Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Winter Wonderland

People who live where it snows a lot in winter don't understand how snowfall could be exciting to an area that only sees it rarely. Maybe if our snows lasted longer, it'd be less impressive when those big white flakes start to fall, when a soft silence falls over the land, but as it is, I always smile as I see it turning white and wonder how long it will last.

The cats head out the door and look around with horror. If they walk in it, each step involves shaking their paws. I used to grab my boots, heaviest coat, gloves and head out to make snowmen (or women) but now it's my camera I take outside to see if I can capture any of the beauty.

For a short time, with a good snowfall, it's as though the existing world is recreated. For however long it lasts, before it starts to melt, imperfections are covered up, mud disappears. The world is pristine, white and new.

The years when we lost power, I was less pleased with this transformation-- although it's not too bad to use woodstove, kerosene lamps, and candles for a few days.

The worst problem when power goes out comes because our water source is a well which uses a pump. With no power, no water means no flushing. That can be inconvenient to say the least and in a long outage has led to heading down to the creek with buckets. That is really no fun.

Since the year we bought the little power generator, we have not had any extensive power outages. It might be the equivalent of washing your car to get it to rain.

By afternoon, the snow was mostly gone and the world had returned to normal-- which at this time of year is mostly raindrops, puddles, and mud.

(The picture of me was self-timed, shot from a conveniently placed bale of hay where I had to get back to the fence before the camera clicked. The heron was photographed by my husband from the road heading into town. All can be enlarged twice by clicking on them.)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Holiday Aftermath

Today I woke to snow but this part of the Coast Range didn't get much, and what there was left by noon. The cows and sheep complained until their feeders were refilled with a big round hay bale. They don't see beauty in snow; they just want to know where'd that grass go? The birds are happy the birdfeeders are full. Although the air outside is still cold, it is a peaceful day. The house is quiet-- nothing I have to do. Last week wasn't that way.

Last week was about preparations for having our children and grandchildren here to celebrate our Thanksgiving on Saturday. Turkey, giblet dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, homemade buns, raw veggies, a dip, cranberry sauce, an apple and 2 pumpkin pies all had to be prepared. I decorated the house with lots of candles, the Christmas decorations, holly, and fir boughs so it would seem festive.

How did the dinner turn out? This will go down, in my mental list of infamous dinners, as the year of the nearly 9 hour turkey. Sixteen pounds, put in a 325 degree oven at about 7 am, it should have been done before one... It was not even close. We all kept watching the temperature inside the bird, but it wasn't rising fast enough. I guess the oven thermostat is going out as that's about all I can imagine could have caused the problem. The oven was hot but the temperature simply wasn't what it said it was. This ended up being a slow-cooked bird when that was not the intent. Talk about frustrating to a cook who likes to have everything turn out at the same time and be beautifully served. So much for plans.

It wasn't a disaster though as the kids (yes they are in their 30s and 40s but they are kids to me) were all so good about it. They made it okay by their sense of humor; and when it finally was done, everything tasted great, nothing was badly overcooked. I did though give up on fancy dishes for serving and we dished up from the stove. I was so relieved it finally was done that I only wanted it eaten before something else went wrong.

I felt a mix of many emotions for this holiday. We watched the dvd, 'An Inconvenient Truth,' Friday night (more thoughts on it will be coming).

My granddaughter was taught to knit by her aunt.

We talked about the events happening in Iraq with more killings and bombings. The seeming hopelessness of a good solution there for those people.

The little boys went outside with the men. The not even three year old grandson sat on the backhoe seat and said-- stabilizers are down (okay, how did he know about that?).

The poisoned, ex-KGB agent lost his fight for life.

My grandchildren did art work on the computer, learning how to use the tools and colors.

The guys watched college football. The kids watched a cartoon movie.

We learned more about the torture orders coming down from the Bush administration. It's easy to see why this administration wanted laws passed to exempt themselves from any United States legal responsibility.

We drank some good wine and talked of how the children are doing because you can't let your view of the world become such that you don't recognize the good things in it.

Still, how can you not compare your own world of peace with knowing what it's like elsewhere? And yet, these precious little ones need to have as normal a world as possible in which to grow up. They are owed, as much as we can give it to them, a place of love and where the values we all believe in can be shown through our own lives.

To top off my mix of emotions, I was saddened to learn a classmate of mine from high school died last week. He was duck hunting in a bay down along the coast and evidently was knocked from his skiff in bad weather conditions. From what I read, it seems hypothermia killed him. I had not seen him since high school graduation but knew about the life he had led to a limited degree-- married his high school sweetheart, had six children together, a devout, religious man and great outdoorsmen, a loss to his family and to all those his life touched.

