Thursday, January 19, 2006

Life Number

Your Life Path Number is 7

Your purpose in life is to find truth and meaning

You are very spiritual, and you are interested in the mysteries of life.
You are quite analytical and a great thinker. You have many theories and insights.
A life of solitude is perfect for you. You need time to think and do things your way.

In love, you are quite charming. You attract many with your confidence and wit.

While you enjoy being alone, sometimes you take it to an extreme.
You can become too isolated, shutting out loved ones and friends.
Express yourself a little bit more, and you'll be surprised where it takes you!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Archived August 2005 Rainy Day Thoughts

Wednesday, August 31, 2005,


I am trying to unwind from a busy week-end involving driving up to Port Angeles, Washington-- about 6 hours from the farm, meeting daughter and family, taking the Coho across to Victoria, doing the usual mix of museums, shopping and exploring for new places; then of course, repeat the whole process in reverse. It was a good trip but tiring and I'm feeling the tired part the most right now.

We discovered one of the most beautiful places on this earth-- in my opinion-- out of Port Renfrew and along the wild west coast of Vancouver Island. It is a bit of a drive up the Coast, some of it over bridges that go down to one lane to the small community of Port Renfrew. Then a bit farther up you find the park with a trail that leads to the water. It was all discovery as we'd never been there before. The rocks, waves, ocean, peace and quiet, just all made me know why the Native Americans in this area designed such beautiful spiritual symbols to depict their place in the universe and their understanding of the Cosmos. I felt such a strong sense of the beauty and mysticism in this place. It would be easy to spend a week there, maybe even a summer, but probably hard to live there given its distance from other things and its ruggedness. It was soul rejuvenating to explore the rocks, look in the tidal pools, but hard on the body to get there-- especially at my age. The kids loved it.

I got home from the trip, well even on it, dreaming of fam
ily but not in the positive way I might expect after such a pleasant trip. The dreams were of family (aunts who are long gone over to the other side) being disappointed in me, their expectations that I didn't meet or other family members going off and leaving me. I know dreams are intended to help me see insights, that my subconscious wishes to get through to me; but right now am not sure what these told me. Maybe with time it'll be clearer. I do know that family has always been a mixed bag for me. Part of me is proud of where I came, my people, the ones I helped form and those who formed me; and part of me sees an ongoing conflict between who I am and who they want me to be.


I haven't written about politics much in this blog as I experiment with learning how to best use it. There were a few early on whines about how unhappy I was with the direction the country was taking us, but in general I have done my political ranting other places-- like with the family. But my not writing here is not because it's not important to me. As a writer, politics matter a great deal to me and I see them in all relationships between humans.

politics though has been an area that although I read extensively, I try to avoid currently ranting about. I came to a decision which is part of why I have been leaving it alone. It's for the most part (beyond writing letters, making phone calls, donating money, and voting regularly) where I can't do much to change things. Often I read what both American parties suggest and feel neither have a grip on what I believe the country should be doing. Not that I don't have an opinion on which comes closer.

I read a book many years ago about effective habits for living which has continued to influence my life; and in it the author discussed circles of control, influence and beyond our control and emphasized how we should concentrate our energies in those places we either can control (mostly that's just us) or where we can influence (family and friends on good days). Politics in general is outside those circles, and I have noticed not only I, but others, can spend so much time ranting over them that we end up not dealing with what is in our control or influence.

Emotions should be reserved for those places we can actually have an impact. If I followed true Buddhist thinking, I'd not have emotions even there. Que sera sera but I'm not living on that plane. When I let my emotions carry me away on what is happening
in the government today, I am wasting them on an area where I cannot do anything and sometimes I think that's part of the appeal to some people. They put their energy emotionally into what's gone wrong somewhere else to avoid thinking about what is going wrong a lot closer to home.

I have noticed that to avoid this emotional overreaction, some avoid politics totally, don't read anything, but I see that as equally wrong. We need to know. We need to act when there is something we can do, but it has to all be in the logical end of our being. No emotions wasted on it, simply good solid thinking and do what we can to fix anything
we hear about that is fixable.

This all sounds very good but right now I can't quit
e manage it. My emotions bubble over on political this or that and because of that I am avoiding writing about it. That may not make sense but que sera sera *s*


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I woke up this morning thinking about all the things I had wanted that I knew I couldn't realistically have and all the things my friends tell me they want but they won't get for assorted reasons. We cannot eat candy bars regularly and stay slim. We cannot be physically healthy if we don't exercise and eat right. Diseases do come along that were lying in wait and we cannot ignore their presence. We cannot have the cute young guy down the road if we are getting old and he can't get the girl the football player is dating. I am thinking a happy life is at least halfway made up by understanding and applying the words in the serenity prayer.

The little house in this blog is one in Montana alongside a creek-- a place I stayed this summer for a week. It is not for sale and I can't say if it was that it'd be a wise choice for me to own it but it is the kind of thing I have dreamed I wanted. Small house, on the edge of wilderness, horses nearby, town not so far away that it's an unreasonable drive, hiking just across the valley in
those mountains, river to learn to fly fish in just down the road, but there are all the 'buts' that go with it-- can I afford a place like that? Is it too far from my kids? What kind of life would I make there? Do I have the courage to go for it?

I have imagined myself an old woman in a place like that. A woman who still cuts her own firewood, who hikes regularly, who is tall, slender and strong-- for her age. Given that I am now almost 62 myself, I have to recognize the strength of a young woman will never again be mine. Another of those provinces of the Serenity Prayer to take care of. Do what we can to fix it but recognize the things that are not fixable and enjoy the reality of what is.

Every year I write a set of goals for the coming year with the N
ew Year or mostly I do. I enjoy the satisfaction of thinking what I did the year before to make my life what I want. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with some big and baby steps to get to where I want to be. I also use collages (3 of them a year apart in the late spring) to work through this process of making dreams reality. Oh I have tried many things to move my life forward but in the end the things that get changed are those I change-- when I can. Back to the Serenity Prayer.

(for anyone who has not done a collage as a tool to help y
our subconscious work with you toward your goals, you cut pictures from magazines, words also if you want, anything that strikes your fancy. When you have a pile of these symbols, you get out your poster board and begin gluing the pictures to the board wherever you see them fitting. I bought glass and frames to hang mine on the wall near my desk where I can constantly be reminded of the spirit of what I want in my life. This is an example of one of mine from '03.)

Passion or Obsession?

I have been reading Grizzly Maze the story of Timothy Treadwell's fatal obsession with Alaskan bears-- in particular grizzlies. It has made me think about the whole thing of when passion crosses the line and becomes obsession. Is one healthy and one not? If so, what converts passion into obsession?

The dictionary says obsession is preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling. Passion follows along the same line, even to the state of being in pain but doesn't say it's unreasonable, but then there is the Passion of the Christ. Was that passion or an obsession-- certainly if we used commonsense, as we think of it, it'd be an obsession that brought Christ to the cross. Maybe obsession is what takes someone into a realm of creativity or action that changes worlds whereas pssion just leads to the bed-- figuratively speaking.

Treadwell certainly had an obsessive desire to be with bears, to become one with bears (something he actually succeeded in albeit not quite as he had doubtless plann
ed). Still he lived his life exactly as he chose, lived it right on the edge and while it eventually did kill him, was his a fitter end than overdosing on a Malibu beach? Perhaps his obession saved him from mediocrity even if it did shorten his lifespan. If he had sat at home where it was safe, read books on grizzlies but not gone out to live amongst them, might that have been called a passionate interest? The bear experts have fits to imply that Treadwell did any good but is it any less valid to do what he did than sit on the sidelines measuring and observing? Treadwell lived a vibrant, passionate life and used all the tools at his disposal to maintain doing that. Did it accomplish anything? Does anything in the end? A life well lived-- even if a bit unusual-- might be the only real accomplishment anyone can claim.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him... The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself... All progress depends on
the unreasonable man." George Bernard Shaw

There is nothing reasonable about obsession, you can't argue with it or talk someone out of it-- at least not until they are ready to release it, but have obsessions been why we had a Van Gogh who painted even though no one bought his work? Is obsession why we have electricity? Is an obsession why we had Lewis and Clark or Columbus or so many others who set out on an exploration with
no certainty they would return? Are great deeds logical? Was the concept of a Round Table and Arthur's Knights a passionate quest or an obsessive one? As best we know it, it led to Arthur's death and failure of the experiment-- except the dream grew possibly into something more than it ever was in history and even today lingers on in men's hearts. Can great deeds be attained by acting sensibly? Is a life lived sensibly superior to one that bucks the odds and reaches out for that obsession even if they fail? Certainly for every person who had an obsession that led to a medical breakthrough, there were thousands or more who had it and it led to madness or an old age of disappointment.

