Comments, relating to the topic, are welcome, add a great deal to a blog, but must be in English, with no profanity, hate-filled insults, or links (unless pre-approved).

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Oregon's Living Legends

A funny thing happened to me recently. There is this blog, Life at the Rough String, that I read and enjoy where the writer writes about her Eastern Oregon ranching lifestyle (with I might add great photos). She has written about wild horses before as she has been involved in the BLM work regarding them. This time she was writing about a book, Oregon's Living Legends, about where they are and who has been adopting them. It takes people like her to keep them still out there but at the same time manage their range usage. She said she was having a contest and to enter you had to write when you first knew about wild horses in Oregon.

My knowledge went back to when my children were small and we were driving on a road between Jordan Valley and Burns Junction, not sure which side of Rome it was on but there they were-- a herd of wild horses at one side of the road. It was a thrilling sight as they galloped out of our view, no time to get any photo. I had no idea what year but it was a long time back.

So I wrote my experience down and thought maybe I'd buy that book. I figured I would look for it next time I was in the bookstore. Before I got to a bookstore, I went to the blog to see with shock that it was my name that had been drawn to win the book.

Now this is a bigger deal to me than it might be to someone else on several counts. One I admire the woman who writes the blog for the way she lives the ranching lifestyle and her love and ability with horses. Plus she lives in a part of Oregon I have always considered beautiful. You can call it back of beyond. Its ranching history goes way back.

But there was another aspect that made this special to me. I know everybody has won a cake at a cakewalk or something somewhere. Not me. Although I haven't entered a lot of contests, I have never won anything even when I have. So it was a shock when this time I was and with something so neat to win.

When the book arrived, I couldn't help but think how coincidental this was that it would come right after I had written about my reluctance to take big risks and that horses had been one of those risks. It has made me think-- is it really too late?

The book, Oregon's Living Legends, by Andi Harmon is great as a combination of explaining the current world of the wild horses with paintings by Michele Severe whose work shows her love of horses. The book is full of stories about those who have adopted mustangs, how the whole idea of wild horse adoptions has come to be. It is full of facts but it's also inspiring if a little depressing that wild horses have been so abused by our culture. Well, we don't allow them to be eaten anymore but not sure if that wouldn't be kinder than what we sometimes have done.

I am not sure why wild horses aren't okay with people. I guess some is they have no natural predator except man and they can overgraze a region where humans want to put cattle. I understand the logic of that. But...

Is there anything more spiritually uplifting than the image of a wild horse herd that comes thundering across a sagebrush plain? I will tell you, I don't think there is.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

sending energy

Those of you who read Dharma Bums already know that Roger is having major surgery Monday morning. He and his wife, Robin, really would appreciate all the energy sent their way that you all can manage. If you aren't familiar with their blog, head on over there to learn more about his surgery and the wonderful people they both are.

A sundress, camera and an idea

Sometimes I get an idea for a photograph that will be something I call Zen (for wont of a better word). Basically what I want from it is a moment in time that goes beyond the actual elements to something bigger, an idea, a concept. In the case of a photograph, the elements (including the people) are only tools for the idea.

In Tucson I had an idea for such a photo where the tools were the pool, a diving board, water, a wooden fence, a loose fitting black dress, and a woman. A black dress was beneficial because it didn't have meaning of its own. The pool represented the water of life. The diving board, besides presenting interesting angles, was about jumping into the water (or not), the fence, just a neutral backdrop. The concept, well more about the concept later.

So late one afternoon I asked Farm Boss to photograph my idea, but nothing went right. Perhaps such moments have to just happen and you cannot create them. The problems were many. The lighting was difficult with too much of it during the day and as the sun began to head down, a tree that filtered the light not always as I might have wished.  Professional photographers use umbrellas and reflectors to get the light they want. I just wanted it to be there. I didn't give up easily and we tried several different early evenings.

Each time I'd look at the photos and think, nope, that's not it. This wasn't about wanting a pretty picture but one that would illustrate something I feel about my own life now and have at various other times.

Too often, I am like a woman on the board, not prepared to jump off, contemplative but not necessarily happy or unhappy, not in position to dive, not ready to leave security. Thinking instead of acting. The photo should suggest wanting to do something, near to being able to do it, but not moving ahead.

One example of this from my own life would have been maybe 10 years ago when I thought I'd like to learn to ride a horse. It ended up much like sitting there on the board, dabbling my foot in the experience, and keeping one foot on the bank, I had a few trail rides, but I didn't jump in and get soaking wet.

Actually I do this a lot. I pull back from going all the way.  Maybe many of us do at different times in our lives. Risk. It's risky to jump off into something new, to dive into the unknown. It's easier to stay on the bank. One foot dangling and the other still on solid ground.

I thought I could capture the concept along with some interesting angles and curves by using our diving board. I tried it first with the dress full length and just feet showing but it ended up too much black. So legs but then legs that were supposed to be dipping into the water or poised to dip into the water but somehow or other I never found the right angle between board and body or when I came closest, the light was wrong.

Farm Boss was good-natured about it especially since this wasn't his idea, and he was trying to capture mine. In a way, it became funny to us both. One of the best was taken when the light was too dark and the photo became digitalized into a lot of grainy dots. Not exactly what I had in mind. Using a flash wiped out details.

Finally, in looking at the pictures when back at the farm, I decided black and white might help. With photo programs, you can turn a standard photo into black and white. I think it, the one at the top of this blog, came closest to what I had in mind. Will that woman ever let go?

Next time I am in Tucson, I will have to give it another try and maybe add one more of a woman jumping off the board or in the water with the dress flowing around her. Maybe but not sure what that would say-- or what it'd do to my sundress!
These photos were taken different days but always toward late afternoon or early evening. You can see a few of the problems and the results. Looking at them now, I think the woman should have been looking at the water, but I didn't think of that then. I was more obsessed with how the legs would tell the story and provide an interesting angle to the board except they never did.

The funniest part (to me) was how my toes looked short in the pictures. I thought for awhile I have short toes and that didn't make me happy; and then Parapluie said my toes are not short. Basically I guess it was the result of the foreshortening due to the angle. Not that short toes had anything to do with the concept but just telling you how my mind works-- or doesn't.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer is finally here

The next week will be busy for me in a positive way. Two of our grandchildren will be staying at the farm for a week. This is always a treat and we are trying to think of things they will enjoy as well as some jobs with which they can help. They are at the age to still enjoy things like moving irrigation pipe although as wet as it's been, not sure when we will start irrigating.

The summer weather finally got here and with it comes picking up hay for the winter. Fortunately the hayfield is not far from the farm; so it won't require the long drives that it can. It's actually a pretty spot down along a nearby river; so even fun for me to go along. We buy big round bales which can only be moved by front loaders which means it's not my job. Farm Boss will be kept busy by it though.  He won't get much time for  lying on the deck.

Our 'pet kids' will not be thrilled with the company. About the time they adjust to not being the only children, the grandkids are off again. Our granddaughter makes a real effort to befriend the biggest baby of the two, who hides as soon as company arrives. Eventually she wins him over but by her next visit, he has forgotten.

