Saturday, January 29, 2011

a blog about blogging

Blogging, whether reading or writing them, can lead now and then to a reevaluation of purpose. For the reader (which most blog writers are also) it might be: why am I spending time reading this? Does it benefit my development as a person? Is it a welcome respite from more serious pursuits-- i.e. fun? Is it something that a new year should find less of? Is it enriching or depleting my life?

For the writer, the questions are somewhat similar: why do I do it? What are my goals for it? Is this the time to stop? Do I need a new direction? Is it still meaningful to me? Do I have more to say? For a writer, these questions are not about whether to write. Writers will always write. It's whether to write a blog; and if so, in what direction to take it.

Not so long ago, I read a discussion online where some said idea blogs were shallow and hence a waste of time for writing or reading-- too many shallow ideas out there already. I think maybe their premise was that only a book can really deal with an idea, certainly not an unpublished writer.

Not arguing over whether they were right, it led me to think a bit about whether any blog could be anything but shallow. They aren't very long. Most are not written by professionals. Then came another question-- if they were deep, thoughty, challenging, how many people would read them? What do most blog readers want from a blog?

As I thought about the blogs which I regularly read, I decided (correct me if I am wrong) there are in general two types-- personality blogs or idea blogs-- and only rarely are any of them purely one or the other.

A personality blog has a journal format which may or may not be in current times. Such a blog tells me what the writer has done or is doing-- or at least what they are willing to share of that. The writer of such blogs might keep it purely upbeat or truly delve into what their lives are like. They could even create a persona who is who they wish they were. Whether readers stay with them will be dependent on how much they end up liking that person. How many of us care who went shopping and what they bought? Generally, when we do, unless the writing is really superior, we care when they are family or we like the writer.

Where it comes to personality blogs, in surfing, I have come across a few where the writer was literally ripping their life to shreds as they delved into their failures or those of someone else's. You could feel their anger or anguish. I am not sure how popular that kind of blog is, but it has no appeal to me at all to read or write. I understand some people need to do that. Fine and they should. A blog is after all about what we want to write; but I felt like a voyeur and didn't go back.

On the other hand, if had been reading a blog for awhile, where suddenly something traumatic happened, I'd stick with if I felt I could offer help in anyway. Mostly I follow a philosophy in such situations-- am I part of the problem or can I be part of the solution. If it's neither, I won't probably read them or offer comments.

One of the most successful personality blogs is probably Pioneer Woman's. She has made a lot of money, fame, plus published several books, from writing about her life from an upbeat personality view. She doesn't pretend she writes about everything. She keeps it light and fun.

With her loose formula, using a lot of excellent photographs, she has found millions of readers because people feel they would like her if they met her (she strikes one as a very nice person); and she leads a life (ranch living, home schooling kids, cooking, photography) that people, especially those who don't live on ranches, enjoy seeing photos and reading about. (It doesn't hurt that she has a hunky cowboy husband whom she calls Marlboro man not for his smoking but that he
is smoking hot!)

I got distracted.

Back to my train of thought, such as it was. An example of an idea blog could be on many topics but in politics, how about Andrew Sullivan. He has several who help him and he also picks up links to other ideas that have attracted his attention. He only very rarely writes about what he is doing personally.

Idea blogs can be political, philosophical, nature, art, literary, etc. etc. They have very little of what the writer is doing daily and sometimes nothing about who they are beyond a name. Either personality or idea blogs might have authors who use a pen name. Since some have gotten death threats from what they have written, a little anonymity is a safety aspect to a not letting yourself be too easily found.

Although I think of my blog as being an idea blog, a lot of my personality is in it. It's not a journal but now and then I write about things that are going on in my life-- usually when I see them as about an idea that they illustrate. I don't write about everything.

An example is how the month of January went for me. The shooting in Tucson led to blogging on it because it upset me personally on many levels. But a lot of other things were going on in my life in January that I had zero interest in writing about. Some was good and some not so much. Between trying to figure out why I had pain in my jaw and around my ear, and breaking off a tooth requiring a crown, it seemed the left side of my head had decided to do war on the rest of me. Visits to dentist and doctor (crown and ear infection respectively) and taking antibiotics, the last thing I felt like writing about here was what was going on in my own life. I didn't see it applying to some bigger idea other than-- when will spring be here???

I never have pretended what I write here reflects the essence of me. If Farm Boss and I had an argument,you won't find it here. Most of the things I do in a month will not find their way here. It's not because they aren't interesting or might not be to others but some is a sense of privacy-- especially where it involves other people. Mainly though it's because I like to write about what interests me or might inspire someone else. Things like going to the dentist or doctor are bad enough to have to do, let alone write about. It's not important enough to feel a need to have to inform and so I usually won't.

