Thursday, April 30, 2009

End of a month

and although I generally post something every two days, I really don't have anything to say. Lots of ideas floating around but none that have congealed into something I could write about. Good press conference. I wrote about the torture. That was bad.

I have been enjoying some books and DVDs but writing about them with any depth requires more brainpower than I have at the moment. So I'll put up a picture of spring and hope soon that something more interesting comes to mind. I do still have what I am now pretty sure is hay fever. It's likely been worse because this year it is worse for everyone and has been a perfect storm for pollen coming together. Maybe the trip ending just as it began added to it. Whatever the case-- this too shall pass... eventually... when the pollen quits... whenever that is.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Good News Bad News Days

Most likely you have noticed how life goes like that with ups and downs. If we are doing well, we roll with the punches, if not, we get knocked down. Good days and bad ones sometimes come within the same day! So it has been this last week for me and the farm.

Great time at the beach with the family followed by either a very bad cold or hay fever. It's hard to tell which given the pollen is blowing everywhere and a lot of people are miserable with allergies. One thing about a colder spring is that when it warms up, everything blooms at once.

One grandson began coming down with something while at the beach; the other came down with it a few days after getting home. Poor little guys were miserable and their symptoms were similar to mine except I don't have a fever. The youngest grandson was coming down with it the last I heard.

Obviously that means there is no way to know for sure what I have except of course for the sore throat, sneezing and lower than usual energy. That I know for sure.

Then the calf. Well it is better. We looked up symptoms in our Merck (veterinary handbook) and Google, got some ideas as to what had led to its problems, had been giving it an antibiotic, but Saturday called our son-in-law for further consultation. Why him? Because he's a very gifted veterinarian. It turns out we weren't giving a big enough dosage.

The calf is now following mama, enjoying learning what life is like in a herd; and although it's not a done deal yet for surviving, he's looking good enough that I took some photos. I could have awakened him for a more interesting one but decided he needed his rest more than I needed a picture. It does show Mama's protectiveness. The young one in the herd photo is not him. He and his mom were off to one side.

One afternoon I heard a cow bellowing and thought uh oh, went out; but it wasn't her. It was another mama cow; so I went looking for her baby. Turns out her baby was what I would call a pre-teen, as in the age to not care if mama is wanting him. It was hanging out with two others in the barn and in no mood to go running home to a mad mama.

So where's the bad news in all that? Well walking back from the fields on the week-end, I saw a small lamb not looking good at all. As in looking like it was on its way out. Farm Boss carried it back to the house, gave it some shots, but clearly it was too late and it died almost immediately.

Holding a baby animal in your arms as it is dying is depressing to say the least. We feel even worse because if we had noticed it sooner perhaps we could have saved it. The bad part with sheep is all too often, they don't show how sick they are until they are ready to die.

The weather has had the same ups and downs. Very nice, very pretty and then the clouds come in and it drizzles. I don't complain about rain, but the warmer temperatures lead to more grass growing and we could do with that.

Farm Boss wormed all the sheep this week-end (overload of worms is very possibly what killed the lamb) and trimmed the necessary hooves-- plus buried the lamb. Poor little thing but we don't let the creek critters eat any of the ones we lose. That's a good way to train the wild ones to come back for live ones.

None of that is much fun, but it's part of farm life. I most often photograph and write here about the pretty part, the enjoyable part, but I am sure most people understand it's not all that way.

On the good side of the week's ledger, I applied for and received my Pioneer Fishing License. Not sure if that is supposed to be capitalized but it seemed pretty cool to me when I found out it was possible to do. If someone, over the age of 65, has lived in Oregon 50 years, not necessarily all in a row, they can apply for a license to fish for free. It will require getting a new one each year but only have to go in the first time in person.

Farm Boss got his before we went to Tucson, and now I have mine which means I can work on learning to fly fish again this summer. I have barbless hooks on my flies, a nice pole, and reel-- even a fishing vest-- all of which I have only used with brief permits in Yellowstone Park.

For me, it's about being out on the rivers, learning how the fish think and fooling them into thinking I am a bug they want to eat. Fly fishing is an art, and I have always loved watching it done by someone skilled. I will mostly do catch and release if I catch anything.

What made it even sweeter was when the woman took one look at me and said, sorry for saying this but you don't look old enough for this. Do you have a driver's license I can see? Definitely a nice thing to hear especially at a time where I wasn't feeling all that swift.

