Saturday, August 26, 2006

Drought 2006

The meadow and river, June, 2006

The dock, June 2006

The above photos are what we looked like in June. On this acreage in Albemarle County we had unmeasurable rain in March ... 2 3/8" of rain in April ... 1 1/2" in May ... 7 1/4" in June. That's why we were looking really good in June.

The photos below show you what it looks like today. In July, I measured 1 1/2" of rain and so far for August, I've measured only 1/8" of rain. There is a 30% chance of thunder storms on Monday and Tuesday of next week. And then it will be September. According to local records we have a precipitation deficit of over 11 inches for the year. I would say it's worse right here.

The meadow and river, August 26, 2006

The dock, August 26, 2006

From our living room window we estimate that the river level has fallen about 1 foot this week alone. Given that this is a reservoir for the City of Charlottesville, it will continue to drop as citizens continue to water their lawns, fill their pools and deny that there is a problem.

According to the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, water usage has spiked recently to an average of 13.5 million gallons of water per day, with a record of 14.1 million gallons this past Wednesday. They would like to see usage drop to 12.5 million gallons per day.

That we are only under voluntary water restrictions is disturbing. Mandatory water restrictions should have been put into effect several weeks ago. It seems that our local government is as slow on the uptake as the feds, who for all intents and purposes denied the possible destruction of New Orleans by hurricanes for years. They were forewarned and did nothing. In doing so they have given us a pretty clear picture of how this country operates.

We have acres and acres of upscale developments in this county where inground water irrigation systems automatically water lawns every evening ... even if it is raining. The county appoved a new development of 900 homes recently just up the road from here. More are on the way. It seems to me that before more new homes are built inviting the growth our officials seem to believe is necessary, we should be making sure that we will have enough water to go around.

The so called solutions to our water problems that have been approved by area officials by enlarging the Ragged Mountain Reservoir and piping water over to the Rivanna are years away. The proof of how much it will help is beyond that. Who knows what the number of households in the area will be by then? Who knows if these drought conditions will continue until then? Will there be enough money to make the changes that have been approved?

With Global Warming and the predictions of major climate change, it is time for all of us to start thinking outside of the same old box we've been living in. It is time to open our eyes, to start listening and to take actions that are different from those we've taken before.

Once the water runs out we won't have any to water our lawns or even our house plants. Isn't it time to act now ... BEFORE WE RUN OUT?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Time Play: Act Three ... for Poetry Thursday

Time, Joan Z. Rough, © 2006

Time has never been my best friend. There is never enough or there is too much. I look for quality time, end up with no time. At times I've been able to stretch time, but that skill is elusive. It's either rush, rush, rush or ... are we there yet?? I waste time, I buy time ... I even kill time. It's a mystery ... I've written a notebook full of poems about it. Here is one for Poetry Thursday's prompt on time. I don't know any more about it now than I did before I took the time for this exploration.

Time Play: Act Three

Instead of rising the curtain falls
on a revolving stage numerals tick
tossing seconds back and forth
the orchestra marks each hour
with silver chimes

In the flyspace heavenly doors
swing open spilling light
revealing angels robed in red
feathered wings propel
cogged wheels around the clock

Beyond the flicker of footlights
tiers of aging faces line the dark
fear the cuckoo's wooden call
a chorus of fingers points to the dial
weeping candles hail the fractured moon


Monday, August 21, 2006

The Sound Of Music ... for One Deep Breath

3 year old Noah at the piano, August 2006

We recently brought our keyboard/piano to North Carolina to let our grandchildren enjoy the making of music. It's been an instant hit. While Zoe is ready to take some lessons, Noah, a lover of music and movement just wants to bang away. The following haiku are about the music he creates!

Noah practices
rocks his body nods his head
music fills his heart

fast slow loud then soft
little fingers poke the keys
a summer storm of thunder

Read more haiku and join in yourself at One Deep Breath.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Inner Life Of Pets, A Play In 3 Acts .... for Sunday Scribblings

The Inner Life Of Pets, a play in 3 acts
for Sunday Scribblings

The Characters: Peppermint, also known as Pepper, an orange tiger cat. Approx. 2 yrs. old.
Liliput, also known as Lily, a black and white tuxedo cat, approx. 1 yr. old.

Act #1: the kitchen
7 o'clock in the morning

Pepper: Gosh, this stuff is good. Must be tuna. It's kind of fishy.

Lily: It's okay, I prefer the turkey stuff. But this is better than nothing, which is what I had for dinner last night.

Pepper: Well, that's what you get for being fussy! If you don't eat what's put in front of you, you get hungry!

Lily: Yeah? Who Says?? I could'a gone out and caught a vole ... or some crickets, but she wouldn't let me out. Said it was getting too dark. She keeps trying to scare me by saying that there is a huge owl out there that might think I'd make a good snack!!

Pepper: Well, you never know .... In my first home, my friend, Bonnie, almost got caught by a big hawk!!