Whatever is here is true as best I know it, It is though my truth and not all of it.
If I met someone in person, whose blog I have been reading, I might, with their permission, write about it later (might not too), but would always keep it light. Any thoughts I have on other people won't find their way here. I would save that for fiction where they get used as a character they won't even recognize ;).

Personally, one thing I have never wanted to have happen is that I might do something, make any part of my life happen, because of writing about it in a blog. I have seen how easily that could happen. I live, therefore I blog is fine; but no way do I want it to be that I blog therefore I live. IF I ever found I did something just to write about it, I'd quit the blog

Ideas are what interest me. I have too many diverse ones to do a one topic blog. I do think about the meaning of life, question why things happen as they do. I like to write about it, enjoy researching, not only to better my own thinking but to hear how others see it. When comments expand on something I wrote, even when they disagree, that's really the icing on the cake.

A lot of times my blog benefits from synchronicity which requires no planning except I have to be able to recognize and grab it when it comes along. A recent example was a New Year's digital art slide show. The art was a mix of something I was enjoying but it did expand due to knowing I had a place to share it. I wanted music but had no idea what would work. Then I got a lovely cyber New Year's card from a friend. The song on that card was IT which led me to finding a version that worked for my slide show.

I don't remotely claim that always my ideas are deep or have great meaning-- although they might. An idea is an idea and it doesn't have to be worthy of putting in a time capsule for me to find it worth exploring. I am interested in little things and big ones. Some of my favorite blogs to read are of the writer discussing a walk they took, insects they photographed, or stories of their pets. Write about pets (but not sad stories unless there is simply no choice) and I'm hooked.

For any blogs, idea or personality, how weighty can they be given their length rarely goes over 800 words. I have to be honest, if I am reading other blogs, when an individual one goes on too long, pretty soon I am spacing off unless it's extremely well written and hitting on a topic I happen to be passionate about. Otherwise, I'll read the start, maybe a bit of the middle, the end, and if the end doesn't make me feel I need to figure out how they got there, I'm done.

dea blogs can be risky as you can lose readers over them through either they don't want to have a blog asking them to think (plenty of places for that, thank you) or other times when the reader disagrees and doesn't want to come back where it irked them. I get that too. Boy, do I get that!

A blog isn't a book, although a few morph into one. It is just a place for friends to stay in touch, which is the personality/journal type blog; or people can share ideas that matter to them, sometimes educating others about an issue, or simply to share a stream of consciousness that is developing. Idea blogs can be about appreciation of nature, a book, a video, philosophy, history, painting, or a hobby. Readers might know a lot about the writer or nothing other than their passion for their subject.

(The most visits that I have ever gotten on a subject was one I wrote some time back and it regularly gets visitors from around the world-- praying mantises. Knowing how much interest there is in them, I'd love to get more photographs, but it seems they are alerted to my goals and I almost never see one these days even though they must be around. When we were in an art gallery at the Coast, Farm Boss saw the above bronze sculpture by Dan Chen and took the time (with permission) to photograph it against an appropriate painting conveniently placed behind it.

For me there are two things that matter in reading or writing a blog. One is honesty. I don't mind people using pseudonyms as obviously I do that myself; but if they pretend they are living a certain type of life, have a certain profession, and I found out it was imaginary, I'd be done with them.

Second is that we (reader and writer) do what rewards us. If that is taking off the layers and sharing a deep inner side to ourselves, that sometimes is unpleasant, well the reader has a choice whether to go along or not. The question for the writer and reader is the same-- is it worth my time? If it's not, we quit visiting or if we are the writer, we take a break.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Educating Children

Once in awhile I receive a request to share something with those who read my blog. Now most of those requests are spam; but when it is worthwhile, I am pleased to be able to present it here. This topic initially seemed a bit off the roll I had been on, but then I read what Obama was saying in the SOTU and his emphasis on education's importance for our country's future, and it makes it very much part of the subject. How do we make our country strong-- through education and I think we all know it or those of us who aren't caught up in lower taxes as the only solution.

To me, and I've written about it before, there is not much more important than educating our children. Today more than ever, where the schools are short of money, it falls to us to add what we can to the process for the children around us.