How quickly life can change for any of us. I thought about what I might have been doing, possibly advance preparations for the holiday dinner, maybe even his wife doing the same thing, while he was struggling to survive and lost the battle. Sometimes life just seems so unreal. How can such normal things go on when other tragic things are happening at the same time? How can it not?

Well the whole holiday was just a mix of that kind of thinking. I want my grandchildren to grow up and live out a normal life span. I know people in Iraq, in the Sudan, in Indonesia, everywhere, they all want the same basic, simple things. It's worrisome and yet we have to live with the joy we can have. We must all savor our good moments because the moment is truly all we have, and whoever really knows what is coming.

(Artwork by my grandchildren. Leftover pies symbols for a dinner consumed happily even if belatedly. Snow compliments of nature.)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Is it an Ideology or a Philosophy?

And why does it matter?
Definitions from American Heritage Dictionary:

Ideology-- 1. The body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, group, class, or culture. 2. A set of doctrines or beliefs that form the basis of a political, economic, or other system.

Philosophy-- 1.Love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means and moral self-discipline. 2. Investigation of the nature, causes, or principles of reality, knowledge, or values, based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods. 3. A system of thought based on or involving such inquiry: the philosophy of Plato. 4. The critical analysis of fundamental assumptions or beliefs.

Awhile back, Andrew Sullivan, in his excellent blog
The Daily Dish, wrote about ideology and philosophy. His column got me to thinking about how important this is to a nation, a people, and an individual life. Some would use the terms interchangeably, but there are real differences that matter.

Ideology is doctrine that is locked in place because someone once decided it worked and from then on, it must be the ultimate truth. Ideology must defend itself against those who would weaken or change it.

Philosophy explores what it has believed to see if it is still true and is open to change when required. Philosophy is guiding principles to help a people make decisions but it's free to change the details of how you get from A to Z.

Philosophy is not afraid of change because it knows the goal at the end is more important than a set of doctrinaire rules. Ideology rules with a whip and denies the ability to reconsider new facts.

Subtle (and not so subtle) pressures are applied within any ideology based group upon those who would think beyond the accepted bounds. If the culture is ideology driven, they do not want anyone questioning whether its rules make real sense. Groucho Marx said it well: "Who you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?" And it's said again and again by ideologists who don't want us to look deeply into any situation.

One example of how this works using the big picture is gay marriage. The guiding philosophy behind encouraging marriage is stable home, good place to raise children, take care of the old, encourage people to live stable, loving lives in their communities; but however you might get to that place would be okay with those who have that as their guiding philosophy.

If you are ruled by an ideology,which might also believe in the idea of marriage as good but is concerned homosexuals are either mentally defective or evil, your group will not look at whether homosexuals could accomplish all those above-listed positives. Idelology would block consideration of new ways to experience family life. To stop this dread change, fear is used and the cry goes out that if gays are allowed to marry, it will ruin marriage for heterosexuals. Is there logic to that thought? There doesn't have to be in an ideology driven group. Fear is the driving force to keep things as they have been..

An example of how ideology and philosophy can work in our personal lives is represented by this bedroom. Change began for it last spring in the form of a king-sized bed. A beautiful Amish quilt no longer covered enough of the bed. You could think of that quilt as representing an ideology. It had been acquired, suited the room, and was much loved. Ideology would have kept that quilt where it was-- fit or not. A guiding philosophy, that had certain goals for the room but no exact rules for how to accomplish them, eventually was free to say it was no longer working. Time for change.

Once a new bedspread entered the picture (something more subtle would have required less adjustment), many things had to change for the room to once again be in balance. Furniture was shifted, paintings changed. When the work was done, the basic elements still remained, but the feeling of the room had been changed to fit its vivid new addition.

Is the room now how it must stay forever and ever? Ideology would say yes as it works well at this moment. Philosophy would say it is nice for going into winter but maybe someday, something new will come along and the process of change will once again be set into motion.

I am not trying to say it is wrong to have a system of rules we live by. It's essential. But what is wrong is when those rules are not permitted to be adjusted as new situations arise. We need to be aware, both in our own lives and in our governing bodies, whether it's a philosophy or an ideology that is behind it.

The odd part about ideology is often the reason behind it has totally been forgotten but the rules are remembered. Dictatorships love ideology. Ignorance is rewarded as if to be a virtue.

(Finally, for those of us who are Christians, I believe, one of Christ's main teachings was to put an end to mindless ideology and reveal the spirit behind the laws. No more rules of how many steps you could make on a holy day but instead have an understanding of why that rule ever was in place. Live by the Spirit-- not the religious law.)

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

In this country, every year we celebrate the fourth Thursday of November as a time to commemorate our country's beginnings and be thankful for all we have been given. When I was a girl, it was all about Pilgrims, Native Americans, sharing, family, and turkeys. The negative side to some of our history was not part of the mix.

