Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sex and Old Age

In my younger years, sexuality was a factor in working out dreams... Was I the madonna or Madonna (in my generation that would be Monroe)? Which should I be? In my imagination, I may have shifted between them. If we took our cues from movies, we had a choice of the good-hearted whore to the virgin queen. Should we be sweet and innocent or erotic and sensual?

It would have seemed to me, back then, that by the time I reached old age, those questions would have long ago been answered and cast aside-- or would they?

Kama Sutra sixties is a discussion of Diana Athill's book, 'Somewhere toward the End,' where she writes about her sexual experiences in her 60s. A few years ago the elder memoir was by Jane Juska, 'A Round-Heeled Woman,' about her desire to experience hot sex again before she got too old for it-- the kind of sex that had no strings attached (is there such a thing?). All I can say about Juska's book is-- who imagined this was hidden in English teachers and that in literary personal columns lurk the same things you find on any internet match site?

Is a dream of an active sex life part of most people's elder years? By the time one reaches their old age, is it about memories or do all the sales of Viagra say that doesn't end? When estrogen and testosterone go, does sexuality-- by that I don't mean just having sex but seeing ourselves as sexual beings? Some think the very idea of elders being sexual beings is repulsive.

A few years ago I read that at places like Sun City, Arizona there was a lot of sexual hanky-panky going on. Hiding in the bushes down by the golf course were couples-- not married to each other-- having secret assignations. This news was particularly upsetting to young people. Grandma or would that be Great-grandma??!

We see very few movies about sexuality and elders. The comedy, Something's got to Give, from a couple of years ago starred a sexy looking Diane Keaton (in her late 50s at the time) and does Jack Nicholson ever get un-sexual?

Some want to have sex as part of their lives until they die. For others, it's a relief to put that behind them. Some consider the very discussion unseemly. I don't know about you, but for me, as an observer of life, I like the mental image of two old people in a nursing home still getting hot and heavy (using protection but of course).

Gouache paintings of elder love and dancing the tango by Diane Widler Wenzel (Parapluie in the blog world). The first painting has the couple seemingly coming out of a flower which is the gardenia. It represents young love as so often it is the flower (or was when she and I were young) chosen for corsages that boys gave to their dates before proms or homecomings. So by using the flower from youth and the old couple, the paintings seem to span the years. The tango was inspired by her recent cruise in South America with her husband. To me, they illustrate that sexuality doesn't have to belong to youths.

For more of her paintings check out Umbrella Painting Journal)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Boycott

Having seen how the right punishes or attempts to punish those who do not remain loyal to their party—regardless of right, wrong or individual conscience-- think Steele threatening the three Republican Senators who voted for the Recovery Act that he might take away RNC help for their future campaigns (if it looks like that would lead to a democrat taking that seat, he may think twice on that), I was trying to think of who, we on the left, could boycott as being disloyal to the nation.

Always remember when thinking of boycotts that it is not for us or our political party that we do this but the greater good! It's not out of hate but out of patriotism! The other guys hate!

So, *rubbing hands together* (well not really or I couldn't type) who supported GW Bush or maybe even just was nice to him, campaigned for John McCain, or praised Sarah Palin (since Alex Baldwin praised her beauty, should he go on the list?)? Who should we on the left refuse to buy their products, quit watching their programs, or listening to their music?

The first to come to my mind is John Rich of 'Big and Rich.' What a disappointment he was to me. I know many of you do not know who he is since he's a country western singer, song writer, and all-around nice seeming guy; but he actually sang for McCain and wrote him a campaign song-- True it was a bad song (he must need Big more than he knows) but still-- Bah humbug. Er should I come up with a stronger curse? Should I take my favorite Big and Rich CD outside and dramatically stomp it into the ground?

Except... can I stand never again playing Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy or worse Deadwood? Who would my doing that hurt except me (and, of course, Farm Boss). Wait, I can't let personal needs get in the way of this. I must be strong as after all, this is about making a statement. Yes, for the good of the country, I must stand against that traitor and dispose of any evidence I once enjoyed his music.

Bo Derek is a Bush fan or was. She comes out to campaign for any Republican presidential candidates... Now this is the best kind of boycott. It’s not like I would miss looking at any photos of her (don’t have any) or watching her movies (haven’t seen any). She’d make an excellent, no-pain-to-me boycott target.

How about the ones who supported Measure 8 in California which banned gay marriage? I could feel a genuine enthusiasm for boycotting them if I knew who they were. The only one that I can think of, off the top of my head, would be Marie Osmond. That’s an easy call also since I was never a fan of the Osmonds and seeing her in that weight loss ad has not been enthusing me to start the plan.

Hey this boycotting stuff could be okay... other than the Big and Rich album. But heck, wasn't it really temporary insanity for him. I will let him off (plus Farm Boss said no stomping that album).

You know I am being silly here, but it's not actually a silly topic. There are a lot of boycotts threatened all the time. It's the American way, likely the human way. We have a right to not spend our money where we don't enjoy the product. Making such enemy lists is how people often unite themselves. Economics, picketing with signs, these are all non-violent methods of control, but they aren't the end for all.

Death threats came to the Dixie Chicks when during the run up to the Iraqi War, they spoke out against President GW Bush and going to war. If you aren't familiar with them or have forgotten what happened, Wikipedia gives the general story. There are many who still can’t hear the Dixie Chicks name without growling.

Because Clear Channel refused to play their music, their career was damaged. Was this due to groundswell of public opinion or did all that resentment get cultivated? A lot of boycotts serve purposes way beyond the obvious. Did someone want that war and didn't want Americans thinking too much about its potential cost? Was it a conspiracy? It didn't require one. Clear Channel, who controls a lot of country western stations (likewise talk radio stations) could just do it. Maybe they quit playing the Chicks because they got irate phone calls. People can speculate over their motives; but it's like which came first, the chicken or the egg.

Who does stuff like that? Creates and sends around those hate emails? You know that during the last election the accusations against Jane Fonda circulated again, much of it proven untrue by the people listed on the emails, but it doesn't have to be true. What did it have to do with the last election? I think one thing and one thing only-- stirring up hate. Hate is a powerful emotion.

I get told that I hate Bush, but it's by people who don't know me. I don't hate Bush at all. I hated what he was doing. I hated his policies, but not the man. I don't even know the man. If I did, I am guessing I wouldn't like him much, but I have no reason to hate him. Sometimes I have felt sorry for him. I don't have anybody I actually hate... although Cheney is sure on the no use for list. No way to boycott him though.

Do boycotts work? I just said they probably did with the Chicks. Sean Penn, however, just won an Oscar while he’s on a lot of those lists. He is outspoken, a peace activist and played a gay... A multiple oops to the right. Being on those lists hasn't seemed to hurt his career, but then he's not trying to appeal, with his films, to the right wing.

There’s always some food making company or fast food chain we are encouraged to boycott. Remember the Colonel Sanders one that I think PETA was trying to shut down over abuse of chickens. Didn't it lead to the chain changing its name but they are still in business. I think. Most recently it has been that McDonalds imports their lean beef rather than buying it from US ranchers. Now that one comes home!

Does boycotting make sense to you? Do you think it works other than to make people who are mad feel they are doing something? Have you ever boycotted and if so, what? How long do you keep such a vendetta going?

Jane Fonda might wonder about that. She has said for her it will last until she is dead. Since she is doing a show on Broadway, picketers came out to remind her of what she did over 30 years ago. She has apologized, stated she did wrong (on the part she actually did), but nothing is enough.