Anyway as I decide whether to sneeze again, glance out the window at the rain, and more or less feel like it's been one of those weeks (and that doesn't even take into consideration the news) I figure the next one will be better! I sure hope anyway.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Torture questions

Our lives are full of good things and those that are not so good. I can well understand why many people would rather not think about the question of torture. Avoid knowing and escape responsibility. Others are horrified at what was done but feel it is over, won't happen again; so why talk about it. Some believe it was the right thing-- nuff said. From the political right has come a constant drone that whether we tortured isn't the question but that it should never have been revealed!

Would the same argument, that we must never reveal official wrong doing, work for when the Catholic Church finally admitted it had priests who abused children and that the church hierarchy tried to pay off the victims and hide the actions? Was their mistake that they ever admitted their part in it?

Peggy Noonan, (past speech writer for President Reagan) who seems more and more weird to me and not sure if it's Botox or pills but she just doesn't sound or look like a real person whenever I see her on any interview program, has said the torture memos should not have been released. Her reasoning, with an inane smile, is some mystery is necessary in life, and sometimes we just have to walk on. How many times in history have people tried to hide things and smiled sweetly while trying to walk on?

Jon Stewart aptly mimicked her by saying walking on from genocide, walking on from slavery. He didn't ask it but should walking on have been what was done after WWII when it was oh so unpleasant to realize what some human beings had thought of and done during the Holocaust? When do you decide that you will reveal evil deeds? Don't reveal it when it ruins your reputation? Does such revelation only come after a war has been lost and then it's the victors who do it? Saddam Hussein found ordering the torturing and killing of people had a high price; but then he lost a war, didn't he?

Some would say the Bush/Cheney administration's torture was not evil. It was done to bad people, and therefore was okay. Further they argue, that it kept the United States safe from further attacks. The latter fact has yet to be proven; but even if it was, would that justify doing what we have prosecuted, executed and condemned other soldiers and nations for doing?

Well the question of releasing the memos has been decided. Whether you agree or not, and I happen to agree with their release, it's not a question left to decide. I think it was right to reveal what had been done because to get past something in our lives, we need to take responsibility for what it was. Head in the sand doesn't cut it for personal living or national choices. Besides which, the information of the torture was already out there. What Americans needed to know was to what extent it went up the chain of command. We know that now-- to the top.

As Americans, we are left with a big question: do we prosecute those who ordered such acts? The right says no, we have to walk on. The left says the law must be obeyed. To the right, whatever the United States does, must be correct because the motives were pure-- even if the acts were not. To the left that is hogwash and sometimes even good people go down wrong paths. Revealing the extent to which we did might be our best insurance of not repeating it. On the other hand, David Broder makes the opposite case as he says Stop Scapegoating.

Rove said that if we punish the previous administration (in short possibly him) for crimes it may have committed, it would be like what Third World/Latin American countries do when one regime is overthrown by another. Despite how Rove would like to paint it, the question here is not one of policies but the law.

It's obvious after the last month that the right wing has already decided we didn't have a free election. They also have amnesia where it comes to looking for crimes in previous administrations (the Bush people went after Clinton for the pardons). Logic is irrelevant where passion reigns.

Rove's catch phrase became quite popular with pundits and even ended up with a few senators echoing it. To follow this train of thought, you have to ignore that what the Bush/Cheney administration did for eight years was more like Third World/Latin American juntas. It never matters what is true. It matters how it sounds-- and that sounded good to the right.

I understand why the Obama administration would hate to get into this. This is the kind of thing that could swallow an administration's energy if they became involved. Some say if it is prosecuted, it's about vengeance. Is it or is instead about justice? If there were no criminal acts, than there is nothing to prosecute; but what if there were?

Can we trust the Justice Department to figure out if crimes were committed under American law. The right does not trust that because it is used to a totally partisan Justice Department. Some say, Nixon made this case, that if the president did it, it's legal. Do we really want to say that? Would the right like that idea now that a new president is in power?

Obama has another consideration and not from the reasonable right but rather the fringe. We saw it from the tea baggers; and if you listen to right wing talk or get those emails, you already are hearing or reading it. There are those who think Obama is trying to turn our whole country over to terrorists, clandestinely give it to the Muslim extremists. Can you imagine the screaming from them if he doesn't stop an investigation into torture involving the Bush/Cheney administration? They are already being whipped up to think it would be part of his plot to destroy the country.

Despite pressure from the right (the supposed law-and-order bunch), if laws were broken, how does our country ignore that-- and even if it leads to people on the left? How do we talk to the rest of the world about our ethics if we set them aside when it's inconvenient? Wouldn't it leave the message in our country that laws are only for the lowly?

My thought on how to resolve this is to investigate what happened. This should be done by the legal system, not the Democrats. Some have suggested it should be done by retired judges.

