I thought that when Christmas trees had outlived their use and had the lights and ornaments stripped off, they just got hauled to the dump. But it turns out Big Cat Rescue has another use for them: check out this video. And there I was thinking it's just house cats that like to play with Christmas trees!
Who doesn't like to see stories of generosity at this time of year? It seems that people in the United States have been going to Kmart and paying off strangers' layaways, just in time for Christmas (article).
In honour of Remembrance Day, here's a song that Bruce Cockburn wrote after witnessing a ramp ceremony for two Canadian soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan.
This is what happens when you combine Halloween pumpkins and cat lovers who have patience and a talent for carving.
This was my favourite of the pumpkins. Fancy!
I'm shocked and saddened by the death of NDP leader Jack Layton. It just seems unfair for this to happen so soon after he led the NDP to such an impressive showing in the last election. He had so much work left to do. I knew he was ill, of course, but I also knew he was a fighter and I didn't want to think that his cancer might be terminal. My fellow Canadians, please read his last letter if you haven't yet. His message of hope to other people with cancer is very moving, and it says a great deal about his character that he took the time to encourage so many others despite his own suffering.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world.(Jack Layton)
Rest in peace, Mr. Layton. Thank you for your decades of public service and inspiration.
Here's a very cool video of a man painting a Calvin and Hobbes mural for his son Ryan's playroom. Isn't his son lucky? I'd really like to relax under this mural with a Calvin and Hobbes book.
When I heard a few days ago that Clarence Clemons, the awesome saxophonist in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, had suffered a stroke, I thought he might get better since he had overcome several other serious health problems. But last night I found out that he had died. He was 69.
I don't always pay enough attention to the orchestration in songs; I read a lot, so I tend to be particularly interested in lyrics. But Clarence's solos in songs like "Born To Run" kind of step forward and demand attention; they have a larger than life quality, just like he did. I'm not terribly interested in Lady Gaga, but I watched her "Edge Of Glory" video just because I heard Clarence was in it.
In the 2005 documentary Wings For Wheels: The Making Of Born To Run, Clarence said, "I've had people come and tell me, 'Man, that "Jungleland" solo saved my life,' you know, or, 'The solo in this song brought me out of a place I was in that was so bad,' and it's then I feel that I've done my job, I'm doing my job." I know what those people meant about the healing quality of Clarence's music. I can be feeling depressed and hear a solo of his, and I'll still smile. I can be in a zombie-like state after a morning of worse-than-usual insomnia, but I'll hear one of the more upbeat songs that Clarence is in, and I suddenly feel awake.
Speaking of smiling, there's one moment on the Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band:Live in Barcelona DVD that makes me laugh out loud every time I watch it. Bruce is doing one of his trademark amusing introductions of the band members, and he says about Clarence, "You wish you could be like him, but you can't!" and Clarence shakes his head very solemnly to emphasize, "No. You can't."
This is a sad occasion, but I'm comforted by two particular thoughts. One, he made a lot of wonderful music in his 69 years and it will continue to live and inspire people. Two, he's probably been reunited with Danny Federici and they're playing "Rosalita" together again.
Just of a few of the great songs Clarence contributed to:
Thanks, Big Man.
I feel like I should say something about Friday's 8.9 earthquake and tsunami, but words always fail me when it comes to these large-scale disasters. This one is still ongoing with the strong aftershocks, additional tsunami warnings, and concerns about nuclear meltdowns. I'm just thankful that my family member who visited Japan this year was there in January instead of later, and I really hope the situation will settle down soon so that the Japanese people can start healing and rebuilding their lives.
The Space Shuttle Discovery has lifted off for the last time. Its first flight was in 1984. There will only be two more shuttle flights after this one. It looked like the launch might be delayed yet again because of a last-minute computer glitch, but then they had a picture-perfect launch after all. Good luck to the crew of Discovery!