Giving Trees

“…and she loved a little boy very, very much – even more than she loved herself.”
Shel Silverstein from The Giving Tree

A children’s book I have loved since I read it to my daughter when she was a little girl more than 30 years ago is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I work with a program that reads to elementary school children once a week. I saw that book last week and grabbed it to read to the kindergarten girl who I read to every week. We loved it together.

Yesterday (Friday) when I was looking up at the trees where I live while I was taking walk, and I thought- ALL TREES ARE GIVING TREES. All of our trees always give back to all of us humans because they put out oxygen in the atmosphere and take up the carbon dioxide we human breathe out and put out on this earth. Trees are the TRUE HEROES on this planet. Trees also give us fruit to eat, shade, and great beauty to look at. I personally love to live in places where there are a lot of trees. I need to see green every day. It helps to calm my hyper-mind, just looking out at trees. I feel happier when I live in a place where there are a lot of trees.

In the past when we did NOT treasure our trees, many trees have been wiped out for centuries and have NOT grown back. Maine is a state in the USA where they kept cutting their trees. In the late 1600 and during the 1700s, the British cut most of the trees in Maine in order to construct ships when “Britannia ruled the waves”. There are still large swaths of land in Maine that still have almost NO trees. I have driven through one of those areas in Maine. The cutting of Maine’s trees was also one of the reasons that New Englanders were so against the British during the Revolutionary War for America’s freedom. You can read about this more in.

http://www.nelma.org/lagniappe/kings-broad-arrow-and-ewp/

Another state and area greatly affected by the removal of trees was in the Great Plains. The state of Oklahoma became what was known as the “Dust Bowl” beginning in 1931, and many farmers were forced to leave when they could not make a living. Removing trees and poor farming practices have been sighted as causes for this man made disaster in the middle states of the USA. This is a story about how drought in the USA may bring another kind of “Dust Bowl” back to those Great Plain states.

http://www.npr.org/2013/09/10/220725737/dust-bowl-worries-swirl-up-as-shelterbelt-buckles

Other ways that trees have given us humans resources are: PAPER, materials to build our shelter and homes, and even Rayon cloth comes from wood pulp. However, we have other sources that can replace trees as sources for paper and cloth- legal hemp known as industrial hemp! Hemp seeds and the oil from industrial hemp is healthy and great sources of protein. These days, I think, trees most important jobs are to feed us, give us shade, and to help clean up our air. When we can use industrial hemp to make cloth and PAPER, we would help save many of our trees. Industrial hemp has been used by humans for THOUSANDS OF YEARS. This is some more background.

http://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/hemp-101-what-is-hemp-whats-it-used-for-and-why-is-it-illegal

Certain states’ have phobias about industrial hemp that I find irrational. In about 2005 farmers in North Carolina were trying to make industrial hemp legal in that state, so that they could grow it instead of tobacco. Finally in October 2015 a bill was passed to legalize industrial hemp growth in the state. In 2014 there were only 11 states in the USA that allowed farmers to grow industrial hemp. Now there are about 30 states that have made growing industrial hemp legal.

Industrial Hemp now Legal in North Carolina

Our trees and nature itself are our REAL SUPER HERO on this planet. Being good stewards of trees and protecting them by using, for example, industrial hemp instead as sources of cloth, paper, and even building material, makes sense. We need to let trees stand, thin them as needed, because they continue to give back to every single citizen on this planet.

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I Love Nature

One touch of NATURE makes the WHOLE WORLD KIN.”
William Shakespeare

Lately I have been going through a bit, as most all people are. This last week, besides great friends and family being major solaces for me, nature brought me back to MYSELF and my own life. For me and my hyper-mind, I find wonderful and necessary grounding in nature. And thank God for spring because so many squirrels are out and are entertaining me and everyone with their antics. I have loved squirrels since I was a child. Back then I had the good fortune to try to feed chipmunks grapes when my family was camping.

One of the places where I lived was on the second floor, and I had a gray squirrel that would sometimes visit me in the tree outside my window. He/she always made me feel happy. I have written other blogs about squirrels and am pleased to do it again. The squirrels where I live now have orangy-brown chests and tails. I think they are Douglas squirrels. “My” squirrels are very used to people, and you can approach them and photograph them. I love my camera, but sometimes I wish I had a telephoto lens.

