off in the distance as you drive around the valley here. This mine sits at 6,440 feet. It was a mountain (up until 1906) that has now been excavated open pit style. It was the world's first open pit copper mine.


It is HUGE! It is the largest man-made excavation in the world - you can see it from space. Repeat - the largest excavation in the world! I would have thought that would be in China or Russia, but no, it is in my backyard. The mine is 2 3/4 miles across and 3/4 mile deep. I had no idea the mining that I could see across the valley was this big.



. The mine has produced more copper than any mine in history - about 19 million tons. The mine produces 55 Million tons of copper per year and 120 Million tons of other rock product used for a variety of things. The get some gold and silver. On average you have to mine a ton of ore to get 10.6 pounds of copper in that mine. That is a lot of mining. At the Visitors Center we saw a film about the mining operation and the extent of what they do here is kind of mind blowing. Copper is used in so many of the things in our daily lives. I bet most people don't know or think about that. 

Copper is the oldest metal we know of. We have record of man using this metal as far back as 10,000 BC. Around 5,000 BC man learned how to smelt the metal to produce other types of metals that could be used for tools. Around 3,000 BC man mixed tin with copper to produce bronze, a much stronger metal. Later in the BC era, zinc was mixed with copper to create brass, another versatile and durable metal. Copper is used in everything - appliances, transportation, communications, electronics and on and on.



In addition to being the second largest copper producer in the US, the mining activity provides 2,400 local jobs and indirectly affects another 14,800 local jobs. It is almost a $1 billion activity in the state of Utah. The mine is almost tapped out in its current state so they are in the process of getting approvals for an expansion plan that will allow the mine to continue until 2028. Given the negative history of mining, the global increase in concern over the environment, and this need to expand, much of the information in the visitor center, including the film, emphasizes the good practices this mining company has been pursuing and how they will continue to do so. For example they have invested a lot to clean up other earlier not so environmentally friendly mining efforts around Utah and they have lots programs working on land reclamation, water clean up, wildlife protection, etc.



To survive in mining today you have to be an environmental steward (as much as you can be with this kind of extractive industry) and a developer of benefits for the surrounding communities, especially in a place like the US. So I believe that this company is doing what they can to make things better - again, as good as you can be in the reality that is mining. Mining is a dangerous, controversial activity, but unfortunately, we can't live without it in the world we have created and live in day to day.

The Visitor Center is open seven days a week from 8 am to 8 pm. The cost is only $5/car. You enter through a guarded, gated area and then drive a few miles on the private land to the edge of the open pit mine. Seeing that pit is pretty amazing. The information in the little museum is interesting. The views of the Wasatch mountain range across the valley are beautiful. Worth a visit for tourists and natives.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Museum of Ancient Life - "The Taj Mahal of Dinosaur Museums"

Woo hoo! "The Taj Mahal of Dinosaur Museums!?"

On Tuesday I went to Thanksgiving Point in Utah. Actually it is Lehi, Utah, but the area is called Thanksgiving Point. My husband tells me this area was developed by a Word Perfect executive (housing, shops, this museum, golf course, a giant garden, with the tallest manmade waterfalls in the western hemisphere). I drive by this place all the time on Route 15 S to visit family in Orem and then on to Vegas and the desert. But the reason I finally stopped to check out Thanksgiving Point? My mom. To visit Museum of Ancient Life.

Yes, the Museum of Ancient Life. Open since 2000, who knew that Utah possesses the "world's largest display of mounted dinosaurs?"Yes! "The Taj Mahal of Dinosaur Museums."

My mom loves dinosaurs. And she is visiting. And it has been kind of a dull visit, doing very little. Until this. I don't think I would have thought to go to this dinosaur museum were it not for my mom. Thanks mom. I did not even know there was a dinosaur museum there, along Route 15 S. So we went. And wow! This was a really cool, cool museum. Not only was it a cool museum (world's largest display of mounted dinosaurs!), but we also saw two pretty cool 3-D movies: Walking the T-Rex, The Story of Sue (the best one - see the photo); and Sea Rex, Journey to a Prehistoric World (cheezy, but still informative and interesting and fun). 3-D movies. Giant theater. 3-D. Hardly anyone in the theater but us (a random Tuesday at 4 pm). Dinosaur history. Awesome.

In addition to the awesome 3-D theater you have 60 complete skeletal displays. A working paleontology lab. Lots of fun stuff for kids. The coolest museum with dinosaurs I've ever seen.