I have experienced more than a few passions in my life given my nature but I believe-- at this point-- I have only had one obession. It definitely wasn't sensible or logical. Even today I think on it and my blood rises, my heart beats faster. I don't necessarily regret that experience, but did it get me anywhere to go through it? I don't believe I handled it well but was that the fault of the obses
sion or my being unprepared to handle it given we live in a culture that stresses mediocrity as the safest venue for anything. Risk implies failure as part of its nature. Obsession is risky.

When I began writing this, I was convinced obsession was bad and passion good. Now I wonder if obsession might be a g
ift we don't appreciate enough. I think I may do some more research on the topic...

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


I seem to be doing a fair amount of reconsidering my choices. When I consider the roles I have played, people I have been, are they even me? They seem like other incarnations. I have done past life regressions where I meditated and went back in time to lifetimes before the birth of this woman I am today. I cannot, of course, prove that there were such lifetimes. Maybe I made them up but whatever the case, they seem as removed to the me of today as being the little girl on the farm, the young woman awkwardly trying to become a woman, the young mother, the artist, the seeker of spiritual truth, the woman who worked in the local church, the woman who left it. Were those women me?

There is a memory in me of lying naked in a small room, the window open to the sounds from the street below. The air is warm, sultry and my lover is beside me-- our affair a secret which makes the sex between us all the sweeter for knowing we have only moments, not even ho
urs. I can see it in my memory but it came from a regression meditation. Did it really happen?

I remember sitti
ng in church with my two small children and husband on the pew beside me. My hair was long enough that I felt it as I shifted in the seat and I felt a sense of strength and power. I was living out a purpose that gave me a feeling of power in my female self. I remember many moments like that strung out over these 60 some odd years and yet do they seem like the woman sitting here and typing today? Not really.

Then there are the differences inside me today. Sometimes I feel attractive, desirable and despite being an old woman by years, still vital and exciting; there are times I feel old, like I have become my own grandmother. One woman would believe she could still entice people to her by physical beauty; the other is sure she looks old and wrinkled. I know my strength is less than it was. There are physical problems there never used to be, but there is satisfaction in having lived a
life, done so many things and having memories that I can draw upon. Memories the young woman never dreamed of in some cases.

Was I ever the Indian woman? the spanish dancer? the Greek mother, the priest? It seems as unlikely to me as that I was the woman I know I had to have been 40 years ago when I made so many life choices that still impact my life today.

August 14, 2005


At almost 62 is it me--
The same me who was 16?

I wonder
did I ever grow up?
am I still that naive girl?
Dreaming? wishing? believing?
waiting for something that will never happen....
Is that girl disappointed in the woman she became?
the dreams that never happened,

the ones that did....

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


A few years back, when I first began to consider a stage of my life not far down the road, I thought over who I had been, who I was, who I was yet to be and wrote this small poem combining it with an old photo of me.

In the photo she sat, serene and happy--her eyes dark,
secrets hidden 'neath lashes.
Did she know? Did she dream what would be?
Did she know she was the mother of all I am,
all I will be?
No, she didn't know then what I know now.
The young woman was me
and I am now the mother of all she is yet to be.

Though at that time I was only in my late 40s, I knew my old woman was coming all too soon. I questioned what should I be doing to make that old woman interesting and alive, a woman people enjoyed being around, one who was still living with what is but never had forgotten the lessons of what was-- who had stored in her heart the days of lushness but didn't allow those memories to ruin her current reality,a woman grateful there were memories but not dwelling in them.

I am thinking of it all again and asking myself how much of the work have I been doing lately to be that old woman?

There is a petroglyph on a huge rock near the Colorado River in Utah whichs speaks to this process. It is believed it was called the birthing rock and used by the People, either to have their babies or perhaps to pray for their coming. Who knows, maybe it was also to birth dreams. It shows a figure with a round oval coming from between her loins, from her inner being.

The image can work as well for a woman today who wants to birth something new in herself-- birth her creativity, her health, a new home or perhaps even her crone. I have reverently gone there and left for the rock my hopes and dreams for what I wanted to bear forth.

What is coming out of me now is the old woman I see in my mind that I shall be-- god willing.

It's hard work birthing and this kind no less so.......................

Friday, August 05, 2005

Zen Photographs

Photographs often are just recordings of events, places, but once in awhile one is what I call a Zen photograph-- they capture an idea, a feeling that is bigger than the individual elements within the photo. They are not greater art per se but carry a message which came not through careful planning but just a going with the flow or a lucky accident. They come out of a moment where the Universe flows through the camera to tell a story bigger than its parts.

This is such a photo. The woman has waded into the ocean, not way out, not swimming but she's in the sea of life. Her arms are opening to whatever she might want to hold. She is not afraid of the tides nor the huge sea behind her. She looks ahead toward life and what she can take into herself.

A Zen photo is a gift. This one shows what I wish my life to be.

August 2, 2005,

Favorite Quotes

Let my love like sunlight surround you and yet give you illumined freedom. Tagore

If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it is yours. If it doesn't, it never was.

Dreams are necessary to life. Anais Nin

I do not unmarry...... But I marry myself. I take my fate as within. Sena Jeter Naslund

Where we choose to be-- we have that power to determine our lives. We cannot reel time backward, but we can take ourselves to the place that defines our being. Sena Jeter Naslund

Dreams are ... illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you. Marsha Norman

The thing you have to be prepared for is that other people don't always dream your dream.
Linda Ronstadt

If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time.
Marcel Proust

The Talmud says, If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?

Archived September 2005 Rainy Day Thoughts2

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Place II

Earlier I wrote about 'place' because it's on my mind but not simply as a piece of land. At nearly 62 years old, I find myself in the unexpected situation of being uncertain about my place or purpose in life. What the heck went wrong? Is this not supposed to be the age of passive reflection, sitting back enjoying the fruits of your labors, grandchildren on your plump lap, mellowing out into the end years while you play bingo? Has the world changed or was that never how aging was?

When I reached official old, which I am not sure where that begins but sometime after 60 probably, I felt like a person who got there and found out there had moved. I am by pretty near any definition old. Heck, I could apply for Social Security this year which must mean at the least my government defines me as old. I have seen some newspaper articles where it refers to the elderly woman being attacked and find out she's only 64. That's elderly? If so, what is left waiting when I get to 80? Do we have a word for elderly elderly? I won't argue about being old though. After all, I can get into some movies at the matinee price, eat at a few restaurants on the senior menu, and even get a pass to the national parks that lets me in for the rest of my life for $10. But if this is old, it's not what I expected.

I had a male friend who said (much to his later chagrin although he has never admitted he was wrong) that no woman was sexy over 50 (a mark I long ago passed). Perhaps sexiness equates to fertility and although it's not impossible for fifty something women to have children, it's rare. I think though he was referring purely to looks. If you can't look sexy, you definitely must be old-- and that would have been starting at 50. Now he was not saying beautiful was impossible, but just that juicy, make a man want to bed her, sexy look.

So now the fact that one man might no longer see me as sexy, doesn't mean I couldn't be; but it means I am not seen as being-- by at least him and he's not alone in his thinking or why would guys want porn magazines filled with 20 somethings (or younger) and why would actresses over 40 have a hard time getting starring roles as anything other than moms? Does that matter? In a word-- yes!

In the realm of justifying that I really don't care-- when I do-- I can tell myself that however others see me, I can still experience all of those young juicy feelings when I write fiction or do a sculpture or painting but what about me? Am I ready to give up being sexy? Not that this is totally my choice as age has a few dictates we can't ignore no matter how much we want to.

Some women have plastic surgery in an attempt to hang onto sexiness but it doesn't work. They can have plastic Barbie doll faces and mouths that pout way out when they never did in their youth, they can find it impossible to smile or frown, but can they look sexy doing that? Nope. Sexiness is the opposite of plastic. Sexiness is moving and alive, filled with passion. Plastic is not.

Another question comes to mind-- is it even appropriate for a sixty something to want to be 'sexy'? Is there something... well unamerican in that? It's certainly true that we can look ridicuous when we try to be something that goes against our age. So the mini-skirted grandma with a smooth face, wrinkled neck and hands seems more to be pitied than admired. I think maybe sexiness when we are old has to have a new way to be described, and it is not trying to duplicate a 20-something.

But, yes, I admit it. I still want a man to look at me now and then and be wishing he could bed me, not wondering if I need help getting across the street. I guess it's all about finding new ways to define myself that stay true to where I am living, not kid myself as to who I am and what cycle of life this is; but it is also accepting my grandma's way of being old is not going to be mine.
"Where we choose to be-- we have that power to determine our lives. We cannot reel time backward or forward, but we can take ourselves to the place that defines our being." Sena Jeter Naslund.

