Monday, November 29, 2010

Driving south toward Medford

When we drive south on I-5 to Medford, my favorite view is always this one. The highway comes over a ridge and for the first time you see the city and beyond it Mt. McLoughlin, one of the Cascade Mountains string of volcanic mountains. We had come this time for Thanksgiving spent with our children, grandchildren, and a family friend. It was a lovely time with appropriately wintery weather but not so severe to make driving a problem.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving
I know this is an American holiday, but any day is a good day to be thankful for our blessings.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Just thinking.... a lot

If you have read this blog for awhile, you know that I have tried to keep politics out of it (recently) and moved it to another blog where since the election, I've let it go there also. The following is going to be about politics in the US, but also how writing about it impacts my thinking for the future of this blog.

Being a person who likes to understand people and their motivations, I naturally gravitate toward politics. In this last election that has led me to wonder why Americans voted as they did. To me, those (who aren't religious fundamentalists and aren't extremely wealthy) who voted for extreme right wing candidates or even those who stayed home, acted against their own personal interests. Is that nobility or a lack of understanding what was at stake and what each side was really doing versus what they were claiming.

Personally, I think a lot of people were convinced to vote as they did based on clever advertising and a media (blogs, newspapers, magazines, talk radio, cable, and network television) that swamps them with information, semi-information, and misinformation that caters to their worst instincts. THAT is what I think. There are others trying to figure it out.

So that brings it back to this blog and my own personal problem. How do I write about something like this positively? Cannot.

Well then, how do I ignore it? There's little doubt if I could ignore the news, not read the newspapers or editorials, I'd be happier probably. I mean my own life is pretty good. I am not a young person just starting out but one getting old at the end of what has been a very prosperous time in America.

So I'm okay except, how do I write upbeat pieces when inside I am sickened at what I see happening to this country I love so much. This isn't really about partisanship, in my opinion, because I see some of the same things in both parties. Can I really just involve myself with what is good for me? If people like me turn our backs and let it all go, where will it go?

The thing is though, I have this philosophy that comes down to-- only invest myself emotionally and physically in something I can impact even if only in a small way. What can I or any of us do about this right now? We can't vote for two more years, but can we do something through phone calls, letters, taking polls, forming groups, and talking to each other about it?

Surely righties and those independents, who really turned this election, can see what is happening to the middle class where so many cannot find jobs enough to support a family, where the poor are in worse shape? Do they really believe Democrats were behind that? Didn't they notice when a bill was put forth to make it less attractive, tax wise, to send jobs overseas, that it was the Republicans who blocked it?

And health care? The right wing is paranoid over the fact that there was any attempt to make sure all Americans can get health insurance. This is something they don't like but why? We just had a newly elected Congressman, who ran on getting rid of public health care, complain because his own government health care won't kick in until a month after he starts work in January. That's different. It always is.

Republicans talk about concern for jobs but then vote against things that might really help create them. They still evidently believe in trickle down which is why they are fighting tooth and nail to keep the tax cuts on wealthy Americans. We saw for eight years how they didn't worry about the deficit with that tax cut that was not budgeted and likewise two wars put on the tab. It comes down to another old saying-- talk is cheap.

Where it comes to my blog problem, another question comes to my mind-- will it all be okay if we just think positive? Does impacting our own lives count the most? If we ignore what we are seeing right now with this cultural debate, will it be too late to turn it around? Is it already and we should ignore it and get someplace we can enjoy our lives even if the country falls part?

Frankly I am frustrated with the ill informed. I am mad at those who get their information from a source that makes them comfortable but doesn't challenge their intellect or preconceived ideas. If all we hear is what we want to hear, lefties or righties, how can we be sure it's the truth?

You know, I understand the right wing leaders who are paid off by the wealthy to do what they do, to protect their real constituents, but how does that explain voters who worried that the rich might not keep their tax cuts? How do they ignore seeing the rich getting richer with more and more distance between them and everybody else? Do they really not care that some families can't go to doctors for routine care because they can't afford it but it's not them; so it's okay? This kind of deep economic canyon between the rich and everybody else has happened before and it NEVER was good for any culture when it did. Do righties still buy trickle down when the Bush tax cuts proved that doesn't happen?