Did you know that most of the dinosaur discoveries in the US have been from out here in the west - in Utah, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, California. Lots and lots of dinosaur discoveries. Did you know that Utah has a state dinosaur? Utahraptor. Otherwise known as "Robber from Utah." Does your state have a state dinosaur? Didn't think so...

And here is a dinosaur that was discovered in Wyoming by someone I know. Yes! I know a real live paleontologist who lives in the area. A friend of my husband's. Who discovered this dinosaur. And its remains are in this museum. Ceratosaurus nasicomis. Cool.

I don't have a lot of interest in dinosaurs, but I liked this museum a lot. If you are visiting Utah, I recommend checking this place out. If you live here, you have no excuse for not seeing it - kids and adults.



God Says Yes To Me



God Says Yes To Me

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don't paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I'm telling you is
Yes Yes Yes
"God Says Yes To Me" by Kaylin Haught, from The Palm of Your Hand. © Tilbury House Publishers, 1995. Courtesy of The Writers Almanac.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Signs on the Byway (Europe)

I like to take photos of signs. So many signs in our world. Signs can be interesting, beautiful, funny, weird...
Berlin Wall Museum, Berlin - the real sign that used to mark the wall
Bruges, Belgium
Brewery in Bruges - No smoking. No frites. No ice cream.
Hotel in Berlin
Streets of Berlin
Streets of Paris

Oh Monday...

With your rain and chilly temperatures and so much work...

I am trying to find the name of this artist...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Well is Dry...for the moment

I've been blogging now for 8 months. 360 posts. That's an average of 45 posts a month.

But not this month. This month I've only written about half of that, and many of this month's posts have been other people's poems - to celebrate National Poetry Month.

I always seem to have a lot I want to share - thoughts, photographs, travel recommendations, references for others' work. But the well feels dry for the moment. And I am not quite sure why.

I keep a list of things I want to blog about but haven't yet had the chance to - so I am not devoid of ideas. For example:  my leech experience in Nepal; a company called Born in Love; a review of organic beauty products I've been trying; some restaurant reviews in DC; numerous hotel reviews that I promised myself I would write; a follow up on my research on olive oils; my memories of summer camp; Disney's Club 33; the solar decathalon; etc.

But I just haven't felt motivated to write about these things. Typically when I write a blog entry it is something that is burning at the front of my brain that day. I want to write about it. And I sit down very focused and it spills out. Even being really busy I am able to produce. But lately I've been really busy and not able to produce.

We were going to go out to the desert this past week, but for various reasons we postponed our trip. Perhaps that road trip would have motivated me to write - road trips usually do. Lots of experiences and photographs. I am headed out to Reno soon, so that road trip will no doubt result in things to share. Stay tuned...

Meh.

Do I really have to work tomorrow???!!!

This is Spunky. He is not my cat. He is very FAT and silly. I once knew a guy who had the fattest cat I've ever seen and the cats name was Bonbon. It was a perfect name for that cat. Bonbon.

Happy Easter

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What I Know


What I Know

What I know for sure is less and less:
that a hot bath won't cure loneliness.

That bacon is the best bad thing to chew
and what you love may kill you.

The odd connection between perfection
and foolishness, like the pelican
diving for his fish.

How silly sex is.
How, having it, we glimpse
our holiness.

What I know is less and less.
What I want is more and more:

you against me—
your ferocious tenderness—

love like a star,
once small and far,
now huge, now near.

Monday, April 18, 2011

You and I

Only two more weeks of National Poetry Month...then you probably won't see much in the way of poetry posted here until next year. So, if you don't like poetry (phooey!), you only have to suffer through me posting a few more poems. If you love poetry, keep looking for a few more I will post over the next two weeks. Keep supporting these poets by finding and reading their work and occasionally investing in buying some of their art. Thank you once again Writers Almanac for existing...

How about a love poem for today? Here's a good one...enjoy and Happy Monday.



You and I

You are a warm front
that moved in from the north,
a blind spot bearing beautiful gifts,
a garden in the air, a golden filament
inscribed with the name of God's hunting dog,
a magic heirloom mistaken for a feather duster,
a fountain in a cow pasture, an anachronistic anagram
annoyed by anonymity, a dollar in the pocket
of a winter coat in summer.

