Peonies, Frogs, and Wine

Friday, July 03, 2009

Green Power Takes Root in the Chinese Desert -

Headline in the New York Times recently: Chinese Going Green in the Desert (para)

Just when I think things are hopelessly driven towards disaster. When capitalistic entities prodded the sleeping giant awake, a terror deep inside for the hungry giant's voracious appetite also awakened. Why did my limited perspective fail to consider trusting the ancient one's ways that have allowed it to exist virtually unchanged for thousands of years? Why would I let the feral plots of a weasel worry me when the plot is against such ancient behemoth?

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Women of Tibet: Gyalyum Chemo - The Great Mother

Since we have no cable TV we have been watching a lot of PBS, and that's a good thing. This is part one of a three-film series. The woman in the picture is the Dalai Lama's mother.

This film is calming and balming for the soul. The Dalai Lama and his siblings speak about their mother when they were growing up and afterwards, when they moved to the "big house" after her son was identified as the next inheritor of the holiest of holy positions in their belief system. Interspersed are commentary by others, including a very welcome to see and hear Alice Walker, talking about their mothers and the role and relationships of mothers in general. It gave me the warm fuzzies to hear how the mothers of each of the speakers helped shape how those individuals see the world and themselves. If you get a chance to see this, please do so.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Yoga Poses / Videos / - Hatha Yoga Flow 1 -Easy Ground Work - Full 43 Minute Class

On the road to well-being again. I thought yoga would be a good way to get flexible. I asked a friend if she knew of any yoga schools in town. She directed me to a woman who teaches, but the price is prohibitive. My boyfriend said why not do it in the morning with the PBS instructor? I thought that sounded good, but then I thought they have YouTube videos for everything else, why not yoga!? I found this EXCELLENT site called, which has literally hundreds if not thousands of links to yoga videos. This is the routine I JUST finished doing. My body says thank you. My spirit soars. What the movements evoked was memories of my years doing martial arts, with the yoga being our warmup and cooldown sections.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Poems Out Loud

From Ron Hogan at
"W.W. Norton has set Pinsky loose on Poems Out Loud, a website connected to the publication of his new anthology, Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud. It comes with a CD...."

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Bullying and School Massacres Revisited

A couple of years ago I posted a wikipedia list of school massacres, which tied into a research paper I wrote. I never posted the paper, but here it is. It was written a couple of years ago. Hopefully the formatting translated when I copy and pasted it from my WORD doc. If not, I'll come back later and fix it when there is more time.