Recently I got this idea for a blog where I'd look at the demographics of who watches which programs. Culturally I thought that might be interesting. I had noticed when watching MSNBC nightly news that ads seemed aimed at a certain group of people. It was mostly ads for insurance companies, investment firms, vacation resorts, from companies like Chevron informing us what research they are doing with their profits, ads selling vehicles including Silverado trucks, pharmaceuticals for problems ranging from diabetes to erectile dysfunction, movies like 'Fair Game' (the story of the outing of Valerie Plame), and pretty much advertisements that would tell me those companies assume the people watching have some money to worry about and the stress to go with it.

Next, I needed to watch a Fox news program. Eek! But I had to know who advertisers think the typical Fox viewer is. The least bad of the nighttime lot seemed to be Bill O'Reilly or so I thought. I used to actually watch his shows before that network became nothing but a shill for one political agenda.

Well I can tell you the advertising doesn't vary much from MSNBC. There were little differences like the movie was one telling us how wrong we are about global warming, but generally similar ads.

But watching that show, listening to O'Reilly, the way he ignored the lies in George W. Bush's memoir (some so blatant that anybody could check them against facts), I thought this is going to be real hard to stick it out for an hour.

On Bush, check out this link for some questions to ask yourself regarding his-- [Decision Points] and let me know how anybody defends that man, how anyone can look at the Bush years and not fear where this takes our country because Bush might be gone but the ones who elected him twice are not.

O'Reilly slanted any news he covered toward the right and smugly (I can't begin to tell you how smugly) ignored anything at all that would make the right not look good or the left seem reasonable; and finally, the last straw, how he had Glenn Beck on to talk about how he has been tearing at George Soros as the one who caused the Holocaust (yes, it's close to that bad) and how Soros has brought down good countries and now wants to bring us down.

Glenn Beck, like a mean Pillsbury doughboy, is a self-satisfied, possibly mentally unhinged, sinister, (the rest of the words that come to mind aren't fit for a public site) and after listening to him talk about what a wise man he is for trying to destroy Soros, and listening to O'Reilly saying nothing to deny it and seeming to even agree that at least Soros wants to do that, I felt sick and still do. Try this link for what Beck is doing (and this isn't his first target as Beck always has to give his audience red meat, an enemy, and Soros makes a big target):

Or this one:

It's true that [George Soros] has put a lot of money into politics in this country but in what way that benefits him personally? Has he tried to get his taxes reduced like the Koch brothers? Maybe he's gone after deregulating the financial institutions or ending environmental regulations to his own profit? No, and righties know it. He's worked for causes that won't personally benefit him financially but that he sees as deadly serious.

I read a comment from one rightie who said Soros had to be bad because being a multi-billionaire, if he was good, he'd be a Republican and donating money to their right wing causes.

How about this for Soros's motives: He saw what had happened with the Nazis and has worked to prevent it wherever he can; and for all the righties that resent the comparison, look at the signs from tea partiers with the Hitler mustache on Obama and tell me that a lot of them don't worry about the same thing but in reverse!

Roger Ailes, head of Fox News, attacked NPR using the Nazi fear: “They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view. They don’t even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive.” Now Ailes has since apologized but the Nazi fear card was what leaped to his mind.

Ignoring Ailes' lie that NPR has to have government funding to stay on the air as they get most of their money from viewer donations, it's clear that playing the Nazi or Hitler card registers with a lot of people. We know that Germany, mostly good people, let themselves be taken down a path that if they had thought at all surely they'd have rejected. Soros, as a Hungarian Jew, saw this happen, and worse to the Jews in his country. He knows a lot more about it than Glenn Beck.

So can I, can any of us from the left, really look the other way for a year where reports like the Simpson-Bowles apparently continue to do a number on the middle class-- [Deficit Report].

[A good example of one direct hit on the middle class from this proposal is to eliminate the home interest deduction on homes of more than $500,000 for federal income taxes. It might surprise you, if you look at the cost of homes today, to learn that isn't that much money many places like California or on the East Coast. As home values do continue to go up in many areas, this loss would hit a lot of middle income earners-- plus further complicate the income tax forms as who decides the value of a home. You know, a lot of people bought their homes with that deduction taken into account for what they could afford. We need more foreclosures? This change wouldn't impact the rich who can pay cash for their homes. It is a direct hit on the upper middle and mostly younger families as by the time you get to my age, most have paid off their mortgages.]

