Tuesday, June 30, 2009

at the confluence of the rivers

Whether it was something in the stars, coincidence, or serendipity, last week was a week for thoughts about love, relationships, and death especially for anyone interested in character studies. It was also a week for shocks. Mark Sanford, who supposedly had a perfect marriage, shocked at least the right wing of his party with his revelation of an affair of the heart and body. Farrah Fawcett's death from a hard fought battle against cancer was not a shock, but Michael Jackson's cardiac arrest (which I wrote about last week) was.

It was a week for opinions and analysis on all the events-- sometimes ad nauseum. Some readers/viewers were led to look into their personal beliefs and lives. If human interactions are of interest to you, it was a moment to stop and think-- most especially of religion which can determine every other thing we do sometimes in ways we don't recognize.

If someone was a person of fundamentalist Christian faith, the answer for what Governor Mark Sanford should do about his love for another woman was clear-- ['Cubby' Culbertson, Sanford's spiritual advisor, says Darkness Gripped Sanford]. (Do you think an exorcism is on the schedule?)

From the political side, Senator Lindsay Graham, godfather to Sanford's youngest son, agrees with Culbertson at least on the what he should do part. He said if Sanford can heal his marriage, he deserves the voters to forgive him... Say what!

Okay, I understand Culbertson's viewpoint. He runs a spiritual boot camp. He's gaining new attendees for even being brought into this. Counseling a politician is good for business in that world unless, of course, the counselor ends up falling into the same trap. Would believers come to Culbertson for help if he said to Sanford, hey, your marriage is dead anyway. Go for it man! Not on a bet. He has to claim that, even if Sanford suffers the rest of his life, he's fulfilling his duty.

Lindsay Graham was taking it from a political perspective. Do you suppose he suggested the same thing to Newt Gingrich? Newt was smart to not ask for voter forgiveness until he had left his old wife, married the latest more exciting one (to him), and then could get back to being forgiven-- assuming he doesn't find another even more exciting one.

Do Republican politicians stop to think before they open their mouths? What does Sanford's marriage have to do with his job as governor? If he has a good marriage, he will be a good governor? One might say his affair led him to take off without letting anyone know where he would be. Isn't that called dereliction of duty? For a man obviously not dealing well with personal issues, his choices were slim. His wife had said-- wherever you go, don't go to Argentina. Does that sound like a possible song title?

Kathleen Parker wrote a column about the issue of Sanford and forbidden love. She wrote it from the perspective of assuming Sanford hadn't done this before and this was true love (two things that have not yet been determined to be true). Parker however was caught up in the romance as she expressed a hope for what Sanford should do next. (tip: her idea didn't jibe with Culbertson's or Graham's)-- [The Passion of Mark Sanford]. Sanford has four sons, one only 10; so his problem is not a simple one.

There was another soul mate story in the news last week as well as the death of an icon when Farrah Fawcett finally lost her battle against cancer. Whatever else you might say about Fawcett, she showed courage and grace as she did whatever she could to survive. It was not enough.

Her lover of many years (give or take a few breaks) Ryan O'Neal was with her at the end and said he had asked her to marry him. They appear to have been soul mates who ended other relationships to be together but couldn't somehow happily live together. I have said it before that soul mates don't automatically translate into happy relationships.

If Sanford takes the advice of Parker, he'll follow the lead of other great lovers (pretend you don't remember 'Casablanca') and leave his marriage to be with his lover. If he takes the advice of his friends, he'll tough it out and rebuild his damaged career-- a stronger, better man, more capable of fighting sinful temptations. Which would be likely to make him happiest? His happiness wasn't a consideration for either of the two men.

Last week, coincidentally, I had been reading Barbara Walters memoir, Audition. Although I had seen almost none of Walters' interviews, being interested in politics and human nature, I found the book to be an interesting read. She tells a lot about her experiences, but there was this one tidbit that seems to fit with my thoughts on all of this-- especially Sanford's problem-- assuming he hasn't already resolved it.

Her father was going to leave her mother when Barbara was a child. He had left the home when her mother begged Barbara to go to him asking him to return. Barbara describes doing that. What child would not?

Her father returned. Was it a huge sacrifice or was he relieved to come back? Did he shrivel up inside because he stuck with duty to fulfill his responsibilities? His latter life didn't sound happy, to say the least, but was that due to his marriage? Had he left, what would his life have been like? No clue, as he followed duty and kept the family intact.

Barbara herself has had three marriages...

(Because I like to use pictures to illustrate these blogs and I had nothing on hand for this one, I decided to take a webcam photo with my crystal ball. It's an appropriate symbol for pondering-- even if mine has yet to lead me to any visions.)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Moods of the sea from those who live there

What can you say about the creatures who live in the ocean? They fascinate us and to see a whale spout far at sea excites our senses (no photos of that as it never seemed to cooperate with my camera being in focus). Watching a dark shape under the sea and you ask was that a seal, a diving bird, a whale and you wait wondering where it will surface and whether you will see when it does.

When at the coast in late May, one of the things we enjoyed most was watching birds. Cormorants on the rocks, the gulls, sea ducks, the flocks of pelicans and geese as they made their way north.

