Posts Tagged ‘curling smoke and slippery slope’

crawling through the wreckage

I’m taking the view, Gentle Reader, that this past week showed nothing less than my survival of a Zombie Apocalypse.

It wasn’t enough that we saw the guy on TV who’d lived across the road from us- and been a gigantic pain the entire time (Mr. Hummer Ranchero, to be exact-) got 98 years in prison for kidnap and torture.  Warm and fuzzy?  No, it wasn’t enough.  First? A man, who’d either been in a fiery crash or a drug lab explosion and lost his hands, took a plastic bag of dirty clothes out of my basket at the laundromat while I was getting change.  Hair pulling and sanity questioning ensued but the interesting thing was that once I finally calmed down and thought, well, it is what it is, here comes the handless man with my laundry.  So, OK.  But then?

Then! Some heavily tattooed guy in a KIA  t-boned me in the parking lot as I was wending my way to the recycling kiosk having at last washed all my laundry.  Leaps out of his car screaming and suddenly there’s half a dozen large, toothless men surrounding me and my car, yelling they were witnesses and i was a b****, among other things.  THEN two very large women oozed over and I found myself wondering why Ronda Rousey wasn’t anywhere to be seen when I needed her so much.  The interesting thing here was that even though all these rather scary individuals were surrounding me screaming, and the older guy who came up and told them to stop was immediately threatened with potential dismemberment, I managed to stay in a non-violent frame of mind and get through the fiasco (no swearing, even!), with Mr. Tattoo actually lowering his voice at the end and thanking me for cooperating with him.   And, fiasco it was since somehow all those “witnesses” had no problem distorting the situation and I now find myself in a yuck-hole with my insurance company.

Aside from the baseline terror I felt when being confronted by all these large, yelling White people, and the stress of seeing my car crunched and home being miles away, what I came away with was this.  Along with a healthy respect for the fact that witch hunts can be pretty real, the fact is?  If you go outside, sooner or later something will catch up with you.  Nothing personal, just the way it is.  You aren’t being punished, it’s just your day for wearing the bullseye.  And, if you can stay neutral during the fireworks that ensue from such bullseye encounters, everyone else will get calmer too, regardless of the outcome. Maybe that’s really the point of such things.  Non-violence does, indeed, take a long time.  But I saw it worked in this situation because even though TRUTH didn’t prevail, the level of stress and anger was substantially lessened and everyone was able to walk away.  Sometimes that’s the best you can do, I guess.  So, I’m sticking with my Practice, even though I still feel very strongly that I don’t ever want to go outside around here again.  Prayers appreciated that my insurance company doesn’t refuse to fix my elderly car!


the fire this time

And indeed, Gentle Reader, EVERYTHING is on fire all around us.  Visibility is zero.  I think the people who fight these fires are astounding and fabulous, period.  Anyway it’s very creepy and actually scary and I am fervently praying that we do not have to evacuate.  Also it makes a satellite internet connection one step above dial up.  But.

In other news.  We have a dog now.  I would post a picture but in keeping with today, my camera wouldn’t even shake hands with the laptop and I have No Idea Why.  We’ll work on it, since he is probably one of the cutest dogs ever.  Evidently some asshat masquerading as a human being drove him all the way up here and dumped him out.  He thus lived under the yurt and ate herbs, flowers, grapes, and strawberries for a few days, and although we saw that Somebody had been out eating things (what happened to the potato flowers?) we could not, for the life of us, figure out what or who.  Then on Sunday night as we were worrying about the missing Mr. Frog, we went outside and there was this tiny lion colored creature clearly asking for some help.  I went and got some dog food from our landlady, which he ate.  He then promptly feel asleep on the deck and started snoring.  He repaired to his temporary quarters under the yurt until the next day, when he finally came in and declared the place his.  A puppy, about two months old, a pitbull mix, he has easily tripled in size just this week.  Since he’s a puppy he sleeps a lot during the day and then is up late at night, arising in the pre dawn hours to do things like surprising me with a wet nose on the face.  Potty training is not proceeding apace but today has been a good day as SO FAR I have not had to clean up oceanic pee or odiferous poo.  One day at a time.

