Saturday, January 31, 2009

Creature from Jekyll Island

Although I hadn't planned to keep writing on this topic of our economic mess, I had this audio CD that a friend of mine, Kay from Kay's Thinking Cap, had mailed me. It is from a lecture in 1994 by G. Edward Griffin about his book Creature from Jekyll Island. I had put off listening to it because this week I was feeling depressed and having nightmares anyway and didn't want to add more bad news to them. Then as things lightened for me, Friday night seemed a good time for Farm Boss and I to sit down and listen.

Some of it was what I knew because of Zeitgeist, which I have written about before here; but some was new and I think well worth, given our situation today, for those who have any interest at all in what is going on, to listen and in my case find the book.

Most of us are so ignorant about economics and it serves a certain group well that we stay that way. We think everything that is happening is without a plan. That it benefits nobody but just is life...

Take some time (this impacts any country in the world) and listen to the audio of this lecture and then think about it again. I will look for the book now as where it's not good news, I think it's important to at least consider what he is saying:

CREATURE FROM JEKYLL ISLAND

Friday, January 30, 2009

Stimulus Bill


For those who do not know enough about the Stimulus package to write anybody, here is a chart I found online and an article from Motley Fool about the programs and their likelihood of helping:


Don't go by right or left wing bloggers or your favorite talk radio program. Try to find articles that have real figures. Anything can be distorted with enough playing around with numbers. Trust your source or don't waste your time.

Obama never said he could do it alone

"taking a deep breath to try not to erupt*

By now, anybody who pays attention to politics knows that House Republicans unanimously voted against Obama's stimulus package even though he tried to put in things they wanted, even though he watered down the bill to get bipartisan support. Why did this happen?

Republican Congressmen were evidently following their guru, who speaks for many ordinary, free-thinking, ditto-heads, who Rush Limbaugh says he tells them everything they need to know. Do those two things go against logic-- free-thinking and ditto-head? To me, lack of logic pretty well sums up what most Congressional Republicans have done the last eight years. Logic isn't part of their agenda-- where it comes to wars or economics. It is all about political parties.

Thursday Rush presented his idea for a stimulus package-- big cuts in capital gains taxes. At first that might seem pointless after all who is making profits in business investments right now? It is not about who is. It is about who will be.

The stock market has crashed and that means many ordinary people pulled out whatever was left of their investments and are currently sitting on their cash with no idea what will secure their retirements. Those ordinary people are not why Rush wants a cut in capital gains.

His cut is for people like him, the million- and billionaires who also are out of the market and waiting. Waiting for what you ask? Waiting for the prices to go down far enough for them to snap up the bargains. What will those bargains lead to? Capital gains!

The pressure that capital gains taxes be cut is not for the little people worried about their retirement. This man of the people, who spouts his venom five days a week, who lives a life of luxury that few can imagine, he is not concerned for them. He already said he hopes Obama fails. What does it mean to the Limbaughs if he does-- more money as frightened people turn to him to find answers.

Limbaugh's suggested cuts are for the wealthy like himself, maybe about trickle-down. It is for those, who when they jump back into the market, will take away any chance average people have to retire with any investment income. It is so those who make those profits don't have to pay taxes on their coup. How do people like that live with themselves? Do they kid themselves as well as their followers?

Limbaugh is the spokesman for much of the right. He has the Republican politicians so scared of those free thinkers, who spew out insults and threats to anyone who dares come down on Limbaugh, that they won't speak up even if they know he's wrong.

Along with many Democrats, I really did hope Republicans had learned from this last election. I hoped they had seen the greed of Wall Street. I hoped they were going to go back to their conservative roots. I hoped they saw the loss we have had with a war in Iraq, how fighting a war for no reason, fighting it on the cuff, was wrong; but that apparently is not what has happened.

They instead blame it all on the poor or the illegals. They blame anyone except those from whom this has actually come. Yes, I knew Republican politicians had supported Bush in everything he wanted, but I thought that day was over. I mean surely they could see the huge mistakes he made? If they can, they are too afraid to speak up.

The answer now for us, if we are citizens who disagree, is to make our voices heard-- politely. If we want more benefits to the middle class, we have to let that be known. If we want infrastructure investments, we better tell our Congressmen. Whatever we want done, whatever we believe should happen next, speak out because the other side is.

During the campaign, I said if Obama won, it would not be the end but the beginning of a struggle between two diametrically opposed viewpoints. It is going to take Americans speaking out to get through to politicians who are totally selfish and see only their own profit. If you aren't one of those ditto-heads, if you are worried about the economy, believe we need change, then read up on what these packages are about and speak your mind for what you believe should be done. If you don't speak out, there won't be any change because Obama never said he could do it alone.

