Archive for September, 2009

strange times

September 29, 2009

These are strange times. We continue to get messages of instructions in case of a real swine flu pandemic. The way it was described at a faculty meeting is the flu virus as a rubic’s cube. It keeps shifting around, shifting around, mutating. If it ever clicks in at the right spot for a more deadly virus that is resistant to current shots, bingo, we have a real deadly flu epidemic world-wide again. Schools closing would be some of the least bothersome things to happen. More like, people dying, possible quarantines, panic spreading. That would be the worst.

I wonder sometimes what we are in for. My kids and grandkids are now scattered to the winds in 4 different states. What if communication systems and technology really did break down for a length of time?? What then? I would be distraught and praying hours per day for their well-being, and not knowing. Our neighborhoods really would become our communities, as there would be no traveling per se.

I have this feeling, sometimes, that we have no idea what is really coming around the corner. And it is RIGHT around the corner! We’ve all been given all the warnings, and we do not heed them. We continue on as if it’s business as usual. It’s a sense of foreboding, and yet the foreboding is more about how to spiritually prepare? What really is the next step that God wants me to take? How can I connect more with the people around me? My family is so close, yet it is all dependent upon current technology.

** On another point, I presented my research at the college tonight. Nothing much to say. I think it went well, not many students of mine were there even though I offered “extra credit”. I really thought more woud be there. There were about 30 people there, I saw 4-5 of my students, and others asked questions, so that went well.

end of Sept. in SC

September 26, 2009

It’s nearly October and we are still having 90-degree summer days. There is change in the air, but not the same as up north. Our pool closes this weekend. No trees have shown a sign of changing color, all leaves still intact.

grandkids

September 26, 2009

I want to write a word about my grandkids. It still amazes me that I have them, but I was a young grandma at age 42. That was 13 years ago.

Raven is now a teenager. Totally amazing. He is wonderful. Last time I saw him, he had passed me in height. (I am 5’4″ – not the tallest woman)

Raven’s parents have been divorced for years, but when I think back to the time of his birth, they were so in love. Their wedding was full of happiness and warmth, and much love. Their dance together still brings tears to my eyes when I remember it. They were in love, and I want their kids to strongly know that. They were very young, and happy together, at least for a few years. I think the immaturity of one side unraveled that love thread, but they were a love couple. Their mom is remarried and that was a lovely outdoor wedding, a beautiful day, with loving family members all around. There was much love that day as well. I just wanted the boys to know their parents did have a love marriage in the beginning.

Raven is the most amazing spirit, lanky, blonde, and type B personality, like his mom. He is a soothing presence to be around, and extremely smart. Also somewhat ADD, loses track of things and time. Raven is a leader by quiet strength of spirit, and his sense of humor. Very sociable in his own way. Plays soccer, football, cross country, tries to please everyone, but eventually will need to break that habit in order to find his own place in the world and who he is.

And then came Caspian, 5 years later. Caspian is a whiz. Lots of energy, can’t stop moving, also blonde, but a very different personality from his brother. He would be on the opposite end of the spectrum as a strong type A. He is a leader and loud about it. I pray to God every day to channel this kid’s energy somehow, for him to find a place to use it well. Caspian is now 8, a 2nd grader, can be very difficult to control. Doesn’t want to color between the lines. Sees the world outside the box.

And then there’s Zakiah, my sweetie boy. He is now 3. Biracial, bicultural, Kenyan-American. Really, he is just American by nationality, but he carries the history of his Kenyan family and all their culture with him at all times, through his father. He hears Swahili and English at home, along with Spanish at school. He will find his own place and identity in the world. He is aware of the world at all times, unlike some Americans. He is adorable, talking constantly, very smart, very happy. Also a strong defiant spirit, which, when channeled, will be a big plus for him in making decisions for his own life.

And then I have 3 step-grandchildren whom I never see. I have met them all, but since then, circumstances have changed to where I never see them. Joseph, through Jean, is also 8 and lives in Pittsburgh. Daisy and Ashley, my 2 beautiful Mexican granddaughters, are not allowed to see me or receive gifts from me. I have no say in that, so that’s the way it is. I feel sorry that they are deprived of their grandma who would love them greatly.

