Archive for the ‘Life Now’ 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.

 

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!

 

going outside

It has been some time since words appeared to me in any kind of sensible, translatable manner.

What with everything that’s happened (last year for example), IS happening (the terrifying plummet this country is taking into fascism and the cognitive dissonance impressario, aka bloviating pustule), and the unexpected intrusion of heartbreak from a helicopter crash , things got slowed down and ALMOST at a place of stillness. This whole time period has been mostly about seeing what is going on inside, around here anyway, and while that level of reflection is necessary in order to move forward, it’s not generally the most fun you’ve ever had. Things seem to be so stark right now, what appears to be obvious good and evil and combinations thereof, that as always about the only thing one can do is BREATHE, and focus on the beauty that exists and the good that one can do oneself.

SO. The Partner decided that it was time for the Dog to go leashless now that we have this enormous backyard, so to speak, for Long Walks. Once my brain manifested and I thought: “bring treats!”, the whole process got a LOT easier. And here, today, we see the result above. We go outside, the Dog and I, and wander around at length. It takes him a long time to get everything smelled, after all, and there is the additional pressing matter of Letting Everyone Know The Dog Is Here Now. It’s been interesting to watch him stake out ever larger territory, reinspecting previously peed on spots and applying any necessary touch ups.

As always, I get up thinking, ack, my back! or I don’t want to or I don’t have time or, or, or…..and then I realize: this is a grand opportunity of the sort that doesn’t often come. To be able to step out of my door and directly into nature and wildness with the Original Goofball, the Dog, is wonderful. It’s also quite a workout and improving for the legs. The other really spectacular thing is that while we’re out there a whole different sort of thing happens and the what if’s and to do’s and memories and everything recede and assume their proper proportions. Even though there are rattlers and every kind of biting bug and tick, and wild pigs and mountain lions out here, it feels incredibly calm. You can feel those who live on this hill, furred and feathered, watching us and often even coming out, saying, you are welcome here, don’t be afraid. Today the hummingbird came out in the morning and reminded the Partner and the Dog that it was high time for the feeder to be tended to.

I am grateful for all of this, even though it is challenging and precarious and fires and twenty acres oh my! and we keep finding out more things that the Previous Owner did not take care of, more big bills and people to deal with, not to mention the fact that now we know we’re staying, it’s time to get our space improved, too. This has largely had the effect of making me want to hide, but that has also got to do with everything that has risen to the surface of my soul. Turns out this is a thorough going renovation. I feel quite hopeful about it all, though, especially since when our neighbor across the road took it upon himself to give our number to a contractor to fix the mobile whatever it is next door, and I get a call from some totally unknown person on an unsolicited mission, I was able to (1) get that guy to laugh even though he was expecting to make some money, and (2) politely tell the neighbor that even though it was incredibly sweet of him to be thinking about something so totally out of his concern, we really are moving along on our own, thank you very much. As amazing as it is when people think they must stick their muzzles into things that are not their business, it is even more amazing when one can deal with that as what it is, a momentary error message, and have everyone move forward with minimal raised fur. Progress is being made. Now if I only had a magic wand to wave over Washington D.C.

Blessings and thanks to you all, as always!

moving right along

Spring sprang around here for sure. The only wild flower that hasn’t appeared thus far is St. John’s Wort, and I’m still holding out for it. I’ve managed to get some gargantuan tasks accomplished, things that went undone during the weeks of my…er….impairment, let’s say. The Dog seems to be turning into Einstein, what with things like not sneezing in your face any more, being able to stay out of the foxtails on walks, and general Presence. He IS quite a jumper, loving to fly, so I guess it wasn’t all that much of a surprise when he jumped right up onto the counter in the Farm Supply where we get his food, and he is a Favorite Dog. There was the usual moment of stunned silence, then everyone started laughing, including the Dog. Not quite as much as he laughed the day he rolled in hay and I had to come out, get him, and clean him off…that was a sidesplitting experience for HIM, anyway.

