Monday, July 30, 2007

the owl and the full moon

Early Sunday morning a sound from the garage told the farm boss that his not closing the outside door until after dark had let something in that could not get out. He went outside, came back for the camera and went out again. A barn owl was on one of the rafters in the back of the garage and no matter how he tried to encourage it to leave, the combination of daylight and its fear caused it to only burrow deeper into the walls and go to places he could not access.

After breakfast, having left the garage door open, he decided it had flown off. That assumption lasted until after going to bed Sunday night. I heard definite sounds of something moving in either the garage or the attic above the bedroom-- which has access from the garage. Grumbling, but resigned, the boss got back up, saw where it was but could not determine if it had trapped itself in the wall. He pried off boards outside on the eaves to create an escape hole. Although he could see its talons, knew it was there, it wouldn't come through.

Whether this owl thought that garage would make a nice home, or was simply petrified, the boss decided there was only one way to get any sleep. He pulled on a heavy shirt, leather gloves, safety goggles and went back out to get hold of it. When he came down, he said get the camera. After it posed for the requisite photos, it was released, flapped its beautiful wings as it flew off into the night-- hopefully in search of a better home.

This was our second close encounter with a barn owl as some years ago we had been on our way into town after dark when we saw one sitting alongside the road on the shoulder. It hadn't behaved normally. We had decided, if it was still there as we drove back, it likely meant it had been hit by a passing vehicle, and we would see if we could pick it up. It was; and with a heavy blanket, we did.

As soon as we had gotten home, stowed it safely into one of our cat carriers, we called the animal rescue facility, Chintimini in a town about 25 miles from here, where we knew they worked with wild creatures. They said
bring it right in to assess its chances. An hour later, they were giving it treatment for shock and had said they felt it would survive but it had a concussion. Fortunately its wings were unhurt.

After a few weeks, they had called to tell us we could come get it and release it back to where we found it, which we did, being blessed to watch the same beautiful thing as it flew into
the night.

Last night, with the owl excitement over, I looked up and saw the interesting way the full moon was highlighting the clouds. I remembered it likely had been behind the owl photos but doubted that would show much. I put on the telephoto. In the back of my mind, I was thinking about how I might melt two photos together-- but in the morning.

After breakfast, when I opened the pictures, I found some beautiful moon shots, and the lit clouds were even better than I had hoped. I also had one very clear owl photo.

Finding my favorite moon shot, I cropped it to the center of interest; then turned to the owl photos. One was rather small, one out of focus, but one was perfect. I reduced it to a size that would fit with the moon, used the mask tool to draw around its image, cropped it, and pasted it onto the moon photo. It only took a tiny bit with clone and smudge tools to make them one.

Together they create a mystical image that appeals to me. Poetry anyone? *s*

Saturday, July 28, 2007

summer and Potter

For me the last week or two have been kind of depressing. Some of that makes total sense given the string of tragedies around the world, the political situation here, but I think if I looked back on last summer, I'd see the same thing for mid-July.

There is the build up to the Solstice with summer lying ahead, days longer and longer; then summer is here, and instead of each day lengthening, they are slightly shortening. Not to say I don't enjoy the things that go with these hot, sultry days, but they are never quite as good as I had hoped they'd be. How could they be when anticipation and imagination almost always trump reality.

I bought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling Saturday morning but decided to not start it until Monday morning. Sunday night, right before bedtime, I realized the cats in the living room had a new interest-- a beautiful, big, fast flying, get-caught-in-your-hair bat. The cats banged into things as they tried to catch mouse on wing, and as I congratulated myself on having their rabies shots up to date. They weren't actually trying too hard given a bat is something they don't see often since they spend their nights inside.

I wanted to get that bat outside hopefully still unhurt which meant opening outside doors. While the youngest cat raced out into the darkness to escape the mayhem, I locked the older two into a bedroom (where I might add they were relieved to be). Then the chase began in earnest as the bat flew desperately through the rooms, I kept trying to protect my hair (yes, I know them getting entangled in a woman's long hair is an old wives' tale, but I am an old wife), and my husband carried a big towel hopefully to scoop it up. All of this was not easy as bats depend on bat radar and don't actually see. What in their radar says-- open door to outside?

We lost sight of it for a bit, then looking at the rafter in the solarium, there it was-- doing its bat thing hanging upside down. Possibly it was taking a breather as well as hoping to remain unnoticed. We closed that area off to the house and opened its outside door. Bats cannot sense outside air evidently. The towel (wielded by my husband with less hair to worry about) swished through the air and eventually, the bat left. Then we only had to get back in the escaped cat.

