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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

happy new year

I am soooo glad to be leaving 2013 behind and feel good about starting into a new year. I know years and months are only accounting devices, but it does seem as though it marks an end and beginning-- maybe only because I grew up where it does on a lot of physical levels.

We will begin our new year at our Tucson home with a lot of things needed to prepare it for the first of its seasonal renters coming after we leave at the end of January. A lot of little and some bigger things go wrong with a home especially an older one. It is nice for us to be able to do this when here even if it's being hired done.

To get here, we pulled our vacation trailer down the middle of California. Even with shorter driving days, it was unpleasant to say the least. I-5 in California is not well maintained with lots of uneven portions and bad patches. We hardly saw a patrol car the whole time going south, and they closed several of their rest areas which made me think it's budget cuts. Of course, I am guessing.

Lots and lots of traffic heading toward LA with a lot of nuttiness which is multiplied when it's that many cars. Then a windstorm with 40-50 mph gusts between Barstow, CA and Bouse, AZ two of our overnight stays. For the nighttime stops, the trailer was far better than motels, nice RV parks all the way (finding a Good Sam is a tip for well-maintained sites just off the freeways). Anyway we are here. Hopefully by the time we start home we'll be recovered from this drive enough to do it all again ;)

Anyway I am excited about entering the new year from Tucson, one of my favorite places in the West. It was great to be here last night, and the cats will eventually forgive us for taking them. One of them has to learn to stay off tables... Guess which.

 For those interested in astrology, 2014 begins with a new moon, rather unusual; but nobody is saying hugely significant. I get emails that go into what is expected, and I thought others might find [this one interesting]. It was forwarded from Stephanie St. Claire a Tucson psychic who I met some years back.  I think they are fun to read for the energy to be expected based on planetary influence (or natural cycles). I don't base my life choices on astrology but in this case, I am feeling this is going to be a good year ahead.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Reviewing a year

As we approach the end of a year, always a momentous time in my mind (even as a calendar is a man-made way to keep track), I have a wonderful calendar from last year where I sometimes would put the quotes on here. As a review of 2013, here they all are.

If we can let go for just a moment, relax, and fall into the center of now, we can encounter directly the freedom that we've all been seeking.

This is our choice in every moment. Do we relate to our circumstances with bitterness or openness?
Pem Chodron

You are not "in the now"-- You are the now. This is your essential identity-- the only thing that never changes. Life is always now. Now is consciousness. And consciousness is who you are. That's the equation.
Eckhart Tolle

Anything and everything can become our teacher of the moment, reminding us of the possibility of being full present: the gentle caress of air on our skin, the play of light, the look on someone's face. Anything and everything-- if it is met with awareness.
Jon Kabat-Zinn

The reasons of the heart are leaves in the wind. Stand up tall and everything will nest in you.
Mark Nepo

Walk and touch peace in every moment. Walk and touch happiness every moment. Each step brings a fresh breeze. Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Thich Nhat Nanh

Joy is the means and the end.
Michael Bernard Beckwith

No matter what situation we find ourselves in, we can always set our compass to our highest intentions in the present moment.
Jack Kornfield

I will approach eadh day knowing that those who have gone before me are watching, and those who come after me will reap what I do with that day.
Joseph Marshall

Close the language-door and open the love window. The moon won't use the door, only the window.


There are three medicines that you should put in your medicine bundle every day: the power of acknowledgement and gratitude, genuine apology, and the spirit of laughter and joy.
Angeles Arrien

Behold the children, and imitate them... They are interested in the present moment, in being curious and in learning, in showing and in sharing, in making and creating.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PHD

These all came from my calendar for 2013 by Sounds True called The Present Moment embracing the fullness of life. I bought the same type of calendar for above my desk for 2014.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

it's snowing right where I like it

Another Google+ treat using our recent snow and the cattle. Fun stuff.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas

This is a big moment for many of us as we finally come to the shortest day of the year, the longest night, and from now on our days are slowly going to grow in light. Many mark the day with yule logs and a bringing back of the light celebrations which might involve candles.

