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).

Monday, August 30, 2010

No fault?

When I wrote about monogamy, I hadn't intended to extend the subject but then I read this: No fault divorce and my fight to save my marriage and thought it presented yet another side.

Some believe gay marriage is what has ruined marriage in our country but that's ridiculous. That is simply two people in love and seeking to form a family. But what about no fault divorce? Should divorce be harder to get or easier? Does the state have a stake in maintaining even marriages where one party wants out?

A few years ago I read Mike Huckabee and his wife had a commitment ceremony (I think) and signed a legal agreement in Arkansas that said they could not get a divorce, that their marriage really meant until death do you part. I thought then how silly because who was going to force them to get a divorce if they didn't want one? However, the issue here is that what if one partner wants a divorce and the other does not?

Now personally, if I was married to someone who said he wanted a divorce, I'd not do anything to stop it and would actually help it happen. I cannot imagine wanting to be with anyone who did not want to be with me. The lady who wrote that article though felt otherwise. She saw it as for her children's sake and maybe even thinking her husband would someday change his mind.

Some, however, (she was one) make the case that the state itself should make divorces more difficult to get, not easier. Is this something the government should do? Our country does promote monogamy legally. Today only a few states still consider adultery to be a felony but it can be enforced in say like Arizona if someone wants to do it.

What do you think should divorce be harder to get? Was no fault a bad idea?

Friday, August 27, 2010

It's cultural and religious

 Since I am delving into religion, I thought I might as well throw this in.  I hadn't been quite sure where to put it, but the subject of monogamy is more cultural than political and it's something I have found interesting to read or write about before. This article led me to think about it again.

Even most not particularly religious Americans believe in the concept of monogamy or at the least serial monogamy. The idea of multiple partners at the same time is upsetting to people, and it isn't really about partisanship or religion. It might well be cultural as I recently read 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' by Stieg Larsson and the viewpoint toward monogamy (he was Swedish) was different, but then there have always been free-thinkers (called libertines by some) who have a looser view of monogamy.

The link above was discussing a book called Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethà which I have not read, not sure if I will either, but it sounds like an interesting look at the history of human sexuality. I have often asked the question of why do we expect to pick out a partner at youth that will last through our entire lives? What in our history has gotten us to this place? Obviously religions but did it begin there? People expect so much from monogamy; so is there a logical reason for that?

The review said that the book makes the case that the concept of monogamy being essential and even natural began with the agricultural society where humans could acquire and keep possessions. When you travel a lot with a hunter gatherer society, you must have only what is required and the tribe is more connected to each other as they depend on one  another for survival. Once possessions come into play, then one must be sure of keeping them and in particular men considered their children their possessions. Can't have a wife fooling around even if the husband has several wives, mistresses, or concubines.

Today, in the United States, there are those who consensually enter into non-monogamous relationships but for the most part, they keep it secret from society.  It is not considered okay. It has to be 'two-by-two they go' or others get nervous or even aggressive in expressing their disapproval. Is this inherent or taught?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The seeds of the fathers

 If Franklin Graham was not the seed of Billy Graham, the country would hear nothing about what he thinks on anything. He was the wild child who came back to the fold and now leads Billy Graham's foundation. So the news media was full of his comments after 9/11. Even though the Pentagon dis-invited him from speaking at a recent [prayer day] due to his statements on Islam and other religions, he was just asked whether Obama is a Muslim.
"I think the president's problem is that he was born a Muslim, his father was a Muslim. The seed of Islam is passed through the father like the seed of Judaism is passed through the mother. He was born a Muslim, his father gave him an Islamic name," Graham said on CNN's "John King, USA."
"Now it's obvious that the president has renounced the prophet Mohammed and he has renounced Islam and he has accepted Jesus Christ. That is what he says he has done, I cannot say that he hasn't. So I just have to believe that the president is what he has said,"
Graham added: “The teaching of Islam is to hate the Jew, to hate the Christian, to kill them. Their goal is world domination.” 
This is so outrageous that it's hard to know where to start but let's begin with Franklin  himself. Without his father being Billy Graham, he would be at the most preaching to a small congregation spewing out his fundamentalist creed.  Billy has earned him a voice that takes him to a higher realm of respect than children of other more political preachers of his era (i.e. Robertson, Dobson, or Falwell).