We now know what was done. The United States authorized and used torture and sexual humiliation to gain secrets-- they hoped. The right wants to make the point of this to be: Did it work.?. Perhaps the better question is why was it done?

From what I have read, the interrogation tapes were ordered destroyed, but the people there, some who didn't want to be there, perhaps through them, the truth might come out regarding the questions asked of the prisoners if this nation's people demand to know.

From the sounds of it, torture was done to many (some who have since disappeared and may have been killed during these harsh interrogation techniques). Some likely was done for revenge. Wanting revenge now is no reason to find out what was done. The question should be instead one of motive and the answers might lie with the harsh torture done to two Al Qaeda operatives who likely had something to do with planning and ordering 9/11. I use the word likely because information gathered during torture does not stand in a court of law; but let's assume these two did what the government is saying they did.

After the investigation, if the primary reason for the torture was not about future attacks, which these guys in prison likely didn't know about anyway, but rather what we are hearing now-- to prove that Iraq was connected to 9/11 and to justify the Bush/Cheney administration's decision to attack Iraq, then doesn't this change the situation from an administration who was trying to protect America to one who was trying to protect its own power? It would mean that month of endless torture was not to get new information but rather false information.

Some might make a case that in a situation, where a country had faced such a horrible terrorist attack, drastic means must be used to prevent further attacks. I would still say it is not the right choice. Not just because of the bad guys we might be torturing, but what it does to us as a nation to toss our ethics aside as soon as it's personally inconvenient.

Does anyone who justifies torture think about what this must be like for those who were ordered to do it? If they were sadists already, it would encourage that quality in them-- but my bet is these soldiers were rarely if ever sadists. They did not enjoy it. They hated it. They were ordered to do it. Some requested to be released from that duty. Others felt it was necessary. The military branches all said it not only didn't work but that they wanted it stopped. The administration, and who knows what that means, decided it would not be stopped.

For people forced to torture others, such acts could lead to nightmares for the rest of their lives. Suicide possibly from taking part in abusive interrogations?

Also it's cavalierly mentioned that doctors oversaw the torture to be sure it didn't kill these prisoners. This sounds like what was done under the Nazis. Doctors are supposed to heal, ease the suffering of others, what did that do to them to be ordered to go against their every instinct and training?

Leaving aside those who did this, what will it say about us as a nation if we throw aside our ethics when it's to keep ourselves safe? Once we do it for one reason, how about others that keep us more comfortable? Where do we draw the line if we decide the law isn't there for us whenever it gets in our way?

For those who would say yeah it's okay if I am in danger, can they also make a case that it's okay to torture someone to admit to something that prisoner says over and over is not true? If the torture is only to justify a policy position, would even the right wing think that was justified?

Well actually wing-nuts like Limbaugh, Beck, etc. would probably go along with even that (Limbaugh to defend Cheney and Beck because he's a nut) but how about some of the more reasonable on the right? If the torture was actually only to make the Bush people and in particular Dick Cheney, look correct, would anyone say that was justified?

Today, out there on the talk show circuit, who do we have most trying to defend the previous administration's use of torture? It's not Bush but rather Dick Cheney. Did we think we would be rid of him when his time in power ended? If we did, we have been badly mistaken.

The writer, Maureen Dowd, was telling George Lucas that she had compared Cheney to Darth Vader from his Star Wars series. She wondered if that was fair. Lucas answered that George W. Bush was Darth Vader, a young man who became corrupted but started out good and ended up in the end choosing good.

Lucas said Cheney was The Emperor. When you think about that possibility, and yes, I know it's movies, but movies that use real political and human motivations, then the responsibility for the torture, the cover-ups, the whole thing likely goes to Dick Cheney who is out there right now trying to sabotage yet another administration. Think about it!

Krugman had an excellent column on the topic: Reclaiming America's Soul. Most especially if you are one who wants to just walk on, read the article and think about what the price might be of just walking on.

Friday, April 24, 2009

New Birth and Rebirth along the Creek

Spring is finally here although I think it was delayed. The trees along the creek are only now beginning to leaf out. I am not sure what a normal timeline would be but this seems late. Temperatures went straight from colder than usual to the 80s this week. I guess a lot of parts of the country have experienced the same abrupt shifts. I am not complaining but have been wondering if this early warmth means I should look for a room a/c unit for the bedroom. I sleep best in a cool room. Generally the creek cools off the house by night, but the last couple of years it has sometimes not been enough. The prediction had been that this would be a cooler than usual summer. How often are predictions right?