This paper about school bullying includes: a definition and description of bullying and includes an historical literature review; examines bullying from a historical perspective; includes a time line; looks at when society begins to implement policy to address school bullying; examines bullying from a macro, mezzo, and micro level of client systems; and describes the role of social work in assessment, intervention, and policy making in regards to school bullying.
I. Definition/Description of School Bullying
School bullying takes place in a school setting. The standard definition of bullying, according to Espelage and Swearer (2003), citing Olweus, is, “a repeated behavior (including both verbal and physical behaviors) that occurs over time in a relationship characterized by an imbalance of strength and power” (p. 368). Their related terminology includes Dodge’s “proactive versus reactive aggression”, where proactive aggression is for direct gain and reactive is more retaliative. Dodge sees most bullying falling under the proactive category (p. 368). Several authors are referred to in Espelage and Swearer’s (2003) article when talking about direct versus indirect aggression, where:
direct (overt) aggression includes physical fighting… and verbal threatening behavior … that is face-to-face confrontation; whereas indirect aggression (covert) includes a third-party in which verbal aggression is accomplished through rumor spreading and name-calling [as well as currently including relational aggression, which is threatening to exclude the target from the group if they don’t go along with the bully’s wishes]. (p. 368)
Historical literature on bullying is scant prior to 1980. According to Eslea (2006, slide numbers 3 & 7): the first mention of bullying in western literature is in 1857, with Tom Hughes’ Tom Brown’s School Days. Next is Burk’s, Teasing and Bullying, in 1897. In 1930, three papers are written on bullying, including, “The social psychology of monkeys”. In 1932, “Bullying amongst birds” is written; and in 1973 Dan Olweus begins a huge Scandinavian project on bullying. In 1978, Olweus’ paper is published in English, and Lowenstein publishes two short papers on bullying. Between 1980 and 1990 a total of forty-three papers on bullying are written. Between 1991 and 1995 a total of one-hundred and fourteen papers are written on bullying. Between 1996 and 2001 a total of three-hundred and ninety-eight papers are written on bullying.
II. School Bullying from a Historical Perspective
Bullying has its roots in ancient belief systems. (Minogue, 2002, 4) hypothesizes that “Western” society has more bullies in its midst because it lacks the social hierarchal/caste system that other, non-westernized nations use[d and continue to use] to mediate between the power levels of individuals.
According to Minogue (2002, 7), “our interest in other people depends less on the formal admiration they accord to our superiority than to the ideas and attitudes they express, which we think might surprise and amuse us.”
A non-research, non-theological-based hypothesis on the origins of bullying is that “boys will be boys” (Soskis, 2001; Starr, 2000.) This almost makes it sound like it is normal developmental behavior for some individuals to make others’ lives miserable while simultaneously it is normal developmental behavior to be the recipient of such efforts.
Soskis (2001, p. 26) suggests that since physical violence by youth has decreased over the years the schools are expanding their definitions of violence to include bullying. Perhaps another correlate to the decreased physical violence is that, because physical violence is less and less tolerated in schools that the violence has “gone underground” to the covert ways of bullying.
In earlier times, in the traditional institutionalized patriarchy of our society, bullying may have been regarded as an acceptable way of the more powerful (i.e. white males) to exert their influence over the less powerful (i.e. non-whites and females). The school setting is a mezzo level of the macro level of governmental institutionalized patriarchy. To those in power, using coercive means to acquire and maintain power is standard practice and unquestioned by the holders. However, with the 1950s and 1960s struggles over civil rights for all citizens, regardless of gender or race, the coercive practices began to be questioned by others – and challenged in court. School bullying today is regarded in a much different light than it was prior to the civil rights movement.
II. Time Line of School Bullying
Up until approximately 12 years ago, virtually no research on bullying behaviors had been undertaken aside from research by a Scandinavian named Olweus.
A U.S. Secret Service report conducted in 2002, according to Espalage and Swearer (2003, p. 367), indicates that “interview-based investigation of the friends, families, and neighbors of 41 school shooters (between 1974-2000) …discovered one commonality among the shooters: 71% had been targets of a bully.”
School massacres occur when the bullying target (called a school shooter above) returns with firearms or other lethal weapons and kills their tormentors. Following is a massacre timeline that begins in 1989 with the first school massacre by an individual who was the target of bullying; and ends in 2005 with the last known school massacre in a western nation.
According to Wikipedia (2006) the first significant incident of bullying taken to a deadly level was in 1989, with the Stockton, CA, Massacre. During the incident, a bullying target became a sniper and climbed up into a tower on a school campus and ended up killing six people, including himself. This massacre was followed in 1989 by the Ecole Polytechnique School Massacre in Quebec, CA, with fifteen dead, including the shooter. In 1996, eighteen were killed, including the killer, in the Dunblane, Scotland, School Massacre. In 1998, two teenagers shot five students in the Jonesboro, Arkansas, School Massacre. In April of 1999, fifteen were killed at the Columbine School Massacre, including the two shooters. In March of 2005, ten were killed, including the killer, at the Red Lake High School Massacre in MN.
In almost every instance of a school massacre the shooters either kill themselves or are killed by law enforcement immediately or shortly after the massacre. Realistically speaking, virtually every one of the shooters knows they are facing their last day on earth. It clearly demonstrates the depth of injury bullying inflicts upon its victims.
Over the past decade, the increasing frequency and severity of school massacres, with significant links between the shooters and a bully victim history, has the public demanding that the United States government and its citizens take the malignant reality of bullying in schools seriously as a social problem.
III. School Bullying from a Systems Perspective
Espelage and Swearer (2003) cite a study done in 2001 by the Journal of the American Medical Association, where:
authors surveyed 15,686 students in Grades 6 through 10 across the U.S. and found that a total of 29.9% of the sample reported frequent involvement in bullying, with 13% as a bully, 10.6% as a victim, and 6% as a bully-victim. (p. 367)
School bullying is perpetuated by myriad socio-ecological factors. Espelage and Swearer (2003) have an impressive list of social-ecological factors that play a role in bullying, including:
1) individual characteristics (race/ethnicity, age, anger, depression, anxiety, empathy); 2) normative beliefs towards bullying (social skill deficit vs. theory of mind); 3) peer-level characteristics in the bullying dynamic (homophily hypothesis, dominance theory, attraction theory); 4) familial characteristics; 5) school factors (school climate, teachers’ attitudes); and 6) community factors. (p. 372-377)
V. Role of Social Work in Assessment, Intervention, and Policy Making around School Bullying
Increasing awareness of the damaging effects of school bullying, combined with the increasing frequency and lethality of school massacres demands that parents, school staff, community members, and policymakers develop appropriate assessment tools, intervention procedures, and adequate policies to address the social problem of school bullying.
A good place to start with the assessment of school bullying behavior might be to look at longstanding myths surrounding the dynamics of bullying behavior. Starr (2000, 6-16) quotes Olweus when she says that, “much of what we have always believed about bullying is wrong – consequently many of our techniques for dealing with bullies and their victims have simply made the problem worse.” Olweus has come up with a list of ten myths of bullying:
1) Bullies suffer from insecurity and low self-esteem. They pick on others to make themselves feel more important; 2) Bullies are looking for attention. Ignore them and the bullying will stop. 3) Boys will be boys. 4) Kids can be cruel about differences. 5) Victims of bullies need to learn to stand up for themselves and deal with the situation. 6) Large schools or classes are conducive to bullying. 7) Most bullying occurs off school grounds. 8) Bullying affects only a small number of students. 9) Teachers know if bullying is a problem in their classes. 10) Victims of bullying need to follow the adage, "Sticks and stones will break your bones, but names can never hurt you."
At the micro systems level, what happens when a bullying target is subjected to innumerable incidences over long periods of time, with no supportive intervention by peers or school staff? Bullying cruelty is visited upon an already compromised individual (Most victims are chosen because they are sensitive, anxious, and unable to retaliate, per 10.) who is legitimately in their learning environment. The target is aware of how important doing well in their academics is to their immediate and long-term future. When one is being bullied, this awareness adds stress upon pained distraction as one’s energies are drained away from an educational focus at school. History has shown that pushing a target over the edge can have disastrous consequences for the bully, the bully’s target, and anyone unlucky enough in the school environment to be in the line of fire when a shooter returns to seek an ending to the torment. More research will need to be done on the retaliative nature of bullying targets becoming shooters. Could school massacre shooters be regarding their final act on earth as the ultimate reciprocal bullying act?
Due to the increasing number of fatalities due to school massacres, in 1999, school anti-bullying policy became a legal requirement across the nation. Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s office and other government departments rose to the occasion and put into place several anti-bullying measures. From the State of MI website (2001, 4) the State of Michigan State Board of Education: Policies on Bullying, states that, “public schools and state education programs … should develop a plan designed to prevent bullying, and develop methods to react to bullying when it occurs.” The Michigan Department of Education (2001, pp. 2, 8, 11) drafted a Model Code of Student Conduct. This code has the capacity to be tailored to what particular parameters may suit the needs of any specific school district. Looking at the Table of Contents (p. 2) that lists Level I, Level II, and Level III Violations, bullying/harassment/intimidation is listed as a Level II Violation (p. 8). For comparison purposes, other Level II Violations include:
destruction of property, failure to serve assigned detention, false identification, fighting, forgery, fraud, gambling, gang activity, hazing, improper or reckless operation of a motor vehicle, loitering, profanity and/or obscenity toward staff, sexual harassment, theft or possession of stolen property, and threat/coercion.
The State of Michigan website (2001) includes the Michigan State Board of Education resolution to designate October 14-20, 2001 as “Michigan Safe School Week.”
Safe School Week has a motto of ‘Keeping Our Schools Safe’(1) ; with a goal, “to motivate key educators, and emergency responders, as well as students, parents, and community leaders to advocate school safety”(2); talks about the “substantive policies… with the goal of perpetuating safe school environments conducive to learning for all students” (4); “encourages… promotion, coordination, and judging safe school projects”(5); and to have the Safe School Projects Best of Show winners be displayed in Lansing during Safe School Week(6).
On March 16, 2006, Governor Granholm’s radio address on “Bullying and curriculum legislation” (Watson, 2006) named the “recipe for success” for schools as: excellent teachers; necessary resources for the schools; “every school should be a safe, positive learning environment”; and urges the passing of:
House Bill 5616 and Senate Bill 1156 , bills introduced by Senator Buzz Thomas (D-Detroit) and Representative Glenn Anderson (D-Westland), will require that school districts create and adopt policies that prohibit harassment or bullying at school and that they submit their policies to the Michigan Department of Education. (pp. 1-4)
Washington Attorney General Gregoire (2001, Part III., p. 17) was part of the National Association of Attorney Generals’ four (Mississippi, Tennessee, Massachusetts, and Arizona) national listening conferences in 1999. From the conference came the resulting list, compiled by students, teachers, and administrators, on what can be done to neutralize bullying behavior:
parents need guidance and support; 2) schools need policies, procedures and training to prevent bullying; 3) schools need after-school programs; 4) school peer mediation; 5) school mentoring programs; 6) teaching [fundamental core] values to students at school; 7) [more/enough] school counselors; 8) law enforcement officers on school campuses; 9) school I.D. badges; 10) uniforms and dress codes at school; 11) students [and school staff?] breaking the ‘code of silence’ through anonymous tip lines; and 12) school security cameras and metal detectors [note: 9-12 were generally accepted only when they were already in place, but not where they were as yet unknown.]
Bullying behavior is ingrained in patriarchal societies in macro level systems and at school in the mezzo level systems. It is tolerated and minimized due to its historic maintenance of power in the hands of a few. The civil rights era began to question the foundation of patriarchy in society; yet little attention was paid to school bullying until the increasing number of school massacres by targets of bullying. In 1999, school anti-bullying policy across the nation became mandated. It can be regarded as the beginning of official recognition of school bullying as a social problem.


