Archive for the ‘Some things I read’ Category

problem solving

That seems to be the current, non-stop, project.  I find myself wondering just how many problems there can be in one bear’s life but it is one thing after another at present.

Aside from being down to our last jerryrigged french press coffee pot (after the plunger broke on the plastic one we’d been using while the blessed elixir was being made this morning,  and we took the plunger from the one where the beaker broke to smithereens), and aside from the password on my Mac being rejected so I can’t log on with any confidence and the hours are running out on the time my browser will work at all due to the Age of the Device (“the logic board can’t talk to the new systems”), AND aside from the fact that the carefully sequestered dollars for laptop went instead to our Vet because the Dog got an ear infection and how much fun we are having cleaning and medicating his ear I’ll leave to your imagination…..aside, as I say, from all that…….

I find myself pondering the utility of things.  My mind has been at a standstill lately, perhaps because all the space between my ears is taken up with problem solving.  After a time of just pulling all the wriggling bits back together after the actually rather considerable destruction wreaked by, well,  entropy and nature…..I re-embarked on basics.  Scrubbing mildew off walls (an issue in yurts, it turns out.  The walls sweat and the power outages and what not made for a fungal fun-fest all around), cleaning up the storage container “section” next to the tub and scrubbing everything THERE, and doing all the recycling that piled up from November when the Partner got sick again, kicking off the pretty much non-stop fun fest of this winter (don’t think THAT wasn’t fun, either.  I had a literal car full of bottles and milk jugs and dish soap containers and beer cans….which took about 40 minutes to sort through and netted me the astonishing sum of $5.  The good news is that the car now smells like slightly spoilt milk instead of gasoline.)…I realized that even though I am MUCH less vigilant than I used to be when everything got cleaned once a week whether it needed it or not, there is still a quality of Sisyphus-ness to it all which makes it rather more of a challenge to get motivated than seems proper.  I mean: I do all this stuff over and over and over.  It needs to be done.  And it’s a rather St. Augustine-ish proposition, the reward of patience being patience sort of thing.  In short- one has a happy moment of yes I did that and then….all over again.  I feel the same way about our efforts to snag some legal tender, too.  Over and over and over and….????? it’s hard to know what to think about any of it, except that it appears not to be working all that well and the prospects are, to say the least, rather obscured by clouds.

So.   As I wondered just how much I want to participate in the totentanz of daily life here in paradise, balance it with what can actually be done and what looks like it’s coming down the pike any minute both small and large, throw in a few times where the body goes sideways and refuses to come out of its room….it all just came to a cacophonous head, in short.  I decided for a minute or two anyway to just give up.

It felt good for a minute.  Just to say, OK, this IS it.  Enough already.  I’ve tried as hard and as long as I can.  Sayonara, where’s the airport?

But of course, that’s not what I’m going to do.  Give up, I mean.  I have no idea what I AM going to do, what shape things will take, or anything.  But it will be different if only because my thinking about it is different.  Which is interesting, because:

In this current period of OMG, I went back to, and read, what saved me much earlier in my life in what still ranks as The Most Awful Time Ever, by which I mean High School.  And what that was, was: Winnie the Pooh.  Julia Child.  Krishnamurti.  Sherlock Holmes.  Lao Tzu.  My lifetime companions, really.  Especially Pooh.  So I’m  humming more and reminding myself that somehow, without doing, it all gets done.  And you never know what might happen, but honey’s always a good thing.  And maybe “goals” and “objectives” and all that are just ideas.  Not all ideas work for everyone all the time.  So I’m changing mine a bit or maybe it’s that I’m going back to what I USED to think before I went out in the world and got all Involved.  And that is that the Universe is a lot smarter than I am, or anyone else for that matter really,  so I’m going to let It take the lead…let Nature take its course.  I suspect this will be far more successful than I can, at present, imagine.    I’m hoping so, anyway.  Anyway the thought is to OBSERVE and not put a lot of energy into FORMULATING stuff. This also means no churning. And: Change direction based on observation of Nature, without expectation or hope that things will be some way other than they actually are.  Living with that completely promises to be interesting.