Although most of my readers probably already raised their children, they do often have grandchildren, great nieces and nephews, or neighbor kids; so it is still of interest to hear good ideas about childhood education which we might apply or pass on. The following was sent to me by Kathleen Thomas:


Singing Before Talking

A child’s senses are stimulated to the fullest when he or she grows up listening to music, singing songs, or dancing to music. A child’s early development is positively impacted through exposure to music, as it works to strength the neurological pathways between brain cells. An early introduction to music is crucial for jump-starting childhood learning processes whether it be in day care, at home, or homeschool. Incorporating music into early childhood education strengthens cognitive abilities like memory and spatial reasoning skills.

More over, research has proven that creating an educational environment that engages the five senses, with particular attention to hearing can positively affect a child’s mind and physical development. The Nemours Foundation, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to the health of children, produced a report concluding that children who actively listen to, play, or perform music related activities excel in math and reading, have higher self-esteem, are more focused, and are more likely to play and explore with their peers.

Music makes the greatest educational and neurological impact on children when they actively experience it. Active listening can be defined as clapping, singing, tapping, or keeping the beat to music. Further more allowing a child to create his or her own music will prove to be priceless. Passive music participation (listening to music) is also beneficial to a child but does not work to engage and develop neurological pathways as deeply. If you would like your child to experience the benefits of music on early childhood education and development, begin simply.

1. Use any available opportunity to share music with your child. Play music when riding in the car or before bedtime! Researchers say that tones and notes characteristic of jazz and classical music work best to stimulate neurological pathways.

2. Teach your child basic nursery rhymes and songs. The Itsy Bitsy Spider, This Little Piggy Went to Market, and The Wheels on The Bus are nursery rhymes that have accompanying hand motions. The synthesis of music and movement enhances a child’s memory by linking the memorization of words with hand motions. This method also works to strengthen a child’s ability to do more than one thing at a time.

3. An upset child can be comforted by music. Playing certain types of music for a sad or angry child provides stability and repetition as the child learns to cope with new feelings and emotions.

4. Play music for your child then ask he or she to distinguish the different instruments present in the music. This game works to sharpen your child’s divided, shifted, focused, and sustained attention. Each type of attention is crucial to the healthy development and functioning of your child. Divided attention can be defined as performing two or more tasks at once. Shifted attention is moving back and forth between multiple tasks without forgetting the rules and instructions particular to each task. Focused attention is concentrating on one task. Sustained attention is concentrating on one specific task for a long period of time.

The benefits of playing music and encouraging participation in making music can be huge. The developmental, emotional, and educational affects yielded from exposing your child to and encouraging your child toward a musical life are invaluable.

Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas

Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the Austin day care facility, a member of the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose Schools (located in 16 states throughout the U.S.) and part of the network of day care preschools delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Physical Reality?

In terms of what we see as real, there is our emotional view of life, what we believe about the world beyond ourselves, what we see for a purpose to life, but there is another seemingly more easy to define reality-- our physical reality. That's simple, right? We can see it, measure it, evaluate it. Except...

We don't all live the same physical lives even within the same country. The experience of someone who is living in poverty is so different from someone in wealth and not a lot like someone with even a secure middle class lifestyle (although that can sometimes change pretty fast).

Our physical reality is defined mostly with what we look like, how intelligent we are, who our parents were, our ethnicity, personality, where we live, our friends or associates, age, wealth, health, the schools we attended, and so forth. We do all have certain basic needs but beyond that, the whole experience of being human varies a lot.

Evaluating at our physical reality might start with our bodies. That can be weighed and measured, right? Except, what we see from the outside of us-- taking away the clothing we choose, is hiding a lot more. We have muscles, tendons, bones, organs and even that's not the end of what's there. Take an electron microscope or an atomic force microscope and look at the clusters of atoms, neutrons and the energy that holds it all together and makes it work. No matter what it might look like outside, we are beings of energy. Some think that's some new agey term but it's not. We look solid but we are not-- nothing is.

We live as though the physical reality we know today is what is stable and will be with us-- all the while we know it's in a state of constant change. Even our cells are constantly renewing and the physical being we were years ago isn't the same today and won't be in another set of years. And that's not taking into consideration ordinary aging.

We do though go along as though what is will continue to be because it's how we have to live. Then comes the unexpected-- the thing that is supposed to happen to someone else.

It could be as simple as going for a walk in the woods, losing the trail, realizing we are lost-- and it's snowing. A canoe overturns in a cold, stormy lake and no one is near to help us. A grizzly is on the trail ahead, roaring as it heads straight for us. There is a truck careening toward our lane. We turned too sharply, heading off a tall cliff. There is a violent attack of the terrorist or madman sort and we are in front of the gun or see the bomb exploding. A tsunami has turned the world upside down.

