Posts Tagged ‘Money’

pain in my heart

Things coalesced today to remind me that in fact, for all intents and purposes, we ARE in the dumper.

While I realize ever more clearly that we are all in the midst of a pretty volcanic shift, and for the most part I can navigate that with relative success, at the same time there are moments when it all crashes into my forehead and I wonder how much longer I can go on living in this world.  The Dog and the Garden make a big difference, of course and I’m hoping that this weekend’s “cooldown” (to 87 instead of 107) will allow me to at last plant our burgeoning seedlings.  Plus bake some requested cookies for a friend in need- one hopes that 87 will allow the making of buttercream to proceed without incident.   The Dog had a moment of doggie disobedience earlier today and tempers flared; now they’re just at a simmer.  I’ve been handing out strawberries and ice cubes to the parties involved.

Still.  The election on top of everything else pretty much fried my circuits.  People were actually speaking in raised voices in the polling place about things that froze my blood- you know- The Wall with Mexico.  Muslims.  Everyone who either didn’t look white or had a Spanish surname (me) got extra grilling before their ballots were handed over.  I’ve been voting for a long time now and this year? They showed me as having no party preference and thus eligible for only a provisional ballot.  Which may, or may not, get counted. HOW GROOVY IS THAT?  I finally, using my best I come in peace but let’s get serious act, got things horsed around, voted, and then? This county has an electronic ballot counter which, excitingly, puts the name of whoever you vote for up on a video screen that anyone standing nearby can read.   My screen said Bernie Sanders, and it felt as though I barely escaped with my life and a tootsie roll, slamming the door on name calling behind me.

Then, glutton for punishment that I am, we went to the post office.  Where I was greeted by two things: 1) A new bill from my insurance company that was astronomically higher than it was before and 2) A man wearing a tshirt that said “Hillary for prison in 2016” who gave me a wolfish grin and said, funny, ain’t it?  Luckily he accepted silence as an answer. (Later, getting propane, I saw one that said “I refuse to learn a foreign language to accommodate the illegal immigrants coming into MY country” on yet another elderly white man who refused to believe the sidewalk was for anyone other than him .)  Just to add to my joy, I found that essentially now nobody will insure me for anything except my current company, for the aforementioned fortune.  I live in a place with a lot of fires, and my car is old.  It’s kind of like the internet around here: You gotta have it but nobody will provide it to you.  So net, net: the fat white man who crashed into me continues to cause trouble.  I’m betting he voted for turd with teeth, too.

There is of course more, although the good news appears to be the cartels are out of our neighborhood this season.  I constantly remind myself that it’s all a call for kindness, for love and compassion, for rectification of disharmony.  Perched on the high, pointy spot of my current life, it seems dicey but I do it anyway.  And on days when I’m inundated by the effing effontery of life, I do wonder if there is any point at all to what I do. It certainly at times looks like an entire geological age of catastrophe, my little existence.  At the same time it is so clear that there IS intrinsic goodness in our universe, and we can’t wait for results to do what is right and caring.  In that vein I’m going to give the Dog another ice cube, and say bless you to all.

 

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yonder: wild and blue

It’s hard to say what’s been occupying my mind of late.  There were a lot of “things” that happened and required a long, taxing slog through what I actually “think”.

Sometimes, it really is true, we hold beliefs about ourselves that are inimical to growth.  Or peace of mind.  Then we have to actually just look at those beliefs and put them in context.  Things really are dependent upon each other and try as you may, finding an exact individual starting point for anything is not generally doable.  Therefore, limiting beliefs are the result of a CONTEXT that had a lot of things in it which were aimed at being limiting: aimed at controlling us for one reason or another.  Aimed, also, at being the authority we’d accept.

When the Partner remarked to me the other evening that, given my history, the only way I ever really had to go psychologically  was UP, it made me think about how many of those limiting, destructive beliefs I’d adopted as reality.  And about how much they cut me off from what I am as a person.  (Whatever, uhm, that may be)  And then?