Are they migrating, we would ask. What is it about migrating animals that is so exciting? We would sit in front of the window, watching the waves and when seeing a line of birds, count how many each time-- and I mean each time. We would ask where do you think they are bound knowing we could only guess. Will they soon be in Canada or were they going farther? It's late for farther, isn't it? We would admire how their lines would sometimes undulate up the coast in response to the wind, to the waves, to something seen below.

Then the morning we left, we saw the seals sunbathing on the rocks. I didn't want to disturb them. Although my photos looked good, I knew I could get closer by wading through a shallow-- kind of-- tidal pool to a sand spit. Some watched me but didn't seem alarmed. I could have gotten closer, but this was their world and it would have seemed wrong to make them uneasy. I think they saw me as no threat.

The expressions on these faces just seemed so relaxed, so at peace.

Friday, June 26, 2009

What 'they' feared

Remember all the talk of slippery slopes where it came to gay marriage. If we do this, we might end up with a person marrying a goat is about how far the ridiculousness stretched. Among those more seriously exploring laws relating to marriage, polygamy was a more valid question. Where do we draw the line was asked.

Polygamy, one person with two spouses, is illegal in most countries. Where it is legal, it almost always means a man with several wives. It is different than bigamy because there is no deception involved. The partners agree-- although sometimes with much duress and not always are the partners of legal age.

Another word less familiar to most people is polyamory (three or more people in a sexual relationship with full consent, knowledge and even the possibility of all three interacting sexually). It is legal (except in states with adultery or fornication laws) because there is no government authorized relationship, no rights, no public acceptance of what the threesome are doing together. What some would like is to make that kind of relationship a legal possibility with the same rights as twosome couples because people in these relationships, which can last as long as marriages, consider themselves just as committed.

I first heard the word polyamory about 4 or 5 years ago at a Body Mind Spirit Expo in Portland, Oregon. If you have never attended one, they are held around the country with assorted psychics and metaphysical exhibitors, readers, and seminars.

One of the booths where I dropped a few dollars was a Tarot reader's. He did my cards and then asked if I had heard of the word polyamory. At that point I had not. He explained it to me, as he and I also talked about my possibly taking some Tarot classes from him, which I never followed up on doing.

Polyamory is a relationship which is open, committed and about sex and love, not gender-- so it could be three men, three women, two of either sex and one of another. It is not about swingers who switch partners whenever something new comes along but an agreed commitment between (at least) three people.

Since that time I have now and again heard the term but never personally known anyone in that kind of relationship. Possibly when these relationships do happen, the partners let the world think the third is merely a friend who lives with them. It's very unacceptable in most cultures. Even in those which allow a man to take multiple wives, polyamory would not be okay.

If you have not yet seen the thought-provoking film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, directed by Woody Allen, it presents an interesting exploration of marriages including unconventional ones using two young woman as the protagonists learning about relationships. It is not a glossy view presenting magical solutions, but rather looking at the whole spectrum from conventional, long-term marriages, to those just starting out, but including one that is very unconventional.


Even though I didn't publish it, I wrote what is above, over a month ago, after I read the article in the link. Its date for appearing kept changing as it never quite fit with any other topics. Because my blog is mostly about ideas, I like to have the topics flow-- not that they always do. Finally I decided I just have to publish it-- fit or not.

Then along came another Republican, the governor of South Carolina this time, caught in a sex scandal. His story ties in because of the expectations in our country regarding monogamy and marriage, and how some allow religion to determine rules for life-- and then can't live what they claim.

Mark Sanford was a rising star to the right, one of the 'they' in the title to this piece. He disapproved of gay marriage and even civil unions. He appears to have been a social and fiscal conservative (possibly even fiscal libertarian) with the talk that he might be the next Republican presidential candidate. His press conference plea to be forgiven was heavily couched in right wing religiosity-- remorseful, very remorseful.

I take, as do many on the left, the view that politicians' private sexual lives are not the concern of the public, but my view is altered when they disappear without putting anybody else in charge, when they lie about other things, when they are hypocrites, when they present themselves as confessing something supposedly from courage that in reality was because they were caught, or if they use public funds to either carry on their affairs or reward their paramours. Sanford did take his earlier trips to meet her on South Carolina's dime but said he is going to pay it back-- since being caught.

Sanford lied about where he was going, tried to lie about where he had been, and deliberately misled his staff, people who should have been able to trust him. His wife had said she had no idea where he was and didn't care. Guess that was the public's first clue that something was not well with that marriage. She has since put out a statement that she hoped they could still heal their marriage. That's pretty magnanimous (and very religious) especially since when she demanded he leave their home two weeks ago (she learned of the affair 5 months earlier), the first thing he did was figure out how to get to his lover over the Father's Day week-end. Oh yeah, that was to break it off-- takes in person and a week to do that?

From what I have seen, I think Sanford would have continued lying about where he had been, except for the fact that a newspaper in South Carolina was already onto him which is why one of their reporters was waiting when his plane landed in Atlanta.

After that, he was going to claim he was in the Appalachians? It sounded like he considered it -- [The State]. Did the anonymous tips, which also involved emails, come from a disgruntled employee who got tired of the hypocrisy? The story would have come out anyway after this trip. There was too much interest in where he had gone, and there is always a trail for those who know how to look. There is already talk about those who saw him and his lover on his recent trip saying how much public remorse displays of affection he was showing. Breaking up is so hard to do......