As always, thank you, blessings, and….we’ll keep you posted on Pooh-ish Realizations…




Claude Levi-Strauss

Having read Tristes Tropiques and being sad when it ended, I actually lugged The Origin of Table Manners with me on a long trip through Mexico. ( And read it there, moreover, while I had real deal amoebic dysentery in the freaking jungle.  Way to have fun!)  So, I was saddened to see that Claude Levi-Strauss died over this past weekend.   He brought a fresh eye to his subject, as well as rigor, and whether or not the end product was something you agreed with or not, it was always stimulating and thought provoking to read his work.  I always enjoyed the way he opened up anthropological thought, and perhaps academic thought as a whole, by his more horizontal analysis of how things repeat through cultures, which was called “structuralism”.  I never understand these names, but anyway.  (Like, really, for example, what is Deconstruction?)  In any event, an original mind is no longer with us, and while that is the way of  life,  it is still a melancholy thing.  I hope he is on to another grand adventure.

Just To Amuse Myself

A header change.  Or whatever these theme things are called.  We’re still on the high seas of crazy, apparently, and such things amuse us.  

However! I have been thinking, mulling things over, as per usual.  A book on my shelf demanded to be taken down and opened, and it opened to some thoughts on Resonance.  An ancient sage was asked what the real meaning of the I Ching was, and he responded: Resonance.  Wow.  THAT set me right.   “An essential essence or sound within the Universe….the idea of putting yourself in touch with (this) essence of the Universe through the use of chance…..the essential ebb and flow of the Universe, if it is possible to tap into this at any time…it simply remains to find the correct or best method of doing so….” (from THE FORTUNE TELLER’S I CHING, Palmer, Ho and O’Brien.)  For a minute I had been drifting in a seemingly chartless Sargasso Sea of Blah and Yeugh.  This little paragraph reminded me what it is I have been in search of, working toward, however you want to say it, in my life.  It is Resonance.  No coinkidink then, that I am a practitioner of vibrational medicine.  Glad to get that cleared up finally, especially since I’ve been wondering lately if I’m just a hardheaded misguided relic.  People ask me what I “do” and honestly? I often don’t know what to say.  It’s hard to explain.  Plus one doesn’t want to sound like one is issuing an invitation to the Hall of Windchimes and Unicorns.  

So.  Other than that? Just waiting for the Partner to return so I can make my visit to the Shrine of Trader Joe’s.  And, it IS Friday.  We made it again!  Ghastly failure was at times a matter of touch and go, just like in A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME, but we made it once again.  For which I am thankful.

Oh, The Fun We’re Having

I feel an odd sense of hopefulness about developments in Iran. Perhaps I’m crazy. But there appears to be a sort of a glimmer of possibility for shift, which could create glimmers for shifts elsewhere. In other words, a move toward integrating old paradigms into actual positive reality. A loosening of the logjam. A breakup of the ice on the river (interestingly, the French word for that? is debacle.) It’s a melancholy hopefulness, of course, because these sorts of things, since they involve humans, are seemingly always very costly. The entrenched Powers That Be never want to give up their hog’s share of things. The “my way or the highway” deal. Why, indeed, can’t we just get along? We’re running out of time and also this way of doing things is not only unproductive. It’s boring. Not only taxing but tiring. ( Also it is wasteful, and Nature does not waste energy. We may be moving toward a point where Nature is going to say to us: Get off me you– you wastrels!)

I’ve also been thinking about real estate, and real estate agents. Suddenly there appears to be a realtor for about every 5000 people in this country. How did that happen? And why is that necessary? Also, who are they? It is interesting when you look into THAT. Personally, this is what I think. The concept of “owning” land is a little strange. It’s like owning air, or water, or sunlight. I read an interesting thing in, which is a wonderful daily email about ideas. It was about the American Revolution, and how a good deal of the support for it ultimately came from people living in America who wanted to own land so they could make lots of money. Hmmm. So, let’s see here. First, there are people already living here, the First Nations. Then, Europeans come, obliterate them, and say, “Only WE and Our Special Designees can own this land”. Which, while it isn’t anybody’s really, certainly wasn’t THEIRS to make that decision over. So then, other Europeans come, but the time line has shifted, and they’re lumped in with the First Nations: They can’t own land either. Revolution ensues, and what do you know? A different, supposedly more egalitarian set of rules comes up, so that if you have enough money, you can own land. ( Unless you’re a member of the First Nations. In that case, you are still and forever S.O. L.) A neat and orderly way of limiting ownership, when you think about it. Fast forward to today, where we have legions of real estate agents who do what exactly? Maintain and participate in the long, limited lineage of who may own property. Except that greed got in the way this time and now the whole thing has blown up. Which just, to my mind, shows you the faultiness of the original premise. *SIGH*

Meanwhile, off to the nursery for a potting soil purchasing extravaganza. My kind of land ownership.

