Archive for the ‘life and death’ Category

deeeeeeeeep breath

It feels like a river of dread is what I’ve been propelled through and over for weeks now.  We’re all inner tubing down this thing, of course. For extra fun, here we’ve had: a few weeks of daily temperatures above 106f/42c; someone trying to drain my bank account with all due ensuing joy at trying to rectify the situation when you cannot talk to anyone because Covid, and it all has to be done online and…hahaha, internet service has been terrible due to heat; a large and scary fire at the end of our road requiring 7 fire trucks, 4 aircraft, 1 sheriff and 1 fire chief; bureaucratic snafus up the yang; some health issues- anyway, more than enough stuff to make my heart jump out of my chest, stand in front of me and say HEY.  I CAN’T TAKE ANY MORE OF THIS.  And then, of course, there’s the World.

While taking some, in fact, a LOT of, comfort in the fact that we’re all feeling the same things, my confidence that we will all work together to rise above the tide of crap and move forward is not at an all time high.  It was encouraging somehow, at a recent doctor appointment, when the Doctor said, people here are really strange.  Really jittery.  They don’t appreciate the beauty around them. It’s just weird.  No kidding, I said.  She’s from Texas which in a way makes this remark even more telling.  I mean: this is CALIFORNIA.  Then I remember people I used to think of as friends, also in California, who revealed that they essentially believe in Pizzagate .  Like the woman in the propane store who told me not to worry, enjoy myself, all this will be over at some point and was referring to the Rapture and not a lessening of our..er…viral load.  The concept we hold on to here is that this IS a pretty strange place, and it can’t be this way everywhere.  Right?

It seems logical to me that COVID 19 will be dealt with and SOMEBODY must know some actual facts about it, which would not be apparent to the average person in this country.  The lack of, and mis-information is mind boggling, and there really is no good reason why this infectious disease is still so powerful except: we are at a point in this country where we may really not continue even in the incomplete democracy we thought we lived in, unless everybody puts their kool aid cup down quick and in a hurry.  When the inhabitant of the White House says he wants the post office to close because otherwise, to put it simply, he won’t win the election, which is all that matters? when said individual suggested drinking disinfectants since they might do something about the virus and why not since you can’t get a test anyway? when it is revealed that the same individual caused needed pandemic aid to be withheld from “blue” states because? they didn’t vote for him? and when we continue to be subjected to racist, sexist, idiotic statements presented as fact? it scares me.  Marge Simpson, for heaven’s sake, has to defend herself. Suddenly there’s “diplomacy” in the Middle East? perhaps it is more an alignment of where the weapons and money are going in truth. The functioning US government is being dismantled, justice is more than elusive, environmental and civil protections are being slashed without anyone even knowing until after the fact? The fact that Breonna Taylor’s killers have not even been charged or arrested or anything? The founding principle of separation of church and state seems to be more and more a blurred line.  Photographs of postal service vans being removed by huge trucks in Los Angeles and not for repairs have been viewed.  It just goes on and on, and nothing is done to even address the very real questions raised by what is being said, and seen, and done.  And the manifested concern seems to be whether or  not one can go to a bar or get a tattoo.  Or be abusive in public at will. Exercise, you know, their rights.  Because, as I have been told more than once, this is what patriotic rebels do.  Someone actually said to me recently, very politely, that I, and people like me, (as in, appears to be a Democrat) really should be dead- that’s the only way we’d be “good”. Not EVEN kidding.

So. Yeah.  I fell into a pretty deep hole, which I realized one day when a petition to stop baiting and killing of bears (misnomered as “hunting”) completely gravelled me and I could hardly proceed with signing it.   It did get signed, of course, and we proceed with things like making dog biscuits (healthier! and also Someone may be a TINY bit spoiled), mayonnaise (now MIA in local stores), fig jam, salsa with our chiles, and tending to the welfare of this little family.  Keeping us stocked with the best mineral water on earth, Topo Chico. Making remedies and remembering that the Thing is to stay with what you know to be true.  Nature and kinship is what is true.  Love is what is true, and even as I sink into the attitudinal morass at times, still love for all of us rises more strongly than ever.

