In Motion: Bellingham, Poetry, San Juan Islands, Ted Talks


Monday, November 26, 2012

Poetry: Apple Tree Orphan

"And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade. 
And the boy loved the tree... and the tree was happy." 
-The Giving Tree by Shel Shilverstein

Apple Tree Orphan

Among the green majestic towers
Beneath the canopy looking for sun
A young tree grows

Discarded by its owner
Thrown from the pot
Considered waste and unfruitful

The parents of the forest
shed and share
their bark bits
until the tiny tree’s roots grow

The rain brings nourishment
The animals’ fertilizer
The worms’ compost

Slowly the tree grows
Slowly the flower buds emerge
Slowly the fruit is exposed

Years pass
A hungry mind walks by
Thirsty for fruit
Ready for fruit

The tree once discarded
Has become nourishment for another
Thanks to the ways of the forest
Yet its forest family is confused

We take care of our own
Little tree, why must you
Give up your fruit to anyone?

The tree thinks on this
“I am a fruit tree standing among firs
Your fruit is pine cones, mine apples.

If you knew how tasty they are
You would not wonder why
The fruit lover desires apples not cones”

Little tree, you grow food
That you have no mouth for.
You will never bite into your own apple.
Why would you grow?
Why would you thirst for sun?
Why would you bring forth fruit,
Just to have another eat it?

“My food is in the soil.
My warmth is from the sun.
My joy comes from another’s satisfied smile
At my job well done.”

Yarn Bombing in Germany

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's Time for Ham

OK, true story:

One holiday four generations of family are all gathered together in the youngest daughter’s new home for a rare time together. This is her first time hosting a family dinner. Her mom is helping her with the ham.  The daughter plops the large ham into its pan and asks the mom, “OK what do we do next?” 

“Well,” answered the mom, “first thing we need to do is cut off the ends of the ham, just the sides about 2 inches worth.” “Why?”, asks the daughter. “I don’t know, but my mom always did it, and her ham’s turn out great every time.”

They call the girls grandma in, “Grandma, why do you cut the ends of the ham before cooking?”

“Gosh, I don’t know why. Never thought of it. MY mother cut the ends off, so that’s how I've always done it. How funny.”

The three ladies quickly walk out to the living room to find the girl’s great-grandmother sitting and talking with family. “G.G., I have a question for you. Why do you cut the ends of the ham off?”

“Well, I don’t know why YOU cut the ends of the ham off, but I had to cut the ends off or it wouldn't fit into my oven!”

It’s good to know WHY you do what you do, so that you don’t waste any ham.

Note from S.P.:
For four years now I have posted this story on my blog during the holidays. This year my mom is cooking ham and her world famous gravy.  I'm taking the week off to spend time with friends & family.   Whether you are having ham, turkey, or take out, I wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. 
If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough. 
~Oprah Winfrey 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Poetry: Green


Oh, to be the type of green
that stays green through the frost,
when the ground is white and
branches are heavy with Winter's weight

Brown, red, orange,
the colors of fall
most greens do fade
retracting in the cold air

Freezing, or the warm summers sun
to be green in all seasons,
fresh to the touch
ever holding the color of LIFE!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book: Two Poems Pub Here!

Through the Eyes of Islanders
The Beauty of the San Juan Islands
By The San Juan Islands Photographic Journal Second Edition

It is an honor to have my poetry amongst the work of so many wonderful island photographers.  -S.P. Laws

"This beautiful eBook is filled with images by San Juan Islanders. Curated by famed National Geographic photographer David Hiser, Director at Anderson Ranch, Andrea Wallace and acclaimed photographer George Stranahan. Winners are Natasha Ryder, Rod Magner, Bob Phalen and Martin Taylor. This unique book offers a view of life and vistas in the San Juan Islands as only the people who live here can convey." 
-Alex Huppenthal

Makes an unique holiday present

Click to view photos!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Poetry: Spiders Dream

Moths fly in flocks
in my dream, Spiders
ride their backs
binoculars at all eyes.
Predator owns the meat,
venom at the fang
drips down the reins
scopulas grip tight.
The threat of death 
makes moths fly longer 
than they should.
Heavy burden to carry
eight legs more 
your own.
Spider's spurs
can not keep 
the moth from 
a porch light.
So strong that pull,
positively phototactic!
Oh spider, you can 
ride a moth and 
steer it some,
but never can you 
make it NOT a moth.
You will be bucked
when you fly by night