It's easy for me, from the perspective of having lived over 60 years, to think maybe things were simpler back then, but that might be more a product of losing childlike qualities than the times they be-a changing. Perhaps whether we are a person who lives in gratitude or complaint is a habit-- one we can change.

I don't think we have to live in a state of denial to look for the positive in everything that happens.We often get stuck in the negative because it's what we need to do something to fix. The problem is if we aren't careful, we end up pulling more and more negative to us by our attitude of bitterness or complaint.

Maybe not surprisingly, you often find those who possess the least with the most capacity for finding gratitude in small things. It could simply be because it is the small things that in the end, for us all, mean the most.

Now and then, it's a good thing to stop, think of all the positive things in our lives, and do a happy dance, like the above seagull looked like he was doing. Maybe he was just celebrating not being a turkey.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Are you air, earth, water, or fire?

I don't know how these tests work with so few questions but here comes another quick one that Fran at Sacred Ordinary posted on her site. It's from Belief Net-- Are you air, earth, water, or fire?

It's not very many questions and seemed pretty accurate for me. My number was 51 and even when I changed a few answers to things that I was thinking I might have as equally done, the test only changed one point to 52.

Air is my dominant astrology element also. I have almost no water in my natal chart and am often drawn to people who have a lot of water in their charts-- going to get it one way or another, I guess.

If you take the test, please share whether it seemed accurate. Also when you see your results, you can hit a small link that takes you to more information on what having one of those as your dominant element might mean for difficulties and strengths.

Monday, November 20, 2006


We are constantly being told what is true. Plus told that conspiracies are ridiculous. Despite that, many have questioned who really was behind the killing of John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert.

Given the movie Bobby is soon to come out, this was an interesting article to read-- Did the CIA kill Bobby?. There are more online articles about the man they mention in this article for those interested in doing more research.

By coincidence, when he was running for the presidential nomination in 1998, I had seen Robert Kennedy speak. In downtown Portland for a doctor's appointment, I saw a crowd gathering on a street corner and realized the speaker was Kennedy. I moved to the fringe and listened. It was amazing how open he was to the crowd with people coming from anywhere to listen. His sister-in-law, Jacqueline, had asked him not to run, said they would kill him too; but he evidently felt compelled to do what he felt was right for the country, and sadly she turned out to be right.

I didn't vote for Kennedy in that primary but remember vividly the moment I was told he had been shot. It was my Avon lady of all things as I hadn't been listening to TV or radio. After she told me, I put on the television, saw the film clips replaying the event. It didn't sound good and then came word he was dead. Perhaps it sounds melodramatic, but it was devastating to me. I literally slumped to the ground and cried. I painted a painting that day with slashes of reds, blacks and golds, showing a person huddled in the foreground and behind him a city burned. A political assassination is not just a murder. It's a person or a few people who decide to override the democratic process with an act of terrible violence.

My horror at assassination is why I would never consider watching the movie showing Bush being killed-- wish it had never even been made. I won't be seeing Bobby either. It brings back too many upsetting memories.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Your accent

I got this test from Nobody Asked and thought it was fun. It seemed accurate to me as I have always thought in my part of the West (sometimes referred to as left) Coast, we don't have much accent which it affirmed. If you go to Eastern Oregon, they have western drawls, which I much love and can pick up if around it for long-- love them twangs. :)

They did leave out a couple of words that we do say differently in my part of the woods. To me, creek is crick not creek and I am prone to say ever so often, not every so often which is (or so I am told when I type the other) more correct. Wash is also said differently other places. Many of us out hyar get an r into it for some reason.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West

The Inland North


The South


North Central

The Northeast

What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Friday, November 17, 2006


There are a lot of acronyms for fear but my favorite is:

Is fear ever a valid emotion? It is definitely one used by politicians, religious leaders, even in our personal relationships. If you don't do this, eat that, accept my way-- bad things will happen. It doesn't matter if the bad thing is even really possible if you believe it is.

Some would say fear is important for a culture to direct the actions of its populace. Without it, would we allow terrorists to run amok in our countries? Would we steal our neighbor's stereo if we weren't fearful of the consequences? Would we personally commit all kinds of sexually evil acts without fear that hell awaited? Would our children behave politely without fear of parental retribution?

I would ask, aren't there other emotions that help us lead a healthy life more effectively than fear? I think there have to be because to me fear is always negative.

Yes, being scared when a real danger approaches, is a survival mechanism. It increases our adrenaline flow and enables us to act-- whether that is fight or flight. But fear also releases the same adrenaline but with nowhere for it to go. What does it then accomplish? Ulcers, heart attacks, stress diseases, etc.

