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Saturday, April 27, 2013

beauty in the eye of the beholder or... is it?

The following is a story that led me to think about the question of physical beauty in humans although I had it coming to my mind for a couple of reasons which I'll discuss below.

As usual, Jezebel is funny on this. 

Beauty as a plus or minus was on my mind after I woke up one morning wondering if why some people dislike romance books is because they are generally about beautiful people-- female and male. 

Chick lit can be about beautiful women, but it's generally less inclined to be so. A lot of novels barely cover the physical looks of their lead characters. Maybe Jane Austen's romances get a pass from some readers because their heroines (if not heroes) describe themselves as plain or not the beauties of their family. Wuthering Heights had a beautiful heroine, but she paid the price for it. I am trying to think if there are many literary novels where a heroine could be rewarded for physical beauty? Often it's a road to tragedy like Anna Karenina.

Could it be that some of the reasons readers dislike romance novels is because of whom they are generally about-- the beautiful people who do get  a happy ending? Might it be that it's not so much the romantic part but that physical beauty in male and female irks some readers? Is beauty a plus in life or does it have a downside that leads to resentment from those who don't feel they possess it (even though they might)?

I saw in the paper that the new People magazine was out with their most beautiful women in the year issue (which, no I won't be buying). Gwyneth Paltrow has the top this year. It's always interesting how a woman or man can be most beautiful one year and lose it the next but alas the way of beauty, I guess.

So while she is labeled most beautiful by some. She was in another poll as most hated. Does her beauty factor into both? I've read that some resent her for pushing healthy eating. That's a reason some resent Michelle Obama who is probably one of our most beautiful first ladies but because her figure is more of the goddess sort, some put her down in an era where toothpicks are admired not sensual curves.

As I get past the age of worrying so much about my own physical beauty-- and I guarandamntee you that as a woman gets old if she cares too much about her physical beauty, she's going to be miserable-- doomed to get surgeries, inject poisons, diet constantly and even then not be able to match what she once was-- I am interested in a rather abstract way as to what beauty is. 

We live in a world where beauty is treasured and reviled. It likely always has been thus. Culturally what is regarded as beautiful varies quite a lot. I've talked to many women who don't consider themselves beautiful and yet to me they are. What's that about?

Just out of curiosity I thought about this question-- how many really beautiful people are there? One day when I was at Costco but had not gone into the store with Farm Boss, as I waited in the truck, I critically looked at the faces for physical beauty or even extremely interesting faces. This was obviously not a scientific study. Since I have not done this before, I cannot even say it was typical for Costco shoppers.

In that hour or less, there weren't any physically beautiful people period-- most especially none in mid-years. Is physical beauty that rare? I'm not sure how many faces I saw but say 100 and zero that were beautiful. Writing books about the physically beautiful or even having our movies generally be about them-- what's that about if it's not how most of us are?

Another thing is in youth there is a lot more beauty or at least cuteness. Do we lose it in mid years through expressions? Weight? Attitude? Mid-life is where there are a lot of pressures-- does that impact people's faces? Interestingly besides teens tending to be at least cute, the elderly are often again more attractive -- at least it's how it seems to me. What is there about an elderly face, white hair, a lot of lines and something that really does say beauty? Maybe the attitudes have softened?

I had another question. If some readers reject romances for being about physically beautiful people falling in love and finding a happily ever after, who are the readers who do buy these books? Best seller lists regularly have romances on them. A recent series of books (grey something or other) about a beautiful woman, very handsome wealthy man along with kinky sex not only sold over 40 million copies, but is about to become a movie. Can you imagine that degree of success had it been about a pudgy heroine and balding, kinky but wealthy hero? So in some cases beauty sells and in other cases it's a block? Some say that book got its popularity not for the kink but the stereotypical romance of two beautiful people.

I have no idea but beauty is a factor in life. I have even heard from those who think Obama got elected president because he was good looking (and yes, I do think he's a handsome man). If so, why didn't it work for Romney who is the prototype male for being tall, handsome, square jawed, and with good hair?