I could work up some enthusiasm of a boycott against Alan Keyes as he’s trying to inspire the weak-minded to think that the Health Officer for Hawaii would lie about seeing a genuine, Hawaiian, birth certificate for Barack Obama or that Chief Justice Roberts would put his own reputation on the line by swearing in Obama (not once but twice) if there was doubt about his legitimacy.

Alan Keyes, with his call for the military to overthrow this 'illegitimate' administration, has inspired at least one soldier to refuse to obey orders saying that Obama is not the president. Keyes must want to set in place a president of his own choice. Maybe he'd like to be the one. Is not this the definition of treason? I could definitely get into boycotting him... except what does he do that I could boycott???

Some of this has been lighthearted because most of these lists seem silly to me, but I am old enough to remember the McCarthy era. In one of her books, Ann Coulter has tried to turn McCarthy into a hero and claim he stopped the flood of communists who would have taken over this country-- except there is no proof of any such thing. Not that proof is a factor in such accusations. The more distance you have from an event, the more you can create your own mythology around it.

McCarthy came down on anyone, most especially in Hollywood, who had ever attended a communist political meeting. Blacklists drove some from their jobs and led others to create under a pseudonym.

Keep in mind one thing about McCarthy-- it is legal to be a member of the communist party in our country. It is a genuine political philosophy which some believe in. Not every person who believes in communism is out to subvert our government. I incidentally am a democrat which I know some equate with communism but it's not. I don't believe in the communist doctrines as viable methods for society. In short, I don't think they ever work-- at least not for other than a short period of time.

During the McCarthy years, particularly in Hollywood, some were blacklisted, not because they were communists and helping the USSR, but because they refused to testify.

Yes, it was a time of the Cold War where both the US and Soviet Union were sending spies into each other's countries to try and figure out what was going on. Fear was rampant that we would be nuked by the USSR. When I was a child, we had drills for what to do in such attacks, all of which, of course, was silly and ineffective.

If you make people think you are doing something to keep them safe, they will accept a lot. Enemy lists give certain groups power they'd not find otherwise. Having an enemy is what keeps some from noticing what is happening to their own lives. We need a greater cause, dontchaknow.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Aging and Beauty

Although I had already planned most of this blog on the subject of aging and beauty, this article below was too good to not include. What Jamie Lee Curtis wrote is particularly apropos where we just had the A-Rod admission on steroid use and the Oscars where the big push is on what someone wears (borrowed usually), and how good they look-- or don't. Curtis is writing with her usual frankness about us as a people and how we don't want the real truth on anything. Please read it and come on back to read the rest of my thoughts:


As a culture, we compare ourselves against people and performances that very often aren't real. We want our sports stars better than any physical body can perform by nature. We expect our celebrities to be more beautiful and never get old. When they do age naturally, the media ridicules them. Praise flows when they appear unwrinkled. When something cannot be acquired by nature, we are used to using pills or surgery. The question I have is what is it we are getting?

When you live in a certain culture, you quickly learn some things are okay for beauty and some not. Remember when a curvy figure was the ideal? Recently the media jumped all over Jessica Simpson because she had one of those figures-- fat they said. Fat? Are they nuts? Want me to show them fat. Never mind!

As we begin to age, the society in which we live wants us to deny old age It is to be hidden, scraped or cut away. It is not surprising that so many desperately try to hold onto what they think is youth... but can they?

At the Oscars, Sunday night, I felt kind of sad to see Sophia Loren who is now 70 or so. You can still see her beauty, her bone structure, the sweetness of her face; but with too much make-up, too big a wig, and a dress that was like a dance hall woman might wear, it looked to me like she wanted to still be seen as a goddess of sexuality. For me, it didn't work, and I think she could have shown up better if she hadn't felt the necessity to submerge her identity in a created character. It's not hard to understand why she did it. It's hard to shift gears as we age and most particularly probably in that world. All around is encouragement to not disappoint the audience.

It's been a lot of years since I entered puberty, but I am sure I wanted to be seen as pretty by others. After all it is how others see us that often determines how we see ourselves. The goal of most young women is to be the beautiful one, and throughout our lives, we measure our success or failure against popular celebrities. We might observe that beauty doesn't automatically lead to happy lives; but it takes real maturity to recognize that beauty, at any age, is a hollow goal.

The problem is that physical beauty is rewarded in so many ways. Do we recognize that what is happening is like the ancient sacrifices to the gods-- highly praised and rewarded until it's gone and what comes next? Someone else, that is what.

The quest for physical perfection becomes the quest to look young again. Is it possible? Not that I have ever seen. To me, Sophia Loren, even at that distance, looked like a woman in her 70s. I don't know that she is trying to look younger, that she ever had surgery, but from what she was wearing, I would say she was trying to look sexy. Is that possible?

Probably for awhile and to the ones who love us; but when we become old, one part of it is becoming more asexual. It's a fact of biology. What age that happens will vary, but it will happen. Having the wrinkles ironed out doesn't make anyone really look younger-- just undefined, like a plastic Barbie doll. Dress an old woman up in a dance hall outfit and she looks like an old woman in a dance hall outfit.

Old women and men can be beautiful but only when they do it naturally and when they allow their inner beauty to shine the brightest. I think old age requires a shift in thinking. This isn't about dressing age appropriate by some rule. It's recognizing that some things belong to our younger years and some are for the old ones.

Old age beauty is like fine wine, aged metal or very old porcelain. When you see that inner glow from someone who is very old, you recognize it. It's not sexy and it's not youthful. It's a whole new being.

One of the tasks of growing old is to accept this all as a cycle of life and not fight against it-- not let others pressure us into missing what we could have. Am I there yet? Nope, but I am working on it because it is the only real way to happiness in old age.

I hated to even write about Sophia Loren here because I admire her, do still find her beautiful, but she was such a good example. I would like to see women like her be the old woman they could be and quit trying to be what they once were. I'd like her to do it for us all because role models do matter. As we get old, there are less and less female role models as so many have bought into the must be beautiful, youthful looking and sexy forever mythology.

(I have a rich resource of photos of old women from my family both by birth and marriage. I don't think any though matches the beauty in the one I chose which was my grandmother holding my daughter. Grandma was 81.)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What Obama inherited

After listening to so many right wingers, ready to blame Obama for everything wrong from before he won the election, I thought it was important to put down baseline statements about the country's current problems-- all of which he inherited-- some due to the last administration and Congress. Here are two articles on this subject, and they are a good place to start:


There are many more articles, but these give the general idea. The world and our country have problems that our generation has never seen and which may require solutions with which we are not comfortable nor familiar. Can we think outside the box or have we been boxed into ways that no longer work? Are we willing to accept that what we have been told was wrong or even a lie? The answer to those questions will determine if we can meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

Obama's administration has inherited a US debt which currently requires 25% of our tax revenue just to pay the interest-- before the bail-out in the fall of 2008 or the Recovery Act of 2009. He inherited a citizenry who have been told they can have everything they want and not pay for it. This is a country used to borrowing money personally and nationally. Our last Vice-President (while in office) said such debt didn't matter. Does it? [China losing its taste for US debt?]

Want to know what China is right now doing with the profits our trade deficit and interest on the debt have been racking up? Buying up our companies. So when a company is in trouble, if it looks like they could use it, China buys it, sometimes dismantles, and sends it back to China-- bye bye jobs. Does this give you any idea of what is coming for us as a nation?