Should any leftie or really rightie feel good about this last election where the country went the exact opposite from two years before? Where is the security, with yo-yo voters, that it won't swing back next time when we have no idea why it happens as it does? Some say gridlock is why they did it. Evidently they want nothing to happen in Congress; except if nothing happens why exactly are we paying them and their staffs?

I haven't wanted this blog to be part of the many Ps and by that I mean pestilence, paranoia, propaganda, perdition, peril, plague, panic, promoting plutocracy, and provocation, as I see it on the news, talk radio, blogs and a lot of newspapers. What is that purpose besides stirring people up and for what? But I also am wondering can we really not be involved for the next year? Will it be too late by the time we get ready to choose a president again?

So I am taking a short break from writing this blog (other than maybe an occasional photo) to give myself some time to think deeply about this. It's not easy because when I think about it too much, I want to run around the house tearing my hair out.

I'll be back to it when I have something to say most likely with a series of blogs on evolution, global climate, science, and possible steps we can take for ourselves in case the life on this earth does take a turn toward the dire. I see these topics as all interwoven with what is going wrong with our culture today. To do that will take research and some time to pull my thinking together. As I see it now, it won't be political so much as cultural.

In the meantime if you have something to say that would make me feel better, some of your own thinking on this issue as a reader or writer of blogs, I'd love to hear it. Or if you just want to rant (on either side while avoiding personal insults), feel free. This really is a global issue because in every country there are two sides, two kinds of people, two different ways of believing that life should proceed. I know it's not unique to the United States or our times.

Oh and because spam seems to get through the blogger censors once in awhile (a lot less than what tries to get through), this blog is back on comment moderation but not to block out diverse views, just to avoid ads for escorts. Really Blogger's new spam catching system is so good (and saves me a LOT of time) but the spammers get better at writing enough to make them look real. I have to wonder what they get for their efforts. I can't believe much!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sheep Report

Between blowing oak leaves off the grass and driveways, getting the mail, or just checking outside to be sure all was okay, I took a couple of sheep photos this week. The first ones are of the little ewe that had all the problems this year with near death experiences. As you can see, by how she jumped up on that big round bale, she's doing just fine these days.

She's not the only one who can get up there... Of course, she has to leave to let another sheep get to the top of the mountain. She shares though... She's not one of those who gets on top of the heap and just stays there.

She's not like greedy or anything or relishing being above all the rest. Although it appears a few of the sheep do get tired of waiting for their turn.

The next morning I saw a rainbow and uh wait, who is that on top the bale again?

It appears she doesn't share frequently.

Well now she can share the photo with the rainbow.

Share? I am supposed to share? Why?

The other photos are of a ram who has become a bit of a favorite of mine. He was coming down to the apple trees very regularly to see if any apples fell. This was a year of few apples; so even though I'd go out and knock some down whenever I would see him, he didn't get a lot. He did though end up with a fan-- me. He has a very husky baritone and baritones always get to me.

So now I am buying apples when I see them low priced to feed his sugar yen. Soon there won't be any reasonably priced apples and he'll have to go cold turkey-- me too as I enjoy giving him special treats. I like hearing that husky maaa calling to me.

I had some carrots that had gone past where we would eat them and he didn't think they amounted to much. Clearly it's sweetness or nothing.

Yes, we have some spoiled sheep. It might be the result of living too close to their shepherds...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Another of those senate bills-- S 510

If you have interest in home gardens and food production, please check this out and let me know what you think. I got an email this morning; and when I did some research online, it looks like it's not a fraud and a real bill, but exactly what the bill really means, I am not sure.

I know some really do get off on creating paranoia on others; but I also know our government is too often in the pocket of the corporate interests. I am a believer in heirloom seeds; so this is a direct shot at something I consider important. It could be in the future for everyone who gardens if we found it difficult to get to a store or our supply system broken down.

Those who save seeds from season to season do cut into the profits of someone like Monsanto. Those who don't want the genetically engineered product but prefer the old-fashioned vegetable versions do also; but is that what this bill is about? I had a hard time deciding after I looked a bit online.