The boys are in front of the living room window. There are times they get along...

I do have some blogs set up for next week; so I might not be around but something will be coming here anyway.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


From now on when I do any writing on politics, it's going to go into a separate blog. Overall, I have this feeling that we need to keep ourselves aimed positively, to be thinking of what is beautiful, true and good. Too often politics is something other than any of those. So this blog will be about everything except politics-- although it may occasionally look at cultural issues. There are, however, times I do want to throw out (as opposed to up) my thinking on politics which will be at--

So if you are interested in such ideas or want to contribute to a dialogue about them, bookmark the above link or set it up for being notified of new posts (which I hope won't come frequently for my own sanity).

The newest one is on General McChrystal with the latest spin doctoring-- including my own!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

an unexpected vistor

A lot of creatures live near the farm and most we never see nor do we hear from them. With some we are glad it's that way. Despite the upsetting nature of watching a dead lamb's body hoping to get another shot at a coyote, I had a wonderful surprise when I looked out and realized a white headed bird was at the meal. It was a neighbor we had not realized lived so close. We have off and on seen golden eagles flying overhead or screeching at us, but the last bald eagle we saw on our land had been several years back.

There is obviously a priority at a feed site as when the eagle was feeding, the vultures stayed back.  They had also kept out of range when the coyote was there.

What amazed me with the bald eagle was how alert it was to any attempt by me to get closer for a better photo. As best I know it, bald eagles have been protected from hunters for many many years but this eagle always left before I could get anywhere near enough for a clear photo. Three separate times I got a few photos but each time if I tried to move close enough for more detail, it left.

Once I went out and settled on the grass under a tree and waited hoping that eventually it would return and not see me. No luck although it was rather lovely to just be there waiting until the breezes got too cool and the sun went behind a cloud.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Predators have patience

The first thing we saw when we got home from Arizona was a dead lamb just outside the fence line of their 'safe' pasture. Our sheep had found a way out into the main pasture and a coyote had killed a small black lamb. I wondered is it one I knew? Did its mother have twins and does the twin mourn its loss? The sheep don't tell me.

So knowing how the coyotes were watching to get our lambs and much to the sheep's dismay we continued to keep them confined to the house pasture (good grass but no adventure) and only let them out when we were close by or so we thought. A second kill happened anyway when a small white lamb got out by wiggling under a fence. I might have known that one. I had seen one that thought it was outsmarting the system before we went to Arizona.  We had thought we got the fence spot stopped. Was it the same one? Again no way to tell for sure.

The third loss was amazing as I had let them out for the afternoon. I stood watching from a small knoll as they happily spread out across the pasture, even some of the ewes leaping in the air with joy at being in the main pasture. One lamb led the way. A vulture circled overhead, and I thought he was thinking ahead to a promising meal but didn't imagine he would get one, not that day. I then moved down and watched longer from the barnyard gate making sure that I was seen by what I expected was watching. Everything was peaceful

Farm Boss was working on a fence job to the front of our farm. We didn't imagine a coyote would be so daring as to hit the flock with us so close; but a few hours later there was another dead lamb toward the back. Maybe the small one I had watched race out. Did the coyote zero in on it right then and attack at its first chance?

It's not hard to recognize coyote kills if you have ever seen them. They kill quick and fast, which is my only consolation for this, as they go straight for the neck. This time it had had no time to even eat as we evidently were back out interrupting its meal. The buzzards were on the ground almost instantly.

The thing is, a predator, whether human or animal, just waits for its chance. As the old saying goes-- we have to be right every time. It only has to be right once.

Generally when an animal dies on the place, we bury it (which is disappointing to the carrion eaters) because we do not want predators to get a taste for lamb. But when it's a kill, we want what killed it and we leave the body there. At night Farm Boss put two leg traps close to the remains but didn't leave them out during the day to avoid catching a vulture.

One morning Farm Boss didn't get out there soon enough to spring the traps, and he did catch a vulture's toe. He learned something rather interesting that unlike a hawk or many other animals in traps, this bird simply gave up and submissively waited for the end which enabled Farm Boss to free it with little damage.

We spent some time one afternoon preparing what we hoped would be a more effective trap. Farm Boss went out first and slipped into the barn to wait with his rifle. After a bit I made a show of opening gates, letting the sheep out and then going back to the house. After which, I quietly went out the backdoor where I could view the part of our pasture that Farm Boss could not see from the barn. So we waited.

After awhile I began to have a feeling that it was like a horror movie where you know the monster is out there but it watches and waits for a weak moment to kill again. In this case that moment didn't come. We got the sheep back in but left the carcass where it was visible from the house.

On Monday with Farm Boss at work, I was the one keeping an eye on the lamb remains. About 9 AM, there was the coyote tearing at the kill. It was a big one, by the coloring and size, it may have been one I got a shot at two years ago. Naturally I could not see for sure but the body type made me think it was a male. I wanted to get closer before I took a shot as the cows were also in the vicinity.

Quietly I went out the backdoor and got as near as I dared before I was afraid it would see me, and before the cows might move in front of my target. When I took my shot, I missed (time for some target practice with the scope), and it ran for the back of the place with no safe second shot as it went right toward the cows who finally were all excited by the activity.

The sad part of all this is I sympathize with the coyotes. They have to eat. A neighbor and his family came by one day to tell us that there is a coyote family living in an old shed maybe 300 yards from our farm (opposite direction of where this one ran), but on someone else's property. They have watched the pups as they grew and have seen them playing. There are six of them.

I remembered, as they described it, of all the times I have watched, from a distance, wolf pups in Yellowstone doing the same thing. I understand that mother coyote's need to protect her young, to give them food, but I have to listen to a ewe as she calls for her young who won't ever return and that makes me sad too. There really is no winning with this, not for me.

So I have to have the patience to go out and keep an eye on the place, carrying my gun. Farm Boss and I have to do all we humanly can to stop the coyote from killing again (which might mean a very costly fencing project). The thing is, a lot is at stake.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Bottom-line Party

Politics follow
and obviously all my opinion
feel free to share yours

Because I am disappointed in Democrats and Republicans albeit for different reasons, because both parties seem like sell-outs to the highest bidder (which rarely is the American people), I agree with one tea party claim-- there needs to be a new party. Of course the tea party's fear agenda, their tolerance of bigotry, their near hysteria, leaves me out of thinking it should be them.

To add to my distrust of the self-named Tea Party's aims and abilities, I find this bunch's claiming that name, as though they are like the founders of this country, to be offensive. Very few of them (with the exception of maybe some of their leaders, who might know what's going on but are milking it for their own aims) have any clue what government does.  To me, tea partiers are clueless and nearly deranged from fear and hate.

So, I offer for your consideration a new third party called-- The Bottom-Line. It is to be a party of pragmatism, not idealism. I guess either current party could adopt its tenets but so far they have not.