Is place important to who we are? Some would say no and that we bring us with us wherever we go. Others know it's the core of their being. In this Oregon valley where I live, there are people who have never lived anywhere else, have barely been out of these valleys. For some, their parents were born on the land they still occupy. My roots don't go that deep but I have lived on this farm nearly 30 years. It is not where I grew up and I have nobody here who can remember me as a child. I am a transplant and for many people, the farm on which I live will always be known by someone else's name as part of the continuity of place.

This valley was settled by Sebastian, who had fought Indians and been to the goldfields, decided to settle where it was far enough from other people that he felt it'd be a good place to raise cattle. He filed for his homestead in 1850; then wrote his brother, John, suggesting he join him. John, his wife and their four daughters set out on a wagon train in 1852. It sounds romantic to think of people heading west that way but some stories ended in tragedy as did his. His oxen were getting out of control, he stepped down from the wagon to settle them, lost his footing and was crushed by his own wagon, buried along the Platte River in an unmarked grave. Sarah could have gone back to Missouri but opted to head on for the land her brother-in-law had written about. When she arrived at the primitive cabin Sebastian had built, he was gone off to the goldfields again. The local story goes that she did find $50 in the pockets of his pants when she set out to wash them. When Sebastian returned, he found the situation had changed. Sarah filed for her own homestead as she was entitled as a widow; and two years later, the brother and the widow hooked up (probably not an appropriate term for the times), married and whether it was convenience or not, they produced 4 more children-- three of them sons. They are buried in the family side of the country cemetery on the hill above the church. Although their original home is gone, the harness shed, the old barn, stories, and the remnants of the ford to cross the creek are still here.

This valley is easy to love with its stream meandering up along the fields, hills behind that stretch eventually to the ocean, the slopes of which are logged when not covered in fir or oaks. The elk come down through the valley above here on their circuit. Bear live higher on the hill and cougar and coyote a bit closer. Sometimes in walking up the hill, a golden eagle shrieks its disapproval at invasion of territory. Beaver and raccoon make their living along the creek.

Does this place define me? No, but country living has been an important part of what does for most of my life.


There are two things that I am constantly being told you don't talk about because they only lead to arguments-- one is politics and the other religion. They happen to be my favorite topics but I generally do stay away from them unless I am with friends who are comfortable with my rather offbeat spiritual beliefs as well as my very strident political ones. I wrote something on politics in here earlier, not my personal beliefs although they are probably obvious from other things I have written. I thought long and hard about the spiritual ones on whether it was limiting to mention them. I decided they are a strong part of who I am and right now one of my major interests. So here goes at the risk of offending someone. I do respect that we can all have different spiritual views and still be okay. I do not believe the spiritual path I have taken is right for everyone but I also do not believe it's wrong for me.

The thing that triggered this was another of those right wing, so-called Christian fundamentalist e-mails that came in this morning. The person who sent it to me means well but frankly these things are offensive to me-- even though I define myself as a Christian. This one was how we are not doing enough for church because we are lazy or shallow (not the exact wording but the gist) and if we truly love God, we will pass this onto all our friends or enemies thereby insuring more spam. I am sure God is concerned that I didn't pass it on I don't know how my friend thinks about my reply back to him regarding it. Frankly I disagreed with every premise that the e-mail purported to state as truth, but I'm used to that as, in my opinion, a lot of those who call themselves Christians today have lost all track of what Christ taught and are busy with current political agendas like abortion and gays. Those are convenient as if fundamentalists start worrying about greed, they might have to look to their own lives but as long as they are kept busy with criticizing someone else for their lifestyle choices, they can avoid the pride, hate and bigotry that might (or might not) be impacting their own life, that even might be why a lot have been turned off on religion (and not just Christian). You cannot tell someone else to live with love while you wallow in hate. Yes, I know, I was ranting.

Anyway back to my premise here: my own spiritual life and practices such as they are. I consider myself someone who is very spiritually concerned, live my life as best I can with love toward everybody (except the guy who cut me off in traffic but he didn't deserve it-- well and maybe a few others who ae equally bad...). Okay, I try to live with love-- that does not mean ignoring consequences when appropriate. (how's that for justification) It's my goal because I believe Christ narrowed down the rules to two-- love god and love others. It all comes down to learn to live with love-- not the easiest thing in a world that is spewing hate and fear all the time.

I do not belong to any religious body at this time. I'd like to say that it's because they left me, not me them, but that's obviously how I see it and maybe not how it is. I am comfortable with my own learning path for spiritual things. I find spiritually minded friends, books and teachers wherever I go but they tend to come and go in and out of my life and come from many traditions. I know I could be doing more to grow spiritually, but I am doing what seems right for me now. I am very unorthodox for someone who calls herself Christian (some would say I am Bohemian in my thinking-- even me). What's unorthodox? Well, I am exploring what I believe about reincarnation (that's been going on for a few years now); I believe astrology can impact us but is not all there is; am interested in goddess/god worship in many forms including paganism; see God in everything-- not just the chosen few; meditate when I think about it but not regularly; and do Tarot when I want insights from my inner self or spiritual guides (not sure who those spiritual guides might be but I do feel that presence with me and have since I was a child). I do not tend to judge others unless they are hurting someone else by their practices. I do not claim to know what is the ultimate truth and feel seeking my own life purpose is enough challenge without trying to figure out why God began this (yes, i believe in a creator). I am content to accept life is a mystery and the purpose of it all might be beyond me at this time. There are times that I thought I knew what the ultimate truth was but this is not one of them. Maybe this has been my time in the wilderness and I am okay with that also. I might someday be back into a church. I enjoyed my many years in them, actively so but at the moment, they don't seem to be speaking to me in a way that lets me go back and I am enjoying the freedom to explore various traditons and ways.

And if you are one of my friends, you already know all of this especially that I am not fond of guilt intended e-mails...

Monday, September 19, 2005


Fall is coming fast to the farm, the smell and feel of the air is changing. Leaves beginning to turn and the land waiting expectantly for the rains which have yet to come enough to green things back up. My own mood has been falling as I face my least favorite season. Yes, fall is beautiful but it is the time of the little death when the leaves fall from the trees, where hunting season means be careful what color you wear when out walking, and it means winter is right behind with those long, dark, gray days.

Here on the farm the time to sell stock has arrived and can be put off no longer. We raise beef and sheep on this grass, and I love both creatures. What I don't love is this time of year when the young adults must be sold off for meat. I reconcile myself to it because I couldn't have these animals at all without raising them for others to consume. They are way too big to be pets, and they multiply in ways that would be frightening if you didn't sell the young. I feel proud we are part of the agricultural community and glad to raise a healthy product that others need, but it doesn't make it one bit easier when this season rolls around.

This year it's been made worse by my sadness over the abandonment of so many animals in the Gulf Coast disaster. I feel sympathy for the pain of those who had to leave behind their pets, but I feel more for the poor animals who had someone who cared for them and suddenly don't. It was a terrible situation with no good answers at certain points, but it leaves me incredibly sad for the animals-- as I feel for my own animals right now with the knowledge that those Peck's bad lambs, who got out every chance they found, soon will be leg of lamb.

At one time we sold our stock through auctions and that was even worse. Then they were trucked off to a strange building where they were put into an arena, sold (often at way less money than we expected); then carted off again to a feed lot which to anyone who knows what they are like is a long way from a beautiful pasture on the edge of a small stream, with lots of fresh grass and a mother and herd who care about their well-being. It's also necessary for big producers as the American consumer does not in general want grassfed beef. Never mind that it's healthier. People got inducted into grainfed fat beef because it made money for the corn and grain producers and money is what matters more than health or pretty much anything else in our culture.

One year, we had had enough. We are small producers, not big ones and we have an option. We can sell direct to the consumer. It is a lot more work but worth it because at least now, the steers live a good life up until the moment when the bullet hits their brain and ends it. I still don't like the fact that death is part of this cycle but have reconciled myself to the need of people for healthier meat, which ours is, and the fact that the animal gets the best deal possible from it. It's still a hard season and one of these days, when the mobile slaughter unit arrives to do the deed, I will remember the words the Native Americans often used before battle-- It is a good day to die, and try to convince myself it is.


Canyons can be beautiful things, inspiring and moving to the soul but they can also block passage. It seems to me, there is a canyon between a lot of us when we try to discuss important issues. It starts with what our world view is, what we see as the essence of the cosmos, who we believe god is, but it goes to how we were raised, what we consider good manners (if we even remember what that means), how important we think we are, how we see others, how we see our responsibility to life. I could go on but the end result is often impossible communication between a whole sector of people.