And I am the discoverer of you.
"You and I" by Jonathan Potter, from House of Words. © Korrektiv Press, 2010. Reprinted with permission.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Zombie Art

What is this obsession with zombies? It has been around for awhile now. Seriously, people were starting to have zombie parties like 3 or 4 years ago - so this trend has spread and stuck around. Parties, movies, tv shows, books, comics, etc. And art. Visiting a SLC vintage furniture store two weeks ago, while I was admiring an old Harry Belafonte album cover (he was so hot), the shop owner showed me this. She says there is a local artist who takes old album covers and gives them the zombie effect. I don't know. I can appreciate the zombie thing, but I don't know if I would want this hanging on my wall. What do you think?

Why I'm Here

Today My Byway is taking me home to SLC. Before I leave, here is another beautiful poem and Byway Scene to help you weather this rainy day here in WDC. Happy weekend everyone.  

Balboa Peninsula Beach, California - February 2011



Why I'm Here

Because my mother was on a date
with a man in the band, and my father,
thinking she was alone, asked her to dance.
And because, years earlier, my father
dug a foxhole but his buddy
sick with the flu, asked him for it, so he dug
another for himself. In the night
the first hole was shelled.
I'm here because my mother was twenty-seven
and in the '50s that was old to still be single.
And because my father wouldn't work on weapons,
though he was an atomic engineer.
My mother, having gone to Berkeley, liked that.
My father liked that she didn't eat like a bird
when he took her to the best restaurant in L.A.
The rest of the reasons are long gone.
One decides to get dressed, go out, though she'd rather
stay home, but no, melancholy must be battled through,
so the skirt, the cinched belt, the shoes, and a life is changed.
I'm here because Jews were hated
so my grandparents left their villages,
came to America, married one who could cook,
one whose brother had a business,
married longing and disappointment
and secured in this way the future.

It's good to treasure the gift, but good
to see that it wasn't really meant for you.
The feeling that it couldn't have been otherwise
is just a feeling. My family
around the patio table in July.
I've taken over the barbequing
that used to be my father's job, ask him
how many coals, though I know how many.
We've been gathering here for years,
so I believe we will go on forever.
It's right to praise the random,
the tiny god of probability that brought us here,
to praise not meaning, but feeling, the still-warm
sky at dusk, the light that lingers and the night
that when it comes is gentle.
"Why I'm Here" by Jacqueline Berger, from The Gift That Arrives Broken. © Autumn House Press, 2010. Reprinted with permission. Thank you Writers Almanac.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bunnies

No time for a "real" blog entry today, so here is a video. iPhone 8MM application takes fun videos. I still recommend this one.

I miss my bunnies, and I can't wait to see my husband and them this weekend when I leave this crazy place (WDC) I used to call home and return to SLC, now my real home. I don't really have bunnies. It is a nickname I use for my two cats. I don't know why. We pet lovers say and do weird things...

Mr. Kitty is hanging in there. I credit my husband who is giving him a lot of love (along with his meds) and telling him he has to wait for me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Technical Difficulties with the Poems

I am sorry if you have not been able to read the poems I have been posting on My Scenic Byway this month, in honor of National Poetry Month and very much promoting The Writer's Almanac. A few friends have informed me that all they see are squiggly lines where the poems should be. I did not understand this because I could never see this with my Mac and some other friends told me they had no problems viewing the poems. I assumed perhaps it was an iPad issue since the first time I heard about it, it was from an iPad user. However, I jsut checked the site from a Dell PC here at work and I finally saw the infamous squiggly lines. It must have something to do with the software you have and ability to view graphic programs. It is also probably because I cut and paste all of those poems directly from The Writers Almanc and when I do that they come in text box like settings. I don't know if that is something they set up to protect people, like me, from cutting and copying? Is what I am doing wrong? Every time I have copied and shared a poem I have always kept the author's name and have plugged the source - The Writers Almanc - and provided the link to take you directly to that. I would not steal someone's writing. I always give reference. I only want to promote and share people's beautiful work.

I am sorry if you have not been able to read the poems. I am going to fix these entries somehow so you won't have this problem. Please check back soon for the fix. Thanks!

Some Recollections of 20+ Years in WDC in 4 Days

Day 1 (Saturday): I fly into National Airport (I never call it Reagan...it is and always will be its original name to me - National). It is the National airport. So it remains. Always the beautiful view flying into that airport, coming across the Washington suburbs and finally the city comes into view with its monuments. It is so green around here. I miss that.