Oh I know idealism is supposed to be the way to move ahead. Idealism is highly praised, but it should not be in politics. Recognizing idealism isn't actually that easy. Sometimes it can cloak itself in such terms that it fools others; but generally idealism is about some lofty goal (noble or otherwise) but with no realistic way to get there. You and I might even disagree regarding whether the goal is lofty but the thing it always has in common is this disconnection with practicality. I see it from the left, the right. libertarians, and even the tea partiers though they would all claim-- not them.

Besides no idealism, I also want this new party to have absolutely no symbolisms. I think symbolism is manipulative and a way to keep people from paying attention to what is really happening; so no tea bags, no flag pins, no cute (and especially no ugly) signs.

The Bottom-line Party should claim no religious affiliation, nor promise any god is on their side. It should operate on principles historically proven to keep a culture healthy. In the case of the United States, that would begin with the Constitution and its protection of basic, human rights. When new ideas come along the party would evaluate them based on changing times and incorporate them only if they are deemed practical.

This party should be led by those who know what a real bottom-line looks like (and in case you didn't know, that's not always business people). I'd like it made up of those who can see beyond fancy rhetoric to what words mean and where ideas lead. I also am not interested in 'nanny' leaders who hold hands and coddle instead of sticking to the tasks at hand. I would suggest if we need a cheerleader, we appoint our own king or queen with no real power. To me a strong leader gives us the facts (as best they know it), not the emotion, and says it like it is it whether we want to hear it or not.

What a Bottom-Line Party is not

Libertarians would probably think they are the party of the bottom-line, but they are not if you look at what they think they can pull off with no government. Government is after all the collective will of the people expressed through voting. Government is intended to protect weak citizens from the strong, the minority from a selfish majority. Government steps in when individuals alone cannot accomplish something. Government is supposed to be a shared system of values with a collective plan to attain them. There is no way a culture, not made up of hermits, who all live and stay a long way apart, can get by without a form of government.

An example of libertarian folly was Rand Paul trying to defend why the civil rights act took away freedom from property owners. He stumbled all over himself trying to explain why a business owner should have the right to refuse service based purely on race but that he himself was not a racist. Since I don't know him, he might not be racist, at least not in a personal sense, but bottom-line is he was wrong. He couldn't defend his position because he could not admit that are times where government, the collective will of the people, is needed.

There is a reason the government can step into a business and say they cannot refuse service based on race. They do it because of the Constitution, which originally and through amendments expresses the collective will of the citizens; but also because businesses are licensed and receive the benefit of government services (paid for by the people) through things like highways, police, fire protection, sidewalks, etc. Private clubs can still do what they want for membership but anyone dealing with the public or receiving largess from the public cannot.

And then there are tea partiers who aren't pragmatic at all. They run on loose cannon emotions, use words, like socialism, that many have no idea what they even mean, and promise things that aren't logical-- like no taxes while they want their Medicare or a very advanced military fighting wars around the world.

Listening to them, half the time tea partiers want less government and half the time they want more. They are clueless frankly. Tea party types are not pragmatic and want to live in a dream world from the past that never existed. Their history with mankind, under different names, is extensive and never long term successful while they may do a lot of damage for awhile.

How can a thinking person vote for Republican? They sometimes talk practical but then do the opposite. Since falling out of power, they will do anything to make Democrats look bad with no concern for the country's welfare. Their idea of patriotism is a flag pin while they vote down benefits for veterans.

Voting for Republicans is a guarantee of more thinking like Liz Cheney who wants investigations of Obama for offering possible jobs as a way to influence who runs in his party's races. This is the kind of thing Republicans love to dwell on (unless it's their guys) instead of dealing with real problems.

So with wars in two places, North Korea acting dangerously, Iran with possible nukes and wanting to use them on Israel, Israel likely tricked into infuriating their only real Muslim ally, the Middle East still a powder keg, the oil gushing up in the Gulf with still no idea what all that may yet mean (and possibilities of it happening other places), climate change that could throw us all for a loop, world economy in the tank along with our own, infrastructure crumbling, terrorism still a very real threat, with all of that, Cheney and a few others want to investigate the 'other' party for doing something that their own party also does and has always done. Cheney is asking that we waste government time for partisan goals.

Republicans are too easily duped for me to think they can run anything. Look at how they recently selected failed CEO Carly Fiorina to run against Barbara Boxer. This is a CEO, who damaged two previously successful companies, who even today seems to think that having gotten a golden parachute to get rid of her makes her someone who knows how to run a country (at least into the ground).

Fiorina claims she's all about jobs and you wonder is this the same woman who shipped so many of ours overseas for the stock market's profit? She put out a quirky ad which evidently worked with the voters of California and proved her theory that they are sheep (that is no compliment). Then when she wins, her first off the record comment is about her opponent's hair. Not hard to see what her priorities are. Sorry but Republicans don't make a lot of sense to me on any level but least of all who they choose to run for offices.

IF Democrats don't like Obama acting like all the rest of the politicians (which he too often has been), they can vote him out next go round with the help of all those Republicans who never did want him. You cannot seriously vote for a Republican unless you want more investigations of blow jobs while Rome burns. They aren't idealists or pragmatists but instead are purely opportunists.

Sometimes it's hard to figure out the bottom-line because idealism gets in the way. We see that often from Democrats where they talk sometimes great ideas (sometimes not) but don't figure in the cost if they do those things. It's as though it will all happen by osmosis.

Obama now says he wants more money to bail out the states with their teacher, police and firemen salaries. That would be stimulus he says but he won't call it stimulus. These are definitely the jobs Americans care a lot about being done (even if they don't want to pay for them).

Yes, many states can't afford to pay those salaries but neither can the fed without borrowing. Because the fed has unlimited borrowing, for now, he can say he'd do it but for how long? IF the feds could have covered the states' shortfall without borrowing, I would have said that could be a pragmatic choice; but they cannot.

A pragmatic party would say that the states, the local governments must work their own budgets out and face the fact that some of it is due to pensions they promised in lusher investment years. There is no guarantee that the stock market will really go back up. It has ruined a lot of people's plans for their retirement years. Why should the states not face facts on it? If they want to pay the pensions and lay off current teachers, police and firemen, that's their choice; but it has to be their problem, and the fed should stay out of it.

Democrats feel they must become involved in such things (without a practical way to pay for them) based on idealism and emotionalism.

Democrats are often as much opportunists as Republicans but just looking to take advantage of a different group of people. Democrats talk like they care about the citizens but they ruin bills (downsize health care until it's nearly meaningless for the ordinary person, gut the financial bill, ignore real ways to help the environment while they do photo ops) while they don't figure out realistic ways to pay for what they want. They talk idealism but without a way to get there or, like with cap and trade, have no idea where there would be.

Idealism is easily used by demagogues, from any of these groups, to take power from everyone but themselves. Idealism fails in a world that responds better to pragmatism. Opportunism does not do what is right but only what is profitable and too often short term. Pragmatic, bottom-line parties face reality. Democrat and Republican voters don't like realistic talk which is why they end up with the politicians they do.

What a pragmatic party would look like
An example of what a pragmatic party would care about is health care reform. This really is a topic that a strong party would deal with despite the fear talk. The fear comes because they aren't looking at the bottom-line. How profitable is it for a society to put a big chunk of its money into buying protection from catastrophic illness? How beneficial is it that people are forced to put off routine care, and diagnostic tests which then end up with a bigger health problem than was required?