Through Jean’s half-sister, I have 3 other African-American “nephews” of sorts, Julian, Jonah and Jerry. What a group! Each of them has their own personality as well. Julian, the sombre thinker, Jonah the clown, Jerry the soul singer. DSC00956DSC00922They get together with Raven and Caspian and have a BLAST. It must be good to have multi-cultural cousins. They will look at the world in a more open way.

I pray for them all every day. One morning prayer is for them. May they make this world a better place with their presence.

“The earth is one country, and mankind its citizens.” –Baha’i writings.

census worker hanged

September 24, 2009

Is this a headline from the 1930s?

NO, this is 2009 America. A census worker, walking in the hills of the Daniel Boone forest in KY, was murdered by hanging, and the word, “FED” scrawled across his chest somehow. The details are not yet released.

The man was in his mid-50s, white, and walking around trying to reach rural people in the hills of Kentucky, to fill out their census forms. You know, help the govt. have a more accurate count of who lives where.

They think maybe he walked onto a meth lab, or something to do w/ drugs. 1920s they might have had an illegal still and making alcohol. Today, it’s meth. And people on meth are MEAN and totally CRAZY. I hate what drugs do to people – especially ones like METH.

But something about the death by hanging in a forest in a southern state, just turns my stomach. Too much history of violence and hangings in this part of the country.

This brings a whole new understanding to talking about the census in class. I was at a local fair and stopped at a booth hosted by the US census. They were handing out free forms and encouraging people to fill it out when it comes in the mail. Turns out, South Carolina is at the bottom of the list for people who actually send it back in, and this hurts the SC economy. Less accurate info., less $$ from the US govt.

And I wonder, is this what I’m seeing from my great-grandfather, when he told lies to the census takers who came to his door, regarding his parents’ origins? One year he said both his parents were born in England. Another census he says one in Germany, one in England. He gives his exact birthdate and the state of Ohio. I have no idea who his parents are or when they were born. Was he just making something up, off the top of his head, because he thought it wasn’t the government’s business where his parents were born? WHO KNOWS. Makes it dang hard to trace family history. Too many James Agnews out there. It’s one of the more common names in the Agnew line. All I can bank on is that one James Agnew was born on his exact birthdate in some county of Ohio.

I do know there is more distrust of the govt. in the south than there is in the north. Americans in general don’t trust their government. But southernors have a tradition of being “rebels” and against the national government, and they are proud of that identity. I am just very sad for this man who was murdered for no reason by some ignorant idiot or crackhead. I can’t imagine his last moments, and would like to think we are beyond such senseless violence. But we are not.

getting the self out of the way

September 22, 2009

I had an insight this morning. Not sure if I can put it into words.

Basically it is that, my position as professor is one that encourages and fosters the ego. Whether or not one is extrovert or introvert makes no difference. I am naturally an introvert. But once I got used to standing in front of a classroom for 50 mins. at a time, with all the students required to look at me and listen, it is amazing how I manage to talk the entire hour, intuitively wrapping it up at minute 45. As if all I have to say is important. It isn’t. What is important, and what makes the better professor or teacher, is to manage to bring out the students’ thoughts, not just off the top of their heads but as a thoughtful, critical thinking view of what they have read or heard from me. THAT is the goal of a classroom. And I have not been achieving that goal well enough.

What causes one to talk for the entire 50 minutes? or in some cases, if the class meets twice/week, for an hour + 15 mins.??

First of all, because you can. Students are in the position of not being able to complain about that. So the positions, in themselves, foster the ego of the professor. All desks are turned toward the front of the room, where the professor stands or the computer screen projects.

Second of all, because you are afraid. Because you think it is up to you, as professor, to tell the best story, present the material in the best way. And it is NOT up to you. It is only you if your ego is in the way. In reality, you are there to assist the students to critically think through the material. That is your job. What do they think and why? It is a constant exercise to get the self out of the way, and just assist.

And the best way to achieve that, is daily prayer. As we are told to do as Bahai’s, pray and meditate both morning and evening. Remind yourself that you are not in charge. It’s not up to you! It’s up to you to get your own ____ out of the way of their learning. If we say the short obligatory prayer every day, for example, we are immediately reminded, of “my powerlessness and of Thy might, of my poverty and Thy wealth.”

And as soon as I had this insight, I passed a church sign which read, “If God is your co-pilot, change seats!”