Images purchased from Canstock to use in trailers for books.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

the good and the bad

Although I had no intention of writing again about the Marathon bombings and resultant gun battle and chase, I can't resist commenting on the ridiculousness of some of our US Senators. Yes, Lindsey and John top the list once again with Peter not far behind. What is wrong with these guys and even more how do they keep getting elected?

I get it with Lindsey in a way as he is in a Southern state that would not easily elect a Democrat. When someone has been in power as long as he has, his own party doesn't run anybody against him but seriously, South Carolina, you can't do better???

Lindsey is one of those people that when I say whines, I am not exaggerating. He began as soon as there was the chance they would get the second bomber alive. Enemy combatant, he said with that way he has of irritating me the instant he opens his mouth. Seriously, this guy who would defend the Constitution forever and ever, for the right to own assault rifles and against any kind of background checks, was part of throwing the Bill of Rights out the door after 9/11. 

Now he and his ilk would have not read the murderer his Miranda rights and wanted him declared an Enemy Combatant thereby giving him a level of legitimacy that he does not deserve. These guys were murderers plain and simple. Just because they want to see themselves as soldiers in a new crusade by a new Tamerlane does not mean the rest of us should become so nutty. 

These two Boston killers were just like all of our homegrown mass murderers have been. Losers using some pathetic excuse to attack winners. But what would Lindsey and his ilk do-- give him credibility. Rush him off to Guantanamo where they haven't had any successful trials (in the United States we have put on trial terrorists and successfully put them away). With Guantanamo who knows even who they have. If this guy had been sent there, we'd never learn anything more about what he did. 

I would shake my head over Lindsey except I have long since given up thinking that our country will elect reasonable, responsible and intelligent leaders in all states. Democrats also have had their share of rotten elected officials. I just wish we'd learn from it and kick out the current crop of those who work for lobbyists not the people.

They can interview this current killer all they want and get anything he says because they will not need any of it to convict him of heinous crimes-- brutal murders and an attempt to frighten the United States-- this done by two people who got help from this country and rewarded it by kicking it in the face. That does NOT mean every immigrant should be judged likewise. It would be like saying every Senator was a Lindsey Graham.

Americans come in all different kinds of sizes as do immigrants. After the bombing, we were given story after story of heroism with those who put their own lives on the line potentially as they helped strangers.

One of my favorite stories was the man who had lost his son in Iraq, gone through a terrible bout of depression but was there that day and applied tourniquets to save the life of a man who had had his legs blown off. This was captured with the photo of one man with a cowboy hat holding his hand on another in a wheel chair who is being rushed to get surgical care. 

Think about it. That one man saved the life of the one man who was standing right next to the bomb when it went off. The one man who saw clearly the killer and met his eyes as he set the bomb down. The one man, who as soon as he came out of the anesthetic, asked for paper to write what he had seen. He's the one who led to the early identification of the bombers, who since they were building more bombs likely would have killed more.

So one man saved the life of another with no idea at that point that it would lead to the capture of the bombers. That is how life goes and there is something like it all the time in life. Thinking on the positive side lets us pay attention to what happens but also let it go. 

BUT-- South Carolina, get that guy out of the Senate--- please!

Bleeding heart photos from a hike Monday in Beazell, a park beautifully set aside for everyone to enjoy by one family's desire to see its beauty preserved and a county's goals to make available to appreciate.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day

For wildflowers,
earth day is every day.
It should be the same for us 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

the nature of life

Once again, a blog that I wrote I put aside-- but at least that one will show up next Saturday as it was about a truth I wanted to discuss. It just doesn't fit today with the week America just went through.

In terms of news analysis, I see no reason to discuss here what everybody could be following if they had interest. If they did not, then they didn't want to, and I won't try and shove it down their throat.

My week though revolved around the news and several items which all swirl into a whole and worked for me as a voyeur of life. When you write, you use things. You absorb. Most of the time you cannot afford to take what you observe personally or you'd go nuts-- which does happen to some writers. In my case I feel emotional connection to some of what I hear because of the old-- there but for the grace of god go I-- although in my case I don't believe that. I think it's fate and what fate is, that I have no idea. Is there a purpose and plan? No clue. But I do know that my week had a lot of elements that are beginning to build an emotional whole regarding a story germinating in my head. How does it happen such things coalesce? I haven't a clue but they often seem to do so.