One example is discussing apocalyptic, natural catastrophes. If you believe that god intervenes in nature, that he answers prayers, then how you see the Tsunami or a hurricane like Katrina are impacted. You go looking for what have you or they done to let god make this happen or maybe you just say you don't understand the reason but there had to be one and it was good. You might come up with it's about sin and something that you can change or make others change to prevent this again. If you see the world this way, something like global warming will not be seen the same as someone who believes god is there but there are natural laws and consequences. Global warming might not seem like much of a problem if you believe that the end times are here anyway. If you believe in a natural world where you can learn rules and use them to protect yourself, you will work to learn scientific laws to put to use. You will be very upset when others are not willing to fund such studies or use the results once answers have been found-- as you see it. If you believe this is all about god, maybe you might go looking for a seer or prophet to tell you what to do to protect yourself, how to manipulate the physical world through the spiritual-- and if that means throwing a virgin into a volcano, well you do what you gotta do.

The problem is can the person who believes magic can fix anything going wrong really communicate with the one who believes that it's all natural events, god didn't do it and you must do what you can to fix it knowing that sometimes it's beyond you and you have to ride it out or move.

So many of these major differences are in my conversations with friends these days, and it seems to make any hope for communication impossible. Another example is political. If you see George Bush, the American president, as being a good man, spiritually driven, under God's influence, trying to fix an immoral America, who does everything he can for the good of this nation, you will never see eye to eye with someone who sees him as a selfish, shallow man who is being told what to do by others, who is governing to benefit the rich because he is among them and figures what's good for his class has to be good for everybody's--a man whose true religion is supply side economics not Christianity.

How do people who see the world so differently talk to each other in a reasonable manner? Most of us don't go to the extremes I used; but for religion or politics, we do have a certain world view that makes it hard to get past. You can chitchat when you meet with someone with a very different worldview, but what does it take to reach a point where you can talk meaningfully about huge differences and both come away at the least better able to understand the other?

What bothers me most in all this is the temptation to gather together with like-minded people. The more we listen only to those we agree with, the more we think there is only one way to think. That canyon between us and 'others' grows even deeper. Is there any way to fix it?

To Refresh

I have this yearning right now to be where the sky is big, the land open and not blemished by man's touch-- needful as that touch sometimes is. I'd like to smell the sage, feel the prairie wind in my hair. I'd like to forget for a moment that I am who I am and just be one with the earth. Be where the sky becomes as important or more so than the land beneath, where it speaks to you with gentle or fierce voices and you know somehow that whatever is troubling you is less important than you thought.

The closest I can get to that at the moment though is looking through my pictures, remembering the times in the Big Sky country and listening to the soundtrack to Legends of the Fall.

I am lucky the memories linger in my head. I sometimes think we only do things to have the memories become part of us, that the doing is not more important than the lingering effect on our souls. Some say live in the moment but the moment is part and parcel of all we have been and done. It's not just what we see in front of us but all that lingers within and that we can see when we close our eyes. The moment can likely never be as big as the memories we take away with us and can call back whenever we need to refresh our souls and be somewhere meaningful with someone we love.

So for just a moment I am not sitting at my keyboard but am instead at a trailhead in the Absaroka Mountains and I feel the edginess of knowing the unknown lies ahead. Might a grizzly be down the trail? A big elk? or just a view that will make me catch my breath?


I feel like this about now. Like the world with the set rules, the I know this for sure part is all jumbled up. How many fiction movies have I watched where civilization falls apart and through the anarchy, a few people band together to create a hell and a few more to create a heaven? Today I have been reading it in my newspapers about New Orleans last week and it sounds like all of that fiction except it was real. All that has been happening while my life seemed to be more or less normal.

Or is that even true? I cannot pick through my own choices either and I feel like I'm in a tangle rather like this tree. I head down paths that seem to be right but end up dead ends. The tree, despite its seemingly tangled path is heading toward the light. I can only hope I am doing the same although at times it seems unlikely.

I would try to reason through it all-- the world, me-- but it's easer to just accept-- it's a tangle. Sometimes there is nothing to do but to accept the current reality while working toward straightening ourselves out-- if we get the chance.

I could cry right now and maybe I will-- later.

Archived October 2005 Rainy Day Thoughts2

(I have deleted from this archive the which were political and dated by their references to current events and left general political philosophy)


Aura: a distinctive atmosphere surrounding a given source, a luminous radiation. An invisible breath, emanation, or radiation. An electromagnetic field around objects.

Metaphysically some believe that we are surrounded not only by an aura that goes far beyond our bodies in some cases, but also a field of color that has meaning to who our inner being is and can show disease or malaise. There are various methods for measuring this field. The most economical one is not a literal photograph of the colors but energy measured and translated via a special camera into a photo of you and your colors. These can change to some degree over time and with mood.

Because of my own interest in metaphysics and questions about what is and is not true, seven years ago I went looking for a place to have such a photograph taken. I found it in the back of a small metaphysical bookstore. The booth looked like the kind you see sometimes in malls. You sit down inside, relax, put your hand on the sensors and voila. The first time I had this done, I have to admit I had hoped some spiritual colors would show up-- but got instead bright red, orange and a bit of gold. I was disappointed but the book explaining it did say those colors can be part of creativity (along with some less flattering interpretations). Although I am always drawn to red, I didn't much like the idea it was surrounding me. It did not look restful and I had hoped for something at the least a bit more serene.

A year and a half ago, just to see if maybe things had changed-- or the other photo had been wrong-- I gave it another try when I was at a metaphysical fair. Maybe a bit of blue or green? Nope. Well, there might be some purple if I squint...

This morning I was reminded of my aura colors when I took an online
test that was supposed to determine how balanced I was between fire, water, wind and earth. By this time I was somewhat resigned and not overly surprised at the results. Dominant was fire (although earth and wind were close but water far behind) and there was that red-- this time in the guise of a ruby. The suggestion was to wear turquoise to cool off. (I used to wear a turquoise and silver bracelet all the time. Perhaps I need to do that again. Politics sure won't do it this week!)
Thursday, October 27, 2005

Personal Power

This week the oak leaves drift down like a heavy rain, or more like crunchy, golden snowflakes. Standing at the window, I hear them landing. I wish I could photograph their fall, but I have tried in the past. It never shows in a photo. Their dropping is one of those moments you hold in your memory but cannot save. I look up wondering how many more? Some of the big branches look almost bare but on others the leaves are holding on.

My mind is drifting along with the leaves. Listening to the news earlier, I kept thinking of the image thing and how far astray it has often led a people-- not just this country. I think one of the reasons we go for these strong images, desire them to be our leaders, even when their actions sometimes end destructive to our own best interests, is our lack of personal power. Without power not only do we seek it from others, but we don't recognize it and end up being sucked in by slick advertising schemes, catch phrases, or charismatic speakers.

The Wizard of Oz showed the process so clearly. Dorothy wanted someone to get her home and she decided to go looking for someone powerful. Each person along her way had some power but not enough. But the Wizard of Oz, they told her, he had it all. If she could get find him, her problem would be solved; then she found out the nasty truth we often do when we have gone on this kind of search. The power sounded impressive. There were all the bells and whistles, the show, but behind the curtain was no wizard but just a weak, little old man. Dorothy was left with what she should have gone for to begin-- finding her own power.

I am tossing around a lot of my thoughts here, and they likely don't all fit together. I believe power is being able to discern what is real in the world and find our place within that. It is looking at options and being capable of coming up with a plan to get from A to C without being distracted by Z. Power means developing our own muscles in various ways from physically, spiritually, emotionally, to mentally. It is accepting what we cannot change but changing what we can. True power stands on its word, is honorable and doesn't deceive others. It faces barriers, between it and wise goals, straight on without wavering.
Real power is from within and is not dependent on our physical surroundings or other people. When you have power from within, even if you are living in a shanty, you will have balance, alignment with what is real, peace, serenity, appreciation for life, joy. You can effectively clear the garbage from your life to see what is essential to you.

We gain power by exercising whatever amount we have. Just as we make our muscles stronger by using them; so it's true of all types of power. Sure we might make mistakes and end up with some backtracking but we will not gain strength without using what we have. Ideally it should be used wisely. That comes from sound principles undergirding it, but even then it won't always be wise. Powerful people learn from the mistakes also and do better the next time. If we constantly look for someone else to fix things for us whether that's a pastor, teacher, government or family, we won't make ourselves strong.

Can we recognize power in someone else? More likely when we have it for ourselves.