The photos are all from the creek that forms a border (one cows don't respect) on one long side of our property and half the back before it heads for the hills.
The farm is doing well. We are still keeping an eye on one newborn calf that we thought we lost several times. He is actually a large bull calf, born right after we got home from Tucson (I mean literally right after). Perhaps the birth came too early or something went wrong in the birth canal as the baby simply wasn't acting right and didn't seem to nurse. We actually thought it had died just before we had to leave for the family beach trip. We left the body for his mother to grieve her loss before we buried it.

When we got home Sunday, the calf was still in the world, and the man looking after the farm said the calf had moved some from place to place in the barn. It now had its head up. This all was a pleasant surprise, but we still weren't sure we could keep it alive. Farm Boss put the mother in a small pen with her baby, got her in a head gate for him to nurse, but his sucking reflexes seemed weak. Still he kept living, and she kept bellowing as she demanded he respond to her. Instinct is a wonderful thing.

When she and her calf were finally released from the pen, she got him to follow her to the back. I looked out that afternoon and saw him in the middle of one of the pastures, the temperatures too warm for that much sun with flies and crows on and around him. I guess if I had had to, I could have gotten him onto a tarp and dragged him back to the barn; but before I screwed up my back for the next week, I called Farm Boss to see if he could get home right away. He did and got the baby back into the shade of the barn.

By this time we were beginning to think he might make it. That mama sure wasn't giving up. We gave him penicillin and Vitamin B injections. Farm Boss put a lot of effort into it including 1AM visits to the barn, but I think the real difference was a mother's love. She demanded (and when a cow demands, the whole valley hears about it) that he get up and come to her.

I haven't photographed him yet because it makes me sad later to look at the pictures of those who didn't make it; and when you raise livestock, some don't make it. When I am more sure he is going to survive, I will take some pictures for the blog. Whether he lives or not, that mama is one to be proud of for her spirit.

These two photos are the kind of abstract images that I often see when looking at a creek. I got some like these when in Tucson also of my favorite desert stream. The small vignettes are often the ones that seem to the most speak of place.

I never walk along this creek without feeling gratitude at being allowed to live beside it and be part of its ecosystem. It is truly a gift that never gets old as a creek constantly changes with new pleasures to be seen with every walk by or up it, and yes, I have already waded in it.

Digital painting is of spring and winter. The creek is in the newness of spring while the woman is beginning the winter of her life.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pacific Ocean

One of the things I love about living in the West is how easy it is to go from one type of terrain to another and within a short drive-- relatively. There are forested mountains, rivers, lakes, deserts and the ocean. Last week I was wading a desert stream. (I am rarely near water without wading, swimming or at least getting my hand dipped in it.) This week I was wading in the Pacific Ocean.
The stream did not surprise me by several higher than expected waves-- although desert streams are fully capable of doing that and more. (When in the desert, near streams or rivers, one must keep an eye out for the possibility of flash floods. They can come from storms miles away and out of sight.) The ocean wave that surprised me was really two-- a bit higher than expected and not remotely dangerous although I hadn't planned to wade more than knee deep. When I am at the ocean, I always keep my eyes on the surf-- except when I am having my photo taken.
These photos are all from this week-end. The people you see in the one above are our family-- four adult kids (two by birth and two by marriage) and four grandchildren. This beach was more or less private for those who had houses on it, not readily accessible for others.

It was a wonderful week-end with perfect beach weather. It was a lovely house to rent with a view of the beach from the windows, dunes right outside the deck providing safe places for the children to play. We had lots of laughter, interesting conversations, good food, hugging time with grandkids, and the Pacific Ocean. It was good. Oh, I said that.
The last photo is of Seal Rock on our way home Sunday morning.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Using Logic in politics

(Warning: Politics ahead)

Political Logic: If A is true and B is true, then so is C.
Logic: If A is true and B is true, C is also only if they both relate to C.

Trying to look at logic where it comes to extremists, the right wing in particular, is not possible. Listening to the righties who were out April 15th protesting taxes, suggesting they might like to secede, saying it's taxation without representation, was enough to cause anyone who did use logic to go nuts. The phrases were flung around and nothing had to relate to anything.

(Incidentally, if you are a right winger, who reads here or happens to come across this blog by chance, give me one example of logic, not hate, not fear, not platitudes, not I don't want to pay taxes (who does?), but actual logic for something that will help our country's economics right now. Ideally, then discuss it as in real programs, real ideas and what their success has been in the past not a series of catch phrases that Rush Limbaugh taught his followers. I might not agree with your ideas but real ideas are welcome.)

Coming home from Tucson to Oregon, once again while clicking through the radio stations, most of the time all I could find were right wing talk shows. By this time I partly understood why. Many of those small stations receive programs like Rush's for free. It's how he got his start in radio by having someone behind him big enough to give away the program which means the local station could get all the advertising revenue. Obviously he doesn't do that with the big stations today, but he still does for small venues. It gives him the reputation of having so many stations and leads to higher fees for the bigger venues.

