Sunday, February 28, 2010

Building positive energy

Given the times in which we live, where there seems to be a constant stream of negative news, some that just breaks your heart, I think it's more important than ever that we build up positive energy in our lives as much as we possibly can.

Some would say the ticket is to ignore what is going on around them. I don't think we can or should do that because that's how you end up having your country taken over by zealots, it's how you aren't ready when something disastrous strikes you or near you; but how about we do whatever we can as we can and then we release the results? How about if we spend time doing things that make us feel happy inside. For me that is often being in nature. It is spending as much time with beauty as is possible.

February 20, we drove up from Waldport to Bellfountain, a route along the Alsea River which we don't often take when we have been at the beach. The reason we don't do it more is it takes longer and then there is my dislike of winding, narrow roads where all the rest of the vehicles seem to want to zip around the corners.

I would look out my window and see a beautiful river but also no guardrail, no shoulder and a steep incline to that river. Beautiful photo opp... Would those trees support the truck if it went off the edge? Very pretty but a little nerve wracking. It would have helped if we had driven down it to the Coast as then we'd at least have been on the inside.

The time driving was probably not so great for building positive energy (unless you are a wantabe race car driver who doesn't have a nervous passenger) but the stops at the many small parks and waysides made up for it.

The river was full of water, the trees along its bank beginning to bud out and I definitely want more time there to practice my barbless hook fly fishing this summer.
They say fishing is good for building energy. I have enjoyed time along rivers but only recently have tried to learn the art of fly fishing.

This covered bridge was not on the main road but on a side road.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I'm mad!

Warning: Rambling Political rant follows.
If this isn't something you can handle right now, enjoy the pictures and come back for the next topic in two days.
A friend asked me to post pictures of myself again. These came from February 20 doing one of those things I do for mental health (Ono Beach and Alsea Falls). Spring is here whether the calendar says it is or not. I know it's here when I can wade in the ocean again. Summer is just around the corner, and I am sooooo ready.

Politically speaking, I am angry. I don't like being angry and don't live my life that way-- very often. I am mad at the extremists on the right, mad at those who are Republicans but not extremists, but are letting this happen to their party. Did they watch the latest CPAC meetings and listen to those speakers? Did any of that seem like the right way for this country to go? How can they defend the people who seem to be speaking for their party? I understand that being angry makes it hard to write about politics. On the other hand, anger makes it hard not to write about it. My political hiatus is hereby over-- for awhile.

Since CPAC had the John Birch Society co-sponsoring their recent meeting, what does that say about the bigotry and racism Republicans have been denying? If you aren't a racist, do you want to be associated with the John Birch Society and its history? Is winning that important?

Yes, the left has its fringe loonies also but you don't see PETA paying for Democratic meetings... yet anyway. What were Romney and any other seemingly responsible Republicans doing there in giving credence to that set of nut jobs? Is that who Romney is? Never mind. I withdraw the question. He's an opportunist and nobody knows what they'd get with him-- including the self-named conservative Republicans.

In case you can't tell, I am not interested in being reasonable or tolerant. It's time for the moderate wing of the Republican party to speak up. Lots of luck on that. Besides being angry I am worried about where my beloved country is heading. I see a movement growing within it that is like a cancer even as they claim that it's me and people like me that are the cancer. Glenn Beck says it's a war. Maybe so. History says I should be concerned.

The other day I saw part of a program on the little ice age the world experienced from AD 1300 for almost two hundred years and again around 1850.
"There is substantial historical evidence for the Little Ice Age. The Baltic Sea froze over, as did many of the rivers and lakes in Europe. Pack ice expanded far south into the Atlantic making shipping to Iceland and Greenland impossible for months on end. Winters were bitterly cold and summers were often cool and wet. These conditions led to widespread crop failure, famine, and population decline. The tree line and snowline dropped and glaciers advanced, overrunning towns and farms in the process. There was a lot of social unrest as large portions of the population were reduced to starvation and poverty." .... from [Little Ice Age], an article well worth reading as part of being prepared for future climate shifts. It's not all about biology for how we could be impacted when things turn dire.
Bad conditions bring out the worst in mankind. During that little ice age, came the burning of witches, whom some blamed for causing the cold weather, the disease, the failing crops. You think it's bad how these people are behaving today. If our climate turns drastically bad, you just wait. Some of them, like Pat Robertson, believe in the religious mumbo-jumbo of the Middle Ages.

The religious right says it gets its marching orders straight from god. It blames Satan and whoever isn't on their side for whatever goes wrong. It is religious often without knowing the actual teachings of the religion it espouses (and that means many religions, not just the main one in this country). It is patriotic but immediately shifts to attacking its own country when a fair vote doesn't go as they want. It is fundamentalist, potentially violent, and for the most part leaderless (unless that's hidden under the surface).

