Sunday, November 30, 2008

Personal Terrorism

To go with yesterday's post: Nicholas Kristof on acid attacks on women. As always he knows because he goes there, he sees it and he talks to the people.

Things in Iraq are better depending on who you are: Iraq honor killings of women

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Where does it stop?

In the United States, sometimes Republicans seem to imply Democrats not only don't want to fight terrorism but also have no idea how to do it; on the other hand, Republicans know exactly how. They claim George Bush kept this country safe for the last 8 years by torturing people and attacking Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 but was ruled by a brutal although secular dictator.

The argument goes that because there have been no further attacks here, Bush succeeded even though he did not get the mastermind behind 9/11. In fact for a long time, he said it didn't matter. Was that because he didn't want him except as an excuse? Over and over we would be told some 9/11 mastermind had been killed or captured but usually with a name we never heard before he was taken out. The two names we have heard the most still are either free or died of natural causes in Pakistan.

The fact that Barack Obama said we should have finished the job in Afghanistan is argued that means he's a pacifist. When he said we were distracted by Iraq and it was a sinkhole that would swallow us, he was being weak. When he said we should go into Pakistan to get bin Laden, to break up these networks hiding there, it was said that's too tough. Pakistan is our friend (never mind that we have now been making discrete, targeted attacks across the border or that we are much hated in Pakistan). If you are looking for logic, don't even start looking into any of this. Logic plays no role in it.

Anyone, be they Islamic or of no religion, should see the problem with the Islamic extremists who are still active around the world, and in some cases still control countries. It would be nice to make the argument that all religions are equal for the good and damage they can do, but it doesn't actually hold water.

Most religions, if you go back in their beginning sacred texts, might begin in a bloodthirsty way, but many have come to see the beginning wasn't right and have moved onto other ways of seeing their responsibility to creating a civilized world.

I hear the argument that there are two parts of Islam. One is more peaceful such as we saw with Anwar Sadat, and the other more brutal as we have seen with the Taliban. The latter part is what is funding and providing the human fodder to attempt to take over the Arab world for starters. Could we believe that those extreme elements would stop at the borders of current Arab nations if they consolidate their power?

In some Islamic controlled regions, people can be stoned to death for adultery (including those considered more moderate like Saudi Arabia). In Somalia, there was a 13 year old girl who had been raped, reported it and that led to her being stoned to death for adultery. CNN story. Somalia, of course, is a nation with no formal government and is being ruled by the worst Muslim elements, but it's not the only place such things have happened or would happen if the extreme elements of Islam gain power.

Out of these extreme elements have come the kind of men who attacked Mumbai. At the time I am writing this, they have not yet proven from where they came; but whether it was internal to India, from Pakistan, al Qaeda connected, or someone else, they would have one thing in common with all other such attacks-- Muslim extremists seeking revenge for past wrongs. Sound familiar? Religion and ethnicity seem to be at the heart of their crusade. Terrorism is their vehicle to right past wrongs and one more thing-- gain power.

What I didn't know until this happened was that India is 13.4% Muslim and at one time was ruled by a Muslim king: A bit of history of Deccan India. The group, who claimed credit, feel they have been repressed and persecuted (statistics would tend to back up their claims). They may well have gotten weapons and training in Pakistan or at a Madrasah (spelled different ways) school but they wouldn't have had to go outside India to do this.

In Islam today there is a segment that wants to find intellectual solutions to problems. They, like the King of Saudi Arabia, are trying to fund and grow schools that will make Arabs equal to anyone in the world for success, something that had been true in the past before the negative arm of Islam appeared to gain an upper hand. There is another segment who murders teachers, considers secular education to be a threat, and believes only their religion offers what anyone needs to know.

When someone says we have to kill the ones who carry out terrorist acts, I say great. Let's do it. The problem is how do you find them? Sometimes they die themselves in their attacks. Who trained and funded them? It didn't take much money in either the case of the attacks of 9/11 or the recent one in Mumbai. All you need are people willing to die for their cause. They can be living next door to those who would find such an act to be an abomination to god.

Has the United States with its brutalizing of suspected enemies increased or stopped the likelihood of there being more young men and women rising up willing to die for their cause? Have George Bush and his cohorts encouraged the Arab world to see there are better options for a good life than religious extremism or has he empowered that segment? Without the kind of education that the King of Saudi Arabia is promoting, there is no hope, but most of the hijackers on 9/11 were educated and Saudis. So it's not that simple either.

I am not one who believes we can talk reasonably to people who are have gone to the level of considering terrorism to be a reasonable approach to getting their way. I don't believe we should ignore the extremist groups who train such people to carry out attacks. There should be a penalty. How do you find them before they commit an atrocity? It's not like we can kill everybody who is a Muslim. They represent one-fifth of the world's population and are in almost every country. What kind of monsters would the rest of the world have to be to kill innocent people to get at a few bad ones? If we did that, wouldn't we be like the terrorists? Does evil beget good?

Good Islamic people are obviously in the majority, or this situation would be worse than it is. Of the good people though, are there some who secretly applaud what the terrorists have done? Are there those, who while they would never do a violent act, are supportive of the Islamic extremist desire to take over much of the Arab world and maybe beyond forcing it to abide by their interpretation of their religious precepts.

To the Western mind, Islamic religious control, even in moderate nations, is bad, most especially for women who must hide their bodies, cover their hair, not drive a car, can't meet with a man alone without being threatened with punishment, and on it goes. Government retribution is often very violent.

Not all Muslims desire world conquest. Most are content to live peaceful lives and follow their own beliefs but not force them onto others. How do we, and they, weed out the ones who think otherwise? That's why this is not that simple. Terrorists and their supporters often live among ordinary people who are peaceful. Often their own neighbors don't know who they are. How do we find them first before the violence?

The problem with terrorist attacks like what happened in Mumbai is the murderers have used as an excuse things in the past that were done to their people. Resentment about these wrongs, as they see it, are what is used to make people willing to die themselves for revenge. Muslims are massacred. Muslims massacre. Do a search on any of that and you will find endless links to stories. Where does it stop?

I think:

it has to stop with moderate Islamic peoples turning against those who do these things, not letting religious loyalty protect those who are hurting all Muslims.

it has to stop by people seeing that they make their own lives good, help others to make theirs work, and it's what leads to future generations finding joy.

it has to be stopped by government retaliation that is appropriate, devastatingly effective, focused, with no safe borders to hide behind, but not just killing anybody from an opposing religion.

it has to stop when people teach their children revenge doesn't work. Let go of those past wrongs because if we don't, they will destroy us.

it has to stop now, not after revenge that just starts the cycle again.

There is a difference between revenge and justice, and it's something a good educational system can help people to understand. A better world is one that is better for all. It is very sad when religion and ethnicity are excuses for killing as clearly they were this week in Mumbai.

What do you think?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanks Giving

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!

Holidays are always difficult for me to write about, even one as positive as Thanksgiving which celebrates giving as well as gratitude. It is a time of harvest, a recognition of what our harvest has been. It is celebrated at a different time in Canada and not by the same name other places, but almost everyone has a celebration of the harvest.