Eslea, M. (2006). Bullying PowerPoint Presentation. Retrieved June 3, 2006, from
Espelage, D., & Swearer, S. (2003). Research on School Bullying and Victimization: What Have We Learned and Where Do We Go from Here? School Psychology Review, 32(3), 365-383.
Gregoire, C., Washington Attorney General (2000). Bruised inside: What our children say about youth violence, what causes it, and what we need to do about it, A Report of the National Association of Attorneys General, April 2000.
Minogue, K. (2002). A short history of bullying, toadying, and snitching: Kenneth Minogue puts America’s fixation with the schoolyard bully in perspective, Women’s Quarterly, Winter. Retrieved June 3, 2006 from
Soskis, B. (2001). Bully Pulpit. New Republic, 224(20), 25.
Starr, L., (2000). Sticks and Stones and Names Can Hurt You: De-Myth-tifying the Classroom Bully! Retrieved June 3, 2006 from
State of Michigan Department of Education (2001). Model code of student conduct, pursuant to Public Act 263 of 2000. Retrieved on June 4, 2006 from _7.pdf
State of Michigan website (2001). State of Michigan state board of education: Policies on Bullying. Retrieved on June 3, 2006 from
Watson, H. (2006). Governor urges legislature to act on anti-bullying legislation. Retrieved on June 3, 2006 from,1607,7-168-23442-138876--,00.html

Wikipedia (2006). Notable School Massacres. Retrieved on June 4, 2006 from

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ox Herding

This is a link I found on the previous screen captured site. The name caught my eye, and giving it a look-see, ox herding is in the same 'hood as peonies, frogs, and wine....

Buddha Torrents: Daoism in History: Essays in Honor of Liu Ts'un-yan

you can download the book in the screen shot from the blog. check it out!

Saturday, November 08, 2008


What is trust? Is trust an all or nothing sort of thing? In a workbook I'm going through right now I'm reading that when you are developing a relationship with someone, if the "incremental escalation" in the trust levels gets blocks, you don't drop back down to the bottom. Instead you go back to the last place of trust, be clear and calm, and keep building.

This is radically different than anything I have ever attempted with a relationship of any kind, at least consciously. Maybe I am only ready to see and absorb the ideas now? What I can say with certainty is that I am very happy to have been brought this gift now, where I am ready to appreciate it and implement it.

Anybody reading and have ideas about it? Give a holla.

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letter to Obama, from Alice Walker 110508

5, 2008

Dear Brother Obama,

You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you, North America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of the Americas. Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm for the wearywarriors of hope, previously only sung about.

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate.

One way of thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone.

I would further advise you not to take on other people's enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely.

However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought, "hate the sin, but love the sinner. " There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people's spirit. This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led.

A good model of how to "work with the enemy" internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be
lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

In Peace and Joy,
Alice Walker

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

bright side of the moon

we went sailing yesterday.
bob had been out since 10 in the morning.
he picked me up at the dock at 6.

there was a fair breeze,
not too fierce,
nor too slight.

on the smaller lake
we headed due west, into the sun
that had begun its then slow descent.

behind us a regatta was circling a small spot on the water
like sharks circling chum but not striking
bob asked if i saw some glint of gold in their sails

the word gold triggered the memory of an old song from childhood
fitting the perfection of the moment
and i softly started singing, "mansion over the hilltop"

"i'm satisfied with
just a cottage below
a little silver, and a little gold..."

my back propped to the side of the cabin opening
i sang and perused cloud configurations behind the boat
from where we had come and to either side.

the clouds were wispy and placed here and there
with undulations and blotches.
my imagination set sail.

then yes! and yes! and yes again!
as my eyes moved from daylight constellation to daylight constellation.
i saw them, congregating across the sky


verse interrupted i barely whispered
"there are dragons in the sky"
bob said what?

i said "there are dragons in the sky"

he made no comment, sailing on
looking ahead.
within a few heartbeats he exclaimed, "Look at that!"

i turned around towards where we were headed
it was a wispy configuration
and set within its heart was a triangle-shaped prism
with all of the colors of the rainbow set out clearly

y i

r r e g n v
e a l r b d i
d n l e l i o
g o e u g l
e w n e o e

just like the prism on pink floyd's dark side of the moon album
only instead of a black background
it was bright blue with a wisp of white.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cinnamon and Honey Cures