Watching speakers at CPAC should have scared anybody who wasn't of the teabagger* mentality. (I deliberately used that term that is so offensive to those who prefer to be called 'tea partiers'-- explanation at the end of my rant). I don't care if they like it. If I respected that group, I'd find another word less offensive to them, but I do NOT respect them at all. I see them as destructive and not loyal citizens at all.

There was a time where I hoped to communicate with extreme righties here as I thought we could have meaningful discourses, but it never worked. In the film, Ice Age-- Dawn of the Dinosaurs, there is a scene where Sid the Sloth argues with mommy dinosaur. He says, whatever I say, you go grrrr. That's what I get when I try to talk to christianists (not to be confused with Christians), birthers (not to be confused with giving birth to anything), and tea partiers (not to be confused with patriots).

When some of them not only defend but praise the guy who flew his plane into the IRS building in Texas, I ask so it's okay when Arab extremist do the same thing? No answer.

When I ask why it is okay to pay to fight two wars but not okay for their neighbor to have health insurance? No answer.

When I ask how come it's okay to torture when it doesn't work to get real evidence and is against the law and breaks all treaties between civilized peoples? No answer.

Their only answers are accusations that Obama is not a legitimate president. Obama won by millions of votes and a plurality in the Electoral College. Obama has shown his birth certificate to those who have declared it to be real. Birthers don't care about facts. They make them up as they go along.

What I am politically interested in doing is discussing real issues that face our country and looking at suggested solutions from the leadership on the right (no) and the left (maybe/ could be/ kind of/ be nice). Have you noticed that we only get government that can function when right wingers control it. Evidently Democrats don't have the ability to govern and look where right wingers take us.

When various issues confronting the world today arise, I will hope to hear from reasonable right wingers (and a few do comment here) who actually can look at facts bringing their side into the debate. We might not agree but we can agree to disagree.

You know, Europe has what some would call socialist ideas in place (so do we) and it's not as much a road to totalitarianism as the fascism practiced by so much of the right. If you are a rightie and made it this far, I don't want to shock you but government programs to serve the people don't have to be bad if the people are responsible and pay for what they want as they go. If they don't, they will send the culture into a destructive economic spiral. High taxes aren't always bad if they provide services (fire and police protection, schools, highway, health care, pensions) people would be paying for themselves anyway. Sometimes government is the most efficient way to do things.

It would be nice if there were simple solutions to our problems today, but I don't think there are. As an example, Ron Paul, who won the CPAC presidential poll is someone I consider to be a good person... many extreme righties are good people... but he's wrong on the gold standard. Money is an exchange of labor. It needs to be managed and treated responsibly which can help an economy or crush it. Currency is about barter. Theoretically I trade my labor for yours. Too bad we ended up with so many middle men doing nothing and trading their non-productive labor to receive even greater returns than those who actually 'do' something.

Gold as a basis for currency doesn't recognize the barter or world trade aspect. I don't know if Paul doesn't know that as a culture grows larger and more sophisticated, having a mandatory gold standard won't help it manage the ups and downs, or if he just sees it as a catch phrase that draws people to him.

Paul is still very p
opular in Oregon and the signs are up many places still supporting him. People want simple answers and it seems that no government provides that until you consider what the result would be. Paul is not a demagogue in my opinion but the ground is being seeded for one to rise.

Glenn Beck, who was chosen by CPAC to keynote their recent blowfest, said he learned what liberty meant to our forefathers when he read about it in our free libraries... Free? Obviously Beck doesn't get that when the Constitution was written, there were no public libraries. When public libraries began, the concept was to benefit all people and paid for by taxes. They are NOT free. They could qualify as a socialistic program, couldn't they?

I already knew Beck's ilk had no use for Teddy Roosevelt who pioneered the beginning of so many of our national parks which some consider the evil socialism. Those parks should belong to the richest, not the masses. Think of the money that could be made, the fancy homes built, keeping the rabble out!

The right wing is using the mentally ill (and yes, I mean Mr. Beck), the liars (Sarah, yes-to-the-bridge-to-nowhere-before-no Palin), the religious extremists (Tim, this-country-is-under-the-control-of-god Pawlenty), the power hungry (Dick not-giving-him-the-time-of-day Cheney) and hopes the American people will buy into eight more years of what they already had from 2000 to 2008. They might.

So more political blogs coming from here every so often with a warning at the top but no apologies. If someone reads who presents hard facts as to why my thinking is wrong, I am open to that, but this blog is not here to advertise positions I consider detrimental to the country. I recognize that sometimes good people can see the same facts and draw different conclusions from them. Facts are always welcome.