Thanksgiving morning happens to be a new moon at 8:56 AM PST. If you combine the concept of new moon with thanksgiving, you have a time for a small, personal ritual to recognize what has been good about this year or what we might need to eliminate to make the coming year better. New moons are considered to be times for planting intentions.

By being grateful and stopping to think about what we have in our life for which to be grateful, we are dwelling on the positive. When we think what we wish to draw to ourselves, we enhance that power. What is getting our attention is often what will grow-- positive or negative.

This year with the economic uncertainty worldwide, it's harder than usual for many who are suffering with job losses, investment disappointments, deteriorating home values, health problems, financial as well as environmental concerns, and then where will terrorists strike next?

How can we not ask where are we heading? If even the experts don't know, it's not hard to understand how this could be a difficult Thanksgiving. It is hard to be positive when we have no idea why any of this is happening.

An example: the price of gasoline skyrocketed then dropped like a stone. None of it had anything to do with supply and demand, but rather an investment world that has no regulation and no clue what it's doing. For those who cheer when the prices drop, think about the instability that suggests nobody has been in control; or if they have had control, they must be those who profit from chaos.

My Thanksgiving will be with family and for that I am grateful. I am though thinking about the year ahead and entering a bit of a hunker down and be ready for whatever comes mood. I know it's not good to spend less, as that costs jobs, but how can one not think that this holiday season should have some personal control as to spending? How can one not wonder what is coming?

Are we heading for a full depression? What about global warming, the thousand pound gorilla in this unstable situation? Will jobs be helped by Obama's plan or will that be more money sent out like say in fixing New Orleans that goes to the same old same old and the infrastructure doesn't get rebuilt at all while somebody sucks up the profits? I know it's a new president, but it's the same Congress and the same business climate. What will it take to change it?

It's hard to have faith in any government after the last eight years. One person wrote that we in the United States are like a people who are being liberated and there is some sense of that-- unless you were among those who liked what was happening under Bush and then you are heading into even more uncertain times.

So my personal goals for the coming year are to be grateful for what I have, make the most of whatever opportunities come my way, be frugal, watch what is happening around me, stay out of debt, be loving, and give wherever it can make a difference. Throwing money at problems is not in that category.

(The petroglyph from Moab, Utah is a reminder of how people have always tried to understand their environment, their world, tried to make the most of their situation. There is a strong sense of power in this place. I have been there twice.

The rock is called birthing rock. The mythology is that perhaps women went there when they wanted to become pregnant or were going to have a baby since the figure is birthing something but what is it? Perhaps the symbolism goes beyond pregnancy to what most of us desire to birth-- a better world for all.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

joint sorrow

I just want to tell our friends in India how sorry I am, as are all in this country, to hear about the terrible attack in Mumbai. The news here has been following it, our hearts are with you, and we all are so upset for what you must be going through.

One regular reader here, Ugich Konitari, lives there and perhaps more who come sometimes. I hope none of your family or loved ones were in the area when this awful thing happened.

When we hear about something like this, it impacts us all. The world has to find better ways to deal with political differences that seem to too often explode into violence :(

Cougars-- no, not the wildlife

For awhile now I have been hearing the term cougar to describe older women (from their 40s to an undefined upper limit) with a yen for younger men or was that older women who could still attract younger men? Or maybe it's both.

I had little interest in it beyond some cultural curiosity since (besides being in a relationship) younger men, as such, have never appealed to me in the romantic sense. Maybe it's because I have a 50 year old son-in-law and a nearly 40 year old son? (Maybe not as I don't remember ever thinking men much younger than myself were that appealing even in movies which is getting to be a problem as the older guys are often no longer playing romantic leads, with a few exceptions and when they do, it's too often with a woman young enough to be their granddaughter.)

To me, age differences, when less than 10 years either way don't matter; but beyond that, I'd think there would be some things that the couple would not have shared for common experiences. Would I want to date a guy where I had to explain who Sky King was? I think not.

It would not make me feel younger to know a younger man was attracted to me; and if I was out looking and was interested in a younger man, he better not look younger. No way would I want to walk into a restaurant and have the server thinking I was with my son-- unless I was.

Then I heard a new take on cougars. It was in a clip from the Today Show where Meredith Viera was interviewing three older women (by older I am guessing from 50s to maybe 70 or thereabouts) as they discussed what a cougar was and that it didn't have to relate to marital status. There was a website and on the website is the video of that interview if you click down a ways:


Since this was a new definition to the term, I did a little research online. It appears still that most of the time cougar means an older woman looking for a younger man (you would be amazed at how many sites there are to display your older woman status or if you are a guy looking for one, to see what's available. No, I did not check them out to see what the women looked like).

The impression I got, from reading some of the pieces on the 'Real Cougar Woman' site, is that being a cougar is more about who the woman is and not about the man she's with or even if she wants to be with someone. A cougar woman is confident in herself, sensual, energetic, with the knowledge that comes with experience. If riding a dragon is what is required to get her where she wants to go, she will do it.

There was a time where, I think, ages were more clearly defined as to what was expected. Not that some women didn't go against the norms, but there was a general cultural consensus of what was appropriate at 20 but not okay at 70.

Some of this has maybe changed because of many products out there designed to make someone look younger, a drumbeat of advertising, and many women in the business world where there can be age discrimination. But it might not just be about trying to look younger. Maybe something, in terms of who we are as women, has just changed period. What do women expect for themselves today?

After reading the site for cougar women (not joining) I had to ask myself. Is that who I am? The women in the interview said that being a cougar is about being true to your age, not trying to dress like a young woman but dressing in ways that can be glamorous and accentuates where you are today. It is about women who are or have been successful at something. I think that could be at anything that has left the woman feeling empowered by what she knows she can do. It is not about beauty, weight or age but an empowering inner spirit.

As I often do when I want to illustrate a concept, I decided to get some pictures of cougar women. The easiest ones came as I remembered some self-portraits Parapluie had painted. Could they be any more powerful as images of an inner self?

Then, since I can't very well go asking certain women I see out if I can take their picture, there was taking some photos of me. I found out (like with the wink), that this wasn't as easy as it sounded. It's not particularly hard to look sexy in a photo, to look like you're having fun, to be grandmotherly, or to look outdoorsy, but what says to others-- this is a cougar woman? Should she be relaxed, at ease, moving, thoughtful? I know these women when I see them, but how do I capture that in a photograph?

I think a cougar woman should have a certain spirit, an aura. I think she can be any age. She's not trying to sell herself because she is comfortable with who she is. She should have a look in her eyes that says she knows something. Others see that and are drawn to it. The problem is obvious: How do you show that in a photograph? Feelings are always challenging to photograph. Easy to take a vacation picture or a catalog shot. Harder to capture soul. I am not sure I ever succeeded but will try again sometime as to me this concept is about empowerment for women.