When we begin to build our own personal power, we will be leading our lives as we choose-- not following someone else's agenda. We will seek spiritual and political leaders based on their power and the policies we believe are best-- not what hat they are wearing.


This week-end, I watched two John Wayne films out of those recently released on DVD. The best was Hondo. It had all the ingredients-- love, discussions of the importance of honesty, courage, more realistic Native Americans, a clear depiction of the need sometimes to change, stirring soundtrack, big sky, desert landscapes; and of course, John Wayne as a powerful figure for right. As did a lot of his films, there was a strong female lead. There are a lot of good reasons to watch the Wayne films as you never have to worry if the good guy will win. Mostly they leave the viewer a satisfied feeling when they end.

There are also some problems with them if you look deeper. One is that we can mistake image for reality. John Wayne walked or rode onto the screen and instantly you knew he could not only be trusted to be who he said he was but that he could take care of whatever had gone wrong. Might take him some time, but he'd get you there. This is great for entertainment but what happens when you take it into real life?

Politically you can end up with the need for politicians to have an image that people vote for more than the actual man. Some is due to the need for instant sound bites and the American people's lack of patience with serious messages. They want to feel good and a lengthy discussion of policy isn't going to cut it. So you get a guy who looks good in a Stetson, wears cowboy boots, buys himself a ranch, rides around in a pickup, cuts brush (never mind if it would've been better off not being cut), and you got a cowboy. It doesn't matter if he doesn't have a cow, has no idea which side of the horse to mount from. He presents the image, and what does cowboy mean to Americans? Well John Wayne for one but also the settling of the West, righting wrongs, a code of ethics, a man of his word. Was Bush all that? He didn't have to be to get elected. Nobody would go deep enough in his past record to find out if that was an image he had lived up to. That takes too long and isn't fun. People, including reporters, get carried away with image. It satisfies something in us.

John Kerry also wanted an image-- war hero, intellect, policy wonk, United States Senator, duck hunter? Hmmmmm none of those worked. What could he find? He never did find one that connected with the American people and hence lost an election.

This goes beyond politics to who we trust in our personal lives. A young girl goes to a bar, a guy has a square jaw, is cute, seems nice and she trusts him. What he truly is she has no idea as she barely knows him. It's all about image and Ted Bundy projected a good looking guy until he got the girl in his power when what he truly was became obvious and it was too late.

The other problem with some of the John Wayne films (much as I love 'em) is that they too often present a simplistic solution to problems-- either a fistfight or guns (if it's an uppity lady, spanking will do). It is fun to watch those films and I wait for the action like everybody else, but if we buy into that as a real solution, we will not only damage our personal lives (probably end up in jail) but also get talked into wars that have no real purpose beyond looking like we are at least doing something.

What's the answer to the image thing? I think mainly it's recognizing image when we see it and understanding it is superficial and an illusion which may or may not have substance behind it. Real heroes and villains don't come so conveniently packaged.


For years I have gone through periods of time where I get dreams that are vivid, in story form, and applicable to either my life or creativity. I have dreamed story ideas, paintings, seen troubling options illustrated for their consequences and very much enjoyed the times of the vivid dreamworld.

The idea for this painting came from such a dream where the woman had feathers, was like a kachina or Isis and it led me to rereading who Isis was, some sketches and finally a couple of paintings that varied around the dream.

I believe it's important when I first wake to try to retrieve any dreams that are lingering and sometimes I lie for a few moments putting together the stories, the colors and any images that are clear. Most times there is nothing important to remember. This week I had ones I call medicine dreams (as in their meanings go beyond what I was doing and are for helping me). Two mornings I could remember the important aspects but not today. Although I remembered it when I first woke, by the time clear awareness came, it was gone. All I know for sure is it was negative and not sure why I lost it. The earlier dreams illustrated current life situations-- one night being full of barriers which I have been feeling a lot in my life and the world at large.

Sometimes without any help I can come up with the meanings of the dreams but other times by looking in a
dream dictionary I can consider meanings that would not have been obvious to me. I went looking for that site after the night I dreamed of a skyscraper, elevator, dragon, and a couple of other symbols that were not part of my regular life and seemed odd to be in my dream. I live a certain kind of rural life that normally is used in dream illustrations. I have come to believe for the most part that in my dreams the people in them aren't as critical to the meaning as what happened. I think my subconscious uses whoever is handy to illustrate the needed lessons. Although I do not, as some do, keep a journal alongside my bed to write down everything, usually in the morning when I am up, I do write down the gist of the dreams as only a few will I remember well years later.

The dream dictionary was a helpful source when I had a dream where I was going to jump from a rocky ledge into bright red, molten lava and then opted to decide that would hurt too much and reconsidered it with instead throwing myself in the cool blue of a beautiful ocean. Both were symbolic of optional ways of solving life problems and actually could be figured out for myself if I stopped to think-- anger vs peace.

I have never had truly prophetic dreams but I often have very illustrative ones of what is going on with my life, and I try to remember and use them.

Reflections on autumn

words do not add to the

Much as I love words.

When looking at the colors of autumn,

seeking reflections in the creek,

I did so silently.

The stillness of a leaf hitting the water,

a bird landing and leaving as quickly,

that was all there was.

Autumn is a time

of stillness on the land,

a time of going underground,

of leaving for some.

Of waiting for others,

a time of being...


Saturday, October 15, 2005


The new hay barn is going up slowly but the rains are making it hard. The pastures need the rain; so I can't complain but it hasn't made it so much fun for those doing the building. My part has just been taking photos of the stages as it rises.

Like anything we want to change in life, it required first ge
tting rid of what was in the way, then leveling the space, staking out the ground. Only then can holes go in the ground for the beams that will support the roof. Trusses came in prebuilt on a huge truck with a derrick to unload them where desired, then a log truck loader to lift them to the beams. Next will come the rafters and only then the gravel for the floor and the metal roof.

When building a barn, eveything has to be done in order or nothing would happen. Why do we exp
ect in our lives to skip over the steps and go right to the finished product?

One of the pluses to having raised our children in a rural setting was the teaching of consequences of not doing something-- can be life or death to an animal if they ignore chores. And the way that we prepare ground for what we hope to grow or build.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Some people watch a film and it's all about enjoyment. They never expect a message. I can't say every film has a message, but some have strong, spiritual ones-- negative or positive. They can be entertaining while teaching something about life or maybe what we wish life could be. My favorite spirit films are not hitting me over the head with their message. It is entwined in the story. Two people could watch that film and one would have an enjoyable two hours, the other come away with insights to apply to their life. Those two people could be the same person several years apart.

Through the years I have collected films I felt had spiritual messages for me. Not to say there aren't others like say Ben Hur that would speak to someone else but these are those that speak to me and where I live or want to live-- films I want to watch again. Fran mentioned in a comment that she had The Mission for that reason and I agree with her-- so many spiritual messages in that one film. Movies can be today's mythology. I have more I want to own but the following are in my DVD library with the general reasons why I feel they are of value spiritually. They are in no particular order of importance.

This first is in its own category as I don't own another one that is similar to it: What the bleep do we know? Its story vehicle is a woman searching for life meaning but that's purely a frame to stretch over various considerations of what life is really all about and what is our place in it. It flows fast, is beautiful to watch and, from what I have heard from friends, could be enjoyed at all levels of spiritual awareness. I don't know if it'd be offensive to fundamentalist Christians, maybe so as it does not present a religious view of life but it does present a powerful melding together of science and spirituality to show they are not opposed if you don't have an agenda to protect.

Then there come movies about what spiritual, emotional, and physical discipline can attain for us. They range from the supernatural possibilities-- Bulletproof Monk, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-- to The Last Samurai which is the about discipline and dedication to a spiritual tradition but no flying through trees.

What is possible in this earth? Can we really travel through time? are ghosts real? what is real? what can the mind achieve? Do we create our own reality? Some of these ideas are addressed in the following films: Field of Dreams, Frequency, What Dreams May Come, Dragonfly, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Don Juan deMarco, Big Fish, and Groundhog Day. Are any of the stories these films depict really possible? If not to the extent they illustrate, what about to lesser degrees? to me they all are dealing with life truths to one degree or another withfantasy and imagination. I think maybe this is where The Secret of Roan Inish, Weeping Camel, and WhaleRider belong. Modern fairy tales, not set in alternate galaxies, just cultures more open to the supernatural invading real life-- whatever real life is. Carrying fantasy a step farther are: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Harry Potter, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings series.

There are more I want to buy but haven't gotten yet. Hero was very supernatural in exploring what really happened, what was possible? I get busy with work, with life and sometimes have to make myself sit down and watch a movie but I remind myself they are healthy and bring into my life something from outside my experiences to enhance my understanding; and the more i expect from them, the more I receive.