Finally that footnote--

* Teabaggers earned their nickname by beginning their movement with saying everyone should send tea bags to Congress in protest of taxes. They earned it by ignorance at what taxes pay for. They earned it by their abominable, racists signs and statements. They earned it by the stupid things they say like all government is bad but keep your hands off my Medicare. They earned it by their bigotry against anyone different from themselves. When they act respectfully, I'll use another term to describe them but for now I like one that infuriates them. I also like comment moderation.

Incidentally, they might keep in mind that tea party isn't a lot better. Yes, it doesn't have a prior meaning of a sex act, but it is about violence, destruction of property, and war. It's about a political event that was triggered by the wealthy in this land. When it is used, it is an implied threat of violence.

Violence might be what extremists want, but it's not what I want. I'd prefer the sex act part myself ;) (Yeah, I didn't know what it meant either until last spring, but since it describes a sexual act between two consenting adults, I have no problem with it. As usual, teabaggers do!)

Monday, February 22, 2010


How do you decide if a work of art should be critically acclaimed, if it is it is the best? This is the problem the Olympics always run into where it comes to ice dancing. It arises in fine arts as well as entertainment. Often the work judged most 'artistic' isn't the one the public prefers. Walk into an art museum and see what appears to be a white canvas with a tiny dot somewhere strategically placed (maybe). The work is critically acclaimed and the average person shakes their head.

The question arises at this time of the year with the Oscar which goes to the best film of the year. Does that mean most artistic? Most emotional? Most popular? How does one define that simple word-- best? I know from experience that one person's best is often another person's ick.

I would like to leave behind the question of best director as that seems to me a different issue. I am more interested in how someone decides a film is 'best' in a given year. Often the Oscar awarded films are not the ones with longevity. Should still being enjoyed in 50 years mean anything when it comes to this year's Oscar? Should the likability of the director play a role in the decision?

I understand crowds alone do not make a film automatically best, but Oscar will only make itself even more meaningless if it ignores a film which is very popular, has a strong message, and also happens to be state of the art. Pretty much everyone is in agreement that one film this year will impact movies for years to come. Yes, I mean Avatar which has received mixed critical reviews. It seems a lot like the way critics felt about Titanic which was also slammed by 'experts' while loved by the public and which I still enjoy watching every now and again. (In case you didn't know, I don't care much what critics think where it comes to the movies I most enjoy.)

Even though I almost never go to theaters (maybe one a year), it was important to me to see Avatar in the theater because I thought the theater experience and seeing it in 3-D would be an important part of it. I had read reviews saying it had a poor plot and its technology was all that really mattered. Okay I would judge for myself.

I loved it. To me it had a good story, good casting, and something behind the story that gave more meaning to it than simply enjoying oneself in watching it. It was a very enjoyable artistic experience. I had remembered 3-D from a kid but this was a vastly different experience. This isn't so much about arrows coming at you as it is about taking you into another world, making you part of the experience which is particularly apropos given what Avatar is about.

Before I get to that though, Avatar does speak to values like environment, honor, relationship, and responsibility that are important to me. As is the case with many great films on values, it does so in a simple way thereby satisfying none of the experts-- not the right wing, not a lot of the critics, not even Native American groups. Native Americans didn't like that the Na'vi got together and swayed... That was supposed to be inaccurate except who decides what is accurate since this is an imaginary world created by James Cameron. People who are pagans, oriented to the land, do not automatically have to be Native Americans!

It is a sweet film, environmentally challenging, thought provoking, action filled, beautiful, energetic which criticizes the industrial complex currently ruling much of today's world as well as its imaginary one. It also had considerably more plot than I expected given the criticisms that swirl around it.

Besides concern for the natural world, recognition of its power, here's the question it poses-- if you could create a fantasy you, would you eventually prefer that creation to your physical reality? Suppose that creation was physically superior to your abilities, more beautiful/handsome, totally different, more in tune with its natural world-- how tempting might that become to wish it was really you? This is why the 3-D aspect of Avatar is particularly crucial. It puts you into that world for you to consider your answer.

In the world of the internet, people enter into games and do create avatars for themselves who become everything they wish they were. That might be unhealthy when the fantasy becomes stronger than the reality and never the twain can meet; but in Avatar, it happens that there is a physical reality to that avatar, and the humans can go inside it leaving them later torn as to whom they would rather be.

Perhaps Avatar's worst crime in the eyes of the elite is that it leaves the viewer feeling good when they leave the theater. In today's entertainment world, that appears to be a huge negative. So many films today leave you feeling terrible when they are over. They catch you in a cycle of despair and often never lift you out of it. Are they the ones critics consider the best? Tell me again what 'best' means?

is unique, powerful, and left me, at least, happy to have spent a few hours in an alternate reality but more concerned than ever that we make our reality better. We don't need to do this through an avatar but through more concern for what we are allowing to be torn apart in our world in the name of greed-- and too much of it is in the name of greed.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

what if...