This is such a crazy, hectic time that it can be difficult to take time to reflect. Colds and flu are everywhere.  For me, Solstice is a good time to look at my previous year and ahead to the one coming. We made it over the hump once again. There are many potential rituals attached to that from Celtic days. Solstices are the real turning points-- not our end of the calendar year which is neat but is artificially put together for accounting more than any real biological event.

For me a lot of difficult things came down since my last Winter Solstice which I had celebrated in Tucson. I am looking for the coming year to be better-- I hope. I lost two much beloved cats from our fur family, when I rarely lose one over many years. One, a young cat, was a particularly tough loss that still hurts if I let myself think about it.

My health has had some tests which led to no more gluten or dairy (that makes eating complicated let me tell you). Then came a recent painful facial and ear condition which maybe is diagnosed or maybe not but it didn't feel good. These aren't big things by many standards, but they aren't fun either. I can know I am a lucky woman on a ton of standards, but I also am a woman who will be glad to see this year behind me.

To show some of the good things in my year, I went through 2013 photos for some of my favorites-- excluding, of course, any of the family. These are from big to small moments where each brings back good memories.

One thing I've learned in my now just over 70 years of life-- the best moments in my life aren't the big, exciting ones but instead the small, still ones. The little accomplishments. The lucky times I see something I'd never seen before. Even the sad moments. I can't hold any of them. Some I just want to get through as fast as possible.

Photography is about capturing a moment in a different way so it can be pulled back and the feelings surge over you with the memories. For me, the lesson is you can't hold back life. Life goes on, and we are left to savor memories from special times, enjoy what is right in front of us, and look to what is ahead.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

snow on the farm

We had some snow in our valley with temperatures that dipped below 0ºF. It will lead to loss of shrubs when we figure out what damage was done as it's been over 40 years since it last got that cold here.

The snow did yield some pretty photos. I wasn't out much in it due to a sensitive ear, but Farm Boss had to feed; so got some good photos. I am not much of a snow person anymore. A day or two and I'm ready to see it be gone.

It was Raven's first time to see snow and that was fun to watch. Neither she nor Blackie thought much of such low temperatures for their paws. Their time outside usually was just long enough to turn around and come back in.

Surprisingly she is a cat who likes to watch the television and gets right up there as though trying to figure out from where that image is coming. I don't think she can get up on the TV and knock it over but will be glad when she is less fascinated.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Tamastslikt and Tsagagalal

To conclude my mini-tour of some of Oregon's more interesting, back-of-beyond places, I thought I'd combine two that fit particularly well together-- Tamastslikt Cultural Institute and Tsagagalal. but add there were three other interesting museums we visited while in the Columbia River Gorge--  Maryhill Museum of Art Fort Dalles Museum and The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center 

Each of these places provided pieces of the story of man's migrations from the first arrivals to johnny-come-latelys. The collections of artifacts could do a blog all on their own but I feel I've taken enough space here and will only cover the first two with links to all five; so you can know about them also.

While we visited these museums, we parked our trailer at two different state parks on the Washington side of the Columbia River. Our site here was right on the Columbia River and a pure delight. We moved when we wanted to see Tsagagalal for reasons I'll mention below but that site was nice too at Columbia Hills State Park.

 Maryhill State Park
From the first one we opted to leave the trailer and drive east, up the Columbia River and past Pendleton past the site of the Wildhorse Casino to the Cultural Center. Tamastslikt was built by the Umatilla, Cayuse and Walla Walla tribes to tell their story in this lovely and well put together museum. 

The unfortunate part of it is once inside the museum, you cannot take photos. I think it was a mistake as if they had not permitted flashes or limited the photos to areas that were not involving their spiritual beliefs to keep them sacred, it would make sense; but to block them all makes it harder to share what is there. This could be one reason there weren't many people in the museum. 