In the middle of that same night I was awakened by the scream of an owl. Three screams to be exact from probably a screech or barn owl as it swept past the house. No, it didn't call my name but an owl's angry scream is an eerie thing whatever name it calls. Owls are creatures of the wild as well as have some mystical connotations-- as do bats.

Good start to a week where I planned to become immersed in Harry Potter's mystical world. I had enjoyed the series, got started with them after the first four had already become very popular because my adult daughter, who is a voracious reader, was a fan and loaned me #1 through #4. To be honest I would not have made it through #2 except for knowing she valued them so highly. I kept going until I too became mesmerized by the magical world and the questions of what would come next.

From then on whenever a book would come out, I didn't wait to borrow them-- especially given she usually reads them at least twice. Some were harder than others for me to keep reading. With #5, I put it down at around page 100 because I was so fed up with dark moods and teen-age angst. Everybody, who was a fan, said it got better and so finally after a few months, I picked it back up and they were right.

By the time #7 was due, I was as hooked as anybody as I eagerly awaited its arrival. Well not quite anybody as I didn't wait in lines, didn't pre-order it, no Potter parties, and did look for the best price-- ala Costco. I put off starting it until Monday because I remembered with the last one that they are the kind of book you don't want to put down. I read Deathly Hallows in two days (unlike some fans, I did sleep) and overall enjoyed it.

Rowling has some masterful aspects to her writing. Her prose is plain. There are no artistic paragraphs marked by me for rereading. Her writing carries along the action while dropping clues she almost always picks up later to reveal why they mattered. They are not books to skim. She has indeed created a mysterious, complex, and fantastic world. So what is not to like?

Spoiler to follow; so for those not yet having read Deathly Hallows, planning to do so, who don't want to know anything about the ending, stop here.

tra la la la

dum de dum de dum

Also don't read comments as someone who had read the book and had a different take on the ending, might give away something more.

Spoiler coming...

My biggest frustration with the ending involved Professor Severus Snape (portrayed wonderfully by Alan Rickman in the films). Snape was (other than Ron) my favorite character. Although Rowling has admitted in interviews that she didn't like him and is amazed anybody else did, in Deathly Hallows, he is finally revealed to have been Harry's savior time after time (which I had gathered from her many clues would be true).

Despite Rowling's dislike of him, her feeling he didn't deserve others to like him due to his nasty personality, she wrote about him in a way that didn't put forth her spoken vision. From my own experience in writing fiction, I have seen that happen. Characters kind of tend to take over and no matter what the author intends, that character will have their way. From her interviews, it sounds like that is what Snape did.

To me, Snape was the real hero, the character who nobody, except Dumbledore, liked or trusted, one who had loved and lost, a wizard who sacrificed everything on a lifelong mission, the one who became hard and yes, sometimes mean due to having been abused, and so often on the outside. Still time after time, he did the right thing without expecting glory for it. I was frustrated that he didn't get even one tiny moment of triumph. At a critical moment, through his murder, he was thrust out of the action by Rowling-- as she had allowed the other characters do throughout the book. I felt sad for him. Not that he was sacrificed, which perhaps was necessary, but it was how.

Snape was a complex character, one who the reader couldn't be totally certain of until the end. As one of those readers, I wanted a moment of fulfillment for him, a moment of someone caring about him. I wanted him to receive recognition, though as is true for the noblest of heroes, he never asked for it. He didn't, but I wanted an emotional resolution to Snape's sad story that I didn't get.

Maybe part of my dissatisfaction is that Harry never quite registered to me as the hero the author declared him to be. I felt he was a bit one-dimensional. Harry kept falsely assuming everyone who was murdered, in this long battle against evil, had been killed because of him (his ego problem) when in reality Voldemort was pure evil and obviously anyone who accepted his dictatorship was doomed to a brutal existence. According to the story, Harry was the possible salvation of the world, not the cause of the destruction which he often seemed to wallow in believing.

Harry did grow some, out of the teen-age brat stage, finally starting to trust, listen to others, not assume he knew it all, possibly on the road to having a realistic view of his own place in the world, and I was pleased whenever the author let someone else, like Ron, have their moment of saving the day.