I also saved a goat, twice, this week.  His humans have sheep wire around the enclosure as before the only inhabitants were two dark brown sheep who, in the five years we’ve been here, were only shorn about a week ago.  They looked like sofas.  Anyway the squares on the sheep wire are just precisely the right size for a small goat to stick its head through and eat the, obviously, better food on the other side of the fence.  All well and good until  horns enter the picture and effectively pin said goat to the spot.  I noticed him on a fast dash for dog food and chew toys and wondered if he was just Standing There or if there was a problem.  An hour later, coming home, I saw there was indeed a problem.  So I stopped the car, scrambled up an embankment, and after some serious negotiations, released the horns from the wire.  He dashed off and said thank you from a distance.  The next day, on a trip for more chew toys and a collar (a splendid bandana print!) what do I see but feckless Mr. Goat, stuck again.  I told him we had to stop meeting this way and yesterday? When I wound up driving back and forth about three times I noted with approval that he was far, far away from the fence.  We also have a horde of chickadees who come every evening now, fifteen to twenty at a time, and take group baths.  So, it has been exciting.  There will be further reports, of course, but for now I have to go back home and make sure nothing has gone sideways.  Which is always a possibility and often an actual fact.


That’s pretty much it, actually.  It’s been pouring here, at long last.  I won’t go into the exciting things that have happened as a result (landlord’s septic overflowed, creek impassable.  Stuff like that!) but this morning we saw something that looked very much like a miracle.

A HUGE double rainbow that got more and more intensely colored and stronger, and ended literally on the driveway in front of the yurt.  We could see the color and light dancing in the air, and the whole thing moved as one big band of energy and brilliance.   You could hear it almost, like a zillion small harmonies flying by, or glass pinging in heat.  I guess this means that we in fact have that pot of gold rumored to be at the end of the rainbow.   Immaterial, as you might expect in a story such as ours, but there before us nonetheless.So, it’s all a big balancing act.  On the one hand, rainbows.  On the other? Mind boggling daily reality.  There’s a lot of it, that reality.  It’s kind of amazing that you can almost just insert the exact opposite meaning into any sentence you hear on the news and come a lot closer to the truth than you might think.  Murder isn’t always murder we now see, for one thing.  (The police often have a truly awful job to do and I don’t think that’s in dispute- but it’s how they do it.  I mean, jeesh.  What if *I* got to choke people to death when I felt like it? )  Even though not everyone you know may be working, or able to tolerate it much less live on what they make, everything’s just getting better and better according to what we hear.   The fact that all this insane Christmas shopping kafuffle is acknowledged to be paid for with credit cards doesn’t seem to be cause for alarm.   The Republican party seems to feel confident that women will just ignore the political and social facts before them, in terms of poverty, war, children, and women’s simple basic rights to equal wages and control over their own bodies, and vote for them.  Scarily, there do seem to be many individuals who can’t see the forest for the trees.  I often wonder how any person of color can keep a civil tongue in their head given the historical reality.  I also often wonder how women can continue to collaborate in their own oppression.  And, I really wonder if it will take extinction to make people realize polar bears do matter.  Everything matters.  Keeping that in mind, yet another rededication to peace, love, and happiness.  The rainbow really does exist (although not for dogs now that I think of it).  Progress, not entropy.

creatures and habit

Well.  Monday really WAS a pretty uphill, perhaps even truly awful, day, wasn’t it?

Getting in touch with the reality of how we all suffer and experience pain is probably not anybody’s first choice of what to do today, but there it is.  The feelings we have, what we think about things- all such a mystery in terms of Other People.  So when someone, Another Person, does something we find unexpected and shocking, everything gets thrown up into the air.  It’s amazing that it takes the pain of experiencing that to show us that we really are all deeply connected.  Obviously I am referring to the death of Robin Williams and the rolling heartbreak that has followed. A brave soul, continuing a journey that we can no longer see.  It’s not hard to understand.  It’s just hard to live with.