For his own sake, it seems to me he should resign as governor, not over the affair, but the rest of it. He will doubtless agree since when he was in the House, he voted to impeach Bill Clinton for lying. If he does this, he can try to make peace with his family and himself. Maybe his family will take him back. Since his wife is a wealthy heiress, he has plenty of reason to try. The damage he has done to his innocent sons is the greatest.

When I first heard about all this, I thought he's a young enough guy that most likely he'd remarry, like Gingrich did, find a renewed religious faith, return later with a new, possibly more exciting wife, and even more pious talk. The right would welcome him back. Yes, I am a cynic. But after seeing him on the press conference, I don't know. This guy was a Republican rising star???

The rainbow was a morning in May on the farm. Rainbows are reminders of our quest for something magical, the quest for that which is beyond understanding. At the end, if you can get there, would be a mythical pot of gold.

In the case of relationships, the pot of gold for most people is a wonderful marriage of two people, one that begins when young, has a family, where the passion never dies, and the love affair lasts a lifetime.

If you enlarge the photo, you will see the pot of gold in that photo was a cow.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sad news

I don't often write about the celebrity world but when I heard that Michael Jackson had been rushed to the hospital in bad shape and then that he had died, of cardiac arrest, it was something about which I wanted to write.

Having teen-agers growing up in the 80s, I was familiar with Jackson's music. I vividly remember the video he did for Thriller. Innovative, exciting, amazing, so artistic and so was his talent at that point. One hit after another. Such a beautiful young man or so it seemed to all who saw him, I think.

By the time of his death, we all knew something had gone wrong in his life. One thing after another actually. Sometimes I have a feeling about such people; what they are like inside, but to be honest, I didn't about him.

When he went on trial for molestation, I thought the information that was revealed showed a very unusual man (at the least), someone who hadn't really grown up, but I didn't believe he had molested that boy. I was glad when he was found innocent even as I wondered what exactly made him live as he was living. But, too many other things indicated that the family had done this before. Jackson made a good target-- a lucrative one. Some would say that trial destroyed him, as well as his $20 million dollar payoff to the family to not have to face it all again. I think, however, the destruction had begun much earlier.

Possibly too much fame too early. Maybe something in the family that none of us can speculate about or should, but the first sign of a serious problem was all the plastic surgeries to try and change what he looked like. Who guessed when he made that video for Thriller and morphed into an inhuman face, that he was going to do the same thing to his own, to what had been a very handsome, strong face.

For reasons I can't imagine he turned himself into a clown, something clearly inhuman. Why did doctors let that happen? I am no psychiatrist but it seemed to me that Jackson's face was an outward symbol of something that was badly wrong inside. Could he have made a comeback if he had lived? I don't know. We never will know now.

When the news said he was dead, I felt sadness that that boy who created such wonderful music, who danced with such passion and control, somehow lost control of his own life and was destroyed possibly by his fame.

It has happened before, thinking of Marilyn Monroe, and will probably happen again. I can only think it was sad... very sad.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Such a Gift

Where I think doing spirit work takes us is one step at a time. It is about being totally aware to all of life, looking for symbols, looking for coincidences, and being open to messages with the emphasis on whether they are true. To me, spiritual (super-natural) work is not about emotional highs. It is building up confidence in ourselves. It's looking for satisfaction in more than a material sense. It is not about ecstasy but about connection.

Nothing is wrong with material goods for joy but generally speaking their pleasures don't last. What we feel joy at today, from something shiny and new, will not be the same in a month. It will take something more. This is possibly true of spirit work also but maybe it then takes us toward greater understanding of life's mystery and our place in it.

It bears repeating that I am not one who believes that growing our spiritual effectiveness can be attained through gurus or books. I don't say they can't help direct, but spirit work is experiential. It is objective only for ourselves-- and not transferable. You can tell someone else what happened, but they will either doubt or at the most get an emotional reaction.

It is possible that my thinking on this comes from Pagan and Native American cultures where each person is encouraged to have their own vision quest. A vision quest is both into self and the spirit world. Native American traditional vision quests went into nature and waited for insights. It wasn't like the medicine man could tell someone what they would see. Often people got their adult name from their experience. Were their experiences delusions? Some would say they were. I am not part of the some.

I do believe there is more to the Universe than what we see. I believe in a Creator but not necessarily like one in the box of any religion-- and religions are about boxes. Religions were and are man's attempt to understand mystery and majesty that goes beyond human understanding. The box has been an attempt to find security for the people and power for those controlling the religions. Often they have done more harm than good.

Religious dogma, especially that with 'one' idea that doesn't change, has often led to followers who don't think they need to find out anything for themselves. They want to follow a pattern, a trail blazed by someone else. Human religions often punish by banishment those who would strike out on their own trails.

This is not saying belonging to a church is wrong. It's more that the church won't take someone to spiritual experiences in itself and some will block those experiences. Like one of the commenters said, I don't see going to church or joining a religion as being more spiritual than going to the store. Could be less so. It is all in the attitude.

Personally, I think a lot of what people call spirituality is working with energy. Is there guidance from beyond to help with it? Maybe. Some of what doesn't seem explainable today may someday be seen as science.

All photos are from Hubble and of stars and space. They inspire in me a feeling of great energy and joy because out in that vast expanse (the colors cannot be seen in space but they are the colors of their elements) creation is happening, destruction is ongoing, and it is all part of this glorious thing we call life.