I felt Harry's final triumph was somewhat forced and wasn't sure I bought it. It was almost anticlimactic after she had dispatched Snape so summarily and for no more purpose (in my view) than to give Harry his moment to totally be the victor. In the end, it was actually a false sense of ego that destroyed Voldemort and that's not a bad lesson for children (or anyone) to take away. I also had to remind myself, when something didn't suit me, this was a book intended for children, a world in which I was the outsider.

Despite those small objections, I did like the series. J. K. Rowling opened people to magic, created a complex and fascinating world which carried through from book to book. I will be interested in what she writes once she leaves these characters behind.

I still don't know how that bat got into the house...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bush and martial law

The following link is not the only place I have read about what Bush has signed into being to grow his presidential powers. It has links to all of these issues, not just the martial law, which if you haven't been looking closely allows him in an emergency, declared so by him alone, to stop elections until he alone decides it is safe. It allows him to override a governor and use the National Guard however he decides. It also has a link regarding the latest addition-- confiscation of property based purely on him decreeing it to be so. Why is this sort of thing being talked about mostly in blogs?

It's upsetting to me that not only has Bush been growing his powers into an imperial presidency but also not enough people mind to turn it around. Do Republicans have that much trust in him?

The Constitution is being trashed by these people in the name of keeping Americans safe. War is being waged with that same excuse. Our founding fathers feared just such a thing. Do you? And what is wrong with Congress-- Democrats and Republicans-- to let him get away with this? Does he have the courts so packed that he has no fear they will stop him or whoever is truly behind his actions?

Monday, July 23, 2007

what's in a name?

Although I am interested in issues, even politics as the workings of cultural groups to resolve their differences, I have not been fond of labels. I haven't cared much if someone is called liberal, conservative, moderate, democrat, republican, libertarian or whatever. It's what people do that matters, or was. Now it's beginning to seem to me that labels do matter.

When someone calls themselves something, we tend to believe them. They say, I am a conservative. Why should we doubt them? Do we need to understand what those words mean? Really mean that is, not what the person says they mean...

In the world of politics, words are changed to suit what will sell. Recently George Bush began using a phrase 'precipitous withdrawal' in his talk of our troops leaving Iraq. It seemed kind of meaningless to me when I first heard it. It was simply another way for the Bush administration to find fault with anyone who would suggest a mistake in going into Iraq should be fixed. It turns out the phrase wasn't invented by him... surprise surprise surprise.

Well actually it was a bit of a surprise when it was revealed who had actually given himself credit for the phrase-- Bill Kristol, who followed it up with an opinion piece for the Washington Post that shocked me when I read it-- Why Bush will be a winner (there's that word, winner, again).

The origin of the phrase was written about by Ariana Huffington on Huffington Post July 16th-- "I had a preview of this deluded triumphalist drivel a couple of days earlier -- on Thursday afternoon specifically. Even more specifically, I was on the 4:00 pm Amtrak Acela from New York to Washington. Kristol was sitting a row behind me, talking on his cell phone with someone who apparently shared his optimism. "'Precipitous withdrawal' really worked," I overheard him say, clearly referring to the president's use of the term in that morning's press conference. 'How many times did he use it? Three? Four?' he asked his interlocutor, and the conversation continued with a round of metaphorical back-slapping for the clever phrase they had "come up with."

Are you like me with not really having understood who 'they' are? We hear Bill Kristol on talk shows, giving his opinion about this or that. He represents not just himself but a movement, a group, neocons (a word that is highlighted as spelled wrong anytime I use it because it's so new).

By now I think we understand they are behind the Iraqi debacle. Even today although they might blame Bush for how he carried out their idea, they defend it as Krisotol did in his op-ed piece.

Neocons are the ones who want to send our sons and daughters (not theirs) to fight wars bringing their version of democracy to the world-- while they turn their own country into a dictatorship. These people bear no resemblance to conservatives of the past like Barry Goldwater or even of the present like Pat Buchanan, who are now apparently referred to as paleoconservatives.

So from where did neocons come and how did they amass their power? A little research online says many of them were socialists and democrats who became disillusioned with the democratic party and decided to form their own power base-- a new one. They named it conservative because it would get more votes than naming it fascism from whose principles they have borrowed (look up its definition if you don't believe me).

Neocons don't believe in borders. They do believe in a strong military overseas to interfere into countries they find weak enough to attack and where they believe the government is not helpful in bringing about world peace. They are of the one-world order mentality but likely would never use that phrase.

