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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Luck was with us

Friday afternoon was hot, but I decided I wanted to go out to where Farm Boss was fixing a tractor and get moving the irrigation over early. He had let the sheep out into the main pasture because he would be nearby.

As I walked down the road to the barn, I saw some of the sheep come running and others standing alertly looking toward the pasture. I also saw Farm Boss at another gate and a few sheep coming running in past him. I yelled where is your gun?

Down by the barns, he yelled back.

Then I looked again at the way they were behaving and quickened my own pace, telling him to get it. I got to the barns ahead of him and could see through the doorway into the field below. What I saw hurried me even more. A coyote was over a downed lamb.  At that point I had a choice. Slow down for the gun with a possible chance of killing the coyote but giving it more time to tear at the lamb or I could scream as loud as possible and hope that the coyote would run. I chose the second and let out a primal scream as I kept running. Sarah Palin only thinks she knows about mama grizzlies!

The coyote looked at me for only a second before it turned tail and ran. By then Farm Boss was also there with the gun but the coyote had disappeared over the bank toward the creek. He and I ran out to the downed lamb. It had its head back in the dead position. Eyes open. Breathing. A scrape mark below its right eye and small bloody puncture in the throat.

Farm Boss checked it over for more injuries; but we saw unless it died of shock, it should make it.  He put his fingers over the small hole. It had not nicked an artery or vein. I stayed with it while he went out to the pasture to see if the coyote was still anywhere near. I didn't think it would be. Within a few minutes the lamb was maaing and then getting shakily to its feet.

The funny part is the sheep have no idea of it being dangerous. The rest ran out into the pasture to get fresh grass. We had to herd them back in where they clearly didn't want to go; but the idea that a predator was so close, that it nearly killed one of them, it didn't have them afraid at all beyond the immediate moment it had been there.

Although Farm Boss walked around the fence perimeters, he saw no sign of the coyote. It was long gone or hiding where we couldn't see it. It didn't much like that scream, I am guessing. Neither did I. I didn't like that it had come so close to the house, right down below the barns. Nor did I like that it had attempted its kill when Farm Boss had been so close, had been right there only 10 minutes earlier. It is a daring coyote and will be back without a doubt.

But luck was with us this time.

Photos are of the sheep after the attack but not of the wounded lamb. It's doing fine though so far.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A dream inspired by South Pacific... maybe

Actually, I debated whether to share this dream because it's not like it offered any great insights into life although it certainly did illustrate a couple of life problems. Still since dreams are one of my interests, since this dream was very vivid and did have a 'story' to it, I decided I would relate it. Who knows someone else might interpret it better than I have.

In the dream, the female character was going through a divorce. She was trying to work out her settlement. She had evidently married a very wealthy man or they had built up a lot of money together as the settlement was substantial. If there had been anger or disappointment in the marriage ending, it was over. This was mainly about the logistics of establishing a new life and begins as she realizes how much money she will have. The figure $13 million sticks in my mind. She was about 60 and there was no sign of the ex in the dream. Perhaps he had moved on to someone else and she didn't care. At the point of the dream, it was just a relationship that had come to an end and now they had to work out the financial aspects.

I think she was me but not the me I am today, not living the life I am, none of the people I actually know in it, nor where I live. It just felt like I was inside her as these events unfolded. I will refer to her as her because in a dream it isn't always really us even when it appears to be if the life events aren't the same.

One of the dominant elements in Glenn Close's South Pacific was that she had been drawn to come to where she was. It became obvious from the moment she met de Becque (a meeting that the 2001 version showed) what that reason was. Possibly inspired by having just seen that, my dream involved soul mate love also but with a problem that went even beyond racism for being a barrier.

When my lead character had realized who her soul mate was (she knew from before the dream began), she also knew he was one of two young men who were friends with each other and with her. He was about 20. The boy didn't know who she was to him but he was drawn to her and wanted to spend time with her. She saw the complexity of that, as although she was still very attractive at 60, she knew that wasn't going to last. Forty years is too much of a gap for anything more than an affair and where would an affair leave either of them?

Part of her new life required selling the home where she had been living. She was running into a problem there also as the local zoning would not permit the person to buy the house who wanted it. The problem was the city designated that certain neighborhoods would remain small for workers who could not afford bigger places. This was such a  neighborhood which meant her sale fell through. This was not about racism but more an ordered society where each group must remain in their place. She was angry about it but not much she could do.