Practically speaking, a healthy citizenry is stronger. A citizenry that doesn't have to fear illness is more apt to be productive. When health costs are a fear, people have to stick to jobs that might be beneath their skills. Plans to make health care more affordable avoid draining the money into it from everything else.

We should not have private companies insuring people from fear but instead be helping people take care of their fixable health problems-- that's single payer which scares Democrats to even mention because of the fear talk spewing from Republicans, Libertarians, and Tea Partiers who manage to convince those in their ranks that somehow doing nothing benefits them. Doing nothing is most expensive of all. A lot could be done to make basic health care more affordable and available. That is what is pragmatic.

Idealism doesn't work because
I have heard it said that idealists change the world. You hear this especially regarding religions. That's because of the very few we hear about who did impact the world, but mostly when that happens, they started a movement that a realist came along and made work.

Having just spent some time (briefly) in Mormon country, an example of this would be Joseph Smith who began the Mormon church. He was clearly an idealist and a man who inspired others by writing a book he claimed was channeled from the angel Moroni. Very inspiring, but it took Brigham Young, using the martyred Smith and his own very pragmatic nature, to make that religion into the power structure it is today.

It's nice to listen to idealists, be inspired by them, but keep them in the movies or out doing seminars. For government leadership, we need pragmatists (conservative or liberal) to run things. Even though I won't always like what he/she does, they have more of a chance of getting something real done in the end. Idealists like symbols. Realists say show me the beef.

I would like there to be a bottom-line party which recognizes that we have certain characteristics as humans, we have certain needs,  which admits that sometimes it takes government to fulfill those needs, does not see government as the enemy but as a tool. It pays for what it wants. It would have to be a government that protects the minority from the majority when the majority is denying basic rights, that doesn't promise pie in the sky, tells us the cost openly (even when we don't like it), and has a realistic plan which involves winning or losing and what happens next. I won't hold my breath for it to happen because it requires enough Americans being pragmatists to get that person elected. I am afraid most Americans are idealists!

I have absolutely no reason to use the top photo for this topic except I like it and that turns out to be reason enough. It was taken from our moving pick-up in southern Utah. I take a lot of photos that way (it helps to pass the time) while Farm Boss supposedly keeps his eyes on the road-- or so he tells me.  Most I throw away but once in awhile I get a keeper.

Then there was this waxing crescent moon June 14th with Venus shining brightly above it looking out toward our pastures from the house.  Because I love crescent moons especially when Venus gets into the picture, we took a lot with some having no trees showing but it seemed it had more interest with the fading glow of the sunset and the  outline of trees. 

Just for fun I did a digital also to try and express more of the feeling which the camera couldn't capture.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

something extra

For those interested in astrology, check out [Rainy Day Extras]. The e-mail (which the writer said feel free to share elsewhere) is about astrology, the Hopi prophecies, and how they might play into the Gulf oil disaster.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

So what would you do about it?

 Immigration politics
is not about people visiting from around the world, living and working here with legal permission, or becoming citizens. America (including Arizona) is very welcoming to legal arrivals from everywhere. As always, when I was in Sinagua country and Bryce, I saw as many people from other countries as probably from here.The photo of Wupatki with a young couple taking a photo is a good example.  He was likely (based on accent) from India (actually I had guessed Germany but Farm Boss said India and since he works with many people from there, I defer to his wisdom on this one) and I would guess (although didn't ask either of them) that she was Navajo or Hopi as she was talking about living in this red rock country. Later I asked if they'd like me to use their camera to take a photo of them together (as people often offer us), and they did.

America is not an unfriendly country. It welcomes over one million immigrants a year to become new citizens. The issue being debated is purely about those who come without papers, who decide to make America their home and work here against our laws for which I don't blame them as much as our government.

I would like it if we could discuss this issue without attacks-- especially without attacking the messenger *wink*-- but instead deal with the message and hopefully offer some good ideas on working and immigration in our country but really in any country as it's not just an issue for the United States. Some do believe borders are wrong and people should be able to move anywhere in the world and settle if they wish. If you are one of those, I hope you will make your case.

Even after getting home from Arizona, the talk still swirls about Arizona's attempt to deal with illegal immigration. Boycotts (a favorite tool from the right) are only one of the suggestions. One labor union asked Homeland Security Department to not recognize Arizona as being in the US as a way to block their enforcing their immigration law. The federal government is planning to sue them for daring to apply the Constitution to immigration when it's only the job of the federal government-- never mind it's one they aren't doing to the tune of at least 10 million people living and working here illegally (at a minimum) and that after 1986 allowing 10 million illegally here then to become citizens.

During the last two months, I have had to read lectures from Mexico's president regarding the unfairness of this law which happens to be far less draconian than Mexico's own. Several small nations in the UN lectured us likewise and who knows what their border policies are, but the media covered it as-- United Nations finds fault with Arizona's law. Many cities, who are now profiting from such unauthorized immigration also got into  attack mode over it. People like me are called white supremacists or bigots for daring to say it's a problem to have our laws ignored, for thinking that profit should not matter more than legality. And on it goes. So I want to ask--

What would you do about it?

Should any nation have borders that have meaning or should we all let in anybody who wants to come? Totally open borders would be more honest in the United States than what is passing for policy as it stands. Is it fair that Americans who live along the southwestern border must live with fear?

Please read the link above because it is one of many that describe the issue that makes me most angry because of my love of that border country. Then there is this next one that makes it more 'personal' and yes, it's from an anti-illegal immigration paper but read the article for the interview with the Krentz family-- Family Talks about the Life and Death of the Murdered Arizona Rancher

To hear the left wing media talk hey it's just one murder. Well to that family it's not especially since they saw it coming. Or here's another on Krentz's murder-- Rancher Krentz was shot more than once-- which means whoever did it, wanted him dead. Remember he didn't fire his own guns. The person wasn't just trying to escape but to murder and possibly intimidate others from reporting drug smuggling. Until they find the killer, if they ever do, there is no way to know motive, but we can know that people who live where the Krentzes live have long feared this kind of crime.

For years I have been reading stories from those who live along the border as they try to tell others what it's like for them. I have driven the roads, hiked the trails, and seen how it's changed for myself. For some of you this is a brand new issue, but it's not for those who know that country. It wasn't always this way.

You don't likely know those little houses, the patched fences, the windmills, the water tanks, the land that takes a lot of hard work to hold onto, land that weather alone makes challenging for making a ranch profitable, and then along comes something else, something hard work can't fix. Over many years I have imagined myself living in one of those ranches. It's still country where I'd love to live, but...

What would you do at night when you are lying in your bed and hearing whispers and footsteps outside, maybe a hundred feet away, or maybe outside your window. You wouldn't know if they were going to pass right on or if they might decide to invade your home. You don't know how many except there seem to be a lot of steps. They probably have guns. You know some carry AK-47s.