Check it out and let me know what you think. If you think it's a real concern, then it's time to write your senators before they vote on another bill they haven't bothered to read... If it's just another example of paranoia, I'd like to hear that also. It would relieve my mind as sometimes I feel our politicians, left and right, are just out there to 'get' us!

Update: Because I had written what is above based on an email, I got it out quickly but want to add that the synchronicity of it coming right now has blended with two other things.

One is I have been reading Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, A Year of Food life. It's about growing or buying most everything you eat locally to cut down on not only the shipping costs that are so much a part of food but also to eat more naturally and healthily. Her book is about her family's adventure in doing exactly that.

Farm Boss and I have been discussing expanding our garden next year and already knew where it was going but this book is enthusing me even more. She is very high on Heirloom seeds and plants which I am also for them being better to eat, proven over many generations more tasty, and very unpopular with the big corporate interests who create genetically modified food and want the rest of us to likewise eat what they would produce.

If you aren't really up on the problems of the corporate world for controlling our food supply, I recommend the book as it's an enjoyable read, as Kingsolver always is, but it's also very informative.

Then the second shoe that had dropped for me right now-- watching the DVD documentary Collapse which is a monologue by Michael Ruppert about the oil shortage to come and what it will mean to cultures around the world. Maybe he is an alarmist and then again, maybe not.

He ends it (I'll be writing about it again) with a big emphasis on trying to become as food independent as possible and using Heirloom seeds as part of that process. This isn't about what we do to impact our government, as he's not sure and neither am I that we can, but it's about what we do for our own families if such a time comes.

At the least being more food independent is healthy for those who can do it and everywhere I go, I see towns and cities providing small plots for individuals without yards large enough to grow food. For all the people running out to gyms to exercise, gardening provides a pretty all around set of exercises and then good food as a reward. Admittedly the elderly cannot do a lot of that; but if those of us who can, do, we can help elderly neighbors if something really does turn bad for our culture.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Home improvement with help

This week-end was all about Farm Boss installing a new living room window after removing an old one. The complication was the new one was 5'x9', weighing 350 lbs. and the old one was very old, not safety glass, and had a crack in the big section. Thanks to help from our son and friend, Parapluie's husband, Fisherman, it went unbelievably smoothly. I had worried most about getting out the old one because of that crack but even that went quite well.

Actually my part in all of this (besides choosing the window originally) was to enjoy some time with Parapluie, to praise how great it looked, to not suggest better ways to do the job (that is RARELY appreciated), and to stay out of the way. Well I did prepare a noon meal.

The new window is gorgeous and will be even better when the job is totally finished. It will take awhile as there will have to be some new siding purchased. With the window in, nothing else is a rush.
Having a double paned window there makes the house quieter, warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, and thanks to a government program, we get a very nice tax break.

More photos will come after the wooden valance above the window is removed, the trim reinstalled and the plastic off the glass. I am in no hurry about that either.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Along with reading 'I Sit Listening to the Wind,' I began an oil painting. I wrote about it in my art blog but hadn't thought I'd write about it here-- except it so applies to what the book was about. When I began the painting, I wasn't thinking of that at all.

Often in my life things just develop and happen without my consciously directing them. I call it serendipity. My part in them is to recognize it when I see them unfold and make the most of the opportunity. The painting was one of those.

It began with a photograph Farm Boss had taken of my granddaughter and me when we spent some time together recently celebrating our daughter's birthday. When we got the photo home I saw an interesting composition with her cuddled against me, but the lighting had been too dark, the colors were off, and the photo was pixillated. The pose though, the concept seemed important; so I decided to do a digital painting from it.

The message in the digital painting was to be one of two women at opposite ends of a spectrum. Hormonally she is just beginning her womanhood and hormonally I am ending mine. This is not the beginning nor the end of her life nor mine. It's the end of a phase of it and the door opening to another. I was satisfied with how it turned out.

But it nagged at me that I could do an oil of it. Why do it? my conscious logical mind argued. It won't come out, my critic said. But my intuitive side said, what can you lose? There is more to this message than you have yet seen.

So I began the oil using the photo as my basis but changing aspects to suit ideas that were just beginning to gel. In the photo the girl and the old woman were looking at the camera. (by now, this had ceased being me or my granddaughter) I thought better for the painting would be to change their gazes. The old woman should be staring thoughtfully into the distance, reminiscent, while the girl is looking solidly toward the future.