Lily: Oh, get over it!! I'm too tough and I'm not afraid of anything ... even those big things that come in the driveway and honk at me when I won't move out of the way. Whatever they are, they have some nerve!

Pepper: I'm full, let's go watch birds!

Act #2: The Kitchen Window, later in the morning

Lily: Will you look at that fat squirrel?!? He'd make a great dinner!!

Pepper: Yeah, but look at that gorgeous bright red cardinal! Have you tried one? I've never had one. I wonder if they taste like sparrow.

Lily: Nah, I've never had one. I do know that sparrow and chickadee are pretty close in flavor. I think sparrow can be a bit tough, though. They eat anything, ya know! Chickadees only eat black oil sunflower seeds. Makes 'em a bit more tender.

Pepper: Yeah, and blue jays are the worst! Their meat is very stringy! Oh, I see what you mean about that squirrel! I've never caught one. They are too big to fool with. And they don't seem to be afraid of cats. I thought one was going to chase me the other day!! Ooh, I'm getting sleepy.

Act #3: The Master Bedroom, early afternoon

Pepper: She's doing that thing again!! Why is she always doing that?? I hate that bright light that flashes in my face!

Lily: She's taking pictures, silly. She thinks we're cute ... likes to brag about us ... how smart we are!

Pepper: Oh, well we are pretty special, ya know. Why else would she have brought us here.

Lily: Hush up and go to sleep. I've got a date tonight with a mouse. I need my beauty rest! My claws grow best when I get plenty of rest!!

The End

(don't forget to clap your hands!!)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Day In The Life .... for Poetry Thursday

Garden, Arbor House, Black Mountain, NC

a day in the life

mrs heartwell gathers
flowers from her garden
irises her daughter's namesake
in lavender and peach
purpleblue lilacs
the scent of spring
white roses
just beginning to unfold

she pulls a weed here
and there straightens
staked peonies
overflowing their space
like the river
when rain comes
in torrents spreading over
the edge of the meadow

in the kitchen she shapes
dough that rose
in early morning light
for crunchy loaves
mr hearwell likes to dip
in mushroom soup
rich gravy from pot roast
or slathered with butter
sweet raspberry jam

at one o'clock mrs heartwell
watches dramas on tv
that some call soaps
she doesn't understand why
wants to know if eva
will ditch adam why george
and gloria can't have kids
it sounds familiar
like she's heard it all before
but can't remember where

it could be on the phone
when she spoke with
widow greeves just yesterday
her neighbor so involved
in everyone's business
but her own
loves to spread stories
about cheating and guilt
even the heartwells
aren't spared
their catastrophic spats
described up and down the block


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Home From Black Mountain, North Carolina

This is the view from our room at Arbor House, in Black Mountain, where we stay when we visit our daughter and her family. Lake Tomahawk has a lovely path around its perimeter and lots of ducks, geese and other birds to watch. A little green heron perched in the top of the tree in the foreground on the morning we left, preening and fluffing his feathers.

On Thursday evening, Lisa, Zoe and I sat down on their porch swing which immediately fell. Unfortunately, my left leg was caught underneath it and my entire calf is swollen and flaunts gorgeous shades of red, blue, purple and yellow. I head off to my doctor this morning just to make sure it's the simple bruise I think it is. I'm walking fine and there is little pain, so I consider myself very lucky. It could have been much worse. Thankfully, Lisa and Zoe suffered no scrapes or injuries from this event.

I spent most of Friday and Saturday on the couch with my leg elevated, icing it from time to time, preferring not to get down on the floor with the kids who love to hug and tug and wrestle. We all sang songs, especially Noah's favorite "Me num e num," while he banged away on the piano keys and Lisa's guitar. Fortunately, the piano wasn't plugged in but that didn't stop our little guy from thinking he was providing the background music for us! I do believe he will be an entertainer of some sort when he grows up. He loves to dance and sing and has VERY DRAMATIC temper tantrums!!

Zoe seemed quite disappointed that I didn't have more enery and so I told her that I was really sorry that I had hurt my leg and couldn't play the way I usually do. I told her that I wished it could get better so that we could have some fun. She disappeared for a few minutes and came back with a lovely amber "wishing stone," for both of us to us wish upon. She also placed her hands on my leg to send healing energy and gave it a kiss as well!!

Gosh, I love my grandkids!!
And miss them, too!!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Twilight ... For Poetry Thursday

My Front Doorstep At Dusk

I'm off for a visit to the land of daughters and grandchildren in North Carolina, but before I depart I just want to leave you with a poem for Poetry Thursday, whose prompt I am not following this week. There are also other poems scattered through this weeks posts.