She and the young man went for a walk together, down past a beautiful park with a lake as she thought about who he was to her and knew she'd never tell him. A lot of other things happened that don't matter as they walked downtown

Then came what did matter as she saw poverty such as she had never seen. There were people living in cars. On a rooftop were cars that served as homes. One was a van where a family lived. This was a hot climate and to live in such a place, and she could just imagine how awful it must be.

The difference between these peoples lives and hers hit her hard as she realized she would come into this large amount of money but could she enjoy it knowing how some had to live? If she gave away her whole settlement, she couldn't make a dent in their poverty. In some ways she wished she had never known this existed but there was no going back from the knowledge. Or was there?  Could she just turn off that knowledge and enjoy herself? Could she give away a small part of it and enjoy her life? What would really change this kind of poverty?

Although I think the elements of 2001's South Pacific had to be behind the vividness of the dream, I also think that it was coming out of the political problems we talk about today. Also in the dream, the woman was in a time of transition as am I as I head into old age.

For her, all that she looked at was either impossible or wouldn't really help her to make her future life better. There was a soul mate love that could never be. There was a lot of money which might buy comfort but not happiness especially if she started comparing herself to others less fortunate. Nellie Forbush was able to have her soul mate once she overcame her prejudices but sometimes such love is not meant to be and certainly for the woman in my dream, this was one of those times

The dream was about extreme poverty more than racism as the people suffering so much were all faceless in my dream. They represented something more than were characters.

Sometimes I can see how a dream applies to my life. Sometimes I cannot remember even vivid ones. This one made me think about the problem of poverty and how the solutions many wish might take care of this or that really don't. We have certainly seen that in our country. How do we fix something that big? What can one person really do? Good jobs mean far more than hand-outs, how do we get those jobs especially when, for cheaper goods, we are shipping so many jobs overseas?

The dream ended without any magical solution to any of it which is often how life is (and how 2001's South Pacific left one of its characters.) A dream that strong always seems like it should have a message for my personal life, but I don't know if this one did. I do think that the problem of poverty is one that worries a lot of people for finding solutions that work rather than just plugging a temporary gap with a bigger one to open next.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

South Pacific -- South Pacific and a dream

Like most people, I had seen 1958's South Pacific with Mitzi Gaynor and Rossano Brazzi-- in my case, many times. I love it. Although I had not seen the 1949 Broadway version with Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza, I felt that the movie probably captured it pretty well. I had read the criticisms about the changing of lighting to tell the viewer a song was coming, but it never really bothered me. Until I began to write about it for here, I didn't know that only Mitzi Gaynor and Ray Walston did their own singing, the rest were all dubbed including Juanita Hall who had played Bloody Mary on Broadway. Not sure why they dubbed her voice but the version of Bali Hai that I knew was certainly exceptionally beautiful.

Although the book and the play had an undercurrent of war, love that doesn't always work, and racism, the overall feeling of Mitzi Gaynor's South Pacific is very upbeat. It is, however about the kind of racism that infects the best people. It seemed to me that the film sugar coated that to a degree as it made it very easy for the good people to overcome it. It is, however a musical and nobody expects them to be that realistic. Or maybe I don't expect that.

The themes of love, the cost sometimes of life, and those wonderful Rogers and Hammerstein songs pretty much made any flaws easy to overlook. It's the kind of musical that I can use now and then to escape reality for two hours even if it is a reminder of some real problems that are still obviously with us.

When I had heard that there was going to be a television remake in 2001 starring Glenn Close, Harry Connick Jr., Robert Pastorelli and some stars whose names I didn't recognize, I thought I'd like to see it. It's hard to pinpoint why I never had, but I think when it came out I was possibly at our house in Tucson where at that time we often didn't have cable. I don't know if it got good reviews, but it didn't seem to be repeated when I had a chance to see it.

Maybe people had a hard time with any remake of a classic. Maybe the unknown (at least to most American audiences) male lead, Rade Serbedzija, dulled enthusiasm. Maybe because it was made for television, it simply didn't find a venue to be repeated. I kind of forgot about it for a long time.

Then last week, we watched 1949's South Pacific again and as always I loved it but it reminded me that with Netflix I might be able to see the version I had missed. They had it. I ordered it with uncertainty for how I would like it. Glenn Close as Nellie Forbush? Wasn't she a bit old for the part? Did she do musicals? I love Harry Connick Jr. and that really decided the issue. I knew he'd make a good Lieutenant Cable.