This blog comes compliments of a conversation with Farm Boss after he got home Thursday night. The longer I listened to what he was hearing and thinking, the madder I got.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

SRS Ahead

Spirit Restoration Site

Whenever I have the chance to finish off a Central Oregon vacation (or for that matter any vacation) on Oregon's Metolius River, I will take it. I first came here when I was in my late teens, brought my babies here, my grandchildren have come, and still it never loses its magic. The river bubbles mysteriously out of a spring a few miles from these photos, appearing full-sized. It is clear and cold-- winter or summer.

Camp Sherman has a small store, sometimes a seasonal restaurant, little church, school, post office (which also serves as library), some rental cabins, a fire hall, and assorted homes on forest service leases as well as some pockets of privately owned land where more houses do crop up but not enough to spoil the ambiance.

Some places advertise that they are vortexes, but with others, you just know it when you are there. If there are such places that have energy we can draw upon for healing and spiritual growth, the Metolius is one. It is a place where population and housing expansion (which some call progress) have been limited. It is for now still very natural with campgrounds and trails along the river. It is one of those places where money has not corrupted it-- not to say it hasn't tried, but the people who love it have fought to keep it as it is for future generations.

These photos are from the town of Sisters, Camp Sherman, Canyon Creek, Metolius River area,

and the drive home which crossed first the Santiam Pass, then turning toward Sweet Home, went over Tombstone Pass before dropping out of the mountains and leaving snow behind.



Monday, January 26, 2009

Family time

This last week-end was one of those 'golden' family times spent in Central Oregon. For assorted reasons we had had our family Christmas delayed. We all rented a large house at the Central Oregon resort, Sunriver, to celebrate both Christmas and relationship.

The weather was cold but beautiful with tall pines, sage brush, rivers, crisp mountain air, and snow. The children had fun being together, and Farm Boss and I enjoyed having our four grown kids (by birth and gifted by marriage) and four grandchildren under one roof which happens only once in awhile but is always appreciated when it comes along. The house had an interesting decor with each of the bedrooms using a different theme relating to Central Oregon; ours was of fishing.

When children move out from under the home roof, it's a hard time for parents; but when you can rejoin with them and their children for a few days away from all pressures, it is so enjoyable as well as a reminder of the continuity of life as we talk about what is going on in everyone's life as well as remember those who have gone on. We had a lot of good food, wine, stimulating conversations, children's laughter, a toddler exploring the world, and all in a house that emphasized the outdoor lifestyle of Central Oregon.

Snow fell in flurries off and on but only set in with intensity Sunday as we were ready to leave. It made the drive home over the Cascades (our three vehicles took three different passes to cross over) very pretty, a little interesting at times, but okay. Farm Boss and I had a one hour delay as the highway was blocked by rescue vehicles and a two-car accident, but otherwise, it was smooth.

This is one of many times where I have wished I felt free to use photos of my grandkids and kids in the blog. I have some fantastic pictures, especially fun was when some of them went ice skating; but for reasons I have mentioned previously, I do not use their photos. Take it from me they are all beautiful. Would I lie?

Monday is the New Moon as well as an Annular Eclipse, which will be seen only in the Indian Ocean. For those who use astrology for finding the tides and waves of their lives, this is supposed to be a very strong time for planting intentions for change.

Photos of Deschutes River and the rental house-- exterior, the 'fishing' bedroom, great room, and from the deck. The next blog will be one of my favorite places over there as well as some from the drive over the pass.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New life on the farm

The season of new births on the farm is always one of its highlights. To see a wobbly little calf out there standing and nursing the first time, getting better control of its legs and then beginning to run, that never ceases to make me smile. I often try to take photos of calves in motion as it's so much fun to watch them cavort. They start to run, gallop, leap in the air, and then the older calves think it looks like fun and sometimes the mothers join in.

I don't think any of this needs words. The only problem I have with it is narrowing it down to a few photos. Doesn't it make you want to be young again yourself? Last summer when we had two of our grandchildren here for a couple of days, I got a photo of them running out to bring in the sheep and it looked a lot like this.

You can easily see the joy in the little animals but also recognize the security they find in the nurturing of the herd.

Friday, January 23, 2009

First lambs of 2009

The first set of twin lambs was born Wednesday, the 21st. You can see what an excellent job the mother did with cleaning them up. In these photos, their navels are still wet which means they were born a few hours earlier. Isn't that a cute white cap on the one lamb? These are Shetland sheep mixed with other breeds; so you never know for sure what you will get for coloring. Sometimes a mother will have one white wooled and one black as she did last year but this year, both are black with that cute little white topper.