This cartoon came from Robin and Roger to my email and after I finally figured out how to share it here, I thought it'd be a humorous addition to the global climate change debate.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Here is the bottom-line on climate change: It's not up to a vote.

It won't matter if Fox news puts out every questionable study and ignores the ones it doesn't like which say change is coming. It won't matter if your senator ridicules it. It won't matter if you don't like it. It is happening or it is not.

Thomas Friedman put out a good take with some suggestions [Global Weirding]. It won't convince naysayers, who are trying to make this one more political issue to nail Obama or who don't want to reduce carbon usage; but if you are not a naysayer, there are reasons to give the whole issue some serious consideration.

The leadership in our country has become so fractionalized that it cannot function on any level unless Republican legislators run things. If they run things, they will do what benefits themselves, big corporations, and convince anybody they can (maybe even themselves) that it's the noblest, most patriotic choice and half the country will cheer. It won't change global climate no matter how much hot air they put out.

If Republican Congress people can't run things, they pout and demand nothing be done even about something as serious as the question of global climate change. They will try to obfuscate and distract from very real questions like about ocean temperatures rising and what that means to the ocean streams and currents. Keep in mind that weather is very related to the ocean moving air around. When that is disrupted or changed, what will that mean for humans? If you don't know, shouldn't you research it?

I guess Republican leaders think they won't be here to see the consequences if they are wrong. Wouldn't you think they'd at least want to know for future generations (assuming the shift takes awhile) but they apparently don't. They smell blood on the water and like typical sharks they only worry about their next meal. They will deny anything science might say to interfere, and they will block unbiased funding that could find out.

If you have watched the film, Day After Tomorrow, you know one of the main theories of global climate change-- necessarily dramatized and rushed for film purposes-- is weather extremes, brought on by ocean temperature changes, which could include mini-ice ages... which won't seem like mini-anything if you happen to live where they happen.

Right-left, up-down, it is ALL theories right now. Science can look at the past, speculate on the future based on geologic evidence or history (like other times of rising CO2 levels, but there isn't really anything like what we have going today to look at. Even if there was, they cannot be sure how it would impact the future or even today. They can make educated guesses.

Another bottom-line: earth is a dynamic planet with the potential for huge shifts that, based on geologic evidence, can come very fast. If you don't understand that, try watching How the Earth was Made. Mankind lives on this planet with many other creatures, many others only fossilized evidence they ever existed because of other catastrophic shifts. We don't control it. Some might try to tell you we do, but we do not. That doesn't mean we can't impact it.

For those who believe in a god who tweaks things every now and again to get the bad guys or reward the good, they don't care about science and what it can tell them. They believe their god will either fix it or destroy it sometimes based on whims. They are jake with that.

For those who believe in a god but don't believe he/she/it will fix anything, for those who don't believe in a god, there is reason to do research on what is happening and try to stay away from studies like the one done by [Peabody Energy Corp's] (think coal). Some university results will be as suspect depending on who is paying for that particular study. What we need is more science that is not funded by some financial interest. There is very little of that out there at least in our country.

What we can do is look for hard statistics regarding say the time on earth when so many people either disappeared or had to migrate elsewhere [like the Anasazi] and follow up with a variety of opinions on what those statistics could mean for today:

The question of whether mankind is impacting climate should be off the table as of course human activity is a factor considering the numbers we are talking about around the world-- numbers that are growing on an exponentially increasing pattern (short some major plague or a continental level natural disaster). The question is how much of this is human impacted and what can we really do about it. If the seas warm, have less temperature differential in their depths, or turn less salty, what does that mean for food sources and climate on land?

Yes, it might be that whatever is coming would come anyway. Might be something outside our control will send it all another way like a super volcano (we won't like that either). Can humans change it at this point? Well we can't impact something like solar activity which is a factor in air temperature on earth. So why care?

I think we should care in order to prepare ourselves for possible change (wise anyway), to do our part in living responsibly (wise anyway). That might involve moving. It might involve having a rotating supply of food that can be used if emergencies (like winters that don't end) should happen. If I lived year round in a location that might end up below sea level (which isn't as high as some would suggest), I'd give serious consideration to moving inland a bit, but then I'd have that option. Not everyone does.