The thing that continues to astound me is the garden. I mean, we had three feet of snow. It froze. It flooded. And? the roses and jasmine and figs and even: PEACHES, not to mention raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries are all going completely off the hook. I got the bare root trees planted and had an over 50% survival rate, which pleased me. The vegetable seeds I planted last week are already sprouting, the cucumbers and corn and beans (I think, since I did my usual draughtspersonlike diagram of where everything is…) and I found myself dancing around the smart pot they’re all in.

But really? I think what is the most astonishing part of this, and what I kind of hold in my hands like a shimmering bubble afraid it will burst, is the fact that for the first time, certainly in recent memory, and maybe ever…I feel filled with JOY. I mean, seriously Gentle Reader. Don’t ask me how but it is like the big pile of YEUGH burying me just got…taken away. The light hurts a bit and one is uncertain on the paws at times but all in all, it is a quantum difference. Yes, the Daily Situation is a nightmare and I still don’t watch “news” not wanting to break the TV or anything…but there is a hope present now, a huge kind of radiance. So. Either I’ve finally gone nuts, or progress has been made.

Partly it is probably recognition of the fact that just because there is enormous pain and suffering all around- it doesn’t help at all to be ticked off about it. It helps to do your best where you are. However insignificant it may seem, as Gandhi said. The blows that fall on us as human beings are quite often heavy and almost unbearable…but a new day does come, and the big thing may just be laying down all your thoughts about how you feel about all of it. Feel it, yes. Then change the subject.

Blessings and thanks and love!

life with weather

More time has passed here, Gentle Reader. AS usual it has been closer to the Hell side of the equation than one would like. We had gale force winds and 3-5 feet of snow a week or so ago- and generally speaking? it doesn’t snow here, and if it does it’s a matter of inches. So this was different. Fortunately the Dog LOVED it and provided some moments of joy and levity as he flew through the snow, sunk down into it, gobbled mouthfuls up, and sprang up for another flight.

But different it was. To say the least. We were snowed in, in fact, which was kind of weird. We had no power for close to a week. Did I say how cold it was? No water anywhere but fortunately we had snow to melt, and to pack in the refrigerator so that part of it wasn’t Awful. There was also rainwater (yes, that too) to use to flush the toilet. One day a few days into the experience I was in our local grocery store on a fruitless quest for water, which was open because they had a HUGE generator, and a woman who works there and I were laughing uproariously about the excitement of having a flush toilet again….some time in the future. People were walking around in total stress mode- expectable given that there were about 42,000 people without power.

Some good things happened of course. I learned how to cook effectively on our wood stove. It’s a Jotul, which is the kind of stove the guy on New Scan Cooking lugs around for his outdoor soirees, and it is really quite extraordinary what cooking on wood is like. It’s FANTASTIC. We roasted cabbage and meat on the coals directly and it was a revelation. I made a kind of coq au vin (leftover red wine from the holidays) which was incredible, since I just put everything in a pan, covered it, put it on the stove, turned the chicken once and 40 minutes later, virtual perfection. The fact that the smoke from the candles made my lungs crunk up was almost an aside.

The real thing that happened, though, was this. Prisoners are used extensively here to fight fires and do road work, and this storm tore trees up by their roots and pulled huge limbs across roads and it was…horrible. There was a lot of sawing to be done before the power people could even get in, thus the prisoners. We wound up finally being able to get out of here and went on quests for water about three times. I waved and smiled at the Guys in Orange each time, as is my habit. The first time they squinted back at me with their Game Faces. By the third and last time, I actually got SMILES and waves back. It was a real moment of communication and understanding and from that standpoint, mind boggling, not to put too fine a point on it. It reminded me that we don’t, in fact, have to do earth shattering things to make a positive difference. We just have to be here. Now.