Recognizing when something is dangerous and reacting to avoid or avert it does not require fear at all. In fact, fear can actually stop your effectiveness in a real emergency. I remember hearing the family story of a kitchen stove fire. Everyone was trying to put it out; but one aunt, who has a good excuse in that she was heavily pregnant, panicked and ended up stuck behind the sofa. The others left her there, safely out of the way, until they got the fire out. We can become so paralyzed through fear that we simply can't react at all or let someone else determine our actions to our disadvantage.

Where it comes to outsiders trying to control us through our fears, that's bad; but it's our internal fear that does us the most damage. Some of that has been instilled by parents who thought they were protecting us from hurt. Some is from people who are scared themselves and want us to share their fears. Sometimes it's through experiences of seeing things not work out for someone else, (or maybe even ourselves), and we quit trying out of fear of worse happening.

Changing a path because something didn't work out is not wrong. It might be the wise choice, but not when it's because of fear. It should come instead from a reasonable assessment of risks and gains.

Some think we should fear God-- not the awe type of fear but actual physical fear and they believe it's the best reason people will accept a religion's rules. This also makes money for a lot of would-be spiritual mentors who sell charms or use it to talk you into taking classes that will teach you to protect yourself.

I believe fear of hell, despite the belief of some fire and brimstone preachers, isn't the best motivating force for being spiritual. I don't think worrying about every action you take having a negative karma will do anything but stick you behind the sofa, legs flailing while others take care of the work.

Sometimes in personal relationships, we fear speaking our minds. We might lose that person if we tell them what we really feel. I have found, for me personally, it's better to open the closet door and with courage (as much as I can muster) face the potential monster. If there is a monster, I can battle it or run. If there never was, I can sigh with relief. Either way I am going to be happier and healthier.

I don't know about you, but one of my bigger life tasks has been realizing when fear is making choices for me. Most of the time those fears are could bes or possibilities, and I have been treating them like the real thing.

Because of fear it won't last, there are relationships we might never take the risk to enter into. While it is true that in the flesh nothing lasts; I believe, in the spirit all the love we have ever created, all the risks we have taken for the highest good, none go away. They not only enrich those around us and our own lives, but they put energy into the world encouraging others to likewise live with love. Putting fear out of our lives makes us stronger and stops others from manipulating us-- personally or politically.

What have you done when you have realized fear was making a decision for you? Any tips you can share with others?

(The above photograph was taken six years ago in Tucson, Arizona. The summer thunderstorm was awesome and the aftermath just as satisfying. This photo was taken to share the experience with a friend, but the picture ended up being one of my favorites as it says so much. There are those imposing, dark clouds, the remnants of the storm, but beyond is the light breaking through. It is the feeling, I think, we get when we have faced a fear and overcome it, breaking its power to control us.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Lake House

To be honest, I am not a huge fan of romantic movies. First on my want-to-see list always will come stories about the western experience, then those with a spiritual aspect, stories about people growing in life, adventures with humor, good historic movies, but once in awhile a romance comes along that tempts me to give it a try.

It is not that I have seen no romances; but when I do, most of the time it will have been years after they came out. It will be when they are nearly off the oldies channels on cable tv-- an example being Bridges of Madison County, which I totally loved once I had seen it-- a good 9 years after it had been released in theaters.

My reasons for not watching romances comes down to not liking to cry my way through a film. Also how realistic are they ever to life? Actually they aren't supposed to be realistic. They are supposed to stroke our heart strings. Some are not tragic, but the potential that they will be (except for the comedy romances) is almost always part of the appeal.

So a month ago, when it first came out on DVD, I actually bought The Lake House. The reason was the metaphysical aspect of time element. How can people be living in two different times (2004 and 2006) and come together through letters in a mailbox? Well as best we know it, they can't. Except metaphysically there are those who believe all time is simultaneous and that the idea of a yesterday or tomorrow is just for bookkeeping purposes.

Usually if you get a time travel romance, which The Lake House is not, it has quite a span between the two eras and one of the characters gives up their own time to join with the other one-- or, as in paranormal stories such as The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, waits until the other dies.

The Lake House is about soul mate love through difficult circumstances, holding out for what is important, about family relationships, about questioning what is possible. With Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves as the would-be lovers (if they can find a way to touch other than through words), the lead characters are engaging and make you care. You want them to find a way past the problem of one living two years ahead of the other-- albeit in the same area. The potential for tragedy is always there. The story unfolds slowly, with a kind of grace, and yet has enough elements to consider that it keeps you from taking it for granted or becoming bored.

Does what happens make factual sense as we know it? Answer first-- is a good romance supposed to be about making sense? Will it make you cry? Well, it did me.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


When we purchased this farm, a few steps from the garage was a small greenhouse. It was very simply built, mostly with windows salvaged from old buildings, some plastic for a roof and potting shelves at both ends of the small room. I would guess it's 5' x 12' but haven't measured it.