>> Cinnamon & Honey
>> Bet the drug companies won't like this one getting around. Facts on honey
>> and cinnamon: It is found that a mixture of honey and cinnamon cures most
>> diseases. Honey is produced in most of the countries of the world.
>> Scientists of today also accept honey as a 'Ram Ban' (very effective)
>> medicine for all kinds of diseases. Honey can be used without any side
>> effects for any kind of diseases.
>> Today's science says that even though honey is sweet, if taken in the
>> right dosage as a medicine, it does not harm diabetic patients. Weekly
>> World News, a magazine in Canada, on its issue dated 17 January 1995 has
>> given the following list of diseases that can be cured by honey and
>> cinnamon as researched by western scientists:
>> Make a paste of honey and cinnamon powder, apply on bread, instead of
>> jelly and jam, and eat it regularly for breakfast. It reduces the
>> cholesterol in the arteries and saves the patient from heart attack. Also
>> those who have already had an attack, if they do this process daily, they
>> are kept miles away from the next attack. Regular use of the above
>> process relieves loss of breath and strengthens the heart beat. In
>> America and Canada, various nursing homes have treated patients
>> successfully and have found that as you age, the arteries and veins lose
>> their flexibility and get clogged; honey and cinnamon revitalize the
>> arteries and veins.
>> Arthritis patients may take daily, morning, and night, one cup of hot
>> water with two spoons of honey and one small teaspoon of cinnamon powder.
>> If taken regularly even chronic arthritis can be cured In a recent
>> research conducted at the Copenhagen
>> University, it was found that when the doctors treated their patients
>> with a mixture of one tablespoon Honey and half teaspoon Cinnamon powder
>> before breakfast, they found that within a week, out of the 200 people so
>> treated, practically 73 patients were totally relieved of pain, and
>> within a month, mostly all the patients who could not walk or move around
>> because of arthritis started walking without pain.
>> Take two tablespoons of cinnamon powder and one teaspoon of honey in a
>> glass of lukewarm water and drink it. It destroys the germs in the
>> bladder.
>> Make a paste of one teaspoon of cinnamon powder and five teaspoons of
>> honey and apply on the aching tooth. This may be applied three times a
>> day until the tooth stops aching.
>> Two tablespoons of honey and three teaspoons of Cinnamon Powder mixed in
>> 16 ounces of tea water, given to a cholesterol patient were found to
>> reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood by 10 percent within two
>> hours. As mentioned for arthritic patients, if taken three times a day,
>> any chronic cholesterol is cured. According to information received in
>> the said journal, pure honey taken with food daily relieves complaints of
>> cholesterol. (By the way. if you're taking cholesterol medicine STOP!
>> They all contain STATIN which weaken your muscles ... including YOUR
>> HEART and none has been shown to stop heart attacks or strokes!
>>>> COLDS:
>> Those suffering from common or severe colds should take one tablespoon
>> lukewarm honey with 1/4 spoon cinnamon powder daily for three days. This
>> process will cure most chronic cough, cold, and clear the sinuses.
>> Honey taken with cinnamon powder cures stomach ache and also clears
>> stomach ulcers from the root.
>>>> GAS:
>> According to the studies done in India and Japan, it is revealed that if
>> honey is taken with cinnamon powder the stomach is relieved of gas.
>> Daily use of honey and cinnamon powder strengthens the immune system and
>> protects the body from bacteria and viral attacks. Scientists have found
>> that honey has various vitamins and iron in large amounts. Constant use
>> of honey strengthens the white blood corpuscles to fight bacteria and
>> viral diseases.
>> Cinnamon powder sprinkled on two tablespoons of honey taken before food
>> relieves acidity and digests the heaviest of meals.
>> A scientist in Spain has proved that honey contains a natural Ingredient
>> which kills the influenza germs and saves the patient from flu.
>> Tea made with honey and cinnamon powder, when taken regularly, arrests
>> the ravages of old age. Take four spoons of honey, one spoon of cinnamon
>> powder and three cups of water and boil to make like tea. Drink 1/4 cup,
>> three to four times a day. It keeps the skin fresh and soft and arrests
>> old age. Life spans also increases and even a 100 year old, starts
>> performing the chores of a 20-year-old.
>> Three tablespoons of honey and one teaspoon of cinnamon powder in a
>> paste:
>> Apply this paste on the pimples before sleeping and wash it next morning
>> with warm water. If done daily for two weeks, it removes pimples from the
>> root.
>> Applying honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts on the affected parts
>> cures eczema, ringworm and all types of skin infections.
>> Daily in the morning one half hour before breakfast on an empty stomach
>> and at night before sleeping, drink honey and cinnamon powder boiled in
>> one cup of water. If taken regularly, it reduces the weight of even the
>> most obese person. Also, drinking this mixture regularly does not allow
>> the fat to accumulate in the body even though the person may eat a high
>> calorie diet.
>>>> CANCER:
>>>> Recent research in Japan and Australia has revealed that advanced
>>>> cancer of the stomach and bones have been cured successfully. Patients
>>>> suffering from these kinds of cancer should daily take one tablespoon
>>>> of honey with one teaspoon of cinnamon powder for one month three times
>>>> a day.
>>>> Recent studies have shown that the sugar content of honey is more
>>>> helpful rather than being detrimental to the strength of the body.
>>>> Senior citizens, who take honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts, are
>>>> more alert and flexible. Dr. Milton, who has done research, says that a
>>>> half-tablespoon of honey taken in a glass of water and sprinkled with
>>>> cinnamon powder, taken daily after brushing and in the afternoon at
>>>> about 3:00 p.m. when the vitality of the body starts to decrease,
>>>> increases the vitality of the body within a week.
>> People of South America, first thing in the morning, gargle with one
>> teaspoon of honey and cinnamon powder mixed in hot water, so their breath
>> stays fresh throughout the day.
>> Daily morning and night honey and cinnamon powder, taken in equal parts
>> restore hearing. Remember when we were kids? We had toast with real
>> butter and cinnamon sprinkled on it!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Exquisite Handmade Soap, Excellent Soap, Handmade Soap - Michigan Country Soapworks

Exquisite Handmade Soap, Excellent Soap, Handmade Soap - Michigan Country Soapworks

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

WOWIO: Free Ebooks, Comics and Graphic Novels | Free Books + Free Minds

WOWIO: Free Ebooks, Comics and Graphic Novels | Free Books + Free Minds

Saturday, April 26, 2008



If any of you have ever been to a military funeral in which taps were played, this brings out a new meaning of it.

Here is something Every American should know. Until I read this, I didn't know, but I checked it out and it's true:

Wein the United States have all heard the haunting song, 'Taps.' It's the song that gives us that lump in our throats and usually tears in our eyes.
But, do you know the story behind the song? If not, I think you will be interested to find out about its humble beginnings.
Reportedly,it all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land.

During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment.
When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead.
The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army.

The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial, despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted. The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral.