Thou art My dominion (HW14-15)

September 16, 2009

candleIn honor of my son-in-law’s father, Steven Kipruto Marisin, who will be buried Friday, Sept. 18:

14. O SON OF MAN!
Thou art My dominion and My dominion perisheth not; wherefore fearest thou thy perishing? Thou art My light and My light shall never be extinguished; why dost thou dread extinction? Thou art My glory and My glory fadeth not; thou art My robe and My robe shall never be outworn. Abide then in thy love for Me, that thou mayest find Me in the realm of glory.

15. O SON OF UTTERANCE!
Turn thy face unto Mine and renounce all save Me; for My sovereignty endureth and My dominion perisheth not. If thou seekest another than Me, yea, if thou searchest the universe for evermore, thy quest will be in vain.

 (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

Worlds away

September 13, 2009

Worlds away, across the globe, a life passes. A life in this world ends. A family grieves. His son, here with us, is without a father tonight. His brothers desire his company. But money and life situation keeps them apart. A family should be together to mourn their father’s passing. Yet, we are where we are, and can only do what we can do. God watches, lifts and supports every soul who asks His aid. May He comfort this family tonight, and let them know, their love unites them forever and always. This is the true bond, that of the spirit. A father’s soul leaves this world, but leaves behind sons and a daughter who love him. This is all anyone could ask for.

“He that hath Me not is bereft of all things. Turn ye away from all that is on earth and seek none else but Me. I am the Sun of Wisdom and the Ocean of Knowledge. I cheer the faint and revive the dead. I am the guiding Light that illumineth the way. I am the royal Falcon on the arm of the Almighty. I unfold the drooping wings of every broken bird and start it on its flight.”

 (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 169)

 bird

The changing seasons in SC

September 13, 2009

I was trying to think of something to write about, & decided to add updates to the changing seasons in South Carolina. 🙂  Quite a difference from that in Indiana.

So now it is Fall. It feels different than when it did a month ago, but I wonder if most of that different feeling is tied up in our change in schedules. Children now walk to school each weekday morning and are not around during the day, in the neighborhood. They are busier. They don’t hang out as much in the picnic table area near our house.

There are not as many people in the neighborhood pool, though it is still open! We haven’t been swimming ourselves for probably 2 weeks. The evenings are cooler, getting down into the 60s. There isn’t that hot & humid feeling in the air, in the evenings, anymore.

I am busier as well. Later today I need to finish grading some assignments and tweek a power point for this week. This weekend I slept in luxuriously, but that is no longer an option during the week.

There is no sense of the trees changing yet. We do see that here, but it will occur much later. Daytime temps. still reach 90 but go no higher than that, if they do get there. More likely in the 80s. SC and IN temps. are actually very similar right now.

and that’s early, early Fall in SC, mid-September.

* Added note: We have learned that our pond was created by damming Bear Creek, hence the name of our neighborhood “. . .  at Bear Creek”. The reason we don’t have mosquitos is they load minnows which feed on mosquitos, into the pond, when needed. As the minnows grow too large and eat other things, they add more minnows. We also have dragonflies. All very natural to curb the mosquito population –nice! I guess the frog population then suffered and dwindled, since tadpoles also eat mosquitos & there weren’t enough for them. So the frog singing population has diminished drastically. There are many turtles, & they also added carp to eat the grass & clean the pond. The carp are huge. There are some large catfish, but all fish caught are supp. to be thrown back into the pond. They are talking about adding some sort of oxygen-spraying fountain, underneath, to clean the water more, in the future.

Hidden Word no.13

September 13, 2009

O SON OF SPIRIT!
I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself? Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone beside Me? Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting.

 (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

 (–such beautiful imagery for our self worth!   –Carol.)sunset in San Diego

poem for Penny

September 9, 2009

All Paths Lead to Thee

Slowly, we walk

through this life,

rejoicing in moments shared with friends,

times passed,

taking life as it comes,

Friends and family move in and out of our days,

All are welcome, all are missed,

in the progression

toward the One, the Only, the Blessed Friend,

The path we walk

is laden with flowers,

all suffering is nothing

before Thy Face,

All is forgotten when we know

that all paths lead to Thee,

O hasten my time to meet Thee!

Hold me not back, Let me run to greet Thee!

The joy in living all the days of our lives

is that all paths lead to Thee!