Friday, January 29

Photos and accompanying thoughts have moved to


Miscellaneous bits and pieces will eventually migrate.

Come over to the
other side.

Thursday, January 28

meeting someone else.

It was as if the expression was such a powerful force of energy. Her happiness was open on her face, and in her nimble hands; fingers working a soft sheet -now rolled, now thin spindles- of tissue. To look at her was to plug in to a common field of shared joy. I was reeled in. Her face was an even fawn canvas as her lips curved slightly in a happy half-smile. It seemed the spirit of wonder and glee had effused through her very body and flitted away, touching very slightly then escaping the solid boundaries of her mouth, lighting the air around her in a soft electric glow. There was no singular way of observing her countenance; what was animated was gently infused, and held steady in her private reverie. Smooth brows, lifted lids, confident nose, and a mouth made to always smile. There was no pout in her posture. Her tan leather bracelets and sandals claimed freedom more than fashion. Her red bag fit a simple sagged form on her lap which sat ordinarily under a skirt of yellow and orange. An old scab on her left knee, the only punctuation on legs that looked used to activity. A thin band around her elfin hair betrayed hippie inclinations. But therein the word 'betrayal' reveals the wonder: she simply was. And to chance upon her unwritten thoughts was to share in the same rapture.

This is different from the delight a young child might find himself in. She had consciousness, and a tumultous age. She was aware of the world, but stayed instead, with the light within. And yes I did wonder, just once, the reason for her joy. A romantic date? But she sat clean and upright, not slumped in the sensual aftermath of romance. A comic moment? But her expression was placidly bright, not mired in the fast tangles of witticisms. It doesn't matter. She'd sat, and was.

Thursday, January 14

Haiti earthquake

[ haiti. all photos from the Times online Photo Gallery]

[ . Eduardo Munoz Reuters]

Thousands of homeless people sat on the darkened streets of Port-au-Prince in a daze or gathered in public squares, singing hymns.

The headlines did not lie. 12 January 2010 saw tragedy crush an ill-equipped yawing mousetrap of an island.

Comment from a blogger in Haiti:

I didn’t actually fall on the ground, but I stumbled around quite a bit. When the tremors ceased, a large dust cloud was rising from the building a few doors down.

A 3 story school full of teenage girls had collapsed. I stood around looking stupid for longer than I’d like to admit. I looked at the truck from Toyota, tried to call my wife (the service was out) and looked around me at people’s reactions.

Virtually everyone reacted in strange ways. Eventually, I went to the school and started working to pull trapped students from the wreckage.

The work was very hard because I was working by myself. People would come up and shout into the wreckage, “Is so-and-so inside?” at the top of their lungs repeatedly.

... I got one girl out, who was very frantic. I told her to stop shouting and pray for help.

She was about 10 feet deep under the collapsed cement roof of the building. At one point I went and borrowed a hammer from someone to break up the large piece of cement that she was trapped behind. The aftershocks scared the crap out of me, and I really didn’t like being under that cement slab. There was an obviously dead woman under the slab with us.

When the girl was out, I took my hammer and moved over to find the next trapped girl. All I could see was her face and left arm, and she frantically called out to me. I asked her to calm down because it would help me to work and asked her to pray for both of us.

... There was some sort of object behind that rubble and when I went to move it it turned out to be another girl’s bottom. The girl cried out but I could barely hear her – her whole head was underneath rubble.

At this point I began to realize that I was in over my head. All I had was a hammer, and it was quickly becoming pitch dark with twilight fading and no electricity anywhere. I tried to borrow a flashlight, but it was impossible.

I had a moment of feeling intense helplessness. After thinking and praying for a minute, I told Jacqueline that I had to leave her and find more help. I couldn’t do anything without a flashlight, and she needed to keep praying and remember that her parents were coming to look for her.

I walked 4 or 5 miles to a place where I could get a bus, then got on one eventually made it home just after 9pm. On my way home, I resolved to return to Port au Prince the next day with 2 trucks full of tools and workers to do whatever we could.

I met a guy on the bus who was holding a sandwich. He had left his house to go buy a sandwich when the earthquake hit. He returned to his home to find it flattened, then went to the school that he teaches at to find it flattened. With nothing left but a sandwich in his hand, and $7 in his sock, he set out for Cap Haitien to be with the rest of his family.

I slept a little bit last night even though I kept thinking of Jacqueline and her classmate stuck in the rubble, in the dark. This morning all of the workers enthusiastically loaded all the tools we could use into the trucks along with food and water and set off for Port au Prince.

I took them to the school and quickly made my way to the place Jacqueline and the other student were but both of them were dead.

-Chris Rollings

... On the bus he met a man named Amos who had gone out to get a sandwich and minutes later found his house was flattened as was the school where he worked. He took his sandwich and got on a bus headed for Cap Haitien because everything that had made up his life in Port was gone. Amos is sleeping in our dorms and when I took him sheets and towels and asked how he was doing he simply said, with a smile, “M’ pa pi mal, gras a Dieu. ” I’m not bad, by the grace of God.

-from his wife, Leslie Rollings

Tuesday, January 12

the birdwatcher's creed...

there's this online mag with the most motley crue of articles around, from obama power to greener tyres to albanian fashion to being suspicious of happiness (or something specific like those)... i like that UTNE doesn't seek to be higher (or holier) than thou in their pursuit of knowledge; UTNE simply delights in exploring ideas. any one who reads them will find something to engage them, and hardly ever be lost or put off by either language or over-rhetoric. i say that as a happy reader of over 5 years.

here's a curious piece about bird-watching:

I find this fidelity to the truth to be one of the most attractive aspects of bird-watching. We all like to brag about the birds we see and hear, but we are also united in our rueful admissions that this or that bird has escaped us this season, this year, or even all our lives so far.

We look forward to the moment when we can truthfully lay claim to a particular bird, or to a higher tally of birds seen this month or this year, or in this place or that.

And when we finally reach our goal, we will tell our friends and fellow bird-watchers, who will share our gratification, because they will have every reason to believe us.

isn't that such a nice phrase- 'fidelity to the truth'.

Saturday, January 2


[ .from Jessica Naomi [flickr])

in flashes and bright sparks,
they excite, choke-
there seems neither next nor past,
it takes me up in its life.

then gone and spent,
i'm left changed.
there seems no reason nor impetus
to explain the event.