The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate.
But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician. The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform.
This wish was granted.
The haunting melody, we now know as 'Taps' used at military funerals was born.

The words are:
Day is done.
Gone the sun.
From the lakes
From the hills.
From the sky.
Al l is well.
Safely rest.
God is nigh.

Fading light.
Dims the sight.
And a star.
Gems the sky.
Gleaming bright.
From afar.
Drawing nigh.
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise.
For our days.
Neath the sun
Neath the stars.
Neath the sky.
As we go.
This we know.
God is nigh

I too have felt the chills while listening to 'Taps' but I have never seen all the words to the song until now. I didn't even know there was more than one verse . I also never knew the story behind the song and I didn't know if you had either so I thought I'd pass it along.
I now have an even deeper respect for the song than I did before.

Remember Those Lost and Harmed While Serving Their Country.
Also Remember Those Who Have Served And Returned; and for those presently serving in the Armed Forces.


Even though this email says the story was "checked out and found to be true", I couldn't resist going to the net arbiter of such things, I found out it isn't true. If you want to know what the real origin of Taps is follow the link. It's a kind of interesting reality. I will remember it as the above account of how it happened... :)

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Zen Habits | Simple Productivity

Zen Habits | Simple Productivity

Monday, February 18, 2008

Chinese Dragons - Draconika

Chinese Dragons - Draconika

Sunday, January 13, 2008


YouTube - Blog - Blog

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Santa nailed to the cross

Art Conrad has an issue with the commercialism of Christmas, and his protest has gone way beyond just shunning the malls or turning off his television.

The US resident nailed Santa Claus to a 4.5 crucifix in front of his house in Bremerton, in Washington state on the US Pacific coast.

"Santa has been perverted from who he started out to be," Conrad said. "Now he's the person being used by corporations to get us to buy more stuff."

A photo of the crucified Santa adorns Conrad's Christmas cards, with the message "Santa died for your MasterCard".

The display is also Conrad's way of poking fun at political correctness. He believes people do not express their feelings because they are afraid of what others might think.

His neighbours found the will to express their feelings this past week. Some were offended but many were just curious.

Jake Tally walked by and chuckled, but did not pretend to understand the message.

"I don't really know what to think. I know it's about God but Santa has nothing to do with it," he told the Kitsap Sun newspaper.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Passing on a Meme

My blog Peonies, Frogs, and Wine has been tagged by my longtime net buddy, Rick Matz. We met way back when in a listserv called TAO-L. We’ve kept in touch ever since. He’s who I think of as The Leaf Raking Taoist, a man who exemplifies adaptability, and a person who loves his children with his all. He has a fast-paced lifestyle but somehow manages to fit simplicity in there as well. Rick’s blog, Cook Ding’s Kitchen, can be found at:

Part of the meme-passing involves posting the rules found below and then following them:

  • link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
  • share 7 random or weird things about yourself.
  • tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs
  • let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Seven random or weird things about myself:

1. I have a set of 4 metal and wooden frog musicians that stand about a foot tall that my son bought me 2 Christmases ago. One is a sax player, one’s a singer, one is a guitarist, and one plays the drums.

2. I recently bought a boat, a small sailboat with a cabin. Since I live very close to 2 lakes, it’s about time.

3. I couldn’t honor the passing of the meme from Rick to myself and beyond without mention of martial arts, I earned a black belt in the American Karate System approximately 15 years ago. It took me 12 years on and off to get it. My first class in martial arts was run by Mr. Ernest Lieb, the founder of the AKS. Mr. Lieb was killed in Germany in a train crash in September 2006.

4. I like to write, and I like to write poetry. When not miserable, I’m too A.D.D. to focus long enough to write. When miserable it comes gushing out of me like water gushing out of a national guardsman’s hose when he’s not busy overseas.

5. One of my vacations in the future will be to see the magical marvelous Salton Sea. I saw a documentary on it at a film festival a couple of years back, Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea, and immediately fell in love with the place.

6. I lost my best friend, who I’ve known since we were both 10 years old, about 2 years ago. She didn’t die. Our friendship did. About 5 years ago, I reconnected with another friend, who I’ve known since we were both 13, and it’s been a joy to get to know her again.

7. I once grew a strawberry patch from one pack of strawberry seeds.

Here are the 7 folks I’m tagging:

Patrick at

Dusty at

Ron Hogan at

Queen Bee at

Dave at

Captain Busternaut at

Kalera at

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Most Interesting Holiday Gift 2007

One of the women I work with told me about the plans her and her husband have for their children for Christmas gifts. Their tradition is to buy only one gift for each child. This year it is going to be ice skates. But... along with the skates, they plan on staying up all Christmas Eve night and build an ice skating rink for the kids in the back yard. The woman was asking if anyone at work had any ice skates in their closets gathering dust that they wanted to dispose of, as they want extra skates available should friends of the kids, the other kids' parents, neighbors, etc should drop in and want to skate along. For some reason this strikes me as an interesting gift, and one that I'm sure will be memorable for the family members as well.

If you have any nominees for this year's most interesting holiday gift, please post it.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

O'Reilly's remark on race rates reflection

From The Muskegon Chronicle

Sunday, October 21, 2007

by Joyce M. Walker-Tyson

Columnist Clayton Hardiman was absolutely on target about Bill O'Reilly and his comments that dining in a black-owned restaurant was no different from dining in a white-owned eatery.

[To hear the audio clip of what was said, go here:

The ensuing racial brouhaha stemmed from the implication that O'Reilly's dining experience was positive because it seemed like a white experience. I honestly believe that O'Reilly was attempting to express a positive view of black culture. However, it never fails to confound me that well-meaning white folks think it a compliment to erase my race.

I worked with an Ole Miss alumna in Meridian, Miss., who, whenever we spoke to a black audience, made special note of the fact that she did not "see color at all." I finally asked her how she could profess to understand and appreciate cultural differences if she refused even to acknowledge those differences exist. I suggested that she denied seeing color because she wanted to make everything conform to her own notion of the ideal -- the "rightness of whiteness."

She called me a racist.

A former Italian-American colleague here in Muskegon once told me I didn't "seem black." When I asked him to explain why, he said it was because I was "smart, funny, pretty and hard-working." As our conversation continued, he admitted that none of the black people with whom he had business or personal relationships "seemed black." In fact, he didn't know any black people who "seemed black."