I am not sure what the relationship of the ram was to this ewe and lambs. More than likely he is her lamb from two maybe even three seasons ago and he has stayed with her. Whether he is also the father (which you can inbreed a generation or two like that and not have any problems), he was very protective of the babies and mother.

One advantage of raising animals in herds, such as we do is watching the interaction of the different ages. This isn't a machine out here to produce meat. It's a living organism of animals and their relationships, and it's a joy to watch.

Sometimes too much joy as we can never lose track of the fact that some of these lambs are raised for food. That's a tough one. But you know without accepting that fact, there would be no new lambs. The ewes would be reduced to eating and living without their own joy. For me, it's a tough part of ranching to accept the purpose behind it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Fellow Americans

Many of us have been immersed in politics for at least the last two years, as this long campaign seemed to, at times, stretch almost back to 2004. As a recommendation for a mental health break, one that pokes fun at politics, might I suggest renting My Fellow Americans. If you have seen it before, you know why. If you have not, as we had not, you will have a great surprise ahead with a lot of laughs but also some digs that remain as true today as in 1996.

We hadn't seen it when it came out. To be honest, I hadn't heard of it, but one day we had found it in the reduced DVD section at Walmart or Target. From there it sat in our bookshelf for maybe a year or more until the night before the Inauguration when we needed something light and thought this was worth a try.

How can you go wrong with James Garner and Jack Lemmon playing warring ex-presidents, from very different political agendas, who suddenly find themselves forced to be allies in a run for their lives. These two old men are just so great as they cleverly remind us nothing has changed; and that is what made it so funny and at the same time sweet. There are few things as good as watching old pros at work in anything they do well. Let's hear it for age and experience!

If you are not yet convinced, this is a trailer from the film:

And a short clip from the film itself to give you an idea of the movie. Actually someone has evidently put the whole thing up on YouTube but my suggestion is rent it from Netflix or the old section in your video store, fix a bowl of popcorn, light a fire in the fireplace (if you have one if not some candles), and settle back for some laughs-- which are even funnier if you follow politics.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Herd satisfaction

Satisfaction in a herd requires
a good supply of food--
on a farm, that'd be hayIdeally it should appear
magically and not interfere
in a cow's day.
It should never not be there
and a cow knows how to let
ranchers know when it's not on time.

Add to it a little sunshine
preferably on a knoll
with time to chew cuds and
meditate on the meaning of life
(well they might, who knows)

It's even better with the new calf nearby
as mama does guard duty-- and she does.

Housekeeping Blog Note: I had liked a system I saw on other blogs called Blog List because it lets the reader know when fresh blogs have been posted and their titles. I finally got around to updating mine. If there is an easier way, I didn't find it and had to do each one individually. It was worth it though as it leaves me on my original page while able to read others and comment when I have something to say.

Unfortunately, I soon realized that not all blogs can be found by the system which made it appear as though they weren't writing something new when they were. The temporary fix, until I figure out why this happens, is going to be two blog lists and the second one has as many blogs that I enjoy reading as the first. I also have on the second list informational blogs.

I believe the blog list or roll is one of the neat features of blogger. I know many prefer the newer follower system; but when I visit blogs of those who have it, the follower list tells me nothing about who those followers are. Yes, I could probably click on it but that takes more time than I often have. I have found several interesting new blogs through Blog List threads from other people's blogs.

Blogs are about writing ourselves but also a network. For me, blog list makes that network easier to navigate.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugurating hope

Along with most Americans, I wish Barack Obama well as he takes on an awesome task of being our president at a time when we are heavily in debt, fighting two wars, threatened by terrorism, in an economic meltdown, facing a world with many countries fracturing into chaos, questions of climate shifts, and on the list goes. There are massive problems on the home front and abroad. If he does well, nobody will say he inherited an easy road. No matter what he does, he will have a lot of people complaining.

Already there are gripes about the cost of this Inaugural. Too much money when the times are tough. Then come the complaints he got money from the rich which means they will run the country (not bad if you can get that for a mere $100,000). It even displeased some that he did a piece for Parade magazine on his family. Wasting time they say. Wasting money they say.

Well I say that the Inauguration is a celebration for the people, and Obama is using it to make people feel good about this country again. Good feelings won't solve all of our problems, but they are a start. Lack of trust has broken our system. Trust is what it has been based on.

We are better as a people than it has sometimes seemed-- and I don't mean just the right or the left but all of us together. The recent plane crash in New York City was a reminder of that as people rushed to help others, as the system worked as well as it can in a disaster. This celebration is another.

If you watched the gala on Sunday, you saw artists coming together to praise love, family, and country. That program was not without a purpose! This Inaugural isn't money wasted. Between the attack of 9/11, the failures after Katrina, the war in Iraq, using torture against all international conventions, abuse of the Constitution, the world has doubted us, and we haven't felt very good about ourselves; what better place to begin re-inspiring us than a big celebration from the small to the powerful-- music and words to remind us of from where we have come and where we want to go. Obama has always says he can't remake our families, our system by himself. His goal now, as it has been all along, is for us to make it happen.