For the last few weeks, I saw two small squirrels running from tree limb to tree limb, running up and down stairs, running up and down tree trunks, and running after each other. On Good Friday a third slightly larger squirrel joined the other two, and I watched them for almost 10 minutes in my car after I parked. I had this wish I would have my camera close by, so I could photograph their cuteness. And on Easter Sunday, that wish was granted. (Thank you, God!) I went out in my bathroom when I saw “my” two small squirrels in a tree and shot a series of photos for this blog. They flitted from tree to tree following each other. The last photo captured one of them in the crook of the large tree, (you can only see the outline of its head and ears) and the other one is on a limb nearby.

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Love and Respect and Pope Francis

“Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understanding as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

St. Francis of Assisi (Prayer attributed to St. Francis)

Today there a few leaders on our planet who I admire greatly. Although I have NO religious affiliation to the Catholic Church, I deeply respect and am thankful that Pope Francis was chosen the head of the Catholic Church at this time. As it turns out, Pope Francis was chosen as pope on my own mother’s birthday, March 13, 2013. There have been many firsts this pope fulfilled even before he said a word as pope:
Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope and the first Francis ever, and took his name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi of Italy. He is the first pope born outside of Europe since 741 AD and came from the Southern Hemisphere and the Americas. Before he became pope, he was a cardinal in Argentina.

So far, Pope Francis’ time as leader of the Catholic Church has shown the whole world who he is in action: he acts with humility and supports of the world’s poor and marginalized people of ALL FAITHS, and he has been involved actively in areas of political diplomacy and environmental advocacy; he has supported the GBLT community. For me, he is an example of the best of our humanity.

http://www.biography.com/people/pope-francis-21152349

In mid March this year, through the pope, his American representative, Bishop Paul Tighe showed up at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, TX where, the bishop spoke about how the pope and his message is becoming active in Social media around the planet. This is from a 3/19/17 show from NPR.org.

http://www.npr.org/2017/03/19/520752765/the-vatican-sends-its-social-media-guru-to-south-by-southwest-festival

This is an active way that Pope Francis puts out the message of the power of LOVE.

What does the present pope have to do with ME loving and respecting myself? I don’t know about you, but having a human being on the planet who acts as Pope Francis does, gives me hope. He inspires ME to do the next RIGHT thing and be the BEST of myself, not the most petty and selfish, self. I need a good role model who speaks about love and lives from that place. I don’t have to be Catholic to look up to him. I can follow him on TWITTER and feel better each day! Finally today, writing this blog I became a follower of Pope Francis on 4/9/17. It is NOT necessary for me to retweet everything he says, nor believe everything he says, but the spirit of what he says can live through me particularly since I do believe in a higher source in my life, and the Pope’s words help and remind me to be KINDER and more LOVING, more RESPECTFUL towards everyone. Those are VIBES that THIS Planet needs, and I need to be putting out in the world towards MYSELF and others. Thank you, Pope Francis, for showing me in action how I can be more loving and respectful of myself and everyone.

Let me wear my heart on my sleeve and care about myself and others. Sometimes, I can NOT watch or listen to every horrific thing happening on this planet, but I can send LOVE to those who are suffering and dying without having to know all of the gruesome details about what is happening. I can use this Pope Francis’s actions as a way to emulate how to be in the world and be a happier, more respectful, more loving me! And I can seek solace in Pope Francis’ tweets and know that I am not ALONE in thinking this way, and that there are MILLIONS of other world citizens who feel the same or similar to me.

I leave you with this beautiful song by Garth Brooks: “We Shall Be Free”, which was written after the Watts Riots in Los Angeles in 1992.

https://my.mail.ru/mail/turist-68-/video/488/2184.html

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I Love Immigrants, Part 4 (Past and Present)

“We don’t want something like this to happen ever again. The way the country is going, you never know.”
– Kay Nakao (97), a Japanese-American woman who was forced into a Japanese Internment camp during World War II

Last week I heard two stories on NPR that touched my heart. The first one about immigrants showed how in a small community how two different cultures can co-exist with RESPECT. Those two cultures are Yemeni immigrants with Polish immigrants. When people are open-minded and open-hearted these kinds of ways of being together are possible.

