Archive for November, 2011

If you drive past the Letty Owings Center in Northeast Portland, Oregon, you may mistake the house for any other vintage neighborhood home. However, for the women and their babies residing there, the home is the beginning of a new life.

Co-founded in 1989 by retired English teacher Letty Owings and tireless advocate Nancy Anderson, the Letty Owings Center is a treatment center that is unique, in providing both long-term addiction treatment and living skills to pregnant women and women with children.

Mothers in the community mentor mothers at the center. Mothers in the center learn to cook, plan meals, clean house, and engage the children in age-appropriate play. Here is the website.

As of this writing, the Letty Owings Center has changed so many lives for the better that the second generation, the children, are themselves becoming advocates. Take a look at this:

Central City Concern employees work

collaboratively with inter and intra agency partners on the provision
of services needed in all life domains to promote recovery and self sufficiency, and ensuring services are
delivered in accordance to organizational policies and procedures, ASAM criteria, ISSRS, county, state
and federal contract requirements, and other pertinent standards.

We need more programs such as this. Co-founder Nancy Anderson, who has dedicated her life to changing lives, has made a substantial difference directly in the lives of more than 1000 women who would otherwise be locked up or dead, and also in the lives of the children, who would likely become motherless, or themselves addicted, incarcerated or dead.

Letty Owings, who is now elderly, voices concern about the center. Funding cuts may mean that the center will someday be closed. If that happens, many of the clients, totally without resources, may likely be reincarcerated, separated from their children or worse. Letty states, “How would this save any money?”

Put simply, the Central City Concern Letty Owings Center is a home of hope and documented mutli-generational success. It is a wonderful alternative to incarceration and cyclic multi-generational incarceration that is so known to be fraught with recidivism and tragedy.

If you live in the Portland area, please take a moment to learn more about the Central City Concern Letty Owings Center and join six-year-old Zoe in supporting it.

note: Letty Owings is my mother. She is not only larger in life to me. She has been a mother and teacher to many. Letty grew up in poverty, on a farm in Missouri. At age 12, she left home to pursue her education. She is the most amazing teacher I have ever had in my life.

She taught at Lakeridge High School in Lake Oswego for many years, the best years of my life. To this day we reminisce. The world was different back then.

Rose, heart balloons and crane

Rose and heart balloons by Crane-Station on flickr. Jail art: colored pencil, ink and magazine ink.

In the end of The Red Balloon, the balloons all come to the boy, and take him away.

note: Frog gravy is a nonfiction incarceration account.

KCIW PeWee Valley women’s prison, mid-Spring, 2009.

What beauty! The sky is filled with hot air balloons. A festival of piloted spinnakers with magnificent colors and patterns. A parade in the air!

We are locked down. Because we contaminate the air. Razor wire and balloons will never mix.

There, in the air, are colorful symbols of freedom, of innocence lost, of escape. From maddness and war and inhumanity and pain.

So close I can read the letters, of corporate-sponsored inflated symbols. Symbols of a life I once had but lost. Of failure I can almost retrieve and take back.

I step into the store of my mind and say, “Put this on my insanity tab.”

Comes the reply: “Your credit is good with us.”

I pay and enjoy the ride in the Red Balloon.

A photograph by digitalART2:

Hyacinth Macaw

This beautiful photograph is under Creative Commons on flickr: attribution, noncommercial, no derivative works.

The magnificent Hyacinth Macaw is the largest of all parrots. This bird is endangered. From wiki:

The Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus), or Hyacinthine Macaw, is a parrot native to central and eastern South America. With a length (from the top of its head to the tip of its long pointed tail) of about 100 cm (3.3 ft) it is longer than any other species of parrot. It is the largest macaw and the largest flying parrot species, though the flightless Kakapo of New Zealand can outweigh it at up to 3.5 kg. While generally easily recognized, it can be confused with the far rarer and smaller Lear’s Macaw. Habitat loss and trapping wild birds for the pet trade has taken a heavy toll on their population in the wild, and as a result the species is classified as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, and it is protected by its listing on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Dichrioc glass wall by cobalt123 on flickr:

Century Glass Glow

Under Creative Commons on flickr.

cobalt123 says:

Century Glass Glow

A glowing corridor, with a dichroic glass wall casting blue light across the polished floor. Always inspiring to see this glow while the family goes to and from Drew’s hospital room when he is in the Neuroscience Tower of St. Joseph’s, in Phoenix, Arizona. If you look at a large view, you will see that the textured glass has the pattern of gigantic Century plants, common in Arizona.

