"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."
--Charles Darwin #marchforscience
"Across the South, we have a deep appreciation of history--we haven’t always had a deep appreciation of each other’s history."
--Rev. Clementa Pinckney
(photo: Waterfront Park, Charleston S.C.)
"People have criticized me for seeming to step out of my professional role as a doctor to become undignifiedly political. I'd say it was belated realization that daycare, good schools, health insurance, and nuclear disarmament are even more important aspects of pediatrics than measles vaccine or vitamin D."
—Dr. Benjamin Spock
“When the spent sun throws up its rays on cloud, and goes down burning into the city below,
No voice in nature is heard to cry aloud
At what has happened.
"You forget everything. The hours slip by. You travel in your chair through centuries you seem to see before you, your thoughts are caught up in the story, dallying with the details or following the course of the plot, you enter into characters, so that it seems as if it were your own heart beating beneath their costumes."
--Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
Let us arrange
these lovely orchids in the bowl
since there's no rice
― Matsuo Basho
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
--Martin Luther King
What happened to: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall"? Talk about your mixed messages... #sheesh
"As long as I live, I'll hear waterfalls, birds, and winds sing. I'll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I'll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens and get as near the heart of the world as I can. --John Muir
I'm starting to see why the neighbors left up the Halloween stuff. At least I think it's Halloween stuff.
"I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news."
"And [she] sailed back over a year and in and out of weeks and through a day and into the night of [her] very own room.” —Maurice Sendak
Parkersburg West Virginia Half Marathon. My new buddy at mile 7.
Land shark spotted out of side mirror, I-81 North. A really big one.
Deep down the girl loves her chocolate swirl. #conehead
Last Day at the Races....see you suckers in March.
I don't usually repost, but I'm excited to share a new Instagram storytelling project my pal @neilshea13 has launched with journalist @jeffsharlet + @vqreview. True stories told briefly and beautifully. Inaugural story reposted below, by @meerasub. Show them some love over @vqreview.
By @meerasub — Her fingers flutter across the stalks from bloom to bloom, like bees pollinating, like a bird seeking seeds. She tosses the cotton into a sling slung across her back. I reach for a boll, unprepared for the thorns that encase it, protecting the soft interior, the billowy seed head that opens into five folds. The woman—I never catch her name, meet her only fleetingly—and her fellow harvesters are artists. I am not. I yank awkwardly at the cotton. She laughs, her face framed in gauzy orange fabric. That one’s not ready, she motions, laying her hand upon mine, guiding me. We are surrounded by acres of cotton, the Punjabi state of cotton, the Indian nation of cotton. Though the farmer who has brought me here to his land is switching to organic on some of his land, in this field he grows from genetically modified Bt cotton seed. In this field, he sprays, but less with the Bt variety. “When I was growing non-Bt cotton, I would be using twelve to thirteen pesticides—broad-spectrum organophosphates—the worst ones,” he tells me. “But with Bt, I use maybe four or five sprays.” It’s what Monsanto brags about, this reduction of chemicals with Bt cotton. In 2002, the Indian government approved Monsanto’s cotton and it now dominates the market, pushing the old varieties that emerged from this region to the fringes. But the farmer knows: When one pest goes, another arrives. The woman before me is focused on her harvest. With cotton at six rupees per kilo, a good day will yield her a dollar. The cotton is piled at the end of field rows, loaded onto the bloated backs of trucks, added to downy mountains overflowing from concrete-walled depots in town, bound into bales, sorted through, and eventually spun into cloth in a factory far from Gandhi’s spinning wheel.
A commuter on a Bosporus ferry wears an Ataturk tie on Ataturk Remembrance Day. November 10th, is the day when Turks mark the death of the founder of the modern republic in 1938. Earlier I was turned away from the sultan's palace museum "because we are remembering," the guard told me, as he dragged contemplatively on his cigarette. After a beat, as if to emphasize the point, "ALL day, we remember. All of Turkey, all day."
The night fishermen on a bridge over the Bosporus in front of Istanbul's iconic Blue Mosque. I asked one man what kinds of fish he was trying to catch. "Delicious fish," he said.