Then we have Missouri.  Jesus God, people.  How long is it going to be before people finally wake up and smell the coffee in this country?  We have a militarized police force which, in many areas, doesn’t  even do things like respond to burglary calls or do basic protect and serve stuff.  I watched apologists on PBS saying things like, well, smaller municipalities don’t have this issue (of police beating and shooting unarmed civilians).  Clearly, they haven’t been HERE, because if they had been they’d know that the police in these parts often shoot first and forget about taking the names.  A former mayor of Ferguson said in what seemed almost word for word lockstep with George Wallace that they really had tried to recruit African Americans for the police department but those people just wouldn’t come to the Academy- it was hauntingly familiar language to what we’ve heard forever about why inequality (which is an inadequate word for this stuff) persists.   There was some talk about how surprised people were at seeing the tear gas and shooting and unrecognizable authority figures in battle dress taking aim.   Again, I just had to wonder where they’ve been for the past fifty years.

Another opportunity to take a deep breath.  The only thing for it is to keep trying, I decided.  Keep putting love first, and understanding.  When I’m thinking in the old way, it’s frightening looking out at the world.  When I come from a place of letting go and taking in to let go again, it’s still frightening but at the same time the possibilities are visible.  Dimly, yes, but visible.  Non-violence takes a long time, as the Dalai Lama remarked.  A good bit of non-violence resides in not adding more fuel in the form of one’s own negativity, fear, and opinions to whatever is swirling around us.  Fuses are short all around, which means we need even more to make the effort to see the common threads in things and try not to set them on fire.  Today’s challenge.

the search for equanimity

At the end of a rather long, sticky, malaise-ish day, I found myself watching an ancient temple being blown up in Iraq by the Caliphate Installation Crew.  This made me think that perhaps the tide is about to turn.  The people, who have endured unspeakable, unnameable, unthinkable awfulnesses all over that part of the world for so long- those people may finally be at a point of saying, LOOK HERE PILGRIM.  YOU’RE FINISHED.  YOU GOT TWO SECONDS TO GET YOUR RAGGEDY ASS OUT OF TOWN.  Or words to that effect.   Finally it gets to be simply too much.

I’ve had this (what I think of as a bit of a) fantasy for a while.  It involves the sheer weight of the evil in the world toppling itself over and crumbling, from its own rottenness.  Even though the Partner looks at me when I say things like this in a, poor soft headed thing let’s get her a HAT sort of way, *I* think it’s kind of like a martial art where you use the energy and strength of your opponent against him without overly exerting yourself.   It has been so easy to leap to judgment, have opinions about all this stuff, because after all.  Evil is recognizable.  The situation in Palestine is beyond travesty, and just like so much of that part of the world, stems from the business/corporate/political lines that got drawn after the World Wars by the “winners”.    The War Against Terror?  The whatever-it-was in Viet Nam?  The apotheosis, if you will, of petroleum?  It is really too easy to afix blame and add yet more anger and intemperance to the mix.

So there we were yesterday, sweltering and covering our faces because of all the smoke from the fires, just pondering all this.  A moment of sliding downhill, thinking about groundlessness and in that particular moment, that thinking having a rather “why bother?” cast to it.  If indeed there is nothing to hold on to, no comfort, no overt “reward”, why do we practice?  Because.  Once you start, you have to continue.  This is true of meditation, life, gardening, keeping your nails trimmed, everything.  The headlong plunges we all take into unproductive thought patterns are just signs to pay a bit more attention.  The difficulty I was having, in part and as always, had to do with just what does one do to shift things in a more positive direction?  Living in the United States one automatically is inundated with propaganda about (among other things of course) religion, which includes the apparent diktat that Israel can do no wrong.  Yet I observe Israel pretty much doing unto others that which was done unto them.  Easy to place blame there.  At the same time, all that oppression and corruption on the other side?  Doesn’t leave them in a sparklingly spotless place either.  I live in a country that really does, in fact, do a lot of very incredibly rotten things.  So there we all are, yes?  Is this about pointing fingers about whose hands are dirtiest?