When it began I was for a moment a little put off by Glenn Close as Nellie until I absolutely fell in love with her portrayal. She was so perfect, like the real Nellie would have been. And Emile de Becque, well he seemed more the French planter he was supposed to be. While he also did not do his own singing, he brought the power of a gifted actor to the story and I was swept away by the place, the story, and the characters.

In short, I loved the 2001 version so much that I ordered the DVD from Amazon as an additional choice for those days when I want to escape for a few hours. It is much closer to what the world would have been like at that time. It was also much tougher on how it showed the racism of those good people who were trapped by the song that says it all-- You've got to be carefully taught.

They said Oscar Hammerstein was warned to leave that song out of the musical as people would turn from it. He laughed that they had to be kidding because the whole musical was about racism. You can't leave it out and understand any of it. In watching the extra features, Glenn Close mentioned that when Harry Connick Jr. recorded that song to lip sync it, he decided he didn't like it and instead asked to sing it live. His version is beyond excellent for how it captures the anguish of someone who realizes their way is wrong but finds it so hard to change.

In the 2001 version, the actors are better, the singing just as good, the songs still integral to the story. Although it changed some elements, it also tied together a few questions that the 1958 movie didn't bother answering.

Overall the producers (Glenn Close was one as she said it had always been her dream to play Nellie), took the familiar story and made it their own. Filming it in places very similar to those where the story was set lent an authenticity that added depth. They were really two versions of a story that is so complex and filled with nuances that there could easily be more that would be the same and yet different also.

For me it really hit home in a much stronger way than my beloved version. I didn't know how much until I woke up the morning after seeing it with a dream, one of my story dreams that sometimes I forget in the morning but that this time was still vividly with me. Sometimes these dreams are like watching a movie and I am not a character in them and sometimes I am. This seemed to be at least partly the latter. It's coming next blog to keep this one from turning into a book.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Summertime and the living is easy... or not

Summertime and the living is easy...

Whoever wrote that didn't have a farm or ranch in the summer. I don't think there is an easy time for those who raise livestock. Every season has something different and ignoring any of the needs puts you out of the business.

Because we had a hard spring, very odd, much colder than usual, we didn't get around to shearing until July. The sheep didn't complain. They forget how much better it can be with that wool off. From experience, I know the lambs will hate it because it takes them a day (sometimes more) to figure out who is mama with the wool gone. Sometimes they nuzzle the wool pile-- mama?

The shearer arrived this week. It's not my job this shearing, but I do take some photos. Our neighbors had two granddaughters visiting and they enjoyed coming down to watch how it's done. Especially interesting to them might be that our shearer is a girl.

Other than fences, we are moving irrigation lines pretty much every morning which has both Farm Boss and me complaining about sore muscles as it uses those we don't regularly exercise that much. We are ahead of the game this time though with getting the water on before the grass dried up.

We've had the usual fence problems. One night lying in bed, I kept hearing a lamb crying. Farm Boss groggily told me to go back to sleep as it wasn't outside the fence. I finally could not stand it and told him I was going out. This is not my usual thing as when it's dark, nearsighted people don't see all that well, but I could not stand hearing that baby bawling any longer. As soon as he knew I was going, he said he'd go and I could stay in bed.

No way was that happening as he had been sleeping really soundly, had been very tired from fence work, and I knew I had to see for myself what was going on. I carried the rifle and he carried a flashlight but was not out there as soon as I was. I think it's the mama gene that was motivating me as I simply do NOT go out there when it's dark.

It was a lamb who had gamed the system and was on the wrong side of the fence from its mama-- definitely in coyote country. You'd think they could remember where they went out, but they are sheep. You'd think they'd not sneak out again the next time remembering this panic. They won't because they are sheep...

Finally we got it back in, and then it was quiet... well other than Farm Boss's snoring. That man can fall asleep a minute or less from his head hitting the pillow. Me, it takes a lot longer-- okay a lot longer...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Painting in the mountains

When we go somewhere with Parapluie, she pretty much always is painting or sketching. It is part of the fun of such trips to see the day through her art. On our second hike to the high Cascades, I told her ahead of time that I planned to bring my oils. On our earlier trip, I had seen a place that I felt I could sit and paint while others hiked.