I had an experience of something that even still I had difficulty believing could be true.  It kind of dovetailed with becoming aware of how much not being able to take certain things seriously, largely relating to self worth, had held me back.   It also related to the ambivalence I saw in myself about my sense of reality- which is that everything is alive and moving and we CAN, if we choose, heal ourselves- maybe even cure.  A constant back and forth I didn’t even know was happening.   Anyway, I met another person who works in related arts, who “worked” on me, and helped me in the most profound way I can remember.

So.  I am here to tell you for absolutely dead bang certain that you CAN change the things in your life that don’t work.  Obviously this involves some distance from the capitalist model of money equaling success, and movement toward understanding that success is no more, or less, than LIVING and ENJOYING your life.    We’ve had, for example, the ongoing crap shoot of life here which has involved several largish unexpected expenditures- which is usually right up there on the disaster scale around here. ( A rock hit and shattered the back window of our car, for one thing.  With all the hilarity that ensues.)  But this time? It didn’t stress me out.  Earlier that day I’d spoken with a friend who has recently been diagnosed with leukemia.  We agreed that actually the diagnosis didn’t make a bit of difference- what mattered was still the quality of each moment and what this person DOES in those moments.  And that quality is something that we can influence, unlike most other things.  Something about the healing work I received finally really sank in and the actual joy I felt upon realizing I wasn’t upset about all the crap that just happened…was beyond words.

This helped also with the Dog.  He dashed through a foxtail forest getting one lodged in his ear.  Vet bills ensued.  But even though I was worried about him, I didn’t lose it.  Instead I was able to marvel at how GOOD he was at the Vet’s even though they were pulling something out of his ear.  He was with one of his “girlfriends” and watching through the window, I saw him resting calmly against her.  She had her arms around him and was scratching his head.  The Vet was in the affected ear with Something Official Looking.  And he? was smiling radiantly.   There is a light in the world, Gentle Reader, and we can see it more often that we think.  Sometimes all it takes is a friend and a 70 pound Dog.

the wonder of pigs

Yes, those two little cuties down the road are continuing to radiate much needed wonderfulness.  Now that it is unequivocally winter and cold, people are scrambling around to protect their smaller animals, and those two little pigs got their very own set up in the nick of time.  They look almost too small to be without their mother, so we were both relieved to see them the other morning, sleeping nose to nose on a lovely bed of fresh straw underneath a heat lamp.  The chickens and ducks were fanned around their straw bed protectively, shushing everyone importantly and fanning their feathers.   That was a manger scene I could get into.

At present, Gentle Reader, that’s about the ONLY thing I can get into.  Things just seem to get stranger and stranger, and it gets harder and harder to keep the world at bay.  One thing is for sure, though.  People really should tell you, in those formative years, to pace yourself.  There is a lot of work and stuff to be done  and if you go at it like you’re killing snakes your whole life, there comes a point when you are going to be very tired indeed.

This realization came to me while pondering both my work and Thanksgiving.  I like Thanksgiving because I like the food.  As a “holiday”, I can’t say much for it:  Commemorating, as it does, the kind of kickoff of genocide that gets called nation building, it doesn’t grab me.  In fact, if anything, it plunges me into an ambivalent froth.  I used to deal with that, I see now, by magnum opus cooking.  I’d bake whole pumpkins for pie.  I’d make cornbread for stuffing, bread, rolls, stock, roast chestnuts….the whole thing.  Plus turkey.  Vegetables. Extra cranberries. What I’m thinking about now is how one balances the desire for the decent meal with the reality of finite resources in terms of time and energy.  Which as it happens I am also thinking about in relation to my work.

Somehow one has to keep the process in mind, and all of it, while building things.  The end singular goal doesn’t necessarily give you the right stuff.  In terms of work, the economic goal cannot be the only one.  This business of being true to yourself is not easy, especially in a world defined by something as abstract as money.  In the end I’m thinking more and more it’s a test of faith in a way.  You just have to trust that applying yourself thoroughly to things will be enough, and you will move on.  You have to remind yourself that every item at Thanksgiving does not have to be made by you yourself.   It’s the process that counts and the feeling you have in your heart.  One day at a time.