Can we ever prepare for such physical events? Should we try to?

After the most recent shooting by a madman, I read an article from Ted Nugent, who has never been
high on any list of mine. He said we all have to be prepared to face evil. I understand what he meant; but what he didn't explain is how we do that. It's not like terrible things announce themselves or come in predictable ways.

Since the first shootings in malls began to happen many years ago, I have been aware of sounds that I hear when I am in public places; but I realize if I happened to be one of the first ones targeted in say a restaurant, there's not a thing I can do. And please, the talk about everybody carrying a gun is ridiculous. It would not make this whole thing better or increase our chances of surviving violence.

Very few people are trained to use a gun or would be able to in time. The more likely thing is they would shoot the wrong person and find themselves going to prison. I've had a concealed weapon permit for many years now, pretty much since they were first allowed in my state, but I almost never carry a gun in public for the obvious reason it's more risky to have one, maybe have it stolen, than to not have one.

We can't even stay home all the time as that isn't always safe given what happened to that Connecticut family in a home invasion. If you are asleep when your home is invaded, tell me how the gun is going to help? Well it might but the physical reality is we can't live on edge waiting for that. Our physical health would be destroyed let alone our emotional lives.

Maybe we know too much of that kind of thing. Our media loves it and whenever an event occurs that catches the attention of the public, they are soooooooooo all over it creating stories to draw in viewers with no real concern for more than that 15 minutes until the next big thing happens.

I was in a big box store in Tucson last year when a young man drew my attention. I am not sure why. It might have been how he was dressed (duster coat) or his demeanor (not paying attention to anybody around him as he strode straight ahead). I have seen all that before and not thought watch out. This time I did and thought where would I go if he started shooting. No, I didn't run out of the store as I knew most likely the energy I was feeling wasn't really dangerous.

Was he actually exuding an energy that radiated danger? I don't know, but Farm Boss, who was in the same store but not with me, when we talked later said he had also seen him and felt the same sensations. Was it baseless? Most likely, but I felt there was an energy field around that young man that you could feel and it wasn't good.

He didn't shoot anyone; so what good did my going on alert do? Frankly it might not have helped if he had started shooting as something like that happens so fast. Can we really protect ourselves in such situations?

Physically I know what I'd do if I saw a grizzly charging toward me. I am even emotionally prepared that it could happen when I hike certain places. Except is that part of the stress I feel today when there is no grizzly? Does trying to be prepared help us or stress us? Naivete doesn't help but neither does paranoia. The trick is finding a balance somehow.

The photo above is from a webcam. Not it nor the earlier digital are real as both are images and reflections of reality. We never see our own faces but simply reflections of it. Is that what we call reality also?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Do you belong to a tribe?

Where it comes to things that mystify me, that make me think, and where I often don't come to answers, I think what is reality is at the top of the list. The problem is there are so many realities and so many people who think they have found the ONE-- except they don't agree what it is. Many of those who 'know' also are sure they are the only ones who really 'know' as in it's their truth or no truth.

Some who have found reality are content to take someone else's word for what it is. Whether that person would be a scientist, saint, book, teacher, friend, guru, or parent, they accept what they were told and are happy with it. Or at least they seem happy to not look again-- to not need to look again.

Some have personally searched for reality, come to IT independent of their family or even cultural group and they also don't have to look again. What makes them not have to look again? I understand it better when someone is in a 'tribe' and to move outside it for truth will cause great loss; but many have no such reason for not looking. They are content with what they already found.

Actually that doesn't bother me as much as-- what makes someone like me keep looking? The question is one that intrigues me. Is it better to be one way or the other? Do we have a choice? I have been where I thought I 'knew' and was pretty happy with that, but I didn't stop exploring other possibilities, looking at how they fit with what I saw as reality. Is that where I went wrong if I wanted to be more sanguine about the whole 'reality' thing?

Some would argue there is no ''one reality' and whatever you have found is real for you. I do not buy that. I think there is an ultimate reality, but the question is what is it? Everybody cannot be right when they disagree, can they?

So we have a tragic event of any sort and some say-- to the ones involved-- they signed up for this before they were born. It was a karmic agreement, part of their need to grow, or help the world through what they might contribute by their participation in such an event. That is put down as hokum by those who believe whatever happened, God was in control and the beloved person is now in heaven where it's all good for them. Both of these ways of thinking offer obvious comfort.

