New Posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays -- er generally

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Happy Birthday

Farm Boss and I have had quite a few birthdays together (we will have been married 49 years in September and been together since the fall of 1962 when we started to date--haven't broken up yet... not to say there haven't been a few close calls) but this is a special one--

Happy 70th Birthday, Farm Boss!




Okay, two weeks ago he asked me to take the one above after he got his ATV stuck in the mud and ended up covered with mud and oil as he tried to repair it (didn't ask me to post it here though). The ATV is still on the sick list :). 



To show he did clean up, photo with his long time friend as they assess the ATV's health issues.

It might take awhile for the photos to totally open but stick with them. It's a tiny bit of a lifetime there ;)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Politics and climate change

Last week, when I began trying to put together political topics as video discussions, I did this one first. It's a learning process to do these videos. I thought about redoing this one with the better webcam but figured the very nature of it being first deserved to be kept. Perfect? No but then no discussion video, that I have done, ever has been. Always there is something that I could tweak but then if I redo it, it ends up something else. But in this case, it's what was said that matters most to me.

There are other issues today that are important-- like voting rights which just amazes  me what the Supreme Court did and how they tried to justify it. It's disgusting; but in terms of what matters the most to me and I think should to all of us-- it's something else, something bigger. What is coming?

Unfortunately, climate change has become a partisan issue when it should never be, not to anybody who has looked at earth history as well as science. The choices we make now will impact ourselves and future generations more than anything else we do.

As Obama said-- We don't have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

winning and losing


Life is hectic right now on one level and yet very peaceful on another. For assorted reasons, it was beginning to feel pressured until we realized we had options and exercised some of them hence reducing the tension instantly-- at least in those areas.

Lately I've been thinking about the problem in our country with Americans so divided and that's even within political or philosophical groups. I think it goes back to our media which is used by some to gain power. The media now encompasses blogs, twitters, comments, and assorted places to get information which doesn't mean facts.


One problem is that we are bombarded by opinions. Twitters are full of instant opinions with maybe a link back to some justification for the opinion but often just to an expansion of the opinion. If you listen to news, especially cable news, opinions are in the forefront with limited facts behind them.

Who needs facts!
Facts are boring. 
Facts go on too long. 
Facts aren't exciting. 
How are we supposed to interpret facts? 
Never fear there are plenty to tell us.

Let's just take Syria as one example of the newest world issue. There is a civil war going on there.


One side is supposed to be the 'good' guys (ignore that video showing one of their leaders ripping out a dead enemy's heart and taking a bite of it). John McCain assured us these are the good guys when he visited and schmoozed with them. They are fighting for freedom. They don't answer for who.

One side is the 'bad' guys. They represent a brutal dictator who uses (supposedly) chemical weapons hence finally convincing the US to send weapons to the 'good' guys. The 'bad' guys are being supplied by Russia and Iran hence proving they are also bad guys, I guess.

The US has to get in or Bill Clinton said Obama would be thought of a wuss. That's funny if you think about all the deaths Obama has ordered by drone but are facts part of this? Of course not. Facts get in the way of emotions and this is about emotions and power.

That thing I wrote awhile back about distinguishing power from strength is still on my mind while I think of this problem of getting facts versus opinions. Power seems to be in numbers and in words that push agendas. What is real strength?

My main concern right now though is how do American get facts instead of opinions. If they spend their days reading twitters or blogs like this, they are getting opinions supposedly based on facts... or are they?

The fear talk that ironically is on both the far right and the far left is doing its best to head us toward paranoia but with very different solutions suggested. Listening to the talk radio pundits, where now you can only get right wingers in my part of the country (which isn't because this is a right wing region but because somebody wants it to be one), and you hear limited (at best) facts, never covering the whole picture, but with lots of opinions and ridicule of anybody who thinks otherwise.

Okay, here's my opinion-- get the facts. Do not listen to the opinions (I don't care how much you trust the opinion-maker) until you also know the facts. If you can't get facts, and are unwilling to go to the trouble to track them down, then turn off the news and quit listening to the radio or Internet. Until you have the facts, opinions can end up being toxic and I don't care which side you are listening to!

Watching birds is a soothing activity right now... whether it's at the house or the beach. It is one way to win :)


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Aging and 70s

Because I am going to be very busy the next month, I decided to try out the video discussion format for Wednesdays with maybe photos and something written for Saturdays.

So far learning to use videos to discuss a topic in a few minutes (four or under) is an up and down experience. I ordered a sharper webcam and am hoping it also gets better color without so much tweaking. I like the wider format where it sets the talker into an environment. I've noticed sometimes YouTube is not as sharp as my copy where I have it set to maximum sharpness and am guessing that is based on whether it is fully buffered and maybe time of day and their traffic level.