Unemployment, official unemployment, is now at 7.6% but that doesn't actually count all the people who have given up finding work or have been out of work too long to qualify for unemployment. That rate might be closer to 15% especially if you add in the underemployed.

Our schools are deteriorating and some this year will have to close early because of insufficient funds. Bush started a program entitled no-child left behind that was about tests-- tests the schools had to buy and administer. It wasn't so much about learning how to learn but learning how to take tests (not to mention making money for the test creators).

There was supposed to be federal money for this no-child-left-behind program but that promise was quickly forgotten. So now schools are into testing but not teaching. Think I am exaggerating? You will know I am not if you have children/grandchildren in the system. Some on the right would like to see the public education system disappear. They are doing what they can to see that happen.

We have a Social Security taxing system that was increased to build a surplus for future elderly. Instead it has been used to fund current spending. There will be nothing in the supposed trust fund when the time comes where more must go out than come in. This is called theft in most situations but not here.

We got a new entitlement program with Medicare for drugs that refused to allow the government to bargain for the lowest prices and instead was a windfall for the drug companies. It won't solve the problem of seniors in the very near future who are also prevented from buying their drugs from other countries where they might be cheaper. How exactly does that help anybody but drug companies?

Obama came into the presidency with a health care system where as a nation we pay more for health care than anywhere else in the world; and yet in comparison to many countries, we get poorer care. We have a system that is financially unregulated and the right resists any change or oversight.

Obama inherited a stock market that has been steadily going downhill if not crashing. People say they lost their savings. Well generally people did not lose their actual savings (unless they were invested in a company that went bankrupt). What most lost was what they were told they were making. They were promised sometimes 20% profits on their money. How could that make sense long term? I am sure a few got their money out and did get that much, but it was usually in tax deferred accounts where they had to pay a lot of tax on them and by the time you calculate in everything, how much were they making? Was that all a big shell game?

Then there is the housing market. Homes went up year after year and became a money maker as many saw them. Except what was their real value? Please don't say this hit us with no warning. We had been told for years that we had a real estate bubble with housing going up beyond its true value (whatever that is) Did anybody pay attention? Did anyone lose the actual value of their home, or is it the value they were told it was worth? Who made money on that bubble? Realtors, land developers, and bank managers?

Do I like bailing out banks, companies and individuals who did stupid or greedy things? You can bet not, but the question is one for which I don't have an answer. Are we tied to their fall?

I read a column this morning from Maureen Dowd where she discusses Bill Clinton saying Obama needs to be more cheerful. Uh does that mean lie to us about what's going on to make us feel better? We are used to it; is that what we expect?

What about the world where Obama now represents the United States? Well there is the obvious problem of terrorism and two active wars (Iraq and Afghanistan for those who forgot) but we also have Pakistan (where bin Laden can hide) dissolving into chaos with nuclear weapons. North Korea who has put its money into developing nukes and weapons that could strike the US. Add to this a world where many countries have turned more and more to violence. How bad is it today? Try this link: Bob Herbert on the rape of women in Congo.

Our borders to the south are porous and we have a constantly increasing (well maybe not so much with the job loss) stream of those who come here illegally, are not counted, and have no real stake in the good of this nation. This situation has led to an outlaw culture on the border made worse by Mexico on its way to becoming another country descending into chaos and violence.

Obama inherited a country with a reputation that its people are ruthless enough to use torture against all civilized accords-- used it when it is not proven it ever works, when it makes future trials impossible to determine real guilt. The world might have blamed the Bush administration for all of this but when he was re-elected in 2004, I think we took on this guilt for ourselves. Along with Obama, we also have responsibility for secret prisons, rendition, the right to override the Bill of Rights. Are we a people who worry more about flag pins and whether the Constitution is capitalized than whether it's followed?

He faces a military fighting in two wars and where the actual cost is only now being counted into the budget. Worse, with many who will need medical care for their whole lives and maybe being supported due to war injuries, he has a country with a rah rah attitude toward war but who have believed sticking a cheap yellow ribbon on their bumper should be their sole financial contribution to those wars.

Obama inherited a government that has learned signing statements and executive orders trump legitimate lawmaking. It has left the lawmakers (in both parties) often unwilling to take responsibility for doing anything about problems. He has to deal with two parties that neither one care about the best of the country but demand loyalty first and foremost to themselves, a corrupt lobbying system that gives lots of money to the government to get... ah oh yeah, they expect nothing back.

Obama has inherited leadership of a country that is divided in more and more ways. This blog alone proves how impossible it can be for the right and left to communicate. The facts can be the same but each side interprets it as they choose.

Here is a famous Reagan quote which both sides take out of context. "... government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."

In context, President Reagan said: "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." furthermore he said, "Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it's not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work--work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it."

Not many people (except maybe the extremes of either party) would disagree with what he said but neither political side generally uses that quote fully. I could easily cite a stream of current political examples, but it wouldn't do any good. Anytime I have tried, it's been like speaking different languages. What do we do with this division? Does it have to be a win/lose or is there some way to make the American people win?

So despite what we might think about Obama and whether he's doing things immediately to solve all these problems, just keep in mind the full situation his administration has inherited (and I didn't remotely list it all as there are global climate questions, environmental misuse, energy shortages, and on it goes)-- what we in this country and around the world have all inherited.

(The photo is of two hawks circling high in the air. When we first saw them, they were both lower but they moved up before we could get the camera out. As they circled, there were two possible explanations. [1.] one was driving the other from its territory. [2.] they were a mating pair. Are we open to considering either possibility or do we have our minds made up which is true?)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Is there a dream prepared for us at birth?

"These new tribes that have come to this land ...
they have no understanding of the desert,
the mountains,
the wild places and the spirits living in it.
They have their politics, but we have the rituals.
They have religion, but we live
with the spirits.
They live in a world without harmony,
without mystery."

from Forests of the Heart by Charles de Lint p. 152
Questions of what is spiritual truth are ones that go along with anyone seeking a dream for their life. Without truth, what is a dream? The culture in which we are born probably influences a lot of what we consider to be truth.

The film Zeitgeist asks the viewer to consider if religion (all of them) has been a false trail that only serves earthly masters, not heavenly ones. It suggests there might be a broader pattern to life, one which religions may mimic but which misses the real point of what life is all about. It doesn't say there is no spiritual plan. It instead leaves you wondering how to find it if religion isn't the way.

Some people become so disillusioned with religion that they also give up on Spirit which would be sad if this world is made up of physical and Spirit. There are so many rituals, so many answers that it can become confusing and you can see how some say forget it, but...

If there is Spirit power, then could there be a spiritual pattern for each of us which we fit with or fight against? Is finding connection with Spirit part of finding connection with ourselves? I believe the desire to find such a secure way is what leads to religion; but does religion help or hinder in a spiritual search?

Whether our lives are preordained is a question philosophers have argued for as long as man has had the time to consider such. Fear of the unknown has led even the most primitive cultures to search for a way to feel in control. Is the real secret to life finding the pattern we were born to follow and then following it or is it something simpler than that? Are dreams planted to help us find our own path? What if we miss that path? Does there come a time when it's too late to find it? Or is life purely biology and there is no meaning to any of it?