I pick up my rental car in the late afternoon and drive, drive, drive west on Rt 66 out into the deep suburbs of northern Virginia to visit family. It feels beautiful to zip around in my new rental car. It is Spring in Washington. Trees blossoming everywhere - the sweet scents making me sneeze. I have a car. And I know this place. All this familiar territory. I arrive to familiar smiling faces. I miss these faces, this banter. Great food, great company and a lot of laughs. Little ones who will forever be toddlers in my mind are now teenagers, taller than me. My nephew who only a few years ago was half my height and shy and sweet towers over me now. He is so handsome. He looks like his uncle, my ex-husband. He has his first girlfriend. I stare at him in disbelief that he, the little one I held in my arms as a baby at my wedding many years ago is now becoming a man. Time passes even if the cherished images of those we love stay still in our minds.

Day 2 (Sunday): Returning to the city the next day to visit friends in Arlington, VA, I know many routes and can't decide the best one to take. I plug the address into my iPhone GPS and it sends me on a crazy route - Rt 29, Rt 66, the Beltway (495) S, Rt 50, Rt 7, into Fairlington. I don't mind. I want to travel on all of these roads - passing old doctors' offices I frequented, places where friends lived over the years, places where we ate here or shopped there. Every road has its time and its memory.

Later I drive my friend to pick up her car. We cross the Potomac River into NW Washington then I shoot down Massachusetts Ave, into Dupont Circle and over to Logan Circle. Every street, every block I pass - 20+ years of memories. I lived on Corcoran Street. And California Street. And 18th Street in Adams Morgan.

I meet old friends for dinner at a new Spanish restaurant. I think that parking appears to have gotten even worse...or maybe my memory has faded, having been away from this for almost a year now. The weather is getting warmer and it is Sunday, so people are out everywhere...as they do in this city when the warm weather comes.

It is so good to see these old friends. One I've known almost as long as I lived in this city. We worked together a lifetime ago. We remember cheap pitchers of beer at Mr. Eagan's and shopping at the Soviet Safeway when $20 bought you a week worth of groceries. What I miss the most about this city is these friends - all of these people who have been woven in and out of my life fabric for so long. And the familiarity of knowing this place. I live now in a place that I do not know. There is excitement in the opportunity to learn a new place, but there is also the loss of the familiar and the power that comes with knowing. It is a toss up.

After dinner it is dark and I drive again through familiar streets, down 14th Street, past the beautiful Washington Monument to my right, and across the river into Crystal City to my hotel, near the office my organization only moved into a few years ago. I know the news anchors on the nightly local news. I mean I know them in the way one knows them from watching them for years and years. Familiar voices and faces and mannerisms. Comforting background noise.

Day 3 (Monday): In the morning as I get ready to head to the office, I turn on the radio in my room and the sounds of my old NPR morning routine are there. Familiar stories for life in DC. Controversy with the mayor. Suspicious package found downtown. Metro delays due to someone "falling" on the tracks. Weather patterns up and down.

I work a full day - wanting to leave the office at 5 pm, but leaving instead after 6...a familiar pattern from my life here in DC. Back to the hotel, back to the rental car and then drive, drive, drive again, but north this time. Into Maryland. This time I take my old commuting route - from the office to my old home in Takoma Park. I am going to visit another dear friend for dinner. I am excited to see her and her daughter, but also to do this familiar drive, to see my old neighborhood and to drive by the home - my first house - that I sold last May when I left this place. Will it look the same?

Having been gone now almost a year, living in Salt Lake City now, I am shocked by the traffic. I've now been in this area 48 hours and I have felt the energy. My energy has changed to meet and match and survive the energy I feel around me. I am stressed. I feel it. I feel rushed. I feel late. I don't feel those things very much anymore with my new life in SLC. But for 20 years that was my world.

The drive is slow, due to traffic, even at 7 pm. But I don't care. I take the route through Rock Creek Park, winding through the city. This was my daily route to the office and while I did not relish driving 45-60 minutes each way, if you have to do it, this was a beautiful route to drive. I love this park. Its roads and scenery are burned into my brain from years of driving that route twice a day. What I love about living and driving in a place for so long is how you learn the crazy little routes - the twists and turns and short-cuts that you couldn't explain to someone new to the area - you just know them. You figured them out over the years. Now you feel like you could maneuver them in your sleep.