As difficult as that has been for some time now, it still turns out to be the basic instruction for not going totally bananas. Things look quite grim in this country right now, really, and every reminder one can receive about how love and kindness are the bottom line is a very good thing. Even when they are punctuated by lengthy periods of tooth grinding.

As always, blessings and thanks!

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!

forty days, thirty nine nights

And of course it FEELS like all eternity has passed, but when I heard that the Carr fire had started 39 days ago, on the 40th day, I thought, well.  JEESH.  I looked up the significance of the number 40, and found that it was, in the past, considered to be equivalent to Umpteen.  So there you are.

The wind shifted so we are once again enveloped in smoke.  Yesterday we saw blue sky, clouds, the mountains for crying out loud, and stars.  It was like a dream.  Today we are back to what has become typical:  oppressively hot, airless and turgid daily reality.  It is quite fatiguing, probably because of the low oxygen presence, but this has not kept us from the Quotidian Beast Slaying and, of course, cooking.

On the Beast Slaying? Honestly.  Part the first was getting our trash removed.  We have to take it to the dump ourselves, of course, and after a certain amount of time it’s a toss up as to whether it is nobler to go to the dump every month or just get a container once a year.  We don’t actually have that much trash, which I comfort myself with in times of demoralization.  Anyway, getting the trash picked up turned out to be like a whole season of Jerry Springer.  It strikes me as odd that the harder it is to find a job and make money? The more reluctant the people are who do have jobs to do them.  The first person I called to do this said, well, MY time is REALLY VALUABLE.  So I’d like you to come along with me to help.  And pay $30 an hour for the privilege of same.  We did not take that option.  Finally I found a delightful young man who, although apparently incapable of following directions, did finally arrive on scene and perform the requested work.  SUCCESS.  I still don’t know what part of: it’s the next driveway after the one with the address on a horse pen, is mysterious, but it doesn’t seem to be something anyone can figure out so once again we found ourselves running down the driveway with flailing arms.  Still, it got done.  Beast the second was even more formidable and took yet another week to resolve.

It turns out that having a post office box is tantamount to having DANGEROUS NE’ER DO WELL tattooed on your forehead.  A company, who shall remain nameless, who I use in connection with my website sales, decided that it had to have Proof of my Physical Address.  They froze my account pending establishing a location for me where? who knows, men in black will race up and kick the door down any time now.  Since I cannot get mail here, I do not use this address for anything, so I don’t have anything with it appearing, like utility bills (which I don’t have since we’re off the grid, another concept that is seemingly unfathomable) or, even funnier, brokerage accounts, which were what this company asked for.  We went back and forth, I sending things, them rejecting them, until finally I sent a copy of my State issued Resale License, since it does have this address.  I’d asked if this would be acceptable and what non responsive item on the drop down menu should be used to describe said page.  So you may be able to imagine my state of mind when I once again called the company, got someone in an archipelago somewhere, which someone said, Oh, No.  WE CAN’T ACCEPT THIS ONE BECAUSE IT ISN’T AN EIGHT AND A HALF BY ELEVEN PAGE.  I came completely unglued.  There was loss of temper.  There was even a  bit of what might be called yelling, and the Dog retreated to his bed as he does when kafuffle rears its ugly head.  Somehow after I once again demanded, and finally got, a “supervisor”, public records were checked and whaddaya know, they “granted my case”.  Since everyone I told this story to said, oh, that company doesn’t do that, that never happens to ME, and so on, I was reasonably proud of myself for not succumbing to total paranoia and thinking this was Personal.  No sirree bob.  Just business.  It also made me think about how the fact of it is that I tend to hide in general and be very private in areas where I feel things are nobody’s business.  Like, where I live I guess.  And  no, you don’t get my phone number if I sign your petition, either.  So things like this are to be expected, even if they are beyond the beyond over the top ridiculous. One person said to me in the course of all this that they “required these informations” because of, wait for it! The Patriot Act.  It’s the government, they said.