Billy Graham earned respect from Christian and non-Christian from his simple lifestyle and how he stuck to the Gospel for his life work. Now that upset a lot of people when he'd go somewhere like South Africa and not speak out against Apartheid or when he'd counsel presidents of either party but he didn't see politics or social mores as his responsibility. Right or wrong, Billy believed that Jesus was the answer to anybody's problems anywhere and he stuck to that creed where I have never heard of him saying a hateful thing. People might not like hearing that without Jesus, they will go to hell, but that has been Christian doctrine and Billy believed it with all his heart and preached it.

His son is a horse of a different color and he has spoken very politically especially as he spoke out against Islam after 9/11 around the time he was fully taking over his father's foundations and ministry. He has said those who accept Islam as a religion are enslaved (actually Christianity talks about enslavement once you accept Christ as master also... kind of typical of religions).

The problem with Franklin is that a lot of people take what he says as seriously as though he was his father because he is the seed of his father and doesn't that mean something? Don't we inherit whatever our parents were? That is the thinking of some and it's why what he said was so disgusting regarding the seed of Obama's father.

In some ways Franklin was a liar by omission. He could have mentioned that he and his father were asked to pray with Obama just this year in April-- Obama meets with Billy Graham. Obama is the first president to travel to Graham's home. Franklin could have simply said we prayed together and it's what he said and how else do we know anyone's faith?  From where did this seed talk come?

What he said was ignorant the reality of Obama's life, where his father had left Islam before Obama was born; but that doesn't matter as what he did say suits a certain fearful segment of American culture. Contrary to what Franklin said, Obama never had to renounce Islam because he was never a Muslim and the very suggestion that he would be because of his birthright probably comes more from Franklin's own belief that he deserves all that his father built.

When Obama wrote of his father's roots, which he knew little about as he was a very tiny part of Obama's childhood, he talked of the tribal diversity in Africa as a way to try and understand his father. [Now I have not read Obama's books; so am going by what is in articles about them for this information.]

Then I began to wonder why John King, who did the CNN interview, asked Franklin to speak about it. We know why as it has been used politically as part of the smear tactics against Obama. Might someone, possibly Franklin himself, have suggested he'd like to speak on it? Did he want to speak out on it because he still harbored a resentment over being disinvited to the Pentagon prayer day? Did he blame Obama for that and took this as a chance to get back at him?

For some reason... hard to imagine what that might be... what Obama says about his own faith isn't enough. Seeing that Obama doesn't pray five times a day isn't enough. Noticing he eats pork and drinks alcohol isn't enough. Some people, and a growing number of them Americans, most of them Republicans, think he's lied about his Christianity. Skip the part where it would be impossible to practice Islam in secret (something a Christian could do but should not either). Obama has a long record in public where hiding those practices would be very difficult. Logic isn't part of why this is being asked.

For me the problem, the only problem with making Obama's religion an issue is it makes me even more convinced that a certain segment of our population is ignorant and easily led. I worry about that. If they are, if they will buy into something like the seed of a father being what a son must be, if his father was Muslim anyway, then who knows what else that 18% will believe or support.

For many Christians, Franklin's comments are no big deal. The fact that he's a religious fundamentalist isn't either as it's in their religion at least. After all, he's not a violent extremist. He doesn't encourage blowing up buildings. He just says things like,
 “We're not attacking Islam but Islam has attacked us. The God of Islam is not the same God. He's not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It's a different God and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion."
 Notice how he missed the point that Islam didn't attack us. Religious fanatics, using Islam as a justification, attacked us. Did Christianity kill Dr. Tiller?  Does Franklin want to take responsibility as a Christian for every bad thing done in its name? If so, he's got a lot of weight he's putting on his back.

What is upsetting especially, about his using the word seed to imply that a seed is planted and the person cannot escape its consequences, is that it's subtle and very damning to those who already fear Obama for his color. Seed means it will come out someday. To me it's like the bad seed thinking. It also is the kind of thing that people take in subliminally without thinking but it impacts them unless they see it for what it is-- a manipulative tactic.

Yes, I do fear fundamentalists like Franklin. I have been in churches and seen how it operates and seen how often it's accompanied by hypocrisy. I have no use for them in any religion at all and see them as part of the destroyer group in our world today-- and that means in any religion.

Fundamentalists might not all throw bombs but they, like Franklin Graham, throw ideas that are as deadly to human quality of life as any bomb for how they can destroy cultures for freedom of thinking and really even joy in anything but hate of the 'other.'  Fundamentalists need there to be an 'other' and they feed and nurture the fear. They water the hate as it helps them grow their own plants stronger-- or so they think.