Still Not Reachable for Comment

The brain has not checked in yet.  I’m starting to wonder if it has gone on a Himalayan trek without letting me know.

I imagine that trek is crowded with brains from all over, brains that need a break.  Brains that need a vacation.  Brains that are out of shape and think a festive hike in a different setting might get them back in fighting trim.  All I know is I feel pretty light headed.

Still.  I’ve been reading.  When I first got WIZARD OF THE CROW (  by N. Wa Thiongo, mentioned before) I was in the midst of a Nerve Destroying, Bone Shattering But All For the Best Personal Planetary Shift.  I knew this was a great book but my concentration wasn’t up to the task.  Instead I finished JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL by Susanna Clark which I loved, and which also seemed related to the work I was commencing on somehow.  Instructive, as it were, so I could focus.  Also I had broken part of my foot and needed something Long and Weighty to keep me occupied.  Now I am back to WIZARD and I must say: Fantastic.  It is hilarious , awful at the same time, wonderful and instructive .   Also, it is good to keep in mind while watching the news from Lagos.

Yesterday, when I finally had to admit I could go no further after seeing the contents of my mailbox, I staged a retreat to the backyard with THE MIRACLE LIFE OF EDGAR MINT, by Brady Udall.  Another hilarious and awful book, closer to home and requiring some unflinching attention, but I read almost the whole book in one afternoon.

So.  I feel better even though the brain is AWOL and I have to Go Outside and Act Like A Functioning Grown Up Now which I am not altogether sure I can pull off today.  But those two books gave me some food for the soul, and I thank their writers for that very much, indeed.

The Curious Case of the Dog Toy In the Afternoon

Well.  Here we are at another Monday.  It started off like a plane ride I took in the Yucatan once:  Lightening strikes all around, hitting the plane wings, children and babies screaming.  The cabin crew, through sheer brilliance or simply being used to plane wings looking like they were in flames, immediately dispensed mandatory beer and soft drinks all round, people started chatting in a mordantly flirtatious way.  More lightening, more bumpy ride.  Friendly wagers were made for who was buying if we ever got back on terra firma again. Eventually we landed, with a good bit of spark and flash of course,  and the entire plane erupted in cheers.

So that was this morning.  At this point I think I can at least see today’s landing strip.

Over the weekend, however, there were some features of interest.  It was simply too hot to do anything.  Doing nothing is fine with me as it turns out.  I lugged my texts out for study, then read some of my backlogged books.  Among them were A TESTAMENT OF HOPE, selected writings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.   I was reading his pieces on non-violent action, the kind of universal love rooted in the commonality of all our beings that funds that action, and the fact that such non-violent action is based not on passively accepting the bad, but on always working to engage the opposers in a dialogue that can open into awareness and understanding.  Which ultimately leads to a solution that works for all since it is truly based on common good.  Another book I was working through is COSMOS AND PSYCHE by Richard Tarnas, which is a terrific book about  history and humanity in light of influences and energies from nature and the cosmos.  He was discussing Jung and synchronicity, and how Jung had experiences where he was set in one way of thinking, then a seemingly random occurrence would reveal the larger elements at play in the situation and move his thinking in the direction of greater clarity and awareness.

Late yesterday afternoon The Partner and I were sitting in the backyard, when suddenly there was a rustle on top of the fence.  Our resident squirrel was passing through.  The Partner’s eyes got round, there was a sharp intake of breath, and he said, That squirrel’s got a DOG TOY.  And sure enough, our little friend was making his way carrying a red rubber squeak dog bone  toy in his mouth.  He was heading toward the tree he lives in, which happens to be in the yard where the Dachshund Sisters live.  Lately they’ve been barking their heads and tails off every morning, and I don’t mind telling you it is getting VERY OLD.

Suddenly inspiration struck Partner as follows.  Squirrel lives in tree above dogs.  Squirrel has no earthly use for dog toys, not even as a sofa in already comfortable leafy condominium.   (We see this squirrel dash up the tree and get into his house, where he will often stretch out with chin on paws gazing out at the sky.)  Dogs are ratters and badger hunters, thus squirrel pushes the bark, harass and hunt button.  Squirrel needs to get down from tree and forage in yard in a peaceable and non-threatening to dogs manner: In short, establish Detente with the Dogs.  