Sometimes in country that far out there is no phone service. Forget cell phones; but even if you could reach Border Patrol, they couldn't get there in anything less than hours. Besides who cares about trespassing? It's another of those laws like car 'borrowing' that has been dumbed down into no big deal.

What would you do if you were a rancher with your fences cut or your water tanks deliberately drained, your cattle dead because they swallowed plastic garbage uncaringly thrown on the ground? What would you do if your husband had been gunned down just because he was out checking his own land? What would you want done then?

The media is telling you, based on statistics, that there is little crime along our American side of the border. Does fear count as a crime? How about petty burglary? We already know trespassing is no big deal. Who cares about fences cut or water tanks deliberately drained, right? Drugs stored on someone's property okay? Is one murder, as a way of intimidating others from reporting or even seeing what is going on, also no big deal? Should there be any concern of the escalating violence just across the border-- a border that can't be protected (and some don't want protected)?

But to me this issue isn't just about fear or even whether there is crime. This is a question of American law, property rights, and national borders. The reasonable solutions regarding immigration have not happened. So I'd like to hear ideas about how to deal with it, ideas that might help when name calling does not. Last year (and every year) over one million people legally, from many nations, became American citizens-- the largest percentage from Mexico. How many should that have been?

In its beginning, this country did let everybody come; those who stayed could apply for citizenship. At one time we also had a Homestead Act which granted land to anybody who settled on it and proved it up. Life and needs change. Haven't you noticed that?
Immigration rules in the United States were altered in 1875.

Immigration laws were/are wrong? Totally open borders are the way to go? If someone really believes in an open border, they should work to change the rules, as encouraging millions of people to break one of our laws isn't a good way to get them to pay attention to any of them. Either we mean it or we don't and when we don't what else don't we mean? When I wrote about this in my May politics blog, I said Americans love under the table and this is sure a case of that.

What irks me the most about it is not the idea of letting in a lot more immigrants (if we did it legally and above the table), but it's hearing the left encouraging breaking the laws for some higher purpose (immigration) and knowing the right says the same thing for a different higher purpose (terrorism). Is it any wonder people look askance at believing we take any of our laws seriously?

And then there is this practical question, the one I am not supposed to ask. When those new people come, from all around the world, the poor, the sick, the ones the poem in the Statue of Liberty talks about, how do we pay for benefits for them all (and they are already getting them now in sanctuary cities; so they will want them)? A 70% tax rate is okay because it will be on someone else? It might take that much. You know, I believe in the need for higher taxes to take care of our own poor, our own social services, but now some tell me that's not enough and it should be anybody from anywhere in the world... Frankly, that's nuts!

People are so busy being mad at Arizona for doing something about all of this that many haven't come up with their own plan for dealing with unlawful immigration. Are you one of those or have you figured out a solution. If you have, I'd like to hear it. Keep in mind amnesty won't solve the problem as that was tried in 1986, where all who were already here, could apply for citizenship. [It not only wasn't the end of others coming across, it might have encouraged them].

The following article suggests that amnesty will work without explaining how other than after amnesty there will be a big crackdown on those here illegally. Isn't that what is being suggested now with so much vitriol from the left? Will a Border Crackdown Work?  If people don't want ID checked now, what will change about that then?

The problem with amnesty is that as soon as the people here illegally are made citizens, they will be replaced by new workers without documentation. You know it's true.  The article suggests we make them citizens first and then solve the border problem. I suggest we do it the other way around.

Yeah, I am angry at this situation. I have written about my ideas which were pretty much what Reagan's amnesty program promised would happen (and I doubted it would happen then-- it didn't). We either control the border, enforce work regulations, or it's all just a shell game.

And this made me even angrier when I learned what the Obama administration planned to do about it. In 2007, Arizona passed a law restricting people from hiring illegals and having penalties for doing it. The Obama administration is now going to sue them over that too as they claim it damages an already working program. What already working program?

I listened to a left winger, Robert Kennedy Jr. saying that the number of illegal workers grew when the unions lost power. Before that, unions enforced working rights and workers had to join a union but those here illegally could not; so it kept down illegal employment (and it is illegal employment as it stands). The thing is to a leftie, I guess if the union checks on citizenship, it was okay but not if the state does it?

As it stands, there is no real hope for control with the viewpoint I hear from the left, but a lot on the right want no enforcement either. There's too much profit in it as there is. I listened to Olbermann smirk over how much money Arizona would lose over cracking down on immigration. So it is really all about money?

Little did I realize besides Sanctuary Cities, our own federal government not only does but wants to ignore its own laws. I do understand that some people who want immigration controlled might be bigots [and the latest proposal from the Arizona legislator to make any child born here but with one parent being an illegal, then not qualifying for citizenship definitely seemed to come under that category. You can make a case-- whether you should or not-- for having to have at least one parent be an American citizen for the baby to be automatically a citizen but what he is suggesting seems cruel and very unfair]; but generally speaking, I get tired of the distraction used by the left and the right of attacking the messenger for any message. How about looking at the message for awhile.

The issue here is what should be done about immigrants who come in and stay without a legal right, without documentation? What should be done regarding those who hire them to avoid paying benefits or taxes and can pay them less than our minimum wage? If someone really wants to let in everybody, change the laws! Do it honestly. I am sick of people who say one thing while they do another.  It's not serving us well in any arena.

It takes tough regulations to make immigration and border control work and too many Americans have no stomach for anything tough in any area of life. They are easily milked for emotions, they expect someone else to pay for what they want, and they don't think ahead for the actual costs of anything. We aren't like our pioneer ancestors. We have gone soft and that won't help us in a world where a lot of other people are not soft.

So what do you think we should do now? Doing nothing is fine? I doubt that it's okay with Rob Krentz's widow or his children. I know it's not from those people who live on the land that is regularly being crossed.

Photo of me is also at Honanki in northern Arizona. Basically it is apropos for this debate because the Sinagua were a culture that also existed and then didn't. At one time a woman likely could have stood where I am standing and thought it would always be as it had been. It wouldn't.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Closing Arguments on Prop 8

I am hoping for the best on this issue as the courts decide if California's voting to ban gay marriage is against the Constitution. It is beyond my comprehension how so many states have voted to block people from marrying who are of age and in love. I have written about it many times in the blog. I just hope that maybe soon it will be changed and we can look back on it as ridiculous that it was ever any other way.

What is interesting is that a conservative can see that this is truly a conservative issue. Ted Olson has really surprised me but in a good way.

For people who are not gay, it might seem like why should we care? We should care because it's the right thing to do. We should care because when we demean one group, keep them down, suppress their rights, we are all diminished by it. I used to think the government should not call anything marriage and call such licenses all civil unions. Now I feel that's not enough. We have to recognize what truth is and truth is that gay marriage should be as valid as any other kind.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bryce Canyon

Since I have already written the gist of what I feel about Bryce beyond explaining why it's here which I will leave up to scientists, I can only repeat it was a very special place to spend time and someday I would enjoy going again where I had time to hike more as well as with a knee in better shape for those steep slopes. I might stay next time in Tropic which is below the canyon to see what it all feels like from down there.