The question is, in this moment, about co-existence.  Is it possible? I always thought it was even though experience showed me it was generally a rather dicey proposition.  In the past, my belief that we could all get along and understand each other and accept differences and share what we know seemed unshakeable.  Non-violence seemed the only real way.  Now I wonder.  There are people with whom I really don’t want to communicate at this point, in the sense of not wanting to accept their abuse or lack of truth.  Another part, which may actually be a good thing, is I am no longer willing to compromise, fudge, elide,  what is correct for what someone else wants or finds pleasing or is willing to threaten me to obtain. (Apparently, according to a friend from high school, I was “always an outspoken bastard”, so maybe it’s just an old attribute rearing a head.) Bravery, after all, is often about keeping going in spite of how afraid you are, being of assistance where you can, sticking with it against apparent odds…more than it is about force or power over another.  In that vein, onward! Blessings and thanks as always, and take care of yourselves as we all carry on.

something following me

An old Procol Harum song, it’s about someone essentially confronting death.  “Imagine my surprise/I thought I left it at home/but there’s no doubt about it/ it’s my own tombstone.”  The tombstone sits next to the guy in the movies, at the dentist, everywhere.  Which, when you think about it, is a bit like where we find ourselves now.  We are followed, and even preceded, everywhere by the potential of death and destruction.

There are lots of deaths we all experience of course aside from the deaths of the living beings we care for and know. Attitudes, dreams and situations die out in our lives.  Beliefs die.  This is a good thing, of course, if we keep focus on our hearts and what is in fact true.  Not easy, but more dynamic than fitting oneself into a space created by some larger entity like one’s family or country or politics. Or religion, or…an endless list, Gentle Reader.

In any event! In this rather dismal period we now live in and through, the fundamental issue is that things are not at all what they seemed to be, or what we were told they are or were. The foundation of things is, and has been, rotten. No getting away from it. The truth is coming to light every day and a lot of it is excruciatingly painful.  Even if one thought one knew at least some of this before? Things like the fact that George Washington, far from having wooden teeth, had dentures made from the teeth he pulled from the mouths of his slaves. (How could you even conceive of “owning” another human being? I can’t even say I own my Dog.) So yes, dear, the “father” of our country was in fact pretty much a massive bastard.  And you don’t have to wait.  There’s a lot more.  Some simple research into the actual origins of “police departments” will be revealing, just for one instance.  I suggest soda crackers and 7up be handy while you do this, just in case you make yourself sick. Which you probably will because it links to many more actual facts that are just about precisely opposite to what is being put out as truthful history.

So as always, what is to be done? That old saying, if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem is really true.  Just as you wouldn’t allow some icky slimy mold to grow on, say, your toothbrush, you can’t act like the slimy mold of the current milieu does not exist.  You must clean your metaphorical toothbrush.  You cannot hide behind the hateful tropisms of the powers which are doing their damndest to stay in control.  To do this is to actually say: you’re OK with evil.  People’s suffering doesn’t matter, not really.  Not as long as you have your security (illusory at best) and privilege and life continues on more or less as usual.  People will deny that this is what it is, of course.  Me? Hateful and racist? Sexist and bigoted? Selfish? oh no.  But I AM better than most other people. And it is my right….blahblahblah…to do whatever the fuck I want no matter what the effect is on anything else.  My wishes are all that matter.  Forge ahead, oil companies! Who cares how many people are homeless in this world? Doesn’t really affect me!

What this sort of thing does to those who are outside that particular loop is nightmarish.  Traumatic. Crazy making. It makes you think twenty times before you do anything. Not to mention it all being a travesty of what is professed to be true.  George Carlin said, they call it the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe in it.  And this is what it looks like now to me, in a way.  The sleepers are refusing to awake and the bed is on fire.

The Dalai Lama has said non-violence takes a long time.  And it does.  And, ultimately, nothing is really achieved through violence and anger- those energies have to be harnessed to work cleaning all those toothbrushes, so to speak.  Personally I really don’t know exactly how to proceed given that at times I think a rocket launcher would be a good thing, except for striving to set aside the fear that keeps one from speaking out, from disagreeing with people, from allowing things to go on unremarked.  But. The time is now to stand in the light and see what can be done right in front of you, for a start.  And that does mean speaking up, at a minimum.  What is wrong is compounding the suffering on this earth.  What is right is working to alleviate that suffering as much as one possibly can.  What is right is also LEARNING and OBSERVING and HEARING.  Every day.

Blessings and thanks to you all! Keep healthy and safe.  Meanwhile, here? It’s 107F and the fire planes are zooming around.

 

a rain of bivalves

Adding to my joy, Gentle Reader!!!! WordPress has instituted a “new editor”.  Perhaps I am a dinosaur but really? I JUST WANT TO WRITE.  I DON’T NEED CLEVER BLOCK LAYOUTS.  Anyway it is another challenge to this little bear’s brain, but I figure, what with the success I had with our doctor internet “portal” after it got changed and whammo, there appeared to be no way in hell to do what I wanted…and I managed to close my eyes, breathe and say: ok, point me to it! and suddenly  found the right thing to press…there’s always hope.

Anyway, I digress.  A friend in Canada reported that after a recent rainstorm she went out into the yard around where she lives and found: an intact clam. She lives a LONG way from the beach.  As do we.  And? The Partner found a fossil clam in our yard. The world is full of wonders.  One has to think, though, about the actual suction involved in getting a clam from the beach to a few hundred miles inland.  As it turns out, this seems to replicate the state of my brain now, although sadly no one has reported finding it in their yard.