The complexity of space is matched by the complexity of our inner world. It is why I have to believe there is something behind it all.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Spiritual experiences

As I said previously, spiritual experiences, speaking only for myself, come from things that I cannot explain logically. When I have a dream, and I've had more than a few that fit this category, which does not seem to come from my daily life but gives me some answers or insights to that daily life, I call that spiritual.

One thing that I have to set straight right now. For me spiritual experiences do not necessarily mean related to god or some spiritual realm of power beyond our own. It doesn't prove or disprove god's existence. These are simply experiences that aren't physically or emotionally logical-- for now. Seeing unidentified flying objects might not be spiritual at all if we are being visited by those from other planets.

A second point is I don't think a spiritual experience must be a defining moment, an epiphany, before it's counted. I suspect they come regularly into all of our lives. Some of it we ignore and think that's silly. Some we are too busy with daily living to experience. Those with the most such experiences are open, aware, and possibly sometimes born with a gift.

The third point is that someone else's experiences won't cut it for you or help you believe or give you any vicarious spiritual moment. That is called emotional when we hear about it, feel uplifted, but it wasn't our own spiritual encounter. Personally, I don't believe real spiritual experiences come from books or what others tell us. Those are interesting and can point us toward being more aware ourselves but it is us doing it that makes it real.

Also, in my opinion, even if there is a spiritual realm to life, it does not mean our life goes beyond the death of our body. We could have a spiritual realm, while we are here, and still be dust to dust when our body dies. It just means we are open to a full life experience using all of what is possible to experience.

As an example of what I mean, here is one of my little moments. Although I have had some bigger ones, they are more personal. This one is just an example of what can happen when we are aware. These kind of things don't come to me as often as I would like and certainly not on demand... darnit.

It was dark outside. I was lying in bed, eyes still closed, that time when you are kind of awake, but open to going back to sleep. I got a message in my head. Not a verbal outside voice but two full sentences which I still remember today. I lay there and thought what many of us feel at such a moment. Yeah right! The voice then said so that I would know I was hearing the truth, and it wasn't coming from myself, 4:06 would be the exact time when I looked at the clock.

That got my eyes opened. My clock has a light. I pushed the button, looked at the time, and it was exactly what the voice had said. I cannot explain a logical reason for knowing it before I looked-- even subconsciously.

The message later was validated to be true by physical events. I can think of explanations for the message coming to me but how about the time? I don't remotely try to say I know from where that message came. Just it was one of those mysteries for which I use the word spiritual because I cannot explain it.

The two little nests I have had for years. One winter both were blown out of one of the oak trees. Each is perfectly made with different materials. They look like hummingbird nests to me. We had a horse on the place back then, and we assume that one of the nests had been completely created from horse tail hairs. Amazing isn't it that such small birds could find enough hairs to make such perfect nests. The nests are among my treasured possessions.

At the time they fell, I wasn't into looking for messages and have no idea if they had one for me. Today I am more aware of such and if I saw two hummingbird nests out on the lawn, I would try to decide if it had a greater meaning. It's not something that happens every day, every 10 years or even every 20 (has never happened to me since). I might have missed something back then... but at least I have the nests.

(What I consider serendipitous about this is I had already taken the photos to use the nests to illustrate this blog when I read something Donna described in the blog about what is spirituality-- an experience about a hummingbird which I would say, as she did, was a spiritual moment.)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What is spirituality?

Fairly regularly I read a blog about spiritual concepts (that doesn't like to use the word spiritual -- the premise being there is nothing truly spiritual). The writer's questioning whether the 'spiritual' exists, whether it's a word that we should use at all, has led me to think more about why I would call something spiritual instead of emotional.

One blog there was about a book where it said when someone else uses the word spiritual, as in they had a spiritual experience, the other might say I am glad you had a meaningful experience. This is done to not argue but insert a word that seems more accurate to that author where he didn't think there was a spiritual aspect to life.

Meaningful to me doesn't cut it as a synonym for spiritual but then that leads to the question: what makes something spiritual and why use the word at all?

A lot of what people call spiritual experiences could indeed be emotional ones, reactions to an idea, a set of words, a photograph, or painting. Religious ecstasy could be brought about by some spirit being outside of ourselves or a spirit realm within ourselves, but it also could be stimulated by the body and have no outside dimension at all.

What I mean when I use the word spiritual is something that cannot be explained by a physical reason. Logic is not part of the spiritual realm or if it is, we don't know how and can't measure or even define it the same way.

To me, when I move into the spiritual realm or say something was a spiritual experience, it's because logic cannot find a reason for it. It's why science cannot explain the spiritual feelings inside men-- even if they can stimulate a replica of some of them by poking a certain part of the brain.

I think this question of proving or disproving a spiritual realm within ourselves, the world, the Universe, or beyond matters most to believers-- whether atheists or religious. Agnostics don't care because they have already said they don't know and are quite satisfied to leave it at that. Believers must prove someone else is wrong as part of their own confidence that they are right.

These photos, from the my trip to the coast, can instill an emotional reaction which is easily explained. But the symbolism behind them of the ocean, the moon, the sun, those things are what often inspire people to think of concepts that go beyond what can be explained in a search to find meaning to life. This last one might look like a moon but it's the sun. That's what is often true of life-- what seems to be one thing can easily be another.