"Sssssss, monsieur. Sssssss, monsieur." The hissing comes from the padlocked door of the cell where the "stubborn ones" are kept, says the warden of the prison in Berbérati, a Central African Republic town near the border with Cameroon. The inmates poke their fingers through the cracks, trying to motion me to come near, possibly to whisper an alibi, or maybe to slip them some cash or the ballpoint pen I'm nervously clicking. The warden ignores them and continues his tour of the rest of the prison, organized around an open concrete yard. "And here is where the inmates sleep," he says matter-of-factly, motioning to a dank room off the yard. "And here is where the women sleep." Yes, there are women here too, he says, "we lock them in their room at night so they are separate from the men." In the far corner of the yard two naked men bathe themselves, splashing water from a bucket and vigorously rubbing their skin. A fire smolders in another corner. The sweet pungent smell of cassava flour and human sweat hangs in the air. The eyes of all the prisoners follow us as we move around the yard. I ask the warden about the men in the padlocked cell. "Some are bandits," he says with a dismissive wave. "Two are Anti-balaka." Just that morning the town's prosecutor had described to me the worst inmates in this prison. They had participated in the burning, looting, and lynching that had left the Muslim quarter of the town an empty ruin. Afterward, they had formed gangs to raid the camps of refugees who had taken shelter across the border in Cameroon and to terrorize the traders passing on the roads. The warden leads us out of the yard and we pass the padlocked cell once more. The fingers poke through the cracks beseechingly. "Ssssss, monsieur! Sssss monsieur!” they hiss. “Some soap, please. Some soap." #CARcrisis#NatGeo#pulitzercenter@marcusbleasedale
Trust me, your bad day does not come close to that of the guy in the yellow shirt lying down. The previous afternoon he had been driving the truck on the right, carrying logs from a recently felled Sapele tree (a massive old growth mahogany-like species) toward the town of Berberati when he and the driver of the truck on the left could not agree on who should back up to allow both vehicles to pass safely. And then they were stranded, an axel crushed, several tons of valuable wood lost. In addition to the ire of the other driver, he had to endure the taunts of amused local villagers ("Quel mauvais chauffeur!") and the berating of angry Congolese peacekeepers, now charged with cutting a bypass through the dense jungle. Worst of all was the fact that this road--this narrow, gulley-riven, clay stripe through western Central African Republic--is a crucial trade route, supplying the capital Bangui with everything, from fuel and flour to sugar and clothing. And it would surely be backed up for days, further strangling the economy. The driver lie there knowing absolutely that his boss would fire him, no matter that he had braved such a dangerous job in a place where bandits regularly hold up trucks and kill the drivers. And in a country where good jobs are scarce and prices for basic goods are spiraling out of reach, losing this job was undoubtedly a crushing blow. But the driver just lay serenely next the wreck, by the fire he'd built to wait out the night. Another catastrophe to be patiently weathered in a sea of catastrophes. #CARcrisis#NatGeo#pulitzercenter@marcusbleasedale
Just after dawn, a ferryman brings the floating steel platform across the muddy Baidou for the first crossing of the day. To retrieve he vessel from the opposite bank, he had to swim across the river's powerful current, swollen with summer rain. The ferry is crucial for local farmers and traders as well as for Seleka fighters, who control a nearby goldmine. (They also exact a "tax" from the passengers.) Though crude in appearance, the ferry employs an elegant cable-and-pulley system to harness the Baidou's flow and quietly ply its waters. Last fall the Anti-balaka cut the cable sending the ferry drifting down the river. Locals appealed for help from French peacekeepers, who used a tank to drag it back upstream. #pulitzercenter#natgeo#CARcrisis@marcusbleasdale
First beach memory released like a quicksilver fish into the deep dark waters of the subconscious.
A day at the beach is never complete without the patented cartwheel in the surf move. Often imitated, never duplicated.
Fighters from the Lords Resistance Army kidnapped this woman from her village in the Central African Republic when she was 17. She was forced to "marry" one of its commanders. Soon after giving birth, she escaped into the jungle with her newborn son and survived for a month before herders found her and brought her home. I asked how her family reacted to her coming home with a child from one of her brutal LRA captors. "When I left I was one, now I am two. They think he is a blessing."
Early summer nestlings. The mother built the nest on a wreath hanging on our front door. Every time we open the door she flies away but otherwise she's cool with the arrangement. Nature can be so chill.
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