No.  It’s about realizing that we all feel  and want the same things.  Period.  This is the only real immutable truth- we really are one.  Even those at the tip of the social pyramid who seem to think only of destroying everything in their paths.  Things in nature are good as they are without manipulation and technological “advances”.  Time, as I decided yet again this morning, to put the stick down and lift up the heart.   When things look awful outside of you, they’re probably a reflection of how you feel inside.  Simplistic but true, even insofar as it extends to things like dust-rhinos under the table, and definitely as it extends to wanting to shoot someone.  The pressure of this time, which is intense, is all about things needing to get on a balanced footing before we all tumble irretrievably to destruction.  I have a hard time believing that the human race really is this stupid- that humans cannot look at what is pulling their strings and refuse to cooperate in the perfidy any more.  Then you get to the fun part where you get to do the cooperation joyfully.  More on that, I suspect, to come.  But perhaps the simple thing of putting a smile on one’s face and feeling it is a good start.   The next big thing is about how Doing Nothing isn’t as easy as it seems.  I’m sure it all fits together though.  Somehow.

don’t think it hasn’t been fun

Oh, no, Gentle Reader.  Fun is what it’s all about around here.  Having just recently crawled out from under the table after a spate of automatic weapons fire (the rurals! gotta love ’em!) I thought for a moment about recent developments.

On the positive side?  A mother rabbit has been using our garden as a day care setting for her adorable fluff ball of a baby.  They’ve apparently been there most of the winter and it is interesting that none of the overwintering lettuces or small greens got nibbled at all.  I’m hoping we continue in this abstinent rabbit vein, especially since:

After even MORE weeding, finally all the seeds (or most) are in the ground.  The cumin and parsley have sprouted and I can now go out and look at my barely visible rows of corn and beet and cabbage seeds.  Peppers! Chard! Pattypan squash.  It’s really terrific.

Which is why when my landlady told me she was having a Beltane festival on the bluff right behind our yurt complete with large bonfire tonight, my head exploded yet again.  We live in an area that could probably be confused for a tinder box:  grasses, old vegetation, DRY DRY DRY.  You can’t even burn piles of weeds and stuff without the county deciding if they’ll give you a permit for where you are. They have line of sight spotters on duty constantly up on the mountains this time of year, spotting miscreants, which is a good thing.  Last year some of the largest fires, like in Yosemite and up here by Happy Valley, were started by individuals who just felt they had to start fires.  In summer.  So this year the authorities are attempting the ton of bricks approach.  Anyway, as I say, my landlady is having some number of people out to leap over fires and camp out.  And drum all night.  Right outside my “bedroom” window.  I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to receive this news.

So.  Let’s hope nothing goes horribly awry with this episode.  As for me? I am now going to prepare a dating profile for a lonely friend.  All in a day’s work.

Slipping on the ice

Yes, I did that, for extra fun.  Try as I may my mental state can often be characterized as….muzzy? And although I aspire to be awake and aware it just doesn’t happen all the time.  So the other morning, as I strode forth to pay the rent which I had actually forgotten about on New Year’s Day, it came to pass that my casual inspection of our entry way was woefully inadequate leading to a full length flip up and down, flat on my back on a slippery slope.  I must say it hurt quite a bit but no injuries were sustained by me.  The Partner, on the other hand, took a while to come down off his helium balloon in the corner of the ceiling ledge.   The poor man just doesn’t have the nervous system for coping with Miss Accident Prone for Reals- as I limped over to crawl under the ostensibly 7000 volt electrified fence wire to pay the rent, after all- he was exclaiming in desperate tones that he fully expected me to step on a land mine any time now.

But, HA HA HA.  Who needs land minds with all this?!?!  I lay in bed at night composing amusing paragraphs which of course have disappeared into the ethers by daylight.  The various upcoming Things I’ve Decided To Do Now (grow up! make money! write a book!)  have plunged me into the Bottomless Pit-Puddle of Quivering Yuck.  The echo chamber accompaniment features any number of disparaging words but Of Course We Know Better Than To Listen. Still it has been interesting, the countervaling force applied by one’s still present inner black holes.  There’s a great scene in the movie Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy where they’re striding toward a town and every time one of them has a thought, a shovel rises up out of the ground and smacks them in the face.  Just something we all have to get through, right Gentle Reader?