The little downtown Takoma Park looks the same. Some changes, but mostly the same. How I miss the Sunday Farmers Market. I miss it a lot. SLC has a summer market that is mostly crafts and very little food. I miss the farms of Virginia and Maryland and Pennsylvania and West Virginia - all close enough to deliver their fresh produce to this city and its many wonderful farmer markets.

Favorite tree in my old yard
I have dinner with my friend - in familiar surroundings. Lovely. Old memories. I have known her too for a long time. Through a number of changing times in her life and mine. I wish I had more time. With her. With everyone I see here. With the friends I won't be able to see this week because there just is not enough time.

My old house looks very much the same. Wow. Did I really live there for 7 years or more? My first house. Little cottage. My world. So much happened in that house. I hope that the young couple who bought it - their first home - is happy there. I hope they take care of the trees and the flowers I planted. I hope they keep up the little garden I had in the back yard. I miss the trees and the birds and the squirrels from that yard. I miss the jungly green lusciousness that is this area. You know how it is the summer. Jungle. Amazing.

I am now excited to drive yet another old, familiar route - down New Hampshire Ave, past the turn off to North Capitol that would beeline me to Capitol Hill, past the intersection with Georgia Avenue, Sherman Ave to Florida Ave, crossing U Street, south past the "new" Convention Center (no longer really new, but it will always be new as it replaced the "old" one, down 9th Street, and onto 14th Street, and again I am driving down to the Mall and past the Washington Monument and over that river, back to Crystal City, fake city with its underground mall world that always made me think of Planet of the Apes when I was younger, and its defense contractors and now a surprising number of restaurants and places to go out making it no longer such a desolate, lonely place at night.

Roosevelt Island
Day 4 (Tuesday): Another busy day in the office - meetings, meetings, meetings. I am burnt out. Like I used to be. Somehow now that I telecommute, its all different. I work a lot, but it is so much more relaxing when you work from home. And I don't have as many meetings anymore. I am not used to this pace. Not used to the quiet stress in the office and the less quiet stress on the streets. People rushing everywhere, constantly on their Blackberrys and iPhones. Lunch places unbelievably crowded. Business appears to be booming in the Nation's capital. A full day and then I am off to Georgetown to run some errands. I drive past more familiar places. My old route around the neighborhoods. My favorite spa, nail salon, yoga place, etc. Remembering shopping days and times at restaurants and celebrations with friends and hikes along the water.

This time I get to drive across the Key Bridge and back into Rosslyn, the place where I worked for so many years and just further up where I lived also for many years in two different apartments. It seems so long ago. I miss that little area. I miss my gym. I miss being so close to the Iwo Jima monument and the paths along the Potomac River and Roosevelt Island my favorite place in this city. How many times did I walk and run that island? With so many friends and family and lovers. Spring. Summer. Winter. Fall. I hope I can go there for a hike before I leave town. Remembering hikes with groups of friends on the trail that would run along the VA side of the Potomac, crossing the Chain Bridge and then walking on the C&O Canal tow path back to Georgetown. Feeling justified for a huge Sunday meal after that several hour hike.

Me, streets of DC, a year ago, 1 month before I left DC
Now back in the hotel in Crystal City...for a few more nights. Near the National airport where tomorrow I will return my rental car that has allowed me to travel so freely all over VA, DC and MD the past few days. Now I will reacquaint myself again with the DC metro and the taxis to move back and forth across the river, mostly driven by African taxi drivers. I love these taxi drivers. I love to get into a taxi and listen to Ethiopian music or chat with someone about what is happening in their home country. When I first moved to Washington, after spending a year in Kenya, then back in the US and then a summer back in Kenya again where I really still wanted to be, I felt happy and comfortable and familiar to get into a taxi with a driver often from east Africa. That was so, so long ago...but it is all still so fresh in my mind.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Paris

Boulevard du Montparnasse

Boulevard du Montparnasse

Once, in a doorway in Paris, I saw
the most beautiful couple in the world.
They were each the single most beautiful thing in the world.
She could have been sixteen, perhaps; he twenty.
Their skin was the same shade of black: like a shiny Steinway.
And they stood there like a four-legged instrument
of a passion so grand one could barely imagine them
ever working, or eating, or reading magazine.
Even they could hardly believe it.
Her hands gripped his belt loops, as they found each other's eyes,
because beauty like this must be held onto,
could easily run away on the power
of his long, lean thighs; or the tiny feet of her laughter.
I thought: now I will write a poem,
set in a doorway on the Boulevard du Mont Parnasse,
in which the brutishness of time
rates only a mention; I will say simply —
that if either one should ever love another,
a greater beauty shall not be the cause.
"Boulevard du Mont Parnasse" by Mary Jo Salter, from Sunday Skaters. © Knopf, 1996. Reprinted with permission.
Writer's Almanac - Merci! Poems, poems...only for this month to celebrate National Poetry Month...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sweet African Sky - Kenya & Solar Cookers International

Just found this photo in my stash. Now that is some sweet east African sky. 
Kenya. May 23, 2007. South of Nairobi.






