With the next blog I will describe what I considered to be a spiritual experience in my own life. I would love to hear from others who have had something they defined as spiritual-- something which cannot be explained by a logic.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Life's mystery is that it exists at all

It could be a combination of many things that has had me thinking about the meaning of life. I do this in spurts, and then let it go with the realization each time that I cannot get my mind around it.

Everything comes from something-- except something did not--
the Universe or god-- take your pick.
With a Big Bang the Universe began to take form. It is now a creative and destroying universe. What is destroyed is the seed for what will be born again. Is there something behind it? If so, what?
We live. We die. What happens then?
Is there a purpose to mankind's existing at all? If so, what is it?

To these questions I have heard many many answers but they usually disagree. Religions sometimes explain why earth exists, why humans exist, but you have to take their word for it based on faith. Nobody can prove anything beyond what we can measure. We know our bodies are born. We inhabit them (well most of us do). We grow, age (creams, surgery and positive thinking notwithstanding). Whether from that aging, accidents, violence, or illness, we will someday die. That's where proof ends and speculation begins.

Some say it doesn't matter what life is about. They might have adopted the theories of their religions. They might say they never worry about such things. Life is what it is. For many people, trying to understand life's greatest mystery-- why it exists at all-- is a waste of time. It is, however, in my nature to try and understand things. Why life exists is a very big thing.

For me such questions have likely come now at least partly because of watching my little cat go through the last stages of her life, seeing her get old bit by bit and her body deteriorate to the point she finally had to let it go. I still miss her so much, look out at her little grave and feel sadness at my loss, but it has also been a reminder to me of the path we are all on. What she probably unknowingly faced, I also face-- knowingly.

I make myself feel somewhat better about her death by knowing she had a good, full life. Many don't get that much. I am also keeping myself aware in case she should reincarnate and return to me. But that thought represents a huge problem in my mind. How could that work? She came as a stray. How would she find her way back? I am not even sure I'd want her to reincarnate again given how terribly so many animals are treated. Whether reincarnation is true for animals (I had a feeling she had come again from an earlier cat I had) or us, it's not a choice. It's just a question.

My bout of questioning might also be because of all the world turmoil. Is there anyone not upset by what we are seeing in Iran? A government lets people think they have real choices, that they can vote, change directions, and then the leaders try to snatch it away, it's not hard to see how violence might erupt. Do the Iranian people have a real chance for peaceful lives? From a distance we hear about the demonstrations, the political responses, the possible change in the air, but imagine what it would be like to be living through it.

Then how about the North Korean situation where their leaders seem to believe the answer to diplomatic problems is to blow up someone else, and of course themselves, or at least their people, in the process! You think we have climate problems now. Can you imagine if that region of the world (or Iran's) used a nuclear bomb?

To go along with how I was already thinking, I came across this article in the NY Times: [The Origin of Life] where some scientists think they have figured out what could have triggered the growth of organic life forms on earth.

Could our whole existence be a fluke? A comet hit our planet, brought with it the building blocks of life, and from that everything else expanded and evolved? If that is so, it certainly did evolve into a complex world.

In the last month or so Farm Boss and I rediscovered Spielberg's Jurassic Park. If you haven't seen them (first two are best) for awhile, I recommend especially the first regarding this whole idea of life, science, what man can do or perhaps more accurately should do.

The movie, besides being exhilarating entertainment, is a reminder that the earth, for 165 million years, was ruled by dinosaurs. If they had continued to exist, mankind's development would have been unlikely. Chance or something, 65 million years ago sent an asteroid (current theory) setting the stage for an environment in which a new form of life could develop and thrive.

Life is so complex, so intertwined, so brilliantly designed or so chaotically lucky, that you cannot but wonder is this all there is? Is there a spirit being who did all of this or was it just a quirk of the cosmos? Journey to the Edge of the Universe on National Geographic (also available through Netflix) is another reminder of the complexity of life but it provides no answers. It shows what is, not how it got here.When life seems the most complex and confusing to me, I find the greatest joy in small things. Maybe that's why lately I have taken so many close-up photos of my roses. Although I have many tea roses for their intense colors and shapes, I absolutely love old-fashioned climbers. Their flowering may not last all summer but my what it exudes from late spring through early summer. Does any other rose smell so sweet?

In the following photo, I liked how you can see all stages of life on one stem, from the new bud to the withering petals.

And then there was this lucky shot when a bee decided to visit one of my old-fashioned roses just as I was taking its photo. The bee is all about simplicity of life and operating on instincts. Have we, with our oh so complex lifestyle, lost that?

More blogs coming spilling from this topic.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

the Iranian situation and US response

Like many Americans, I have been following what is happening in Iran and trying to decipher what it means for the Iranian people, the region and us. The response of President Obama has been one of restraint which seems right to me. In the past, we have interfered in Iran's political situation and it's never worked well for us or them.

Senator McCain's response totally confirmed for me what I thought when he was running for president. That guy does not have the temperament to be president. Yesterday I heard someone from the left say McCain's bellicose response is not what he would have done had he been president. How would we know?

This article by Joe Klein not only goes into that but also gives more information on the situation in Iran from someone who has been there: [McCain Unhinged]. It's worth a read.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Color Test

What color is your rainbow?

Awhile back, I came across this test. As usually happens with me, I did it a couple of times to see if anything changed. This was one where I couldn't get the same results twice no matter how I tried to answer questions.