While comfort and support can be found in words, be it Martin Luther King Jr., Cornell Wilde, James Baldwin, HH the Dalai Lama, or even Winnie the Pooh, and while we know we all gotta rely on our hearts and souls first and foremost to navigate? At the moment I cannot seem to get away from the wrenching nausea the past few days have elicited.  Try as I may I cannot forget all the history I have witnessed, the hopes raised… it is a huge effort to stay in the now, watching essentially WORSE AND MORE OF IT.  How many more times? What are those in power even thinking? and I use the word thinking very loosely.  I mean: I’VE been shot at by police, had them shoot windows out of my apartment, kick the door in….all kinds of things that happened back..er…in the 70’s.   From marches and murders, Watts to Rodney King, it has all been something watched in a kind of suspended disbelief, like, surely this isn’t really happening, except it is and bummer for you it’s in YOUR neighborhood. (Sprightly Dinosaur takes a bow).  The underpinnings of things in this country seemed horrible but one had hope, and worked, for change- you kept on, kept trying, kept working for change.  There was also the possibly deeply naïve thought that, change happens, right? Surely SOME of it has to be good.  Also one worked on one’s own interior development and this can make a person think that, hey, it will help! Do no harm, do the best you can, help others, be a steward not a consumer….and yet now? I find myself, who used to have extended dialogues with people pondering shooting down police helicopters about how important non-violence is, the need for a perspective, now completely understanding that people are pushed to the brink after another 50 years of this crap and thus, things are going to get broken.  So now I have to reread William T. Vollman’s Rising Up and Rising Down.  Which is an endeavor.

It’s helpful for me to remember a friend who was also a cop.  At first my inclination was to stay away, after all: POLICE. Nonono. But he turned out to be someone with a huge heart and a searing insight.  The last time I saw him, he was undercover investigating a White Supremacist Militia group that also specialized in methamphetamine, and that made me fear for his safety.  It was not a good thing when he disappeared from the places I usually saw him. The lesson there was you can not have an idea of what a person is like until you interact with them. Period. This being true across the board, it really makes you wonder how people justify all the prejudices and assinine attitudes they have…until the next really awful realization dawns and that is: This entire country has been built upon just those prejudices and it is, really, far from a level playing field.  The deep holes are arranged Just So. White Privilege is something that happens every single day, and even White people are irritated when someone pulls that crap on THEM. I’ve seen this more than once in the Costco Pharmacy line, and people really get teed off when they hear me laughing. Others, of course, don’t have the luxury of even having an attitude. The Partner looks at me sternly in such moments because HE has never had this dawn on him, having known it from the jump.  Plus, living where we do is an every day, all day, demonstration of said fact.

As usual, what is to be done? Jeeez. I’m aware that the loss of joy and focus is integral to any, shall we say?, defeat.  Eric Bibb’s song, I heard my angel sing, speaks to this: “I saw an old devil walking my way, he said Heaven’s closed, go home and don’t pray”. There’s a way in which all of this is illusory of course, but the pain is nonetheless real.  My hope is that the frustration and sorrow we feel can be seen as temporary and mobilized into energy to make the change that must happen, by ALL of us.  If we are to survive at all.  I still believe in this as possible.  The false duality must be dispensed with, power over has to go, and economics have to be on another entire body, not just another foot.  These are all really big shifts, and who knows how long the planet is going to wait for us to quit screwing around?  Anyway, blessings and thanks to you all! Be safe and nourish your joys, as they feed your soul, which helps us all. (I think anyway…..)

 

(However, a caveat to the unwary.  Antifa, which isn’t even an actual “group”, has been designated a terrorist organization.  Despite the fact that this isn’t something that can be done by….an official in the White House…what it does mean is that you, anyone you know, or don’t know, can now be arrested, charged with terrorism, and be sent…to one of the many hells on earth we taxpayers support.  It’s easy to  think this is nothing, or “fake news” or any of the other malarkey we tell ourselves, but it isn’t.  This kid of thing has been happening and now it can be even worse.)

fugues and refuges

I thought more than once about writing here of late, and thought, well, hmm. If everyone else’s inbox is like mine, since many bloggers are posting many times a day, maybe it’s not the right thing to add to the excess verbiage. The old patterns, life and otherwise, have seemingly disappeared, and the urge to “do” is lessening by the moment. The fugue enters here and then, at about the fifth musical sentence therein, there’s a big spacious area which, even though it seems to be surrounded by fearsome beasts, really isn’t. Or at least, not completely. Exploration takes a new direction!