In terms of a spiritual power determining purpose, some see everything that happens was god's doing. When good, it was a reward or blessing. Bad and it was intended to strengthen them, give them a testimony, or a punishment. For them it's god who provides their life purpose and their only job is to find His purpose for them. Often a spiritual leader is all too willing to give suggestions/orders.

I bring this up purely because it's part of seeking dreams, not because I have answers. I am comfortable with what I believe right now which is that there is spiritual power beyond my understanding. For me, this is again one of those times where I am exploring what that might be, but I cannot say I have the definitive answer-- maybe I never will. For me, it's mystery-- a word I actually find comforting. I don't have to know to live, which is fortunate as I have met many people who say they know-- too bad they don't agree.

To go along with this question of a life plan, there is another one to ask: Suppose Spirit does have a plan for my life but I don't like it? Would my not liking it mean it wasn't really the right plan or is my desire not a factor in whether it is? Or suppose I have been content with it for many years and somehow now it is not working. Does that mean the plan should change?

What do you think? Do we find our own way or is someone/something beyond us guiding us to it-- forcefully if need be?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Who are you?

Since you grew up, do you ever ask yourself who am I? Might the answer change with a career move, with growing older, with relationships that end or begin, with how others see you? Knowing who you are is part of finding any dream.

Recently I read a book, loaned to me by my daughter, that has been in my bookshelf maybe for a year, certainly for months-- Forests of the Heart by Charles de Lint. So often I have these books and the time isn't right; but when it is, they are even more meaningful than they might have been earlier.

In this case, I also am in a state of new love because in finding a new author, who makes me want to find more of his books, I will have books to find, more to learn, consider and explore (hopefully not be disappointed but like with new love, there is always that risk). Fortunately he's been around awhile which means I can likely find them used.

Forests of the Heart is a story of love, fantasy, folklore, power, spirituality, shape shifting, and people's lives who are doing their best just to get along. Some are artists or musicians and some those who appreciate such. It is partly based in a town that was created for the author's stories somewhere in North America, where the winters are frigidly cold, and partly around Tucson (how could I not love a mystical story based partly in the Southwest?

Some of the characters are part of or know there is a supernatural element to life; some have no clue but are dragged into that world anyway. For them, recognizing who is part of that other world isn't easy. The book is so well written that I hardly skimmed a page-- something rare for me. Every paragraph seemed to be part of the plot and needful to know. Because it was well written and had depth, it was worth taking my time. I was sad when it ended.

This was the kind of book where I tend to save some of the words for future thinking. I don't come across books like that all the time. Since the book was not mine, I had to get out a Word program and write them down.

From Forests of the Heart when Ban asked Bettina who she wanted to be:
"Become the person who would make Abuela proud," she replied without hesitation. "I will learn all I can and become a good curandra. I will father what power the spirits will allow me and use it to benefit whoever asks for my help."
"Power is not something you want," Ban told her.
She gave him a puzzled look. "Porque no?"
"Because whenever one person has it, someone else doesn't. There is only so much to go around. Power is an ugly thing, like a man hitting a woman or a child. You want to ask the spirits for luck."
...
"Unlike power, luck is sweet. Like a kiss or a hug." P. 243
There was enough in this book to leave me thinking on it later, perhaps always. I liked that mystical world where I was a part, if only as a voyeur, for a couple of days. I want to go back.

It also aroused the question of who we are. Some of these people knew who they were and others, they hadn't a clue. Is that true for us also?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Housekeeping

Some of you may have noticed-- most maybe not-- that I have added Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish to The Blog List (he was always in the list of good reads). I'll get into the why of that in a minute.

I am still having a love-hate affair with The Blog List because I like how it lets readers know when blogs have been updated plus the titles of their most recent blogs-- except for three of the ones I visit regularly-- Here in the Hills, Blaugustine, and Darlene's Hodgepodge. I don't know why it can't recognize their updates but it can't; so they linger at the bottom. They are among my own daily reads; so I hope anyone who uses The Blog List to keep up to date on the most recent postings, won't forget to go to the bottom and click on theirs.

The reason I had put Sullivan's blog in the second list is he is a professional blogger, who posts frequently, which means I knew he would dominate The Blog List by always being at the top. Lately, with the political situation in such turmoil for figuring out what's up or down, I have decided that's not a bad thing. I like his blog for the links and the way he fairly evaluates what is happening with Republicans and Democrats (During this election, he supported Obama, had my take on Palin and McCain but he will post whatever he comes across on both sides of an issue).

Today he had a good link to what is going on with [California]. States are in a mess with some unable to give tax refunds for 2008. Schools, at least in my area of Oregon, are warning of a reduced school year when they run out of money and pushing kids into larger and larger classes. I don't know if the recovery money can come fast enough or be directed well enough to deal with this in time.

Then he had this link: [For Obama it's more about Showmanship than Sunlight]. It's early on the Obama administration to be making judgment calls as he's still feeling his way into these issues, but the article reflects a concern I also felt about what he did with this rush rush bill which he then put off signing to make into a show. As Sullivan has also mentioned, I have learned to not find fault with what Obama does too quickly. Often it's the long range where he's looking, not the short range. Check out Bob Herbert's New York Times column for a take on that: [Riding the Wave].

I get it that the main thing a president has is the bully pulpit; but I also see that in this case, he pressured the bill through without a lot of time; then he waited. Do I totally trust what is in this bill? Not considering that Democrats had the main input and they have a way of being as selfish as the Republicans.

Where it comes to Obama, there are other issues that I keep an eye on. He better do what he said. Having a leader, who his side applauds no matter what he does, is how we got where we are. One thing that I resented with Republicans these last 8 years is how they supported Bush without doing research or thinking. Torture? Fine with us if it works! Does it work? He said it did and that's fine with us. Tax cuts in war? Hey, we are fine economically. Deficit rising? No problem-- at least not until a Democrat gets into office.

Ack!!! I would get so mad that they didn't call him to account and said I'd not do the same thing with Obama. When I have questions or don't know whether he'll do what he said he'd do (not as interpreted by the wing-nuts but what I remember him saying), then I will write about it. I am not a lock-step follower.

That said, I have no buyer's remorse about voting for him. What the Republicans offered (and still do with those in Congress) is more of what we have had or worse. McCain looks as unstable to me as he ever did and Palin... I said it all during the election about her. She would have been terrible as a president unless you were a right wing extremist.

In November, I had two possible ways to go with my vote and Obama was the choice I felt/feel was right. I had hopes for him and I still do. I want him to do what the people need and what he said. In that sense signing this away from the White House might be a good thing-- whether the intense rush was or not; but I will be watching and hoping he doesn't let himself get caught up in the hype that was created for him. It won't help him or us.

I hope Republicans will do the same thing. Hope for his success and when he does the right thing (as they see it) cheer him on instead of secretly try to undermine him. It's for the good of us all that we put aside this partisan war and recognize both sides have good ideas and make mistakes.


The photo is from this week-end watching the geese out at Finley-- one of those things Farm Boss and I do for our mental health (he took the photo out the car window as most of Finley is still closed to humans allowing only drive-thrus with a few trails open away from the main flocks).

Monday, February 16, 2009

Men Become What They Dream

It might seem there is no purpose in our dreaming (not the nighttime dreams but those where we imagine a different world). Some say imagining that way will keep us from living where we have been planted. Others say a dream is what will make us into more than what we had been. Putting a dream on a shelf for awhile doesn't make it go away but the most powerful dreams are those we move toward with our actions.