The segment on NPR was from 3/28/17 and called: “Hamtramck, Michigan: An Evolving City of Immigrants”
http://www.npr.org/2017/03/28/519017217/hamtramck-michigan-an-evolving-city-of-immigrants

Stories such as these give me hope. I felt that hope when heard this.

The second story serves a a warning and comes from crippling fear and hatred from the past, during World War II after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. At that time in December 1941, about 120,000 Japanese Americans lived in the USA. The non-Japanese Americans became very afraid of the Japanese-Americans who were legal immigrants in this country. The Roosevelt administration did NOT calm these fears. Thus, all Japanese-Americans were put into Internment Camps in different parts of the USA (many in the West) for the duration of World War II. During the time that Japanese-American families were in these camps, the US military approached some of the Japanese-American males and some of them served in World War II in Europe fighting for the USA in Italy. The fact that these soldiers’ families were still forced to continue to stay in the camps, I find horrifying.

About 30 years ago, I was with a friend and together we went to look at an internment camp that is near Lone Pine, California. That camp was called Manzanar. Here are images of Manzanar. Some of them are from the 1940s.

https://www.nps.gov/manz/learn/photosmultimedia/photogallery.htm

When I saw Manazar, all that was left of that camp was the steps that led into the housing where the Japanese-Americans were forced to live. All I could think at that time when I saw only the cement steps was that the US government was trying to get rid of the horrible evidence of the past. At the end of World War II, they recycled the wood from those flimsy buildings in Manzanar to build houses for the returning American soldiers.

In Lone Pine there was a museum to the Japanese-Americans who lived in the Manzanar Internment camp. The man running it was a Japanese-American. We asked this gentleman why all the people were smiling in the photos that were taken at that time. He said the people there were trying to live as normally as they could in poor conditions. Every Japanese-American person there had lost their businesses and whatever property they had had except what they could fit into one suitcase. Reparations were paid to Japanese-American families finally in 1999. $20,000 was paid to 82,210 Japanese-Americans.

When I walked away from that Manzanar Camp, I felt very ashamed of my country. My own mother who recently died had told me that she had been very fearful after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. She had NO Japanese-American friends her whole life until the last 12 years of her life when she lived at a senior living facility. My mother liked everyone, but she said she had despised Japanese people until she befriended a Japanese-American woman (at the senior living center) who had health issues left over from the poor food she ate while she was a young woman in a Japanese-American interment camp.

KLCC.org, part of Northwest USA’s NPR, did this story on 3/31/17 about the 75th Anniversary of the internment camps in the State of Washington.

http://klcc.org/post/echoes-past-ring-loudly-wwii-internment-anniversary-ceremony

These two stories show two very different ways to handle and respond to immigrant “problems”. Fear and hatred towards large groups of immigrants, merely creates a lot of human suffering, as happened at the time of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. That is a history I am fervently opposed to repeating. Rational decisions are impossible to make when decisions about immigrants are made and fueled by hate and fear.

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Mind My OWN Business

“I don’t know how people get so anti-something. Mind your own business. Take care of your own affairs, and don’t worry about other people so much.”

Betty White

It is only within the last three or four years I have actually been minding my OWN business more consistently. My minding other people’s business showed up as worry about others when I could not do anything about them, or their situation, or what happened to them in the past. I have always cared about others. In fact, I was too “other” focused most of the time. At times, I was clueless about what I felt or needed.

I have married people and had partners in business where I supported their dreams, and put my own dreams on the back burner. This level of naivete used to be detrimental for me in my own life. I DO NOT recommend it. When others acted unkindly towards me, or spoke unkindly, I could NOT respond. I was, too stunned. I have joked that if I were to write an autobiography it would have been called “Deer in Headlights”. I dismissed myself consistently. I believed in the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is a great way to live, but I did not know how to discern which people were the loving and kind people to be around. In other words, I made some poor choices of partners and people in my life. I was minding other’s business instead of my own.