As it developed, both looked satisfied with where and who they were. The girl showed more of a sense of purpose in her pose and her expression. This was not about a portrait but an archetype. I did try to keep them true to our ages, relationship, and place in the cycle of life.

My granddaughter had chosen how she would sit when the photo was taken and what a gift that was as the young woman is like a flower unfolding while behind her is the darkness and the grandmother with her hand around her but not holding or blocking her, just offering support and nurture.

When I wrote about it for the art blog, I saw it as about the girl, even have a poem there that depicts that side of it. But after I applied the book to it, I saw it is also about that old woman. Isn't she the ideal of what all old women want to be for those in their lives-- supporting, nurturing, but with their own memories, their own power.

It wasn't until after I had finished it that I realized the girl could instead be the old woman when she was young. That's the neat thing about paintings that are not portraits, they can express whatever comes along and it might expand the meanings as imagination adds to them.

To me, the painting is about the feminine archetype mentioned in the book, the one I am striving toward. It's not about just doing for others, nor is it about putting our own needs on hold; but it's about having something to share with others when we have the opportunity because we found it for ourselves.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Sit Listening to the Wind

In my bookcase for some years, I have no idea how many, has been a thin little book called 'I Sit Listening to the Wind' about Woman's Encounter Within Herself by Judith Duerk. Sometimes I am drawn to buy such books and then they seem to sit for a long time until I see them, open them, and find they are just what I need right then and might not have been so meaningful to me another time.

The book is poetic, a sharing of women's thoughts and aimed mostly at women although the ideas could apply to men as well. It is about our human need to find balance between our masculine and feminine sides which according to Jungian thinking, we all have.

The chapters are quite short and aimed at reading one and then thinking about how it applies. It would be a wonderful book to do in a circle of women which is perhaps how it is intended. It would also be a good book for a woman to think about as her daughter was coming into maturity or her niece or a girl to whom she was close. It is really about being there on an intimate level for each other.

It is mostly aimed at old women with the emphasis that as we come to old age which can be a time for balancing our male and female energy, it is a time where we can open ourselves to the things a busy life before never permitted.

Now when I start throwing around terms like animus and anima, or yin and yang, assume I am no Jungian nor am I an expert in Chinese philosophy. I internalize what they mean more than finding myself able to accurately describe them to someone else. We all have both female and masculine characteristics. The female has the internal animus. The male the internal anima. That isn't always expressed but Jungian teaching would say it should be if we want to live most fully.

What this book is about is how in our culture the animus is rewarded in male or female, and it is what is needed to get through school, to attain and succeed at jobs. It is the focused energy of the yang, hard, analytical, tough, the ambitious side of humans. While the anima is the soft part, the dark, the yielding, the intuitive, the yin.

So (this is for the women here) we are born into the world as females, and we must learn to operate in a masculine realm. We toughen. We become more analytical. We compete. We may work too hard at developing our animus because we must. If we didn't find success ourselves, we might drive our daughters to find it and try to grow their masculine side instead of their feminine.

Then we come to old age and things have changed but have we?

When we are old, we do not have to do what we once did; but for some women, there is still this need to compete, to succeed, to justify, which drowns out the softer, intuitive, female side which has been buried for so long that it must be resurrected if we want to life fully for who we can be now. Some block it all out by being a perpetual Peter Pan, not admitting where they are but using the animus to direct their goals possibly haphazardly while there is no time for the intuitive anima. Busy busy busy and at what? That's the question of the book as well as how might our lives have been different if we had internalized all this years before?

It might seem this is all about women but the same would be true for men who now are freer, in old age, to release their softer sides, less compelled to be competitive-- or will they ever let that go in a culture that places the emphasis on the animus and the yang.

We can change it by opening ourselves up to the fullness of who we are. Or we can stay caught in the trappings of what we have been told we need to be.

"I feel as if I am becoming who I was meant to be. After all the years of outer-directed energy, I am coming home to the Feminine... coming home to myself. I am allowing myself to become a mature woman in the truest and deepest sense."
quote from 'I Sit Listening To The Wind'

The book ends with this thought--

Photo is mine. Words are from 'I Sit Listening to the Wind' by Judith Duerk

Monday, November 08, 2010

eating right... or not

There are a couple of big issues that I have narrowed down as most impacting how I want to be and what's not working. The one I am thinking about right now is physical condition. Part of that is being overweight. I am, and have been for quite awhile, heavier than I should be. I also find myself too often not eating right or exercising enough. This impacts not just weight but cholesterol and could soon impact blood pressure if I don't get a handle on it.