Your rainbow is intensely shaded white, violet, and red.

What is says about you: You are a passionate person. You appreciate quiet moments. People depend on you to make them feel secure. You are patient and will keep trying to understand something until you've mastered it.

Find the colors of your rainbow at spacefem.com.

Your rainbow is intensely shaded violet, green, and white.

What is says about you: You are a creative person. You appreciate quiet moments. People depend on you to make them feel secure. Those around you admire your fresh outlook and vitality.

Find the colors of your rainbow at spacefem.com.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Waves along the Oregon Coast

Where it comes to photos from my times at the ocean, I always come home with way too many and can't decide what to delete even from my hard drive. Even a bad photo of the ocean is hard to give up, let alone the good ones. To share some of this with others, I thought I'd divide these by categories knowing that there is no real category where it comes to the shoreline of our oceans. Waves crash against rocks, the sky meets the sea, the birds and animals fly, sit and swim in the midst of it all.

Since I had one series already on tidal pools, this one is on wave action-- the ever changing and glorious wave action that both makes the sea alive as well as constantly changing. All photos are from late May on Oregon's Coast.

Because even after cutting these down, it became impossible to decide what to leave out, and I know some readers come here from dial-up, this was a sampling. More are in Pacific Ocean in Late May -- Rainy Day Extras.

All were taken with Canon cameras: Digital Rebel , the newer Rebel Xsi using Canon Image Stabilizer lenses; 18-35mm, 100-400mm f 4.5, and 55-250mm.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dream work

One of my interests has been dream analysis partly or maybe mainly because I have very vivid, colorful dreams. Most of mine are easy to understand. They relate to what I am doing during the day or sometimes are a fantasy story that I create for amusement, much like watching a movie. Some though, I have come to believe, are to give me insights into my life. June 11th, I awoke from such a dream.

In the dream I was painting on a large canvas. Parapluie was also painting but elsewhere and not sure what she was painting, but mine started out looking toward a waterfall and painting it, then I added an old barn, a goldfish and its fishbowl. Nothing was going very well. The goldfish was coming out the worst as it seemed to get smeared with the bright orange paint. The old barn was changed into one fallen down.

The dream was a frustration and even though a friend was nearby, she wasn't really part of either the frustration or the solution. There were three key elements, none of which seemed to go together-- goldfish in bowl of water, waterfall, and old barn or its remains. Basically as frustrating as I sometimes find painting, dreaming about painting was worse. Despite painting for years, I don't remember ever dreaming about doing it.

The reason I thought this dream might be trying to tell me something was because nothing in it fit together.

Sometimes, when I have what seems to me to be major dreams, I do a digital painting of the parts. As I worked on this one, I tried to keep the sketch to what it had felt like in the dream-- a little misty, not very good-- and putting the basic elements where they had been. I might have improved the goldfish a little...

I do not try to interpret every dream. Most are just mind traffic; but when I do, I start by thinking what I believe it meant to me. In this case, the main feeling I had was frustration that I could not make the painting work. I was in the position of creating it and deciding what went into it but nothing was going well or fit together. I think the dream reflected my desire to create my life, to get things how I want them to be and my feeling that things keep changing and I can't get a clear vision for what should be done.

Why would I do a painting of those three elements together? To find their potential meanings, I went to the dream dictionary that is my favorite:

To see a waterfall in your dream, is symbolic of letting go. You are releasing all those pent up emotions and negative feelings. The dream may also represent your goals and desires. In particular, if the waterfall is clear, then it represents revitalization, regeneration and renewal.

To see a barn in your dream, signifies feelings kept in your unconscious. There is a possibility that you may be holding back your instinctual action or natural urges. [So when I collapsed it in the painting, perhaps it means I know I need to stop holding back?]

To see a goldfish in your dream, signifies, wealth
, success, and pleasant adventures. Alternatively, goldfish represents some important emotional matter or valuable insight. [The goldfish was the main element I was having trouble painting.]

I thought since I saw the goldfish in a bowl, it wouldn't hurt to look that up also. To see a bowl in your dream, symbolizes the womb and sense of security. Consider the condition of the bowl and how it is treated or handled in the dream. This may offer clues as to how you feel you are being treated in a particular relationship.

The only really strong color in the dream was the goldfish and that was emphasized by repainting it several times-- unsuccessfully: Orange denotes hope, friendliness, courtesy, lively, sociability, and an out-going nature. You may want to expand your horizons and look into new interests.

Since my reason for doing this blog was to give others an idea of how to work with dreams, I won't go further with my own interpretation of this one. I will say it was helpful to me. Sometimes when we hear a message from our subconscious, we take it more seriously.

One more point, interesting to me at least, was that the night of the 10-11th, others said they had similar type dreams with different elements but similarly feelings of frustration as they tried to master something that wasn't working. Maybe insight waves come through that we can catch-- or not.

Some say they don't dream; but if we sleep deeply, we all dream. It's a question of what we do with them. If we are not in a habit of using them, perhaps we lose them. Our subconscious knows what we dreamed even if we don't. It might be impacting our daytime (positively or negatively) but we are unaware of how. I believe it's worth the work of trying to retrieve dreams.