I was fortunate to travel out there for a day for work to meet the women below, after attending a conference in Nairobi. I have always loved Kenya, having been an exchange student in Mombasa when I was in high school, and then later attending the University of Nairobi for a year during college. On this trip I had not been to Kenya in like 15 years...so it was really weird.

One of our projects had helped these women finance and purchase solar cookers, as a substitute for traditional cooking which required them to use charcoal which can be expensive and polluting. Look at those beautiful women. That was a great day on the Byway. 

If you are interested, check out Solar Cookers International. Solar cookers are certainly not  a substitute for all traditional cooking. They work for some people in some places under some circumstances. When we have our place in the desert, I am going to get one of these and use it sometimes. You can come over for a solar cooked meal. I've had a few and you can cook quite a lot with this simple invention. You can even bake a cake.








Sunday, April 10, 2011

I Wanted to be Cher

Those of my generation will recall watching The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour later just called The Sonny & Cher Show (1971 - 1977). Man how I loved that show. As a little girl I loved Cher. I had a Cher doll. My Cher doll had glamorous doll clothes. I wanted to be Cher. She was so cool.

Delighted to find this poem...once again courtesy of the Writers Almanac/ Once again...its National Poetry Month people...this is why I am posting poems all month long...in case you were wondering. This is not a poetry blog, but I am taking this annual opportunity to post some great poems. Funny, or fun, or beautiful. Mostly about travel. And life and love. Try them out. Check out blog entries since April 1 to read the poems. And please, you gotta read this one about Cher. Maybe you remember...maybe you can relate.

Happy Sunday. May you have fun remembering these kinds of moments from your childhood.




Cher
by Dorianne Laux

I wanted to be Cher, tall
as a glass of iced tea,
her bony shoulders draped
with a curtain of dark hair
that plunged straight down,
the cut tips brushing
her nonexistent butt.
I wanted to wear a lantern
for a hat, a cabbage, a piƱata
and walk in thigh-high boots
with six-inch heels that buttoned
up the back. I wanted her
rouged cheek bones and her
throaty panache, her voice
of gravel and clover, the hokum
of her clothes: black fishnet
and pink pom-poms, fringed bells
and her thin strip of a waist
with the bullet-hole navel.
Cher standing with her skinny arm
slung around Sonny's thick neck,
posing in front of the Eiffel Tower,
The Leaning Tower of Pisa,
The Great Wall of China,
The Crumbling Pyramids, smiling
for the camera with her crooked
teeth, hit-and-miss beauty, the sun
bouncing off the bump on her nose.
Give me back the old Cher,
the gangly, imperfect girl
before the shaving knife
took her, before they shoved
pillows in her tits, injected
the lumpy gel into her lips.
Take me back to the woman
I wanted to be, stalwart
and silly, smart as her lion
tamer's whip, my body a torch
stretched the length of the polished
piano, legs bent at the knee, hair
cascading down over Sonny's blunt
fingers as he pummeled the keys,
singing in a sloppy alto
the oldest, saddest songs.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Somewhere in the World

"Somewhere in the world...something is happening...which will make its slow way here." Wow. I think that is a really powerful realization. Do you ever think about that? I love what this poem (below - courtesy again of the Writers Almanac - Public Radio is awesome!) is sharing.

Snow here in Salt Lake City...its been snowing for two days, but it doesn't really stick to the roads. Still, up in the hills where we live it looks again like a winter wonderland. It feels so strange to have this kind of weather in April. Sure it does happen occasionally on the east coast - snow in April - but more up in New England and less so in the mid-Atlantic area where I grew up. I think I only remember one time experiencing snow in April. Remember that old Prince song...Sometimes it Snows in April? I was a huge Prince fan in my teenage and college years and I can still remember that song. Was it done by Prince, or one of his proteges? I don't remember now and I can only remember the main chorus.