From Paleo historian Thomas Woods: 'The conservative’s traditional sympathy for the American South and its people and heritage, evident in the works of such great American conservatives as Richard M. Weaver and Russell Kirk, began to disappear... The neocons are heavily influenced by Woodrow Wilson, with perhaps a hint of Theodore Roosevelt...They believe in an aggressive U.S. presence practically everywhere, and in the spread of democracy around the world, by force if necessary....Neoconservatives tend to want more efficient government agencies; paleoconservatives want fewer government agencies. [Neoconservatives] generally admire President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his heavily interventionist New Deal policies. Neoconservatives have not exactly been known for their budget consciousness, and you won’t hear them talking about making any serious inroads into the federal apparatus."

For anybody who is interested in doing more research on this political group and how they got where they are, it's easy to Google it, but this in Wikepedia gives you the gist-- Neoconservatives.

I think it's worth your while to do the research because labels can end up causing us grief when we believe they mean what we used to think. The word conservative has connotations that this new group doesn't follow at all which is how we have our budgets thrashed, our borders meaningless, our environment trashed, our military off on quests that the rest of us are scratching our heads over.

What people say they believe, the words they say they came up with, isn't always how it is. When we vote or support someone by our money or labor, it's important to understand who the group is behind them. It's not enjoyable to look into such things; except, if we don't know who these people really are (the ones out front as well as the secret ones who coin phrases that they can laugh over how well they worked), they will get our vote, our wallets, our sons and daughters, and all of our liberties.

If you believe in their cause, I guess that's okay; but just be sure you really understand what their cause is. With the choice of their name, I think neocons have duped conservatives as much as anybody else.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Logic 101

[On its simplest level, logic is the skill of being able to decide if two statements, which might even be true, actually can be used to conclude a third is true. A + B = C. It is the science of reasoning.]

For anyone who still believes anything George Bush says, we were supposed to believe that in mid-September, when his recently appointed and generally respected military leader there reports on progress, Bush would analyze the data and listen to this general's recommendations, leading to a realistic conclusion for what should be done next.

If the military effort was not quelling violence, if there was no promising government in place (and with their lawmakers nowhere near consensus and taking August for vacation, what do you think those odds are?), if the report said the surge hadn't worked, many logically assumed we would then begin the process of leaving.

Leaving would mean Iraqis would have to settle their own civil war, which yes, we set in motion or rather enabled by eliminating the power that had been controlling their religious and tribal hatreds. Are we capable of settling this for them? Our leaving might lead to more Iraqi deaths than currently is happening or might not. It will lead to less American military deaths.

None of what might seem logical will decide what happens next. We all know by now Bush has his own form of logic. Bush, who seems to feel he's on a divine mission, could even see we are in a mess. He might agree he had been wrong on what would happen in attacking Iraq. Heck, golly gee, might have even made a mistake (the fault of bad advisers, of course), but his realizing he made a mistake doesn't appear to figure into what he will do next. Although he didn't know what would happen before, he does now-- or so we are supposed to believe.

Bush is beginning to make speeches indicating September is not a benchmark. We might just need more time, more troops, more something. We can't lose, can we? (translated, he can't) Or as he likes to say over and over, we can't have suits running this war. Considering he's naked, as in the Emperor's New Clothes, I can see why he wouldn't see himself wearing one of those suits.

Using Bush or Cheney logic, there will be no leaving the morass in Iraq and an attack on Iran is likely their next proposed step (not that they will propose it. Dictators don't ask. They dictate).

We are hearing the same mishmash of unrelated things being brought forth that we heard before the Iraqi war began. So, although we are not successfully fighting the war we are in; although Iran has a larger more effective army than Iraq; figure in that our troops are already stretched to their limit (and beyond); don't forget to factor in that any general who disagrees with him has been forced out of power; and it's easy to see what bushie logic comes up with: bomb Iran

To write about the Bush administration, regarding anything, is one of the most unenjoyable things I do here. It's obvious those people believe the United States elects dictators every 4 years. They don't care what the lowly people think. By their reckoning, Bush is accountable to nobody-- except god who whispers in his ear. The neocon concept of going around the world, sending in our troops to kill and destroy to bring American style democracy sounds like a bad joke, given what these politicians are trying to pull off in their home country, except it's what they are doing. The question has always been why. What do they really gain? Some quotes by James Madison, our fourth president, might have some of the answers.