Although I have done plein air painting, I haven't done a lot of it. There are a mix of reasons for that. One is I am not that gifted as a painter. I got a lot better at sculpture (Sculpture Gallery); but there is something in me that very much likes the idea of being a painter more than a sculptor. Maybe it's the color or the freedom of expression which I feel is more limited with clay especially since I only did the human form (well a few animals mixed in).

When I am painting, I enjoy it but I often have a hard time thinking of subjects to paint. For awhile all I painted was people but eventually that wore out since my people were all imaginary or mostly anyway. Where Parapluie sees possible paintings everywhere, I don't. I know what she says is true-- start and the ideas will come. I know that but...

I like the smell of oil paint especially the water based where I don't have to use turpentine and linseed oil for cleaning and thinning. There is something about the feel of lush color on a brush that is sensually pleasing. Sometimes I mix the colors right on the canvas and that's satisfying too. What spoils it for me is worrying about the 'product..'  I have a hard time accepting that it's the process that matters. I keep wanting a product that turns out as I visualized it.

Now if I painted as often as Parapluie (settling herself below where I had chosen to paint), which is pretty much every day, I'd be better than I am, but am not convinced I'd be gifted. But is being gifted what painting is about? Can't it just be an enjoyable time with paint and canvas without worrying about what comes out? You can tell I am trying to convince myself.

So, taking that attitude as my mantra, with a small bottle of water (which used to hold creamer for my coffee), my water based oils, a few brushes, a small canvas, and another  bottle of water for me to drink, I settled myself under a big fir and looked at the scene in front of me. Actually the photo at the beginning of this blog is not that scene but it was the same type of flowers, the same energy with beyond it a patch of red earth and tall trees.

I didn't photograph what I decided to paint for several reasons. One was that Farm Boss had gone for a hike with Fisherman and taken the camera. But when he got back, I could have photographed the setting. I didn't. I wanted no visual left to compare to my painting. I wasn't really painting what I specifically saw anyway.

For me, it was about painting the energy of the whole day, not of one specific place, not with a center of interest. When it was finished, I named it 'Mountain Kaleidoscope' because like a kaleidoscope, it's full of many colors that are constantly changing. When I look at it, it will always remind me of that day; so it's more about that then whether it came out great. It did come out as I had visualized which is a step up for me.

The oil is 8"x10" which is a pretty nice size when painting in the woods and hoping to finish something rather than take it home to complete.

(I will be offline the next few days as we are heading to Klamath Lake for some family time. I have blogs set to post every other day as usual but put the blog on moderation to avoid spam building up. Please comment if you are so inclined with your own thoughts on whatever is posted. I will get back to it.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A hike with friends

For many many years, we have enjoyed outings with Parapluie and Fisherman. We began our friendship early in our marriages, actually before them, have traveled together many times especially in places like the High Cascades. Such friendships are treasures all of their own. The following are some photos of us all from Saturday because although the flowers were spectacular, it's also spectacular to share such an outing with good friends. The photos are in no special order (mainly because the new blogger system makes ordering them nigh unto impossible if words aren't between them, but they are at least that day).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Return to the High Cascades

Because we had enjoyed ourselves so much when we were in the Cascades, we went back on Saturday for another hike with our friends Parapluie and Fisherman. The hike we made wasn't too long, the day not too hot, and we enjoyed eating our lunch under the shade of a big tree between short hikes.

Although it was the same walk, the scenes had changed as different flowers bloomed, some had grown more impressive.

The walk basically follows a ridge and dips between deep forest, open flower-filled meadows on steep slopes, and interesting rock formations. If someone is so ambitious as to climb to the top, they get a spectacular view-- so I have been told. I have yet to go to the top; and this time, since I had twisted my knee in Arizona and again in our pasture, I wasn't about to risk it as coming down could have sent it back to where it had been. Definitely not on my agenda for a fun summer.

It made me think how much fun it would be to start doing this hike say the first of July and repeating it every week for a month as each time there would doubtless be different vignettes to enjoy.

The birds and insects make the most of this glorious feast also although their motives are more about their own survival than appreciating the beauty although who knows. Maybe they do both.

When I am there I always think how wonderful it is, all of this in one place, the show these flowers put on for themselves, for their survival, but that people built a safe, easy trail to allow someone like me to see it all. The beauty, wonderful array of flowers and colors warrant a poem. Too bad I am not a poet.
The flowers range from those that love the sunshine to those that bloom in the shade. Their colors are everything in the rainbow.