I am sitting in the SLC airport right now. My Byway is taking me to Washington, DC for a week of work. I am excited to be headed to my old home turf, to feel Spring in DC, to visit my old haunts, to see my friends. I am worried my old cat will decide to finally pass on while I am gone and I am praying he will stick around so I can have a little more time with him. I already know how sad I am going to be when that little furry body isn't around the house anymore. Fifteen years that cat has been with me - through so many ups and downs.

I will miss my husband, my house, my routines. But I believe it is good to disrupt one's patterns like this with a trip on the Byway, away from home and loved ones. It wakes you up, reinvigorates you, snaps you out of any kind of complacency you may have been falling in to. Don't take anything for granted. Live life each day. Love your people. Because somewhere in the world something is happening which will make its slow way here.

See you next time on the other side of this beautiful country -  xo




Somewhere in the World

Somewhere in the world
something is happening
which will make its slow way here.

A cold front will come to destroy
the camellias, or perhaps it will be
a heat wave to scorch them.

A virus will move without passport
or papers to find me as I shake
a hand or kiss a cheek.

Somewhere a small quarrel
has begun, a few overheated words
ignite a conflagration,

and the smell of smoke
is on its way;
the smell of war.

Wherever I go I knock on wood—
on tabletops or tree trunks.
I rinse my hands over and over again;

I scan the newspapers
and invent alarm codes which are not
my husband's birthdate or my own.

But somewhere something is happening
against which there is no planning, only
those two aging conspirators, Hope and Luck.
"Somewhere in the World" by Linda Pastan, from Traveling Light. © W.W. Norton & Company, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Poetry for the Byway

Where ever your Byway takes you this weekend...travel safe and enjoy every minute of it. xo




Six Days on the Road

When I was young and searching for my life,
I climbed into the cab of a semi.
The Aussie trucker pointed with his thumb
to the compartment behind him.
Get some sleep. I don't remember
if he was old or young.
His face was so plain
it left no impression.

I climbed into the narrow space,
closed my eyes, my body vibrating
to the hum of eighteen rolling tires.
Hours later, when I woke, the dashboard
glowed like a field of lightning bugs.
I flipped through his eight-tracks,
surprised to find familiar songs - Johnny Cash,
Willie and Waylon.
We sang Six Days on the Road,
over and over.

He taught me what it's like to keep moving.
Towns flew by our windows,
stoplights, billboards, traffic signs
became a blur. On the open road,
miles of white line and fence
separated gravel from the grass. 
"Six Days on the Road" by Ann Campanella from Young and Ripe. © Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2009. Reprinted with permission.
Courtesy of the Writers Almanac...go Public Radio!

Magnificent Obsession - Toxins Be Gone

I've suddenly got this bee in my bonnet here on My Byway...call it a mini-obsession...to get all the toxic products out of my life.

I've been a user of safer Household Cleaning Products for many years - from dishwashing detergent to toilet bowel cleaners and everything in between, I committed a long time ago to paying a little more so I could clean my house with products that didn't make me feel sick when I smelled them. And thankfully I've seen the choices of products grow and I am no longer forced to buy everything at Whole Foods because I can find a lot of good products in many other stores. Making that change was a simple choice for me. Why would I choose those nasty cleaning products with all of those chemicals and harsh smells when I can choose products that use simple ingredients, smell like lavender or nothing at all, and work? I wouldn't say that I have an absolute chemical free home, but I think I am doing a pretty good job in this area. So...check the box for removing toxins from my home.

Food. I am definitely obsessed with the whole food business. For about as long as I've been pursuing purer cleaning products, I've also been pursuing purer food. For more than 10 years I have been diligently reading labels and eliminating items that are processed. I don't care what you say about fructose corn syrup and I don't care if there are studies that say it is not a big deal. I know there are studies that also say it is a big deal. Whatever the evidence - I do not need it in my food and I do not want it. I want plain, simple, straightforward food. Give me the ice cream with the 5 ingredients, not 20. If I have the choice, I am going to go with the 5. Sure, sometimes things get into our kitchen that aren't my first choice, and sometimes I break down and eat crap when I am out or even sometimes at home. There is always room for improvement, but overall I think I do a pretty good job in this area. So...check the box for removing toxins from my food.