Poor Farm Boss, trying to understand what I was talking about, and then tasked with snapping the photo at the right moment-- or not. Self-timed has a drawback when you are trying to get into a certain mood while at the same time jumping up, pushing the camera button, getting back down and posing before it clicks (although not bad if you want one that looks like you are ready to pounce).

One thing I can say, this is no way to get into the mood for Thanksgiving...

Incidentally, check out Parapluie's blog, Umbrella Painting Journal as she is writing a novelette in installments, which explores the creative world of a female artist.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bare Bones of Winter

Strictly speaking, legally, winter is not here until the Solstice, December 21st, but it feels like it's here now. The leaves are mostly stripped from the trees, branches are fully revealed, mornings are cold, sometimes all through the day, and it will be this way until sometime in late February or early March when it will all begin to change and resurrection will begin.These photos are from a walk up the hill behind the farm, and all symbolize what winter feels like here in the Pacific Northwest.Although we do get snow, it comes rarely. Generally the days are made up of the low-lying sun, colors of gray, dark green, and brown with occasional accents of red or white berries left behind on the bushes. The sun is probably appreciated now more than in any other season.

These photos were taken with both Rebels. I am still not sure whether the new one will take as good of photos as my old one. The xsi is faster, has more potential-- once I learn more about it. Is lighter weight and that's a big plus when hiking; still I am not ready to give up the old one just yet.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mongol

"Don't despise a weak cub, it can appear the son of a tiger." Mongolian proverb

which pretty well sets the tone for the film, Mongol, the story of Genghis Khan's rise to power. Mongol is in Mongolian (with subtitles), has stars who look like they could have belonged in the culture they are portraying, and was filmed in the area where Genghis Khan grew from the boy Temudgin to become one of those historic figures still talked about today. To the West, his has been the name of a brutal barbarian. To the East, he is a hero who nearly conquered all of the known world. Supposedly this film is part one of what will be a three part series to tell his story.

Mongol is the story of a boy growing to a man, of spiritual belief in powers beyond our knowing, of development of a culture, and of a great love that sustained both Temugin and his wife Borte (Khulan Chuluun who is Mongolian) through separations and dangers.

Genghis Khan (Tadanobu Asano, who is Japanese) united his people through his strength of purpose, his ability to motivate others to follow him, and a concept of giving the people rules they could live under where trust would then be possible.

As is typical of films, the movie does not totally follow the life of Genghis Khan but is close enough to make you feel what isn't in history might have been true. For anyone interested in researching it further, Wikipedia gives a good start.

[Anyone not interested in reincarnation theories, stop here.]

"It is not more surprising to be born twice than once; everything in nature is resurrection." Voltaire

"Finding myself to exist in the world; I believe I shall in some shape or other always exist; and with all the inconveniences human life is liable to, I shall not object to some new edition of mine,hoping, however, that the 'errata' of the last maybe corrected." Benjamin Franklin

"My doctrine is: Live so that thou mayest desire to live again-- that is thy duty-- for in any case thou wilt again." Nietzsche

When you look at your natal astrology chart (which means where the planets were when you were born, location of birth, the exact timing), it can tell more than your personality traits. A talented reader can give possible dates and places of past lives which are impacting this life. In other words, you would have had many other past lives, but some had elements in which you will be working on improving or growing in this lifetime. These might be your interests, your talents, goals, or your problems. Those show up in your planets and their positions.

When I was into studying astrology, accumulating a lot of books on the subject, learning as much as a mathematics challenged person can, I explored this aspect of astrology. Using a book called The Elements of Reincarnation by A T Mann, I found through his charts times for some of my own past lifetimes. With the help of a astrologer friend who could do geographic alignments, one of mine would have been Mongolian before the time of the great khans, a time of horse cultures and tribes, where women had more freedom than in many other contemporaneous cultures.

Because at that time I was doing charts for friends in a chat room where I was going, I found a few others could have also been in that lifetime. Through another book that uses astrology for possible relationships between signs, Karmic Relationships by Martin Schulman, I was able to put together my own Mongolian story of family, love, freedom, power, and betrayal.

For some time I have thought to incorporate that story, real to me or not, into a fictional novel about reincarnation and how in a woman's current life, she is facing problems than only through discovering her past life relationships can she solve. My interest in writing such a story led to accumulating some books on Mongolia, its history and its people just in case I did the story.

Was what astrology told me, what I pieced together like a puzzle, a real past life? It would not surprise me, because of my interest in elements that would have been part of such a life; but, if so, it was not one of the ones I got through regressions.

Still I like the image of a woman with long black hair riding fast across the steppes, living in a yurt, loving a good man, giving birth to a daughter who would have more power than she had, possibly even participating in the rituals which might be a lot like Native American ones. Real or not, it's a satisfying image.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

a meme about me

Normally I avoid memes but once in awhile, I get tagged (this time by Kay at Kay's Thinking Cap) and looking at the question find it is an easy one without any work attached in answering. What I am not comfortable doing is tagging six other bloggers even though I can think of a few that it would be interesting to read their random facts. Except, I'm a Libra... what if they don't want to do it?

So I will answer the question for me; and if it is intere
sting to you, please do it and leave a link here to let readers know.

Rules:
Link to the person who tagged you
Post the rules on your blog
Tag six people at the end of the post
Let each person know they've been tagged
Link to the tagees, when their entries are up

Six Random Things about Me:

  1. I am 5' 6½" tall and used to think I was tall, but it's becoming less and less so as young women get taller, which bothers me as I liked being the tallest woman, sometimes tallest person even, in a store. (Double checking my height, since I know people do lose height as they age, I am still 5'6½"... for now).
  2. I am not actually shy but am an introvert which means I am not intimidated by people, can actually stand up in front of a group and speak if required, get along fine at parties, enjoy time with family and friends-- but need more time alone than say an extrovert. I don't feel a need to be life of the party, don't need the reinforcement of being in groups, and do benefit emotionally and creatively from a lot of solitary time.
  3. Most of the time, in my own home, like when writing this, I prefer quiet-- no radio or television in the background. Part of this is to hear if the animals outside are in trouble-- and they will definitely let me know. Cow bellowing too long might mean calf down or sheep hooves pounding past could mean predator in field. Still even without livestock, I enjoy the sound of nature outside the window or even no sounds hence keep all household noise to the bare minimum. TV or radio are only on when I want to listen to something specific or am sitting watching a program. As background, it'd only make me nervous.
  4. If I didn't stop myself, my wardrobe would be all black. I make myself buy colored tops and then mostly wear the black or brown ones. I celebrated when deep brown became a popular color. Pastels not only don't look good on me, but I just don't care for them in my house or on my body.
  5. I like candles, buy boxes of all sizes, and burn a lot but always white. Whether it's a votive, a long taper, or a column, I want white ones with no scent. To me, the perfectly decorated room has candles burning everywhere, electric lights off, and a fire in the fireplace. With three cats, I have to be cautious about where I set candles; so I find safe places and good solid holders that don't tip easily. (I might add candlelight reflects off my white hairs making them look blondish, and hides facial lines.)
  6. Getting old has been interesting, but I can't say I'm crazy about it other than considering the alternative. I find it amazing to have gotten to 65, wonder what is coming next, and sometimes glance at myself in a mirror and catch a reflection that looks like one of my aunts or grandmothers (who have long since passed on). Aging is a mix of making the best of it, facing it for what it is, and thinking-- oh my gosh!
(We have a new camera in our family-- Canon's Rebel xsi which took the above photo. Costco offered it with two lenses, both with Image Stabilization which considering how shaky I am (familial tremors, a seventh random fact) is going to be a big help toward less failed photographs. It also will shoot faster when the cattle, sheep, wildlife, or grandchildren are in motion.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Five Secrets-- or are there more?