"If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." James Madison

"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it compromises and develops the germ of every other." James Madison

"The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home." James Madison

This is exactly what we are facing-- an administration who has ruthlessly used war to break down constitutional power to give more power to the executive branch. It is not the first time humans will have faced those who would take away their liberties to maintain someone else's power. It could be the last here if we look away at this critical time in our history.

We have a government in power that it appears doesn't believe in any of our original founding principles. The people who fill the right wing talk radio slots, the ones who blocked a vote in the Senate on bringing our troops home, have hung their star on one word-- winning-- and it's their party, not the American people, who must win. They want Americans to equate what has been done so far in Iraq, who we have recently been reminded (you think that was coincidence?) has the second largest oil reserve in the world, with fighting the people who attacked us on 9/11.

People sometimes say it's not fair to just complain. What would you do differently? Okay, my solution to the Iraqi war would be to bring our troops home. Whether we will depends on if we have enough Congressional Republicans who are patriots first and party members second.

My solution to Bush being president would be to begin impeachment proceedings of both Bush and Cheney, criminal charges to follow. The current Congress is not likely to impeach either of them. Packing courts probably ends the second possibility also.

My solution to my personal angst over all this is to live my life as fully as I can, with as much positive, loving energy as I can muster-- but never let myself forget what the founding fathers intended. Many of them saw the risks of what is currently happening.

There appears to me to be only one way to stop Bush and Cheney-- demand Congress stop funding the Iraqi war and impeach them both. If the litany of things the Bush administration has done to grow its power (lying to go to war, outing an American spy, torturing, secret powers and signing statements, eliminating right to trial whenever they decide, continually hiding what is truly going on from Americans, and the list goes on) don't qualify as high crimes demanding impeachment, I don't know what would-- lying about a blow job?

Although I thought, in a time of so much danger, impeachment would be a mistake, I now think if it isn't done now and Republicans win in 2008, they will have us in an endless war to stay in power. Do you hear any of those Republican candidates except Ron Paul saying anything to indicate they would follow any different paths?

These people have made it easier for Al Qaeda to recruit more terrorists to attack us. This group will destroy our liberties. They hope to succeed by using the American twisted logic of manifest destiny-- whatever we do has to be ordained by god-- and they will do it because a sizable group in this nation still don't get it. Winning is not everything. You can win and lose! And as we can see with what happened with Vietnam, you can lose and win.

For those who believe we have to fight them over there to not have to fight them here, please go back and take some basic philosophy classes where you learn logic. If A and B don't relate, you cannot say together they equal C.

Yes, we have a terrorist problem-- Al Qaeda (you remember, the real ones who attacked us before and will again when they get their plans in place) are growing in power and influence. Yes, Al Qaeda leadership does have a safe haven-- it's not Iraq.

We also have a logic problem. Fighting a war costs money-- except in the name of this so-called patriotism of George Bush and his cronies, who are dismantling our Constitution and bankrupting our nation with debts for a war they believe in so much but aren't willing to personally pay an extra dime (it's all on the cuff) to fight.
Fighting 'them' over there to not have to fight 'them' here is both illogical and selfish; but we have a president who is selfish and uses no logic in his role as decider.

“It’s more of a theological perspective. I do believe there is an Almighty, and I believe a gift of that Almighty to all is freedom. And I will tell you that is a principle that no one can convince me that doesn’t exist.” George Bush Friday 13, 2007 (An excellent example of Bush logic and how about that for an apropos date!)

If you believe George Bush has a personal line to god, you might feel reassured by what he said-- even if he is dismantling your own freedom to do it, but if you don't see it that way, what do you believe should be done now? He thinks you not only don't care but don't have enough gumption to do anything. Is he right?

And yes, this was a rant!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

the Illusion of beauty

I saw this today on The Daily Dish and thought it was soooooo true. Our illusions of beauty are mixed up with sexuality or the simulation of it. The things we, our daughters and granddaughters compare ourselves against are mostly artificial, and unfortunately that for which our sons and grandsons can be looking ends up a trap that doesn't satisfy because it was always an illusion. I think in too many cases we have lost track of what is real beauty with this artificial quest for something that doesn't exist-- and when it does, it's plastic like so much else in our world.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Personality Test

Basically I don't remember what blog had this test linked. It was a few months ago and one of those times I drifted around the blogosphere where one blog roll led to another.

The test comes from My Space. It had a quick and extended version (60 or 120 questions), takes about 10 minutes to do the longest. The results are both on the site, as soon as the test if finished, and can be emailed if you want to see a more in depth analysis.