What I think is fundamentalism builds mobs, not responsible, thinking, mature groups. Fundamentalism in any religion is damaging to spiritual growth despite what they always claim. What it grows is something totally different from connection to any god nor does it help any culture it dominates. It doesn't allow dissent. It threatens whatever doesn't agree with it. It grows those with no spirit, no ability to think through facts. I wouldn't care so much about that as it's after all not something I am forced into-- at least not in our country for now; but it is damaging to us all as it spreads out and blocks growth of anything else. And it votes...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Politics and Religion

There are two supposed no-nos in polite conversation.  They happen to be among the most volatile and passionate topics to discuss which is why they, of course, sometimes lead to dissension. Although both impact our lives in many ways, they are not okay where the weather would be... unless you bring up global climate change.

I have banished politics to my other blog where I am happy to keep it but cultural issues, those I still wanted for here. This is not only because they are of interest to me but because I think they matter more than the partisanship that pits one party against another and for whose gain? Well never mind as that is for the other blog.

Religion I never promised would stay elsewhere (unless it is political), and since it is of much interest to me right now, I am going to have two blogs coming up on it. This one is just clearing the ground and a kind of warning for those tender to the subject and where it's something they'd rather not think about right now. Coming back in a week might suit someone like that better. I have no desire to push my opinions onto others even though this is my place to vent them.

What has led to me even wanting to write about it is the talk of Islam and Christianity that has arisen due to the Islamic cultural center at ground zero although it's not even certain it'll be built, and who knows why the heck it would be called at ground zero since it's two blocks away. I have written more than I had ever intended about that in the political blog and if anyone is interested in my opinion, it's at Rainy Day Things with several posts and many comments. Since I think it is more political, it seemed appropriate for it to be there.

BUT what has come from this is not so political as it is cultural and about how this country sees religion. What do we mean by freedom of religion? While that is important to me, what I really want to write more about is personality and motivation. I find such topics of much interest. There is not much that fascinates me more than why humans do what they do. Often I simply observe and wonder at from where the heck that came (sometimes even when it's myself). Sometimes I like to try to figure it out.

As I have mentioned before, I often dream complex, story dreams where the characters fit into a story that seems to me would make a book. Most of the time I am later lucky to remember the bare bones of those dreams if I don't write them down which I sometimes do and sometimes not. I woke the other morning after such a dream. It had been wonderful, romantic (and when I say romantic, I mean PG rated), like watching a fascinating movie, but it wasn't what I ended up thinking about in those first moments of being awake. My main thought was that the piece I had planned to write on the motivations of one particular religious person, that one belonged here not in the political blog and so here it will be-- next blog.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

August along the creek

At this time of the year, the creek sometimes seems to barely be moving. It borders our property and makes for wonderful reflections like the first one below where you can hardly tell what is real and what is reflected. The creek illustrates the feeling of late summer like nothing else.

One afternoon I sat on its banks right below the house, not exactly where the above photos were taken, and painted what I felt. I let the colors and shapes just happen. The foxglove I added were in actuality nearly finished blooming but that's the nice thing about a painting versus a photo, I can add what I please.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

S 510

Tell me why stuff like this is always cropping up?  I know a lot of it is fear talk but how do we separate out the real risks from the hysteria? How do we catch what is damaging before it is too late?

You know, I would like to think that we had a government that primarily cared about us, but I'd have to be deaf, blind and dumb to believe that. They are, both parties, in the pockets of their corporate masters. So what the heck is [S 510] really about?

As usual, trying to understand these bills requires a master's degree in BS. So when it's all is said and done, how much of a threat is it to local farmers markets? Oh I know they say it won't be but what does it say and what do they really hope to gain from it? Who helped them write it? You know those little farmer markets compete with the corporate grocery stores. Is that what it's really about?

Then there is this part to it-- would it really block our buying anything but genetically modified seeds that cannot reproduce-- something Monsanto definitely wants it to mean? (Added to it, what the heck is this about states banning the collecting of rainwater under the argument it belongs to the government?)

I know I said I'd keep politics elsewhere, but this is cultural. Depending on how it is interpreted, S 510 could directly impact my life as a small rancher, possibly impact our nearby small packing plant, but shouldn't it matter to us all?

If you like to buy your produce at a farmers market, if you want to grow your own food, if you give excess away, if you want to save seed from year to year, you need to look at the links and then do some serious research.

It has passed the House and after tweaking will evidently be voted on in September; so if you don't like it, contact your Senators. If you think government is not your friend when it tries to make it more costly or difficult for you to buy directly from farmers, then you better make your opinion heard as it's sure being heard from the corporate interests. Oh yes, we sure do need more government invasion into our lives. I don't know if we can stop this kind of thing but I have to admit that it would be enough to turn me into a tea partier if this is what it means and it passes!