Irritating as listening to that kind of host and caller was, I felt some reassurance when I got home and read an article that said the average age of listeners to talk radio was 67. Apparently younger people are using other media to get their ideas. Does this mean the era of right wing radio having a major influence will soon be past?

I have one strong opinion regarding talk radio, after listening to the hosts and their callers mutually stoking each other's ego, anger, fear and not bothering with facts on anything: Listening to this kind of thing cannot be good for the part of the brain that uses logic.

Did you know that 50% of Americans don't pay taxes? True according to right wing talk radio and Bill O'Reilly... or is it? Here is another look at the same question: the half of Americans don't pay taxes fraud.

The problem with sound bites is they don't have to involve facts. They could have a few facts, but then draw a conclusion not based on logic-- as in A + B might not equal C even if they both happen to be true.

It seems to me, an admitted leftie, that the intention of talk radio is to irritate-- everyone. Maybe they think it's like the grain of sand that irritates the oyster to create a pearl. I am not sure of their reasoning, but I think they irritate right and left-- but just with different results.

Talk radio as well as those emails that are sent around, usually from the right, require that responsible listeners or readers do some research to check facts. First are A and B true and then do they add together? How many people do any research? They see the numbers, the conclusion appeals to them, then they pass it on.

$3000 extra per family for carbon credit tax is how they reach the conclusion that Obama is raising taxes on the middle class despite his tax cuts for the same group: Gingrich rips Obama's 'energy tax. Keep in mind that this is a suggested program and has some offsets. Actual cost is an unknown factor. A + B and who knows what it equals for now. What if reducing our dependence on foreign oil has a net gain? I don't know it does, but the naysayers don't know that it doesn't.

When someone is exploring ideas rather than the scare talk, how about asking questions that might get us somewhere. Like: What are better solutions to cut our energy usage? Do we have an unhealthy dependence on foreign oil? Is there enough local oil to supply our needs/wants? Is part of our nation's roller coaster ride on costs (i.e. inflation and deflation) due to no control over energy costs?

But, if you are a right wing talk radio listener, it appears to me that you aren't wanting discussions like that-- especially not if it involves a lot of facts, dry details, or worst guests to discuss alternative ideas. You want to hear ranting, excitement, fear and anger while stirring in some paranoia. Glenn Beck fits the bill nicely.

The problem with a knee-jerk reaction from the right is they leave the question of what to do wide open with no options to consider other than from the left. Real discussions of viable ideas is what we need from the conservative and the liberal side. We aren't getting that from any right wing talk radio at least not that I heard on this trip.

Extreme right wingers probably number a few million and only a few of those are avid enough to come out to rallies such as we just had (which had around 300,000 across the nation); but those who do are clearly listening to leaders who stoke them up by shifting the facts to suit the situation and their cause.

An example: When it was Democrats who had lost the election in 2001, Sean Hannity was espousing how good citizens would not revolt, not demonstrate in the streets, but would instead work to make things better. Patriotism, baby! Sounds responsible, doesn't it? Now Hannity says revolution is just dandy. He grins at the talk of Texas seceding from the United States. Hey, what better way to express irritation than to revolt or secede? (75% of Texans didn't see it the way of their current governor. Might it be, because of his loose mouth, his being stoked to some of that right wing hysteria, that Texas will next elect Kay Bailey Hutchinson?)

One thing that really got me was the huge difference when I finally found (in the Sacramento area) an NPR station (not something I listen to much at home but then at home I don't listen to talk radio period). It was Fresh Air and Terry Gross was interviewing a financial expert who had headed the International Monetary Fund and now teaches economics at MIT. The questions, the articulate responses, the exploration of ideas was fresh air. There was no anger, no spiel but rather a look at what could help, what isn't helping, and where might we be heading.

Coming into Oregon, for the very first time, we found an actual liberal radio station, which was based in Portland but evidently had repeaters down state. By this time I could not stand to even listen to the first sentence by that hate-monger, Michael Savage. Anyway we heard Tom Hartman who had on guests to discuss various problems, one included Roger Hedgecock (right wing radio host, sometime substitute for Rush), and the two of them actually managed intelligent discussion of right wing extremists being targeted by Homeland Security and what that means.