If anyone else is into creating videos-- has been brave enough to dare the new frontier-- I'd be happy to show theirs here also. Wednesday is aimed at being a discussion on any topic where it feels like friends sitting down with coffee or tea. This isn't the TED talk for experts but for friends sharing something they're thinking about. It doesn't have to be 'important'. I will be posting these also into Videos and Discussions. Maybe you have yet to do a blog but might find this is your medium-- give it a try.

Someone, who has a nice garden, could do a four minute survey of it with some explanation (send it to my email which is under my profile).  This is not a place where everything has to be weighty and deep. Sometimes it's nice to take a break from pathos and paranoia and just have some fun or enjoy someone else's piece of life. But if paranoia is on your mind, I'm open to considering a video where you explain the why of that.

For my other blog, Videos and Discussion, if you are into this and we have a similar view of life (not necessarily same or agreeing but not virulently opposed-- for instance if you think gay marriage is evil, we aren't a good match or if you want to justify bigotry, you need to find another forum), otherwise though I'd be delighted to make you a co-author there which means you could directly post to Videos and Discussions. It would be one way to keep it booming.

Farm Boss took a few videos at the beach last time there; and if he gets time to put them together, they might make it here, there or somewhere. He said he might do one of the discussion videos, as he thinks I'm not making mine long enough. That's be fun, as once you start doing this, it's not as easy as some might think-- as in him :).

The discussion below is on the topic of aging and physical beauty-- or not. Oh I know, it's soooooooo lightweight, but it also is something men and women face as they age and feel their looks deteriorate. Can we admit that or must we pretend? The video isn't a solution to it, just an acknowledgement (if I come up with a solution, I'll be sure and post that too someday).

I have to say doing a video discussion goes a lot faster than trying to write something-- after the explanation this time anyway. It also has the advantage of illustrating the words with the visual aspect. I could see someone doing it for a book review, a hobby or pretty much anything that can make a short discussion as I am not sure how willing people are to listen to long speeches. I don't know how it'd go with politics. A grimace, growl, whine? How would that work? Might let off steam that way. I'll definitely be giving that a try next Wednesday!

Not everyone has the speed for watching videos; but sometimes if you let it totally load, then replay it, it will play smoother the second try. I gave Vimeo a try to see how it works but it has a limited usage of 500 mb before it's $10 a month. That doesn't sound good although YouTube may not remain free either. That's why we need to jump on things when they are possible. They might not be around later-- kind of like us.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Reflections

The beauty of nature is a healing balm to our souls. Looking for reflections in water is a good time to think about both the light that brings them and the stillness of the water that reveals them. You don't get much reflecting in fast moving water. And similarly, we don't find it that easy to concentrate or have our own reflection lead somewhere when we are constantly on the move and our minds distracted by too many things.


With that thought in mind, I made a video of a few of my favorite reflections from the last year or so. Sometime I'll  delve into the backwaters of my photos and find the best of the best (the one above is not in the slide show but should have been).

Right now fast moving water is about to catch up with me and reflecting time will be sparse.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

the season of roses


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 Hanh


Saturday, June 08, 2013

Convenient Delusions


The following is an excellent article on a subject I've written on before. It is worth taking the time to read if you are among those concerned we are on the wrong path.


Here is the thing-- when we buy into a myth instead of reality, we make our decisions on something either no longer true or that never was. Myths have a reason behind them, a purpose and that has value probably forever; but to take it literally without understanding that purpose enables us to be manipulated by those who want power. It is as dangerous in our personal lives as in our culture.

I liked a lot of the ideas in the piece, but the following is a powerful concept to get through our heads when we think about our nation and what is going on here today. It begins by explaining the difference between power and strength. (boy I wish our political parties, media and a lot of the wealthiest of our citizens understood this).
"The twentieth century thus became the century of power because Americans, as I have already suggested, became ever more reliant upon power alone as its years and decades went by. When power functions by itself, means and ends are inevitably confused; and means, eventually, are taken to be their own end: Power is manifest, that is to say, with no intent other than to manifest itself. The Spanish war was therefore a good introduction to the century we would name for ourselves. Americans claimed to feel deeply for the victims of Spanish oppression, but their own, notably in the Philippines, turned out to be other than an improvement. The true purpose of the Spanish campaign, as the histories make plain, was display—a demonstration of power."   Patrick Smith
The same thing is why some believe America used the atomic bomb in Japan. Not because it was necessary as the war was won and the Japanese were ready to surrender with the Soviet Union approaching them from land and the US controlling the seas. Many believe it was instead done as a demonstration of power that Truman wanted not just for Japan but also the world--- americanexceptionalismdontchaknow.