 

 

off to the races

I have to say, Gentle Reader, even by MY standards the past few days have been  like a combination of Survivor, Godzilla, and a stampede of bison during a large size hail storm with the gong section of a Chinese Opera Orchestra playing along.

On the positive side:  It was the Partner’s birthday.  I made a cake and arroz con leche and game hens and shrimp cocktail.  And cocktails, of course.  And some really fantastic purple potatoes from the garden.  We actually had a lot of fun AFTER we got past the non-positive sunrise wakeup call from the landlady’s dog.  During which wakeup exercise said dog killed all my chile plants, dug the crap out of one raised bed and our compost heap, and attempted to dig several large and important plants out of their containers.  I almost lost it altogether and may have murmured something about you won’t have to worry about who’s going to kill your dog if this happens again.  Since this was the, oh, say FOURTH TIME.   Each incursion has caused some significant damage and this dog does some very acrobatic things to get into our space.  Apparently there is some mystery about what happens when you let a large, untrained ratting dog out the door at 5 am and don’t bother to go with it or check on it or anything like that.   It’s a dicey proposition to let your dog out like that around here because everyone is fairly heavily armed.   Country living and second amendment rights, after all.   Just Friday night, for example, there was a long, REALLY long, volley of automatic weapons fire.  It may have had something to do with the visit of a sizeable portion of the Sheriff’s Department the prior Friday elsewhere in the neighborhood.  Or it may not have.  Anyway.  It seems, for better or worse, that no dogs were harmed in that incident.

We’ve also been preparing legal documents and digging out tax returns and all kinds of awful stuff like that.  Sometimes I feel as though, really, no more.  NOT ONE MORE THING.  I get over that when I see the little wrens taking baths in the water seeping down into the plants as we water them in the mornings, flipping their wings and sending sprays of water into the air.  We also have a gang of hummingbirds now who have been chasing each other around every morning with incredible feats of derring do, sneak attacks, and nyah nyah nyahs.

But then I see something like the picture of people waiting for food in a Syrian refugee camp.  Thousands of people, as far as you can see, standing between ruined buildings about ten abreast.  Even hummingbirds can’t quite get me past that.   I find I’m at a point now where everything that gets said about what’s going on in the world sounds like a big, fat, lie.  We abandoned the gold standard as the value base for our money, yes, and now use what? OIL.   Yes indeedy.  In fact, the same stuff that seems to be funding the Caliphate Bringers.  Someone explain to me, please, just why it is we don’t have a huge effort moving to get things solar and methane energied, among other things, just to move us along and out of this gigantic sink hole filled with $#!^ that we appear to be jumping right back into the middle of.   Still it is somewhat interesting to see such a funding source being used by opponents in a struggle.  Or whatever it is.  Then there was the young girl on Bill Moyers who spent several minutes saying that it was really OK and a good thing to use selfishness as a reason to be concerned with climate change.  I must say things seem pretty extreme now, the lines are drawn and while there are many people, young and old, trying to do the right thing, there seem to be many, many more doing the wrong thing.  Over and over.  Unthinkingly.  Selfishly.  I find myself feeling real, actual fear about the future, and not just because my own situation is so weird, precarious, and somehow wonderful when I can keep breathing.

It really is important to stay with the awe we feel in life, but sometimes it is so hard to pick oneself up and carry on.  Today’s motivation may just be cake.

that old black hole

One of my favorite songs, that is, by Dr. Dog.  “looks like that old black hole/no matter how i try/ i set out every day/never to arrive”.  Or something like that.  A wonderful song, in any event.

But really.  There are SO MANY black holes in daily life now it really gets to be quite the endeavor to navigate.  The nature of reality seems to be such these days that people really cannot take it in; it’s too painful at times.   I guess I’m grateful for all the humiliations I endured as a young person, because now I really don’t care too much what people I don’t respect think of me.  Many of my friends are waking up to the fact that the rewards they went after are simply not there, and they are surrounded by people they don’t respect who have some measure of power over them.    One of the key lessons in life, it turns out, is knowing when to leave.