So I have been reading books about a period of Oregon history in the 1860s where Eastern Oregon was enduring a lot of violence. It was coming from many sources. The Indian tribes were not happy that so many settlers had come into their traditional homes. They saw potential to rob and kill as a way to enrich themselves but also force the interlopers out of the area. That meant the interlopers struck back and between cavalry and civilians, there were attacks on both sides. Much blood was shed. 

Some people like to think they are living through a particularly bad time-- mostly those who think that way have no real clue as to the meaning of that. How terrible a child would go to a Marathon and lose his life. Yes, but my parents lived through the fear that polio would do the same thing. Before that there was no treatment for so many illnesses. Danger isn't unique to one time or period in history. When it happens to us, it's the worst, of course; but reality is life has always had dangerous periods.

When things happen like the Boston Marathon bombing, humans want to find someone to blame. Ironically the blame this week has been pushed onto the far right by the far left and the far left by the far right. Both sides have those who are blaming Obama but for different reasons. That's the irony of life and especially of political decision making.

Then we had the Senate voting to not extend background checks to gun shows-- again massive blame games. I've heard a lot of lies regarding this bill but here is what it actually says  

Why anybody wouldn't want that is beyond me but by the time the right wing got hold of what was going on, people like Rush Limbaugh had twisted the facts so badly that they had no clue what was in it.  

This battle for sanity on gun regulations cannot be considered over. We who wish to walk into a mall, we need to continue with the battle for reasonable gun laws while we recognize that won't help with bombers with political or life grudges. We will also be confronting those who fear guns and we who own them with the idea they can get rid of all guns as a way to reduce violence. It isn't going to be easy to hit the middle on this, but the middle often does win such battles-- if they stick to it.

Politics is a messy business and I was reminded of that when we watched Lincoln this week. That is a great film on politics and the impact they have on ordinary lives including that of those who make the laws. Names and parties may change but a lot of the mentality we are seeing argued through right now was in that period of time also. 

How do you get things done that you consider important? Well avoid hysteria. Stick to it. Understand the big picture. Do what is required which won't always be what you wanted.

For me that means donating to political candidates in other states who have my view on guns-- which is that they are legal for some citizens to own but they need to be regulated as to what kind of guns can be owned as well as who. I don't want someone who has been identified as dangerous, by law enforcement and mental health officials, to be able to walk into a Walmart and buy a gun. I do want to keep my guns so long as i use them responsibly. For people who are afraid of guns, don't own one.  If you want to see me as part of the problem because I do, I consider that your problem not mine.

So quite a week for discussion of violence. Then I chose something voluntarily to add to it. I watched an HBO documentary which I thought was very good on the psychology of war and those who cover wars-- How far to the front? created by Sebastian Junger on the work of a photojournalist who was killed in Libya but had lived a life recording war until it finally got him. Even if upsetting, it is an excellent film on the psychology of war-- but war should be upsetting.

Everything that happened this week is helping me put together the background i needed for the book I will start in a month that will be about the war in Eastern Oregon 1866-67 (approximate on the years), about the military of that time and of course, a love story. Politics, violence, emotion, danger, nature, love. It will have it all. My favorite kind of story to write.

Last week was definitely not my favorite kind of week to live because even though most of us were a long way from Boston, we can so identify with those there. How sad it is that some live to hurt others but at the same time encouraging that there are others who live to make this a better world. The amazing thing was that they were able to take the second suspect alive. Maybe we will get some answers but I won't hold my breath for that.

The photos are from an assortment of years and places and a reminder that life is good despite bad times. When those bad times come, we just have to get through them-- hopefully with the help of each other.

Friday, April 19, 2013

I thought this was interesting regarding how they got the lead they needed to get the first of the murderers

Now as to why the bombers did it, how many there are, whether it's a political motive or just a group of losers (a lot of what does it in our country), those are the questions we won't know for awhile. Chechnya connection does not guarantee a specific motive. If they get some alive that's the only hope for an answer and not always then.