The lady who owned the farm before us had been growing a huge red geranium in it-- one of the largest I had ever seen, way too big for her to move. It was like walking into summer to go into that greenhouse the first winter. Unfortunately winter came fiercely that first year. The temperatures plunged below zero and power went out for over a week. The geranium froze as well as many other plants that grow outside most years but can't tolerate those conditions. I was disappointed in the loss of the geranium but continued to use the greenhouse for many years.

Somewhere along the road, maybe when we added on the solarium, I didn't find the greenhouse to be needed. It's not well insulated, costs a fair amount to keep going even in a mild winter, but it has a charm that I missed. This summer I set my mind to using it again. I needed it partly for some of the plants that had summered on the north deck but won't find room in the solarium with my changing its purposes to an art studio. I have some such as the 8 year old bouganvillea that can't survive our winters outside.

When I went to inspect the work that would be required to use the greenhouse again, I was expecting some broken window panes but was amazed to see how hawthorne starts had taken over the whole space including the center of the greenhouse. The parent tree had been destroyed by a winter storm last year, but its roots had (and have) not given up on the idea of starting new trees everywhere.

I wish I had taken pictures before I began as I felt like Jack with the Beanstalk hacking my way into the greenhouse. I had been using it to store some of the dolls my mother had collected which wasn't exactly a great spot. They (porcelain heads, cloth bodies and cute dresses) have since been cleaned up and brought into the toy box for grandkids. Little by little I saw the greenhouse cleared out, the glass panes replaced, and a new roof installed.

Now with November here, the greenhouse is functioning, harboring the geraniums and bouganvilleas and looking ready for winter-- if it doesn't go below zero and lose power (well actually if it does, this year I now have temporary space in the bedroom for these plants.

There is something special about stepping into this old greenhouse partly because it's made up of windows from long discarded homes and whatever else was available for building materials. It's a place not just for wintering plants although that is its purpose. It has a hidden purpose though and that one is providing a secret garden for me in the middle of winter-- a place I can go to water and lightly fertilize the plants but more importantly reconnect with summers past and live for a moment with pieces of summers to come.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Morning After

I had said no more politics for awhile here, but maybe this isn't. It's about how I feel the morning after when we know the House has changed hands as well as the Senate either doing likewise or being equal. Whatever the case, I was impressed this morning by what I heard from Nancy Pelosi when she talked of the need for both parties and the President to all work together. She stated that if she is Speaker, it's for the country, not just for her party. I liked it that she reaffirmed no impeachment as I think that would have been a horrible mistake when we have such major problems to tackle. Iraq is a complicated problem and it won't be solved by finger pointing but rather by coming up with viable options. There may be a time to look back on this and see what went wrong; but right now the emphasis has to be on what do we do next!

Before this morning, I hadn't listened to President Bush talk in weeks, maybe months; just because it's been so hard to take. Today I felt I should listen to his press conference and I liked what I heard. I was glad to hear we will have a new Secretary of Defense. I don't know anything about the man chosen, but am hopeful that maybe new ideas might help a really tragic situation that whatever the wisdom of getting into it, we are there now.
Do I totally trust what Bush said? Well, he said see what we do, not what we say and I'll sure be doing that. Despite what some might think, I have never been a Bush hater, but I have thought he was going the wrong way on most everything. I haven't trusted him. I have also said he might be a better president if he had to work together with Democrats. Absolute power has a way of corrupting. Well now we have a chance to see how they all do.

As Bush said in his press conference, look at our actions. The American people will be-- on those of both parties. I felt both leaders made at least a good start and I feel happy at yesterday's results. Not gloating, not relishing that someone lost. I can't say I am totally confident things will change, but I am hopeful that we can all win in the long run. It was a start yesterday.

Pineapple Express

The name Pineapple Express conjours up warmth, tropics, beauty, good taste, like maybe a type of yogurt. What the phenomena actually means when it hits the Northwest is lots of rain and unusually warm temperatures. The storms, on a weather map, show a solid white streak from Hawaii right to our shores as one storm after another arrives to dump its load.

If there had been much snow in the mountains, which there wasn't, it would be melting. Down here in the valley, daytime highs are running close to 70. This year, as it has before, the express arrived after a prolonged dry spell.

The storms come with lots of wind which is right now blowing the last leaves off the oak trees. Oh yeah, and remember all that rain we were saying we needed earlier? It has come with the storms. Should we have been more specific in saying that we didn't want it all in one load? However, with this warmth, it will cause the grass in the pasture to grow which we could use.

So here are pictures of the creek over its banks and the farm denizens. Nothing is very pretty and could as well have been described by a few words-- mud, lots of mud, mud everywhere-- at least wherever there aren't puddles.