The other thing that took most of the air out of my cranium, temporarily, was this week’s doctor visit.  An annual physical, yes, with a doctor I’ve seen for years. ( I’m not going to go into the horrors of the mechanics paying for such a thing: let’s just say that really? The Affordable Care Act is a quadruple win for the insurance companies.  If you’re poor? You have absolutely no choice whatsoever about the care you get, and let’s just say it can be summed up in a six letter word that starts with “c” and ends with “y”.  It is, after all, against the law not to have health insurance.  Which, if you’re poor, you cannot afford.  The alternatives are the equivalent of nothing. )Anyway, her office has become completely computerized, all the records are in a cloud now, and the really great thing? Is you get to sit on a chair with a paper towel on it by the door to the exam room with that fetching gown they give you on, with a person sitting next to you TYPING IN EVERYTHING you and the doctor say to each other.  Then, you get to get back up on the table having redeposited your clothes on the aforesaid chair, and the three of you get to enjoy your rectal exam.  It’s great, let me tell you.

So, when the doctor asked me if I had anything I wanted to discuss with her, I said, yes, but with YOU.  Not the rest of the world.  Then she asked me if anything was bothering me and I heard myself emit a rather short, barking laugh.  Oh, I said, I wish I’d known you’d ask me that.  I’d’ve brought a SCROLL.  She seemed rather shocked at my state of glowing good health, considering the challenges of my daily life now.  Irritated as well that I refused vaccinations for things I don’t need them for, like flu and shingles.  A high point was when I responded to the query about whether or not I have heart palpitations.  Of course, I said.  I’m out of my mind with stress most of the time BUT THAT’S WHY I MEDITATE.   And no, I don’t need an ortho consult for my hip pain.  THAT’S WHY I DO YOGA.  Anyway I found it all rather unsettling because, I suppose, it was a search light focused on how far out of the world I used to live in I am now.  Which I am happy about, yes, but.  It’s as though once you exit that regulated world of job and commute and all the rest of it (get up in the dark, shit, shave, force feed, as the poet Bukowski- I think- wrote) people cannot even look at you.  You don’t exist to them in the same way and there’s even a bit of withdrawing, as though they might catch whatever it is that you’ve got:  that thing that allows you to live outside their known world. My teacher always said one should be their own testimony.  I’m finding that a rather interesting prospect, because  my intact condition- my testimony, really- seems to be unbelievable to people like, say, my doctor.  My impression is thus that the work I do is not taken seriously.  At all.  Like studying and applying thousands of years of observation and practice counts for nothing, and herbs and proper food are irrelevant.

Oh, well.  I had other things to attend to, which I did.  On the way home (since I had to go down to the bay area for this appointment and thus drive back home later), I saw a rabbit peeking out of a hedgerow, and a flock of geese resting in a field.  The sky looked like an opal.  The hills are cracked and burnt  but the irrigated rice fields reflected a deep blue sky setting off an ethereal green.  Magic exists, and we must carry on and we must help each other.  That is, anyway, what I decided, yet again.  I got home after some digressions, the Partner dashed out to cover me with kisses,  and had some lovely vegetable stew I’d made the night before ready for dinner.  It smelled wonderful, the stars were out, and that is really about as good as it gets if you’re honest.  Peace be with us all.

What we’re planting

Spring is arriving.  It seemed improbable, and given that every year we’ve been here has been pretty much completely different even while adhering to constant weather extremity, I still found my heart lifted at the sight of the fleeting pink haze covering the oak trees.  Now they’re leafing out in that absolutely splendid new, unique green color they have.  It’s like watching energy coalesce.  The hummingbirds are en masse, gale force, and one of last year’s cabbage plants appears to have become a perennial.  The snow covering the top of Mt. Shasta leads me to hope we’ll see it pink in a sunset soon.