Still.  I’m off to town for assorted sticky notes to pull a plot together on, among other things.  I have the crazy idea that if I can…just…..figure out this plot…….I may finally be awake in a bigger way in my own life.  Anything could happen.  Because details and events do not a plot make, and it seems to me that we all, quite often, get lost in the action and lose sight of the direction.  Or something like that.  WTF, in short.  Meanwhile we seem to have an impromptu deer family camping around the yurt, and it has been pretty amazing watching them wake up in the morning and seeing how they go about their days.  There are an assortment of youngsters and, we think, a mother- but maybe not.   The remnants of summer whose parents and relatives got shot or run over, this crew is completely unafraid of us and seem quite often to deposit the younger members within eyeshot of our front door when they have pressing business to attend to.  We’re deer babysitters now.    There’s always a lot to do- even Tyrant the Hummingbird is back to buzzing the bedroom window in the mornings- although we can’t put the feeder up again yet because it freezes every night.  I hope he understands.  Spring is, somehow, in the air already, so I’m betting he does.



Good news/bad news

We discovered flat tire number ten this morning.  On a brand new tire.  (This was while we were outside trying to figure out where to have the cord of wood dumped that arrived this morning and of course THAT whole exercise did not, let’s just say, go without incident, either.)  Which, since it wasn’t purchased around here (a friend got them for me in the bay area when it was clear that I’d never make it home on the round ribbons I had on the car) meant I had to take it someplace and pay to get it fixed. The prior nine were all in tires we’d bought at Big O in Redding at the beginning of this festive interlude.   The good news?  Les Schwab (closer, which is meaningful)  has wifi.  FORTUNE SMILED, GENTLE READER.  I am Writing in Les Schwab Tire Center!  How exciting is that.

I’ve decided that probably we’re almost at enough already.  It appears that this particular hole in this particular tire? maybe was not ALTOGETHER accidental.  It can’t be the same disgruntled ex boyfriend who was stabbing my truck radiator with an icepick long ago in another life, and I didn’t realize I’d irritated anyone else up here to that extent.  So, I’m remaining calm but one does have to wonder just exactly how a GIANT SCREW got up in the frigging sidewall with enough force to penetrate and flatten a tire.  Oh, well.

Meanwhile, having checked my Business Operation for a pulse (barely) I now find my battery is almost out of juice in ye olde trusty laptop.  I guess that means that’s it for now!  Watch this space……

Chasing Thoughts

So far, I haven’t been able to catch any today.  The sheer deluge of things happening makes me feel like the lens on my camera when the battery is going down: Flipping in and out, broad angle to shut off position.

Things are still on fire around here, to the extent that it is starting to seem as though it will never be otherwise . Perhaps it is a reflection of an inner truth- there’s a fire in everything all the time anyway.  And here we are, all of us, trying to live our lives.  In the face of the daily eternal standoff I suppose it’s amazing we all do as well as we do.  But it has seemed to me for some time that those with power in today’s world justify their inaction toward and for justice and what is basically right by assigning blame to those who need assistance and don’t get it.  I think it’s just really way too scary for people to realize that there really is no control, anything can happen at any time, the supposed differences are irrelevant, and also? Things do move toward balance whether or not we are in synch with that balance or not.   Things don’t occur because we’re “good” or “bad”.  They occur because they occur, and the point is to learn as you go.   In this world where so much seems controlled by such negative, limited, unintelligent forces, it’s possible to take comfort in knowing that eventually, somehow, dynamic progression will recur.  Perhaps the thing of it is largely in being ready.  But time has a long, long gyre even when particular epochs are drawing to their close, and readiness may be quite a different thing than what we thought.  Maybe readiness comes in the form of calm surrender to what is, and in the form of, at long last, an empty mind.  I’m working on it.