So what do we do and if we have, as a nation, enabled power instead of real strength, how do we change it now? Can we get strength? How many Americans prefer power because it's easier to see. They don't understand strength is how power is used wisely and lack of it how it is not.
"In all of these matters Americans grew deficient during the last century. One must have a strong sense of self to encounter others and accept difference, and Americans came to lack this."                                     Patrick Smith
Obviously there is not one simple answer. We are a  people today who can know too much and at the same time have no idea how much of what we know is true. We hear of one tragedy and violent event after another and feel the world is falling apart. Empathy becomes so stretched that it loses meaning.

As we have advanced in technologies-- in all directions, we are often clueless in how to wisely use what we have as with GMOs and yes, the drones.
"The core issue is one of control—control over what we are able to do. Closer to our time, the French thinker Paul Virilio suggests that we have to add to our technological revolutions a revolution of consciousness, of ideas, such that our thinking and our purposes are elevated to a value equivalent to our capabilities."                                                                     Patrick Smith
So with a group obsessed with gaining control and doing all they can do dumb down our educational systems, our people's ability to think critically and use facts, what do we do, we who agree this is a problem but we are not in power? Keep in mind that misunderstanding the difference between strength and power can be an issue for us personally also.

I have some ideas:

One: Grow our own, personal strength by having a set of values with which we live. Don't let those shift with the wind and allow every recent news broadcast to change our minds without investigation. When we realize we blew it, we don't rewrite our values unless we realize we were offbase. When we are firm in our ideas but open to truth and willing to reevaluate what we thought was truth even when it's not comfortable, that is true strength. Live by truth and have a personal code of behavior.

Two: It's important we not personally confuse power especially over others as strength that we don't confuse admiring someone who wields power instead of someone with genuine strength and this means we then vote accordingly. This is not a simple concept and I think it's much confused by our entertainment and media. People, who are personally strong, will wield whatever power they have wisely and to the benefit of not only themselves but others.

Three: This might seem like a small one, but I don't think it is. I am big on being friendly to people wherever we come across them. That doesn't mean talking or chatting them up. It means a wave, a smile or how's your day going? We do not know what someone else is experiencing or how they may feel the world is against them. When we greet them with a smile, it is strengthening to us and them. Being generous with our thanks is good in this area also.

Four: I believe time in nature appreciating the natural world is a powerful way to grow stronger. Nature is not power crazy. It is what it is. Modern man has this idea he is superior to anything and it's all about subduing nature. If we instead respected it, learned from it, now and again immersed ourselves in it, we would be stronger.

Five: Be educated and that means about what's going on in the world around us as well as in the past. I read a lot of stories about crimes that have been committed (two girls decide to knife to death their girlfriend) and some might think why read that? It's upsetting. It is, but it also is what is out there. Be educated about reality. Don't be paranoid but be aware. Naïveté, especially in a world like ours can be fatal.

Six: As much as possible, learn facts not opinions. We are bombarded by opinions on a myriad of subjects. Facts are open to interpretations but at least know them.

Seven: It's hard to know things and not take them to heart but it is what we have to do. We have to separate out what we can change from what we cannot. Know what's out there. Evaluate what we can do about it but let go of what we can't change. It's an old saw but it's also true. I do not think we are strengthened when we take on burdens that are not our own. It has us ranting and not fixing. Years ago I read a book I took to heart by Steven Covey, 7 Effective Habits of Highly Successful People. He broke down the choices we make into categories deciding what is within our control and what was not, what was urgent from what was important. This is still a book worth reading if you haven't.

There are probably a lot more that I use and haven't thought to mention here but the key idea is-- be personally strong as much as possible--  physically, mentally and emotionally; then we have more to give, will vote more wisely, and won't be blown here and there by every new idea or fear that comes along.

Photos are all our creek in June. The top one is illustrative of how reflections can be confused with reality. Enlarge to see better.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

discards


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



Years ago I planted a tea rose beside a small pine tree. The tea rose froze one winter, all but one part and I waited that spring to see what would emerge as it appeared it had frozen down to the stronger but less desirable rose the tea had been grafted onto.

What came up was a beautiful climbing red rose. Normally they don't bloom but once in the spring which is why many prefer tea roses which will bloom all summer.  I could have considered the wild one to be undesirable and dug it up. I didn't and that wild rose has bloomed profusely every year and continues through the summer. This year I realized it had wound its way upward and was heading toward the top of the pine.

Every time I see it I think of how it is like me and those I know. We want the showy blooms. We reject or even would cut out our sturdier and even wilder parts. We miss so much when we don't see them as value also. For me, that unwanted rose has become a reminder of the unexpectedness of life, and I treasure it more than any of the others for that reminder.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Chronicles of the Fox

When our story begins, the humans are clueless as to what is going on-- not unusual for humans. The story will take place on two levels with two families.


April 2012 and I saw a fox in our deck garden. It's a fenced yard and I thought how wondrous as it sat and sunned itself, almost seeming to take a nap. I felt both thrilled and amazed that the wild had invaded our groomed space. It acted almost as though it was its own backyard... Keep that thought in mind.