My assortment of felt hats are being put to use (I have a thing for that kind of hat). I let one drip itself dry while the next one gets pulled out. Also I had to dig deep in the utility room to find my Muck boots. Even with them, it can be interesting crossing the barnyard. Fortunately I don't have to do that today-- the sheep got kept in-- not that they were pleased.

The hat in this picture is my current favorite. Partly because when I knock apples out of the tree for this cow (she's in to be treated for an eye problem), if one hits my toughest hat, I barely notice it!

As you can tell from this photo, the cow expectantly waits right near the tree, until a good wind or I come out to knock her down some treats.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Across the United States, in two days people will be voting (some, with vote-by-mail, like Oregon or absentee ballots, already have). We will mark our ballots with the belief that it makes a difference, that we owe it to those who have sacrified to make it possible for us to live in a country that has this right.

My month of only writing about politics, politicians and policies ends with this blog. To those, who support the Republican message and President Bush, I have probably seemed pretty hard on him and those who support him. I understand the desire to think the best of our country, of the leadership that governs it. I wish I could feel that way about this current administration, but what I have seen them do seems a threat to what I value most.

Where people who support Bush must see a good man, I have seen increasing corruption, intellectual laziness, a desire to take our freedoms to gain power at any cost.

Our nation is governed by majority vote, but that doesn't make the decisions of the majority to be correct ones. We know at one time a majority thought slavery was okay. In another era it was all right to have children working in factories. Yet another time justified abuse of Native Americans and a confiscation of their lands-- even those with signed treaties.

Majority doesn't guarantee anything in a mob or in a country. It does mean they won. Right now winning seems to be all some care about, but some of those caught up in a desire for victory can lost track of the price they are paying for that victory.

I ask for those of you who are gung ho on the Republican party, please look at what this president has done, is doing, and what the people who are behind him want. For a moment, forget your dislike of Clinton. Don't go just by what Bush says, look at his actions; and when you go to the polls, be sure you have really thought through where we are heading if we stay on this path.

It's worth all of us taking some time to consider how much is security worth? It's hard to believe this nation which was founded by pilgrims, emigrants and pioneers, who braved the unknown and faced hardships most of us can't even imagine, would be so fearful a few generations later that we wouldn't mind throwing away freedoms that others fought so hard to gain.

Hopefully when we vote, we all vote our conscience, not our pocketbook. I worry when we hear from those who justify torture in the name of personal safety. I don't understand those who are willing to throw away their right to a trial based totally on faith in the Bush people or their hope that Republicans are godly and will keep them safe.

I hope we all keep in mind the goals on which this country was founded. We haven't always lived up to them, but they are grand goals. This is such a beautiful land, with a proud dream behind it. We can have that but not without cost. It has never come without cost.

Devil's Tower, Wyoming was not chosen because I think Bush is the devil. It was because freedom and good things are not free. They require vigilance and courage to hold onto them because there is always someone willing to take them away. This huge chunk of rock seemed like a good reminder of the dream with which our nation began.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

from the Declaration of Independence. Some might even see those words as Revolutionary today!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Evil Democrats and Saintly Republicans?

When I wrote about John Kerry and his big mouth, I didn't go far enough with what I feel is going on right now regarding Iraq, the military and George Bush. I was trying to be nice, to be polite. That's the way of a Libra, but the farther it goes, the more I see happening, the more I am losing any desire to be nice or give anybody the benefit of the doubt where it comes to what has happened in Iraq.

If Bush is smiling today over Kerry's inability to talk straight, then he's a cruel man to go with his ineptness, or was it ever ineptness? What is really going on with Bush and what were his goals with Iraq? If he attacks Iran next, which with Republicans controlling Congress, he could possibly do (after all this is the guy who said having a dictatorship would be fine if he was the dictator), where will that leave our country in two more years? The bunch behind him are favoring military action there-- not paying for it with their own dollars though.

Bush is good at talking like he is on the side of the military; but this is a man who sent them to war not fully equipped, who under supplied their numbers (against the recommendation of generals), who substituted fast food in their commissaries for sufficient armor on their vehicles, who believes so much in this war but doesn't even count its cost into the budgets, who tried to stop increasing benefits for veterans, and evidently must be hoping for some miracle drop from heaven to cover the bills. They won't come due until he is out of office. Maybe that's all he and Rove care about.

He has hidden from the American people any real reason for attacking Iraq (Spare me saying it was to get rid of a dicator who killed innocent people. The war has killed at least as many and the ones supporting it don't care. They didn't care before either) , hidden the cost, tried to say that everyone dying there is for a purpose. Who knows what that purpose is. He says the Democrats don't have a plan for Iraq but he won't tell us what his plan is or rather hasn't told us.