Generally, I tend to say avoid blogs for hard science (including mine) but [Skeptical Science] seemed good to me with its facts and analysis as well as dissenting comments. Here are a couple of good examples:

It is to your advantage to know what's coming, and if you base your conclusions on politics, not liking Al Gore, or thinking carbon credits make no sense (it didn't to me either), you won't get the most accurate information. It takes work, and media won't do it for you. My thinking is be prepared as best you can for you individually. This isn't something to fret over but to research, then do what is possible and responsible.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

she's a beauty queen

If you aren't around sheep much, you may think they all look a lot alike other than size, colors of wool, or breeds. You might not know that some sheep are homely, most are cute or average, but only a few are knock-outs.

I doubt beauty in a sheep makes much difference in which ones get bred first because rams are more about basics like-- who's in heat and can I get there before another ram. But humans can observe, and this little lady is a beauty queen. She doesn't have a bad angle.

We don't name livestock; but if I did, I'd call her Marilyn. She is one of a set of triplets born last year right before Imbolc-- Triplets in time for Imbolc. Her mother had twins this year (thank goodness as she's getting up there in years) just ahead of her daughters. Her mother, who is not a beauty, is a super mom, and it's obvious this little gal carries the mom gene. Her beauty is all her own.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Art Spirit

Often when I read a book, I highlight key thoughts. Sometimes I take the time to write them down elsewhere. These, from 'The Art Spirit' by Robert Henri, had been transcribed years ago into a sketchpad which I gave to my granddaughter this summer for her to create her own art.

When we were at Sunriver, some of her Christmas presents from us were art supplies which included a set of watercolors. When she began experimenting with them, her first project was to illustrate these quotations with flowers, mittens and greenery.

Her doing this brought the quotes back to my mind. They seem as important today as they did when I first wrote them down in the sketchpad.

From Robert Henri in The Art Spirit:

For an artist to be interesting to us, he must have been interesting to himself, He must have been capable of intense feeling and capable of profound contemplation.

Many things that come into the world are not looked into. The individual says, My crowd doesn't run that way. I say don't run with crowds.

We are not here to do what has already been done.

Sometime what is not done or left out is as important as what is included.

The goal is not making art. It is living a life. Those who live their life, will leave the stuff that is art. Art is a result.

When the art is alive in any person, whatever his work may be, he becomes an inventive, exploring, self expressing creature. He becomes interesting to other people...

Art tends toward balance, order, judgment of relative values, the laws of growth, the economy of living, very good things for anyone to be interested in.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Image Gallery

Because of the personal nature of much of my art, one of my blogs, [Rain's Image Gallery] (my digital, oil and acrylic paintings), was not on search engines and only open to a few old friends when I gave them the URL. There were various reasons for that.

Some was because I occasionally paint nudes, which is offensive to some. Then there is the my work itself. It's not so much landscapes, although it can be, but more about my imagination, dreams and ideas. I wasn't sure those kind of paintings would be of interest to others especially since I am not a professional artist.

In January, as I was sorting a lot of things, I decided either I should delete that blog or make it public as it served no purpose when so few could go there. So if you are not offended by nudity in art, if you are interested in seeing what I do creatively besides photography and writing, please feel free to visit my gallery of current works and older pieces along with some of the reasons I do it.

When I first opened it, because of something one of my friends said about my work there, I put up the warning that blogger allows for adult content. Except that made it sound like I was hosting a porn site and I don't consider nudity in art to be pornography. Then another friend said that if someone doesn't like what they see, they don't have to go back. So that's the disclaimer now. If it doesn't suit you to see work that is sometimes sensual, don't go. I will understand.

If you do visit, enjoy time with [Playlist] which is alongside the paintings, and will play automatically as you go down the page. I put music onto my gallery because I feel music and art go together. What music you will find changes with my moods. I don't have Playlist here because my entries here are more diverse and it does slow down loading. With all the photos I use, I don't do anything to this sidebar to slow it down. Where it comes to an art gallery, viewers should take some time. Art needs time.

While I am at it, I have a second gallery which I might have mentioned before: [Rain's Sculpture Gallery]. The work there (also some nudes) is older. I am not currently doing sculpture (you can only have so many little clay people around your house before it begins to be overpowering and a little suspect).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Elizabeth Gaskell Collection

Appropriately for Valentine's Day would be this DVD series that I found in early January inspired by an author I had never heard of before. Because of how much I had been enjoying all of the different versions of Jane Austen's stories made into mini-series and movies by assorted producers, I thought I'd take a chance on buying, at Costco, the Elizabeth Gaskell Collection of a similar time period and set of themes.

Elizabeth Gaskell was a writer of the mid-1800s who was married to a vicar and took up writing originally as a way to deal with grief at the loss of one of her children. Her writing was originally intended to be portraits of a culture and lifestyle which she knew intimately. She ended up writing some lovely romances but they are more than romances at least in so far as the miniseries go.