If the reality of personal experience is diametrically opposed to some artificial stereotype, why choose to discard the reality rather than the stereotype? Wouldn't it be more reasonable to assume that the stereotype is flawed than that all your personal encounters are deviant?

I often do training sessions for various clients, including the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education. DTAE's most-requested workshop is "Racial Sensitivity: Things Big Mama Taught Me and Other Immutable Craziness." Discussion sub-topics included "Of course you're prejudiced -- and so am I" and "Don't sweat it -- it's just a hair thang."

The session encourages participants of all races to dig deep into their pasts to pinpoint where, when and from whom a particular racial "truth" became imbedded into his or her own reality. By the end of the 90-minute workshop, we're all laughing to the point of tears over the strange notions we have internalized from relatives, chance encounters on the playground and -- surprise! -- television.

One of my best friends, a public relations professional in Chicago, came to me in tears one day begging that I not end our friendship. Mary Frances had learned, while researching her family tree, that her ancestors in Georgia had owned slaves.

This brilliant and creative woman could not allow herself to imagine that her relatives had participated in something as abominable as slavery. I was dumbfounded at her reaction. My reality told me that all white folks in the south enthusiastically embraced slavery. Of course, we both were wrong. But those were the stereotypes that had become part of us.

She was upset, too, she said, because the discovery of her family's slave-holding history, forced her to think of me -- one of her best friends -- as black. Again, I was dumbfounded. Why would she have to forget I am black to love me?

I embrace the fact that she is Scotch-Irish. Her background brings to me a whole realm of experiences I otherwise might have missed. Without her, I would know considerably less about the Episcopal Church. Without her, I might never have known that I really like Irish folk music. She taught me how to bake scones and cook corned beef and cabbage. I taught her how to make ham hocks and collard greens. Thanks to our shared Southern roots, we both do outstanding cornbread. We both disdain "ditzy, helpless women."

My blackness was the first thing determined in my DNA. When my parents met each other, only one thing was absolutely certain: If ever the two of them produced heirs, the result would be black. No one knew if I would be tall or short, right-handed or left-handed, male or female -- but there was never any doubt I would be black.

How could anyone ever dismiss that? And why would anyone ever want to?

Joyce M. Walker-Tyson

Managing Principal

Diversity Communications

Associates, Inc.

Muskegon Heights

Graphic comes from the following website:

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

horrifying halloween costume

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

society of thirds

Don't expect a lot from this (or any other!) post by me.

A few years ago, probably 8 or so, I interviewed one of our county
judges as a class assignment. (you may have heard this story) The
old judge told me that in his 30+ years on the bench that he had a
theory about folks following the law. He said that 1/3 would always
obey the law, 1/3 would never obey the law, and 1/3 needed to be
convinced to obey the law.

The first assumption you will have to make is that the laws are all
fair, which is a stretch I know, but the foundation of laws is to have
a guide towards a civilized society.

What the judge said stayed with me, and in my years working in the
justice system, it's been borne out.

I'd like to take it a little farther now. If it's true that the
nature of humans is that 1/3 will follow unquestioningly , 1/3 will
always do just the opposite, and 1/3 will need to be convinced, then
why couldn't we somehow try to design communities that suit the
particular nature of the individual? What would such set of
communities look like? And where would you find yourself?

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Mooncake Festival Part 3 of 3. September 15 & 16 this year

Round and round the story goes

By Marjorie Chiew (first published in The Star on 7/9/99

WHILE its origin is based on a historical event, the annual Mooncake Festival is also associated with fascinating lunar legends and myths.


THE Mooncake Festival, also known as Mid-Autumn Festival, falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month which is Sept [15 & 16] this year.

Historically, it was a harvest festival for farmers but traditionally, womenfolk worshipped Chang-Er, the moon goddess.

Mooncakes are also known as ``reunion cakes'' as family members gather to partake of the sweet confectionery. Mooncakes are eaten throughout the month before the actual festival day. They make meaningful gifts for kith and kin.

In the evenings, children gleefully carry lanterns of all shapes and sizes. The bearing of lanterns and the origin of mooncakes date back to a 14th century revolt by the Chinese against the Mongols. In 1376, the Chinese overthrew the Yuan (Mongol) dynasty (1280-1376) in an uprising brilliantly hatched by lantern-bearing messengers who delivered mooncakes with hidden messages. Legend has it that the time and place of the revolution were concealed in the mooncakes sent to friends and relatives. The midnight massacre of the Mongols was led by Liu Bowen.

Today, altars are set up outside the house facing the full moon on the night of the festival. The ``harvest moon'' is at its brightest and roundest this time of the year.

Offerings of mooncakes, mini yams and water caltrops are laid out for Chang-Er, also known as the Moon Lady. Round fruits are offered as the shape symbolises the fullness of the moon and family harmony. Some women peel pomelos and mini yams in the belief that they will have a flawless complexion. Others pray to the moon goddess hoping to be blessed with good husbands.

The classic tale of Chang-Er, the beautiful moon goddess, is associated with the Mooncake Festival. Pictures of her in a flowy gown floating to the moon commonly adorn mooncake boxes. Folklore has it that she was married to the divine archer Hou Yi, who shot nine out of 10 suns that were causing havoc. For his deed, the Queen Mother of the West gave him the elixir of life. Chang-Er stole her husband's potion of immortality, drank it and found herself floating to the moon. There she lives out her days in the cold lonely moon palace with a furry rabbit for companion.

A slightly different version says that Hou Yi was a tyrannical ruler. Chang-Er drank the magic potion to prevent him from becoming immortal.

Another myth tells of woodcutter Wu Gang who was banished to the moon and became Chang-Er's friend and servant. The Jade Emperor punished Wu Gang by ordering him to cut down a cassia tree. It was a task that could never be completed as the tree is immortal and would grow back each time it is felled.

Moon worship has its roots in China's Sung (960-1127), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, when commoners and emperors alike observed the practice. Imperial chefs made mooncakes over a metre in diameter with designs of the moon goddess, the moon palace and cassia tree. Ordinary mooncakes were several centimetres in diameter. During the Qing dynasty, mooncakes were renamed ``moonflowers.'' In Mandarin, the word yuebing for mooncakes sounds like ``monthly sickness'' (or menstruation).

The Empress Dowager Ci Xi staged rituals for an elaborate moon festival lasting from the 13th through the 17th day of the eighth lunar month.

Some Chinese families today still stay up late to observe the occasion eating mooncakes, sipping tea and gazing at the beautiful moon. It is regarded the perfect moment if someone catches the moon's reflection in the centre of his or her teacup.