The stock market falls when people leave it due to loss of faith. Stores go broke when people don't buy. Jobs are lost when people can't spend. It's a vicious circle. No bank has the money to give everyone the money they deposited. People have to trust that it's there or it goes bust.

Right now Americans, the world for that matter, are not feeling very trusting. This celebration has been and is about beginning to restore that trust. Obama is no fool and this Inaugural isn't just for him. If you watched his face during the Lincoln Memorial Celebration, you saw it. This was done for all of us.

Then there has been fear about the money a few wealthy gave over the supposed limits, gave because the 2002 McCain-Feingold bill allowing it, but gave in the open-- no paper sacks. It was beggared by the amount given by the average people. Donations came from all economic levels.

Obama has been saying it all along-- this victory belongs to the people and from all walks of life. People gave according to what they could afford and for some that might have meant $100,000 and for others $25. He valued all those gifts because people voted with their actions, not just their words.

His poll numbers are sky high right now, but they won't remain there. He knows that. He speaks of it every chance he gets. From the start, he has said it will take all of us and that's the real question. Will all of us keep working for this or sit back, turn on our TVs, and wait for somebody else to do it?

To analyze what Obama's chances for success are, what skills he brings with him, Andrew Sullivan wrote a powerful piece. It is what I also believe:


After this big celebration is over, Obama is going to do what he can. From everything I have seen of him, he will do his best. There might be mistakes. He says there will, but he says he is doing this for us-- from the rich to the poor, the red and blue states, all races. The Inauguration has been a joyous testimony to that. Enjoy it. It's not wasted money. It's a start for what needs to be done. This is a guy who 'gets it'.

The photo is of our flag, given to us by my mother. It's getting old, but I fly it for various important times. This is one. She would have been proud to see this day!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bush commutes sentences

Might I say that I am proud of President Bush for making this decision: Bush commutes sentences of Border Agents.

Yes, sometimes force goes too far; but if you studied this case, it looks to me like it was an overreaction for the amount of time to which these men were sentenced. They have served more than enough time. If you want law on the border, in an increasing dangerous time, then you can't make the people enforcing it second guess their decisions where delaying can cost them their own lives. We are lucky anyone wants to do the job. I find fault with Bush a lot but this seemed to me the right call.

Good news

Because after I had written last year about my brother's learning he had prostate cancer, and some of you have asked how he was, I wanted to tell you the good news. He finished his chemotherapy and radiation in December. They gave his body time to build back up and he had surgery the 13th. He is now home with the good news that they got it all. It had not spread to the lymph nodes or anywhere else; so it all looks very good. He's feeling surprisingly well after the surgery and said he has virtually no pain already. What a relief.Once more I want to recommend to all men to be sure you get yearly blood tests for prostate cancer. It seems I know more and more men who have had it and by getting the blood test, you can catch it before it spreads. My brother's cancer was caught with the blood test in a very early stage but it was a particularly virulent type which most likely would have killed him if he had not been proactive with that test. Routinely get that test, guys!Also he was very high on the great care he got through Veterans Hospital and how wonderful his doctor was. They took good care of him and gave him the best possible chance to beat this thing. VA sometimes has people who find fault with it but it has fine hospitals and doctors and for my brother it was a life saver.
All of these pictures are from a Sunday hike into a nature area near the farm-- small pieces of what I saw-- little vignettes of nature that created almost abstract paintings with how the colors and shapes lay. They are of the small stream, frost on leaves, lichens, fungi, reflections in a puddle, oh and something that didn't grow there but enjoyed her time in the woods very much.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mexico becoming like Somalia?

[If all you want to do right now is enjoy the inauguration and feel good about a change finally coming, quit reading right now, and come back another day. My mood has not been celebratory as I read so many articles of problems that seem way too big for fixing. We will definitely need a lot of luck in the next four years as well as skill.]

Among the questions that might limit a person's capability of making a dream come true, it is impossible to ignore what has been happening in Mexico and in many other places around the world. While the media's interest has been centered on terrorism from Muslim sources, what about what is going on closer to home?

This week I read an article about how Mexico has the potential to break apart and become another Somalia with pirates and a government unwilling or incapable of controlling anything. Unfortunately I didn't bookmark it at the time, but it was easy to find a lot of articles warning of the same thing: Mexican violence growing, "Join us or die", and Intelligence study predicts more Mexican violence.