Can you imagine if Homeland Security (like Hartman, I dislike the word homeland as it is a reminder of Nazi Germany and how fascism works) ignored groups which sometimes spawn militias which can turn violent-- think Timothy McVeigh! The United States has and will continue to also be looking at left wing extremists who are also capable of turning violent. For someone to think that extremists groups cannot turn violent, especially when being fed as they are today, they have to be suffering a failure of logic-- not to mention ignoring history.

Here are some links regarding the tea bagging groups (did these sweet old ladies parading against taxes understand what that term means in slang? Somebody has a sense of humor).

For satire in the grand old tradition, check out Daily Show regularly. This clip was of the laugh and shake my head kind: John Oliver Talks Tyranny with Tea Partiers. It reminded me of when we listened to the Sarah Palin supporters, who I would bet these people all were. There is a humorous irony in all of this-- except our nation is at stake.

If you don't know much about Rush Limbaugh, this expose from Vanity Fair is an excellent one-- as are many of their journalism pieces: Rush Limbaugh: The Man who Ate the G.O.P by Michael Wolff.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

What Tarot Card are You?

You are The Empress
Beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, luxury, dissipation.The Empress is associated with Venus, the feminine planet, so it represents,beauty, charm, pleasure, luxury, and delight. You may be good at home decorating, art or anything to do with making things beautiful.The Empress is a creator, be it creation of life, of romance, of art or business. While the Magician is the primal spark, the idea made real, and the High Priestess is the one who gives the idea a form, the Empress is the womb where it gestates and grows till it is ready to be born. This is why her symbol is Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love. Even so, the Empress is more Demeter, goddess of abundance, then sensual Venus. She is the giver of Earthly gifts, yet at the same time, she can, in anger withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. In fury and grief, she kept the Earth barren till her child was returned to her.

What Tarot Card are You?
the Test to Find Out.

It had been a year or more since I had first taken the above fun test. When I came across it again, I thought I'd see if the result had changed. They had not.

When I do my own Tarot readings, I generally use one of two decks-- Gilded Tarot or the more traditional Rider-Waite which was my first deck. It helps, when you are learning, to have a deck that corresponds to most guidebooks. With time, you might use your own intuition regarding the card messages more than the books. (I have written about Tarot before most recently in [Tarot] so won't repeat it all here.)

Tarot is most useful for me when I have too much 'mind noise' going on. I go months sometimes without doing a reading. In January, when I began my 'finding a new dream' thinking, I thought a reading might be a good start. I brought out The Gilded Tarot deck.

Asking for a card to represent me in this exploring time, I asked for the white light around me, requesting that only the good would come through (yes, I believe in spiritually bad energies whatever one might call them), shuffled, cut, and dealt-- Six of Swords. Interesting card given my purposes.

The guidebook said, "By traveling over the water (her emotions) and carrying her same thought pattern (the swords), she is making a choice but is it a sound one? The toad seems to indicate more of a reliance on the reptilian part of the brain, from whence the "flight" impulse arises. You are running from something. Unless you examine the way you think, your running will accomplish nothing except an immediate escape from what is troubling you. Until you learn to face it, it will come up again in some other guise."

So I asked myself the usual-- huh? Was I running from something? Was a dream search my attempt to avoid facing something? The card encouraged me to think about what that might be.

About a month later, I got out the Gilded Tarot deck to check how things were going. Again, as one always should do when doing spirit work, I asked for protecting white light and wisdom, shuffled, cut, and this time dealt out three cards. One to represent me and two to modify:

The Sun represented me. That card alone is positive and would seem to say I am in good working order, in harmony with where I need to be. Now that does not mean my physical position but my inner self-- although it could be taken either way. The guidebook said:

'The message of the sun is of peaceful contentment with the world and its workings. You understand what you can and don't fret about what you don't. You understand yourself and your role in the universe as much as you can, and you are okay with that too. Life doesn't get much better than this."

Frankly I didn't feel I was in inner harmony. Why would I be looking for a new dream if I had it all together? But maybe the card meant I was heading that way. The first modifying card suggested I might be holding my resources too tightly and being fearful of losing them might be part of my problem. The second was a card of karmic completion, the end of a cycle.

Tarot can help to see directions and maybe where we are going versus where we think we are. The modifiers, in that reading, could mean I have a choice between holding tight to what I have or stepping out for something new.

So I went along thinking about this. Maybe another month went by when I decided to do another reading of three cards. This time the card I dealt for me was The Moon which is kind of interesting since last time it had been The Sun.

"The message of the moon is as shadowy as a moonlit night. Pay attention to your dreams and your intuition. Face your fears, even if you do so a little at a time. Attend to your soul. Be aware of not seeing clearly, of being afraid of shadows, or of being led astray by shadowy images that aren't what they seem."