Now I am not desiring to be slim again. I am not sure that's even possible. What I do want is to not have to be careful how I stand for a photograph or wear something that covers up the excess. I do not want to take medicine to lower my blood pressure unless I've tried everything else. I think my knee and hip joints would be happier with less weight pressing on them. I think this would take losing twenty pounds which is not all a chart might say I should lose but I'd be happy with that.

They say the worst thing you can do is to gain and lose weight; so any diet plan I come up with must be a way of eating with which I can live. I know what works short term to lose weight, but what good is that if I go back to eating the way I got into this position.

I read that the Mediterranean diet is one that lessens the risk of breast cancer and such information is always of interest to me. When I looked online for what that meant in diet, it does seem like something with which I could live (allowing for a little cheating now and again) Some of it I already do:
  1. High consumption of virgin olive oil.
  2. High intake of vegetables and fruits and legumes.
  3. Use of non refined carbohydrates (portions sized according to physical activity).
  4. Eating fish, specially oily (or “bluish” one) 3 or 4 times a week. This has to be watched also for it not being all fish at the top of the food chain or mercury will go too high and that's not good.
  5. Including milk, cheese or yogurt in the diet. Since I cannot do cow dairy, thanks to a skin allergy, I do seem able to eat goat and sheep cheese which I like. Rice milk lets me fix white sauces.
  6. Three or four eggs per week would be the toughest part of this as I love eggs for breakfast. Still I recently read that too many eggs makes someone more prone to develop adult diabetes; so maybe I must adjust this also. Eggs aren't actually bad for cholesterol as they have HDL and LDL which my doctor said balances out, but still moderation has to be the key and where it comes to eggs, my favorite food, moderation is not my middle name... well actually it's not with anything...
  7. Moderate consumption of meat and saturated fats. Where I eat mostly grassfed beef, when I have beef, this is healthier than it would be to buy the usual fatty stuff from the grocery store but even then too much meat doesn't set well with me.
  8. One or two small glasses of wine a day, preferably red and at the main meals. White wine and beer are alternatives.
  9. Nuts as snacks
I don't see myself dieting as it simply won't happen but I could see myself changing my diet to something I can live with permanently. I want to lose the weight I gained in the last ten years not go back twenty years. I am working on things to convince myself like writing about it here.

Besides watching what I eat, I should be doing more aerobic exercise and get back to walking as much as I did five years ago. Well maybe not that much which was around two miles a day (at a brisk rate) but even if I walk less, it has to be enough to increase my breathing and heart rate.

And here's the reason more than the weight loss-- [Forget thinner thighs-- new study on regular walking]. It's healthy emotionally and physically and I still haven't done as much of it this last year as I used to do. I could come up with a dozen excuses for why not. One thing I can say is everytime you let something like that go, at my age, the harder it is to get it back.

I know I could find more things to not like about my physical self right now. A lot though of what a beauty magazine would find fault with-- like fine facial lines, I am not unhappy about. They are indicators of the life I have led and it's not been sitting inside. (Recently I saw a movie (Letters to Juliet) where Vanessa Redgrave beautifully makes the case, just by how she looks for why lines aren't bad in an old woman.)

Realistically I don't want to try to change too many things as that won't make any of it happen. My goals are not just about losing some weight but about living a healthier lifestyle than I am currently doing. It won't be easy to change as I am definitely a woman of appetites...

Photos were both in Montana, up Rock Creek, in late September. We have seen the mountain sheep herd there quite often over the years. Recently I read that their numbers were severely thinned by disease going through the herds; so we were lucky to see them and looking so good.