So, of course, finally I succumbed to the lure. It turns out that we all feel pretty much the same things now and that in itself creates an energy and lift, and thus: Hope. Ready, Set, Write!

One thing, maybe the main thing, that is comforting now is how much really wonderful behavior we see manifesting, the bravery and love and heart. Nature is throwing all the beauty at us she’s got, at least up here, and there is so much bird song to be heard that you can’t help but be full of joy. Still, one is also quite continuously reminded of Samuel Johnson’s observation: Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. We have several poster-child quality examples of this before us in the moment.

And really? One more belligerent, obese individual stuffed into something that looks like the American flag, carrying an assault rifle? to protect their right to…what? Inflict their germs and attitudes on everyone around them? All in the name of patriotism, country and whoknowswhat? It makes me very sad on many levels, even as I know the only response is to Love, and extend kindness, even if it is bound to be refused in the moment. I actually had to tell such a person (actually on several more occasions than this example, too. It makes going out, that one time a week, SO much fun, what with the Lysol we carry and the gloves and all the rest of it), in our hot spot of a Post Office, to move his unmasked six inches from my face self, and get on the marked spot six FEET away showing where to stand. His response was, it’s not real, I’m an American and I can do whatever I want, You Got a Problem with THAT???? I looked at his American flag t-shirt. I looked at him- poor, angry, fearful man. At times like these I really wish I was taller- perhaps foolishly I think it might make someone less inclined to attempt such silliness. ANYWAY. He did not move, this guy. I smiled (through my mask) and said, Sir! I fully support your right to have and express an opinion. But. You don’t get to disrespect me, my family, and everyone else, by potentially giving me a life threatening disease. It’s really pretty simple. And temporary if we all cooperate. He moved.

Whether or not this sort of thing is a building block for a more harmonious society, is something we’re about to find out. It’s hard, and pointless, to argue with someone toting an assault rifle. Each time something like this happens, the ability to stand in hope gets a little stronger and perhaps that is the real lesson of the moment. Or any moment…..

To distract myself from Thinking about all the Things I can’t Do A Thing About, I made a fruit pizza. The Partner likes these better than pies, so what’s not to love? Basically you make a soft pizza dough with the normal amount of yeast and flour, using a bit more water, avocado oil, 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 of salt, and after a short rise, putting it in the refrigerator. After another half hour to forty minutes (or even overnight), take it out, punch it down, let rise again. Then, shape, place on whatever baking thing you use, brush melted butter over it, sprinkle cinnamon and sugar, layer fruit, drizzle with honey, bake for 15 minutes at 500 f. This works really well with soft fruit like fresh figs, peaches, and berries.

I am grateful, as always, for all who read me! May we all stay in harmony and readiness for the new world we are to build. Blessings and thanks!

 

Daniel DeFoe

His book, Journal of a Plague Year, intrigued and scared me when I read it at age 11. Sometimes now I wonder if my concerns with plagues and what it might have been like to live, as just a regular person, in societies going through such things, or, say, in Germany as Hitler took power, were either a presaging of the world I find myself in now, or a line into such experiences. Not that it matters all that much, since I do believe that all knowledge is available to us if we Enquire.

Anyway, here we are in our very own Plague Year and as it becomes ever more terrifying and intense, at the same time the lessening of pollution on the planet has produced some rather immediate gains. We’re even seeing some plants- ferns in particular- here that we’ve not seen before. The Partner often accuses me of always assuming something good will happen, and in general I have to admit he’s right.

Notwithstanding, then, the complete absence of some supplies like toilet paper (I don’t understand why people stockpiled this but….) and bleach, and the fact that we’re supposed to stay home except for going to the grocery store (again, with empty shelves, one wonders about that too….) where things like milk and eggs have all but disappeared…and in spite of the even more terrifying reality of our government and its priorities and the lack of information one can believe…still. I decided that in every moment where I get blown out of sleep or concentration by anguish and worry and sorrow for all the suffering, and worry for my friends in Europe and elsewhere….I recite the all-purpose Buddhist prayer I was finally able to commit to memory. It’s been non-stop challenge and crap for us for some time, and when this hit I thought, ok, at last it is too much. So I made an effort to commit the simplicity of this to myself, and while at times it seems over the top to even conceive of such things, it helps more and more every day to provide perspective and refresh the ability to, as Buddha said, strive on. I naturally move on to the tree spirits and gods of the land and flowers, but the initial leap starts here:

May all beings be peaceful.

May all beings be safe.

May all beings be happy.

May all beings awaken to the truth of their own inner light.

May all beings be free.

SO now? The Dog requires my undivided attention. Yesterday I foraged out for his food, successfully which was a very good thing. He has a special friend at the place we go, who was worried about him not being with me…IS HE OK?????? I responded that he was sheltering in place as directed, and everyone laughed. I thought again how love really does unite us all, some how, some way. But I reaffirmed my solemn promise to spoil the dickens out of the Dog and now? he wants a snack and a walk. Luckily we’re in the middle of nowhere and can do that. Another very good thing.