I felt very fortunate to have been there in an unplanned, serendipitous time to be somewhere for a few hours, to watch others experiencing the same place, and to get  photos that I will enjoy for many years to come.

Isn't it great that earlier generations preserved it for those of us to come! I know I say that a lot but I think it a lot also. Some say government doesn't do any good. Explain to me how any body but government's could or would set aside something like this for us all to experience.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Sinagua

"...for us life is shrouded in mystery and the world defies explanation... humans do not need to know everything there is to be known. The human past, we feel, is a universal past. No one can claim it, and no one can ever know it completely."
Kina Swentzell, Pueblo Santa Clara

Basically I am curious about people. There is not much more fascinating to me than human interactions with each other, how cultures are made, relationships broken, connections made. Why do humans often do things that are actually against their own self interest? How do they react when change happens? What works long term versus short term? And on the questions go.

Most of why I find politics interesting is because it represents human dynamics, how decisions are made, leaders chosen, emotions stirred, and people work together to achieve (or block achievement). Politics, in a church, neighborhood, club, or government is all about human interactions.

As much as today's politics interest me, that from earlier cultures always draws me to spend time trying to imagine what it would have been like, how they managed to stay a cohesive group or why they broke apart.

The Sinagua fit into this because they, like the other prehistoric peoples of the Southwest (Hohokam, Anasazi, Mogollon, Salado) lived in different but sometimes overlapping Southwestern regions, developed their cultures along with complex religious traditions as they went from no permanent homes, to pit houses, then to stone or adobe buildings, before they left most of them for somewhere else.

Some likely stayed in the Southwest to become today's Hopi and Pueblo people; some may have gone down into Mexico to join with other Meso-American peoples, some may have joined together with the Paiute and Navajo. Whatever or wherever they went, why they left, archaeologists and anthropologists debate.

When artifacts are left behind, there is no debating them. They can often be pretty accurately dated based on the layers in which they were found, but where conjecture comes into play is interpreting what they mean. Whatever happened, the people known to us today as the Sinagua, which means without water (who knows what they called themselves), left what had been their homes along with the Hohokam (those who have ceased) and Anasazi (ancient ones). They were there and then they left.

They weren't strangers to leaving as some of the stone homes, elaborate homes, were only occupied for a hundred years. All that work and then off to build another one nearby.  It cannot be because someone died there as they sometimes buried their dead under their floors.

Whatever caused them to abandon these villages permanently, it is unlikely they were all killed there as no evidence of that remains. It wasn't the volcano that forced them out as Sunset Crater had erupted from 1064-67, where the people had left for awhile but returned as they found the ash improved the growing of their gardens. They were facing a time of a long, intense drought. Whatever their reasons, they must have made sense to them as the people made a decision to leave and did.

From what is identified as the Sinagua's earliest appearing as a defined cultural group in 500 AD until 1300 AD when they abandoned this region, for 800 years, they had lived, loved, bore children, fought with each other and outsiders, made music, died, and created a culture that is recognizable as being uniquely theirs although enhanced by ideas from their neighbors from all around them.

By the 12th century, the Sinagua of the Sunset Crater and Sedona regions had synthesized into their culture ideas from those around them. Native American peoples before the Europeans were not as isolated as some might think. They traded far and wide and when they saw good ideas, they adapted them to their own use.

For the Sinagua, there were arrow points from the Yuman peoples. From the Mogollon, came pithouse architecture and ceramic styles. There appeared Meso-American type ball court while their crafts sometimes reflected the Mogollon people's styles. Directly or indirectly, they acquired parrots, copper bells and mythology from Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America). Like the Zuni and Hopi, the Sinagua likely established clans, and they seem to have adapted several different religious beliefs, which can be seen through changing burial customs.

Archaeology, by finding things in certain specific layers, can tell when the Sinagua learned improved usage of pueblo masonry and built kiva like structures. What archaeology cannot tell us is how they used them. Perhaps their kivas were meeting places to hold dances and ceremonies as they didn't have roofs like the Anasazi did and the Hopi do today. They may not have had the secretive element or maybe they did. What archaeology can do is find evidence left behind. Interpreting it comes under educated conjecture.
'Like some Puebloan neighbors, the Sinagua developed an organized and stratified social system. According to National Forest archaeologist Piter Pilles (writing in Ekkehart Malotki’s and Michael Lomatuway’ma’s Earth Fire), the Sinagua built upscale villages at prominent locations, incorporating prestige architectural features such as community ceremonial chambers, courtyards and ball courts. They buried high status individuals, for instance, the well-known "Magician" at the Sinaguan site called "Ridge Ruin," with elaborate grave offerings such as ceramics, wands, baskets and jewelry.' from Sinaguans of Arizona.

The petroglyphs might tell some of their stories if we knew what the symbols meant. There was Kokopelli in some of the drawings, actually many places, but was this flute player, who is not humpbacked, Kokopelli or might he have been The Magician? Some petroglyph sites are off by themselves, nowhere near the homes; while others, like this one at Honanki, are next to the dwellings. Do they tell the story of these peoples? The Hopi sometimes say that they do and explain what the symbols mean.

Our imaginings, of what life might have been like a thousand years ago, grows stronger as we walk through their homes, travel what could have been their same trails and look at the red rock that hasn't changed much since they looked up at it. We see the remnants of a way of life that is gone but the energy is still strong.

It is impossible for me to be such places and not wonder how a culture can seemingly have so much going for it and yet lose it all. Doesn't it serve as a warning to us today? By the time most Europeans arrived in these places, the villages had been deserted. Only the ravens stayed behind and it is said they will always be where the people once lived. Are they waiting for their return?

More photos at: [Sinagua Country Northern Arizona]

The name Wupatki derives from Hopi words that translate literally into 'it was cut long,' and recalls an event in the histories of the Hopi clans. It is said that people prospered here. In time men began gambling and ignored their crops and prayers for rain. Concerned their leader severed a ritual object and then went into exile. When he returned, the people awoke from their decadence.     From Wupatki Pueblo Trail Guide
Anything sound familiar about that?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Nature Breathes

After I had been to Bryce, on our drive home, I felt this intense sense of the aliveness of nature, of how Bryce had a real, physical personality, that the rocks, the trees, the animals, all were as spirit filled as we are. I have thought such things before, read how Native Americans see it, but never experienced it with so much inner knowing and awareness. This isn't about a god occupying us all although who knows why it is as it is; but it's that nature is not inanimate and the rocks, the rivers, all the things we usually think of as being less alive than us,  they aren't.

Quite simply, I breathed it into me and it breathed me into it. And I don't mean with lungs for either of us.

What makes Bryce such an example of this is that it's in process. The ground you stand on while you look out over the expanse of red rock, formed in a vast, creative array of shapes, that very ground is only awaiting its turn. Under the sand and trees are the same formations that will someday be exposed by time. While that beyond will be beaten down by the same time. Bryce is growing and shifting before our eyes.