Another way of seeing offers no such comfort regarding god or a plan. There is not an afterlife; and we should work harder as humans to not let such things happen again as they are tragedies where the best we can make of them is to learn ways to make life better on earth.

Whether someone has looked at the world and decided atheism is the only possible conclusion. Whether they have found a true religion that they absolutely know is the ONE. What makes some find IT, stick to it and that's it? Is it something in our brains that makes one able to settle on something once they find it and never reconsider while another thinks-- well that's good for now but I'll see if more comes along to make it untrue or truer?

In a hunter gatherer culture, to be constantly aware of new events, changing conditions, would probably make that person successful and more likely to survive in a world that is full of changes. In ours, is that still so? Not so much probably. I think people are more comfortable with us if we are wearing a hat with which they are comfortable. We like boxes and are happier when we can put people or events into those boxes.

My question is really about an emotional element to living that isn't about constantly reassessing our feelings about friends, family, jobs, or where to live. It's about how we see the bigger picture around us. When something happens (good or bad) how do we incorporate it into our life perspective?

Maybe this is all tribal but not in the way it once was. What I have come to think is our emotional realities form the only tribe most of us have-- the art, political, musical, sports, religious, scientific, or inherited tribe.

Living as we do, we don't easily know what tribe someone even belongs to unless we get close to them. Our neighbor can have a house exactly like ours, family that looks the same, but their view of what is real is totally different, and the tribe they actually belong to is nearly unrecognizable to us in terms of our own set of values.

American culture doesn't force us (for now) to be in one tribe. We have many many choices for how we may see the world, picking and choosing from diverse options-- some admittedly more popular than others. The price we pay may be to be ridiculed but we are usually not going to get stoned or burned at a stake (for now).

I am reminded of our diverse ways of seeing things through the newspaper or even by reading certain blogs, receiving an email, or listening to a conversation where I realize they have seen a recent event through a lens totally differently than mine. Some of that is political but some spiritual. Emotionally it makes the world look like a very different place.

Why is that? That's the kind of question I ask that can't be answered probably and doesn't even bother a different kind of thinker. Do we really 'know' anything of what reality is? While it might not trouble others, I want to find truth with a capital T. Not a truth that suits me but one I truly believe is IT. Is there such a thing? Maybe I am just still looking for my tribe.

The digital painting is of a woman with the various ways she might interact with other people, how she is seen, the roles she plays, each one different and yet integrated into her being. They are all her to varying degrees. Is this our reality?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rivers and Tides

Parapluie raved about a film she had gotten on Netflix-- Andy Goldworthy RIVERS AND TIDES Working With Time. It sounded so interesting and creatively beautiful that I ordered it from Amazon before I had seen it. I am happy I did as it's about photography, nature, and working with natural elements to create something man-made and yet not.

He studies a place and then sets about using something there to create something that wasn't and even better if that something new will be changed by time again. He is interested in the dispersal of elements in natural... or unnatural ways; but they are always from the land.

The photographs that Goldworthy takes are often surrealistic and always interesting in terms of lighting as he takes that natural element and bends it into something new-- Goldworthy photographs.

The video goes beyond the images to the man, his inspiration, how his native land is part of what he does. I especially liked one thing he said about the land. When he gets a commission to go a new place to do one of his works (in that case Nova Scotia), he says it takes him a while of being there before he gets the feel of the land and knows what will work.

We live in a culture where people race from thing to thing. This business of staying somewhere, of getting to know its soul, well that's something few get to experience. Watching this video might encourage more to try. I highly recommend seeing it for anyone interested in nature, photography, or the creative process.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Astrology for 2011

Mostly whenever I post something that is from astrology or a psychic, I put it into-- Rainy Day Extras. I do this so that those who think it's all a bunch of hooey are not bothered by it here. Only rarely do I mention that I have it although it's in my list of blogs on my profile page.

This one by Tucson astrologer and psychic, Stephanie St. Claire seemed like something more might enjoy reading even if skeptical about astrology. Recently I read an article that the basis behind the planets influencing our planet isn't as far fetched as it seems. It's not about mysticism or a god. It's more about energy and mathematics.

Anyway if you are interested, check it out. It's at the above link.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wave Action and seabirds

More ocean photos when the winter lighting was all for which, as a photographer, you could ask.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Winter Surf

Oregonians love their beaches during the winter. Where in summer, beach towns might be crowded with people from all over, in the winter, it's mostly natives who go to see the surf at its most spectacular. It's easy to get motels and the roads aren't particularly crowded.
Sunday was one of those perfect days with the weather changing constantly from sunshine to rainstorms with snowflakes mixed in.