Blessings and thanks, be well and mindful and remember we really are all One.

oh, my

Or, fun or what? OR life on Planet Clusterfuck. We’ve had a few direct socks to the jaw lately on the road to the shining city of stable place to live, pretty much all remnants of the Previous Tenant’s misfeasance. Today it looks like Fun With the Water Supply. The Partner, booted to the gills, is out on an inspection round which we fervently hope reveals Nothing. Being on a well, it’s always quite unnerving when the water comes out brown (possible leak in line). Green happens sometimes too, usually after the pipes have frozen and unthawed, and God knows how all that indescribable green oozy stuff gets in there. However, I feel hopeful because? In the recent bouts of storms, the only time our power actually went off was when a lightning bolt struck ground close to the yurt. This produced a sound I have never heard before, let’s just say. Things went BLACK for about three minutes, shock one supposes, then back to “normal”. So I figure, if we weren’t struck by lightning, things may be improving. Or our sang froid is deepening.

Which leads to the next meandering. Waking up is always, and has always been, a challenge. Almost on par with going to sleep, but that’s another story. Sometimes there’s just the old devils dancing across the quilt going nyahnyahnyah, sometimes new ones. Sometimes there’s music: Tannheuser (don’t ask me, I have no idea), Godsmack’s Whatever, marimbas, cellos, Nathan Frayne and the Nightsweats….but today? Today’s offering was an exposition on what free will means.

Having always considered that concept part of the patriarchal external enforced reality, I didn’t think it had any real application. It always seemed like a way to be told that, once again, You’re Doing It Wrong and MOREOVER It really IS all your fault. But this morning it seemed different.

It seemed to me that free will is another way of describing one’s THINKING when it is generated by the forces of ego, of the individual feeling separate from everything and not being aware of the actuality of Source…the unifying theory/reality/situation that, while it may not have been discovered by physics, certainly exists. So, then, one acts in accord with these thoughts and feels oh, so independent. Then they come together in a daily message which we often refer to as karma. And one can feel plagued by bad luck, forces of fate, whatever. OR, in some cases one can feel as though one really deserves all this great stuff because one is just so great oneself, greater than others and all the rest of it.

But in the end it is still, or it seemed to me this morning, what they refer to in AA as “stinkin’ thinkin'”, which in turn lead me to wonder whether “free will” like so many other things on this planet, is on a kind of continuum. One end is the egoic free will, and on the other? The free will that links up with the, if we can call it so, Source Continuum. And all those “decisions” one struggles with might be, if not easier, at least not likely to lead one right back into that deep hole one thought one was free willing oneself out of. Of course, one also has to avoid the non-free-will, non thought turning of it all over to “fate”. Which is starting to seem like a cross between the build-up of all those decisions crossed with one’s ancestral history.

It connected to something else I’d been thinking about for a while, after having seen one of Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s programs on finding such ancestral history, with well known people as the research subjects. In one instance, there was a recurring murder, one for each of, I think, three generations. The person whose history it was had no idea about the previous murders, although one had been experienced in this individual’s life. This finally connected with a knot I’d been chewing on, about my mother’s death.

I wasn’t present for any part of it, in fact hadn’t spoken to her for a few years. This has, needless to say, caused pain in my heart. She had the same general situation, healthwise, as my grandmother. Who also died without my mother, who also hadn’t spoken to her for years. As happened with my great-grandmother and my grandmother, from what little I was told. Aha! Self, I said: A pattern, aren’t you smart? But what does it represent? This is where you have to leave the old free will/fate stuff behind and understand that this isn’t necessarily a place, this planet, where you Make Decisions All By Yourself. There is a purpose, and this seems ever more like a huge school. It’s not likely you’re going to do well in a subject your teachers have not understood, much less mastered. The real point of free will, whatever it is, may be becoming able to discern the patterns and select the ones that are dynamic and harmonic, instead of the ones that feed that false sense of power over. So after all this cogitation, it seems most likely that nobody in my family ever really mastered relationships. *AHEM* Is that IT? I said to the blanket this morning, waking the Dog. Onward, then.

The thing about relationships, just to wrap this up and get on with sweeping the floor, is that they never ARE going to work if you don’t start at a kinship relationship with everything. Which is horizontal, not vertical. (We are all one, we’re not all exactly the same, and even though one can’t let everything devolve into Fate, there really IS, I think, a Fickle Finger of Fate that shows up from time to time. Just to see if you’re paying attention. ) From there you go to not judging, and the difficult not taking anything personally. I found it was good practice not to get mad at the table when I stubbed my toe, for example. This made it easier to not go into full Donald Duck mode with those around me, eventually. After all, *I* bumped into the table, sort of thing.