To me, there is no explaining, though Farm Boss tried to put it in scientific terms, why places like Bryce exist one place but not another. Why the red rock is so unique in that corner of the world. Yes, rock formations are many places, but you don't see the same thing even two hundred miles from it and won't see it again the same anywhere in the United States. Similar maybe but not like Bryce, Canyonlands, Arches, Zion, Escalante, and the Grand Canyon. It's an embarrassment of riches all in one place.

So I was thinking about that sensation that I had visited a place with personality, a place that recognized I had been there, that had welcomed me, when we were driving though Redmond, Oregon, almost to Sisters (where we planned to spend the night). I watched the mountains as I always do when the Cascades come into view and noticed that on one of the snow covered peaks (dormant volcano), there appeared to be a pattern, a shape, a drawing. It was shockingly like the outline of a figure. I started photographing it as best I could from the moving vehicle. I had never seen anything like it.
When Farm Boss finally saw it (he was after all driving), he said it was like the drawing of a Kachina dancer. And he was right. That's exactly what it looked like. As the cloud shifted down over the mountain, it covered the head and became more like an eagle dancer with head down and wings out.

I thought it was an odd phenomena but figured it had to be the rugged rocky cliffs showing through the snow due to the lateness of the season. The next morning, with no clouds, I saw that it wasn't just the mountain that had formed that figure but the clouds as they lay in such a way as to make the drawing so strong that it could not be missed. In the morning the illusion was gone.

I think it came to tell me something that yes, it was and is real. The earth is real and it has personality. It has being. We should not only respect it but protect it. You can tell me it's nuts to think the earth has personality and spirit; but I know what I know and more than ever before in my life, I do know it.

Earth in all ways is alive and it is proud of itself. It likes it when we recognize its gift. I have never felt its reality so strongly as I did then and do today. Places like Bryce, if we let them, they can enrich our own spirit-- even on a trip as short as ours had to be.

For those who think this relates to a metaphysical religion or paganism, it really doesn't. It's an awareness of connection. Jesus said if people didn't say who he was, the rocks would. Some think we can ignore nature, ignore the earth and somehow go on as we have been. I believe the connection between us means that when things happen like in the Gulf, they impact us all. We may not recognize it immediately but eventually everyone will see the result.
Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible player. Albert Einstein

I could have enhanced this photo just a bit, tweaked it a little but it wasn't necessary.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Serendipity in traveling

Time in Arizona was covered in my link to the previous blog where I kept a brief journal of activities and thinking while there. Because of having to leave the house in condition suitable for a renter to arrive, we didn't leave particularly early on Thursday the 2oth. At that point, we were still uncertain what route we would take. There were reports of possible snow in northern Nevada and southern Oregon which had been our planned route. The only thing definite was feeling we should be home before the 25th.

It was really only after driving through Phoenix that we decided to spend our first night in Sedona. The idea was we could then drive out to Palatki and Honanki Ruins which are Sinagua (one-time residents of northern Arizona) cliff dwellings and petroglyphs.

We called ahead to get reservations at a reasonably priced older motel we particularly like that overlooks Oak Creek Canyon with a small balcony, views of the red rock, and the sounds from the creek below. We stopped at the first ranger station to be sure our National Park senior passes would be sufficient to get us into any parking areas and learned it now required reservations to visit Palatki. The more people use something, the more use has to be limited. Once again the cell phone proved its worth as we reserved a time we could make-- if we put off eating lunch.

Palataki was once again a pleasurable time made even better at seeing the waxing moon above the red bluffs. Afterward we drove out to Honanki (rough road suggesting limited to vehicles with good clearance) also which again had petroglyphs and the remains of Sinagua cliff dwellings.

On our way back to Sedona, we stopped for another photo op at a small water tank where the reflections of the red rock bluffs were interesting with only a mallard duck as current resident.

I wouldn't mention our eating dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Sedona except for the surprise of seeing an older gentleman there who had joked with us at both the ruins by asking if we had seen any Indians. At the restaurant he didn't see us and was still by himself. It made me wonder though about why he was alone, few are. He didn't look like the kind of man who had always been alone. I thought how important it is that people do such things even if they don't have family or friend to do it with them. I admired that he had.

We drove north the next morning up through Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff which we basically drove straight through before turning onto a loop drive past Sunset Crater to Wupatki National Monument where there are four different ruins open to the public with easy walks into them (Wukoki, Wupatki, Citadel and Lomaki).

The photography gift there was being able to incorporate into many of the photos the San Francisco Peaks with snow on them. These mountains are where the Hopis believe the Kachinas spend half the year (they would return there during the summer). These peaks are considered sacred to most of the native peoples of the region today and probably were when the Sinagua walked the land.

When we again turned north, we were still unsure where we'd spend that night; but being in the red rock country had inspired us and we decided it should be at or near Bryce Canyon National Park. We had a AAA Tour book and used it to find a motel. Cell phone again came through (how did we manage before them?) as we found one with a room still available, a bit removed from the 'village' itself which ended up being something I very much liked as I had had no idea how bustling it would be near the gates to the park.

After we checked into that family owned and run motel, we drove into the park hoping to get photos before the sun was too far below the trees to make good color. Although I am generally not a sightseeing type person, I was very impressed by Bryce. Where the Grand Canyon suggests timelessness and vastness, Bryce seemed more about transitions, strangely enough intimacy, and seemed almost touchable although it has vast depths and many warnings about being careful near the edges of the cliffs.

I don't do well with heights and a few places I felt very uncomfortable. Especially one where Farm Boss stayed behind with the camera and I walked a broad path back to the main viewpoint. The sidewalk followed a crest and I felt like the wind was trying to blow me off the side. Silly as it was, there really was no risk but there also was no guardrail. the feeling of near panic was real for me. Farm Boss has no such height problems which also makes me uneasy when I see him or anybody acting cavalierly when I can see how far down it is.

The most exciting thing for me that evening was the ravens at the last viewpoints along the canyon. They weren't afraid of people-- not at all. I had never seen wild ravens this close and assume that someone had spent some time teaching them and then they taught their families that humans are easy marks. I always notice ravens wherever I go; so this was a treat to get these kind of photos.

The next morning we drove back to the park for morning light before heading north for the long drive to midway up the state of Nevada. In southern Utah the trees were just beginning to leaf out which meant it had had a late spring. With a still vigorous wind (the day before that meant 40 mph), the air seemed colder than the high 60s temperatures would indicate.

I was thinking a lot as we drove north regarding a book I had bought at a store at Bryce about hiking the Paria River country and some of its history. Years ago I had read a romance based around what had happened in 1857 to the Fancher Train, a large, prosperous wagon train where 120 people, all the men, women and children over a certain age, were massacred at Mountain Meadows by Mormons and Paiutes (believe it or not on September 11th).

Besides explaining possible hikes, the book had more of the story of John D. Lee who was one of the Mormon leaders who was eventually executed for the killings although many think he took the fall for Brigham Young who may have ordered the attacks but it could never be proven given the loyalty of Lee.