Don't like the weather for photos? Wait five minutes. The breakers were huge and surged ashore with that power only the ocean has. It was particularly nice to not have it be windy. It was cold though but that didn't keep people inside their cars.

Friday, January 14, 2011


The first photos of an estuary are all where the Salmon River hits the Pacific Ocean in Oregon. This is a place that is always beautiful, to me, in every season. I especially like it when the skies are moody as they were on Sunday.

Cascade Head is mostly protected now by Nature Conservancy with many possible hikes that overlook even more scenic vistas than the road. Sitka Center, which sits on the slope overlooking the ocean, offers workshops and seminars for those interested in the arts and ecology.

If a person had to pick a place to live that offered the most survival possibilities (assuming ocean levels don't rise too much), an Oregon estuary would be a good choice because there is easy access to building materials, always fish, deer, elk, and birds, the temperatures tend to be more moderate for growing gardens or gathering berries, and you are close enough to the ocean with more possible sources (like shellfish) for food.

Estuaries are very oriented to nature and those who live along them must accept that as part of the blessing and the problem.

This last photo is where the Siletz River meets the Pacific Ocean and forms a small bay. When the tide is in, the bay looks more 'impressive'.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Van Duzer Corridor

Driving to the Oregon Coast means crossing over a range of hills that usually don't have snow on them but always warn it's possible. The route we had chosen was the Van Duzer Corridor where the highest point is around 730 feet in elevation... (some say less). In the part of Oregon where I live, elevation is pretty much everything for whether or not you get snow when the weather turns cold.

Because we had seen around us that the highest hills had snow, we might have thought of the possibility of snow on the roadway but we really had not. While it's pretty, it's always a bit of a concern when driving-- mostly for what other drivers might do.

Momentarily, when we saw the roadway ahead, I thought maybe we should turn around; but Farm Boss, who does most of our driving, was on a mission, besides which living in the country, he's not unfamiliar with driving on icy roads. We had the truck with 4-wheel drive if we needed it.
I must say it was very pretty with the snow icing all the branches and turning the trees into this snowy corridor to pass through. Icy conditions didn't last too long, before we dropped back down in elevation. It seemed most drivers were being sensible. We did see snow mixed with the rain the whole time we were at the coast but on our drive back to the farm (we made a loop), that pass, which is even lower, was clear.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Country Roads Take Me Home

After the events of the week-end, and the ongoing aftermath, I am really not in a mood to write something unrelated here. Yet, I like to have a drama free zone where what I write won't be upsetting folks who might visit. (I save that for Rainy Day Things.)

So what I want to do for a few days is just have some photos of my home turf. Most will come from this week-end when Farm Boss and I started out on a little drive following backroads near where we live.
The lighting was fantastic. You know, winter sunlight, when it shows up, it's really the best light for photos that there is. It's intense and low on the horizon leading to great shadows and intense colors. Snow on the hills didn't hurt. Mist in the valleys added to the interesting lines and shapes.

So this first series is from our country roads. They are all within 20 miles of where I live.

Gotta have some music, don't we? And what is better than John Denver's Take me Home Country Roads. It's a YouTube and not in my state but what he is singing about, well that's the same!

I grew up on country roads. I hope someday when I die, I am still living on them and that they aren't all paved.
Our country roads took us into a nearby town, and the decision that we weren't going to head directly home. We were heading for the Oregon Coast. The drive over comes next and after that, well you know what comes after that (if you don't, stick around and you shall see).

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Tucson shooting

Although I have written two blogs in my political one, Rainy Day Things, which is bookmarked alongside here, regarding the Tucson shooting of a United States Representative, Gabrielle Giffords, I hadn't planned to write any here. When I write about it, it's been in a rant mode that has me so angry I am lucky to write anything coherently.

But then Nance alerted me that a regular blogger, a woman from Tucson, was among those shot at the event. Here is the lady's blog for anybody who would like to go there and voice their support-- The Burrows.

What has hit me so hard about this is the twin assault on us as a people. This was in our neighborhoods; and it is the kind of thing any of us, who are politically informed and concerned, could be at. Some of us were.

The little girl who was killed was interested in being politically involved. She was on her Student Council. She cared. She got invited on the spur of a moment and now she's dead for caring. And don't bother telling me it was just part of a melee. A nine-year old child shot in the chest was deliberately targeted.

The blogger, so many of us know as Ashleigh Burroughs, was shot three times because she was beside the Congresswoman, because she is a caring citizen who wants to support her government not tear it apart.