In the film Gray Owl (1999 film based on a true story), one of the chiefs said, what to me is the ultimate statement on dreams and the kind of compliment that it seems we would all love to hear at the end of our lives:

"Men become what they dream.
You have dreamed well."

Archie Gray Owl had dreamed strongly, and his dreams as a boy led to the man he became. Nothing stopped him. The movie was good-- surprisingly so. At first Pierce Brosnan seemed like an odd choice to play the lead character, Archie Gray Owl, but it turned out, he was an inspired choice (especially if you see what the real Archie looked like). It is a story of living a dream against all odds. It's not a film with a lot of action but one steeped in the atmosphere of the life it was about as well as the land where it had been planted. I recommend it for nature, inspiration, fun, and its exploration of living a dream. It is also a reminder-- living a dream is not without cost.

How many of us have a dream from childhood that we leave behind because it's impractical? Sometimes circumstances force those choices. Might some of them return when we grow old?

The point of the movie was a dream involves seeing not just who we are but who we want to be. Powerful dreams are those where we decide what elements are needed to live that dream and step by step we set about learning or making them part of ourselves.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Romance or something like it


Valentine's Day-- Is there a day more set up to make those who don't have a soul mate kind of love feel sad? How many couples end up with arguments or disappointments over expectations not met! Who gains by days like Valentine's Day? Card/candy/flower sellers? Is it cynical of me to be suspicious of such days?

Here's the thing. If you have a lover, why isn't every day a good day to say I love you and every now and then send a card or flowers? If you don't have someone special in your life, what does Valentine's Day do for you?

For me, romance itself is suspect because it's one of those emotional, heart tugging things that doesn't necessarily lead to a quality life for any couple. I know there must be men who are inherently romantic and love doing special little things for their women, but not many have crossed my path. :) To be honest, I doubt I am the type of woman to be wooed by romantic gestures and most likely if I came across one of those men, I'd find something else wrong with him and go on my way.

Still I like romance when it's in the fantasy realm... kind of. I thought I'd write this blog about some of that romance, the kind that melts my heart. Is it real? Who cares.

Romantic films:
Well there are many great ones but one of my favorites is The Notebook because it is emotional, heartwarming, and covers love at both ends of the age spectrum. There are James Garner, Gena Rowlands as an old couple facing the end of life while at the beginning are Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams-- incidentally, who tried to make love work with each other in real life but unfortunately (for romantics) weren't able to make it last.




Romantic song:
There are many that make me sigh, but at the top of the list would be Unchained Melody which is an oldie. It's about a love that transcends life. This particular video uses Ghost which is a film about a love that reaches beyond death.



Romantic flowers:
Pick me a bouquet of sunflowers or any wildflowers from along a road or in a meadow. Nothing has more meaning, certainly not a bouquet of hothouse roses. And if he just came in from the field with them, well that's at the top of my romantic list.

Romantic places:
The Oregon Coast in a storm, a small motel (ideally with a fireplace) and a view of the churning surf. Or how about a campfire and tent high in the mountains with a stream nearby?

Romantic books:
I had to think about this one for awhile. These days I don't read many romantic novels; but reaching back in time, it'd be Bond of Blood by Roberta Gellis. It's an historic romance about a man who had never learned to love and the woman who taught him.

I read this book when I was in my 20s and loved it so much that I wanted my own copy. It was not in print at the time. I thought about pretending to the library that I had lost it, pay for it, and keep it. I knew I'd never really enjoy it if I got it that way. I went looking for the author's address (not easy in the days before Internet), contacted her with my desire to purchase her book, and as luck would have it, she had some that hadn't sold (a bit musty from being in her garage) sold them to me (at a very good price) with her signature no less. A few years later those first two came out again in paperback with more following. Maybe my letter encouraged her to write more. Who knows but I read many more by her after that first one-- none were better.

Romantic poems:
There are many that make me catch my breath. I thought of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's 'How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.' That's very romantic but it doesn't make me cry. My criteria for what is romantic apparently is does it make me tear up? This one does it:

Walk Slowly

If you should go before me, dear, walk slowly
Down the ways of death, well-worn and wide,
For I would want to overtake you quickly
And seek the journey's ending by your side.

I would be so forlorn not to descry you
Down some shining highroad when I came;
Walk slowly dear, and often look behind you
And pause to hear if someone calls your name.
Adelaide Love

['Walk Slowly' is in The Best Loved Poems of the American People, one of the first books I bought as a young married woman, and for me still a standard where it comes to popular poetic anthologies.]

Friday, February 13, 2009

Political Rant Coming On

For anyone who has had enough politics in the last two years to last them, feel free to enjoy the photo and not read farther today. The view is what I see when I look out the window toward the hill to the south and one reason I don't mind rainy days with how the mist creates layers and almost a mystical quality to the land around me.

It has been a volatile, heavily partisan time in American politics most especially the last two weeks as a new president steps into the power structure and the issue of how to help our economy is debated-- often heatedly. Sometimes you wonder how those from each party can see the same event so differently-- but it's in the nature of humans.

Yes, I understand how important it is to think positive, to be positive; but sometimes a person just needs to vent if they don't want to explode. No amount of trying to feel good or concentrate on other things is enough. For me this is one of those times in triplicate-- and then some.

I am not sure in which order this all came. The most irritating is where I'll start. That would be Cheney on his media circuit trying to still control the government. He defended and demanded the new administration do what he had done regarding torture, secret prisons, holding prisoners with no evidence, fighting a war with no evidence to support the need, deflecting terrorism attacks by above methods, all of which is why we (the should-be grateful citizens) were kept safe-- and if this isn't done, we will be blown away by the bad guys and it'll be Obama's fault.

Cheney, as only he can do it, explained torture worked great (he didn't add just like on the TV show 24/7 but you could tell he watches it). Do keep in mind though that these averted attacks were like the 'terrorists' with few if any weapons who planned (encouraged by someone) to attack Fort Dix. Excuse me but did they think maybe there were a few armed, warriors stationed there? Guess not. Did someone sucker them into thinking they could do it, someone who got rewarded for doing that? How would we know?

And on it went with that old man (who is basically my age but seems came from another era for how he thinks and talks), who has followed the path of Svengali (yes fictional but still good example), Machiavelli, Cesare Borgia, and any other leader who manipulated others into following their ideas. He clearly is not ready to give up his power and will continue his shadow administration from a secret location in Florida.

Then there was Representative Pete Sessions from Texas who suggested the Republicans start an insurgency following the oh so successful playbook of the Taliban. I can't even comment on that, at least not and remain a lady, but can you imagine, if ANY democrat said the same thing, what you'd hear from the right. What did you hear about this on say Fox, Hannity or Rush? Silence? Guess they agreed-- minus the car bombings I assume.

How about the ones who are up there in the Capitol still arguing the New Deal failed because it only reduced unemployment from 25% to 15%. That might be one that could be discussed with some of the elders who actually lived through that time-- although many are now gone and only their stories linger on. I don't know of anyone in my family who didn't believe Roosevelt's programs had helped their lives. These though were ordinary people and who (except 20% of die-hard Republicans) believes Republicans care about the average working person? Example: who worried that CEOs might have their pay limited to half a million dollars (plus possible future compensations if they paid back the debt) if they accepted government bail out?