Americans, who do not live in border states and who don't read about the kidnappings for ransoms and killings, the police forces that often the citizens would be afraid to call for fear of which side they were on, often see the Mexican situation purely in terms of a source to get their illegal drugs or inexpensive laborers.

Oh you think most Americans disapprove of illegals coming up here for jobs? If those jobs weren't here, they wouldn't come. How many have all too happily paid construction or landscaping contractors who they clearly know are hiring illegals but the price is too good to miss and after all they are one degree removed from a crime, right?

The violence problem isn't in the laborers, who are often good people. It's who brings them and the drugs across the line. It is what has been created in the doing of it.

If you live in Arizona, you know what it's like and how the border has changed. My first time down there was 1965 and as young adults, we could play out in the desert, walk up arroyos and only have to worry about rattlesnakes. There weren't coyotes (the human kind), who started out just bringing across illegals but were soon bringing up drugs (or was it the other way around?).

Back then I could go anywhere in Nogales with an easy walk across the border and it was fun to shop. It seemed like it would have been a good place to live, not a lot of money but a good feeling from the people who sold their crafts with pride. Ask if it's good today with kidnappings, gun battles between rival drug gangs, and those who have moved into the border because of the opportunities.

I have seen the change on both sides of the border. I remember one of our trips into Arizona's back country, dirt and gravel roads down along the border, and having a militia jeep in camouflage speed up to check us out, followed by half an hour later, closer to the border, a fast driving Border agent. I know what is in the back country and how risky it can be to see the wrong thing.

Another time, we were driving one of those back roads and saw ahead two vehicles blocking the road. We slowed. Was it neighbors visiting or something that would mean we needed to have our own gun ready? The vehicles broke apart for us to pass. We always traveled with a gun down there-- in the open as the concealed permit up here is not good in Arizona but open carry is permitted in the back country. It likely wouldn't have been enough protection given the kind of people one might come across and who you don't want to come across.

As far back as 2000, I saw how Nogales had changed (in case anyone wants to blame this only on Bush). The feel of the street had an undercurrent that made me very uncomfortable and from what I have read, it's only gotten worse. I wouldn't go there anymore and wouldn't need the current US government warning to know it; or if you do, to go alert. How could that have happened to such a joyful little town?

From what I am reading (and it is especially scary to me with a home in Arizona but should be to all Americans as what starts one place grows), Mexico is a nation much in danger of having a totally ineffective government, where violence is more and more uncontrolled-- and sometimes is the 'government.' What if Mexico does become another Somalia? That border fence that was never finished, barely started, it won't contain what grows there.

Dreams have to be practical and they grow best in fertile soil. What kind of soil are we as a nation preparing for ourselves? I don't say we can blame our own government for what is going wrong in Mexico, but we better not kid ourselves about what it is. It is another huge problem that Obama is inheriting and that often isn't even discussed. We need to be thinking of some answers if we don't want those kidnappings to spread up here. In case you thought it was just the wealthy, it is not. When a culture runs amok, the most ruthless take what they want.

Joint Forces report warns Mexico and Pakistan could destabilize. One is on our border and the other with nukes. Is this what the Bush administration meant by the spread of democracy?

Rice gave Bush a going away gift of five flags representing countries he had liberated as the Senate and House praised themselves on their own good work: [A Plaque on all their Houses by Dana Milbank]. They might fool themselves and think by saying something it will be true, but the American people better be a little more realistic-- a lot more.

I know how many people would rather not even read something like this, but it's there and not knowing won't make it go away. Being prepared, coming up with real ideas to make a difference, that could make it go away. It better because if we remain blind, what is coming ahead will be worse than what has been behind.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Weather and Global Warming

What of the land into which our dreams will be planted? Abraham Maslow created a diagram to illustrate how needs work: Maslow's Pyramid. Basically it is that if we are supplied with the basics, we can move up the pyramid to satisfy ourselves. What if the basics are threatened? Even a culture that deems itself sophisticated will revert to primal needs without which man does not survive.

Will global warming lead to a new ice age? is an article from 2003 and a reminder that the extreme winter temperatures we have been seeing, weather patterns that seem unpredictable and at times surprisingly intense, all would be part of global climate change-- something that has been the pattern of earth. The kind of temperate world we grew up in, where mankind's culture has flourished, has not been the norm though earth's history.

There is glee among those who believe a possible new ice age would disprove global warming and hence make Al Gore look wrong. Amazing how some would cut off their noses to spite their faces. A new ice age, mini or not, would not be good news for humans living on this planet.

The problem we are facing today with weather shifts is that we don't know what to expect as mankind hasn't got a recorded history long enough to know. We also didn't have so many people that the surface of the earth has to support.

