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This sums up the Fox Network beautifully to me.

The World Series of Baseball trumps pretty much anything when it comes to broadcast time. The Super Bowl's a timesink, too, but the Super Bowl occupies a single evening of airtime one day a year; The World Series takes more than a week, and Fox's regular evening line-up gets thrown to the dogs for the duration.

In most coverage areas, Fox airs a couple of Simpsons reruns a night. These reruns, like everything else, get suspended while the World Series runs its course.

Only Fox, in their infinite wisdom, would nevertheless announce, during a commercial break in the very sporting event that proves them blatantly wrong, that their Simpsons reruns air "Every Night." And if that wasn't moronic enough, only Fox would air promos for their syndicated series using clips from the show that highlight a baseball theme.

So there I was assuming my normal posture, my ass planted on a barstool, my feet propped up on the rail, an ice cold Bud parked in front of me and my eyes glued to the television set and CNN. It was there that Wolf Blitzer was informing the world about the recent fires that have ravaged the state of California. He was telling us about the number of homes lost and lives destroyed and how for the time being, things weren’t looking like they were going to get any better.

So far, an estimated one million people have evacuated their homes and headed for safety. I can’t even begin to imagine what that must feel like and my heart goes out to each and every one of them.

A little later in the broadcast Wolf flashed to San Diego and Qualcomm Stadium where many folks had decided to take refuge from the flames. He interviewed volunteers who were passing out assorted donated sundries and the spirit and kindness they showed towards their fellow human beings restored a bit of my faith in humanity.

Then, he came to a bit about FEMA. I’m sure you all remember them and the fiasco that was (and still is) Hurricane Katrina and the city of New Orleans. Of course their representative pledged to do their best to help see people through these most trying of times. I remember thinking to myself, “God, I hope they get it right this time.”

A friend of mine, a fairly well educated one at that, is a bit more cynical than I am. We started discussing the whole fire situation and after awhile he said something to the effect of:

“Of course they’ll get it right this time. Wanna know why? These people are fairly well off white folks, not some poor black dudes that live in the Ninth Ward. This is some of the most prime real estate in the country, not some broken run down building that they call home. We’re coming up on an election year, California has fifty five electoral votes, Louisiana has nine. Do the math.”

It’s well documented that I’m no fan of the Bush Administration. I won’t go into the reasons why but let’s just say that there are plenty. That being said, even I don’t think that they have it within themselves to play politics when people’s lives are at stake. I haven’t grown that cynical yet and I hope I never do.

To all the people who have had their lives destroyed by Katrina and by the recent fires in California, rich or poor, black or white, gay or straight, Republican or Democrat, whether you know it or not, you all share something in common.

For at least one small moment in time, you all felt despair and uncertainty over your future. For some, that feeling may linger for awhile and although it may take some time, the ship will be righted, for others, the feeling may never go away.

If we can all just remember that, we’d all be better off..

Peace out…


"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun...

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?"

            - John Keats, To Autumn

There's a certain smell of autumn in England, redolent of the gentle rot of fallen leaves in the chill damp. This is a childhood-nostaliga moment for me, going out to be greeted with this scent, it's one of the things I miss about living in Davis, where leaves are swept up or blown away almost the moment they fall.

Yes, I'm back in Nottingham, and somewhat ahead of schedule. Christine and I were supposed to be coming out the first week of November, but rapid deterioration in my mother's health has led me to come out early. Autumn was ever for me the season of itchy feet - the call of the road, the desire to be elsewhere, but this elsewhere, in these circumstances, wasn't what I had in mind. My feet are eager for travel, but it's the road back home to my new family that I want to wend - Christine and Tess are still in the US, and I miss 'em.

There's not a lot to recommend watching someone you love slipping away - although it's better than missing them altogether. I missed my father's passing, because I wasn't told of his death until after the funeral. I'm still hurt, angry and haven't yet been able properly to grieve, and eager to avoid that pain this time around.

Of course, I knew that Mum was dying - fighting the effects of diabetes for forty-odd years had taken their toll, not to mention peritoneal dialysis following a major kidney infection over ten years ago, and increasing blindness and deafness, followed by the final blow which was the loss of her best friend, companion and husband of 53 years. This coup de non-grâce happened in June, just four months ago, and bless her, she was already weak and vulnerable.

Hospitals being the places they are, I would sit with her for a couple of hours, then slip outside to escape the stink of hospital, and surround myself with greenery. The City Hospital in Nottingham is well served with lawns and trees, and even a cricket pitch, for goodness' sake, so it was easy to find quite green spaces to surround myself with while I meditated. It was during one of these mini-retreats that I found a wounded dwarf willow tree (oddly enough, next to the aforementioned cricket pitch). Cricket being a summer sport, there was no thwack of leather on willow, but I was content to sit by this tiny tree and cogitate as the sun slipped toward the roof-muddled horizon.

Now perhaps I should explain at this point that I'm something of a pagan on the quiet, and it seemed to me to be a good opportunity to enact a small personal ritual to ground myself, relieve some of the stress and regain some of my lost strength. I called the corners to make myself a small circle, and offered prayers of a sort to The Goddess and the Green Man. Anyone who doubts the power of meditation and prayer should come to me for details - I felt stronger, settled and more balanced afterward. I left a copy of the prayer under the tree, in among the shed leaves, waiting for spring and the bursting of its expectant catkins.

She died peacefully just under an hour ago as I write these words, and I have to say it's a relief and a loss. There's no song of Spring in my heart, just a dull drone. But the songbirds of my soul will make melody again.

Mother Goddess, Spirit of the Forests, be within me and help me to keep growing, even through this winter in my soul
I know that I hold within me the hope of new life, that spark which Spring will green again.

For my mother Patricia, whom I love, who gave me life and nurture.

Thank you all for your support and responses.
Special thanks to Albert Herring and Shelagh.

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