The Importance of Looking at the Sky

I remember hearing a statistic some time ago about how little time people actually spend looking at the sky.  I thought about how many people work in buildings where all the light is artificial and the ceilings are drab-  being inside for  entire days, weeks, years,  in a building, away from sun and sky and clouds.  At night people are inside too, not looking at the stars and night sky.  Not to mention people in prison and hospitals.

What made me think about this was the fact that since everything has been on fire around here all summer, we’ve barely seen the sky all day for weeks, the sunsets were inferno-like, and the night skies were smudged.   This produced a spate of problems on our little hill.  There were supposed heart attacks that turned out to be stress, strange behavior all the way around,  arguments, missing animals, way  worse driving than usual- just an incredible influx of negative energy which was also combined with unrelenting heat. Last night almost seemed like a miracle, when the sun set as normal in a deep blue sky with fabulous clouds, many mountains being visible.

It made me think about how we suffer when we separate ourselves from what is natural and real.  When we don’t look at the sky our entire horizon closes down, and ultimately we lose perspective.  We stop being able to see ourselves in context and the daily materialism of it all seems to be more real than it is.  Things feel closed in, and it starts to seem like we must DO SOMETHING, force movement, function out of a belief that it is WE who DO things, and that we can make things do what we want, regardless of consequence.   Politics, anyone?

So, okay.  When we could finally see the sky last night, things felt completely different.  This made me think about just how many things impinge on us, how many things we’re moving through all the time to make sense of things, to live, to function.   When the Partner commented that I seemed to be able to wade through the tsunami of inner chatter, inner thought, and stay reasonably centered and happy for the most part, and how did I do that?  Well, Gentle Reader, the mental floodgates creaked open. I don’t, certainly, ALWAYS do it.  Hoo boy.  No.  But as we talked about how so often happiness appears to depend on external influences, I started to think about what a different path it is when one decides to make mindfulness a central focus.  It is, indeed, the practice of a lifetime and it is a matter of constantly turning the attention to, simply, what IS in the moment.  (Which at bottom, is spaciousness, eventually.) Over and over and over.  Happiness really is an internal condition.  I think it is possible to have, if not happiness, at least calm and presence, even in the worst situations.  Facing the ruination of everything one holds dear in whatever way that ruination decides to appear in the moment is frightening and debilitating. Listening to a news story about Syrian refugees in the Palestinian camps in Lebanon, I was struck by how similarly, and perhaps fatally, we humans can respond to trauma, regardless of cultural or religious affiliation (which in today’s parlance are often put forth as unbridgeable divisions).  It is a humiliation of the worst sort to be poor, needy, in trouble in the Arab world- bringing shame to the family.  On some level that is true everywhere, and people whose lives have changed financial direction often find themselves feeling shame and withdrawing.  In fact of course that is the very time one has to take yet another deep breath, look up at the sky, and say- OK.  Let me think in silence, reach where I am right now, and see when a decision can be made.    The difference between that ascribing of import and impact exclusively to things outside of us, and the path of developing one’s own inner authority, is huge.  Things happen all the time, and we may or may not prevail in the situation.  We may live, we may die.  But the important thing is the quality of how we do these things.   As long as we depend on the outer world to “feed” us, we will always be hungry.  The inner resources, once developed, cannot be taken away from us.  Sometimes that’s all we have for a time.

This is why I propose the following.  A new rule, as it were.  Look at the sky.  Every day.  Several times.  Remember that we’re all part of something very, very big.  The way things have been getting done in our world is showing itself to be not practical, or practicable.   Especially in times of turmoil it is easy to get knocked off balance and then any forward movement can be seemingly impossible.  Knowing, perhaps, that the smoke WILL go away, and fastening one’s gaze on a deeper spot in the sky each day, it helps.   It helps a person realize that problems are not solved by continuing to do the same things, and it helps a person realize that if you listen, the answers really are out there- in you.  We cannot avoid pain, but we can avoid suffering, and this is one key to it, in my mind.   Onward stargazers!