What interested me with this is once again it was an ordinary citizen, the man who lost both his legs, who as soon as he regained consciousness said he had seen the man's face who planted that bomb. His ID helped authorities get the photos out of the crowds. 

So often I hear-- leave this up to the authorities, trained people, but so often, as with so many of the lives saved that day, it's ordinary people who know what to do and do it.

Hopefully soon they will have the rest of the killers whether it's just the one surviving brother or more involved in this plot.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

view from yesterday

 view out our front window yesterday

I write here once a week-- other than when something happens that I really want to write about and don't want it to be one of the weekly posts which I try to keep positive. 

When I scanned the news yesterday, which I do on my computer in between working on editing right now, I saw the first mention of what happened in Boston. I turned on the TV which is never on during the day except for such. I went to three of the cable stations and after listening to them for awhile, I turned it off.

Yes, television news can be first with the most but one of their problems with such events is they want to prognosticate with the tiny number of facts they have and they don't remotely have enough. Every American already knows the possibilities that are out there. We don't need commentators with diarrhea of the mouth to keep telling us who could have done it or how many other bombs are out there or anything that isn't confirmed news and is just somebody said to somebody. They could stick to the facts. They could quit putting banners over the top of the images they claim to be showing us. They could but they won't.

My own thoughts on what happened are we just have too many people in the world who don't respect human life-- their own or anybody else's. Sometimes that means whole governments. Sometimes it is political groups. Sometimes it's a loser at life who wants to strike back. I don't know what you can really do when such happens except grieve for those who lost so much and try to come up with better ways to monitor people in crowd conditions; but if we lose our own freedoms in doing that, the terrorists win (and they are all terrorists whether it's using a gun, knife or bomb because they want to scare and intimidate others with violence and fear as their tactic). 

In some ways there is no preventing them from winning because they take joy in what happened and nobody sane or with respect for life possibly could. Those few who do gloat over such violence, they are in league with the terrorists no matter whether they would do such a thing themselves. They are part of the deed.

The rest of us just have to realize that these times do pass. Other countries have gone through such periods. We have to be informed, alert, pay attention when out, but not stop doing things out of fear. 

I wish there was something I could think of that is positive about such events though-- something uplifting. There was the response of the people there who ran toward the trouble to try and help. For the one person who would do such an act, there are thousands who try to help others and risk their own lives doing it.

But it doesn't really make us feel better because those rare mad dogs, they can hurt so many innocents, and we really cannot stop them every time. As they say, we can stop hundreds of such attacks and do, but they only have to succeed once to win because of how they see life.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

One of those days-- or make that weeks

  The rosemary which survived when the sheep got through a gate I had not closed well and ate down a lot of the early flower garden when I wasn't there. Fortunately, they don't like rosemary.

Friday and it's one of those days already. I had an idea for the blog on Saturday, and it fell through. This is not how I like to write. I most enjoy it when I do things ahead of time and then have time to look them over at the last minute but not have to do a total new topic and writing. On the other hand, writing something loose is probably good once in awhile...

 no, i don't really use a crystal ball to prognosticate but wish I could

The week had a lot of news that would be worthy of writing about-- if I was in the mood to write about politics or world events. I've tried several times with Chris Hayes's new program (replacing Ed Schultz) but frankly MSNBC has been losing me anyway because it is so much about politics with round table discussions. 

I get real tired of listening to 'experts' discuss some topic even when it's something as big as North Korea threatening nuclear attack. Some say it's nothing to worry about but what do we know about the young man who took over that country? How much power does he have? Does he value the life of his people? Is he educated about real world consequences? I have no idea. Depressing to say the least to think someone would play so fast and loose with nuclear destruction-- and yes, I know, I've heard it from some of our leaders also. That does NOT make me feel better.

At first light one morning, we had two little foxes show up in what will be our vegetable garden when enough comes up to prove it. They were so cute but they also were barely visible and no way I could get a photo of them. I was fortunate to get some great photos of one last year at this time much closer and standing still for the many photos.

Farm Boss did some research on foxes. Last year, this is the time we saw the one above. We think they probably have a den up on the hill above us. This would be their breeding season which might explain the twosome. We also learned they will eat vegetables which might explain holes in our tomatoes in the past that I assumed came from slugs. The fence will soon be up, but I would not mind planting some just for them-- except the sheep would get those first. 