So there was plenty to think about as I made grape juice in the food mill, fig jam, fig pizza, many OTHER pizzas, pesto, basil puree, and the continuing zillion zucchini things, along with every imaginable kind of cucumber salad and salads made out of melon balls and wontons stuffed with herbs and vegetables.  Every year something goes bonkers in the garden, and this year in spite of the ghastly conditions we have had cucumbers coming out our ears (41 in the kitchen right this minute).  The fig tree has been prolific and the basil has been mind boggling.  The melons are coming in now too. We expect tomatoes late again since it is just now not 115 every day so maybe flowers can set and….who knows.  Anyway it really is true that once you grow your own, nothing else is as good so all of us take heart from the garden.  The other day I even saw several swiss chard seedlings around the pot where we’d had the Perennial Chard Installation for the past three years.  Happy!

So as I pondered the ever more dismal happenings in the world overall (and by the way? the LPV or loser of the popular vote will now be herein referred to as BP, or, bloviating pustule) and wondered what the world would be like without Aretha, I was able to keep in the forefront of things the fact that yes, it does get grotesque periodically.  But there is still Real Life, and the beauty and grace and grandeur of that is what one must attend to if one wishes to stay upright and civil.  Given that such attendance includes everything from cleaning the toilet to watching the Dog reduce customers in the farm store to giggling joyful individuals moving blindly forward for a kiss from his Divine Doggy Snout, there’s no need to panic unnecessarily about where to place one’s attention- unless of course you’re navigating a moving vehicle.  It’s just all present, and my concern often is that so many are not partaking of the feast right in front of them.  Listening and observing seem to be overlooked skills more often than not.  Words, for heaven’s sake, don’t mean what you think they do, and whole concepts, like saeculum, are no longer to be found.  (Saeculum is an old measurement of time referring to the time period between and event and the death of the last person who experienced it.  Food for thought there.) And. Yes indeed, it is often through one’s tears that this partaking occurs, but the disengagement from things like conversation, cooking one’s own food, paying attention to what’s in that food, paying attention to the beings around you, watching where you’re going sort of thing, seems to be increasing exponentially.  I firmly believe that if everyone smoked weed and had a dog? It’d be a lot nicer world.  The same goes for making pizza dough.  There is a LOT of bang for your buck with pizza dough after all: pizza, calzone, and focaccia, just for starters.  Also, just simply being Present makes things smoother, oddly (or not).  It’s not necessary to fill the world up with stuff, and it turns out to be a lot more fun to just pay attention and see what happens.  Even when what happens is Not What You Wanted At All, things are always moving and nothing lasts forever in one condition.  Not to mention the always available opportunity to learn from your mistakes.  Back to it, for now, with renewed praying for..er…Self Control When Things Get Dicey.

Blessings and thanks!!!!!!

aside from soccer

It’s been a very good thing that the World Cup has been on because otherwise? Recent events might have been almost undealable with, minus the distracting flow of the juxtaposition of luck, skill, politics, and byzantine rules.

It’s been tough sledding for us earthlings, and the fraying nerves and fear and tension are all visible in the outside world.  So too, though, is a depth and kindness, which, given where we are, is quite encouraging.  This being kind of an Epicenter of Ugh, and all, the more prevalent occurrences of kindness and restraint are striking.  Not that it isn’t still a bastion of  oxymoronic white supremacy which is ever more sickeningly mind boggling and seems to be on the ascendancy when one is feeling badly.  But.  The necessity of remembering that unity is real and duality is an illusion seems to be gaining ground even if it is in a bit by bit fashion.