Although Jane Austen wrote her stories before Elizabeth Gaskell, you cannot help but think they are soul sisters for the way they connected with their characters, the life they put into their stories. As much as I love the Jane Austen stories, and I do, I think the ones by Elizabeth Gaskell are better but mostly because they portray more of a slice of life at the same time as a romance.

I liked all three miniseries adaptations in this collection, North & South, Cranford, and Wives & Daughters. My favorite, which didn't start out that way, ended up being North & South which is about the industrialization of England and its impact on the people.

In the mid 1800s, the south represented gentility, closer to nature, quieter life. The north was raw dealing with the challenge of mechanization, poverty, education, and environmentally caused disease. The story illustrates the difficulties of the poverty stricken, but also the problems of the rich. It even addressed questions about unionization and economics. The love story rivals that of Darcy and Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

One true love... or not

One of the greatest mysteries in life to me is love between a man and a woman or a man and a man or a woman and a woman. There is no logical explaining of sexual love as it's not just about sex even though sexuality is clearly a part of it. Writers have tried but in the end it defies words or logic. This particular article inspired me to think about it once again.

If you read the story, you see a woman who could have had anything in terms of men but the one man she could not have apparently was the one whom she could not emotionally release. She could not go on. How do you explain that?

What makes it possible for some to go from love relationship to love relationship (think Coco Chanel) and others cling to one that is lost to them forever (think Elizabeth Custer) or wait for that one perfect love that never comes?

For that matter, what makes people want that 'soul mate' love at all? Does everyone? I came across this review of a book which is being discussed by other writers:

Will it? The argument is made by author Lori Gottleib that women should settle rather than hold out for mr. perfect. They should opt for mr. good enough which some women agree is the right approach-- Just Marry Him.

My question is more (and it's not the first time I have asked it): What makes us want this at all? Is it that we are not tribal? Would being tribal change anything? Is there something written in the DNA of humans to make them desire the perfect love, the mated relationship that lasts a lifetime or is it taught? It is not about sex. That's lust and more temporary in its nature.

It's also not new. You know that from reading Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell type romances from the 1800s or even Shakespeare from further back. In women's case, as soon as they had the ability to choose for themselves, they apparently wanted this dream relationship which a few got and many spend a lifetime lamenting. Do men want the same thing? We do all seem to desire that two hands coming together with a perfect fit kind of mated relationship that lasts forever.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


we pause in our regularly scheduled programing for a time out for politics

Although most of the time, I have stuck to my decision to watch very little or no news. I made an exception when the tea party met for what was labeled a convention but seemed more like a conference where they listened to speakers. This had interest to me on several levels as I am mystified why they receive so much coverage since at this point, their numbers appear to be pretty small, yet they get national cable outlets covering their every move-- misspelled words and all. (If you can't spell moron, should you use the word in a sign seen on national TV? Could Tom Tancredo's literacy test disqualify you from voting?)

When listening to Sarah Palin give her big 'acceptance' speech, I felt an amazement that this woman is so close to being a presidential candidate for one of our two major parties. I heard the pundits (right and left) talk about what a wonderful speaker she is, the best Republican speaker since Reagan and I kept wondering-- huh!!??? This is wonderful?

While it's true that she moves crowds and she is beautiful of the kind that is more than pretty features but interesting face; but a great speaker??? Come on! She doesn't have a pleasing tone to her voice but worse than that, she doesn't say anything! She makes jokes where she knows they will get laughs taking no risks with something like 'How's that hopey, changey stuff working out for ya?' Funny or not, it was a line with a hook easily repeated for the mind-numbed media and those of her mindset (assuming she has a mindset other than for $100k I'll say whatever you want.)

From what I can tell tea-baggers do have some major themes. They are mad that somebody else is running their country. They don't want to pay taxes but cheer at the thought of a bigger war with Iran. They don't like government except when they are receiving a check from it. They are angry at those, who don't look like themselves, and are ruining their country. They want a war where someone says they know who to attack (and it won't cost them personally a dime).

Show someone like Joseph Farah, who operates an extreme right wing online newspaper, a birth certificate for Barack Hussein Obama, and he will close his eyes refusing to look. It doesn't suit his agenda, and he maybe does have one although exactly what is always hard to say with media people.

The Tea Party people's biggest thing appears to be a desire to hear someone like Palin rip someone else apart. Verbal warfare is cheap... other than that $100,000 that she will donate to a good cause (I bet she's got a couple of those real close to home). Palin is good at ripping up other people. How does that work for governing? Tea Partiers don't care about governing. This is about dismantling except dismantling what?