More photos have been added to my Picasa site for those who are fans of mountain wildflowers.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


As long as I am writing about art additions to our home and I just was, I thought I'd post pictures of two more that came recently.

My daughter gave me the above dragonfly for no reason other than that she had seen it and knew I liked them. Then when our grandchildren came to spend a week, we were in a little shop where our grandson bought the second dragonfly which perches on a refrigerator. He surprised me by saying he wanted it for here at the farm.

I love them both as well as a copper dragonfly that I was given one Christmas by our daughter-in-law and son.

There is something very spiritual about dragonflies. I think it is because they undergo a complete change in their form at a certain point in their lives. They go from living under water as a swimming insect to emerging with a new form that flies in the sky. Perhaps it's not only about the many resurrection stories in mankind's mythology but also our own desire to emerge into what seems to be our truest form through our life experiences.

This summer I have yet to photograph any on the farm, but think I will now that we have gotten the irrigation going as that provides the water to draw them. While out watching the sheep to avoid coyote attacks, I can do a lot of waiting patiently for dragonflies to show up

Friday, July 16, 2010

Primal Pebble

Last week we bought one of Parapluie's paintings, Primal Pebble. I had actually coveted it for some time ever since she did it a year and a half ago when they spent winter months in Arizona. She and I had discussed our buying it, but for a time I let it go. Then I saw it again when we took two of our grandchildren over to their home for a watercolor lesson from her. After that I really wanted it and we worked out a price satisfactory to us both.

After Primal Pebble was home here, we had to decide where to hang it and that is always a process for me as I have a lot of art in this house with limited walls on which to hang anything. Bookcases take up way too much space but what to do since I love books.

Finally after rearranging this or that, I have it where I am happy and enjoying it every time I walk into the living room. I especially wanted it there as I feel it is very spiritual and that room has been taking on an increasing spiritual tone to its art. The painting beside it was bought in Wyoming at an art fair.

Parapluie, who creates (Umbrella Painting Journal), wrote a poem to go with Primal Pebble and sent it along with the certificate of authenticity. I think it's worth sharing since it is what the painting is about. One of my friends had looked at the photo I had taken of the painting and said, it looks violent. Well our earth's history is one of violence; and although I don't really see it in the painting, I wouldn't mind if I did.

Parapluie had given me one of the small, smooth rocks that the painting and poem are about. I have it beneath my monitor here as inspiration along with other items sacred to me.

Primal Pebble
I picked up a cool pebble at our Cebolia camp.
If she could see and speak, she could tell us an epic story.
Rounded and polished in the Colorado's ancient glacial floods,
then her skin was blackened by air and sunlight.
The shiny black conceals a heart of hot iron colors from a fiery birth.
Ages ago  big sister rocks were visited by native hunters
who carved through her blackened skin to warm life colors.
Prayerfully on the rocks imaging their memories, 
maps and dreams the hunters made
the blackened rock a character in our history.

Because of the interest in what the pebble might be, I photographed mine. The second photo has my finger alongside to illustrate size. The stone is perfectly round and flat, very smooth to the touch. It feels a lot like stones we know as Moqui Marbles (sometimes called shaman's stones) except they are usually hollow and come from northern Arizona or southern Utah.  They, like the one she brought back for me from Arizona, are very good when meditating.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

So relaxing here

I have a very close friend, actually a dear friend, who lives a lot of miles from here and as we were chatting the other night on MSN Messenger, she said, it must be so relaxing where you live. I could only laugh as I related to her what my evening had been like just ahead of my having a chance to touch bases with her.

Farm Boss had come into the house and said, get on your tennis shoes. I need you out here.  I didn't like any part of that idea. Need doesn't sound good. For what?

A cow has a calf's foot sticking out her vulva. It's pretty obvious the calf is dead but I can't get her in the barn by myself.

Ugh. I do not normally do work involving the cattle. I have told him many times that when it comes to herding them, if they come running at me, unlike him, I am stepping out of the way and not trying to turn them by batting them with a big stick.

He had zero sympathy while he handed me the cattle prod which I have never used and had no exact idea how it worked. My mind raced ahead, as I tried to avoid holes in the pasture that might retwist my knee, to ways to prevent this from happening again-- my end of that is. IF he had that ATV I had been suggesting he buy, would I not have to go? If he had built the corral we had discussed, would that have helped? Well it was an emergency and I had no choice.