There are many tools to help that happen. When going to bed at night, ask for a meaningful, helpful dream. When waking in the middle of the night with one, stop and write it down. No matter how vivid nighttime dreams seem to be for me at the time, by morning I rarely remember mine either.

A useful tool is a dream journal alongside the bed, then writing down the dream and its elements while they are fresh. Do this even if dreams don't seem important because it's building a skill. For me, telling someone the dream right away, which of course requires someone else in the bed, helps me remember them later. Maybe saying them out loud without someone would do the same thing, not sure.

Think of the emotions in the dream, what you think it might have meant before going to a good dream site or book to look for possible meanings to things like say goldfish. I also like doing a small painting of them (digital makes that very easy) as I am thinking how this could apply to my daily life.

To me, meaningful dreams are an encouragement that there is more to us than flesh and bone. We do have a 'spiritual' nature, something we cannot explain by logic, whatever someone might want to label it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Health Care

Like many of you, I am looking at the possible proposals for a United States health care plan and trying to decide what I think. I do not automatically trust Obama to do the best thing because nobody should fall in lockstep and leave their brain behind with something this important.

Personally I like the idea of single payer, but I see it fraught with potential problems. I don't like the rush-rush-rush talk. He's saying we have to do it this year or it won't happen. If it's a worthwhile project in my life, I can take time to consider and this is a huge shift.

Currently we have a problem which is hurting small businesses as much as people who are uninsured. It's a big cost on the back of business and don't kid yourself that they don't look for ways to pass it on. It impacts raises and it impacts prices they must charge. It takes into account how many people they can employ in some cases. I didn't know that if they must let an employee go and they sign up for Cobra, their previous employer must pay part of that cost. It's a minefield for its complexity and yet many businesses feel they owe it to their employees to give them the security of a health care plan.

Hidden cost, which is what a lot of this already is, doesn't make something free. A lot of what people think doesn't cost them much is only because they are ignorant of the true cost they (or others) are paying. Here is a good article to read and think about exploring problems in the existing proposal:

Obama Health Plan No Bargain

If you have found good articles or have strong opinions on this, I would be pleased to post your opinions and articles in future blogs with giving you full credit. I think this is a conversation Americans need to be having.

Whether we agree or disagree on what must happen, I think there should be an awareness something should. We have a complex system though where doctors, medically connected businesses, and insurance companies all have a stake in keeping their share of the profits. Not too many are primarily concerned about the good of the consumer.

The fear talk that government will run the system is ignoring who runs it now. Generally speaking, it's not doctors but insurance companies and the businesses who operate clinics and hospitals. Give me a break-- like they have only the patient's best interests at heart!? Businesses must have their bottom-line in mind which means make a profit or fold.

So please consider taking some time to read the article above from CNN and think about it. What is the right way to approach a situation that is sucking up a lot of our economy and not for the best health care system in the world by a long shot. If we do something with nationalizing health care, then there will have to be hard choices to face. How do we pay for it? It won't be free whatever they try to claim. What do we cover? How much do we limit people's free choices? Is it even possible to fix it or did we miss our chance many years ago?

[I plan to run more blogs of photos from our recent beach trip but the one at the top seemed most apropos for this topic. It's looking at something complex and trying to decide how to get from Point A to Point B with rocks, tidal pools and an ocean in the way. This is what I feel we face now. There are rewards for getting past the obstacles; but only if we do it the right way otherwise there can end up skinned knees, broken bones or getting stranded somewhere with the tide coming in and no place to go.]

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lists! We got lists!

Are you like me, that when you see a list of something, you like to see what's on it? So maybe it's 2009 Top 100 Places to Live and even though it will likely change every year (how is that possible?), I still want to see what places were on it and did I agree with the authors. Sometimes when I get to #1, I am shaking my head. They can't be serious, but I still am attracted to those lists.

When I came across the 50 Most Glamorous Women of 2009, it landed me on a site that made my virus/spam checker very unhappy. It kept popping up warnings every time I clicked on a photo. Bad site! Block Access! which I would faithfully do.

Normally that would be all it would take to get me off a site, but not this time. I had already seen that Queen Latifah had beat out Demi Moore. How was that possible? Beautiful yes, but more glamorous?!? They had to be kidding. So I kept telling my unhappy virus checker to go ahead and block access (isn't that what I pay it for... well actually this one is a free checker) and we trudged forward. Who could possibly be #1.

About the time I reached #37, and my virus checker was threatening divorce, I realized this was nuts. There likely were other places online that had the list. There were. 50 Most Glamorous Women of 2009 is safe (according to my much more relaxed virus and spam checker). It pleased me more also as it went much faster. I won't tell you who made #1 but it wasn't a bad choice. Just was it that glamorous???

Is glamour another word that used to have meaning but today has lost it? Although all the women on the list were beautiful, did the people putting out the list understand what glamour even meant? To me, it isn't about appearing in baggy sweats every time you aren't on a red carpet. Glamour is not beauty as such but something else and maybe it's undefinable but don't we know it when we see it? On that list, it was a mixed bag as to how often I saw it.

Even though this list came from Glamour magazine, I don't think they get what glamour is. To be honest, I don't think of Glamour magazine when I think about glamour but more Vogue or even Harper's Bazaar. Glamour magazine has seemed to me more about youthful, healthy beauty-- well as healthy as modeling gets.