Palin doesn't have to answer with specifics. She doesn't have to defend her ability to govern since these people don't like governing anyway. If they cared, her record is as a mayor who bordered on the corrupt (got her home on the cheap while giving the company who built it a big contract for an indoor sports center that put her small city in deep debt) and quitting as governor after 2 1/2 years, would give them concern-- but they don't care. Those who vote for her are more about what she is against rather than what she might be for (other than Jesus Christ).

The issue though for me is what kind of speaker is she actually? Listening to her, hearing the cheers, clearly she registers with those who want literacy tests to keep some people from voting, who think someone half black with an ethnic name could not possibly have been born in their United States, who believe taxes can be cut while they fight wars, who think there is a lot of waste in government but they can't explain what it is, and with the media (both sides). Talk about a need for a literacy test...

Then her appeal dawned on me. She's a demagogue [dictionary definition: a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power]. It's what she does and why she's effective with her crowd. It's why I listen to her and do not hear a good speaker. She is an effective demagogue.

Palin is urging the tea-baggers to do what they already want to do. She says they should start a revolution but leaderless. What they will do if they take over power? Do they know? Dismantle government? End Social Security? End Medicare? Put welfare families into work camps? They don't talk about what their revolution would do except cut taxes and go back to the 1700s, I guess. I wonder how many of them know what it was like back then (their women wouldn't even be able to vote).

If we do as Palin suggested and attack Iran, not only will this be against a foreign military that is more powerful than any we have faced in recent years, but it will rile up the rest of the Middle East and farther. The terrorists are not coming from Iran. They haven't come from Iraq. They have trained in Afghanistan but with their kind of facilities, they can do it anywhere at any time including our own backyard if we don't have effective police work to stop them first.

No, the group supporting Palin want whatever they thought they had but likely never did. And they are angry at a usurper running this country. That anger insures they would vote for her with no clue what would come next. There is a lack of logic revealed in poll after poll (and not just by them):

It's not like someone like Palin cannot get the nomination from the party of no, from the party who favors breaking international treaties, who feel they are the only ones with a right to criticize their own behavior because they are supported by their concept of god. If those people get back in power, then what? I can guarantee you the tea-baggers don't have a clue.

If you are a supporter of Mitt Romney, Mike Pence, or any other halfway reasonable sounding Republican candidate for president, I suggest you donate sooner than later to their campaigns. Later will be too late unless some big secret of Sarah Palin's comes to the surface and most of what journalists might discover won't matter to her supporters. They won't believe it. Theirs is a movement of emotion, not logic.

Where it comes to Republicans, I won't agree with any of them on policy, but I don't think some of you would like what would come under a Palin presidency much better than I would. And anybody who thought she was only in the past is sticking their head in the sand or wants you to put yours there. She's very much in the present and she hopes the future.

Palin didn't have those crib notes on her hand to deliver her speech. She can deliver a written speech just fine using even a teleprompter, when she doesn't want to make that an accusation, or use a written speech on paper. No, those notes were to be able to answer questions in the following interview. On her hand, she had crossed out budget in favor of tax cuts (which means more of the Bush years if she got in-- tax cuts but none from the budget. If you like that, you must also like deficits).

Moderate Republicans are being pushed out in every place that the extreme right can run someone. Soon there will be two parties in this country. One will be the Christocrats, running under the symbol of the cross (yes, the country will be crucified if this group is voted into power) and the other the Duck-for-Cover party whose symbol will be the white feather.

If you are a Palin fan, please tell me why? Is it just because Democrats don't like her? That's not much of a reason for voting for someone to run this country, is it?

The lambs don't relate to the tea party or Palin. But they are coming fast right now and the barn is full of the baa of lambs and the soothing mmuuhhhs from their mothers-- especially since outside it's raining.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Yaquina Bay Estuary and River

When driving down to Newport, we often take the longer route through Toledo and down along the Yaquina River to the bay. In these photos, the wind was almost non-existent and the water like glass. We weren't the only ones enjoying the sun.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Oregon Coast in Winter

One of the things Western Oregonians most love to do in winter is head for the ocean. Whether it's storming, the wind and rain driving in hard, or a day like this one where the sun is shining, the waves are their most spectacular in the winter.


Whale Cove

a high five from the sea

Farm Boss caught this one of a rainbow in the mist of the breaking wave.

Salmon River looking toward Cascade Head

Photos taken January 24, 2010 along the central Oregon coast.

Friday, February 05, 2010

As the Barn Turns

Although I can't complain, given how much snow some parts of the country are getting, here on the farm, this is the season for mud and then some. It turned out also to be the season to bottle feed a calf, something we always try to avoid, but this time there was no choice.

When we returned home from Sunriver at the beginning of January, one of the first things we saw was a newborn bull calf with no mother nearby. Looking through the herd for a reluctant mama, Farm Boss couldn't see any of the usual tell-tale signs.