I would be interested in learning other titles of spiritually oriented films. I have bought some of what mine because of someone telling me. Not all spiritually worthy films become popular or are even well known.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Mission

"If might is right, then love has no place in the world. It may be so, it may be so. But I don't have the strength to live in a world like that, Rodrigo." Gabriel from a scene in The Mission

We decided to watch The Mission last night. Brief synopsis-- dedicated Jesuit priests, with the message of Jesus and love, attempt to reach and help primitive tribe in South America. They succeed which threatens the establishment, and the establishment strikes back. The film was made about 20 years ago, and when I first saw it, I was in a totally different life place, but it struck me powerfully then as now. I have to add-- everything depressing about it then is more so today. I only thought I knew what greed and people who put their personal desire for power above all else meant when I first saw this film. I only thought I'd seen people who justified their abuses by it's for the best (some even use God as their justification). Do humans ever stop abusing each other? Ever reach a point where they have enough wealth? Ever stop to think that someone else's life matters too? How did the message of Jesus get so lost? I don't know what it'll take to reach a point where the world will see where it's going and change its ways. Not to say the film only showed ugliness. Where there was evil depicted, there was also love and a desire to do good-- a willingness to die for a creed and a sense of what God wanted. It's the kind of selflessness that we see and some of us admire while others think-- now what did that achieve?

This has been my week to consider spiritual questions of purpose. First was the trance medium's reading, then came
Sacred Ordinary October 7th about The Power of the wounded Healers with some powerful words; finally The Mission, where I had forgotten the plot but serendipitously, it turned out to be about a wounded healer. I often see such patterns and my dreams will follow suit with them.

To watch The Mission, is hard. You keep hoping (as we do often in life) that somewhere, someone will realize what they're doing and stop it; but even when they do, it does not change anything. Nor does it today as our abuse of aboriginal peoples is ongoing. Only this summer I read about a tribe in South America being badly impacted by the spraying of the forest in which they live-- the excuse being to stop production of cocaine by drug traffickers.

In this film, there was no release from the feeling of frustration at what men will do to others-- how soulless some can become. The perpetrators in this film never see what they are doing as wrong. At the end of the film, as the three men responsible for what was done discuss it, one said, "You had no alternative, Your Eminence. We must work in the world. The world is thus."

The Cardinal, who knew he had condoned murdering spirituality to maintain power for his religion, said, "No, senhor Hontar. Thus have we made the world. Thus have I made it"

And thus we do. All of us-- for good or ill. We need to stop and think what are we contributing to either chaos or love?

Weeds in the Garden

My garden looks nothing like this right now. It is at the sad, end of the season stage-- the flowers kind of drooping their heads with the combination of rain, wind and now some freezing, the vegetable garden has been neglected and needs to have the sheep come in to further its destruction. I know I should get out there and pull the plants that will no longer produce, trim back the deadheads on the roses, and if the rain stops long enough, till the vegetable garden up for next spring. I could with sufficient energy even plant a fall garden of lettuce but not sure I'll do any of that. The big if is the rain stops long enough. We'll see. right now I am watching the oak leaves accumulate on the deck and beds and know that has to be the first priority to get off as they will stifle the healthy soil and plants under them.

I see this a lot like my internal garden right now-- a metaphor for it. Yesterday I had a psychic reading from someone who describes herself as a trance medium. I am still mulling over whether I think it was all the real thing-- depending on what you think the real thing would be. It was a lot of things I know but nothing I could say only came from the spiritual realm. On the other hand, the fact I know it and have been trying to avoid it does not mean it didn't either. It was basically a pretty enjoyable hour spent discussing issues that are troubling me.

I have had an interest in going to psychics for about 6 years or so. It was part of my stepping out of my comfort zone as so many other things were at that time. I believe there are legitimate mediums and psychics but I also know it can be forced and determining what is real and what is not can be tricky. I go with the idea of listening and assessing and without the belief they can provide the magic pill to fix everything. This reading was no exception.

I asked about an ideal day that I wrote about at the beginning of 2000, that I have made collages showing what I want in my life, but that I have not moved to actually claim for assorted reasons. I may never as the psychic rather told me which barriers that stand between me and that day, and will I really overcome them? Not sure about that either. Weeds in my own garden.

There is a stage of life where everything looks so perfect, so clean and fresh with promise of everything flowering and producing and then there is a stage where if you didn't keep the work up, suddenly you are overwhelmed with weeds. I should take a picture of how my outside gardens look in early fall. Then again maybe I should not as my goal is to inspire myself to take care of things, to fix them, to move ahead, not to ever look back with regrets. It's too easy to dwell. It's not easy at all to start pulling weeds and replanting.

Archived November Rainy Day Thoughts2

(I removed from all archives anything political and dated)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Pet Kids

Okay, here it comes. It was inevitable. Now she pulls out the pictures of the kids...... For me, that means cats. Not because there were never any kids nor because there are no grandkids-- there are but these are the ones who live at home now. I am not one of those who prefers cats over dogs or vice versa. I just know my life situation requires some traveling and not the kind I can take a dog. Cats stay home more contentedly with someone to feed and water them than a dog. When my life gets a bit more settled, I want another dog-- probably a labrador as they tend to be my favorites.

Pets have been a part of my life from my earliest memories. I've cried over their deaths and laughed at their antics. I was not one who had a hard time understanding why some in New Orleans would stay and brave storm and flood because they couldn't bear to leave their pets. I still feel sad when I think of the little dog, Snowball, being yanked from the arms of his little owner-- regardless of how logical that decision might have been. Logic plays no role in how important our pets are to us.

The current cats all came as strays. They appeared as follows:

Persia is a petite black and white female who is so feisty that all walk around her even though she is only 7 lbs on her best day. Years ago, she came to this farm, settled in on the woodpile and waited for us to realize she belonged here. She has notched ears because of all her fights with the other cats. She takes nothing off nobody and that includes us but when she jumps onto the bed at night to sleep beside me, she starts to purr before I pet her. I am guessing she is about 17 now.

BB, probably about 10, lived wild for 5 years after his original owner moved and didn't take him. We bought a home in Tucson and began to see him various places-- not to mention beheaded rabbits. I would see him sleeping on a high shelf in the carport and when he'd see me, he'd run away. I began to put out food for him-- it was either that or the quail. When I was outside, he would lie on the sand near me but never too close. Finally I decided to try petting him. I talked soothingly to him, reminded him of the dry cat food I'd bought him and put out my hand as I moved closer. He hissed but he inched toward me. We both took the risk as he finally let me pet him, and that was the beginning of a love affair. I cannot believe someone would have deserted such a sweet cat. He is still hissy boy when someone scares him, but he's also my cuddler and loves to sleep wrapped in my arms as relaxed as though he'd never known an uncertain hour in his life. Having been a short haired cat when I first saw him, I was a bit amazed when a full coat of black hair developed.. not to mention a cat impossible to diet below 17 pounds.

When we brought BB north for the first time (as I could no longer stand to leave him for the months I'd be gone from the Tucson house), we stopped for a breakfast and papers. My husband walked in to get the paper and when he came back, he scared the cat, who I had on my lap, so much that he defecated all over my jeans and me. If you happened to be in Eloy Arizona that morning and saw a woman stripping off her jeans in the McDonald's parking lot, it was me. We have since learned any auto travel leads to the same (if less catastrophic) dumping of his load and he now rides in carriers totally.

Blackie, who is probably about a year old now arrived at the farm this summer. A few years earlier we had lost a black cat who died of old age and because I don't know whether I believe in reincarnation or not but if I do, why not pets also, I had been watching for black cats. I don't really know that Fantus came back in Blackie's form but Blackie got to stay. He is so nervous and temperamental that if I had small children still at home, I'd not have felt free to keep him. I am still working on teaching him that you don't bite. The books say treat them gently to stop this tendency. I figured their mothers treat them sharply to teach them; so he gets thumped lightly on the forehead if he starts to bite and that seems to be getting him the message. As well as that when he gets too frisky, no more petting.

Blackie loves to go out to do chores helping with hay feeding or repairs-- you name it and he's there. It does not matter what the job is out around the barn, he wants to lend a helping paw. When the cows decide to chase him, he's good at broken field running. Maybe he was a dog last lifetime (if he was a dog last time, is this a step up or down for him?).