Periodically, I think about what life is all about. I have been through many phases of believing I had it pinned down to thinking no matter how hard I try to figure it out, I cannot. It is a circle where I can go round and round, but usually come back to one thought-- so far.

The very fact that I exist at all is beyond logic or my reasoning's ability to figure out. Mystery. Life is mystery but it is also a gift. Where I am right now, today, is trying to live with awareness, observation, contribution, but letting be the part where I figure it out.

With regularity, I enjoy some blogs where the people go on and on about what existence means. Often, what it appears to mean to them is a lot of words. Some make a lot of money from writing those very words and putting them into books. The newest, bestest-ever secret of life books.

One opinion I have come to believe, after having read many of these books and enjoying the type of blogs that have a lot of words, is we do not learn about the spiritual dimension of life in any of them. We can read them; some are very inspiring, including the Bible; but life is meant to be experienced, lived and if we live it, without an agenda, for what it has to mean, but an openness to what it might mean, to what we see around us, the coincidences, the events, that's where we learn about and even better, become part of life's spiritual dimension. The beauty of living that way is automatically the physical and emotional aspects of life will also be fully lived.

Having gotten to the ripe old age of 65, I do not think that what is true for anyone at one point in their life may always be true. Hence books and wordy blogs might be good for some at some points in their life. That we can change our minds, see things a different way as we go through different experiences, that doesn't mean we were initially wrong. It means we have changed. Nor is what is good for us equally good for everyone else. It might be. We can share our experiences for what worked for us, but people are all different.

Also, I believe some go through all of life without any spiritual thoughts of their own. They can do this even in a church. Sit in that pew. Listen but not integrate whether it makes sense or whether it can be applied. Words can sound so inspiring that we cease to listen to whether they make sense. Acceptance is the key word. Faith another, but in what?! Does it matter that some people might do that? If reincarnation is true, it might. Most who live that way do not believe in reincarnation.

Dragonflies, which always fascinate me, who I always try to photograph and often cannot, are excellent examples of life stages. They live most of their lives in the water as a 'water bug' and then a metamorphosis happens and they come out of the water, shed that shell which has protected them, dry their wings, and fly off to end their life in the air.

Some would say an example like that has no meaning beyond biology. So what if the dragonfly sheds a shell? We are flesh and blood. We don't shed shells (at least not physical ones). They would say enjoy what you are living and quit worrying about any meaning to it. From what I have said above, you can tell, I wouldn't argue with someone who thought that way. I might believe that at some point they will change their thinking...

I thought the following little video, which I got in an email, had some good thoughts about life, whichever of the above viewpoints you might have. Naturally I would think that since I have thought many of the same things. The video is intended to get the viewer to buy a book. Sorry author, but I think the five key points mentioned would say you don't need any book. While I would not see them as all the secrets there are, nor that they are even necessarily secret, I do think they provide a good starting point for evaluating if we are living life as fully as possible.

It's interesting because as I would read one of them, I'd think, yeah that has meant thus and thus to my life; then would come the next and it had a reversed potential meaning for me. I don't see that as bad. I think it's part of the beauty and the mystery of life. At this point, in my life, I am not trying to put anything into boxes. One of the best things about life, I think, is we that we will not get it all in one lifetime nor should we expect to do so. We just can live our truth as best we know it.

Definitely click on this video. It takes less than five minutes to watch:

The Five Secrets

(Photos both from October. Sunset on the farm. Dragonfly at Finley Wildlife Refuge.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fall on the Farm

Farm autumn colors from right before the first heavy rains that came to strip the leaves, leaving the branches bare. Fall, perhaps more than any other season is such a reminder of how our own life is also part of the seasons. Winter is just around the bend.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

While we aren't looking

I hate to be writing another negative post but saw this on the week-end and thought what the @#$%$#@! It seems the media is interested in reporting ad nauseum on the tiniest aspect of some things, like say the dog the future first couple should select, there are others that they ignore almost completely. Like this: Looting of America.

This story is about police and laws that have been passed allowing them to choose when to confiscate property-- whether the person is proven guilty of having done anything or not. All it takes is suspicion; and if you have cash on you, they can take it. Or more of your property. One instance was shoplifting a $25 sweater which led to confiscation, of a $12,000 specially equipped auto for a handicapped daughter, as the suggested get away car.

A lot of us care about things only when they happen to us but by the time they do, it's too late to care.

When I think about abuse of government power, Randy Weaver and Ruby Ridge come to mind. Back then, it seemed BATF was a group that had quite a few of these incidents. Sometimes it was the wrong house. Sometimes, as in the case of the Weavers, targeting someone to make them cooperate in other investigations. Whatever it was, the Weavers and their tragic story was one of the worst examples of government run amok.

We as a people have let ourselves lose a lot of rights, and it didn't start with George W. Bush although it was enhanced under his time in power. For a long time I heard about how some police departments abused minorities. There was a story of a Phoenix congresswoman who was black, got arrested because she was out of place-- a black in a nice neighborhood-- except it was her neighborhood. Where it used to be primarily minorities, it can be anyone. That doesn't mean I distrust the police; but power can corrupt and we should pay attention to what is done to everyone in our community as next time it might be us.

What do you think? Can any of this be changed or are we on a road where there is no turning back? To me, this confiscation of property when no crime has been proven is just wrong or even when it's a man who got caught with a prostitute and they want to take the family auto he was driving. Is any of that fair? If the departments profit from such confiscations, they have more reason to do it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I am the government and I am here to help

For me, this is the flat season, the one where the days increasingly are darker, the farm has more mud, the animals are more dissatisfied, and I... well I just get through it. It's not the pretty part of fall where the leaves are colorful and change is in the air. Change is here and it's dark, wet and cold.

There are pluses to it like more fires in the fireplace and I light more candles than at any other time of the year. I am watching more old movies. I kind of like the sparseness on the deck which isn't really big enough for two chaise lounges in the summer, but how would you have only one? The leaves are mostly blown off the driveway, small gravel garden, and deck but a few will come down all winter. The small table and chairs are under cover so again more feeling of space and light.

The little birds are all over the place with a full bird feeder to help them through their own dark time. That brought in the young golden eagle which was neat to see, but I am not fond of them near the house because of having a small house cat who doesn't know she's small and who might be tempting to an eagle under certain circumstances.