This is another mrs heartwell poem. I posted this one several weeks ago and it was quite popular, so I thought it was time for another. This one isn't funny, but gives an idea of her vulnerability and the melancholia she often experiences. I think that's what menopause and times of female depression were once called ... this is not what this is, but is more a time of needing to pull back and contemplate where one has been.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. I'll be back on Monday!


discarding her halo
the fixed blue shroud
enclosing her dreams
mrs heartwell swims
through the sweet pain of tears

thickening twilight
spills through half-closed doors
drawing her to the threshold
where familiar faces waver
in the heat of colliding stars

particles of longing
gather in translucent light
a sense of weightlessness
the need to rise
above the clamor of angels
their faded wings
drooping like violets
plucked from a bed of dewy moss

opening her heart
she drifts between clouds
swarms of fireflies
at rest in her graying hair


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Dimensionality of Sound

The Far Shore On A Rainy Day

The Dimensionality of Sound

Haze flattens the far shore
a dense tapestry
green on green
seared in summer's sizzle

Air thick with expectation
an orange disk of moon
shrinks as it rises
its mirrored image
broken only by fish feeding
on the river's flawless face

Sounds of night envelop me
the rasping of katydids
crickets toads tree frogs
an urgent throbbing
beneath the surface
as August takes the helm


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Drunk And Women With Doves

The Drunk, Joan Z. Rough © 1998

Here are few more photos from my At The Gates Series. This rather surreal subject matter becomes even stranger when photographed with the plastic toy camera. Though these images are technically still lifes, the camera's flaws bring life to them. I like to think that The Drunk has seen the light and will leave his addiction behind ... that the Women With Doves will release their charges into the sky bringing an end to all war.

Women With Doves, Joan Z. Rough © 1998

In this photo, Praying Hands, I was trying to capture the lack of trust I feel in organized religion. My early childhood experiences with the church led me to follow a path of my own making in which God or Energy or Being is more kinder and gentler than I was originally led to believe. While I used to believe that all prayers were empty words, I've since come to believe in their power.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

At The Gates

At The Gates, Joan Z. Rough ©1998

I was just going through some boxes today and found this photo taken a number of years ago just after I'd given myself a birthday present of a plastic toy camera. I was experimenting with all kinds of cameras and liked the funky kind of images I could get with this one ... kind of out of focus ... sometimes lots of light leaks ... every image a surprise.

I had been very intrigued with a strange concrete pottery shop nearby and thought it would be a fun place to use this particular camera. So there I went and spent a whole afternoon photographing the place, all the time feeling that somehow these concrete beings were people frozen in time, standing at the gates of heaven, waiting to be let in. The following poem came from this particular place, time and image.

At The Gates

Concrete figures
stand in line eager
to pass through gates
opening beyond
the edge of sight

Sallow women offer doves
lean toward the assumption
of an unseen God

Rising above the rest
two empty vessels depict
His son one with arms
outstretched the other's limbs
lost in the crush for salvation

On the roof of the terminal
Santa waits for the word
stands in a sulky drawn
by four scrawny reindeer
an ailing softdrink machine
recites the twenty-third psalm


Friday, August 04, 2006

Moonlight Sonata ... for Poetry Thursday

Lilies, Joan Z. Rough © 2006

This weeks prompt was to write about a song. I don't think that the Moonlight Sonata would qualify as a "song," but none-the-less it is music. Enjoy!

Moonlight Sonata

The moon holds its breath
as it climbs crusty limbs
fireflies inform the dark
pinpricks of light
under a bell-jar-sky

Cicadas overwhelm
Beethoven escaping
through open windows
notes falter
begin to rise once more

Agreement flirts with chaos
self-destructing stars plunge
their tails sparking dreams
veiled in cobwebs
nameless faces revisit
moonstruck nights
touching the piano’s heart
lunar reflections
embroidered with sound

The moon blinks
surrenders the dark
scent of morning
drifts from waking lilies


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

This Says It All ...

From the front page of the Style section of the Washington Post this morning!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Our Blue Planet

Our Blue Planet

I delivered this letter today to 3 local newspapers.

The Daily Progress
P.O.Box 9030
Charlottesville, VA 2290

Dear Sirs:

I am sure that with the release of An Inconvenient Truth now playing at our own Vinegar Hill Movie Theater, the recent airing of Tom Brokaw’s program on the Discovery Channel and much coverage in national as well as local newspapers, that the public is aware of the dire consequences of ignoring our continued release of excessive carbon gases into our atmosphere.

I would like to congratulate Mayor Brown and the Charlottesville City Council on their endorsement the “U. S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement” on July 17th. This agreement specifies a reduction in CO2 pollution in order to slow global warming along with a program of environmentally sound practices that each of the participating cities can use toward that effort.

I am writing to suggest that one of the first things that the Mayor and City Council can do is to come up with an ordinance requiring all retailers in the city to close their doors rather than leave them open, as at least 5 businesses in the Barracks Road Shopping Center do. These businesses are of the belief that an open door will bring in more customers.

As temperatures climb this week into three digit numbers, I am more and more concerned that this blatant denial on the part of these large energy consumers is helping in a big way to make matters as bad as they are. And since we buy their products we are of course feeding the fire.

I myself will not spend my money in any stores that insist on contributing to our dire situation by participating in this practice. I ask that those so inclined join me in a boycott of these businesses until they pitch in with the rest of us to help provide our children and grandchildren a healthy planet on which to grow up.


Joan Z. Rough