The hummingbirds are here and have been for two weeks or so. That's good. Bad is that we have one cat, Blackie, who is addicted to going after them. He ignores every other bird but something about their sound or speed and he wants to catch them.Our theory is that he knocks them down with his paws (which have well trimmed claws).

hummer photo  in Tucson as getting a photo here hasn't happened yet this spring

The good news is that so far this year he has delivered them without wounds or broken wings which means we can take them from his mouth, put them somewhere to get over the shock of the experience, and they eventually fly off-- hopefully a little wiser although who knows. 

I have a feeder up but hummers need insects, and he's getting them low down and the two this spring with a mouthful of grass in one case and moss in the other. At least it cushions the teeth. Still it irks me as of all the birds I love, it's hummingbirds that top the list. One thing about cats is-- they don't give a damn what we think and this photo says it all about him.

There has been a debate going on in the MOA forums at Amazon where a reader expressed her desire that there be no sex in the books she reads and her frustration that romances seem to either have sex or Christianity. She doesn't want either. I added a few comments on the topic since I do write sex scenes, and although I don't consider it critical to the plots, I don't intend to stop as part of a whole relationship between lovers.

When I gave her the name of a few writers I knew who don't write sex, she changed her requirements to each book has to be over 288 pages. The problem is page number doesn't really indicate length of book, eBooks aren't page numbered but even if they were, print size, font, photos, extra chapters, table of contents, etc., all play a role in even kb size. I suggested word count is a better indicator of the actual length of the book-- too much work, she said. About that time, I realized the topic was going in circles which is about the way I have felt everything has done for me this week.

So a few photos and a lot of frustration with the hope that my blog for next week goes better ;) It did give me a new label-- blah! My title for the week-- no, that doesn't include nature which as always gave me a lift when my own work wasn't.


Saturday, April 06, 2013

just flowing along

 the quince is 
finally blooming. 
happy hummers

I am loving the calendar I chose for this year. April's bit of wisdom had such a great quote as a goal for the month.
Anything and everything can become our teacher of the moment, reminding us of the possibility of being fully 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 Zabat-Zinn
 Where it comes to being in the moment, do we have to let go of all the questions? Do we stop compartmentalizing, something I'm quite good at? I think compartmentalizing gets us through a lot of our complexities and yet do we live a whole, organic life when we do it? Maybe being in the moment is just another compartment... 

 Reading the newspaper, talking to a friend, sitting at my computer to write or read, thinking of loved ones, considering my life, where it's at, what I want it to be, all of these things lead me to be aware that I am again compartmentalizing. I am where I am and who I am at the moment, but if I stop to think a lot of other aspects of what matters are also there at the moment.  They are what I have put aside for thinking about at a more appropriate time.

What gets me even more than compartmentalizing or boxing is realizing all the other people I have been. Should I integrate them into the me of today or are they in the past and gone. Frankly, it's hard to believe the little girl playing with the paperdolls she had made, the one heading to school and feeling out of place, swimming in a river or climbing a hill, those were all me. 

The way we age, the different roles we take on, the choices we made that preclude other choices, they are all boxes of a sort and enable us to function or are they what keep us from the whole that we secretly desire?

Maybe the boxes are like when we take a photo and narrow down what is out there to the tiny part we want to capture. They enable us to concentrate in a way that constantly considering the 'whole' would not.

Part of what has made me think about this is frustration over so much that is going on in the world. I am trying to put the political stuff from me as it's an ongoing worry/depression machine, but to even think about the cultural issues can become overwhelming. If I turn on the news, it's all aimed at creating a culture of rage which might be effective if it led to positive change. Does it or does it instead just lead to upset?

How about instead thinking about this video, one of four or five that we took, neither of which tell the story of what it's like to watch hundreds of geese take off and land on a pond.

If we, as humans, could be like our stream, changing with the seasons, moving on but not trying to figure out what is coming would we miss a lot of what being human is all about or is it the true secret to a happy life?

 our stream April 2. 
I am soooooooooo 
ready for summer.