Link where found:

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Camille's back! |

Camille's back! |

The Path to Camille Paglia

Last night I was home alone and decided to watch a Netflix movie with the "watch it now" feature. My computer is set up so that movies can be watched on the television (not my setup, but I enjoy it!). I chose to watch a documentary called, "Female Misbehavior", which interviewed 4 individuals. Camille Paglia was one. I was captivated by her perspectives on feminism and gender roles. Perhaps it was the twinkle in her eye that was most captivating.

This morning I went to to look at the data on the film in
order to get her name, which had escaped me last night. From there I went to wikipedia. The following is taken from wikipedia:

"She was once put on probation for committing 39 pranks, a fact in
which she takes pride.* She told an interviewer in 2003 that she
follows the model of the `Hindu gurus, the aging masters and sages' because they're`actually very funny. They're funny, they're prankish. Zen masters are known to be prankish.' She said, `To me, comedy is a symptom of a balanced perspective on life, and people who are going around, like gloomy gusses, in that Sontag style of intellectual, these people are suffering from something coming from their childhood, it has nothing to do with the proper intellectual response to life...'**"

*"My Education," by Camille Paglia, "The Scotsman," (Edinburgh, Scotland), January 26, 2000, pg. 3

**"In Depth: Camille Paglia," Book TV (C-Span2, American Television), August 3, 2003

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

how bad it is -- Bring The Soldiers Home

My younger brother, age 47, spent 6 years of active duty in the army as a young man. He saw a couple of different countries, including Egypt and Germany.

After that he did 11 years of National Guard service, giving up one weekend a month and 2 weeks in the summer. The woman he married back then was also in the National Guard, so his family gave with both parents of their children.

It was about 8 years or so ago that his wife left him with their kids. She abandoned him and their farm and moved back to this area. His world fell apart. He dropped the National Guard.

At that point he had 17 years of service to his country. You need to have 20 years in order to be eligible for a military pension. The job he's in now has no healthcare or pension options to it.

A year or so ago, my brother decided to try to find a way to get those last 3 years of service completed. He applied to the post office, which counts (amazingly.) He also contacted the army to see if he could get back into the guards or the reserves. They called him, and about 6 months ago he went through a series of rigorous health tests. He got the clean bill of health (even though his back is terrible and he's virtually deaf in one ear and his body is falling apart from
years of drinking). They put him in the inactive reserves. One of my uncles, a 20 year veteran who saw 3 tours of 'Nam, told him that there was no way he'd be called to action. That he could expect to serve out his remaining time quietly. No worries.

My mother told me on Wednesday that he'd left on a plane that morning, and he's being shipped out to Iraq.

Folks, wherever you're reading this from, please urge anyone you know, and most certainly your elected representatives, to put the pressure on wherever they can to put an end to the madness of U.S. occupation of Iraq. When they (we?) are sending old men in horrible physical
health over to see combat in a place where there can only be losers -- all for the sake of what?????????? -- I am unnerved to think of what could happen next.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Moon Fest 2007 Sept 15&16 part 2 of 3

Remembering Chang-O’s Flight

By Lim Nee Ean (first published in The Star on 7/16/99)

THE candle casts deep shadows on the screen,
The Milky Way dims and morning stars fade.
Chang-O must regret stealing the elixir,
As she broods in loneliness night after night.

- Poem by the great Tang poet Li Shang-yin (812-858 A.D.)

THERE are several stories about the origins of mooncakes and the myths and legends behind the Mooncake Festival.

One of the more romantic myths is that Chang-O, the most beautiful woman of Chinese mythology stole the elixir of life that her husband had obtained with great difficulty from the Royal Mother.

The story goes like this:

Long ago, the earth was in a state of havoc because there were 10 suns in the sky, and these were the sons of the Jade Emperor.

Rivers dried up, the land became barren, and many people died.

Seeing the death and destruction caused by his sons, the Jade Emperor took this matter to the god Hou Yi. The Emperor asked Hou Yi to persuade his sons to rise up away from the earth to end the catastrophe.

When Hou Yi asked the suns to leave the sky, they refused. Made angry by their defiance, Hou Yi, a great archer, launched arrows at the suns, shooting them down one by one until his wife Chang-O pleaded with him to save one sun to keep the earth warm and bright.

Knowing that the Jade Emperor was furious at the slaying of his sons, Hou Yi and Chang-O were forced to stay on earth.

Chang-O was unhappy, so her husband tried to win back her favour by gathering herbs that would give them once again the power to ascend to heaven. Chang-O remained angry, however, and ate all the herbs herself. She flew up to the moon, where she remains alone, living in the Moon Palace. The Tang poet, Li Shang-yin wrote the above verse on Chang O's sad story three thousand years later, and the story of Chang-O's flight to the moon has persisted since among the people of the world. There are several versions of this story, but this is the more popular version.

On the 15th of the 8th lunar month every year (this year it falls on September 24), when the moon is at its brightest and loveliest, Chinese people around the world look at the moon and remember Chang-O and her legend. The occasions is celebrated as the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as

the Moon Festival.


Mooncakes became part of the Mid-Autumn Festival because during the Yuan dynasty (1280 1368 A.D.) when China was ruled by the Mongolian people. Leaders from the preceding Sung dynasty (960-1280 A.D.) were unhappy at submitting to foreign rule, and set out to co-ordinate the rebellion

without it being discovered. The leaders of the rebellion, knowing that the Moon Festival was drawing

near, ordered the making of special cakes. Packed into each mooncake was a message with the outline of the attack.

On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels succesfully attacked and overthrew the government.

What followed was the establishment of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.).

Today, mooncakes are eaten to commemorate this event.

For generations, mooncakes have been made with sweet fillings of nuts, mashed red beans, lotus-seed paste or Chinese dates, wrapped in a pastry. Sometimes, a cooked egg yolk can be found in the middle of the rich tasting dessert.


Chinese lanterns are also specialities for this festival. The most common are the paper folding type.

However, there are many varieties of lanterns made of different shapes and materials.

In Malaysia, kids like to buy the lanterns in animal or flower shapes which are sold in Chinese sundry shops, night markets or wet markets, or at the nearest shopping centre.