Given the expeditionary quality of life now, every experience sort of requires a new way of looking at it.  New in the sense that as a human on earth we may not have always looked at things in their entirety, which is to say we are each part of a huge, colossal whole, which actually has sentience and thinks (for lack of a better word, Gentle Reader.  It’s HOT here and the brain does not do well over a prolonged period) for itself.  There is a motive power in all this, a cohesion, which we have, in this culture and world as I see it anyway, been separated from for….ages.  It’s not top down, in short, and far from it.  So every experience and relationship which has been structured in that way is up for dismantling whether we like it or not.  And life being what it is, we’re all presented with these little challenges from time to time.

In that vein, I’m happy to report that progress is possible and things do get better, especially when you don’t have a fixed image of what that is or might be.  My most recent challenge of this nature came upon me when I was already reeling from last winter’s brush with homelessness, and various other decisions that had to be made based on actual reality and not what one wished it was.  This most recent Learning Experience involved “Family” and Death.  And long standing resentments along with fictionalized histories and a large serving of guilt gravy.  Manifesting into shape many of my deepest fears and scraping open so many old wounds it seemed impossible.  The Dog just looked at me in a worried way, and the Partner reminded me that in the big picture, none of it really had much to do with me at all even though it appeared that it did. (Really? sometimes he is just SO IRRITATING.  Being right all the time and all.) In an almost funny mix of mistaken identity (on every level) the thing unfolded and I felt at times as though I just couldn’t do it this time.  But then? It became clear that all of it was, essentially, a story, and one in which I could choose to participate.  Or not.  And that decision had to be made on what IS, which is that colossal cosmic reality, and not on the top down story, which was the mistaken identity happy roundelay.  A rather new experience, really.  Not easy.  But totally doable.  It did involve a lengthy view of just how other people had seen me which was, of course and in this case especially, a bit challenging. (OK, I cried a lot) Then it involved the realization that all of it, and I do mean ALL OF IT, was in essence a story, and since it was a story that did not truly include me, I could wish it well and say good bye.  And rest in the flow of that colossal, cosmic reality knowing that however things look, there is something behind the apparency and that something sustains throughout, no matter how it turns out or looks.  In the midst of the pain and conflict, I saw for absolutely sure that the essence of things really is love.  Whether it is received or not, kind of irrelevant.  It just IS.  When you have negative experiences while you are “growing up”, it can lead you to believe things that are simply not true, many of which revolve around your supposed “badness”.  The world is full of people acting out of all that pain and misunderstanding, much of which is fomented of course on a political level, but nonetheless.  It is possible to stop doing that and just step into the open space that reveals itself.  Then you see what happens.  It helps if you have a dog.  Just saying.

Blessings and thanks and may we all continue to step into the real from the unreal, and turn the lights on for everyone.

pits, stakes, live tigers

No pictures yet, though, Gentle Reader.  We’re working on it but Technical Stuff appears to be in the same spot behind the barn door as everything else right now.

Not that it hasn’t been exciting.  A dozen fire trucks raced over our dirt road a few days ago after we heard a loud explosion.  The Partner saw smoke, and all of it was less than a mile away from us.  Seeing as how we were already surrounded by fires it was, as I told a friend, just the tiniest bit unnerving.  However, the fire people around here are probably stuffing their wings into their fire suits, is all I can say.  Once again they saved us.  Once again I felt exactly what it’s like to have overwhelming fear just materialize like a giant fug in your face, and also exactly what it’s like to say, not right now, fear.  I’m still rattling around a bit but ….oh well.

Shortly after that I found a frog atop my anti-depressant meds, and I thought, oh, my.  Even the frogs need help around here.  Or perhaps the frog was just saying, I’m coming with you.  FROGS PANIC TOO.

Meanwhile, though, the gardenia has bloomed and we’re already casting around for the hundredth zucchini recipe, which is all wonderful.  Beans are flowering and there’s a chili on the way.  The rhubarb plant appears to be on its last legs, but you can’t win them all- it’s been over 105 here every day and probably that is just more than a rhubarb can take.  The garden continues to be what keeps us all more or less sane, I think.  The Dog loves to eat mint and rose petals, the Partner manages and creates magnificence, and I find myself roaming around in it when my mind is so unsettled I can’t sit still.