Monday I was watching some news (often a mistake right now), and a Republican politician came on to debate a Democratic politician. The Republican was smug, interrupted constantly, raised his voice, didn't listen to anything anybody else said-- including the host. His mantra was equivalently that only Ronald Reagan has had a good idea in the last 100 years.

To listen to these guys, government is the only problem this country has, and tax cuts are always the solution-- especially if they go to the richest citizens. How do average citizens then repair roads/bridges, maintain police and fire services, run schools (they don't like public education so that one is easy ), upgrade airports, fight the wars they are so fond of justifying, and on it goes. It is however the only thing Republicans know to say and it explains a lot of our crumbling infrastructure given they have had power for almost 20 years because even during the Clinton presidency, they ran the Congress (more about this below).

Why this guy, and others like him, who hate government, don't retire on their fat pensions is beyond me. They usually go into the private sector as lobbyists and continue to make money off government but then they didn't have real jobs to start. That's what the new RNC chairman said. Only the private sector has real jobs and even there nobody who works on contract, which means painters, construction trades, consultants, ranchers, small storekeepers, and millions of other only have work, not jobs.

When I yelled at the television several times with words I won't repeat here but do happen to know, I thought this is ridiculous. I am a Libra. Libras are polite people. We simply don't yell at anybody-- let alone a poor dumb TV set, but I did.

Do I defend the Nancy Pelosi side? No and they make me almost as mad. For years we were told they had no power because the Republicans had the majority. Wait a minute did the Republicans have a 60 vote majority? No, they often had barely a majority of one if the Vice-President voted with them. So what is going on here? The Republicans will filibuster. Oh woe. Cry me a river! Clearly the Democrats weren't willing to take that drastic step. What does that say about Democratic wimps? You know the answer. I am so sick of both parties that I can barely type their names without growling.

Only one thing made me feel good recently in the political arena and that was Barack Obama's press conference, but the right criticized that also because he worked it from a list which had on it the name of a representative from the various media (including Huffington Post horrors). That convinced the wingnuts that he had the questions submitted ahead of time. They prefer the president to point at someone, which still is under his control, ignore other media (unless it was that guy who was actually a male escort), avoid those who ask uncomfortable questions (which prelisted or not, the president knows who those might be), and maybe nickname them something demeaning because he can't remember their real names. Speaking their real names and the media from which they came gave them an accountability that a listener could follow.

What Obama said in the press conference, to me, showed his goals for our government go farther than I had thought-- but not farther than he said during the campaign. The ones who listened to Obama's answers (no Republicans probably as likely they had their TV on mute) couldn't help but see this is a man with a concept that goes beyond job creation to a whole new government system. No, rightwingers, I don't mean back to socialism (although we have had elements of that in our culture for a long time). I am talking about going back to the original Constitutional concept for our government.

At one time it was expected that Congress would have two branches that didn't take their marching orders from the President but that were co-equals with him in devising solutions to problems facing the country. One was to be represenatives of the people with two year terms to make it more likely they wouldn't be career politicians. (that has worked sooooo well) This would be a Congress not run by lobbyists but real patriots, who worked from their different political agendas to find solutions that benefited the country as a whole. You are laughing!

I don't know when this got subverted but probably Reagan can take some credit. He is still the hero of the right and was of a mind that government was the problem, never the solution (except probably for wars) and that tax cuts solve all problems (at least that is how his theories are being interpreted today). It is his ideas that the Republicans still think will solve all problems-- big military, small everything else, and paid for by...

The first George Bush called Reagan's thinking voodoo economics, but there are a group, who no matter what charts you show them, no matter what anecdotal evidence, still see Reagan's ideas as good as he was-- and I do believe he was a good man but with an archaic set of ideas, straight out of movie sets, that do not work for the world we face today if they ever did.

More recently we had the Bushies who believed in a dictatorial presidency who told everyone below them what to do; and if they couldn't get the laws they wanted, they had signing statements and executive orders to ignore Congress. They also believed in wars-- but not paying for them.

Congress has gotten used to giving out blank checks. Both parties, working together, at least on something, managed to double our national deficit in 8 years. The Republicans only got new religion when they lost the White House and saw a possible way to regain power.

The end result has been a Congress (again both parties) with no new methods or ideas. Can they learn new ways or do we have to vote them all out to get a change? For now, maybe it's handy that they are used to a dictating president. It's what they apparently liked; so maybe it'll have to be the answer. Compromise sure isn't working.

For you commenters who love the GOP, who still think Obama is planning to sell us out to the devil, I do understand your angst. Believe me, I do.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Senator Gregg Withdraws

For tomorrow I had already written a blog rant on politics; but this latest analysis by Andrew Sullivan (one of my daily and often more than daily reads) can't wait.


Even before I read this, I was beginning to think as Sullivan does. The Republicans are determined to make Obama fail. They will do anything they can. They do not care today, anymore than they did the last eight years, about what is best for the country. For them it's regain power at any cost. You can't work together when the philosophies are so diametrically opposed. One wins. The other loses.

A personal bit about me-- I don't like to play games where one must lose. I played them when I was younger; but as I get older, it bothers me to see someone else lose... but I don't like losing myself which leads to rarely playing games. In my relationships I don't like win/lose situations. I prefer to withdraw before it reaches that point. I would like to think the world can be one where we are capable of working together even when we disagree. I'd like to think all the people who run for political office want the best for our country and not just their own parties. It's not how life is.

In two years, there will be another election. Republicans in Congress not only don't appear to care how many lose their jobs between now and then; but probably the more the better. They are hoping to use economic failure in the country as a way to win back a majority in both Houses. Americans will have to decide which philosophy they want governing their country, and it looks like it'll have to be winner take all if we don't want to continue on this destructive path. I don't much like that but nobody asked what I liked.

No, this wasn't a rant. That comes tomorrow :)

Mayan Prophecies

For anyone, who has been interested in the Mayan Prophecies, this might be worth your time to read:


The article explains who Carlos Barrios is and why his interpretation of the calendar's significance might have some weight. Some think the calendar is indicating the world will end December 21, 2012. It's always some date, isn't it?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mothering Time II

This is a ewe at the other end of her productive lifetime. By her teeth, you can tell she has born many lambs over many years. She is the mother of the triplets.
When Farm Boss went out to see if he had to help the young ewe deliver her baby, he saw these three playing on mama. He took so many good ones that I decided to post most of them.Those lambs' faces are just so cute, and she has the patient look of a flock elder who has done and seen it all. Nothing phases her much.
Like all kids, lambs love to play king of the mountain.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mothering Time

Sunday when Farm Boss went out to check on a first time ewe, who had her water break half an hour earlier, I asked him, along with what he would need to pull the lamb if something had gone wrong, to take a camera. These are the photos he took of the lamb who had fortunately come without help.
These little mixed breed, Shetland ewes make the best mothers. We have yet to have one reject her lamb and believe me that does happen in other breeds.See how quickly the lamb's instincts take it toward the mother's udder.
An hour or so after these photos had been taken, I saw what I at first thought was the young mother leaving the lambing area, looking back the whole time, but without her lamb. That didn't look good; then it dawned on me, when I saw budding horns, it looked like her because it was her twin who had been inspecting the new arrival. There is something so rewarding about raising animals in flocks where it is a herd and not just a meat factory.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Mystic Lands

Some time ago I was in Costco, looking at DVDs and saw a boxed set of six titled Mystic Lands. It looked good, came home, and then sat on the shelf for an undetermined time. In January, with the nights long, the days sometimes difficult, Farm Boss and I began to watch them and found we were looking forward to each one.