I submit to you, Gentle Reader, that there is more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in our philosophy.  This squirrel brought this dog toy, which he apparently quietly  liberated from another dog’s possession in another yard up the street, to the Dachshund Sisters as a gesture of peace and goodwill.  As in, look, here’s a toy for you.  I mean you no harm.  We can be friends.  You don’t need to eat me, I don’t need to eat anything you’ve got.   We can live together.  I’ll just leave this here for you, and you’ll know it’s from me ’cause of the squirrel scent.

This morning there were only a few, of course mandatory, sun salutation barks.  And a little squeaking.  

There you have it: The power of love Dr. King wrote about.  And for me, synchronicity: A reminder that things do work for the good, no matter how much the wings look like they’re catching on fire.

What The Heck Happened Here?

Yes, Gentle Reader.  I made it, once again.  Somehow it always seems like quite the achievement, even though this week has left me a bit…wordless.  The head hurts, as it so often does, it’s raining, and then there’s the question of what’s for dinner.

Tonight, that will be answered by Pizza.  I always (natch) make my own from a recipe in a shredded Gourmet magazine, circa 1986.  Whether I have the moral fortitude to go into the Closet of Danger (pantry) and see if there’s any pineapple will determine whether we’re goin’ Hawaiian tonight or sticking to the Italianate Pesto version.  Olives? Ham?  Decisions decisions……

And, wonderment.  I wonder if any of us ever see ourselves as we really are? As the people who like us see us?  Or is it more the other way:  We remember that sixth grade teacher who told us were were idiots, or overheard snickered remarks behind someone’s hands, and we take that as fact and description of ourselves.  When you think about it, it’s kind of crazy.  VERY kind of crazy.   We all want to know about ourselves, but we’re afraid to ask and to listen to the answers, especially if they’re good.  The “Shadow Self” can be composed of just as many  “good” qualities as “bad” ones, and sometimes it almost seems that humans are just as afraid of opening to love and beauty as they are of anything.  Adding that to the mix of what goes on in life, it can get to be pretty rough at times.  If our own gyroscope is off, functioning is going to be a challenge.  I can speak on this with Great Authority because I’ve only just lately found my gyroscope, even though it seems that it was there all the time.     Lots of time spent wandering in the woods, yes indeed.

This week I had opportunities to experience enormous joy, deep sadness, as well as a sense of futility at being unable to help.  But I remained (well, mostly, ok?) in balance, kept the mind and heart engaged, and ultimately was able to feel a peace in each situation (except the super happy joy one- I’m as impatient as a little kid to get to the next point in that story).  Having walked through fires until I was burnt to a crisp, I can turn around and see a much bigger landscape of life than I could before.  I wonder if this experience of …the Awful? in our lives is a pre-requisite for becoming more fully human.  Philip Gourevitch wrote in this week’s New Yorker about present-day Rwanda.  I was struck by how the people had really in huge measure changed the content of their thinking and behavior.  Rwanda now has the most women elected to representative government in the world- think of that!  As one result, things are improving because the focus is on the right items: How we live together, what the social contract needs in order to cohere, such as schools and roads and traffic laws and medicine and newspapers.  The President of the country has been through fires upon fires, and seems to have a higher focus perhaps because of it?   Not to say that things are wonderful but the shift is dramatic and striking, even though the knowledge is ever present that back sliding could occur and darkness could once more prevail.

Then I was thinking about the enormous impact the whole “cat and mouse” paradigm has on international relations; how governments and intelligence services are almost playing a deadly game all the time.  A game that sometimes seems to be perhaps divergent from solving the real problems.   The darkness is a heartbeat away.    What saves us from that darkness?  Basic things, I think.   The love between people.  The beauty of the every day world.  Actually communicating with another person.  It made me speculate about  whether, when inter-country meetings are described as “productive”,  that doesn’t simply mean that everyone at the table recognized something: Their common humanity. We can do this every day ourselves- although admittedly while driving it is touch and go.  Still, the feelings can be acknowledged, we really don’t have to do anything to the car cutting us off or taking our parking place or going 30 miles an hour on the freeway, and that is a good place to start.  That, and for now, Pizza.  The pizza will at least make sense.