Which, let’s face it, has been the norm of late.  I had to make a very difficult personal decision which, while the correct course of action, broke another piece of my heart.  Reality bites, in short.  But, I made ice cream (successfully caramelizing sweetened condensed milk in the microwave, miracle of miracles for me anyway) and salsa and marinades and zucchini 800 ways (new favorite: slice zucchini, place in oiled frying pan and let caramelize, about four minutes a side.  You put inch long pieces of scallion and a bit of salt on top.  When it’s all brown and great, remove from pan, remove oil, and place a tablespoon of red wine vinegar in the still hot pan.  Put squash back in, make sure it is mixed completely with vinegar, and toss with shredded fresh mint.  Let come to room temperature.  Eat.  Heaven.).

It’s not enough to keep the World at bay though and once again I am really, really wondering what to do since periodically it seems to me that all the meditating and right mindedness attempts are not even close to enough.  I don’t know how it is other places in this country but here? It couldn’t be more unfamiliar if one landed on a distant rock in space.  People are behaving beyond badly, and of course are given the example and go ahead by an individual who pretends to be President.  And we all know all the rest of it, of course, and how ANYONE can sleep knowing what is going on at the border (however much the doers of this resort to the Bible), how much money the for profit prisons are making both on incarcerating terrified refugees and the other huge percentage of American citizens they house, and how many people are about two weeks away from being out on the street, how the very air we breathe is being poisoned….   it is like a continuing gash in one’s entire being.  This is not OK, not any of it and I am at a loss to understand just why it continues.  This country is now being “run” by a crew of individuals who would probably be better placed in Pelican Bay.  And, yes.  It’s change, the cosmos is moving and shaking, shi/f/t happens, what you detest in someone is present in you also. Still, one really must not collaborate with what is poison, thinking it will be OK.  Even the Buddha said that.

The comparisons people make to the 60’s and 70’s  make me wacky too.  It is not the same and pretending it is seems to me to be the worst sort of magical thinking .  People had some heart in those days overall and were prepared to take a stand when things were clearly wrong even if those things didn’t seem to immediately affect them personally.  And there were consequences for those stands.  But things did change: civil rights, environmental rights, women’s rights.  Abortion, for example.  If you’re opposed to abortion then one must assume you’re opposed to the death penalty and war as well?  Roe v Wade showed that it was reasonably clear that a woman should not have to die either figuratively or literally (which DID happen) because she becomes pregnant unintentionally or unwillingly.  No other person really should be able to say what remedy is available and what isn’t based on their supposed reverence for life, or assume that all women are fluff brains who don’t know what they’re doing- along with all those miscreants in the hood who clearly need to be put in custody.  And why do we even have to call being treated with a sense of dignified equity a RIGHT?  How has it become a right not to be shot by over militarized police because you don’t straighten your legs out on the curb?  Or a right not to have your boss overcome you physically? And while we’re on it?  What the hell is sexual assault?  I looked up the words rape and assault in the dictionary and roared.  Assault is taking something (note: THING) by force.  Rape is “illicit carnal knowledge of a woman without her consent.” ILLICIT CARNAL KNOWLEDGE? Consent? Consent is not  saying yes so you won’t be killed. And, rape is not about sex aka carnal knowledge, which is a first step in dealing with it in a cultural context. It  is about power, control, and pain. Just like capitalism turns out to be for the most part unless you’re part of the tip of the pyramid.

Oh, dear Gentle Reader.  I do hope the zucchini recipe balances the excess verbiage.  And after all.  Mexico lost out in the World Cup, but the recent elections look most promising- even if you have, up to now, had to listen to Telemundo to find out they even happened.  Meanwhile, we pin our hopes on Uruguay, maintaining some level of balance and common sense, and send you blessings and thanks as always!