So now we come to ground zero. The Body. One's own temple. You know what? I've not been doing so great in what one would think should be the most important realm. Oh, I typically buy nice products - Bumble and Bumble hair care products, fancy soaps and lotions, etc., and while I buy all my make-up at the drugstore these days instead of a department store, it is still decent stuff. I felt that surely B&B hair products are really great. And if I buy fancy lotions from Whole Foods, aren't they better? Shouldn't facial care products from a fancy place like Kiehl's be good? And aren't Neutrogena and Almay considered to be good cosmetic lines? Dermatologist tested and all? No, no, no, no.

It started with reading the labels on my products and wondering. Just like with my food - what is all of this stuff and do I really need to have it? I noticed that even what I thought were "better" brands from Whole Foods still had many of these same ingredients. Then I kept reading information about these chemicals and ingredients. I found Bubble & Bee's Chemical of the Day site (Bubble & Bee by the way is a FANTASTIC company out of Utah that makes organic products and is becoming one of my new sources). I found the Cosmetics Database. I checked out products I was using on that site and was really freaked out to discover that many of my products fell into the moderate hazard range as well as the high hazard range (!!). It started bothering me. I couldn't stop looking at labels. Enter my latest mini-obession.

I am done with commercial products. I am jumping off the beauty industry merry go round. I am removing all of the standard "off the shelf in every store" product from my life. I am throwing them all away. Soaps, shampoos, make-up, lotions, deodorant, perfume, nail polish.  I am replacing all of them with natural, organic - better - products. It is a commitment - of time, money and trial and error. But why wouldn't I do this? Our range and choice of natural and organic products is so good these days. We have options. Not all products are outrageously expensive. Many products perform the same as the more commercial products. And with the internet, you can easily find these products, no matter where you are.

I think what pushed me over the edge is my skin. I have sensitive skin and I have always struggled to find facial care products that my skin can handle. Everything gives me a rash. The wrong cleanser, the wrong lotion, the wrong make up. Rash. I hate it. And as my skin ages, it becomes more complicated. Growing old kind of sucks sometimes. I was using some Burt's Bees facial products that were doing ok, but not great, and my husband couldn't stand the smell of the products. I had to find another option. I bought a bunch of Kiehl's products expecting them to be this really great product, and was shocked to read the labels and see that they weren't natural at all. They had the same junk as everything else. Plus my skin did not like them.

My husband suggested I check out a friend of his who started an online organic beauty products business  Future Natural. I did. Reviewing that site and those products is what really got me motivated. I went in to find facial care products, and thought, why stop there? I ended up trying facial care products, plus body wash and lotion, make up and nail polish. Seriously I am tossing all of my old nail polish and never using that stuff again - the chemicals in that have always freaked me out. We now have great alternatives to your standard chemical laden nail polish.

I then found this incredible blog/website The Glamorganic Goddess. A young cancer surviver and beauty product user who went on a mission to eliminate toxins from her life and shares her beauty product discoveries with the world. She reviews products and I have found her reviews to be very helpful. I highly recommend her website. She helped me discover Vapour Beauty for make-up, Acure Organics for Argan Oil, and Natural Joy Beauty (in my own backyard - Sandy, UT) where I am going to try some shampoo and conditioner and natural deodorant. She also reconfirmed my love for Bubble & Bee which I discovered some months ago in my local Whole Foods because their company is local. Some of these sites offer sample sizes of products, which is really great for a first time user trying to figure out what they like. Oh, and I still like Burt's Bees and I will continue to use some of their products due to their good prices and the ease of finding their products on local grocery and drug store shelves, but I was unhappy to learn that not all of their products rank well on the cosmetics database.

One problem we face when we go out to buy beauty products is information. Lack of information. Misinformation. Natural ingredients. Organic. There are so many labels being used. Just because you see a product in Whole Foods, don't assume that it won't have all of those extra chemical ingredients you may not want. You have to read packaging and you have to read ingredients. And it helps to find websites that can inform you about the ingredients and the products, only a few of which I have noted above. The more information you have, the better choices you can make for yourself. Many people feel that a lot of these chemical ingredients aren't that harmful. There is a lot of debate going on and it will continue. So you have to decide what is right for you and how far you want to go.

I am just starting on this adventure. I am trying a few products, but am still waiting to receive many of the ones I ordered. But I am replacing EVERYTHING. Head to toe. And I am excited about it. So...check the box for removing toxins from my beauty care.

If you are interested to know more about what I am doing and to learn more about the sites and products I have found and continue to find, please feel free to write me about it. I love learning about this stuff and sharing information with others. You could be doing this too! Join my magnificent obsession. What do you have to lose?