When I follow politics, which is still most of the time, I don't really know what is best to do. I find it hard to pick out things to write about here that aren't negative. Mostly it's the downers that we notice and think-- we should fix that. The good things we are glad for but they don't require action; so it's onto the next upsetting one. Naturally the news is big on the upsetting ones as they make the best stories.

I thought Bill Maher had a good point last night on the Rachel Maddow show, guest hosted by Arianna Huffington (and I agreed with Old Lady that not just anybody is good at that job. Arianna has been good as a guest debating issues and at putting together Huffington Post and that's been pretty much it).

Maher said he's been following what Obama does but not trying to second guess it because during the campaigns, he did that a lot and usually it turned out Obama was right in his instincts. He said we aren't used to having a smart president and we should sit back and give this a try. See how it works out before we go saying this or that was wrong or good.

The other thing we aren't used to, none of us, is something else-- a man in leadership who can let things roll off his back, who doesn't get his personal ego in the way of doing what he feels is best for the country and even himself. Bill Clinton was plenty smart, but we can still tell that he holds grudges like nobody's business.

So we had Bush who may not have held grudges but was lazy intellectually-- maybe. To be honest, I don't know about Bush. It depends on what his goals were. Is it possible that destroying the clout of the middle class, damaging our economy so the government had no money for new programs, fighting wars we didn't need to take more of our rights through new laws and enabling private contractors to take money with no accountability (now possibly certain financial institutions as once again a lot is gone with no apparent accountability),letting New Orleans fail in rebuilding so a few rich could profit from it, raping our environment for dollars in corporate pockets, ignoring global climate change, and the list goes on, maybe all of that was part of a plan behind a benign mask of he just doesn't know what he's doing...

One thing Americans should have learned by now is that it takes government and business working together to bring prosperity. We are not a simple wild West world where anything goes. There has to be management, direction, but you can't turn corporations into the bad guys as they are important for prosperity.

Don't hire people to run government who don't believe in it. When Ronald Reagan said the most scary words anybody hears is I am the government and I am here to help, well he should have set about making it not true by making government effective. That wasn't what he did or what he taught a whole generation of Republicans to do.

It's time for government (Democrats and Republicans) to rethink that old Reagan saying, and make it untrue. Especially if we are asked to bail out the auto industry which might be needed but will fail if government doesn't work with the corporation to renew how it does things including labor contracts. Government doesn't have to be the bad guy anymore than corporations do; but right now, too often, it has been. We the people can demand better. We have to demand better.

I woke up thinking about what Farm Boss had been telling me about one of the groups that is encouraging creative, new energy development in our country and across the world. It has been funded by The King of Saudi Arabia: Global Research Partnership of KAUST. New ideas for a new time and encouraging to me for what our country can do once we recognize government's potential role in promoting new ideas and ways.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Talk me down

Rachel Maddow has a feature on her MSNBC news program that she calls talk me down where she discusses an issue that is upsetting her and brings in someone to understand or help her feel better about it. Okay, this is my talk me down and for those sick of politics, come back another day as it's politics.

The election is over-- at least most of us, win or lose, thought so with a sigh of relief. Now we can wait to see what Obama does. Will he be successful? Will he make mistakes? That is not how all saw it. There is a faction that apparently has only one goal in mind-- either negate the election or back to impeachment. Anything but allow a Democrat to have any successes. Before you tell me Democrats do the same thing, let's save that argument for another day, another blog. This is about today.

What is wrong with Republicans like Alan Keyes and the Rush Limbaugh wing of the far right? What is it with these self-centered, mostly ignorant and fear-filled emails that won't stop giving? Do extreme right wingers only care about abortion, gay marriage, paying taxes on anything, or their political party winning? Is this their idea of patriotism?

One writer on Huffington put it well-- what doesn't destroy the far right only makes them crazier-- and so it would seem.

There is a new email circulating the net from a well-driller, who clearly doesn't know anything about Obama's actual proposed tax policies, but his email is full of resentment of the poor because it's their fault. He brags how well he's done but gives nobody but himself and maybe his family credit for it.

Okay, let's put aside whether the poor deserve help (and ignore things like this: The Bible and poverty. Let's look instead at part of why our deficit has risen so much. Did this well-driller favor the Iraqi War; and if so, how did he expect to pay for it? Or is he going to try and blame that also on Obama? Tax cut or war, either one but both?

What is upsetting me more than circulating resentment soaked emails, and what I need to feel better about is that Keyes (who makes his money off donations through resentments and who lost a senate election to Obama in Illinois by a landslide) and other far righties have filed suits to try to stop the Electoral College from certifying our votes for Barack Obama as president until he shows them a live birth certificate and not just a certified birth certificate proving he was born in Hawaii and not Kenya. Why this story is still ongoing is because of a technicality about the equivalent if someone had gone after McCain's birth in Panama.

The accusation is that Obama's mother made a hurried trip to Kenya, had her baby there, flew back to the United States and registered Obama's birth. In the United States, if you are a citizen and you give birth overseas, your baby is an American citizen if you so designate. Clearly this should have been true for Obama's mother, whatever the case. The complication is her age and when Hawaii became a state. There has been some loosening of the age restrictions which means even if he was born in Kenya, he'd be recognized as a United States citizen from birth and hence qualified to be president; which is likely why we didn't hear anything from McCain, who is not part of the nutcase fringe, about this.

Fact Check went to a lot of trouble to view Obama's birth certificate and certify it as legitimate. They also included, in their analysis, the words of Hawaiian state health director who saw the original certificate on file in Honolulu and certifies that Obama was born there. This is more than is required to prove citizenship, but it's not enough for the wacko fringe of the Republican party. All they really want is some way to negate the vote of the people.

Help me understand what is wrong with extremists like these? Why do they have any credibility with anybody? If nobody donates to them or listens to their programs would they continue to have power?

Hearing what Limbaugh has been saying since the election has made me wonder even more why anybody listens to him with his spewing of hate which along with the Sean Hannitys has led to more death threats against Obama than any president-elect ever.

Thirty million people listen to Limbaugh regularly. How can we get anywhere as a united people with that going on? And, no I don't favor taking him off the air, but it would help if more people just quit listening unless they are also fanatics. Don't give these people money or ratings if you don't agree with them.

Did you read about Rexburg, Idaho, where the children on the school bus were chanting assassinate Obama, adding the names of kids on the bus who had supported him? Or the right wing fear mongers who are rushing out to buy guns? Or the legislator who fears that a worker program in this country would resemble the Nazis more than the WPA (which helped build infrastructure during the Great Depression)? Rush Limbaugh is already calling this the Obama depression.

What is wrong with such people? I hear ingineer here, and I know others who voted for McCain but because they are patriots, they wish Obama well; so I know it's not all Republicans. Why do any Republicans support those who act so selfishly and destructively? Or are Republicans finally going to turn on that fringe?

How about, whatever your party allegiance, the next time you get one of those hate-filled emails, tell the person not to send you more?