Since it had been a few months since I first took this test, I decided out of curiosity to retake it and see if anything had changed. Although the numbers went this way or that a bit, the meaning stayed the same:

My Personality

Openness To Experience

You are introverted, reserved, and quiet with a preference for solitude and solitary activities. Your socializing tends to be restricted to a few close friends. You are generally calm and composed, reacting moderately well to situations that most people would describe as stressful. Novelty, variety, and change spice up your life and make you a curious, imaginative, and creative person. You have some concern with others' needs, and are generally pleasant, sympathetic, and cooperative. You are reasonably reliable, organized, and self-controlled.

Test Yourself Compare Yourself View Full Report

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Reading Maya's Granny-- bookmarked in my blog links-- I saw where there was a place that rates our blogs for content like they do movies. I thought might as well find out what mine is, what the heck er make that hell.

Online Dating

To be honest I was disappointed. Nothing worthy of at least a parental guidance suggested? And I likely only made G because I used the word rape once. My usage of it probably referred to the environmental destruction wrought by the Bush administration. Without that one word, I might have been showing up as something by Disney. Heck Hell... even Disney is PG these days.

It is not that I want to be writing with a lot of profanity that I don't use in my daily language. I am not a fan of crudity, but still... G??? What the heck hell is G these days???

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Canoeing on Klamath Lake

When I was a little girl, I learned to swim in a small mountain river. I still remember that first time swimming across to the rocks on the other side. It was a goal and an accomplishment that felt so good. I've swum and been on lakes, rivers and the ocean in motorboats, ferries, rowboats, inflatable rafts, dories, but never in a canoe. I always admired canoes, their beauty, quietness, grace as they glide through the water. Both of my kids and their families canoe. I can't quite say why I never had, but that changed on Klamath Lake.

Canoes are as graceful as I imagined. Getting a feeling of balance took a bit of doing. I was fortunate the experience was on a lake, no current with which to deal, and my teacher (son-in-law) was good at it. Other than possibly making a fool of myself, I wasn't afraid because I do swim well (not to mention life jackets). I want to get comfortable enough with the experience to swim out from the canoe-- and get back in when out on the water. Right now if I tipped it over, I'd have to tow it to shore to get back in.

Once past learning some of the basics, I loved how with a canoe you see paths. Even in the main lake, you look across to where you want to go and you see the way. When you are in marshes, the reeds part, water is entering the lake, you wonder how far does it go? How deep is it? It only has to be 10" deep according to our son-in-law.

You glide forward with each stroke of the paddle. If there is a photograph to take, you lay the paddle across the gunwales and hear the drip of the water as you absorb, seemingly through your whole body, the surrounding beauty and silence. Maybe it's because a canoe glides like the water birds, but it is as though I am part of all around me. The silence is broken only by the sound of the paddle dipping into the water-- unless a fish jumps, a beaver splashes off a bank, or a duck takes flight.

The water was so clear that I could look deep into it and see the fish swimming. Although I hoped to see a grebe down there on one of its dives, I was never in the right place-- or it was too smart for me. Up one of those lake 'paths', we stopped the canoes, found a shady spot, tied the two canoes together, let the grandkids swim, and my daughter and son-in-law opened a bottle of chilled white wine. Now that's my idea of roughing it.

A dream is the other side of the lake but in our subconscious. The path to it often isn't clear. It is frustrating when unfulfilled. We can get to thinking it might be better to forget it-- except, I believe in dreams. They are important for quality of life and we shouldn't lose track of what ours are.

Canoeing had been one of mine. Another involves riding a well-behaved horse, who loves me (even with fantasies I qualify), high into the mountains, pitching a tent by a lake where I swim, sketch, take photographs, lie in the sun, hike, maybe fish, and cook a simple meal over a little stove. (Romantic image or not, I've cooked over campfires and prefer Sterno stoves!) It's a dream that may remain a dream-- although you never know. Sometimes, as happened with me on Klamath Lake, dreams are fulfilled when we least expect it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

portrait photography

What makes a portrait photograph good? It's an issue that I debate every so often when I look at my own photos or hear people talk about theirs. As much as I enjoy taking pictures of people, when is the end product a success? If it flatters them, is that the goal or is it a picture that says something more than the sum of its parts?

Just back from a trip where I had the opportunity to start learning to canoe (which I loved), I saw a lot of pictures of others and myself (many of which I didn't like). Were any of those of me what others see? Perhaps in the end, all photographs are illusions.