The two modifying cards were that it is okay to grieve what I have lost but after awhile let that go and remember what I have left, and that I am ready for an adventure, a change. This all made sense to me. Most of the time when I do a Tarot reading for someone else, they understand where maybe I don't. This time where it's mine, I am the one who 'gets' it.

Readings from Tarot cards are not the end but only a way to see steps along the way. Often I find their meanings become clearer with time which is why it's good to write them down.

(All quotes were from the Gilded Tarot Companion by Barbara Moore.) I actually wrote this before I went to Tucson, but it never seemed to fit. Since it's about the process of using Tarot, and using it in the dream search, I figured just as well to post it now or I never will.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Torture Memos

Before heading to the beach where I won't have access to the computer, I wanted to be sure anyone interested had seen some links regarding the torture memos.

Skim the Bush Torture Memos

The right, of course, didn't want the memos released. We won't be as safe! The left didn't want to hear that charges won't be involved-- at least as things now stand. As usual Obama didn't please either side.

If you think torture is a good idea, you really should read the memos [Torture Memos] to see what you have been agreeing to having done. Those authorizing it claimed it was all to find new terrorist plots, but I don't think there's any evidence torture ever works nor that many or maybe any of those tortured knew about future terrorist plots.

Does torture work? Would it be okay if it did? John McCain, who knows a thing or two about it, said it didn't. Some died during these torture episodes, but even if they had not, it gives me a queasy feeling that a people who claim they have a better way to live did things so heinous. If we are reduced to the level of those we are fighting, who won?

Andrew Sullivan explored The Bigger Picture where it comes to ethics-- which some seem to throw aside whenever it's inconvenient.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Long Drive

After too many long hours of driving straight across Arizona, up through the middle of California and Oregon, we are back at the farm. I figured it out that it takes (with reasonable driving conditions) 26 hours of driving to get back here from Tucson when driving through California. The older I get, the harder that seems. We had a lot of wind one day, a lot of boring many days, some heavy traffic where you have to watch every second for what some idiot (and that you don't become the idiot) might do. We did it in two long days and a short one this morning.

The time in Tucson was too short but how it had to be given we had obligations here. Not the least of which is a sweet one this week-end at the beach where we meet up with our kids and grandkids for some family time compliments of one of our grandson's wishes. Even though it means getting back in a car, we are happy to get that family time; but boy am I sick of roads.

The Tucson time was successful in that we got the things repainted and repaired that were needed, not all of the landscaping that I had hoped, not all of the hiking that I would have liked, but it was overall successful and what had to be done was-- plus some very good times. There will be some more photos from that next week and a few ideas that came to me on the long drive.

Although I will be gone again until Monday, I do have something set to auto post for Saturday that doesn't relate to the trip or the beach but that I have been meaning to write about.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tucson Skies

One of the things I love when in Tucson is watching the skies. There are many days of no clouds, of course, where the sun dominates land and sky, but often there are spectacular cloud combinations that sail past from other places, sometimes dropping rain (as they did while I was here this trip), sometimes providing a thunderstorm (we got a bit of that too), and often providing a sky full of drama.

All of these photos were taken from our desert house. We are fortunate here to look toward Pusch Ridge out the back and the Tucson Mountains out the front.

I have always enjoyed desert skies, from the first time I came to Tucson in 1965, but having the blog adds to the pleasure as a place to share them with others. I am reminded to do this by the blog of my friend Sylvia, who frequently posts beautiful sky photos from the Seattle area-- Sylvia from over the Hill

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Red Cholla Blooms

These red cholla blooms will be published Easter morning which is apropos for symbolic reasons. It would be nice to say I planned it this way but it's either serendipity or coincidence-- take your pick. These blooms are particularly symbolic because they appear on a cactus that much of the year could seem to be dead. They are not really resurrected but they might seem to be so from what they appear to be most of the year. They are also blood red for the sacrifice both of Passover and Easter.

Although I have heard it called buckhorn, snake, or cane cholla, I realized as soon as I has going to write something that I had no idea what its rightful name is. I have some books on cactus and even there I wasn't sure of its proper name. The branches look like big stickery canes most of the year-- until the season to be propagated and then beautiful red flowers from orangish to bluish red appear. Since it evidently cross-pollinates with other chollas, it varies quite a bit for what its colors or shape will be. There is one that looks much the same with yellow to orange blooms.

The intensity of these reds, the beauty of the shapes, all make me feel like the little insects that fly from bloom to bloom bathing in their pollen. It is their season and the beauty is beyond words to describe when you take time to study each perfect flower.

My goal was to find some fully open. When I did, I realized that it is when they open fully that they begin to fade, turn almost paper-like in their appearance. The full blossom is the last of that flower's bloom.