I remember when the far right went after impeaching Clinton for lying about a sex act. His lying was wrong but what they did was more about trying to take his power, to distract him. The end result was they distracted themselves also and bin Laden benefited. They, like Newt Gingrich who was busily involved in his own affair at the time, have still not taken responsibility for what they did.

If Keyes is successful in harassing Obama for what is at best a technicality, we're heading for more of the same. I have heard commenters here saying they will impeach Obama immediately. They obviously cannot do that by themselves, but a site out there is drawing those who hope to do so. How is that going to help our nation in a time of so much turmoil and danger?

One reason so many Republicans got thrown out of office was how they voted in lockstep with everything President Bush wanted even when it went against conservative principles. It wasn't all about Obama, McCain or even Bush. It was because those elected officials had not done what was best for this country and instead had party loyalty as their first loyalty. In my opinion, both parties should put the good of the country first not their winning elections. Is that asking too much?

If Obama improves the economy by his policies, doesn't try to turn the country socialist, doesn't try to confiscate all guns, raises our standing in the world, etc etc., will this change these people's minds? Is it possible for any president to be president of all the people as he said the night he won the nomination?

(Young golden eagle from farm yard this week-end.)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hillary for Secretary of State?

Since I did not favor the idea of Hillary Clinton for president nor vice-president, it might seem I'd not like her to be named Secretary of State. Actually, since Obama won the nomination, one of my truths has been thinking Hillary Clinton would make an excellent Secretary of State-- if it suited her career goals. Is there a possible downside to it? There usually is with moves that aren't totally safe and in the current world situation, would a safe choice be safe?

On the positive side: she showed guts last year whether a person agreed with her politically. She did all she could to win and was an admirable adversary, toughening up Obama in ways he probably needed. In the primary, she was chosen by almost half the Democrats and recent polls say she'd have had more votes in the presidential race against McCain than Obama (I take that with a grain of salt).

Clinton is another of those fascinating characters that it isn't easy to pin down with a label. She was a wife who put up with a philandering husband. Was it great love? Had they worked out a partnership more like friends or brother and sister? She is not a lady to spill her inner secrets.

Through her entire time in public office, Hillary has been a controversial figure but can anyone deny how hard she campaigned for Obama this fall? She was really out there for him and it looked like she enjoyed herself, that she was freed by her hard campaign to be who she is. Perhaps she found herself during those months. It looked like she and Obama had a working rapport that could serve well in the next four years.

Obama has shown, by his choice of a wife, that he is not intimidated by powerful women. Hillary certainly is that. She has grown into a woman to respect, a woman who has moved beyond the shadow of her husband.

She has status in the world which would serve her well as a Secretary of State. I don't know if she's a great organizer of people (campaign didn't show it), which could be a problem in running the State Department; still, she is a hard worker and knows the leaders, countries.

If she is asked and says yes, between her, Biden and Obama, with Obama having the final say, the United States would have a powerful triumvirate. I like the idea that he's not wanting just yes people around him. I see the three of them with great potential for leading our country into a world where our nation has lost prestige and where there are so many dangers ahead.

One criticism of her has been that she voted for the Iraq war and never admitted her mistake. First of all, the Secretary of State does what the president says (or quits), but also she voted to give Bush bargaining power. Bush misused that power. I don't think she would have favored fighting a war in Iraq if she had had the say-- although my uncertainty on that is why I didn't want her for president.

My favorite, when I didn't know that Obama would seriously consider asking her, was Bill Richardson, who I still think would be good. I also think he's not as strong a choice as Hillary would be.

If Obama does pick a cabinet of rivals, as Abraham Lincoln described, of people who have their own power, and he's not intimidated by their power, I say it is to his and our good.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Our Truth

'Touchstones of Eternity' painting © 1991 Rob Schouten

"Are you living your truth? Your being is like a spirit lodge. Within this sacred place is your realization and the divine light of your creation. Live in your spirit lodge surrounded by peace and joy. Outside your lodge is the great wilderness where the rest of the world lives. That wilderness can become a battleground stained with the blood of ignorance and earthly pain. To have lasting power in the world, you must earn the trust of those around you. Most people live without a sacred place within, without a spirit lodge, and they do not know how to enter the spirit lodges of others." Lynn V. Andrews from 'The Power Deck'

[More of Rob's art can be seen at Rob Schouten Gallery
& learn more about Lynn Andrews at Lynn Andrews.]

This is the last of the cards from the Power Deck that I will share for now. It is a beautiful deck with powerful thoughts, and I may later bring forth more if they seem appropriate. This one about truth seeming especially important after such a difficult political season.

We can only do our best to know truth as it rings true for us. We can be wrong but fearing speaking truth cannot wait until we are positive, certain beyond any possibility of future changes. There is a difference between being wrong and speaking a lie. There is also the possibility of sticking to a truth after we long know it's wrong simply because we can't admit that to anyone-- including ourselves. Living our own truth means just that.

Fran, at Sacred Ordinary, creates these kind of cards, using symbols that have meaning for her life. She sometimes shares them: Soul collage blogs on Sacred Ordinary. The cards are always interesting and her explanations for the inspiration behind them well worth your looking through them.

Awhile back (was it a year or two?) because of having heard about creating such cards from Fran, I bought a book called 'Soul Collage' by Seena B. Frost about how to make personal decks using collage. I found some photographs and bought the materials to make decks; then put the whole process aside, but this winter seems like a good time to bring it all back out.

I was familiar with the general process having done soul collages for my walls. In 2001, 2002 and 2003, I created one a year illustrating what I wanted to manifest in my life. What was my truth for me? The one outside, inside or the one I had yet to create?

Because the last one (which I am sharing below) seemed to say it all for awhile, it was my spirit lodge, I didn't see a need to create a new one-- although am considering it for this year. Am I still the same woman I was in 2003? Have my dreams shifted? It might be interesting to see which images resonate with me today if I did put together a new board.

To create such soul boards (or cards), you look through magazines, catalogs, or your own photographs to see which images touch you. A talented artist could draw and paint one. The boards are created to help focus and manifest dreams into reality. I think all such tools are beneficial for growing, giving us more ability to hear our inner voice when so much around is creating a distracting buzz.
My collage from 2003 which is framed, under glass, and hangs next to my desk. Enlarge to see the tiny images better. All came from magazines, not my photographs, and are about my dreams and inner self in that year.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Balance

'Shaman's Vision' © 1991 Rob Schouten

"The structure of your daily spiritual life must be built on a strong foundation in the physical world, like a pillar of selected shaman's stones balanced carefully one on another. Take care of your body through diet and exercise. Express your strength in acts of power, and bring greater awareness to the exchange of money. Protect and nourish your family, and express your integrity by bringing balance into society and nature. Then you will be prepared in the physical for the higher spiritual learning. Your being is like a spirit lodge, the foundation of which is rooted in physical manifestation-- strong against the storms along the trail to higher consciousness. To take power, make your spirit available. Take your power and bring your physical and spiritual natures into balance."
by Lynn V. Andrews

This is another of the cards from The Power Deck by Lynn V. Andrews. The message is something I wrestle with and suspect many others do also-- maintaining personal balance in a world inclined to push us off stride.