Now I also read other places that they say it won't apply to the family farm. It's really just about protecting us (where have we heard that before)... but who is the they who says that? Can we seriously trust them? I think the justification is the few cases of e coli that have impacted people's health but how many of those came from the kind of farms that supply to farmers markets? It has happened in corporate farms which are poorly situated with say a hog farm too close-- and it should have already been inspected and closed down with current laws.

Do they want to go down to my Saturday market, your Saturday market and inspect what? Or is it just go to the farms who sell there and inspect what there? Who pays for it? How many people get sick from corn on the cob bought at a Farmers Market? Even more importantly, why aren't we hearing about this and its possible ramifications from our mainstream media? It's a lot more important to many of us than what they do choose to cover.

At first I thought it couldn't possibly happen, at least not under Obama. I mean heck, Michelle Obama is encouraging home gardens, but then I don't know. Look at who supports it and then ask yourself who it benefits. I am sooooo depressed! Have I let myself worry about nothing or is this a real concern?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Old old age

Once in awhile I get to thinking about old age-- specifically mine. Most of the time I don't think about how many years I have lived. They just are and it doesn't seem real to me anyway. Could I have actually lived almost 66 years? Was I really born almost 67 years ago? That just seems so old when I think of it as a number.

Actually when I think about what I have experienced in those years, it's hard to believe it was all me. I was a baby (don't remember that); then a little girl (I remember more of that); a teen-ager (the memories increase) and on it goes with what seems like now a whole other person than me.

Going along with accepting my age and what it means, I really enjoy movies about the old or the elderly-- depending on how you define elderly. Some would put me in that category but it doesn't quite seem like it to me -- yet.

Cats of Mirikitani was one such film, a documentary about Jimmy Mirikitani, who is Japanese artist in New York City. I saw it through Netflix. The documentarian is a woman in New York City who noticed Jimmy painting and selling his work as he lived on the street. She filmed him and then when 9/11 happened, and their streets were considered unsafe due to toxic dust from the disaster, she invited him to live in her home.

The story is about the different lives that he lived including being in a concentration camp in California during World War II. He was in shock that such a thing could happen to him given he was born in Sacramento but what was done to the Japanese then proves it's not just Republicans who do bad things in disasters. Democrats must take the blame for those camps, for the confiscation of property, for how they treated so many American citizens out of fear and bigotry.

Anyway the documentary is basically about this artist, the impact those years of being unfairly imprisoned had upon him and his drive to do art no matter where or what he was doing. It is also about the woman who is behind the camera and her desire to tell his story. It is about the way our lives, by the time we get old, do seem to be divided into segments.

Then came another one, Uncross the Stars, with some old stars as well as a plot about loss that I bought for $3.88 in a sale at a local store. After I had viewed it, I checked and it is also on Netflix. If you like simple movies with upbeat aspects to them even when they are about tragedies, then Hallmark is your ticket. I like buying them on DVD better than watching them there as I then don't get the ads and those ads really do interfere with the story.

Uncross the Stars is a film about a young man who tragically loses his wife. As her last request to him, left in a letter, she asks him to go to his aunt's home, in a senior community in Arizona, and build a porch. She also expresses her wish that he uncross the stars. I won't say more about what he learns that means as it would ruin the experience, but learning what it means is why you should consider renting the movie.

The elderly characters in the movie are fun to watch. Barbara Hershey, who plays his aunt, is always good and this is a rare chance to see Ron Perlman, a very gifted actor, where you actually see his face. He is great and I only wish he did more films as himself. I'd buy that :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Friday the 13th... dum de dum dum

Do you ever pay attention to when a 13th will fall on a Friday? If you do, will you avoid certain activities on that day for fear of bad luck? I began to wonder why Friday the 13th is regarded as unlucky and found several possible answers. I learned they come 3 times in a year and any month that begins on a Sunday will have a Friday the 13th. The theories for why it's unlucky are many and widespread, but they all agree it goes way back. One belief is it comes from the Last Supper on a Friday and with 13 at the dinner table. Then there is the idea that 13 itself is an unlucky number and Friday an unlucky day.

In numerology, 12 is considered a number of completeness-- 12 months of the year; 12 tribes of Israel, 12 signs of the Zodiac, 12 hours on a clock; 12 Apostles for Jesus; 12 gods of Olympus; Since 13 follows 12, guess it cannot be complete, now can it?

Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s. It's supposedly a bad day to start a project .  Author Charles Panati (don't ask me who he is as I found this quote from him in Wikipedia) said:
The actual origin of the superstition, though, appears also to be a tale in Norse mythology. Friday is named for Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility. When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil — a gathering of thirteen — and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week. For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was known as "Witches' Sabbath."
Another theory is it relates to the day so many from Knights Templar were arrested (again from Wikipedia):
'The Knights Templar were a monastic military order founded in Jerusalem in 1118 C.E., whose mission was to protect Christian pilgrims during the Crusades. Over the next two centuries, the Knights Templar became extraordinarily powerful and wealthy. Threatened by that power and eager to acquire their wealth, King Philip secretly ordered the mass arrest of all the Knights Templar in France on Friday, October 13, 1307 - Friday the 13th.'
 For me I have never found it to be an unlucky day or for that matter a lucky one. It's just a day but I generally am aware of it in a kind of backhanded way, and if I am not, someone reminds me. I have never altered plans because of it.

This Friday the 13th was a pretty good one actually. I had gone to the dentist on Monday and was told I needed two small fillings. When we called for an appointment that would let Farm Boss also get a check up and have his teeth cleaned, surprisingly we could both get it done Friday morning. Was that because some are fearful of the day and hadn't been willing to schedule something at a dentist's that day? If so, it was lucky for us.

When I was waiting in the reception area, I noticed something had changed and asked if they now had nitrous oxide. Sure enough, they did and asked if I wanted it with no extra cost. Do bears live in the woods? I love it as it helps my back a lot when in those dentist chairs and makes having fillings into a pleasant experience instead of one of stress.

Even better as I talked to the dentist, I mentioned previously I had been able to have small fillings with just nitrous. She asked if I wanted to try and that's what we did. It meant I did not have 2 hours afterward with my mouth and tongue feeling swollen. The fillings were beautifully done and the drilling only mildly uncomfortable, which with the nitrous, I didn't mind at all. I asked more questions regarding the future crown and learned there was no decay that she can see. This is more something to do proactively than required immediately. That was more good news but I will be putting money aside toward the eventual crown and maybe root canal.

The rest of the day was equally good with shopping going better than usual. At Costco the parking lot was less full. We got right in for gas with no line. Now I can't say some people stayed home due to the date; but if they did, it made it a lot quicker for me in getting my groceries and back out.

Even better is that I have now checked off the last medical type event that I felt I should do this year but had been putting off. I kept feeling guilty, and now my teeth are once again up to date.

At home, to celebrate, I made margaritas after dinner and before we laid out the irrigation line. This was my second time. They came out great. Come on over and have one with us. It was a great way to end a good day.

Photo on top taken by Farm Boss Friday afternoon in our back yard with our boys-- BB and Blackie.  Black cats cross my path very regularly in fact they sometimes try to trip me up in their eagerness to reach the door or food bowl first. Guess that could be considered bad luck.

The one below is of a set of coasters I bought Friday as a reminder every time I use them of a philosophy of life worth not forgetting.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

Oregon is still in what are called the dog days of summer (although it doesn't seem right to name the heart of summer something like dog days), which sound like an unpleasant time which it is decidedly not. It's named thus for Sirius, the dog star, which rises and sets with the sun during this period. In late July, it is in conjunction with the sun (if you are into astrology). So twenty days before and after that event are astrologically the dog days. It is also a time, in the northern hemisphere of hot sultry weather and many consider it to last beyond the official mid-August into September.

In the Celtic or Pagan calendars, Lammas, which fell August 1, was the beginning of the harvest and harvest we in the Pacific Northwest are indeed having with our gardens finally reaping produce-- in some cases so abundant that we either freeze, can or give some away. Soon the pears and apples will ripen on their trees and the blackberries will be ready to pick across the creek.  A few miles from us, the wheat was harvested last week. The second crop of baby birds are leaving their nests to face the dangers of the world. In some cases, their mothers are having to encourage their leaving. With the new bird box, I am enjoying watching the process from my bedroom window. It looks to me like they are fighting territorially over the box and we need to consider buying two more such boxes.

I am not remotely ready to think fall is soon to be here especially since it took so long for summer to arrive. I am though, in a small way doing a laundry list of little things that are harvesting their own rewards.

On the week-end we went through the freezer and got rid of everything that was outdated. I always hate to do that because it seems wasteful to admit I have let some things stay too long. It's also, however, wasteful to have food there which cannot be eaten. My only consolation is it will make using what is left more effective and hopefully I'll do better in the future.