Paul Krugman at New York Times had a great column for November 3 on what is happening in Iraq. I just wish it wasn't membership only as it is something Bush supporters especially should read. I know how the right sees Krugman, as the devil's advocate, but he has facts in this column that should be read and denied if someone doesn't think they apply.

Bechtel, the engineering company, is pulling out of Iraq after having gotten 2.3 billion dollars of taxpayer money for restoring electricity, water and sewage... Finished their mission and going home right? That's how the right would spin it. No, they failed on every level and lost a lot of their employees in the process of being there. Electricity in Baghdad is maybe 6 hours a day if the people are lucky, and the countryside not only doesn't have that but doesn't have clean water or sewage. The growing civil war in Iraq doesn't make doing the work possible or else the Bush people have decided that throwing 21 billion dollars into this with no results is enough for anybody.

For you on the right, who still support this man, take out a membership in NY Times and read Krugman (or I'd be happy to email this column to anyone who doesn't have the money for the NYTimes or sees it as a corrupt organization that only favors commies), however, you get it, figure out where he's wrong and write a comment here about that... but if he's right, then I would like you to face something.

This president has been a money-making machine for a certain group of people. Bush is good at strutting around like a war hero, which he never was, apparently great at lying with a sincere face and hiding any facts that don't suit his agenda. He has an ego as big as his pal, Rush Limbaugh's. After Limbaugh ridiculed Michael J. Fox, by mimicking his spastic movements due to Parkinson's Disease, Bush went on his show. Does that tell you who Bush is?

I am just plain furious that people like me, who not only support the troops but want to pay for them to be full equipped, who want them to receive full benefits and all the help they need once they get home, are being accused of not being good Americans because we consider GW Bush to be the worst president in our lifetime or maybe in this country's existence.

This is a man who sent troops to war and now produces a few tears of sympathy while he continues his personal power trip. A man who made his own jokes at the troops expense when he joked about not being able to find the weapons of mass destruction anywhere, not even in his own office. What was he thinking when he said-- bring 'em on? Why does he get a pass on such awful things but someone who isn't even running for office can convince a lot of people that Democrats hate the military? Go figure!

If you managed to read Krugman and still support Bush, try this from Olbermann.... Yeah, he's mad too. We on the left are mad at what has been done in this country's name, at the accusations that because we do not see Bush as a Messiah we are not only immoral but also un-American. And we're mad not just at the president but at those who continue to defend his wreaking of havoc around the world.

None of us can vote Bush out. Thanks to the Democrats choosing an inept choice two years ago (which was shown again this last week), Bush has two more years to continue on his path, which might even include attacking Iran for all we know given the secrecy and attitude of that administration that their opinions are all that count. I hope if it does, he recognizes a tax increase and draft are required. The idea that a war can be fought with no cost is a lie in itself.

We can't change what this president does for the next two years. Unless we vote in Democrats who can at least get heads of committees, we have no way to know if there has been graft or outright theft of taxpayer money sent to Iraq. Right now there is no outside oversight because the Bush administration and their minions in Congress don't want there to be.

We have been told this all has been to make a new democracy out of Iraq but who knows? Was it really only to make another fortune for certain already rich people. What I really don't know is how some people sleep at night.

(This was a rant and no pictures for rants! I am as sick of writing about politics as probably some of you are about reading about it. The election comes up soon. Thank God!)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Same Ol' Same Ol'

When John Kerry managed to botch a joke in such a way that it left open the interpretation that he was saying people end up fighting in Iraq because they didn't get good grades, rather than a president ends up sending people into a war because he wasn't willing to study the deeper issues, it led right into more of the same ol' same ol' that politics has become.

That joke was written down for him to say correctly with no chance anyone could have thought he meant the troops, and he couldn't manage it. It gave Republicans a chance to jump all over the issue and accuse every Democrat in the whole country of hating the troops. Botched jokes or jokes in bad taste are not unique to John Kerry. Bush has a ton of them back there but he's not running for president. Oh wait, neither was Kerry. So the point of this was exactly what?

Until I saw Jon Stewart's Daily Show the other night, I had no clue how bad political ads have been. He ran a montage of them for various candidates across the country. They had nothing to do with the issues these people stood for but were all about cheap shots and a hopeful soundbite that would possibly get a voter to ignore the issues and be carried away by emotion.

I thought of this when I was out in my field the other day and the sheep flock was grazing to the back of the pasture. I was out with my .22 more to let the coyotes know I'm around than with a real expectation that they would come in and give me a shot. The sheep glimpsed me and suddenly panicked. They ran for the cows (a smart technique actually), but the idea that they would scatter so fast at the sight of me was not smart. I have never hurt them, have done nothing but shake down apples from the trees, feed them hay and give them water but still they saw me and panicked.