In October, I wrote about a physical fall I took when helping Farm Boss move some heavier and longer than usual, wall board panels from the trailer to the shop. Not watching where I was backing, my boot hit a pile of stacked lumber. Once that happened, there were no more choices about what would happen next. When balance is lost, especially if moving fast, a fall is generally coming.

In our daily lives sometimes the fall comes through getting sick. It is our body's way of reminding us we have been neglecting it while caring for too many other things. I don't know about you, but I don't always take care of my own emotional, spiritual and physical needs. Something becomes too important and I end up distracted from the rest. Being a Libra, I try not to do this, but reality is it happens. I prefer my reminders to come before the fall.

This card is a one way to remind myself I have choices. I can look where I am going. I can stay aware of what is around me while recognizing I can't do more than my own part. Yes, we have choices but only about ourselves. We can't change the world, just our part of it. Staying in balance is one of the more important ways we do that.

(Art work by Rob Schouten used by permission of the painter. The painting is titled Shaman's Vision. More of Rob's work can be seen at Rob Schouten Gallery.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ecstasy

[The next three blogs will be from The Power Deck, Cards of Wisdom by Lynn V. Andrews. They are sort of like Tarot cards but with a different approach, the idea being that you can use them for a reading or simply an inspiration for the day.]

Since I have enjoyed Lynn Andrews books, liked the illustration on the cover of this deck, and they were discounted as is everything in my favorite Missoula bookstore, I bought the box which included cards and a small book. Each card has a spiritual illustration and words to inspire. The idea is to choose one a day or in the case of this blog, I pulled out three to share-- one after the other.

This first one, with old woman, waterfall, moon, stones, and words particularly spoke to my life right now and how nature impacts me. The painting, Rapture, is by the artist Rob Schouten © 1991 (his gallery is on Whidbey Island, more information can be found online at Rob Schouten Gallery).

To me, Rob's painting illustrates the feeling of rapture I can feel when I am out in nature. The experience is so much more than its elements, more than any photograph can share. It is what I try to explain sometimes here in the blog as when I was at the wildlife preserve hearing the geese, or like the waterfall, or listening to the crash of the waves at the beach.

There are times, and they don't come all the time, but when the experience of earth seems to overwhelm me with a surge seemingly filling my whole body with joy, and yes, ecstasy best describes the feeling. It happens when you take time, when you let yourself connect. Nature can, when we let it, renew our spirit, ground us to the earth which nourishes and from which we came.

"Ecstasy is a buoyant state of joy. One of the finest ways to maintain a state of joyousness is to examine the dark side of your being, that instinctual nature that most human beings repress in civilized life. Within your instinctual nature are the seeds of ecstasy. We tend to live in our minds, in our emotions, occasionally in spirit, and almost never in our instinctual depths. We are born as wild as mountain lions but live most of our lives like sheep, forgetting and denying whole parts of ourselves. Sit on the earth with your back against a tree, and get in touch with your roots, which move deep into middle earth; this will restore your joyousness and balance. Each day, listen to your body-mind and your heart. What are they telling you about a given situation? Ecstasy is like a windhorse waiting to be ridden-- the last wild ride before your passage into enlightenment. Take courage and live your passion in ecstasy."
Lynn V. Andrews from The Power Deck

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dreaming a blog about politics? oh no!

Monday morning I awoke having written a wonderful blog in those few moments before full wakefulness. Too bad I didn't remember any of it once I was fully awake. I remember thinking I should write about it except it was political... dum de dum dum. I wasn't going to write about politics for awhile even though I had one more written but never posted on politics and beauty.

I agree with what Andrew Sullivan said in his blog about how obsessed many of us have become with everything happening in the political realm. We turn on the internet, read some newspapers, some blogs (in my case right and left wing), make some comments, read some comments, then later in the day (for me) turn on the TV for news and to listen to pundits saying what happened and what mattered (appropriate puppy choice was big one day). When Farm Boss would get home, we'd regurgitate back to each other what we had absorbed during the day. What are he and I going to talk about now?

Tell me, is that a healthy lifestyle; but even if you weren't writing a political blog, it's what many people did. If you were, well, how can you write about something if you aren't exploring all sides of it? If you haven't read the links, don't know what's being said, you might be more peaceful, but your blog is probably on cooking, nature or something equally peaceful (fortunately not inclined to get nasty comments hurled back unless a recipe failed)-- not that I put down the value of such blogs as I have more than a few bookmarked where I lust over the images of delicious meals or beautiful nature photos.

Although my blog hasn't always been so political, during this fall, it went into everything that happened and all the issues or factors that seemed important to me. I read extensively, thought about it all, my blood pressure rose, and I knew that whether Obama or McCain won, when the election was over, I wanted to let the results go. I am finding it's hard to do.

For one thing, if you are a writer, could there have been a more fascinating cast of characters as they interacted with each other, did the expected, the unexpected, and led other people to react in ways that sometimes blew an observer's mind.

Who would have guessed Joe the Plumber would become a major character, a policy expert on foreign affairs for of all people John McCain? Joe is still getting free drinks in NYC off his fame. Could that have happened in any novel anybody imagined writing?

Or Sarah Palin, Sarah the beautiful, a fascinating (not necessarily a compliment) woman who seemed oblivious to a lot of what the rest of us consider to be critical for a potential president to know, oblivious to why it mattered. She saw only one thing as important-- win. For her admirers, she didn't need to know anything.

To them, Palin was a wild woman from the far North who could praise the lord, shoot her own moose, dress and cook it, put on a cocktail dress that night and still wow all the men in the room while making all the women envious, pop out five babies, and still have a perfect figure that could put $150,000 + worth of clothes to good use.

To me, she was a frightening choice to possibly be president and not just for her extreme religious views. There was the way she delighted in stirring up hatred. Watching her on those podiums, you could see how that didn't make her uneasy but empowered her. Yet, could anyone find her boring which is why we are still inundated with stories about her. Do I wish she'd go away? You betcha. People who think like she does religiously scare me no matter what their religion. Do I think she will go away, not on a bet!

Should I include Joe Biden in any character study? It's hard to do so. He's harder, because to me, he's just Joe. We have known him a long time, seen how he can say the wrong thing, know he's charisma challenged (something from which none of the other three on the ballot have suffered), but that he's solid on his knowledge about government and the world. He's been there and he has paid attention. I guess he's the solid one. The one the villain has to get around, the one who holds the ground in bad times for the hero to come to the rescue? I don't know. What do you think?

John McCain is a great character to study. That man was full of surprises (a lot of them not good). Once in awhile, as though a fog would lift, we'd see the man we used to believe he was, then it'd settle in again. Was there anyone who saw his humorous bit for the NYC charitable foundation dinner, and didn't think why wasn't this man running for president? Who was that other guy-- the one, who using a snide tone, asked us who Obama was, when the real mystery was who was John McCain?