While, in this moment, the Partner is still Stressed even though the Plumbing Event did not happen (YAY), and the Dog still stoutly refuses to wear the boots I got last year (hollow claws + mud=what do you think?), there is some larger peace now. Personally I think every time one of us Figures Something Out, it helps everyone…or I like to think that anyway. Maybe free will boils down to having the ability to look at what you’re doing in a way that keeps you from putting your face into the what do you think? Maybe.

Meanwhile, blessings and thanks! And, as we try to remember: Kindness and humor are essential now and may we all survive the….er….”holidays”…..

bending spoons

Once, some time ago, we were vending at a fair in Humboldt County, and someone handed me a brownie. Which, not thinking about it much except for CHOCOLATE! and HUNGRY!, I ate. All of. And of course it was a “funny” brownie and I had quite an amazing and neverbefore experienced couple of hours, during which I somehow managed to make sales without talking and saw, right before me, the central axis of the world, extending up and down as far as vision could perceive, turning slowly, and all of us revolving with it. I found it comforting to finally see something I’d heard about in all my winding roads, to know, I guess, that something described as a Mystery was also a Reality. Along with, of course, millions of other things/realities/whoknowswhats.

For some reason, watching Dortmund and Barcelona spend a scoreless 90 some minutes today at the end of what has been, arguably, the Worst Summer Ever, I found myself remembering that world axis and the timeless spin of it. Which again was comforting because it IS good to know that the eternal verities are just that. Especially now since it seems as though that axis is playing a game of high speed twister with us all and Murphy’s Law is paramount

I could, of course, list ALL the things that have gone sideways, like the new cel phone that actually worked long enough to lull me into a sense of false security whereupon it decided to “become defective”, and the tomato plants that just said: ick, too hot, sorry but Dark Galaxy is not in your future this year. Then again, there have been the successes.

I’ll start with the grape sorbet because it was truly mind boggling. We have a native California grape plant and the grapes are prolific, delicious, and full of seeds and tough as boots skin. Cooking them a bit, putting them through a food mill, adding a bit of sugar and corn syrup (organic), then freezing according to some set of instructions I no longer remember produced something from right out there on the axis of the world. Well worth trying yourself if you have wine grapes, concord grapes, or native grapes.

The other success….is still in a formative, gaseous state for the most part. Readers of this blog will remember the Interesting Times we’ve had with our landlady. It has been a rather harrowing experience, let’s just say. This summer she was diagnosed with cancer, and moved on into another dimension about three months afterward. Family of course descended to see if anything was available for them…and learned, along with us, that not only was nothing available, it was a total clusterfuck. No property taxes paid, nor mortgage. Garbage stuffed in a back shed for years. And of course, hoarding. It was a hard fact to grasp, apparently, that when you don’t pay off principal you don’t have equity OR own the secured item you are paying for. They were Not Happy when the actual owners of the property said, we are going to foreclose now unless you can come up with a better idea. Naturally none of their ideas involved putting up money, and after a thrilling first conversation with said owners, who I had been assured knew all about us living on the land and turned out to have absolutely no idea, it was clear that an Idea had to be come up with, by me since nobody else was going to do it, so that We could have a more permanent dog house. We are working on that at this writing. There were also animals: horses. I got up at the crack of dawn to feed them and the other denizens, make sure they had water and deal with the flies. This last bit made me feel awful after I accidentally spilt a drop of the undiluted, produced by Bayer, fly spray on my forearm and got bleeding ulcers in a day. Anyway this went on for weeks and finally the word came down that at last they might really need to be re-homed. It took a few more weeks but I finally found a stellar place for them. They posed for pictures when the horse lady came to meet them and smiled and twinkled. Knowing they are safe and happy is, really, the other success of the summer.

So. It’s been gruesome, Gentle Reader. But as usual, the eternal verity is what gets a bear through. The Divine permeates everything, and it is more a question of what one is prepared to do with that reality than anything else. Blessings and thanks!!!!

the famous exploding head

Yes indeed, Gentle Reader, that would be MY head. Things have been so far above standard gnarly of late that about the only thing to do has been pray. However, when I got an email from an old friend who was concerned about my lengthy blogging absence, remarking that since my life has more twists and turns that seem humanly possible she was worried, I thought, perhaps an update would not be amiss.

Our living situation here has always been a bit…..tricky. Due largely to the fact that our landlady has been a bit…..tricky. In fact, we have just now learned HOW tricky since she is terminally (probably) ill and Stuff has Floated to the Surface at an alarming rate. A long, sad story and a big part of it has been me having to actually face the facts of the whole thing. (Partner: You see good in people even when it isn’t there. Me: Really?. Partner: YES) Plus figure out what to do so we don’t find ourselves living on a sidewalk somewhere. I look like I have Parkinson’s most days now what with the nerves firing on all cylinders all the time. HOWEVER.