In reading about Lee, one of his 19 wives particularly interested me. Rachel Woolsey Lee had come out from Kentucky with him. Lee had married her older sister (among others), then her and the girls' aged widowed mother, and later one of Rachel's younger sisters. Rachel, who was his 6th wife, followed him into the wilderness, lived through his years of being on the run, and stuck with him to the end. After he had been executed, she moved down to the Mogollon Rim country of Arizona with one of her sons and is buried near Safford, Arizona.

The whole idea of polygamy and how these women get along within it, their lives, especially hers so often in the wilderness, that interested me. In the case of Rachel, a pool up in the Paria River country is named for her because Lee built a home up there for her and I think one other wife. Lee tended to have his wives in different homes and some did leave him. Some like Rachel's mother were likely wives in name only.

Southern Utah always leaves me wanting to spend longer even though I think it still would not be easy to live there for a non-Mormon-- not because it's dangerous but because it's isolated and the communities are all based around Mormonism, which is a very tight religious community. I definitely would like to come back for a few weeks. Maybe several days at that house out of Moab back in the canyon country along with other vacation home rentals that would let us experience the land more closely than a motel-- that is if we didn't camp.

Saturday night was in a motel along the freeway 2/3 of the way up Nevada. It was cold and everybody was talking about how much colder it was than usual. As we drove north the next morning toward the Oregon border, we saw snow all along the road but not on its surface. Looking toward the rugged snow covered hills, I got some interesting photos from the window of the moving truck. At one point the snow was falling pretty heavily on the road, but the surface stayed clear.

Again we decided on the spur of the moment to check out John Day, Oregon at this time of the year; so we kept driving north from Burns, through John Day (one of the warmest places we experienced since leaving southern Utah) planning to spend our last night in Sisters which is right on the edge of the Cascade Mountains.

All in all we had four nights of serendipity with three different sets of experiences. We joked that we were having a Griswald family vacation like the Chevy Chase movies (which I haven't seen so hope I got the name right) but it really wasn't exactly like that. Although we were doing a lot of driving, each time we stopped for those three experiences, the Sinagua ruins and at one of nature's wonders, we were there and we didn't rush the experience of being. (to be continued)

The photos are from Sinagua country and Bryce with more to come in a Picasa folder for each. It's hard to cut everything down to just a few (hundred) but too many and a person's eyes glaze over. We really did get some beautiful and I think intimate photos of the red rock country of northern Arizona and southern Utah.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Breaking it down

It was actually nice to give myself a self-decreed month off from publishing blogs; however, I knew I'd never take a month off from writing, which whether it's fiction, emails, journal entries, or essays on a topic, has been an ongoing part of who I am since I was old enough to record a few scribbled words. What I wanted was a time out from deciding if whatever I wrote mattered and even more important from debating it with someone else.

Then too, I wondered how much of what I do is influenced by keeping a blog? Do I sometimes do something just to share here? As I have said, I never have shared all of what is going on in my life (even though it might make a more interesting blog); but if I wasn't doing a blog, would it make a difference? (answer to that one after a month off-- not)

Sometimes when I am thinking deeply, working out an issue (especially about politics) I don't want someone else to come along and find fault with it right away or even agree, leaving me feeling I have now set my opinion in concrete.

Besides that, I wanted a break to decide if regular blogging was something I wanted to continue. Blogs are kind of like books except there is no The End. I wasn't planning to delete this blog whatever I decided but more maybe writing less frequently than I have been doing for quite awhile. (Still not sure on that one but once a week might work better if summer actually gets here anyway.)

Being honest, before I left, I was also irritated with the political atmosphere in this country-- lefties and righties equally but for different reasons. I was tired of rants even when they were my own.

I have always known I am not someone who fits into a neat box politically and what has been going on in the US has made me even more aware of that and with no apologies. I like how I think; but feeling as frustrated as I did, did I want to write about any of it. Does it really make a difference in anything we write here? I have a firm belief that anger and divisiveness are unhealthy; but so is avoiding important truths just because they're unpleasant. The challenge for me is in finding a balance between caring, expressing myself whether in a blog or to friends, and not letting it become consuming.

One early Tucson morning, I lay in bed thinking, which is my favorite way to wake, when I can take some time to mull over dreams, capture the thoughts from the night. I was also listening to the mourning doves. Do you know they sometimes make the same sound over and over? No difference. It can go on for hours especially in the early morning. There is no seeming attempt to share an idea but just that kuh kuh kuh-coo (sort of what it sounds like). Maybe they enjoy it just for the sound in their own ears. I've been hearing a lot of repetitive talk from the media with one difference. The dove sound is never aggressive. It can seem repetitive though if you don't like it. I do like it and always equate it with Tucson.

The coyotes, which that morning I was also hearing, appear to do more conversing which can sometimes reflect excitement, sometimes upset. One night when first here, I had been awakened with that startle response a person gets when something wakes them that doesn't fit. I think mothers learn that and never stop doing it but farm living can bring it on also. That night there were other coyotes yodeling. I think the sound, like a loud pained whimper that went on and then was repeated, came from a coyote but why? What did it communicate? I waited hoping to hear it again but it didn't repeat. Was something being killed? Maybe a young coyote being taught manners? It wasn't something I had heard before and I have heard a LOT of coyote yodels. While in Tucson, I can enjoy their conversations more than at home when I have to worry if they will try to get to the sheep.

With all the animal sounds outside, the cool desert air was coming in the open window like a caress from the desert to my bare skin. If you have ever lived through a desert summer, you know that early morning is a precious time. It will be the only cool air until the sun goes back down. I love Tucson summers with the way they regulate the rhythm of life.

It was then that an idea came to me that while not regularly publishing, I could write things much more freely. I would keep a journal that I could publish elsewhere for readers of the blog to access if they were interested. It would give me a month, almost, to decide if I wanted to share what I wrote; but I'd write whatever I felt without censoring myself-- well less censoring.

I figured there would be my thinking on politics, maybe links as I came across them. Later, after I had started on it, I saw a natural division would work better; and I'd do it in two parts. One would be all politics, what I felt about any particular issue. A lot of readers might not care what I think on something like immigration, the oil spill, the Kagan nomination, Obama, 'don't ask, don't tell,' or anything else. People wouldn't have to read the link.

The second part would be my daily life and what my time in Tucson was like on a more personal level. The second part would be where most Tucson photos would go. It would be stream of consciousness writing without deciding if this or that was important enough to blog about.

It might seem I write about just anything anyway but I don't. I always try to decide if something matters enough to take up a reader's time. For May I decided I wouldn't do that about politics or the journal. Someone would have to click on it. It didn't matter if it was important.

Doing my writing this way was better on many levels because I could always write on the laptop even if I couldn't get somewhere to post it. It gave me time to decide if I wanted to change something where I had come to a new insight-- at least new to me. This is especially true of politics where the more I write or think about something, the more my ideas crystallize.

So for those who want to know some of what my month of May was like, the breakdown follows.

Photo above is our dining room table in Tucson. A table is a good place to sit and talk over the day or issues that have arisen. Out beyond, you see the desert, our Tucson backyard.

Theoretically this link, [Tucson in May] will take you to more photos if you aren't interested in words. I say theoretically because it worked, then it did not work; then it worked again. Try it and see what it does now!