Earlier, for obvious reasons, I had gotten sucked in by this interesting list: 6 of the World's Most Beautiful Older Women. I didn't disagree with the six they listed although they left out a lot, but they never claimed they were the only or the most beautiful. Maybe beauty is easier to judge than glamour... or maybe not.

(Yes, I know Americans spell it glamor but that doesn't look right to me even though my spell checker kept reminding me I was wrong. I used the same spelling the UK and magazine do.)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Old Broad at the Beach

Every now and then I get an education on words and often with something I thought I clearly understood but find out other people clearly understood also only differently.

Growing up as I did in the 40s and 50s, I remember a lot of wonderful old movies where the word broad was used to refer to grown women pretty much of any age beyond youth. It was a slang term, but I had never understood it to be insulting. I suppose how it was used could turn it into an insult but that's so of most words, isn't it?

In the films, women even referred to themselves as broads. I don't think though I heard it in my home. I guess it was never the really classy or aristocratic ladies in the films but more earthy women, the kind who could stand shoulder to shoulder, and sometimes toe to toe, with their men, get down and dirty when required, and mostly were tough.

Although I hadn't called myself a broad, if someone had asked, I'd have said yes, I am. I didn't see it negative and maybe even flattering. I was aware however that others might it as lower class. Well so what! I come from working class, earthy roots.

When I got the idea of putting up a blog with a lot of photos of me from the beach, the title seemed it should incorporate the words-- old broad. I mean it's not like I am a chick or a bathing beauty on the beach but I do see myself as this strong earthy woman. A Woman on the Beach sounded too arty. Nope, it had to be old broad at the beach.

That is when I found out that not all saw the word as I had. My old dictionary simply defines broad (when it's a noun) as slang term for woman. But a man I know said it's a woman who dresses provocatively and has had several husbands. Say what! When I looked for more definitions of the word, sure enough some online did say exactly what the man had said.

I still saw it differently; so went looking for quotes referring to women as broads. Sometimes it's the context that changes the meaning of words. Through my search I found one blog with old broad as part of the title, learned the broad jump got changed to the long jump because of the derogatory way some saw the word broad, and read an an article where the writer talked of the old broads he admired and loved to interview-- Elizabeth Taylor being one of them.

Elizabeth Tayler: Dress provocatively-- check. Several husbands-- check. Although there is more to her than that and it's also the earthy side to Taylor, her deep ability to love, her ability to be one of the boys, her toughness, her passionate side that leads me to not see broad as derogatory when referring to her.

Am I a broad? Dress provocatively-- sometimes. Several husbands-- not yet.

When I asked Farm Boss what he thought of using this as a title, he suddenly got a yen for the movie Mamma Mia-- not because he remembered it referring to the leading women as old broads but because they were.

The following quotes are a few that I found:

"A lot of her is me. I've had this broad under my belt for five years. I own her - and nobody can tell me that I don't own her. I love every single dimension and component of her being. Her nobility, her flawed character, her laughter, her love of the absurd, her love of the unknown, her love of science... I've loved her great heart, her formidable spirit, her guts. She has a much better mind than mine, and a gifted imagination as well, but she's a little prickly, and certainly not without ego. She has this profound sense of humanity: she can talk to anybody and they listen." Kate Mulgrew

"I'm a tough old broad from Brooklyn. I intend to go on acting until I'm ninety and they won't need to paste my face with make-up." Barbara Stanwyck

"I'm too tall to be a girl, I never had enough dresses to be a lady, I wouldn't call myself a woman. I'd say I'm somewhere between a chick and a broad." Julia Roberts

"She was a great broad, in all the meaning of the word." (following the death of Barbara Stanwyck in 1990) Charlton Heston

"I'd have liked to have gone to bed with Jean Harlow. She was a beautiful broad. The fellow who married her was impotent and he killed himself. I would have done the same thing." Groucho Marx

Yes, old broad was the right title!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Art as a Calling

My main memories of Parapluie, the painter Diane Widler Wenzel, which go back over 40 years, always involve her thinking, discussing, or working on a new painting. Art for her is a calling.

This is not to say she does not have other interests, cannot discuss many topics with intelligence, but at the center of her being is, and has been for as long as I have known her, her art.

It is always fun to go on a vacation with her as part of it will be seeing what she paints. You can see those works by following this link: Umbrella Painting Journal to the paintings she posted from our recent trip. I can look at the same things but will never see what she does.

Honest, I didn't go out of my way to constantly photograph her with brush or camera in hand. It just worked out to be that way.

Art can be a passionate pursuit. For some, it is a calling that lasts a lifetime. Everything they observe is in context of a possible painting, sculpture, photograph, or some words.

I admire callings in others even though I myself haven't really had one (other than being a mother). Perhaps that is why I admire it in those who do.

On the trip, I had also taken my paints, small canvases, and brushes, but they never got out of their sack. Painting is not as relaxing for me as it is for her. I have painted on trips; but this one, possibly because of all we had been going through the last month, well I just wanted to experience the moments as fully as possible.

Experiencing, what is there, is true for Parapluie also, but she often does it with a brush in hand-- the Zen of painting.

Despite a lot of the complications in going, this was one of my more relaxing trips. I lay that partly to the place and partly to the company. Perhaps also I am finally learning-- sometimes-- how to just be.

Well... I did take a lot of photos some of which appeared here, will appear here or even might someday end up paintings eventually-- maybe...