During the festival, parents allow children to stay up late, and take them to high vantage points to light their lanterns and watch the moon rise before eating their mooncakes.

please note that in part one a different time was mentioned as moon fest. however those days were for 1999. this year's is sept 15 & 16

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

moon myths. part 1 of 3

Moon myths

By Marjorie Chiew (first published in The Star on 7/20/99

GAZING at a bright, full moon, my mother once told me I could admire the moon in all its glory but never, ever, point at it. Her stern warning: ``Never point at the moon or your ears will be cut off!'' I never pointed at the moon after that, never quite understanding why I shouldn't, but my mum did not offer further explanation. A housewife I spoke to recently vividly recalled a similar moon story told to her by her mum except that hers had a double penalty ``Never point at the moon or your fingers will be crooked and your ears sliced off!''

Having digested many Chinese moon fables, I would proffer two possible reasons for our mothers' concern many moons ago. The woodcutter Wu Gang who supposedly lived on the moon would be the prime suspect for all those cases of ``missing'' ears he wields an axe. What about the crooked fingers? Probably Chang-Er, the moon goddess, might consider punishing disobedient children. She must have repented for her sin of stealing and drinking her husband's elixir of immortality by now. Chang-Er and Wu Gang are two immortals in Chinese mythology. Till today they have their fair share of believers even though Man walked on the moon back in 1969.

When television beamed satellite pictures of astronaut Neil Armstrong ``floating'' on the moon with no immortals in sight, did the world of myths and fables collapse?

Where did all the Chinese deities go to? Where's the palace on the moon? Cynics today would be sniggering at the oft-told moon-related Chinese myths. But, said a geomancer, if people still enjoy Alice in Wonderland and Journey to the Centre of the Earth, why can't some of them still believe in deities and immortals on the moon?

He declined to comment on whether the lunar landing by the Apollo 11 mission had debunked Chinese mythology. ``Moon worship is a very private thing,'' he said. He feels that among the Chinese, some things are done and some beliefs perpetuated with ``hope'' in mind.

Chinese brush painter Chong Buck Tee, 49, has often waxed lyrical about the moon in his paintings though he is no moon worshipper. ``Moonlit scenery denotes romanticism,'' said the artist. “Praying to the moon or rather Chang-Er is but a Chinese custom that has been handed down the generations.''

Rather than question the logic of the belief, the Chinese community has just been following what their forefathers did. Man having landed on the moon, said Chong, would not influence moon
worship at all. He feels that the historic event succeeded in ``silencing'' those who spun yarns of denizens on the moon.

Lee Yip Lim, 60, research fellow of Huazi Resource and Research Centre Bhd, said the moon is usually full and bright during the Mid-Autumn Festival (also known as the Mooncake Festival).

In ancient times, people regarded the full moon as a symbol of reunion. The common folk and emperors worshipped and enjoyed viewing the moon. The tradition of worshipping the moon was observed on a broader scale during the Soong, Ming and Qing dynasties. It was customary to set up a table laden with mooncakes, pomegranates and dates in open air. After prostrating themselves before the moon, the people would sit with their families to enjoy viewing the moon, eating and chatting. Lee said the moon landing by the Americans was a ``scientific milestone'' but as a schoolboy, he had read that ``the moon is a dark planet devoid of life.'' He added: ``It came as no surprise that the astronauts found no life on the moon. My wife and I still pray to the moon because it is a Chinese custom. “The Mooncake Festival signifies the celebration of family union and happiness. The atmosphere is one of harmony.''

As a child, Lee was told that beautiful Chang-Er, who wore colourful traditional gowns and was a great dancer, lived on the moon. Folks worship her hoping to have their wishes fulfilled.
”Woodcutter Wu Gang was Chang-Er's helper and friend. He cooked and brewed wines for her. On the night when he cuts trees, the moon would be brightly lit.''

Former nurse Khong Kim, 61, used to be a moon worshipper like her mother. But after her husband passed away in 1974, she stopped paying homage to the moon.
”I wasn't in the mood and just stopped,'' she said. “It had nothing to do with Apollo 11. It was just a Chinese tradition.''

During the Mid-Autumn Festival (which falls on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar and which will fall on Sept 24 this year),worshippers will have their altars filled with pomeloes, peanuts, fatt koh (steamed sponge cakes), fresh flowers and the inevitable mooncakes all for Chang-Er. Khong recalled superstitions attached to moon worshipping: “If you desire to have flawless skin, you have to cut the pomelo in front of the moon. The peeling away of the thick pomelo skin (riddled with tiny dimples) signifies peeling away facial scars or pimples.
”Some Chinese also believe that when you peel off the skin of boiled mini yams (wu chai in Cantonese), you get rid of facial imperfections.'' Peanuts and sponge cakes are auspicious offerings in the hope for “good health.'' The cakes are also a favourite food of the deities and are said to be excellent offerings for upward mobility.

Khong's 30-year-old son, Eric Tan, a business development manager, said despite Man having set foot on the moon, the Chinese would not be convinced to stop celebrating the Mooncake Festival. “It is a time of fun and merry-making for adults and children.''

Those not familiar with Chinese moon tales can mull over these:
--The rabbit pounding the elixir of immortality with a pestle and mortar underneath a grove of cassia trees is a popular lunar creature. Some folkloric paintings show Chang-E clutching the furry creature as she floats to the sky. Legend has it that her husband, divine archer Hou Yi, summoned the rabbit to be his wife's companion for those lonely days at the cold moon palace. She rose to the moon after drinking a magic potion and became an immortal.

--The potion, the elixir of life, was a reward from the Queen Mother of the West to Hou Yi for shooting nine out of 10 suns in the sky. There is also a belief that Chang-E metamorphosed into a three-legged toad after reaching the moon.

--Woodcutter Wu Gang was punished by the Jade Emperor to fell a cassia tree for his wrongdoings while studying to be an immortal. But it was an impossible task as the tree never dies it would re-grow after each felling.

--Matchmaker Yuexialaoyren is “the old man in the moon.'' Many tourists, young couples especially, adore posing with his sculpture in Repulse Bay, Hong Kong. He is said to preside over all earthly marriages. In some folklores, he is depicted as playing chess with the God of Longevity in a mountain cave.

--The eight immortals leave the moon palace during mid-autumn night in a dragon boat. Whoever catches sight of them can turn whatever objects they touch into gold. Thus in ancient days folks would gaze at the moon hoping for the Midas touch.

--The eclipse of the moon was a bad celestial sign in the old days. The Chinese believed that the Heavenly Dog was trying to eat up the moon. They would beat drums and gongs to scare the dog away.

Link where the above is found:

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