The judge was another who just decided to stop by to thank Giffords for her support for his work in immigration cases and he wasn't even a Democrat.

Representative Giffords was a blue dog Democrat which means no extreme leftie. She was targeted and those alongside her for one reason-- an attack on our system of government.

And for anybody who wants to tell me otherwise, I don't want to hear from you and won't even be posting the dissent at this time. The man who did this shooting was clearly a mentally deranged individual but those who provoked his anger, provided the fuel for his rage, they likely weren't...

I am really angry about this and at the types of threats that some fling around so carelessly. It's time to stand up for what we believe or let ourselves lose it all. In this country, we settle our differences at the ballot box, not with the bullet. We should argue for our viewpoints, express differences of opinion on issues, but avoid character attacks that can lead to a deranged person taking it a step further.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Who do you write like?

Sometimes when I go to a blog, I check out someone on their blog roll which more than awhile back was when I started coming across, multiple places, a link to a site where you could paste in some of your own writing to see which author they say you are most like.

Because I thought it'd be more interesting, I first used one of my fiction stories, put in the opening paragraphs and got back-- Jane Austen.

Jane Austen... They had to be kidding. I like her. She's been slightly popular for awhile... However, I don't think my writing is anything like hers. So I tried again with a piece of text further into that story with no female characters. It came up J.K. Rowling.

That absolutely could not be. There was nothing supernatural in that particular story. It is kind of a sensual, historic romance set in Arizona of the 1880s. That didn't fit at all.

Okay, try it one more time with a little more action oriented piece of text and it came back Jane Austen again. I decided to quit while I was ahead as I mulled over what that meant for my style of writing.

A few days later, I thought what the heck, I'd give it a try with something from this blog. This time it said Stephen King. Eek-- what did that mean?

A month went by, maybe more before I found the right time to write about it here, I decided to try a new piece of text from something more recent at Rainy Day Thought. This time it came back-- David Foster Wallace.

That's not too bad actually, rather more flattering to me than King even if the writer is less well known, made less money, and suffered from depression. It might be that the comparison came because of the subject matter of the text I had chosen-- Collapse.

Okay, so maybe I write the fiction like a woman and my blog like a man (people who read my political posts probably would definitely think that is so)? I might sometime try another of my manuscripts but not for awhile.

If you are interested in finding out what your writing is like based on a statistical system using algorithms, here's the link:

Thursday, January 06, 2011

What the heck is this all about?

Most of the blogs I write are thought of some time ahead of being posted-- some linger quite awhile before there comes a time they fit. In this case, I had something set up (which had come from quite a time back) until I kept reading about this

This is something I really don't know what to make of. Can you imagine going out and seeing blackbirds dead all over your yard? That definitely does smack of a doomsday scenario along with the ultimate global climate change result.

My own first thought when I read it was-- I have a lot of red-winged black birds showing up here. I better put out more birdseed which I promptly did.

Unfortunately I then saw that the sheep waterer was frozen over. I broke through the ice with a hammer, but it was obvious the flow was stopped due to many days in a row of below freezing temperatures. *sigh* I have been here before and there is only one answer.

Buckets of water would have to be carried from the house. Except the buckets weren't down by the house; so that meant carrying pans of warm or hot water out to the tub as until it thaws as this is the only source of water the sheep would have-- actually it's the only source I want them to have but there is another.

While I don't worry when the cows drink from the creek-- fortunately as can you imagine carrying enough buckets of water to supply 30 head of cattle? No thanks-- the sheep are more worrisome as they could end up in the creek. If I think it's no fun to carry water, can you imagine going into the creek when air temperatures are below freezing, the creek is high and the water is racing by while your task is to drag out a soaked (might I add resisting) sheep, wool full of water. It's been done by Farm Boss but definitely not on my bucket list.

So back to the topic. What do you think this die off of birds is about?

say it has happened before but not this many. They say the birds might've been startled to fly in the middle of the night by fireworks... They say the deaths were due to blunt force trauma. They have to be kidding on that one. What do they think happens if a bird hits the ground hard. Frankly they say a lot of things but what the heck do you think is going on?

While I wait for the theories to pile up, I'll carry more seed and water out as I carry firewood in. I'm more than ready for a warm up!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

10 mph

Once in awhile I read about a documentary or film that I think would be very different and important to see. 10 mph is one of those. It's the story of two young men, Hunter Weeks and Josh Caldwell who decide they want to pursue their dream instead of working at jobs they find meaningless.