The animals obviously have little fear of humans since hunting them is regulated and very limited. In another improvement since our last time there, the state has set aside a parking area and trail to walk into the habitat region to see them with their babies high on the rocks where they stay until the babies are big enough to run from predators. The trail is closed during the birthing months.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

the old woman I want to be

First of all, given the title to this blog, I want to clarify something. I do NOT see being old as a negative thing. I don't see it as about feebleness or senility. I do see it as a stage of life involving change which we can either embrace or work to deny. So onto the topic--

Our United States mid-term elections are finally past. It's a new year for those who follow nature religions. Although I don't celebrate any religion as such, this really does feel like the end of a growing cycle with the leaves mostly fallen from the trees, the plants on their way to dormancy (although this was one of the warmest early Novembers I ever remember and the plants must be wondering what is this about when the daytime temps were in the low 70s???).

Nevertheless, it has seemed like a good time to assess myself for where I am and where I want to be-- better than the start of a new calendar year where life sometimes seems too hectic to stop and look at anything.

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about myself right now. It's not just the superficial aspects of aging but something deeper, something that has me wondering who is that woman standing in her garden in September? She looks satisfied and well she should be given she's 67, in apparently pretty good health. But something doesn't feel fulfilled. I had this imaginary vision of what I'd be like when I got really old; and while I am on the road to really old. when I sit down to consider it, I have not been hitting the mark.

There's a bottom-line although I am vague about where it is. I think my dissatisfaction comes from a mix of emotions which would take me different directions. One side of me that wants to be an old woman like I once upon a time imagined I'd be. Another side of me wants to be the person I was even five years ago.

On the one hand be old and fully experience it <-----> on the other hand... well the other hand can't get what it might want as we cannot go backward. I don't think it's unusual though to feel this way. I suspect many elders at one time or another think of what it was like say ten years ago and wish they still had some of that, the stamina, the looks, the lack of aches and pains; but it gets us nowhere. Neither does denying where we are.

When I am around my granddaughter, who is just entering puberty, it makes me even more aware of this whole, actually rather exciting, process of aging. She is at the beginning of something I am at the end of-- not life but hormones. Hormones are turning her into a woman and I see it more every time I am with her. Lack of hormones is turning me into an old lady. She and I are not actually at the beginning and end of life but the beginning and end of hormonal life.

When I was turning sixty, I knew things were going to change ahead. That was my hardest birthday since around twenty-six when I became aware I was leaving youth behind. Before sixty (and I realize we all feel these things at different points), it all seemed middle age stuff and slid along without my noticing big differences in agility, looks, weight, balance, or even ambition. Then it began to change. It happens at some point to almost everyone as they age-- whether they choose to admit it or not.

Clearly it would be foolish to want to go backward as that's impossible. Some people do have face lifts to try and fool themselves that they are still youths. Fine, they can do that, but they won't be. Whether you change your face or work out constantly, your body is the age it is. Faces plasticized only look like faces plasticized. Surgical nips and tucks cause people to lose their individuality. Those lines some would remove mark what we have done in life. It's really a shame we cannot see the beauty of the aged face, but that's the bulk of our society with its superficial emphasis.

What I have to do is let go of that once-upon-a-time woman and look toward the one she is yet to be. Part of that involves looking at which elements of my life should or could change to make this coming period of life better. What don't I yet 'get'?

I have to admit part of me is thrilled to get to old. So many do not. Those of us who did get to this point should feel gratitude. I like the whole idea of being at the other end of all these experiences in life, a part of my life is probably (I take nothing in life for granted) coming that will be different than anything that has gone before-- as will be true with my granddaughter as she leaves childhood for adulthood. She is like me-- partly excited about the potential and partly looking at what it has been and hating to release it.

This change that I want is not so much materially. I have had many material benefits. It's something inside me. Maybe as we do get to real old age, we think more about what is inside as the outside is deteriorating. Life, at any age, is about more than the material even though pretending the material doesn't matter would be silly.

So... despite my not liking to think much beyond where I am, preferring to live in the moment, I am seriously looking at whether where I am right now is where I should be or where I want to be in ten years. Without some planning for what is not working, it's not likely I will fix it.

I don't write a lot of poetry but a little over ten years ago now, I did write something that fits how I still feel today. After I began doing digital painting, I went looking for an image that I could use as background to the words and found a photo of myself when I was 26 holding my son. You'll have to click on the image to read the words.

More coming on this topic.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Inherit the Wind

If you are feeling down about the election, about our culture, whether your side won or lost, might I recommend a classic film-- Inherit the Wind which starred Spencer Tracy and Frederic March.