The good news is I survived it all and am now minding my own business more and learning about what I feel and don’t go to denial as long as I used to when something painful surfaces in my life. Truthfully, it takes me a bit of time to get to the core of the pain. Not fun, but it is freeing once I have released it. I am very grateful to be able to meditate and go to prayer. That is how I get to the nuggets that free me. Also outside help of friends, family, and a counselor help me over the hump of my difficulties. Once I resurface in humanity, I find I am more open and kinder to everyone I meet. Even on a rainy day I find that faint rainbow way across the valley where I live. I get my smile back with no effort required. And I find I have to pray a lot about the pain and meanness I see out in the world because I alone can NOT fix it.

I wonder about why so many people feel they have been given license to be mean today. Then I think back and remember when I used to be an angrier person. I had resentments I kept to myself because way down in my subconscious I did NOT like some of the choices I was making, but I did NOT want to admit to them. Those choices did not make me feel good about myself. I was not always kind to my partners because of the resentments I was hiding. Is this one of the sources where all this MEANNESS is coming from for others today?

Would we have a different world if all of us minded our own business and lives? If all of us looked into our own hearts and past which made us feel resentful and uncovered our own pain and lived our own lives, what would that world look like?

In the USA we can state our own opinions about whatever we believe, although, appropriately, “hate” speech is illegal, but when we enact laws to stop others from living their lives, loving who they love, or being who they are, I think we have gone too far. We are messing with other people’s lives. Then we are not protecting all of humanity. Then we are not working with or respecting all people. Then we have created an “US” vs “THEM” way of living together, which is NEVER harmonious or kind. These kinds of feeling are the sources for all wars, hatred, and division. This is is the worst kind of minding other people’s business.

I will just keep chugging along and do my best to mind my OWN business, and now I temper my own behavior with making more suggestions, and offering help to family, friends, and people I meet when they ASK me for it. I don’t assume it is OK to butt in. By making this change in MY behavior, I have become more thankful and present in my OWN life, knowing that my source has given me an opportunity to live my life fully and joyously, and I will not squander the gift of my life and being a part of this beautiful world.

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I Love Immigrants III

This blog is in support for the immigrants who are from Afghanistan and Iraq who have been promised visas to come the the USA because they were people who were interpreters and translators for our American troops and the previous American Secretary of State and other important officials during our now last 15 years of war. These are people who risked their lives to help our troops and were absolutely essential to saving the lives of many of our US soldiers. Because the US State Department and present Administration is so adverse to letting new immigrants in, some of these translators who helped OUR troops, are being murdered (including their families) while they are waiting on visas to the USA which were promised to them for their service to US war effort and our soldiers.

Thurs. March 16, 2017, President Trump asked for a large increase of the federal budget for the US military. Without keeping our word to the people who have already helped American Soldiers in far reaches of the world, this president is showing the world that we are a nation which CANNOT be TRUSTED. Therefore, the president is putting the future US soldiers and military he wants to expand in great danger because of ignoring the promises the USA already made to people who helped our military and risked their lives for us in the past. Throwing money at the problem is NOT enough. And one of his claims is to protect our US soldiers. OH REALLY? Those are just vacant words and false promises.

Who will stand with us in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries to translate for our troops in the future as we try to defeat ISIS? One thing many Americans do NOT understand is that the world looks at us. We may not know about their culture or people, but they know a lot about ours. We are the big dudes on this planet, but we can NOT do the job without the people from the regions where we want to defeat ISIS.

To understand what is happening with these translators, particularly in Afghanistan, this story was on The World which is on PRI radio on March 14, 2017:

https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-03-15/visas-are-running-out-us-militarys-afghan-interpreters

The only thing that is even making it possible to even allow a few more translators to get the immigrant visas they deserve to get into the USA, is that the President’s ban of immigrants is being fought in courts in the states of Hawaii, Washington, California, New York and Oregon.