Then I went through my oil paints and got rid of the tubes that had been almost used and were too dry to get more from them. I should have done this before I ordered new paints as when they arrived I see I now have way too many greens. Although green is not my favorite color, living in western Oregon, I do use a lot, but enough is enough. In the future I will stick to ordering colors I cannot mix. At least though I got things organized better after purchasing some inexpensive plastic bins. Now the paints that should be used next are in the top bin and below them, double wrapped, are the tubes where I have two... or more.

Then I tackled my clothes closet. I didn't even look at the shelf above the hanging clothes. I'll save that for when I have to make a seasonal change... maybe. Dog days of summer don't have me feeling very ambitious; so all of this is a bit here and there and nothing big at one time.

For awhile I thought that this would be the week I stacked the cord of firewood. Since my back is bothering me just moving irrigation pipe, and it's supposed to get back up into the 90s again by the week-end, I think that job will be put off; but Farm Boss did get all the hay into the hay barn as he finally had the backhoe repaired and working. You do not lift those big round bales any other way and he stacks them two high.

I also visited the dentist for a teeth cleaning and check up. I had put that off for economic reasons but it's foolishness to do that at my age as gum disease causes more loss of teeth than decay. I got the good news my gums are healthy but the bad news that I will soon need another crown or worse a root canal if there isn't enough enamel left for a crown. How can dentists say things like that with so little feeling for what it sounds like to us? She said it as if a few thousand dollars is no big deal. Since we lost dental insurance, we do put aside so much money every month toward dental work (a crown for Farm Boss took that this winter) but that's expecting a crown yearly and not adding in a root canal and post!

Last week-end, Farm Boss and I enjoyed meeting a fellow blogger at the Farmers' Market in Corvallis. He has commented here under Annotated Margins (and is in my blog roll alongside). Although he lives in a nearby town, we hadn't physically met before-- although you do get to feeling you know fellow bloggers just from their writing and photos. It's when you shake hands or hug that it becomes more real and for me that has always been in a good way

Saturday we had another chance to get that coyote but once again a combination of things went wrong for us and benefited him. I had gone out with the gun I am now carrying, a .22 Winchester Magnum with more power than my old faithful .22. I knew Farm Boss was moving hay but thought I'd just check how the sheep were. I opened a gate and walked quietly alongside the fence toward where I could see them grazing.

To my disbelief, there was the coyote in between the cattle and looking toward the sheep, apparently using the cows as part of his subterfuge. The sheep were more or less ignoring him; so it was working. Maybe they thought if the cows think he's okay, he must be.

Because I didn't realize Farm Boss was in the barn with his gun pointed at it, I yelled for him to get his gun. My .22 magnum wouldn't have the range and frankly he's a better shot than I am. It turned out that he had been waiting for it to get closer, but it seeing and hearing me was the end of that chance. The coyote ran. Farm Boss got off a shot but missed as the range was probably 300 yards which even for his 30.06 would have required a lot of luck with a moving target. Us -- 0. Coyote no recent kills but another escape. I couldn't believe how the cows just accepted it between them like no big deal. Traitors!

When Farm Boss went over to the neighbors to pull a goat kid that was a little too big to deliver without assistance, they discussed this nervy coyote. She said it brazenly crosses their fields nearly every morning. It's a big one, on that she and I agree. She wondered if it's mixed with dog, but they say that's genetically impossible. Whatever the case, it's large and determined to eat domestic animals when the opportunity arises. We are still in a standoff with no clear victor. His win is every time he kills one. Ours would put an end to the killing-- for at least him.

All photos from August and in our sheep pasture.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Odd dreams

About a week after the last story dream, I had another one that was vivid with something unusual in it. It began like many where I was definitely me and at some kind of resort, a kind of rustic setting, with a small lake beyond, small cabins, a lodge, and women dressed up in pretty dresses, lots and lots of people, some in the dream I knew, but no friend I can identify from my daily life.  I knew Farm Boss was also there but off somewhere doing his own thing. There were lots of beautiful people, even some movie stars that have died like Charles Bronson with his wife Jill Ireland who were horseback riding although I didn't interact with them other than to see they were happy. Everybody was happy and sharing their talents.

I found the room eventually where I had put our bags and was going to change into something for the evening, something more glamorous, but first I needed to find a bathroom. When I couldn't, I thought--  I have to wake her up because she's the one to take of this problem. If I don't do that, I can never have fun here.

So it was like I went through mists, dark areas and then came to a bedside, the right side of the bed to do this and shook my sleeping self awake.