It is an excellent telling of how people lived before the white man came, how horses impacted their culture, their traditions (which during the summer would involve live demonstrations). They had a long house and often there were recordings playing to tell their stories. They then got into how they were impacted by the arrival of the whites and finally who they are today (my two nieces are one-quarter Umatilla but live in the Portland near their father, grandmother and other cousins).

I particularly liked in the display how they included the warrior side of that culture which often gets glossed over. These peoples did have a warrior class as did many of the Plains Indians. It is a proud part of their heritage. It has carried on with their people serving bravely in the military.

Walking through the dioramas and artifacts takes about an hour and a half, and I think is well worth anyone's time to get a picture of what another people lived like and what they went through culturally to get to where they are today with their goals for the future.

As someone who seeks out petroglyphs, Tsagagalal, She Who Watches, had long been on my someday list. She represented a god to the peoples of the Columbia River Basin, a huge, beautiful petroglyph overlooking the Columbia. Since she is above what were some of their burial grounds, some say she related to that, possibly to illnesses or death. She never seemed that way to me as I saw her as just beautiful and feminine. Legends abound as to how she came to be here. You can find them with a Google search.

The way you see her today is call the park for a tour which is limited in size and only happens twice a week in spring, summer and early fall. We got in on one of the last for this year. We moved our trailer to stay near the site.

Besides Tsagagalal there were many other petroglyphs in this park, all just above the Columbia River. Some are easy to visit without a guide and were saved before  Petroglyph Canyon, now underwater was flooded by The Dalles dam. They line a walkway and many of them I had seen drawings of other places without knowing from where they had come.

Some think they know why the people created this or that image or what it means. I just enjoy them for the way a story was left behind for future generations. Whether it was a mystical story, a hunt, something precious they had seen, petroglyphs all around the world are always worth a visit when possible.

 To me though, who has seen a lot of petroglyphs all across the west, the queen of them all is She Who Watches and she truly does appear to watch in her serene beauty.

 She is three feet by four feet in size, both petroglyph and pictograph.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

John Day Fossil Beds

 On our Oregon vacation, pulling a 26' trailer, from the town of John Day, we headed north with the idea we would camp in the John Day Fossil Bed National Monument. Now we knew there were no campgrounds in the Monument as well as the beds themselves were closed thanks to the federal government shutdown, but we had done some research and found there was a bed and breakfast that had space for dry camping with RVs. We had called ahead, and they said it'd be fine.

The gravel road up was about 5 miles and supposed to be smooth. Turns out it had a lot of sharp curves, and wasn't totally smooth. We had one scary moment when Farm Boss braked sharply. It turned out the cattle guard didn't go all the way to the edge of the road and in his mirror he saw that our trailer was about to land in a hole that would have had us getting out jacks and who knows how getting ourselves out of it.

So, I had to get out of the truck and make hand signals so he'd know where he was safe as he drove back over it this time without the scare. With the truck and trailer on one side, I looked uneasily at the cattle-guard realizing I'd have to walk across it. They are metal bars with spaces between. Although you'd not fall in very far, it's not something that makes me comfortable. He knew that and hence was already back to help me across.

So after that, the road was good, the scenery totally spectacular as it had been all the way-- except when we pulled into their place, they were burning juniper brush. Because of my sinus problems and at one time asthma, I am someone who really cannot take smoke. We looked and it appeared anywhere they allowed camping would be in the path of the smoke; so, after explaining the situation to the owner, we headed back down the same road, more cautiously around the cattle-guard.

The landscape though on the road up and down was so good that it made the detour well worth it especially with all the fossil beds closed. They are well worth time if you are ever in that area. There are no dinosaur fossils because during the age of the dinosaurs all of Oregon was under water; but this is about the age of the mammals. There are fossils under much of that pretty rock, some already dug up and some will remain there forever. It is a geologist and archaeologist's paradise. Pretty good scenery for everybody else too.

We may go back sometime when the lighting is better although with the rain and misty quality, it gave a fantasy feel to the grandiose landscapes.

And finally we were on pavement and heading north with the John Day River to follow for awhile.