This film is so pertinent to what we are seeing today in our culture, the conflict between faith and reason; and yet it came out in 1960 about an event of 1925. The film is based on the play, a fictionalized version of the actual [Scopes Monkey Trial].

I cannot remember what triggered my interest in ordering from Netflix, although thinking about it, it seems very fitting. It arrived the day after the election. The movie is funny and poignant in the way humans are. It's the conflict between thinking and faith, between science and religion. When it came out, the United States was dealing with McCarthyism. It's not like much changes.

A few prime quotes from the film:

"As long as the prerequisite for that shining paradise is ignorance, bigotry and hate, I say the hell with it."

"Progress has never been a bargain. You have to pay for it."

"I didn't come here to make this town different. I came here to defend this man's right to be different."

" The individual human mind. In a child's power to master the multiplication table, there is more sanctity than in all your shouted "amens" and "holy holies" and "hosannas." An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral. And the advance of man's knowledge is a greater miracle than all the sticks turned to snakes or the parting of the waters. "

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Election Results

As I had said, I didn't watch election results last night. I just cannot stand to listen to pundits talk about it all night with their take on this or that, anything to keep themselves important in their own eyes at least. I went to bed before I knew how it'd all turn out. I will write more about it in the political blog-- after breakfast; but I will say this here. I woke up feeling a lot happier when I saw the results than I had gone to bed. :)

I hope for the best for our country and whether the leaders are Republicans or Democrats that people have chosen by a democratic process, I hope they will put the good of this nation ahead of their own party's partisan interests. We'll see how it works out.

More later in Rainy Day Things which will show up alongside here when it's there...

Monday, November 01, 2010

Get out and Vote

Please vote if you haven't already!

Whatever someone's political philosophy, I hope that if they live in a country that allows them to have a choice in what their government does through their ballots, they exercise that right. It has not always been possible, and in some places is not today possible for citizens to have a voice in picking their leaders.

Recently we watched the Russell Crowe version of Robin Hood, which I recommend very highly for the acting and history as it told the familiar story with a twist. Some might see what Robin Hood did in turning outlaw as applicable to today. It is not. Back then a king was not elected. He had absolute power and rebellion was the only way to fight it when it was corrupt.

Today some claim that is the case with our country, the United States. If the vote doesn't go their way, they talk revolution or secession. These people even sometimes call themselves patriots but they are not. They are poor sports who don't like it when they lose and suggest a Second Amendment remedy to that. Amazingly some of them are even running for powerful offices at the same time. And that they call themselves patriots is even more amazing.

In our country, we vote. We try to persuade others when we can, but in the end, we accept that other than where the Constitution establishes the rules (and it does), the rest is up for a vote and the majority wins. It is the American way, and it should not be forgotten.

People who don't bother to vote do not deserve the country where they live. Those who talk revolution when they lose don't either.

There is no excuse for not becoming informed on the issues (and that doesn't mean through slick ads on television). Find out what these people stand for, at least read the Voter's Pamphlet, and then have the guts to take some responsibility for this country's direction and cast your vote for the ones coming closest to your goals.

Contrary to a lot of talk, we are not really a democracy but a Republic. We vote for leaders who decide the significant issues of taxes, wars, and laws (except where the Constitution has already spoken and in that case, to be changed, it must be amended like giving the votes to blacks and women). A republic depends on wise leadership and thoughtful voters to make sure it stays that way.

Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose; and when you lose, you just have to try harder the next time to encourage leaders to run who you believe can do a better job according to your values, and then convince others to vote for them.

If you truly believe in this country, you do not get out your gun when it doesn't go as you might wish! That's the way of anarchy and tyranny. You vote!

Update: I got the following YouTube off Ronni Bennett's blog, Time Goes By, which is alongside here and writes about the Saturday rally to restore Sanity and/or Fear. She had this song imbedded that Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow sang and it pretty well says all that I have heard about what that rally tried to accomplish.

We should all hope it succeeds because miserable as the next two years might be if they are filled with subpoenas and attempts to make our president look bad, the future is what is really at stake. It isn't too late to change that but it takes us changing as a people. Caring has to lead to action. Whether you believe in the tea party cause or the Democrat one, you have to stay active and be involved because nobody can do this by themselves. When we sit back and wait for results, we get what we deserve.