Monday, November 5, 2012

Article: PTSD, Fight, Flight or Freeze

Fight, Flight or Frozen
Have you ever been frozen? The other day I witnessed my cat having a close encounter with one of our islands red foxes.  It was interesting to watch; my heart pounded wondering if I was witnessing the end of our “Princess”.  From my perspective, atop the second story deck, it looked as if the cat had more than enough room to run and make it to the stairs to safety, but instead she froze.  The fox “screamed” at the cat trying to get a reaction of some kind; it was a standoff.  After ten minutes my son went down with a broom and broke it up; disrupting the trance.  Why didn't the cat run?

During a traumatic experience, animals and humans alike, will either “fight, flight or freeze”.  This is a normal brain function that helps us during an emergency situation.  Many people are alive today because this instinct kicked in.  Often you’ll hear stories about people in traumatic situations on the news.  They may say: “The guy was on me and I just started punching, hitting him, hitting anything that came my way!” or “The earth started shaking and I just ran out of the building, as fast as I could!”  But, what happens when we freeze?

The Limbic System
Our Limbic System, or 'reptilian' brain, takes over during a horrifying event and decides within nano seconds if there is enough strength, time and room to fight or run.  If so the body with fight or run, if not it will freeze.  Freezing is chosen as the last resort; the mind determines that the threat is so massive, that fighting it or running away would result in death.  The body plays dead like a mouse going limp in the mouth of a cat.

The Limbic System is an interesting part of the brain made up of two main parts, the amygdale and the hippocampus.  If you like horror movies then get a ticket to “Amygdale Theater”.  The amygdale acts like a video recorder of highly charged emotional memories, such as terror and horror.  Studies have shown that the amygdala becomes very active when there is a traumatic threat.  It’s believed memories of our most horrific events are stored here.  Perhaps the cause of the “flashbacks” many who suffer from being a victim or a witness to traumatic events often talk about. 

The hippocampus’s normal function is to store memory of time and space, putting our memories of life into their proper perspective and place in our life's time line.  For example:  I was 6 when I rode my first bike, I was 16 when I got my first car.”  You know this, because you remember it; you were there.  When face with a traumatic threat, however, the hippocampus becomes suppressed.  It’s unable, or unwilling, to place the memory into its proper place in the past.  This gives the event an effect of “floating in time” instead of being in our time line as last February, for example, it will feel like it happened just this morning, in the present.  The brain is trying to save the self from suffering, which it does very well, but at a price.  These two parts of the Limbic System “tag team” each other and create a difficult environment for people to heal and move on.  The amygdale providing the victim with a repetitive movie and highlights of the event, and the hippocampus making you “feel” as though it just happened. Not very nice. 

Folks with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may experience physical reactions such as heighten blood pressure, or shortness of breath when reliving the event.  Many people who were involved in car accidents or close calls say “it was like everything was happening in slow motion.”  The perception of time was slowed down so we can analyze the situation better and search for an escape route, thanks to that little hippocampus. 

Without proper therapy and depending of the severity of the event these little “reenactments” could  blossom into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or even Dissociative Disorder

As a humanist I am continually perplexed by the wide range of emotional situations our neighbors, whether in our neighborhood or over seas, have to endure.  There are so many issues, and events we witness and must recover from in order to survive.  Some people are fighting for their rights as citizens, others flee a common threat such as famine or an army.  Still some are just frozen, unable to control their surroundings, feeling helpless, such as a battered wife. 

Understanding how and why our body and mind work can help us to heal and allow us to forgive ourselves.  We did what we did because the threat was so fierce our primal instincts took over to help us survive the encounter.  What happened wasn't normal, it was extraordinary, and we did the best we could.


Article by: S. P. Laws, 2009 Helium


Friday, November 2, 2012

Poetry: Web of Glass

There is a spiders home
attached outside the top floor 
window of the hospital.
Its home faces south west;
view of the woods.

The dot-like body bounces
in the wind 
web too transparent 
for me to ponder upon

How many flies does it catch on the sixth floor?
Not many, not enough

Bugs that hit the glass
aiming for the hallway light
get tangled by deception

Window washer will come
reclaim that space
with a squeegee.
By then the 
eight legged creature surely
will be dead