Still more than 10,000 of these interpreters who helped our county may be left out in the cold and not get the visas they deserve, and then more of them may be murdered by ISIS. How can the country that I love be so callous about people who helped US and saved our soldiers? This will certainly backfire, and we will lose more of our own US soldiers because of the choices of an ill-informed president who made a very destructive choice about Afghan and Iraqi people who helped us in the past. I hope the present Secretary of Defense Mattis will be able to get President Trump to see the fallacy in this thinking and that these immigrants who helped our US troops can NOT be dismissed because of some uninformed, misguided “campaign promise”.

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The REAL Voter Fraud Fraud

The above graphic that shows how you could divide 50 voters and how Gerrymandering works.

The real voter fraud in this country is not what it has been called. There may be a few people here and there, but it is NOTHING compared to the fraud perpetrated against people of color in conservative states that have done massive GERRYMANDERING to make sure many people do NOT get fair representation in the US House of Representatives, for sure. It is harder to mess with the US Senate representation. What is GERRYMANDERING? This is definition is from the Oxford Dictionary:

“To manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class.”

“Word Origin:
It was early 19th century: from the name of Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts + salamander, from the supposed similarity between a salamander and the shape of a new voting district on a map drawn when he was in office (1812), the creation of which was felt to favor his party: the map (with claws, wings, and fangs added), was published in the Boston Weekly Messenger, with the title The Gerry-Mander.”

The claims of so called voter fraud by President Trump that have not ever been actually proven in ANY STATE, have set off a flurry of activity in many conservative state houses to make it harder for legitimate older, poorer voters to meet the requirements, so that they may become disenfranchised from being able to vote at all.

One state where I witnessed gerrymandering happening as a perfect example: the state of North Carolina. After the 2010 census, The Republicans in the state house in North Carolina ensured that Republicans took the state House, Senate, and Governorship in the year 2012 because they changed the boundaries in 2010 of the districts that normally voted for Democrats. (See the above graphic for how they did this.) This was ALSO done back in the times after the Civil War (after 1865). It was called: “Negative racial gerrymandering” which refers to a process in which district lines are drawn to prevent racial minorities from electing their preferred candidates or political parties. Thus, the Democrats lost because the people in those districts lost their Democratic representation in their own state and in the US House of Representatives. This is the REAL VOTER FRAUD.

This is a map that shows how states in the USA redistrict after a census every 10 years. The state of North Carolina is one of the states where the state legislature does the redistricting. There are many other states that redistrict like North Carolina does. How many of those other states perpetrate voter fraud to get the party in that is the same as their own by gerrymandering when they redistrict, and in doing so screw over voters?

https://images.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=Map+of+USA+about+redistricting&fr=yhs-adk-adk_sbnt&hspart=adk&hsimp=yhs-adk_sbnt&imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Fs3.amazonaws.com%2Fdk-production%2Fimages%2F46621%2Flarge%2Fredistricting.jpg%3F1377795315#id=0&iurl=http%3A%2F%2Fs3.amazonaws.com%2Fdk-production%2Fimages%2F46621%2Flarge%2Fredistricting.jpg%3F1377795315&action=click

Another way to make it harder for older, and poorer Americans to vote is the latest kind of voter blocking. On March 9, 2017, npr.org did a story about this on Morning Edition. The story is called “More States Propose Voter ID Laws”
http://www.npr.org/programs/morning-edition/

Another piece of this unfair, fraud-ladened pie that I am updating this blog with has to do with the high number of polling places that were closed in southern and Republican leaning states which make it harder for poorer and older Americans to get to. This was published before the 2016 election. The mean-spirited, obvious disenfranchising many people to make it difficult for them to vote is appalling. Here is that story.

https://latest.com/2016/11/more-than-800-polling-places-close-in-the-south-after-voting-rights-act-ruling/

Again how many people of color, older, and poorer Americans would these Voter ID laws affect whether many Americans can even vote or NOT? How many legitimate, legal Americans would be kept from voting because we make registration and voting so difficult? The irrational FEAR that a few people may be perpetrating fraud does not warrant these extreme measures. For this American, the fact that certain states want to make it harder for all legitimate voters to vote, is the REAL VOTER FRAUD FRAUD.

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