When I woke up I looked around the room to be sure I was me. I was. It was early morning, almost time to get up anyway. What this all made me wonder was whether we really do meet others when we are dreaming like that. Was I at a gathering of other sleepers where we were doing things or having fun, some of us interacting? How did my dream self know to wake the sleeping me?

I don't know; but I do know that to think in a dream that I have to wake the dreamer to take care of something I couldn't do in the dream, well it's the first time that has happened although I have been in a dream and said I should wake up from it but never knew what I had to do to accomplish that.

What about you-- have you ever shaken your sleeping self awake? Do you think it's possible our soul really does go somewhere in a spirit place when we are asleep?

No, I did not watch the new film Inception although I have read about it. I am not sure I will watch it as the crossover between sleep and waking, confusion between dreams and reality is something to which I do not want to expose my mind. Who knows what it would think up next!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Wood River and painting

Having been to the Wood River last year when we canoed down part of it as well as overturned in it, I especially remembered fondly its headwaters. Our kids wanted to canoe it again. I wanted time along the banks at the pool right below the springs where I thought the combination of flowers and clear, turquoise, blue-green water could make an interesting painting.

After they took off on their canoes, Farm Boss and I explored the springs that make this river emerge from the ground as a river (very like the Metolius River further to the north), and then while he took off with the truck to explore a dirt road (one of his favorite things), I sat on the bank and did a small oil painting.

I always begin these not sure that they will come out. I have to make myself start but then it becomes interesting with how to make the colors, the shapes capture some of the energy of the place. My goal with all my painting lately is using the least number of strokes and colors to depict the energy of what I am seeing. With these little paintings, I am trying to paint whatever is there in one setting for better or worse.

Just as there are many ways to tell a story or make a movie from the same events, there are many ways to paint the same scene even with the same elements. A few examples would be realism (life like) where the painter might alter lighting and other elements to make the scene more exciting but still realistic (Da Vinci); abstract (non-objective) where it's all about shapes; colors and lines more than the literal scene (Pollock); surrealism where the artist goes beyond what is visual to create new images and colors inspired by the subject (Dali); primitivism where it's like a child did it (Moses); design or pop art where the artists reduces the subject to its basic elements and orders them (Hockney); or impressionism (Monet), postimpressionism (Van Gogh) where the scene is loosely painted, skimming over the details. What I enjoy the most to do, actually what I most like to buy also, is expressionism which means capturing the feeling more than the exact object or scene (Chagall).

Some artists cross back and forth between styles. Some don't like being labeled as one thing or another, but I don't see it as a limitation but rather helpful to think about the various styles as options for how to depict the same thing. 

Because a lot of what I do is still being impacted by art classes I had many years ago at Portland State College, I look at the scene to decide what would best be the underlying color, that which will tie it all together. I lay in a thin wash over the whole canvas. Being thin, it dries fast. While doing that I consider which elements in front of me most catch my eye. They do not have to be close together. I am not taking a photograph.

In this painting, there were three such attractive elements-- the clear, deep blue-green water of the pool, magenta fireweed, and a bushy yellow flower that might be in the buttercup family but I am not sure. Another painter could be sitting beside me and find something totally different to emphasize and their style might make you wonder where we each had been. It is what makes an art show of plein air painting groups so enjoyable.

As I was painting, a couple came by and the woman said she was photographing the same subjects to paint in her studio during the winter. I might do some of that myself as I took a lot of photos. With the capability now to make DVDs and put them on our widescreen television, I think that will be more effective and much easier than it used to be with sketches and color notes as the only clues to remind me what I had seen when I am back at the easel.  I think though that there is no substitute for painting right there when possible.

What I liked is the couple didn't ask to see what I was doing. I also respect the privacy of plein air painters, curious though I might be, as who knows what will end up happening or where the painting will have said all that was possible. For me, it's nice to paint with people who understand that.

For anyone interested in more about water miscible oils, I find them in many art and craft stores but often order from [Dick Blick] for ease and price. When I painted with acrylics, I liked their ease of use but never felt they had oil paint's depth of color. Too often my paintings ended up flat looking to me. Now I get the best of both with these water miscible oils and no carrying linseed oil or  turpentine when out in the field. Water based oils are thinned and cleaned with water and although they smell like oils, no turpentine/linseed oil odors add to it. They take about as long to dry as oils which is a big advantage if working on a painting over a period of time. One complaint I had with acrylics was if I wanted to come back to a painting, the values in particular wouldn't be easy for me to match. The colors  and values with oils don't change or if they do some, it's not a problem for me in the painting.