Sunday, November 27, 2005


I have a pet peeve which always irks me some but right now more than usual-- sales. I know it sounds almost un-American, not to mention unwomanly, but maybe it's because there is no Sagittarius in my astrology chart (no I don't really believe that). I understand that a sale is all about the hunt, the feeling of snaring a bargain, walking out of the store with a shopping cart full of cheaper than usual items (not to mention a lot of unplanned purchases) but I hate sales. I wish that every store would simply mark their prices as cheaply as possible and keep them there. The idea that only one day or two hours in one morning entitles someone to the lowest price just annoys me instead of making me feel a sense of exhilaration.

Black Friday (a US coined term which means the day the stores find out if they are going to be in the black for Christmas-- or so I assume-- but for me means what it sounds like) is the ultimate proof of my belief sales are bad. The stories were on the papers the next day-- people ran each other down, waited in line hours, became uncivilized-- all to be the only one getting a sale price.

When I was first married (40 years ago now), as my husband planned to be downtown and I did not, I asked him to go to the Washington Day sale at my then favorite department store... He was a young man in full strength and vitality and came back chastened by the experience. He was ill prepared to be thrust through the door by a lot of gray haired ladies at the moment it opened-- and he said he was literally propelled. That happened to some older ladies Black Friday and some didn't stay on their feet.

There have been times I wanted to buy some new clothes, was near my favorite department store, but decided I could not afford to because I knew 'coupon day' wasn't until the next week. This just makes no sense for me or the store. Wouldn't it be better that I could spend my money the day I needed something, not feel obligated to hold out for a 20% off coupon? When I might not even return. When I was a girl, sales happened seasonally and even in grocery stores it all made sense. Today they are a gimmick to get the customer into the store more often than they would have otherwise.

I realize that for a lot of people a huge sale is fun, a challenge, a hunt, but for me, it's a worse than usual experience with shopping-- which I am not fond of at best. Maybe that's my problem with not appreciating Black Friday...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


a word at once that speaks of receiving and giving.
A day set aside
for being grateful for what
has come before,
what is yet to be.
A day for forgiving and being forgiven.
A time to release and hold close.
A day to remember those who have gone
and enjoy those still here.

Family in the broadest sense
is about more than bloodkin
but also those who have come into our lives with love
and sometimes left but never to be forgotten.

The greatest gifts of life are the people
the experiences--
those that made us cry,
those that made us laugh.
All that has gone before
is what makes us who we are.

Sunday November 20, 2005

Off the Map

A few years ago, I had an inspiring trip to New Mexico. I had heard about the light, read about Georgia O'Keeffe's experiences there, loved her paintings, wanted to see Chaco Canyon, the pueblos and mostly Taos. Everything was as wonderful as I'd hoped. I had always said if I ever run away, I'll go to Taos which still seems like a good idea.

This photo is from near Abiquiu.

Then there has been my back-to-nature phase which I went through some years ago and to some degree never completely left behind. You know the can your own fruits and vegetables, live off the land, build your own home thing. I have a stack of books on how to build the home, what the interiors look like of those who did, and while I have done most of the preserving things, I don't do them regularly.

Those elements came together this week-end in watching a dvd that a friend had recommended-- Off the Map. It is one of those little films (starring Sam Elliot and Joan Allan) that nobody hears much about when they come out but sometimes get a second chance on video. I am not sure if this one will get that second chance because I had to go to two video stores to find it to rent; but I highly recommend it to those who like any of what I described above.

The story is a simple one of a couple and their 11 year old daughter, who are living the back-to-the-land life. Sam Elliot's character has drifted into a crippling depression and his wife (Joan Allan), their daughter, and their best friend cannot reach him-- although all in their own, loving ways try.

The story unfolds from the daughter's memories as an adult woman of what that summer was like when a young IRS agent comes to find out why the family has not paid any taxes and ends up staying.

It's a movie about relationships, the land, art-- a slice of life movie, full of vivid imagery, and subtly interwoven questions of what life is all about.

Living the Dream

Some years ago-- January of 2000 to be more exact-- I was reading a book on how we get what we want from life. Since I felt there were things I wanted and didn't have, I did some of the exercises. One was to write a dream day-- your ideal day. I described it from the moment I woke to the time I went to bed, and I put in all the secrets in my heart-- the things we often want but are afraid to admit. I won't go into details on what that encompassed, but years have passed and it still describes my dream day. I am also still not living it. There are assorted reasons-- okay excuses for that, but I have not given up.

Part of the 'dream' day was waking after a night of vibrant dreaming and later that day painting the dream.

Painting is something I mostly do now and then, but have picked up again recently. I set up on one end of my living room where the light was relatively good and using a wooden bench for my paints, brought in what used to be my sculpture table, set up the easel and waited for inspiration to strike. About the time I decided it wouldn't, I began to paint. I did have an idea, one that had been germinating in my head for some time-- Madonna of the Cave.

As I applied colors, built shapes, I was surprised by some of the elements that had not been in my original thinking but showed up once the work was underway. The Madonna is a young woman and perhaps the cave is a womb, the waters are those from which we are all born, certainly she is of the same material as the stalactites hanging from the roof of the cave. Perhaps she is a priestess returning to these waters with an offering
. Maybe this is the soul of a baby about to be born. Interestingly to me, the shapes, from tiny to large ones kept repeating themselves as the painting took on a vision of its own.

Then one night, with the painting nearly finished, I had one of my story dreams a
nd it stretched through the night. The kind of dream that I could write or paint from the ideas and feelings evoked. I woke that morning thinking maybe, even though I had no idea when I wrote the essay about my ideal day, for me dreams and painting are entwined.

I have long believed what you want in your life, live in it as much as possible and more will come. This is unfortunately true of the negative as well as the positive. If I want to live my dream day, I must put into the one I have right now as many of the elements as possible. I've certainly not always lived my days as I want but I'm working on it.

So what you want to be-- be it.
See yourself and live as though you are already that person.

Musical Collages

With the internet and the ease of putting together your own combinations of music from either CDs you own or those you download for a fee, the possible ways of creatively using music increased-- even for those of us who could never create a note on our own.

One of my first CD compilations was not intended to inspire creation of something. Well maybe it was-- me. I looked for songs that expressed elements of my personality. So Cher's Just Like Jesse James (a girl can dream can't she?) met up with Eagle's Take it to the Limit (my absolute one song to say who I am and what I feel as I've gotten older. When I get too old to take it to the limit one more time, I'll have to come up with something new but at 62, I am not there yet), and Unchained Melody by anybody as it never matters who sings it or even if it's instrumental for how it speaks of the eternal dream of soul mate love.

The album that is 'me' has 18 songs on it that range from spiritual feelings, to songs that resonated with me years ago and still do. A lot of them like Roll me Away are not so much about actually doing something as more about the freedom in your soul to find your own way to that moment. I didn't try to critique these songs, to say they must be noble or help me rise to a higher level. No, they were all about who I felt I was inside-- expressed and unexpressed. Yes, there are days where Bitch says it all.

After I created that musical collage, I went on to think how else I could combine music to minister to higher impulses, to help me be more than I am, and created what I have come to call Energy Albums. These are songs that might not give energy to anybody else; but when I put those CDs onto my player, i feel the vibrations inside me begin to change. Energy albums for me can encompass soundtracks (the western Red River is one of my favorites) to songs that speak of something I want from life--Amazed. They range from songs when I write their titles, a few might be familiar but most not to everybody if anybody-- Africa, I Have Never Been to Me, Legend of the Warrior, The Road less Traveled, The Secret of Life, Bang the Drum, When Will I Ever Learn, Thorn Upon the Rose, Color of the Wind, It's a Great Day to be Alive, The Gambler and on and on.

Music has helped me with writing for quite some time. Some years ago I was working on a story that was not going anywhere. I heard the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack and something in it added the passion the story had been missing. For a solid month I played that album over and over to keep the mood going.

When I talked to the medium a month ago, she suggested I should dance while I paint. I knew what she meant even if that wouldn't work well except for the most abstract paintings. What she was saying, i believe, is let the music flow through me and out of the brush and onto the canvas. Free it with joy, sorrow or whatever the painting is supposed to depict. I have done some of that and am aiming to do more.

A soundtrack is intended to enhance certain emotional responses for what is going on in the scene. It works as well for creating art as for the viewer of it. For me, such soundtracks include: Legends of the Fall; Last of the Mohicans; Open Range; Tombstone; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; compilations of great bits from music soundtracks of the past-- like Lonesome Dove, The Magnificent Seven, Sons of Katie Elder, and many more. The beauty of original soundtrack over music with lyrics is no words to distract from the emotions being generated. With painting or writing I want my own ideas enhanced, not changed.

When I am in the mood for love songs, I have a mix from country western to pop, from recent to long ago-- Key Largo, Almost Paradise, Smooth, Make me Lose Control, Burn, Desperado, Nights in White Satin, You Raise Me Up, The Dance, Smoke Rings in the Dark, Shenandoah, and so many more.