There appears to be resolution in the offing and all will, we hope, be well. Nothing goes smoothly and dealing with County officials and Social Security applications and relatives who crawl out of the woodwork and all the rest of it…well. To be expected in today’s milieu, I guess, but it has been almost more than this bear could..well, bear. However, we still have a home and potentially a Permanent one, and while there will be more on this Incredibly Amusing and Horrendous Story, there have been some successes in the midst of all the Challenges, too.

There were horses living here, right next to us. I often took care of them and we always dealt with positively biblical levels of flies, and then mosquitoes from the above ground pool and horse troughs. A home, it transpired, had to be found for the horses in the middle of this Situation. In a place like this such a thing isn’t as easy as you might think since there are lots and lots of unwanted horses after people get them and realize a)it’s expensive and b)it takes actual work. But. I persisted and? found an absolutely splendid home for them. Pictures were duly sent and the two of them looked like totally different creatures, they were so happy. So that was good. Also? NO FLIES. Happy. Drained pool and troughs: NO MOSQUITOES. I am calling that a WIN.

Another striking thing that showed itself was that, like Camus, I found, in the depth of this horrible winter, an invincible summer in myself. While spiritual teachings have largely, in this culture, been turned into blunt instruments to keep everyone in fear and in line, the fact is that the Divine does exist. Everywhere and all the time. And it is there when you call it. You may indeed be at the brink, at the last straw, in despair and fear. But. The Divine is there to remind you that you take another breath, you step back, you allow things to reveal themselves and gradually, come to a higher point than ever seemed possible. And, hey. So what if you have to do this a thousand times a day? Which leads me to:

Pickles. The weather has just been gruesome this summer and the garden has not been the usual resplendent refuge. We have, however, had zucchini and the Partner suggested making pickles. I thought for a minute and then realized that a simple refrigerator pickle would be just the thing. We happened to have a jar of Trader Joe’s organic hot and spicy dill chips that had no pickles but had the pickling juice. Zucchini spears were duly inserted into said juice. Results in three days? Outstanding.

Otherwise the world seems to be mirroring the struggles we experience here (the irrational people, the bursts of Bad Behavior), and it looks more and more like full blown good vs. evil, which I always had trouble believing in, in the past. It is absolutely beyond mind boggling, and the fact that Bloviating Pustule thinks he can buy Greenland? Is so insane that it taxes one’s credulity that it has been…acknowledged as anything but completely psychotic. And when we go to the doctor now, they ask us if we take “a certain medication for a certain (x) condition”….naturally when I said, you really think some ringer is going to come in here for this fantastic non service? REALLY? and they say, well you MIGHT be an illegal trying to get a prescription refilled….we need to know you know what you’re taking….well. Let’s just say there are days happy hour starts Early. People are definitely crazy and things are definitely strange…but, blessings and thanks as always!!

report from the front

Holy Moly Cow and Toledo, Gentle Reader. I feel, for the most part, like a figure in a Gary Larson cartoon most of the time these days, especially the deer who has a bull’s eye on his chest, whose companion remarks, bummer of a birthmark, Hal.

Two good things happened, of course. I found a hawk feather, and at long last met a truly like minded individual here. Politically speaking. Which was astounding enough, given that the chances of that are remote, for the most part. Anyway, we were in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, talking about politics and restorative agriculture, biodynamic farming, and generally making the other people in the room writhe in their seats. After all, when you speak out against Monsanto around here it’s tantamount to “get the rope” time.

These two events seemed to kind of illustrate the knife edge we’re all walking on right now: the transcendent is ALWAYS there, always available. The death struggles of the current way of things on this planet are increasing in strength and volume, and if one doesn’t remember the transcendent? Things get grim in a hurry. ( There’s a reason the two liter bottles of alcohol are always on sale at our local drug store, in short.) The fact is, NOBODY can stand things the way they are and the sooner we all start communicating the better off we’ll be.

