Simple things

Pushing this rotary blade mower today – almost done with 2 out of 4 large yards (over an acre). This is my second day of experimenting with this activity. My thoughts below the visual evidence.

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What if more people around the world viewed environmentally responsible habits as fun? Healthy? Rewarding? Pleasurable?

I am older and not in great health, presently. In fact, I am in physical therapy twice a week and on a medical leave of absence from my university. But this, this activity: balance is not an issue because I’m holding a wide, sturdy bar similar to a walker; risk of harm is low because there is no power motor involved; weight is distributed evenly. Note the full foot and ankle brace showing on right ankle. Whenever I feel tired, I slow down or stop and rest. The activity will take several sessions spread out over several days.  It was definitely aerobic which is challenging for me to find (can’t run, can’t pound the foot/ankle, can’t bicycle due to balance handicap, too cold out to swim).

This experience was filled with pleasure and satisfaction. I felt empowered. The rotary blades did a good job.  Worked off some of the anxiety of the news from Brussels. I was not disturbing my neighbors and community with the noise of small engines, nor was I polluting the air. Mild muscle strengthening. Husband and dog entertained. Form and posture could be worked out, modified, tested through the marching up and down the grounds. A good stretch.  Happily wearing my dorky clothes. Wind blowing the blousy blouse.

Lean in, Pat; lean in!




The ‘British Isles’; A Brief History of a Term from A Four Nations Perspective

The ‘British Isles’; A Brief History of a Term from A Four Nations Perspective This week, Macdara Dwyer argues that, while ‘British’ is not an explicit political term, it reflected a po…

Source: The ‘British Isles’; A Brief History of a Term from A Four Nations Perspective

The First European Print-On-Demand Bookstore Opens in Paris

Have you heard of the Espresso Book Machine? Created by Xerox, it’s a printer robot that can print out an entire book in minutes. Bookstores no longer need to order and stock up on books; all…

Source: The First European Print-On-Demand Bookstore Opens in Paris

“Nature” is the root word

I wonder if we could analyze the power of the connection between this song and women?

This performance wraps into one song all the emotion of a Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music, the sassiness of a Sally Field in Norma Rae, the power of Golda Meir, the spirit of a southern worship leader, the abandon of an olympic athlete, the control of a neurosurgeon, and delivers it like the best meal you ever ate.

But in addition, there is something powerfully simple, I think, about the lyric.  The root of “natural” is “nature.” We talk about the garden, Eden, going back to the garden, the despoilment of the garden, the machine in the garden, the loss of the garden. Could we not follow that discussion in environmental history into the components of the garden from Eve’s perspective?  Start here.




Storms a-comin’

The wind is howling, and the wind chimes are singing in Houston this morning. Storms a comin’! Still feel the same excitement that I did in the 1960s when this weather visited this quasi-coastal city.

I’m thinking about what Mark Carey wrote in his “Beyond Weather: The Culture and Politics of Climate History” – “People experience climate differently. *** Clearly, cultural analyses of climate can illuminate as much about broader historical processes as they can reveal about climate and weather.” (pg 37-41 in The Oxford Handbook of Environmental History.) Seeing the world through weather is seeing like a scholar, like an historian, like a person who is alive and awake.




2016-2017 Texas Almanac

The Texas Almanac arrived!  After years of trying the online version, I finally indulged in a printed book again.  Wow, the full color graphics and photography are really high quality and appealing. I learned that Texas is now 5th in wine production of the 50 states in the U.S.

I am happy to see that Michael Morton won the Texas Institute of Letters award for his Getting Life: An Innocent Man’s 25-Year Journey from Prison to Peace and Laurie Ann Guerrero is our 2016 Poet Laureate.



“Born Suspect” lecture – UH Law

Last night, a few dozen gathered to listen to Cornell William Brooks, the President of the NAACP deliver a lecture entitled “Born Suspect: Tragedies of Racial Profiling.”

Brooks made it clear that the problem is not the police, and the problem is not communities of people of color, the problem is us all.  Until we are not bunched up as stakeholder groups of special interests, each viewing the “other” as “other” rather than neighbor AND until we stop viewing our neighbors and fellow humankind from such a distance, using shields and body armor and military weapons and thick tinted glass windows and shades and suspicion, until such a time, there will be profiling and stereotyping and the repetition of the resulting tragedies.

Brooks characterized different decades in our U.S. history according to the habitual distance between the neighborhood pedestrian and government authorities.   The answers, he suggests, are not in top down policies, but in local and state level hearts and habits.

I thought about a dear friend, a police officer, who joined the police on the inspiration of his childhood experience growing up on the South Side of Chicago.  The police who walked the sidewalks knew him, talked to him, reprimanded him, coached him, encouraged him.  Does that still happen today?  Brooks mentioned a program of the NAACP partnering with police training academies. I wonder if there exists funds, enough manpower, enough willpower to track such programs to measure whether those departments experience less violent encounters on the streets than do similar departments without the program?  Every management expert knows that what is important to a society gets measured and managed.

Whether we agree on everything or nothing, what are we DOING to serve our neighborhood, our town, our city, our county, our state, our  country, our world?  One thing is sure, if we try nothing at all, we have zero chance to succeed in problem solving.


Anyway, here are a few pictures from the event at the University of Houston Law Center.

The people featured are Cornell William Brooks, Professors Laura Oren and Ellen Marrus, Elwyn Lee, Dean Leonard Baynes, and others.