We see something, take a photo, look at it later, and think the light was better, the image sharper, and what the heck is that off in the corner! What are we hoping the photo will say? Perhaps that it recreates an image we stored in our minds. I think we often hope to share a moment or experience with others, or let them see themselves as we see them and so we take a picture. Except from where did that expression come and was the light really on the nose that way?

The interesting aspect of being in a human body is we never see ourselves-- except for those who do out of body travel. The rest of us see parts of ourselves. There are the reflections in mirrors, cameras, or words others use to tell us what they see. (What we tell others we see in them is important and we should be careful what words we use as often people (especially children) believe those words more than photos or mirrored reflections.)

When I am taking photos of others or looking at those of myself, I have two phrases for the ones that really come out. One is the money shot. Its meaning is obvious and not hard to define. It's the image a professional photographer might have spent all day getting and knows he can sell. The other is the 'Zen' shot. This is when the photo is so in the moment that there is no need to interpret it nor label it.

There are probably many ways to define what a 'Zen moment' is, but my favorite is when you perceive the moment, feel it totally and it's not damaged or even enhanced by any of your usual filters or expectations. It is what it is and you feel it deep in your soul. Zen photos, although they always fall short, attempt to capture that feeling.

Those 'ultimate' photographs were usually sandwiched between a lot of 'so-so' shots. This is why I love digital where I don't have to think twice about shooting the same subject from several angles or compositions.

Zen photos are not about being flattering-- although they can be. In the first one, the woman is swimming in a large expanse of water (happens to be a mountain lake). Her hair is graying but her smile is at peace. You can tell she's in her element. I like that kind of image of old women-- active, experiencing life. The grebe didn't know he/she was in a perfect reflection; but of the 5 photos of grebes, it's the only one that was. And the bald eagle probably was near its nest as the pair flew to this tree regularly, lingering on the highest branches to survey their kingdom. There are as many as four dozen pairs that nest around this lake. In the winter about a thousand, migrating bald eagles make this area their home.

(All images taken July 6-7, 2007 in Oregon at Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge-- a myriad network of marshes and habitats stretching into California and protected originally by Teddy Roosevelt. Conflict over water in this basin was a big issue several years ago as the Bush administration apparently have never seen a wildlife refuge they liked. More photos of the lake and marshes to come.)

Thursday, July 05, 2007


With this and that coming up, my schedule for posting here will be a lot looser-- mostly once or maybe twice a week as I end up doing things or going places that are not so easy to get online. I didn't want anyone to wonder as I know I do when someone I read regularly suddenly isn't there.

Summertime and the living' is easy... yeah right!

Oh and in this picture, taken June 30th, in case you wondered, I am not dying my hair, nor did I alter the photo; it's just the way the summer sun lit it. This is my new hat. Errr have I mentioned I have a thing for straw hats? Well, if I haven't, I should. They are theoretically bought to keep the sun off my face-- theoretically...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Fourth of July

The Fourth of July in the United States has always been a time of families, picnics, fireworks, reminders of how this country was begun, for what it has stood. It is a time citizens remember how lucky we are to live here. The land to which we or our ancestors came was one of abundant natural resources. It has given its people many gifts.

Much of what I find valuable-- our freedom, our desire to help others, our concern that every child has an opportunity to get an education-- has been increasingly threatened by the rise to power of those who see everything in terms of how much money it can make. It's rather sad really but there it is.

Fortunately for me, I was born into an era where the middle class has had benefits very few earlier generations had known. It is something we should not take for granted. Do we value the life we have known enough to stand up for it? Are we the first generation in this land that would trade liberty for security? Can you imagine our founding fathers making such a trade?

The Fourth can be a time to remind ourselves that winning isn't everything. Being right matters more than whether someone wins. I know that's not the popular way to look at life but it's true. You can think you won but because of how you did it, you really lost.

We are fighting a war, that more and more it's obvious, we were gotten into under false pretenses-- a nice way to say out and out lies. The men who led us into this war weren't willing to fight when it was their turn, but they don't mind sending young men and women to their death and for what?

I don't want to just be negative about this nation as currently it's been all too easy to do. What is best about us is our people. You can't prove that by our current leadership, but I see our people as mostly good, wanting to do right. I think we can and will fix what isn't right. We have made a start and if the Democrats who got in last fall don't do the job, we should keep tossing them out until we get those in office who are worthy of the heart of this country.