We’re still in a quiet sort of planning stage.  I realized the other day that it’s really no wonder we’re both tired.  We got here in a state of moderate traumatization and have worked like dray horses until this winter.  Events then conspired to deliver a mental knockout punch which allowed, or presented requirements, for a physical stoppage for a while.  I realized that the Partner’s constant admonition to just STOP made total sense.  When you run around, constantly doing….you’re not in balance.  Eventually the doing stops as your end of the teeter totter crashes to the ground.  You may, as I did, wriggle around thinking you’re still upright but eventually the truth reveals itself.  You are not upright at all.

I saw, then,  just how much this whole experience has both changed me and brought out the deeper pieces that were previously underwater.    It’s shocking how much I didn’t see myself for what and who I am, but that is part of being human apparently.

We made a choice, coming here, or perhaps it would be better to say a preliminary part of our bigger choice was made.  We wanted to leave the city, and lo and behold it decided to spit us out as so often happens.  It was a bit premature to my mind in terms of planning and readiness but, you know, come out big or stay home.  I firmly believe that fate or whatever you want to call it had a HUGE part in our finding ourselves here.  Especially given that we’d never even HEARD of it til we moved here.  Excitement, yes?  The reality of living a much simpler, less electrified and more rural lifestyle, has shown us both things that have been surprising, largely because it has confirmed a great deal of what we both, albeit separately, had always thought deep down.

A lot of that is political of course, because the personal is pretty much always political.  I have never believed, and still don’t, that money is a mark of success and goodness.  I don’t think we need to eat tomatoes in the dead of winter here, but I also think? that since we live in a state that produces a huge amount of food for the world that we absolutely SHOULDN’T be eating things out of season that come from halfway across the world.  Why don’t we eat our own food and call it good?  This idea has its roots in what I think is a more truly democratic process, and not a process that has investment bankers and corporate lawyers at its heart and as its prime beneficiaries.  You work for the good of the whole, not the few.  That whole includes everything, includes treating the earth like your brother or sister.  In a way the shift we made really was political.  It was us saying we want to be free, we want to think for ourselves, and we want to work for the common good by, at the very least and to start, reducing our carbon footprint and stewarding whatever land we occupied, along with taking some responsibility for the food we eat.

This has rather thorough-going ramifications.  I reject many things now that people I am close to accept, and it is an interesting, and slightly frightening, thing to see how those differences get navigated.  It is easy for people to dismiss someone who lives the way we do, not in a house and in parlous economic setting, living in a way as our 19th century  ancestors did.  It is easy for them to think we don’t know what we’re doing or talking about.  But I think we do.  This bridging of the gap, this allowing the light to be shed on the entire room, is important.  We cannot continue, in this world, to do things the way we have been doing them.  Energy, resources, population, the seeming total inability to live in peace with each other, and the relentless placing of money at the top of everything all the time- it isn’t good, it isn’t sustainable, and I don’t think you need to be a rocket scientist to figure this out.  Speaking of which, I read the NEW YORKER article on the ITER project myself.  It left me both encouraged and anxious.  There isn’t all that much time, and it is late in the day to let one’s ignorance of how the world really works be a guiding light.  Simply because one is comfortable in this world, or benefiting from its works, is not a good enough reason to remain silent and inactive anymore.  You just have to see things for what they are, no excuses.  It isn’t that complicated to set things right, either.  But it is like healing.  Anything is possible but not everyone is capable.  I mean, really.  What if all the rest of the world said, for example, to Putin: KNOCK IT OFF VLADI.  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  Or they kept capitalist ideation out of agriculture altogether, including ALL the kafuffle, from marijuana, corn, Monsanto’s seeds, to toxic chickens and not labelling GMOs.  I saw some apologist for the powers that be discussing the trade talks between the US and the EU, especially pertaining to food imports.  If the food is safe and nutritious for Americans, it’s good enough for Europeans, he said.  Of course, the evidence- if you choose to look at it- shows that the food the average American eats is far from safe and in fact splats them firmly on the disease conveyor belt.  How hard would it be to take the beneficiaries of our current system- the petroleum industry, don’t kid yourself- and say, jeez guys.  You’ve got enough money to last until kingdom come.  Lighten up, literally.  You ain’t running this game anymore.  We’ve decided to LIVE.