What we have to do as voters is be sure we don't get caught up like sheep when we hear various things like the spin on what Kerry said. Kerry's joke was not intended to put down our soldiers. He has been a friend to the military in terms of voting for more benefits but he doesn't have a knack of saying things wisely-- which is a definite negative in a presidential aspirant. There is one plus. We probably don't have to worry about Kerry running in '08 after this.

The horrible thing about this is it meant Republicans didn't mind at all using our soldiers as tools if it got them votes. Bush's speeches, using this non-issue, were particularly self-serving and disgusting as they so often are when he's using someone or something to gain power for himself. When the Republican party decided to spin what Kerry said into an accusation against our troops, it was done not caring if it hurt their morale or not. The spin was to turn Bush being ignorant (which he was) about the consequences of going into Iraq, about the culture there, into an accusation that Democrats hate our troops-- which is patently ridiculous if you stop to think but if you are sheep, you don't stop to think.

What we need to be aware of is all the candidates, of either party, who run ads not about what they will do or believe, but cheap shots at their opponents. From the looks of it, when you hear an ad come on, you would be wise, to tune it out. Listen to your candidate's speeches, read the voter pamphlets on what that person says they will do-- not that politicians are noted for doing what they say. Like who would admit-- I am open to graft-- just make me an offer and I'll consider voting your way!

And on a national level-- if you like what Bush is doing, vote for Republicans. They will keep him "keeping on".

If you don't like what he's doing, you have to vote Democrat even if you have to hold your nose to do it. It is the only way to turn the House or maybe even the Senate in a new direction giving a chance for fresh thoughts.

The main thing is don't be caught up in spin. It is rarely about what really matters.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

States' Rights

One of the issues that conservatives used to pat themselves on the back for was how they valued states' rights. Basically that meant a conservative would not favor rolling over a state with the federal government's power. Supposedly liberals were not so good about this, and they were the bad guys for taking away individual freedoms.

Before we go farther, it is important to recognize that the Constitution has superimposed its will onto the states since the time of the Civil War, which some in the South still call the War of Northern Aggression.

The Civil War determined states had to bend to federal opinion where it related to the Constitution. This is why issues like Civil Rights for blacks became a federal issue. It didn't matter if a state decided it was okay to divide up people by where they could sit in a theater, go to school, or drink from a water fountain. The federal government said they could not based on the Constitution.

Since it was written, the Constitution has received a lot of tweaking through amendments or just reinterpretation of things such as privacy. Does the right to privacy exist in the Constitution or was that invented to figure out a reason for the federal government to forbid bans on abortion? Scholars disagree on this issue, but today what the right to privacy means is constantly being reinterpreted.

Are we a nation of individuals who enjoy the fact that we are different or should we all be made to be the same by the federal mandates of whoever happens to be in power at the time.

Oregon and several other states have seen the federals try to bring their power to bear and only the changing balance of the Supreme Court can stop or allow these movements. If Bush maintains absolute power to appoint who he chooses to please the far Right, it's clear the Supremes will look with favor on corporate rights but not so favorably on individual people's moral choices.

In Oregon's case, the voters twice agreed that someone who was dying (6 months or less to live) and of sound mind (attested to by two doctors) had the right to get a lethal prescription to end their life on their own timetable. That was always there if you had a gun, but many felt that was more brutal to the family and the ill person. The Christian right objected to the idea that anybody could take their own life. Wonder if they would have said those who jumped from the World Trade Center, rather than burn to death, committed suicide? It is the same thing, you know.

So, as with marijuana laws to permit sick people to use it medicinally with a prescription, the federal government under Bush has been using its power against that of the states to block them from what the local voters would decide was appropriate.

These are issues for people to consider when they look at the two parties, when they consider who will be appointing judges. Both parties would use federal power to block individuals from performing acts that hurt nobody else, but it's just which ones.

I might not have even written on this particular issue but I had to find a place to use these photos-- first one is Marion and Buck's Bait Shop taken in Georgia 8 or 9 years ago and second of a husband and wife store in Idaho where I bought an Amish quilt from the left side where it was all frills and crafts while on the right side was survivalist and hunting gear.

I love American individuality. To me, these kind of businesses represents the independent nature of Americans throughout the country-- an independence that both parties claim they value and people in both parties squash whenever that independent nature goes against their own idea of what is correct.

States Rights as well as keeping the federal government with its nose where it belongs is a good reason to consider an independent, third party with a fresh look at ideas. You never know, maybe someday people will get mad enough and really mean it when they say they aren't going to take it anymore. Maybe.

By the way, I am the only member of my family who actually liked boiled peanuts. While they aren't on any list of my favorite foods, I thought they were not bad. That is evidently highly unusual for someone who was not born in the South. Actually, from what I hear not real common in those born there.