Blue Man Group:
under two minutes.

Blue Poison Dart Frog by Rastoni under creative commons on flickr:

Blue poison dart frog

BBC Blue Planet, Blue Whale:

Blue, by Trois Tetes( TT) under creative commons on flickr, with a beautiful poem:



Blue is the color of night
When the red sun
Disappears from the sky
Raven feathers shiny and black
A touch of blue glistening down her back
We don’t talk about heaven and we don’t talk about hell
We come to depend on one another so damn well
So go to confession whatever gets you through
You can count your blessings I’ll just count on blue

Lucinda Williams

Thanks to Dobak for the raven

Blue Origami Spiral by Mammaoca2008 under creative commons on flickr:

Blue origami spiral

With an explanation:

Blue origami spiral

Since plotters where invented, architects use tracing paper rarely. Tracing paper used to be very expensive and because we needed a lot, when you eventually found a stock at a good price you would buy a lot! That’s what my father did 15 years ago, 14 years ago he bought a plotter…. now we have stocked at the studio rolls and rolls and rolls of unused tracing paper so I’m experimenting how to do something with it. Here’s experiments for a lampshade. Origami spiral with inside IKEA baby night light in green and blue, and a head light bulb (experimenting lightning hats).
Enjoy and try!

Wonderful idea. And on that note, blue lighting, an Anti-Suicide lamp in a Tokyo subway by ykanazawa under creative commons on flickr:

Anti-suicide Lamp in Tokyu Yoga Station

Here is the explanation:

Anti-suicide Lamp in Tokyu Yoga Station

Trains in Tokyo are often delayed by a person jumping in front of a train. More than 30 thousand people commit suicide every year in Japan. The ratio of railroad suicide is not so high. It should be about 1%. But one suicide makes so many trains delay.

Some time in last year, it was reported that a blue lamp on the platform can reduce suicide. The desperate railroad companies were quick to adopt the idea. The picture shows blue lamps installed at the end of a platform in Tokyu Yoga station.

Perhaps we should remove the cause of the suicide. But what can a railroad company do other than installing blue lamps?

written by Masoninblue and published here full text with permission. If you have not watched the Sand Animation, please do so. It is incredibly powerful.

also posted at

Stunned by thunder out of the sun

A woman wearing a hooded black shawl

Kneels and wails

Weeping bloody dew.

She clutches a slippery chunk of bone and flesh

All that is left.

Her child or her husband?

Both were laughing a moment ago.

Waiting at the gate.

He was reaching toward his father to pick him up.

Now they ride the shoulders of shadows,

Somewhere . . .

Their bodies silenced, seared and shredded by drones.

There will be no hungry bellies to feed tonight

Only pain

And time

Vast amounts of time

To paint her dreams with tears.

A poem, written by Masoninblue, and published full-text here, with permission.

Grand Canyon
Under creative commons on flickr by Moyan_Brenn

OCCUPY is the “prime directive” (h/t shekissesfrogs). I dreamed this poem into being last night after writing a short comment to a diary by Frank Lee Speaking.


We decide

what matters.

We lead

but we are leaderless.

We act

and wait for no one to save us.

We save ourselves.

Sometimes a drop

sometimes a tsunami,

we are everywhere and we are nowhere.

National boundaries do not separate us;

Language does not separate us;

Religion does not separate us;

Skin color does not separate us.

Anything that separates us,

we go around

wear it down

disappear it.

We are becoming . . .

there is no force in the universe that can stop us.

we are an idea taking form

We are becoming . . .

Birthing a new world

No one imagined a year ago.

We are becoming . . .

Let he who doubts the power in a drop of water

leap into the Grand Canyon.

In the beginning there was the word.

We know that word today:


Cross posted at my blog and the Smirking Chimp.