Mostly I don't write a lot about my family in here because I don't want to infringe on their privacy, but it just seems this Fourth that it's not enough to talk about our beginnings, or the things that have gone wrong. It's important to remember all that is right.

One example of that is my 'little' brother who runs a 'most of the time' one-man garage. He had a desire to be a mechanic from the time he was little and he became a darned good one. He's hard working, ethical, cares, and keeps his word. My brother is the salt of the earth, loves his family, loves to go fishing. He is the kind of man who has made this country what it has been.

Sure, I know, of course, I'd feel that way. I love him, am proud of him, but he's more than that. To me, he and millions like him represent the best part of what it means to be an American. What has gone wrong we will fix because we are a good people at heart. I truly do believe that.

Happy Fourth of July to people everywhere who value freedom and are willing to work for it.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

politics as usual

The 'commuting' of Scooter Libby's prison sentence was inevitable. The cry from the right has gone out since the whole thing began that he should be pardoned. They did not want him tried because he only lied about something that was not a crime. Never mind that the reason it was not a crime was because obstruction of justice was in full force.

The same people who believe Iraq secretly carried out 9/11 were gung-ho on seeing Libby do no prison time. They would have been furious and made their fury felt with their dollars. Bush could not afford to ignore them as they are his only contributers and fans left. If you were among those who thought Bush did right, you are in the right wing no matter what you want to call yourself.

A jury found Scooter Libby guilty of perjury-- which happens to be a crime unless you are one of the President's men or is that Vice President's. The judges who oversaw his case were all Republican appointees... who maybe valued the rule of the law more than most on that side. Oh yes, he claimed he didn't remember important events (after all sending people off to war based on lies is not that big a deal to keep in mind, now is it?), but is there anybody right or left who doesn't know his lies and bad memory were all to cover up for his boss and most probably the President.

They say it wasn't a crime to out Valerie Plame because she was not covert by their legal definition which meant it was not enough that she go overseas with a false identity to spy or help spying (and remember what she was looking for related to the terrorists who attacked us), she had to live over there so many months or years. That is like 'it depends on what the definition of is is.'

There was never any chance Bush would dare have let Libby go to prison due to the secrets Libby knows. He has been a loyal soldier but not to this country. No, it's been to the Bush administration and their plots-- wherever they would take this country. None of these men (including that whole slate currently running on the right) are patriots.

The first president of this country, George Washington, was a man who truly did believe in democracy, rejected being made a king, fought courageously with his troops when he could have been in a safe, warm house directing the war from afar. He was no perfect man but who is? Maybe the stories of the beginnings of our nation were not all we might have been taught in grade school, but they are sure a lot more to be proud of than what we currently have leading our nation.

To this supposed law and order bunch a pardon was the right thing-- because Scooter's a nice guy. Yeah, he's the kind that falls on his sword for his king and doesn't care what that does to the nation for the values that his group supposedly are there to uphold.

Sad day for some of us. Yes, I know the right is cheering but they lost more than they gained as you always do when you trade honor for power. They have betrayed everything this nation has supposedly stood for and the worst part is their time in power isn't over. If any of the current Republicans, with the possible exception of Ron Paul, get in office, we will have more of the same and someday it'll be too late to save our nation from them. That's scary.

I didn't like the idea of anybody going to jail but Martha Stewart did her jail time for something that didn't even impact people's lives, didn't cause others to die, didn't get us into a war. Where was that law and order bunch on that?

What we witnessed yesterday was the ultimate obstruction of justice as now Libby has no motive to tell the truth and the Bush administration continues on their merry way.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Mountain Stream

I have a fascination with water
in whatever form I find it
from the lowly puddle to the mighty sea, but most especially in
mountain streams.
It is not enough for me to see water.
Possessively, I want to own it!
Yes, I know... no one can own water--
at best we borrow it,
but I try through touching, wading, swimm
ing, and photographing.

I want to ma
ke it part of me--
after all, are we not one?

I peer beneath its surface

to see what treasures it might hold
I look for its reflections.
I linger along its banks,
taking some of its power for my own
. Does it guess why I am here?

Mountain streams are boisterous,
isy, fast moving
proud of their own strength--
relentless in their quest toward the sea. They begin gradually, a spring, a bit of snow melt.

Their power grows until nothing must stand
in their way
to complete
their cycle of life--
only to begin again!

Yes, they are like me.....

Kootenai Creek Trail, Bitterroot Valley, Montana