I'd like to think McCain was the man for whom, in order to vote in the 2000 primary, I almost changed my party registration before he was booted by Bush/Rove dirty tricks. It's painful to think he was the man who used those same dirty tricksters to try and win his own presidency.

I'd like to think John McCain is the man, who I said early in this campaign season, that even though I thought he'd be the hardest to beat, I hoped the Republicans would choose because he was the best of their lot. Will we see that man again in the Senate? Has he been freed from whatever spell of ambition sucked him into that other guy, his evil twin? I hope so. The country needs the man I once thought he was and now hope he is.

And finally Barack Obama, centerpiece of the story, the supposed mystery man, who nobody knew his policies even though he'd written books on them, had a lengthy website explaining them all. Obama did have a secret he had to mostly hide. No, it's not that he's a terrorist or a Muslim. He's a wonk. If he had fully revealed himself ahead of time, he'd have never gotten elected.

He had to hide behind a charismatic personality which he can still don when needed, but inside is this guy who loves policy discussions, who can finally carry his own briefcase, who became a Constitutional law scholar, who goes into press conferences without answers memorized because he operates from his principles and facts he knows he can draw upon... until he pops out seance and boom, is wishing he'd memorized everything.

I see Obama as a man well equipped to be leader by his background and temperament. He will be interesting because he's not the far leftie some had feared and others hoped but he has the hero goal-- do what is good for others. Having someone articulate in that office will be welcome. I hope the Secret Service is alert and watching all the time because the hero I see in him is not how he is seen by all. Yes, he is the hero type where a novel centers around his successes, failures and foibles.

I think if I write about politics over the next few months, and it's inevitable that I will (you don't give up an addiction over night), it'll be mostly about character and personality-- red meat to a writer. Ahead might lie more interesting stories. Maybe some new villains or old ones reappearing. Hopefully with happy endings. I love happy endings.

And that dream blog, well I hope it'll all come back to me. Maybe tomorrow morning. I wish I could find a way to record what goes on in my head right before waking.... on the other hand...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Collecting art

Saturday, when in the old part of Newport, down on the wharf, Farm Boss happened to remember a small gallery that handles mostly reproductions on a wide variety of subjects. We had been there a few times, bought a painting once, and it's a place I always like to check for western themed paintings even if I often forget to do so.

Saturday, with the smell of salt in the air, barking sea lions below the wharf, having just had a bowl of clam chowder, my mind was on getting to the ocean. I had to do a mental readjust. Gallery? Yes, want to go to gallery.

When we got to gallery, it was closed with a sign on the door and a phone number. I might not have wanted to call except peeking through the glass door, I saw a very interesting painting on the wall. It was a colorful figure of a Native American dancer.

When reached, the owner promised to be back in about 10 minutes; so even though I was eager to get on up the coast, I checked out a couple of nearby shops; then sat on a bench to wait.

When she arrived, the wait proved worthwhile. What I had admired was one of several giclées by the artist, John Nieto, who paints impressionistic southwestern subjects with vibrant color. Once I found out their reasonable price, the only problem was deciding which two to buy.

The one I had seen on the wall is titled Fancy Dancer 1 and is 18" x 24". The one I finally decided would go with it is Calling on the Power of the Buffalo, the same size. They seemed to go together as one is meditation and the other dance both to the spirit.For years I have enjoyed John Nieto's work in galleries but never could afford originals or even serigraphs. When I decided to write about his work here, I did a little research online and found out something I hadn't known-- Nieto Recovers from Stroke. Quite an interesting story and well worth clicking on.

I love giclées for collectors like me who cannot afford to get famous artist originals but appreciate their work. It lets me have something beautiful and spiritual on my wall for a price I can afford. No, it's not the investment that an original would be. I don't buy art for investments.

As a collector, I do look for original work by young or artists who have not yet become famous. The problem lately is finding those who do western themed work. In my experience, although I have lucked out with a few, they aren't easy to find.

When I buy art, I usually don't have a place in mind for the pieces. That's the case with these two. Art for me is about a spiritual subject I want to bring into my home not a piece of decor. Somewhere. They will fit somewhere perfectly. They will bring their energy to that place, but at the moment, I am not sure where that will be. Fortunately I will have time to decide since I need to figure out a reasonably priced frame first.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Oregon Coast

Because it's been stormy, this seemed like a perfect week-end for a drive to the coast. Oregonians love their beaches year round; and when a good storm has come through with high waves, wind and rain, it's as desirable to be there as when it's sunny and warm.

We had lunch at Newport, did some gallery shopping (more about that in the next blog), and then drove north up the coast. Stopping at Boiler Bay, we took photos and sat watching the waves

Down below were what looked to be young adults surfing on the higher than usual breakers. I kept thinking they have to be kidding as the waves looked so big and there were rocks nearby, but they seemed to know what they were doing. It's wonderful to be young and strong.

Before leaving the ocean, we drove a few miles north of Lincoln City to Cascade Head and the Salmon River. We have been wanting to figure out where we would be able to put in our canoe. It is on a list of a desirable estuary, little current and easy canoeing rivers for beginners.

The weather ranged from rain and wind to a bit of sunshine. Can't ask for more. I am anxious to go back for a long week-end but that will have to wait.

Sunday was family time with our son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons belatedly delivering the youngest his first birthday present.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Autumn colors in the Willamette Valley

This was a particularly beautiful fall in the mid-Willamette Valley of Oregon. The colors were more intense for longer lasting until the beginning of November when the rains finally came to drive leaves from the trees.

Right now all leaves mean to me is get out the blower and clear the driveway, deck and lawns of oak leaves. The farm house here is in the midst of 7 huge oaks, totally gorgeous but also full of leaves and this year acorns; so I blow off the leaves and try to leave the acorns, as the sheep, who have free run of most of the yard, love them. Soon the leaves will all be gone and there will actually be more light around the house. Kind of a trade-off... Plus the blowing off of the leaves is exercise. Definitely not as much as a lawn rake but hey, I'm no purist.

These photos in this blog are all from the William L. Finley Nature Refuge south of Corvallis, Oregon on October 26th, we took a last walk on the road around the lake before they close the trails to humans and leave it for the birds and elk from November 1 until April.
Part of the joy of being in places like this is taking quiet times to sit, watch, hear the different sounds. There are so many types of geese and all talking.


In one little pool, we saw a nutria swimming. That's not the greatest news as they are native to South America but were brought into this area illegally, thereby driving out other animals that compete for the same food and space such as the smaller muskrat. It does not make them less cute but just there is more involved with nature's balance that some people stop to think.

The geese were coming in the whole time we were walking. In some areas, they seemed to cover the water.


This photo of an osprey getting caught in traffic was a pretty good example of what it was like for the birds.

When they would land on the water, in the main part of the lake, they would have to pick an open spot which led to some bird fights. Hey it's not like they are that different from us.

The swans separated themselves from the geese. In this picture, you can also see a heron alongside the bank if you enlarge the photo.