But, back to quotidian reality. After another two week down time for internet and phone, which the Partner said I handled better than usual and seemed to demonstrate Mercury retrograde at its finest, I have had to deal with the current Dramatic Production in our lives. Having just crawled out of another lengthy detour through the swamp, this really was not what I “wanted”. While I can’t “write about it” just yet, it has most definitely been and continues to be the most in depth trip through fear and old attitudes ever undertaken by this bear. It turns out though that once you wade through the fear, you’re at a clearing where you can say, self? Hal? despite the birthmark let us do this differently, whatever that may mean. And whatever it takes. The aforementioned dismal state of affairs in the world doesn’t make this an easy proposition, of course, but that’s just it. We ALL have to do the hard things now, face ourselves and move forward. The options you think are all you have are largely the outlines of outmoded propositions which seem, upon looking at them, to have originated with the colonialist imperialism that has shaped our world at present. Non-starters. Making a new option is quite the endeavor, let’s just say. It helps to read some history at times like this so as to see exactly what it is you’re looking at, and it does appear that the greed and rapacity that mark the way this world is run came into a full bore, full court press, mode, oh, a couple thousand years ago. So? you ask. Well. For me, what this has meant is the dawning of an awareness that the crappy, nasty, life endangering behavior one encounters day to day is actually an extension of a long chain of such behaviors. It’s not PERSONAL. In much the same way I had to get over the shock I felt at how badly hurt, physically, I had been in the hospital that festive time a few years ago, the shock that anyone could be that way….I now have had to surmount realizing that same thought about my current surroundings and situation. Oddly, this has given me some confidence. Patanjali wrote a long time ago that someone who cultivated yoga in themselves actually gained a level of protection from the slings and arrows of outrageous individuals. I’ve decided that for now, what that means, is: if you don’t sling noxious material all around you, it won’t get tossed back at you. Others may be unsettled by this but it does confer a sort of Pass. And you get to do things a different way. We will report on the success of this approach, which I have decided is the only way it will BE, as more information comes in. Meanwhile, the garden is coming along despite various snafus, and I fully expect to have some home ground corn flour by winter. More on that, too, to come.

Meanwhile, blessings and thanks as always. Be careful, and take time to see what is being looked at. And, especially, be thankful for your friends!

back on the street again

Well, Gentle Reader, it HAS been a long time. Mercifully, however, another season in hell has completed and for once I think we may well have really, really Learned Something.

Last year was a doozy all the way around, and my little world’s bookends of death and fire were, while by no means extraordinary, quite beyond anything that had gone before. I was unprepared for the collapse that occurred, even though it turned out the Partner was not (having passed this way before, he knew what was going to happen). My body seemed to sense that I was planning on carrying on as usual, and it issued a firm and not gentle NO. Somehow it orchestrated every tendons’ going kaflooey at once- tendonitis, fasciitis (not the culturally induced kind in this case, either), tear ducts and alveoli. The brain suffered as well and there was very little that got done in the final analysis. A lot of sitting on the couch, deep breathing, and the ever special fearless and searching moral inventory.

The good news is that you really can change habits, especially once you realize how many things are just that: habits. Fear is a habit, really. Being in the wrong situation with the wrong people is a habit. Feeling that you have to constantly achieve to be accepted is a habit. The fact that the world is in ever increasing chaos reveals that what we were accustomed to thinking was real, and now turns out not to be…that pattern is a habit, too.

AS usual, it comes down to basics. The rule is do unto others as you would have them do unto you. When they do unto you what you do not do unto them, time to go. No prevarication, no wishing, no falling back on habit. No blame and all of that sort of thing. I found it interestingly difficult to let go of some old resentments and attitudes until I realized that my habit was to feel those as supportive, instead of what they really were- anything but. The new practice of letting the day dictate itself instead of “having things to do”, does, just like they say, end up being far more productive than you could ever imagine. The realization that the thigh bone IS connected to the knee bone leads to integration and healing. Even the huge effort of overcoming all the fears that arise during such an intense change turns out to be simpler than you might think. Will I EVER be OK? is just a thought. Returning to the moment you’re in, attending to the requirements thereof, gets you to OK right on time. So, net net, I think I made it through yet another Dark Night. Of course, there was cooking.

I got on a dog biscuit kick, since I have a cookie cutter shaped like a dog bone. That reminded me of how much I used to like making rolled out and cut cookies. In another time, I made sugar cookies in shapes based on what people had in their yards that amused me (bears in their windows, pig statues in hidden gardens) and gave them to the respective creative neighbors. I hadn’t made any of these cookies for a long time and when I did this year? It was quite a success, a parade of bears and pigs and cows and Christmas trees and shooting stars and moons and hearts. Another night we had what I considered to be a personal triumph. Making all these things with paws that felt like they had nails in them was tricky but nonetheless I forged ahead, tried a new schedule for making sourdough bread, and had a good result. Then I made some ricotta, thinking I’d make ravioli for dinner. Think again, of course, because the weather has been horrendous and we had both a road washout and no power. I’d made filling for ravioli already, with the ricotta and chard from our perennial chard installation, but clearly any cooking was a non-starter, literally. So. I made SANDWICHES with the sourdough and the ricotta filling and we grilled them on the woodstove and they were wonderful. Like something one had actually Intended to Do, sort of thing. Evidence, truly, that staying in the moment pays off. And here is someone who really knows that, for sure:

Blessings and thanks and happy new year, let us hope anyway!