Sunday night I watched The Day After Tomorrow again. It's a good adventure story but also brings up what might be the result of what is called global warming because while earth's overall temperatures would be warmer, warmer temperatures everywhere are not the result. In fact, it has been surmised that global warming might have been the precursor to the earth's many ice ages.

To add to the questions of what lies ahead of our world physically, I watched History Channel on Sunday as it went into the prophecies of Nostradamus, the Mayans, the Masons, Judeo Christianity, and can't remember if there was anyone else but you get the drift. There are enough dire prophecies going around, that don't have to be scientific, to lead to movies like 2012 by Roland Emerich, who loves to make disaster films. Do films like these numb people to evaluating what might be happening? Politics definitely get in the way of preparing for what might be coming.

Disaster movies don't have to be based on reality (Volcano in LA?) but rather on possibility-- in some cases a slim thread. The thing is that life on the planet has changed many times and it could again. What happens to humans then? The lucky ones might die in the first disasters.

Yes, it is part of my dream thinking to consider what physical reality might lie ahead. Are we really facing global extremes in terms of the climate? If we are about to face gigantic physical problems on the earth, dreams will of necessity change.

I don't really believe the earth will end in 2012 Mayan calendar ending there or not. Still, it would be foolish to believe it will always go on as it is right now. Change will come. It always has. The question is what will it mean to our dreams?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Winter photographs

In terms of scenery, I love the bare bones of the desert. Areas that others go through sighing there is nothing there, I am in awe over watching how a shadow falls, where I see multiple ridges of mountains. I like it when I see the lines, the openness; so it's not surprising I find aesthetic beauty in the Coast Range during the winter when the leaves are gone and the land is more revealed.

Yes, it's the season of mud or snow, rain and fog, but it's also the misty season when the bare bones of the hills and trees are revealed, the skies are much more interesting with their storm patterns, and I love trying to photograph what I feel. The misty quality seems to add a spirituality to the land which more lush times would hide.

It's not the season of harvesting but rather of waiting.


I live in a valley in the Oregon Coast Range but when I leave the farm on my way to town, it doesn't take long before I see the Cascades, a land of dormant volcanoes, tall trees, lakes and rivers. On the other side of them lies Central and Eastern Oregon with sage brush, pine, and juniper. This photo is of Mt. Jefferson.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wolf Moon


Because January's was a powerful full moon, I wanted a photograph of it. Naturally Oregon's weather didn't cooperate with its cloudy skies which at best took away all the details and at worst hid the moon completely. I woke up Sunday morning (about 5:35 AM) to see a break in the clouds which led to a mad dash to get the camera and telephoto set up on a tripod.

Although I was seeing the details of the moon and the clouds, something mystical and very beautiful, the camera didn't cooperate with capturing both in the same photo. The compromise was to do a little photo-shopping. The following photographs are the two actual photos from Sunday morning. The top one is putting them together to show what my eye saw when it looked up at the Wolf Moon.

Monday, January 12, 2009

How much freedom do we have?

Part of my exploration of finding a new dream for old age has been looking at questions that could be part of the search. Does a spiritual power beyond ourselves pull the strings for what happens in life? Do we have free-will or are we predestined? Ignoring the spiritual possibilities for power, are there overlords right here, not as obvious as they might have once been but still in place that limit our options?

In looking again at such questions, I watched a film that I want to recommend everyone take the time to watch. It is available online for free as a download or you can buy the DVD for $5 from the site. The film is called Zeitgeist, the Movie. It explores religious roots, 9/11, and who really calls the shots in the world-- physically speaking that is.

It's a disillusioning movie to watch in some ways although it tries to add a bit of positiveness at the end. It's not enough to prove uplifting when you look at the possibility that so many of our problems are orchestrated to gain power for someone else. I can hear some saying now-- conspiracy nut talk. Well read history and you see many conspiracies to gain power and keep it.

What protects us from those who would take our power? Not ignorance. Not entertaining ourselves with comforting ideas. The thing that could protect us is if enough of us get informed. Will we? Good question. Watch the film if you are one who is willing to think. If not, well there are plenty of things out there to reassure us until the time comes it is too late to make changes.

There are things in the film that I doubted, but also questions raised that deserve answers; so if you decide to watch it, stick with it. Don't give it up when it says a few things with which you disagree. Watch it all and then come back to discuss the issues where you think it's wrong-- or right.

You can find the Zeitgeist site by a Google search. The newest version is available here:

Watching this will take almost two hours of your time. Can you afford it? Can you afford not to take that time? If it's not true, you have invested two hours in exploring some issues that don't threaten anything; but if it is, you might become part of the change that can turn this around.

Some of what Zeitgeist talks about (economic threats) seems a lot more likely today than it did when I first saw it. Events are moving so rapidly. Part of me would like to think the movie isn't true, can't be true; part of me looks at what has been happening and thinks it makes all too much sense.