Thursday, August 05, 2010


As usual, I attempted to photograph the many dragonflies I saw along the edge of the lake and at a nearby river. I suspect the dragonflies must live longer there as some are huge and can be mistaken for a small bird as they flit past.

The fascination with dragonflies is not only their beauty but their life cycle where they spend most of their life under water as a nymph, a stage that can last up to five years. When the larva is ready to metamorphose, it climbs a reed or other water plant. Exposure to air causes the larva to begin breathing. The skin splits at a weak spot behind the head and the adult crawls out of its larval skin, dries its wings, and flies off to feed on mosquitoes and other flying insects. Generally they live less than half a year from that point. They are an example in nature of what many believe is true in spirit, a kind of resurrection or rebirth.

The prize photo this time was a golden dragonfly that seemed to glow when the sun hit it. When taking photos of it in the fireweed, using the telephoto, something almost magical happened as the sunlight combined with the background to create something that looks like a painting or that it was put together in photoshop but it wasn't. You know, a lot of photography is just plain luck but recognizing the luck when you see it. You take a lot, often of the same thing, because once in awhile something different happens, and it's why you took the rest.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The moods of Klamath Lake

A lake has many moods, many residents as well as those just passing through. Klamath Lake is a rich ecosystem which makes a person feel rich just being there. It is its own little paradise providing bountifully for many insects, fish, mammals, reptiles, and birds. We were especially fortunate to see it with a full moon and in two impressive thunderstorms.

Because of how much and how diverse it was for the photos, I am breaking them up. First are some of Klamath Lake's moods while I was there. Tomorrow will come one of the most interesting dragonfly photos I have ever gotten and finally another opportunity for painting at a river that runs into Klamath Lake.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Klamath Lake vacation

Last week I was at Klamath Lake for a few days with our family, where we had rented a house on the lake, had a wonderful time, saw some beautiful places, lots of birds, fished, swam, had no internet or television, but some spirited conversations about life-- not to mention good food and wine.

There are few things I value more than such times with our kids (both biological and by marriage) and grandkids. To see the cousins get this kind of time to play together, to know each other better, to hear them all laughing, well it's at the top of any list of mine and worth working to make it happen-- although usually it's not very expensive as we split the costs of the rentals and rarely eat meals out while on any of these outings.

When I am with the growing children for awhile, I am always amazed at the development of their personalities, their thinking. It's fun to watch them unfold as individuals. There are many examples but one such was a game of pretending to sell food to customers.

Now I had already had a turn at being the customer; so suggested our granddaughter (who turns 12 in September) should be. I rapidly found out what a boring customer I had been as she took on a personality of this extremely difficult woman with a hoity-toity accent who simply could not be pleased. Her cousins took it well, but her brother finally had had enough. He said nothing but after her next such put-down of the servers, with a big smile, simply dumped the pretend food (dry catkins from the pine tree) over her head. He made his point and showed he likely won't be a waiter ever.

In one area, our trip went not quite as we had planned. The first time Farm Boss and I tried to take out our canoe, I had my camera with me but no wet bag. The canoe was rocking and we just turned around as something was out of balance. It wasn't much fun for either of us, and I feared we'd go over or at the least not be able to move forward very well. Farm Boss figured out the problem, but other events got in the way of trying again; so that's for next trip there.

In the afternoons we started getting big thunderstorms which were exciting to watch. It's one thing I miss when not in Tucson for the monsoons. I was soaked several times while trying to get somewhere as the sky opened up while lightning was hitting across the lake (hopefully). Definitely exciting especially the afternoon when hail fell with a few nearly 1/2" in diameter. We watched in awe as the little balls struck the lake (photos of that in next blog). It was one of those things you are happy you got to see but equally glad to watch from under a roof.
The kids gathered bowls of the little balls and our son-in-law cut apart some of the largest so they could see the layers of how they had been made. The whole thing puts you in awe of the power of nature.

I kept waiting to see if I could get a photo of a lightning bolt until I got tired of sitting with the camera to my eye and hoping it would hit where it had the time before. I have heard you have to have a tripod and timed shot to really capture one. The bolts were straight down and thick as they would hit what looked like the opposite ridge or beyond.

After the storm, we saw damselflies on the surface of the lake, possibly their delicate wings damaged by the hail. Did some know to take shelter as there were also many dragonflies in the air seemingly undamaged by the storm. Was this just the end of their life cycle? Interestingly, although the little fish were swimming by in schools, the damselflies were not of interest to them to eat. Maybe too large? Beside the dying damselfly, you can see one of the slowly melting hail balls (the lake was cold this time).

More of Klamath Lake, dragonflies and Wood River in coming blogs.