One cow though showed interest in the newborn, made that mothering sound. He felt that had to be mama, but she wasn't letting the calf suckle. We were irked because this particular cow had rejected her first calf. We were also a little surprised as she had been a good mother ever since that first abandonment.

Nevertheless, he got her into the pen with the calf. She jumped a four foot fence to get back out. After a couple of her escapes, we were tempted to use a gun on her, but we resisted. The battle of getting her in where the calf was, having her get out, and then watching her call to the baby went on as we supplemented the calf with milk replacer.

One morning Farm Boss came back from the barns and said that cow deserved the mother of the year award. It turned out she had a calf all right, but one born while we were in Arizona probably and not noticed given our hectic schedule. She was trying to mother the new one too, get back to her own, and deal with humans who didn't understand what was going on. She did not have enough milk to feed two calves.

We resigned ourselves (after failing to find someone who would buy it) to bottle feeding until the little bull (soon to be a steer) could go on solid food. I really hate doing it as it gets you attached to an animal that is meant for food at the best and might die prematurely at the worst. (The fear it might die is why I had not written about it here earlier). We are not naming him and he is staying in with the cows where he sometimes plays with the other young calves-- especially super mom's.

We did get a plus from it when two of our grandsons came out with their folks to get closer to a calf than is usually possible and find out what it's like to feed one.

Right now there isn't much to say about farm work other than means working around a lot of mud. Spring can't be too far off, can it? The orphan stays in the barn, looks out, but isn't interested in navigating that treacherous sea of muck. I asked Farm Boss to take a photo of me in the mud just north of the barn to to show how much there is. This is not the deepest section.

I could have gone out further but wasn't interested in getting stuck.. or worse ending up sitting in it which would have made an interesting photo but not much fun. Incidentally, I am a huge fan of Muck boots. I remember many years trying to walk through mud with inferior boots. In mud, there is no substitute for Muck boots (yes, it is a brand name).

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Geese Know

"for I know one thing
love comes on a wing
and tonight I will be by your side
but tomorrow I will fly"

Nick Cave

Sunday the energy at Finley Wildlife Refuge was palpable, breathing, building. Geese of many types were all over the pond with a few flying in and out. Their cries were in the air as always; then something happened.

The energy shifted. You could feel it happen. The geese all lifted off at the same time leaving only a few behind. The sounds of their wings and cries filled the air all around as I watched caught up in their experience.

Where the pond had been full of birds, in an instant it was emptied of all but a few; as they filled the sky in their bands. After lifting off, they flew different directions, crossing and crisscrossing above us and then heading to the north likely to settle down on another lake. It's not time just yet; but soon, very soon they will be going much farther.

I have seen them take off before and always love the sound, the energy, the beauty of it, but never so many as if from some secret signal that only they heard. What triggered their rising? There were no threats that we saw. Humans are blocked from access in this area to anywhere but parking lots and their vehicles

It was 54° F. out at Finley that afternoon. Did they feel the approach of spring? Are they excited at the prospect of heading north on their migration where they will raise new families? Does that require their energy building for days ahead of the migration?

I can't read their minds, but I know mine when I saw and heard them. It filled my soul. It made me want to follow them to the mountains and meadows where they will summer. I want to see the mountain's wildflowers, feel its breezes. I am so ready, as ready as it appeared they were on Sunday.

[Migratory Birds] is my movie/slide show with more photos from Sunday including others from 2009 (Lesser, Dusky, & Greater Canadian Geese, Whistling & Trumpeter Swans, and pelicans) using music by Nick Cave from the wonderful soundtrack Winged Migration.

For me, Winged Migration's soundtrack and film are very inspiring using music and nature's sounds. I own both, recommend them, but they are just a taste of what nature can do to restore a person.

I know I am a nature oriented person and not everybody is the same; but I am convinced that more time outside in nature, watching birds, touching (if not hugging) trees, breathing nature's wonders in, waiting for the surprises, not so much 'using' nature, not abusing it, but soaking it in, respecting it, would make a big difference in any human being's mental health.

Finding such healing places is especially important today with bitterness, anger, hate, and ugliness so many other places. We can't control all the negative stuff that comes down. 'Shit happens.' We can choose whether we wallow in it. It is in how we react to what happens where we have the choice.

Almost anywhere someone lives, places like Finley will be nearby, places that earlier generations put their hard work into making safe for migratory birds. That is as inspiring as the birds.

Photos were taken at William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge January 31. Finley is a few miles south of Corvallis, Oregon, and a peaceful place to visit at any time. In another two months it will be open beyond the blinds to more trails and walking around the lake but right now, the birds have the right of way.