It does relate to my dream search because a dream in a world without the freedom to make dreams come true is purely a fantasy.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Focusing as part of finding Dreams

Focusing on what?
Inside or outside?
Where are dreams found?

Although I do oil painting, I also enjoy painting with the computer which is what the above work is. With my desire to find a new dream, I felt a digital self-portrait might be a possible tool. A self-portrait could be as simple as a stick figure with things around it or something more complex.

Finding a dream is about looking outside for inspiration but also inside for what resonates-- and when it does, why does it? What would be food for my soul at this point in my life? Self-portraits have a way of revealing things that we haven't planned and that's what happened this time.

I have written before about doing computer paintings and in particular self-portraits. I began doing them when I read about them from Natalie, at Blaugustine, who uses many such tools, to express herself. For me, I have considered my self-portraits to be like the sand painting Navajo or Tibetans do. They are not like fine art but rather a way to help me see things that I am missing.

To do this one, I didn't use a mirror but began by looking through my stock of photographs for one that spoke to how I felt right now. I have a stockpile of moody and what some might call unattractive webcam photographs. (I have written before about how a computer painting progresses and that can be found in Labels under painting.)

When I had finished the digital portrait, doing a lot of it by feel with no real plan for what would be the end result, I studied it for a bit. This is a woman who doesn't appear to see where she is going or even what is around her. The expression on her face is not depressed but a little cynical, disillusioned possibly. Is disillusionment what is blocking new dreams? A lack of trusting? Could she see beyond the swirls if she tried? She's not trying. I called it 'sorting out the dreams' and maybe she is beginning where she must.

I plan to do a few more of these self-portraits this winter and am thinking that as my mood changes, as things become clearer to me, perhaps the dream will emerge from the mist. I must be honest about what comes out-- succeed or not. I also don't plan to give myself a time limit on any of it. There will be no telling myself it should be this or that. Dreams have to be true. I very much believe there will be new ones. There always are.

January 10th is a full moon. A particularly auspicious time for charging the air for dreams of great power. Awhile back, I had written about an exercise where, during such a full moon, you take a piece of plain white paper and put it where the full moon can shine upon it. You are charging that paper with energy.

Then when the new moon comes, which will be January 26th (also the time of a solar eclipse which some say will make it astrologically very potent), you write your dreams and what you want to create in your life on that paper. I have done that before but to be honest not with much success. I think it's going to work better this time (but then I always think that)!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Finding a dream

Begin doing what you want to do now.
We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment
sparkling like a star in our hand--
and melting like a snowflake.
Sir Francis Bacon

One of the things on which I am currently working, is dreams-- not the nighttime ones but daytime. A lot of what I have written in here recently has been part of-- trying to think of the right word-- finding my own dream again.

For much of my life, I have been one who has wanted and had a dream out in front of me. Dreams for me tend to be on the realistic side. I don't bother dreaming about something that cannot remotely happen. I also don't bother calling it a dream when it's something I could do with a little will power. For me, dreams require something greater to have happen, more than the usual effort from me and just a touch of magic.

A dream could be a place I might live, like that cabin. It would offer a lifestyle that went with it or a relationship that might supply something my life currently doesn't have. A dream would add spice and juice to my days that currently is not happening. Often a dream is out there with no clear way to get to it.

Acquiring a dream might not be as important as dreaming it. Some dreams would have likely been disasters if I had gotten them. My own dreams have been both fleeting and those that lasted for many years.

I am thinking maybe old age is part of my problem now. I am not sure what is going to be a realistic old age dream. When you are young, you can dream of raising your family in the wilderness, like the old film, The Wilderness Family, but that time has passed (a dream for me that didn't happen and probably just as well).

Dreams don't have to ever happen and sometimes I know they won't, but it's having one out there that helps me form bigger goals, that lends some magic to my days, hope to my future. For me right now, the dream space is a big blank. Blank spaces aren't really good. They tend to get filled with something but I want nothing in the dream space except another dream.

Above my desk are a lot of quotes, almost like Buddhist prayer flags but on post-its. Many relate to dreams:

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.
Thoreau

Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die, life is a winged bird that cannot fly.
Langston Hughes

It may take years to realize a dream,
but dreaming itself is an elevating experience.
Maya Angelou

Dreams are necessary to life.
Anais Nin

and on they go but are they helping? Is the music helping? Are the movies helping? I am not sure yet; but I am working on it. I don't think this is about old age. We never get too old to dream; but currently, even my nighttime dreams are taking on a mundane-- fix a dinner, make sure everyone got fed, where does everyone sleep-- quality. I find myself going through the paces daytime or nighttime.