We left the farm here not long after the sighting as we had work to do in Tucson on our house there. We were gone a month or so. When we came back, we began to be concerned that something had died in our solarium which is a small room off the house that was a porch we had enclosed. When the smell went away, we forgot about the problem... for awhile.

We pick our story back up in spring of 2013 when we finally had what we felt was a secure outside enclosure for our cats. It was with the goal of keeping them in the deck yard with enough space for them to feel they were having a wilds experience but not so much that they could get out to the gravel road while pursuing a frog, bird, mouse, etc. and end up killed by a passing vehicle.

With spring I began to think I wanted another space enclosed-- what most would call the front yard as it is toward the road but we have a rather confusing home arrangement where what is the front door never gets used by anybody-- people come in through the backdoor to the utility room or through the french door leading to our deck. It's a farm though where driveways relate more to farm use than people.

Farm Boss set out to make that yard secure and about the time he was finishing it, when we set up a picnic table there, a cat door and encouraged our cats to use it, we had also begun to see a pair of foxes. They weren't frightened. They watched us as though we were the intruders. Keep that thought in mind.

When the pair appeared again in the supposedly 'safe' cat yard, Farm Boss set about making the fence higher and more secure. Didn't work. Foxes were still there and we were glad we had the new frontyard that we thought of as a backyard for the cats as although foxes don't choose fights with grown cats, these were obviously trained killers and one of our cats, Blackie, feels a responsibility to guard the property seeming to know no fear.

It was when Farm Boss watched one of the foxes, outside the fenced enclosure climb into a magnolia, get a bird out of it,take it to the orchard to kill and then... leap over our secure fence to bring it into the enclosed front/backyard, now to be known as deck yard. Why would a fox take its prey into a people enclosed yard to eat it?

The fox showed up one day right outside the new fenced garden and both the cat and it stared at each other. Pepper was wise enough to slam through the cat door at a fast run which is why I knew what was going on. I yelled at the fox. It looked at me with curiosity. I then picked up a rock and loosely tossed it over the fence hoping it would scare it off. It ran to it to see what it was. Clearly some humans had been feeding it. Finally I used the hose and when it got sprayed, it left but didn't run far.

Those two experiences pretty much told us something was going on here that we didn't want. Shortly after we found out what it was when Farm Boss put a live trap near where we now believed they were living in the narrow crawlspace under our solarium. The next morning a fox was in it. Farm Boss poked a stick back in the space he had thought too small for any fox to get into and heard a growl.

So here we were with the illusion we were building a higher fence to keep the foxes out and protect our cats... except the foxes were determined to get in because this was their home. That garden was theirs too. The safety of our cats had been an illusion.

We knew foxes mate in winter or early spring. The odds now were that this pair had pups in the crawlspace under our solarium.   We did some online research and found from the time the pups were born, it takes two months to become grown enough to be on their own. It's not hard to understand why the parents chose where they did. It's dry, secure and last year with us gone, it was quiet. Foxes are wonderful hunters and predators but also prey for the bigger predators. We have a safe area-- especially when we weren't there.

It's kind of neat to think you share your living space with a family of foxes, and there was a momentary thought, fleeting, that if we could fence our cats securely away from them they could stay. No, that's crazy. Not only do foxes potentially carry rabies, but they are wild things. They need to be afraid of humans who can endanger them.

New plan. Let the trapped fox go out by the old, downed barn with the admonition that it'd be a great spot for a den. Since they have been here, the rodent population has been way down. Yes, they kill birds but only to eat, not for fun. We would love them to stay but not under the solarium with putrifying smells in that room as they don't eat every bite of what they kill.

When Farm Boss got ready to release the trapped fox, which he thinks was the male, he had  a careless moment and got bit through the wire and his leather gloves. Fortunately a graze more than a deep bite, and it healed fine. It is a reminder that they will attack when feeling threatened.

Trying to find out exactly what was going on, we set up our wildlife camera with a view to their exit door from the crawlspace. Got some great pictures and the possibility that the mother took her babies elsewhere-- to a securer life or so she hopes. Wildlife cams that flash at night are obviously not regarded as friendly and since the trapping in the cage, the foxes have been more wary of us.

I feel sorry for predators as their life is not an easy one. These little foxes are awesome predators as you can see if you look at the slideshow below. They are also so cute, but my priority is my cats. The foxes have to stop denning up under our home, but whether they already have, we will give them a reprieve of two months  to raise those pups if they are still here-- darling pups and I so relate to the struggle these animals face.


In the meantime-- are we deluding ourselves that we can make this less attractive near our home where they have been dry, warm and felt safe from bobcats, coyotes, cougar and bears? Keeping out an animal that can jump and climb as well as they can is not easy. Having been fed by other humans makes it even harder.

The story might be over... or maybe not.