Music feeds the soul, strokes deep inner chords and releases to the physical world what otherwise might remain within. It is a creative and life tool, one that can be used for physical as well as emotional healing. Like so many things in life, we have to decide what we are trying to create in our lives; then find tools to help us. Music, for ill or good, can be one of those.


When thinking of things that help through the winter as well as year round with my creative life, photography is high on the list. My history with cameras has been serially monogamous. I am faithful in my way. I started out as a girl with a Brownie Hawkeye box camera. My first attempts at being creative were asking my younger brother to snap a picture of me awkwardly posed on a rock (I made him pose for one too). It was the first of many pictures of me sitting on rocks.

I can't say for sure what has led to the romance between me and the camera, but it's gone o
n as far back as I can remember. The perfect photograph is still illusive and a constant challenge to attain-- maybe that contributes to the fascination.

My cameras changed with my life, and I had my hands on the first 35mm when I was 22. I left it behind for the usual re
ason-- could afford to-- and had a big desire for a single lens reflex to compose as I shot-- enter the Minolta. That one had an easy way to adjust lighting and worked quite well for years-- until the temptation to stray once again overcame me and led to a Nikon 35mm entering my life. I could justify my lack of faithfulness by many features in that lovely Nikon, but the main one was the automatic option allowing for faster shooting. And to get that feature, I gave up some control. ( The price we pay for passion.) This lasted for years until-- yes, temptation again reared its head and the world of the digital drew me in. Instant gratification is my justification on that one.

Between digitals and photo programs on the computer, the world of the professional photographer is no longer only theirs. My working camera today is EOS Canon Rebel with an 18-55mm Canon lens-- although I do have a telephoto. For years my digital had been an Olympus which is a nice little camera but they kept improving the pixels possible and eventually I wanted something with less graininess and more potential for enlargement; so i traded small, slip into my pocket for a wide strap around the neck and a camera the weight of the Nikon.

As a tool for a painter or sculptor, cameras can't be matched-- in my opinion. Yes, I can do actual sketches on the scene but the camera saves the details I'd likely have forgotten or not taken the time to sketch in-- it provides the color grace notes. In sculptures, where I didn't have the access to live models, I could pose myself however I needed, have it photographed and get the weight of a real body to give the work more reality.

In doing photos for my art, I learned to use auto timers which was particularly good when nobody was around to take the photo but even better to avoid that dread-- no, no, don't face that way... oh that's not good, can't you just... and guess that wasn't really better.

When I took pictures for the work, I had fun and began to take them just pleasure. I found I was more natural using a timer than with another person involved. What I didn't like was tossed. I took' glamour' shots, silly shots and some that I could actually use.

This summer when I needed my passport photo renewed, I headed for a AAA and got the most horrible Polaroid photo I have ever seen... and I had paid money for it. I then went to a Kinko's and marginally improved it. I did not
want to look at either picture each time I opened my passport. I could have paid even more money for a professional photographer and who knows if that would have been satisfying, but I decided to see if I could do it. The rules are for a certain definition, size, no big smiles and two identical pictures. I set up the lighting, tripod and ended up with one I was happy with; and so was the government (why they worried about how detailed it was is beyond me given they stamped an eagle right over the top of it).

With an auto timer and a digital camera, I can arrange the lighting I want, see the results instantly, play around with different angles to shoot from and laugh at the silliness of it. When it's fun, the face loosens up and the pictures come out far better. When I was young, almost every picture of me came out good; but these days, it's like maybe one in ten is what I was looking for; so I take a lot when I am fooling with it. If none come out, it's digital and who cares. I throw them away and try again another day when maybe I am less tired looking-- yeah that's it.. tired looking...

When winter comes

It had to happen eventually-- *sigh* the run up to the Winter Solstice. The coming month and a half is definitely my hardest season. Yes, the fun of holiday dinners, bright decorations, Advent wreaths, Christmas music, the giving of gifts, excited children all lie ahead; BUT there are also darker days and longer nights, no flowers in the garden, rain, mud, heavy coats, leaks in a roof to fix, muck to muck through, shopping when the last thing I want to do is go out to the mall, and the cold and flu season where I hope anybody coughing is far enough away to not infect me. After the Solstice, I try to think each day is getting minimally brighter and how somewhere ahead is summer sunshine.

When winter comes to the Pacific Northwest, it's more often in the form of wind and rain than snow although we can get a few weeks of frigid weather. There is something to be said for the beauty of freshly fallen snow, of flakes coming down. There is not much to be said for its aftermath which out here is mud and flooding. This is the season where I rise in darkness, eat dinner in it and only minimally is it brighter in between. I have had bouts of depression with winter but now I try to do things to ease that possibility.

One of these things was to have the new hay barn built and it's more or less finished. It will eventually have feeders along the west side and to the north, there will be a wall. The sheep have by the way renamed it-- the loafing shed.

Inside the house, my efforts have all been about adding light. The new fireplace screen is part of that; white candles another, as I find places all around the house to have them ready to light. A supply of DVDs ready for the nights when nothing but Ice Age, Tombstone, or Before Sunset will do; CDs piled in front of the player and Legends of the Fall soundtrack playing as I write. On the table are books I didn't get around to reading last summer. There is a new painting on the easel and an idea for a book germinating in my head. The house is spruced up and rid of anything unnecessary, the kitchen ready for Christmas baking, the garden cleaned up enough to stand even ocean fed gale winds.

I should be ready. Only I am not. I never am ready for the season of darkness.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

the other side of creativity

For me, creative expression is the wind beneath my sails. It's what I do, how I feel good, how I express me. This comes through writing, sculpting or painting, but I have tested the waters shallowly in many mediums-- made a few quilts, sewed, done some macrame, tole painting. My creative expression shows up in my home, garden and lifestyle choices. When I explain who I am, being creative is high on the list.

Lately I haven't done much sculpting but these are some of my clay sculptures. Most sit in the attic as I have not been successful in selling them, but then I haven't put the effort into selling that I did into creating.

I feel a mix of emotions about them and my other work-- a stack of paintings are up in that attic as well as 11 completed manuscripts on my hard drive (ranging from 85,000 to 140,000 words). I feel proud of what I have done-- finished works, skills learned-- but not so proud that I haven't worked harder to get them out into the world. I have done a lot of things in my years but marketing well is not one of them. It feels like a mix of failure and achievement when I think on my works. Like I let them down.

I don't have one clear reason for why I have not been better at doing what I see as the other part of creating. Some is not fitting the market. I can say that about the books at the time they were rejected-- those that ever got submitted. When we hope to trade our artistic work for someone else's dollars, we have to meet their needs. I don't blame the market when what I have done didn't succeed in that.

But that's only part of it. Part of it is I haven't tried hard enough and this goes back to another part of creativity. We create it and then we put it out for the world to judge through sales, showings or even contests. These paintings, manuscripts and sculptures are pieces of me. They are my babies and when someone else looks at them and says pedestrian work, not enough interest to them, it's like they are saying it about me.

An artist who has the whole package believes in their work, believes enough to get out there and send it again and again to publishers or to galleries. Maybe I'm not a true enough artist or maybe it goes back to the recent reading I received from the medium where she saw the negative patterns in my life. Number one was I didn't trust enough, that I felt I would lose whatever I gained; and number two was I didn't have enough belief in myself or my abilities. I would guess that's true of a lot of us and the way past it is to take the risks and keep taking them until the barrier is broken-- but the reason we don't goes back to the patterns.

Sometimes not believing in my work is not a mistake. I mean it's not wise to kid myself on what I'm doing. I am not as gifted a painter as my friend at Golden Acorn. I don't know if I never quite developed the craft side of painting or just don't have the gifts, but it doesn't stop me from enjoying painting. It does cause me to often not show it to others. What ends up on the canvas has not yet been what I had seen in my mind.

When I got online for the first time some years back, I learned how many people can write well. It was an eye-opener. The main difference between those who have published books and those who have not is at least to a degree marketing skills. I intellectually know the process, have read how-to books, talked to agents, other writers, but it is one thing to know what you should do and another to face your baby (and creative work is your baby) being rejected yet again. Wait a minute. Those characters were good. Didn't you laugh at that part? What was not to like? Sometimes an editor says you can change this or that and we'll consider again except either you can't do it or it goes against your sense of what the work was supposed to be about-- creative integrity vs marketing reality.

I am working on getting past these blocks. My problem has not been in having ideas or finishing my projects. Or maybe it is. Is it really finished stacked in a dusty, cobwebbed attic or will it only be finished when it has moved to someone else's hands?