They are not only informative about mankind's many versions of faith, but show the lands from which these religions have sprung. Does land impact the kind of religion it will grow? Some say there are daemons or gods spread throughout the earth and it would be one explanation for this diversity-- if you believed in such.

The series covers briefly 13 spiritual places in the world. It goes from familiar religions to ones we may not have heard much about. The places are Bhutan, Greece, Peru, Egypt, Myanmar, the Taj Mahal, Four Corners of the United States, Haiti, Bali, Australia, Central America, Jerusalem, and Varanasi.

Because learning about other religions has always been of interest to me, I knew at least something about most of these cultures, but in each case, even with these brief looks, I learned at least one thing that I hadn't known.

It seems that the need in mankind, to find a belief system that explains birth and death, one that gives meaning to days, is a human trait. Most religions explain the cosmology of life. From where did we come? To where will we go? Burial rituals in each of these cultures were particularly interesting to me.

After I finished the 6-part series, I felt lucky to live where I have the freedom to follow many religions or none. Then I had a dream, which I might sometime write about, which gave me another thought on this. Maybe there is something to be said for those who have a culture and religion that they don't have to think about whether it's right. They belong and are comforted in that belonging; where we, with so much freedom, sometimes wander in the wilderness in our quest for spiritual certainty which we might never find.

Fear is a big part of many religions, and this series doesn't gloss over that. It doesn't sugar coat any of them, but it also presents them non-judgmentally. Briefly, this is what these cultures believe and it helps their daily lives-- or so most believe. You see the ecstasy on many faces as they follow patterns that might have been the case for their ancestors through many generations.

When I tried to decide which cover to scan as an example of the images, I chose my personal favorite-- Australia and Bali, two cultures not that physically far apart but with very different religious views of life. The culture of the Aborigines has been interesting to me for a long time. I did learn things I didn't know, but they keep a lot of their practices secret and sacred. Good for them!

I checked and this series is on Netflix.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

astrology side notes

I receive assorted astrological updates from a Tucson psychic, Stephanie St. Claire. This is one she forwarded and it was said it could be passed on. Because tomorrow is the full moon and an eclipse, I thought those who pay attention to astrology might like to read and consider if they can use this full moon for their own lives. If you don't believe in such, that's okay too:

**********************************************

FULL MOON ECLIPSE UPDATE

February 9: Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse is Monday, February 9 at 7:50AM Mountain Standard Time.

Whatever upheavals or chaos or movement or breakthrough you manifested in between the two eclipses (January 26-February 9) can be anchored more deeply at this time.

Observe what has come into your life or what you have healed or are in the process of healing.

Acknowledge your process at this full moon and it will continue to build as part of your new internal patterning.

Whatever you put your mind and disciplines to during this window will stick around so make sure it's good and positive. Take whatever time you can without distraction to journal, set intentions, practice gratitude, do your practices. You will also be supported for a few days to clean up your personal environment, get rid of what is suddenly old and used up. Bring fresh flowers into your home and office, and acknowledge the feminine in your life.

Astrological Notes by Patricia Liles :

The lessons of Aquarius are upon us again with the Leo (fixed fire) Full Moon opposite the Sun in Aquarius (fixed air) at 22 degrees. Accompanied by a lunar eclipse that strengthens its influences, Leo wants to juxtaposition our personal egos with the visions of what we can create as a community. Leo, ruled by the strength and will of the Sun, is compelled to express its 'I am' for all to experience. It expresses with warmth, playfulness and joy for being alive! Ruler of the heart, self-expression and creativity is Leo's delight and gift to the wheel of the zodiac. Aquarius in opposition is compelled to express what it sees - the truth. Its perspective is objective, inspired, often genius. These fixed signs suffer from stubbornness and pride on the shadow side.

This Full Moon, the Sun in Aquarius opposite the Moon in Leo is exactly conjunct Chiron, and Neptune is within 2 degrees. Chiron in Aquarius wants us to bring the un-healable, festering collective wound to the light. We are in a period of unprecedented shift. We are redefining our collective truth and how we want to show up in the world. This is a huge, almost overwhelming task. We are feeling a generalized anxiety as the Uranus-Saturn opposition helps birth us into a new way of being.

This opposition is tied to the Full Moon through two quincunx aspects (150 degrees-considered a minor aspect) Uranus quincunx the Moon and Saturn quincunx the Sun. What to do? Focus on the heart! What we can do is learn to love ourselves in a deeper way. Forgive our wounds of ego extremism that we have perpetrated and of which we have been victims. Forgive any tyrannical behavior toward ourselves and others. Let your microcosm heal the collective macrocosm.

Pluto is squaring Venus, echoing the theme of the opportunity to bring feminine energy up from the shadows, purging previous patterns of domination and growing into the universal principals of love, forgiveness and the heart. This is a vast piece of work that each of us can contribute to by loving our own feminine/masculine balance into being.

Make sure that the huge emphasis in Aquarius (Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron, North Node, Juno) doesn't find you letting technology/computers/web time substitute for consciousness expansion.
patliles@aol.com

from THE POWER PATH
P.O. Box 272
Santa Fe, NM 87504-0272

http://www.thepowerpath.com

profile pictures


In the past I have mentioned my dislike of my own profile photos. Even if I get one I like, I get tired of them and then want something new. I am too picky probably as I want one that says something but then the question is what. I use one, instead of scenery, just because I enjoy seeing what other bloggers look like and assume other readers feel the same.

This time I decided to try a new process. This is from a January webcam photo merged into a place I always enjoy being-- Paradise Valley, Montana. The wonders of photo shop lets me set myself into a dream-- at least for now.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

What are values?

Because comments in an earlier blog went into a direction I had not expected (some of the best comment series do this), it stirred me to thinking about the subject of personal values-- something we obviously do not all see the same way. I had written about my core beliefs over a year ago; but those weren't really what I consider to be values, and I do have a set of core values under which I operate.

What I consider to be my values, the things that determine how I treat others, don't seem to me to come from one political party or any one religion. My friends and I might vary a little about what we think is okay morally, come from different political parties and religions; but in general, our values are similar or we probably would not have stayed friends. Common values build stronger relationships-- in my opinion.

So from where do values come? I think primarily it is from our families. When Farm Boss and I met, when we decided to join our lives together, we knew we had families with very similar values. When our children found their mates, the same thing was true. Interestingly enough the political and religious viewpoints sometimes were very different; but values such as not stealing, not cheating, working for what you get, helping others when you can, money is good but not if you do something unethical to get it, your reputation is very important, etc., those are the same.

When I looked at Dictionary.com for a definition of values, it was down the line before I found the kind I am writing about:
10. values, Sociology. the ideals, customs, institutions, etc., of a society toward which the people of the group have an affective regard. These values may be positive as cleanliness, freedom, or education, or negative, as cruelty, crime or blasphemy.
11. Ethics. Any object or quality desirable as a means or an end in itself.
It is one of the problems our country has been facing. Do we as a nation really have similar core values? Both parties would lay claim to being the only ones with 'good' values-- and people of the opposing parties shake their heads as the very idea. Religions claim the same thing.

When I was a girl, my schools didn't teach values as a class. Parents taught them at home. In the schools, values were taught through example, expectation within the schoolroom, and subjects like literature or history among others. Now where some parents might be too busy to teach their children values (or are uncertain of their own), where children may be getting them for a movie or TV program, where their peer group might have more impact than their families, there are arguments over what schools should be teaching.