It had been an anything but relaxing day even before this as I had gone out many times, carrying a gun, to keep an eye on the sheep in the main pasture and to discourage any coyote from having lamb for dinner. I had been anticipating a nice hot bath and a quiet evening. So much for that.

Of course, the cows were clear to the back. As it turned out, the cow in question already had his rope around her neck as he had been able to rope her but not hold her. You try stopping a thousand pound plus animal when they want to go somewhere else. As we herded her back, separating her from the other cattle, I kept seeing that little hoof, and it hurt just thinking about what she was going through.

I won't go through the rest of this story but between trees and eventually being able to secure her to them, then a tractor to pull the legs, he got the dead calf out but not without screaming from the cow. I hate hearing an animal cry in pain like that. Well, who wouldn't.

The cattle were also upset by it as they clearly thought about racing over to save her but using better judgment stayed back as they didn't want whatever was happening to her to happen to them. With the calf out, her relief was immediate, and it's looking good that she will survive as so far she has not prolapsed. If she does, it will all be for nothing and she will have to be killed.

Farm Boss left the calf's carcass out in the pasture without time to bury it before he left for work. About nine, I decided to take the gun out and see if the coyote was going to come around for veal. I first saw it coming up from the creek and began to walk a lot more carefully to avoid it seeing me. Finally I did get a shot at it but with the cows below where I was standing, I was a little apprehensive; and as it turned to run I missed. Curses-- although I don't actually curse and at least I didn't shoot a cow.

There is some compensation.  It probably won't be back immediately. I do not think this was the same one I shot at last time. It looked younger, a bit naive about the dangers it faced coming into our field. It knows a little better now.

Yes, it's so relaxing here.

For what is relaxing to me, the photos are all from Oregon's High Cascades and from a lovely time there with our friends, Parapluie and Fisherman.

 Link to more photos of mountain wildflowers:  
High Cascades

Sunday was a perfect day to be in the mountains, the hike not too far, the air not too hot, my knee held up well, and although the flowers were not as impressive as last year due to an unusual spring and early summer, they were still very soul inspiring. If all goes well, we are going back on Friday and I am maybe taking my oils.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Now THAT'S a dilemma

Like most people who enjoy putting out birdseed, we struggle with squirrel predations. I know we could just stop the seed; but I so enjoy seeing all the birds; so what to do?

We have a live trap which we use to catch squirrels and then release them about a mile from our house, up the hill at a burned out house where nobody has lived for years. That barely touches the numbers we have at the farm. Once in awhile Farm Boss sights in his rifle and kills a lot of them down at the barns, but I have felt the house should not have that happen here.

It would not be so bad if squirrels were only taking what they need to survive, but as everyone knows, they store their seed. There is no end to how much they can steal which is proving to be a tad costly as well as leaving the bird feeder empty more than full.

Our daughter in law mentioned using a tall post with a hook on it to avoid the squirrels being able to reach the seed. Seemed like a great possibility since we had such a post that she and our son had given us with a candle on it. It easily accepted the smaller of the bird feeders. Can't climb that. What I had not thought was that next to the post was a wooden frame to highlight our Buddha and its little pool.

So the squirrel climbed on that and jumped to the metal pole from where it had no idea what to do next.

After we stopped laughing at the squirrel's dilemma, after taking a few photos,

we walked toward it which caused it to choose the lesser of the evils and jump to the ground. We then moved the tall metal post and feeder to a site farther from the wood support. The first such move did not work as the automatic sprinkler went on reminding me of a similar goof I had this week when I had set one of the little pasture sprinklers where it was hitting our new bird box which has or maybe that might be had swallows interested in building a nest inside what was for awhile looking like it was threatened by a storm.

Hopefully the next site will be more successful for seed, birds and no squirrels. They can still enter the live trap anytime they wish and join their buddies up the hill...

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Is there any film maker today, who has put out more consistently quality films with strong values, films that look at life issues, than Clint Eastwood?  Whenever I see something he has had a part in putting together, I am always appreciative of his body of work. (well actually I have never seen the Dirty Harry series as I am not often into violence as entertainment). Overall he has chosen, especially in his elder years, to make enjoyable movies that are also teaching moments. I could go down the list of how many but this is about one of them.

I had expected Invictus to be good. I knew it was about Nelson Mandela, his difficult transition from prisoner to president of his country at a time where South Africa was going through the kind of transition many nations must but where the outcome is uncertain. It is also about the sport of rugby (of which I knew almost nothing more than the name) and those who play it. Is about racism which can be on both sides of a racial divide.