That is my hope, anyway, and my further hope is that the Partner and I are walking the right path, monsters or no.

Pressure points

At times it seems harder to get through a day now than it has ever been. Things often don’t really make sense- like how people drive, let’s say.   Other times it seems like the swing between anxiety and joy happens with more force and more terrifying, if monotonous, regularity than one can actually cope with altogether.  The good thing is that there IS joy and potential.   The challenging thing is that the little rope bridge one clings to on the way there often seems to be completely unravelling.

The big mystery is how so many people manifest so little awareness about what’s going on.  This is in general of course, but in today’s world?  Good lord.  We’re running out of bees for real, just for starters.  Monsanto hasn’t really thought this far ahead, it seems. We’re in a drought here in California, and the powers that be are considering allowing fracking up and down the state.  Uh.  Fracking does, in fact, pollute groundwater.  Not what you need in a drought.  Fracking does contribute to earthquakes, Gentle Reader.  On last inspection we are in a fault-laden extravaganza of earth here in this state.  So this sounds good, doesn’t it?  Poison the little remaining water, and then rig up an earthquake so nobody’ll notice.  Or maybe it’ll all be just fine.  Anyone care to look at a bridge?

It’s disconcerting, to say the least, to face all of this every day.  People believe what they want to believe and keep going as fast as possible to avoid paying real attention to what’s going on.  I notice this myself when I talk to people who should know better and who deny, for example, that there’s a problem happening at Fukushima.  We WANT it to be OK, so therefore we apparently tell ourselves there’s no issue, and that’s that.  There are so many realities and worlds now existing simultaneously.  Maybe it was always like this and we’re just seeing it more clearly now, what with the veil between Us and It having been grievously rent.  But seriously?  The realities of economic “inequality” alone are staggering, and even more so when so many don’t even acknowledge them.  At the same time, there are so many people at the bottom end of things in this country who are on disability, do the incarceration rag, use quantities of horrible white powders, hate everything and still vote Republican.  They do not appear to have received the memo that reached the inner cities some time ago .  But in the meantime it is a bit shocking to be in the, say, Dollar Store and realize that this is where these same people obtain “credit”, in the form of prepaid cards.  Credit for the great unbanked so they can go forth and shop after all.   A whole other world, reality, life.

The thing of it is, that this other reality is as pervasive as it is unacknowledged.  The press of advertising, of capitalist exploitation, is the current opiate of the masses- or at least the masses who don’t head straight for substance abuse and get it over with.  People seem to still believe in the “American Dream” and think they can afford it.  At the same time as they know there is no clear economic future for them or their children, and not much of a present if they don’t change course.  Retirement is an unfunny joke, and one almost laughs at interviews with people in their 40’s and 50’s who really think they’ll still have the jobs they’ll need at 70.  The notion of “jobs”, period, is an interesting one.  What jobs? and for whom?  Those in the ruling positions must know they’ve about shot their feet clear off what with dismantling education and fooling around with what gets taught as “science”.   We don’t have an adequate work force, they say.  But adequate for what?  Working at backbreaking jobs for minimum wage or less?   Who, in the end, is going to keep batting their brains out so that someone else gets rich and they barely eat?  I don’t think this is a tremendous exaggeration, either.  Not to mention the huge problem of debt, of all sorts.  Education and health care can really put you in the poorhouse.  And then what?  You have a degree or a remission so that you can proceed to agonize over how to pay for it?

But, ah, well.  Enough of all that.  It finally rained here, I think this is the third day.  The ground was so cracked and dry it hasn’t even gotten totally muddy yet, but the feeling of possibility and growth is present in every drop.  The birds have all been out taking rain baths and having rather splendidly parliamentary conclaves along the phone wires.   The gray squirrels are courting (even if it is in the middle of the road) and the coyotes are positively Wagnerian.   We’re poised on yet another brink.