Pursuing one's dream is an interesting concept for a film. This one though not only carries the boys through their experience but shows the whole perspective, the cost of carrying out such a venture. Their dream was to drive a Segway across the country from Seattle to Boston at its top speed of 10 mph. They compared it to the speed people once had to travel with the first automobiles.

Overall the film was well worth watching. I liked the exploration of following a dream although I feel that when we have a dream, we need to either bring others along with us, who are sharing that dream or be prepared to pay the cost of it ourselves. They expected someone else to fund their dream as they went looking for sponsors. They found one who made a commitment, but the money was not all up front which led to some of the later problems-- not hard to imagine what.

If we want to have an adventure. If we want to fulfill a dream, should we ask someone else to pay for it? I guess it's okay but it becomes a little irritating in this film to listen to the later whining over it not coming through as they had hoped. Perhaps that was more about creating dramatic tension-- can they finish the film or not?

I have no idea what it would have cost to take their small crew, a Segway (two went with them), enough batteries to allow for frequent battery changes, and a 'chase' vehicle that far. There would be fuel, food, cameras, lodging not to mention possible repairs along the way.

We had made a somewhat similar trip one summer but on freeways and not at 10 mph. When Farm Boss was still in the corporate world, he was on a project developing the use of lasers, one of which had been built to the needed specifications in Massachusetts. When it became obvious the company was in trouble and the laser platform might fall through, we decided to drive back, spend a month, and he would shepherd the project to completion. We did the drive from our farm to Rockport in 4 1/2 days. There was no time to sight see on the way. He did successfully help them get that laser completed before the company went under which made it worthwhile and an interesting memory to see that much of our country, that fast-- at least when traveling on the ground. We met no interesting people on the way though...

In 10 mph, they did stay in what looked like inexpensive motels but also had people who heard of their quest and let them stay in their homes or donated food. They got coverage from radio or local television stations which gave them help along the way and added to the interest as we met those people.

They presented an informative view of not only America but the nature of the American people. For somebody whose only knowledge of Americans is through movies or crime stories on the news, I think this would be a good look at what middle America is about in terms of being helpful and sharing with strangers. People really responded to this idea of a Don Quixote type of adventure.

As I had said, I hadn't been sure how great the video quality would be, but they did an excellent job. Interesting shots, not shaky, good color and diversity of how they filmed it. I loved seeing roads I had been on but also places I have never seen and likely never will. By the time it was over, I liked the kids who had set out to create this documentary. It's not a big cultural concept about America but more slice of life.

Many people have dreams that they put aside. Maybe most people. Once in awhile it's nice to share the experience of someone who didn't do that.

It is available on Netflix, free on YouTube. Here's the Trailer.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

First day of the new year

Although I appreciate traditions that others follow, find them interesting to learn about, see value in them, personally I am not a tradition person and have very few I absolutely follow... as in almost none. I am more of a if-it-feels-right-today-it-might-not-tomorrow kind of person. There are a few exceptions but none written in stone.

With New Year's Day, I like to do something that I hope will be part of the coming year. That doesn't have to be a big thing. It also doesn't involve a traditional food but might be anything with anybody.

Mostly in recent years my tradition for New Year's Day has meant one of two things-- go to the ocean and walk on a stormy beach or take a walk in the woods. This year it was the take a walk up the hill behind our farm as part of not only a desire to be outside, take some photos, but also part of my goal to be more faithful this year in walking which is healthy for emotions and physical being.

These photos are from that day on what amounts to a two mile walk-- one up hill and one down (down is more fun). It was icy as you can tell from snow on the hills and this little bird I saw huddled in one of the bushes. It had fluffed its feathers out to make it round as a ball with only a small head peeking out.

There was one other thing on New Year's Day. It is something that has been happening since the fall when we began to see bushy tailed gray squirrels visiting our bird feeders. We regularly put out birdseed during the winter months and enjoy seeing many types of birds, happy they have a place for food when it might be hard to find in the woods and fields. That, of course, also means we have squirrels coming for the same thing.

Earlier I had watched as the squirrels, after getting their cheeks stuffed, would run off, cross the creek on a fallen log, and head to a home in a big tree there apparently to store their harvest-- or rather ours. Then came some high water, more current in the stream, and that log was washed away which meant any on this side, when it happened, had to find a new stash and home. Possibly a few squirrels were on that side to benefit from the natural disaster that changed their lives.

So I have a some sympathy for these little guys and enjoy watching their agility, which can be impressive, as they reach the feeders past many obstacles. For now there are just two of them, but I do remind myself that when they reproduce (if they are male and female), this will be a bit more of a problem. I'll worry about that when it is.