It would be interesting to have a camera set to photograph one every few hours to get a time lapse of the process. Here is one as it first begins to open.

This is the season these chollas seem to be born again in the need to find a way to continue their kind. It is not just Christianity that teaches of a rebirth being a necessary part of life.

Did you know that Easter comes from Judeo-Christian roots but also is near the time of an important pagan celebration? Christ was crucified during the Passover both expressing the need for a blood sacrifice. The name Easter derives from possibly the Babylonian goddess Ishtar or in Celtic mythology as Oestre or Easter. There is through this fertility goddess the connection to rabbits.

Have you wondered why Christian Easter is celebrated when it is? Shouldn't it be connected to Passover which it is sometimes coincidentally but only consistently in the Greek Orthodox Church. For the rest of us, it will always be the first Sunday after first full moon after the Equinox. It's funny isn't it, how we have these pagan roots for many Christian celebrations but their source is denied. For more information, check out: Religious Tolerance

All photographs taken in Tucson Mountain Park west of Tucson, Arizona. Although we have these same varieties on our Tucson property, they will not bloom until we are back in Oregon.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The many shades of orange

Orange flowers appear on several types of cactii. In the photo, you can see and almost feel the waxy quality of the blossoms. From what I can tell (not the most sensitive nose here despite its size!), these don't have an obvious fragrance-- unless you are an insect. The ones that bloom fragrant enough to fill a desert draw will not appear until we have left the desert. They bloom at night and attract bats to spread their pollen.

When I am out on the desert, looking for each perfect blossom, it's one of the more relaxing experiences I have. Being able to photograph them and share them here adds to that enjoyment.

I suppose the desert is one of those things you either love or hate and I have been in the love category since 1965 when I first set foot on it. Back then it was late summer, and the cactus weren't in bloom. It was a strange and somewhat alien world to a girl who had grown up in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, but it spoke to my heart and still does.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Libra Moon

What more could I ask from the April 8, 2009 full moon than that I see it while in Tucson and that it was, for its fullest moments, in my sign-- Libra? How about some scattered clouds to add to its photographic interest (also its challenge)?

Since that was all pretty good, why am I feeling so stressed? Feeling stressed during a full moon is nothing new to me although some full moons are easier than others. There are times when a full moon comes and goes and I am barely aware of them other than the nights are brighter and at home the sheep wander around a bit more. This time I have felt a lot of stress (day and night).

Statistically they say that often a full moon leads to more visits to emergency rooms. I haven't had any accidents even with hiking on the desert, but if the driving I have seen down here (if someone can do something unexpected, they will) is any example of how it is other places, this one might be no exception.

Personally stressing or not, the moon was beautiful as the clouds down here on the desert added interesting accents-- when they weren't blocking its light.

If you don't believe in planets and the moon as possible impacts to your emotions, your choices, accidents, you can still enjoy the photos; but if you do, this full moon has some interesting possible, positive energies. Looking toward what might be positive is one of my ways to try and get past the stressful other aspects when a moon impacts me like this one did *taking many deep breaths*.

"This is a great time to honor and appreciate what you value in yourself and in others. Change your focus to think of having an experience rather than doing something. Celebrate who you are rather than what you do. Practice seeing others for who they are rather than for what they do." *
"Aries and Libra
Mars and Venus
Spring and Fall
Planting and Reaping
Light and Darkness

Life and Death

Self and Other" **

*from a Stephanie St. Claire email, written by Jose, Lena, Stephanie, and Pat

** from Cathy Lynn Pagano

Be sure and check out the full moon photo from Beyond the Fields we Know and also for more names for this full moon.

For those who want more information on astrology implications regarding April's full moon go to Rainy Day Extras for complete email and Pagano's article on the Libra full moon

Finally, this is the full moon (well almost full) from this morning April 10th right before it set in the Tucson Mountains. They say it is now in Scorpio. I have no idea how they figure these things (might it be the moon is in the opposing sign to where the sun is? hmmmm). Well we are currently in Aries for the sun. Where it comes to astrology, mine is not to question why but just read and sometimes ponder...

All photos taken from our house on the desert.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Cactus and shades of yellow

The prickly pear cactus blooms from yellow to almost an orange and on the same cactus. The problem with sharing here is, as it was with the pinks, what to leave out? They are all such beautiful blossoms.

When the entire plant is in bloom, it's transformed into its own garden.

To me, this little guy defines ecstasy. I watched as he rolled and almost seemed to wash himself in the pollen. That is joy personified. When the cactus bloom, the desert is alive with buzzing insects racing between each bloom for more of the sweetness.