Some would have partisan issues taught under 'values' while others would go back to the basics-- what some call the golden rule such as do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Oops that's religion, isn't it? Or is it?

It's not hard to see the reason people are so concerned that future generations will have a set of values helpful to keeping society orderly and effective. Without them, life is filled with distrust.

Hardball on MSNBC noted a new poll where it was asked was it okay to cheat on taxes. Only 9% said yes. But then what would they call cheating? And how many do it knowing it's not okay?

Tom Daschle, who many (in both parties) have said was an honest man (for DC anyway), lost a position he really wanted because he didn't declare a car and driver as a part of his salary. Some go to jail for that kind of 'error.' So much of what traps people into doing what Daschle did is a sliding scale of dishonesty. Do one dishonest thing, maybe a little one, and the next is easier until you end up where you never thought you'd be. Solid core values, which you live by, are what stop that from happening.

I have often said that you can't call yourself an honest person because you don't rob a bank. It's what you do when the checker undercharges you that defines you as honest-- or not.

[Although it might not seem easy to see how, the photos in this blog represent one of my values.

Every time I am at this Newport memorial site, as I was last week-end, I stop and think of those names, the ones who went to Vietnam and didn't return; then think of the ones who know those names as sons, fathers, brothers, or lovers. I ask how could I photograph this stone in a way that represents both sides of a war?

One time a woman was sitting near the rock and reading. She was the right age to have known one of those names. It might have created the photograph I wanted, but I couldn't photograph her as it'd have been invasive. This time I thought, with the sun positioned right, what about laying the shadow of a woman across the names. She is now old, while they never will be. The shadow represented us all.

The other photos are of a sculpture created to remind us about the whales and the respect we should show them, their importance in our lives-- Whale Medicine.

These two are at opposite ends of a short beach side memorial and might seem to be unrelated except they are both about respect of life and that is one of my core values.

Some would say, because I raise livestock, support the death penalty for certain crimes, favor choice in early pregnancies, support Oregon's death with dignity, own a gun I would use in self-defense, believe sometimes wars are needed but they should be a last resort, shoot at a coyote going after the sheep, take a spider outside rather than step on it, that I am inconsistent. I say these are all true 'for me' and come because I do respect life.

To read the words on the stones, click on the images to enlarge.]

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Child of the Moon

This computer painting is not a self portrait but more what I feel about the moon. I have painted the moon many times but usually not the crescent which I really liked the other night. I enlarged the size of the moon to emphasize its power for the woman. It is a waxing moon, which means a growing time. The moon is anima.

If there is a purist Jungian reading this, I understand anima is considered man's inner female self and animus is the female's inner male; but this computer painting just has to be anima, which can also mean the inner self or soul . The moon is female.

Marge Piercy wrote a poem to this point, [The Moon is Always Female]. Here are a few lines from near its end:

"I have wandered these chambers in the rock
where the moon freezes the air and all hair
is black or silver. Now I will tell you
what I have learned lying under the moon
naked as women do: now I will tell you
the changes of the high and lower moon."

If you have never tried painting with the computer, you might enjoy it as a relaxing and no pressure way to create without the need for an end product that often stops people before they start.

For mine, I use the paint tools and palette from Corel Photo-Paint 7 and have written about the process before (more about that in Labels under art); and then more recently where I gathered my computer self-portraits and put them on their own blog at [Rainy Day Extras].

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

a dream of the nighttime sort

Last week I had a lot of negative nighttime dreams. If you do dream work, you know that the average dream comes out of daytime events. In my opinion, most don't have a message as such. When so many are negative, it can be reflective of something read, seen, or simply routine daytime tensions. The outside world provides plenty of those these days.

Nightmares are rare for me but one nightmare last week was set in a small town (not one I know) and about bigotry, people choosing sides and it became very violent. Quite a vivid dream, but I did not see any message for me beyond the story. Although the bomb blast was very colorful, like seeing it in 3-D.

The rest of the dreams I won't go into but they were routine tension inspiring. If I was tense during the day, I was more so every time I'd wake up from these nothing-is-going-right dreams.

Then came Friday night's dream and a change of pattern. The story was a simple one. I was with a family, which in the dream was my family, but not sure they were my family today. Children, adults, a mother figure, myself, lots of activity.

Someone broke a glass leaving shards all over the floor. I was concerned children with bare feet might step on the pieces and began carefully picking them up. When I had one hand full of sharp pieces, I hoped I had them all and headed for where I could throw them away.

To get to a safe place to dispose of them, I had to go through a narrow slot where it quickly became obvious it was going to be necessary to use both hands and slide carefully through.

In dreams, places often shift; and this narrow space was nothing like the house but more like a very low cliff with a narrow gate opening. With a hand full of glass shards, there was no way to get through. What to do? Put down the glass pieces and risk not finding them all endangering the family still? Find another path? It didn't seem like there was another path.

Then I said to myself, this is just a dream, I don't need to keep my hand closed to go on. There is no glass to drop or hurt anybody. It felt like I actually had my hand clenched in my sleep, opened it; and of course, no glass fell.

What happened is the kind of thing I experience once in awhile in a dream. It can be called lucid dreaming. It's where in your dream you realize you are dreaming and take control of the events. Your conscious mind enters into the dream and changes it to a more suitable conclusion.

This one though I also would call a medicine dream-- my own term for when a dream has a message in it for my life. In this case, it was that I can let go of the things I am trying to hold onto as a way to protect others. What I am so afraid of releasing often is no more real than the shards in the dream.

I/We can control of our own lives when we do not let what is unreal have power over us. This is especially true when we are trying to do things thinking they will protect others. To me, the dream was a reminder of what I know, but the idea had more power when it came through a dream.

(There was no ocean in the dream but I had so many pictures from the coast that I wanted to slide a few more in somewhere. In a way, the sea is like dreaming-- wide, expansive, and seemingly unlimited-- okay, yeah, that was a justification.)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Triplets in time for Imbolc

Isn't she a great mother!

These triplets were born January 30th, the day before Imbolc which can be celebrated from January 31st to the 2nd of February. It is a pagan holiday halfway between the Solstice and the Equinox and a precursor to the end of winter. Groundhog's day anyone? So typically we carry on the tradition but have lost the deeper spiritual meaning.

In the Irish Gaelic, the celebration is called Oimelc which means ewe's milk because the ewes were lambing at that time. This ewe certainly has plenty of that and a good thing. I often don't feel happy to see triplets as there is more chance of one dying from not enough food but taking a look at this ewe's udder and her great mothering and I think these all have a good chance. Through February, we will keep an eye on them and that the ewe does not develop milk fever.

We actually only have had one ewe get milk fever, and it was back when we were starting into sheep and our own children were young. We worked with the veterinarian and got her over the worst of it; but he said the babies couldn't nurse from her or it might start it all over again. Farm Boss rigged up a protective apron over her udder so that they could be with her but not get at the teats. Our kids were bottle feeding the lambs.

Then we noticed they had all out smarted us and the lambs were getting past the protective device and nursing. The ewe did not get sick again and raised her babies. Still I wouldn't like going through that again; so we will watch for warning signs. It is most common in heavy producing ewes with twins or in this case triplets.In these pictures, they are a few hours old. Amazing how quickly they can run and jump, isn't it? But then they are prey species.