Nobody needs to feel sorry for me as my paces are pretty good. I had time last week-end with our son, daughter-in-law, and two of our grandchildren. It popped up without planning on a spur of the moment call from them, and it was a delightful time exploring an old flour mill which led to a lot of wonderful photographs. I am looking forward later this month to a time for the whole family, all ten of us, in Sunriver when we celebrate our Christmas. So it's not like I'm living a bleak existence-- unless you find having dreams important.

I could blame this on winter doldrums, but this is often my main dream building time as I redo my intentions for the coming year. The end of December and beginning of January tend to be when I think of what I most truly would want.

So if you see a lot of posts here about dreams, about inspiring ideas, about goals, you will know why. It's just me trying out various ideas (with a couple of political posts thrown in simply because I can't say no to everything happening right now). I am looking at ways to get a new dream, one that will work into in my elder years, and using tools that have helped in the past-- only this time sharing it here in the blog.

If you have ideas that help you (assuming a dream is important in your life), please add them into the comments-- or if it's extensive enough, email it to me (rainnnn7 at hotmail dot com) and I will post it here as its own subject.

(I don't know from where that sunset came (other than that it's my photo). Maybe its anonymous quality makes it a particularly good one for this subject. It was in the days when my photos were all with the Nikon 35mm and printed; so it's scanned. It might be at the Tucson house (a dream that came true but has led to its own problems as dreams have a way of doing).

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Kaycee, Wyoming 1998

In July 1998, on one of those vacations where nothing is planned ahead and sleeping in the van made anything possible, I saw the Kaycee, Wyoming area. I wanted to be there because of all the stories I had read about Butch Cassidy, Old West history, and the Big Horn Mountains.

We drove through Kaycee, got information and drove out to the area where Cassidy had his hideout. Today you could actually walk to where it was, access being arranged through the ranches, but it would have to be from the south not from where we were. At that time, there was no access, but it wasn't really just seeing the hideout itself but the feeling of the area that I wanted.

It was beautiful country with a lot of red rock which I hadn't expected. Later I read that there is a 50 mile ridge of these red rock cliffs. Beneath them are big ranches with water and what looked like good grass-- something you don't see just anywhere in the West. At that time, they appeared to be family operations but that might have changed in the intervening years as some places like those have been bought up by off-site owners or even corporations with ranch managers hired to run the daily operations (nothing new to the West).

The road into our destination, a campground high above the middle fork of the Powder River, was dirt, heavily rutted and full of puddles. We weren't surprised at its condition as we'd been in Buffalo the night before and seen the violent thunderstorm as it passed through.

In fact that brewing thunderstorm had led us to decide to take a motel room instead of camp of which we were glad as we debated the size of the big hail balls and wondered if they'd dent the top of the van sitting in the parking lot. I'd read about pioneers being hit by them as they came west with no real shelter possible. While we get hail in my part of Oregon, it's tiny pellets, which can still hurt but won't knock you out.

On the road up to the campground, we were lucky we had all-wheel drive on the van and that Farm Boss was familiar with driving in such conditions as it was questionable making it up the hill. It looked like not everyone had. This is not the kind of country where you want to get stuck. Those were the days before cell phones which might not work out there even today.

Because of the storms, we decided camping up there wasn't going to be smart. We might have had to spend more than a few days before we could get back out. I did cut some sage from one of the nearby canyons for my smudges, got some photos, but we didn't linger.

Butch Cassidy was thought highly of in this area. He treated the locals well (some made extra money riding with him on a job or acting as a lookout). His word was good. Some say that for all his robberies, he never killed anybody.

Cassidy didn't appear to have been a psychopath like Jesse James likely was but was a wild one who took a path that possibly he couldn't get off. The stories are still told that he wasn't killed in South America, that those who knew him saw him later in Utah and other places, but he had gotten his chance off the outlaw trail and lived his life out as an honest man. I think people would like to believe it-- likely or not.

In Cassidy's case, one little story, that I have heard enough to believe was true, gives a picture of who he was as a man. He had sold the ranch the Wild Bunch used but didn't give the buyer a piece of paper as a deed. It was a handshake sale. Cassidy said he'd send the deed later. A year later an Indian showed up with the deed and would only give it to the correct man. The people of the area said they accepted the Indian as a friend because if Butch had trusted him, he must be all right. The Indian stayed in the area for some time.

Heck, I would too. I would love to have a small place in that country, but it's not small place country. This is big ranch land and the kind of place, with its rugged mountains, red rock formations, and roaring rivers, that most of us can only enjoy in stories or as we pass through. To be honest, I'd rather it stay that way than to see it carved up into little ranchettes and vacation homes. The land remains though and the buildings that don't work out soon are absorbed back into it.