Since our country is going through something very similar--  but I don't think so much about race as values-- this film seemed especially apropos for the times. It's enjoyable, great characters. Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon as always delivered outstanding performances. Eastwood kept the story moving along, never losing sight of the message and never forcing it.

It made me wonder though is there something today that our country could come together around? Something that would cut through the anger and hate and let us see that we are all people who want the same basic things in life.

Oh I know, we can get sidetracked into thinking we don't want the same things but don't we all want to be respected, to find love? Don't we want to have a purpose that seems to matter? Is there anyone who doesn't desire security and good health? Everything beyond those basics is frills and frosting, nice but not at the heart of what we need as humans. Sometimes we lose track of those basics but a film like Invictus reminds us.

The inspiration for Mandela's life and what he gave to the Rugby team to inspire them came from a poem by William Ernest Henley. The last lines say a lot for all of us.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

I really recommend this film if you have not yet seen it. I got it from Netflix.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Green Spirit

The following is a guest post by Marian Van Eyk McCain who is having a virtual tour to inform readers of her newest book. Although I have not read the book, I do read her blog quite frequently and feel she has much to say that is of interest and in particular at this time when we are rethinking many of our values.

If you have questions regarding the book or her work, she will check to answer in comments.

 Do You Like Butter?
Guest Post by Marian Van Eyk McCain

In this corner of the English countryside where I live there are buttercups absolutely everywhere I look, at the moment. Millions upon millions of them, filling the fields with their golden glow, lining the sides of the road, lifting their yellow faces to a sun that turns them golden.

As children, we would pick a buttercup and hold it close to a friend’s chin, asking “Do you like butter?” When a patch of gold appeared on their skin, as though melted butter had dripped from their lips, “There you are” we would say, delighting in this simple piece of childhood magic. “I proved it. You DO like butter.”

As I turn these long-ago memories slowly in my mind I am thinking that our chins are not the only part of us to reflect Nature. The water in our bodies mirrors the tides. We sleep and wake with the cycle of the days and nights and our energies rise and fall with the seasons and the sap in the trees. We stock our pantries and open bank accounts out of the same instinct that drives a squirrel or a blue jay to hoard or bury nuts.

Nature lives in us, breathes through us. Nature IS us. We are all made of the same ‘stuff’ and the raw materials of which we are constructed are infinitely and indefinitely interchangeable and everlasting. The atoms that make up a molecule of me today may go to form a frog two hundred years from now. Today’s starfish may build the body of my great, great, great-grandchildren.

This is the reality of ecosystems. Everything is connected to—and dependent upon—everything else, and humans are but a part of that. We are not Nature’s lords and masters. We are not in charge of it. Its laws bind us as surely as they bind every other living organism. And every decision we make—practical, social, economic, or political—should be based on that. We call it ‘ecocentric’ thinking. And it is the only attitude that gives any hope for a future on this planet.

The new book GreenSpirit: Path to a New Consciousness, a collection of writings on the green spirituality of the 21st Century, is my attempt to show how the ecocentric principle upon which all life depends may be—and hopefully will be—consciously applied to every aspect of human life.

If we can do that, and create a sustainable way of life for humans on this Earth, then I can dare to hope that the buttercups will continue to bloom and my great, great, great-grandchildren, too, will one day be able to hold them to each other’s chins and ask “Do you like butter?”

Marian Van Eyk McCain is the author of three non-fiction books, including ‘The Lilypad List: 7 steps to the simple life (Findhorn Press, 2004), a primer for living simply and lightly on the planet. She is Co-Editor of the GreenSpirit Journal and Editor of 'GreenSpirit: Path to a New Consciousness' (O Books, 2010), a new anthology with a Foreword by Satish Kumar and contributions from Brian Swimme, Matthew Fox, David Korten, Stephan Harding, Cormac Cullinan, Chris Clarke and nineteen other writers. Her main website, which reflects her keen interest in ‘green and conscious aging’ is

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Seagull Mama

Last week when we were eating lunch at old Newport with our daughter-in-law and four grandchildren, we got what was for us a rare treat. For the first time ever, we saw seagull babies. Someone had nailed old tires to tall pilings out from the docks, with water all around them, likely as a good nesting place. There might be more enjoyable things to watch while you eat seafood, but offhand, I cannot think of any.