Posts Tagged ‘Non-violent action’

But is it a unified theory?

The other day the Partner watched a program that discussed the concept of free will.  I asked him what he thought about it, and after some time he said it was fascinating.  But it wasn’t a unified theory.

I of course thought this was great.  I mean, he’s kind of a genius, but imagine! All that…stuff….one has been subjected to in western culture about “free will”.  It’s something I’ve wondered about because it so often seems to be quite limited, that free will.  And expensive, too. Animals supposedly don’t have it, either, which is moderately puzzling, to me anyway.  But the rich seem to, throughout history.

So seeing all that isn’t any more concrete than, say, string theory, not being unified and all,  I would MUCH rather whole heartedly believe in the beauty and eternity of string theory than in some idea that we have this free will but it comes with so many consequences and unintended results (often courtesy of other people, maybe even their free will!)  that we might as well just stay in our original sinful state.  Free will with a full set of barbells attached, sort of.  And with which we have more or less a snowball’s chance in hell.  Perhaps it is just all this stuff about the Pope that has made me think along these lines more even than usual.  Perhaps this is just me exercising my free will.

Anyway.  In the ongoing project of looking at the world I live in, this whole free will business is of interest.  I’ve always thought it related more to the authoritarian power structure of the patriarchy  (Yes I have!) than an individual becoming conscious and awake and seeing what it was they could actually do with their time in life.  Free willl, to me, is a concept that is part and parcel of the things of the past two millenia that have proven not to be all that workable.  We all have the power to open our minds and hearts.  We all have the power to understand.  We can make a choice about whether to do that our not but somehow that doesn’t quite make it to something that should be called “free will” in my book.  That’s just about how one chooses to survive.  So much of everything that contributes to how our world functions is based on fear.  How can that exist and accommodate free will?  Free will goes to the back of the bus and falls off.  I’m thinking now that the rest of the individuals on that bus, divided into two groups, one of which understands consequences and behaves accordingly (do unto others, as ever), and the other group for which laissez faire is the rule until they get, well, laissez’d themselves and then all hell breaks loose…well.  How are these two groups going to duke it out, so to speak?

I am, of course, always in hope that the group that cooperates and has empathy will prevail.  That may take a paradigm change of epic proportions, however.  I had to kill a very large spider the  other day, and found myself thinking about how connected we all are, nothing is insignificant in truth.  Everything is our mother and father and sister and brother.  And yet so many of us, human and animal and insect and mineral and all, don’t matter in this world.  Anything can happen to us, just as a bug can get squashed.   How do we proceed in that case?  Not, I think, with an assertion of individual Importance, which is to some extent where free will has led us.  Not with clinging to power and things and all the externalities.  More with an awareness of humility and a knowing that since we are all in the wind, paying attention to the lift and direction and scent of that may be more important than us pretending we are singular importances ourselves.  The question of what really IS important is often left unanswered in our haste to make it through a day.  Still.  Life is, as they say, a journey.  I’m beginning to feel it is much less directed by us than we’d like to think, and is more a matter of reducing our prejudices and automatic reactions to the point where what is, is visible to us.  Then in due course, some time on down the road, we’ll know what we’re seeing at long last.  What would make that wonderful is if we all do it more or less together.  Not a moment to waste, Gentle Reader.


A story of hay

The donkey crew up the road from us has been having quite the time lately.  A huge block of hay was put in their area, as is usual each year around this time.  The block was at least five feet in every direction.  The first day, the three donkeys were just leaning into it and sighing, in a delirium of bliss, too excited even to eat.  The leaning continued for a day or two, and then over a two day period they continued leaning and began eating in ecstatic abandon, as if the discovery that they could literally NOT MOVE and still KEEP EATING was all they’d been waiting for.  Yesterday all I could see was wildly wagging tails and the tips of wiggling ears while the rest of the donkey anatomies were standing on tip-hoof as they ate their way down into the holes they’d created around their submerged faces over a day of munching.  Today the top of the hay finally fell down and the donkeys were revealed in all their chewy magnificence.  Still bleary eyed with delight.  It is good to have these reminders of just exactly what is important, Gentle Reader.

It is also lamb time, a personal favorite.  There are two especially grave and dignified teeny sibling newbies on the main road; cream and buttery brown markings and an incredibly civilized demeanor.  I stopped to say hello and they toinked over on their little hooves and gazed at me as though we were old friends. The Chub Group of Dwarf Billy Goats is also rousing itself now, after a winter of hunkering down.  Last night as I came home the setting sun framed all four of them as they strolled toward the road, lighting up the tufts of hair at the tips of their tails like a set of galaxies.  They also looked refreshed and philosophical, which was somehow very reassuring.

In other news, we have coyotes and lots of ’em now and it is like a complete Ring Cycle every night- lengthy basso profundo stuff with moments of lightning like sublimity.  Often on the move during these performances, there is definitely some new singing going on with them and I look forward to being woken up by them in the dark at night, hearing the story and how it changes.

Other than that? Good grief.  I’d like to ask the…er…lawmakers? to sit down and shut up now.  Let someone do something who actually has the welfare of the country and its’ people at heart.  First off?   The Republicans did not win the election, at all, time to notice that and get the drift that the average person in this country does not agree with the backward, ignorant, selfish and unconscious thrust of   Roe v Wade is law and it is time for us all to get over it and move on, secondly.  You really, guys? have absolutely no business telling any woman what to do with her body, period.  Also….until I start hearing these same individuals (who want to kick women back into the pre-dark ages and eliminate any personal, individual control over reproductive lives) saying that the death penalty is wrong and we should not be embarking on any wars at all, and that yes we really don’t need all these weapons all over the frigging place- I’m just going to continue to hold my current opinion of them.  Which is summed up in a word.  To wit, HYPOCRITE.  Easy to get worked up about protoplasm, in essence; hard to give a crap about all the people who are already here, apparently.

Which leads to the third point, which the Partner made this morning.  The game is really up.  The world’s ruling elites/groups/whoevers/tee-tiny percentage of earth’s population HAVE all the money.  They have Boardwalk, and everything else on the Monopoly board.  Time to start a new game: start over.  Maybe give everybody the same number of dice and get out of jail free cards.    I’m just saying, do it before these cheaters take the board away altogether.  Because however much I retreat into nature, however much I drink from that deeper well of reality and quiet truth, of simplicity (and this from someone who in other lives NEVER passed up a snappy pair of shoes or Important Lipstick), I always have the vision of all the rest of it pouring into my eyes and heart.  The challenges of my own approach to all these things in life notwithstanding, the knowledge that if there were an award for making mistakes, eye wateringly AWFUL mistakes,  I’d be a SHOO IN!! first round pick, doesn’t change the fact that I can come home from chatting with the lambs, accepting all the very real privations along with the astonishing joys of this life we’re living right now, watch the news for a second, and feel ripped in pieces while watching this beautiful earth and all the many beings who inhabit her being so cavalierly disregarded.   It makes me feel like a broken record at times, like a failure at others.  But we all can do what we can do.  The world is good and beautiful as it is and starting from that premise, that all our human “fixing” often just makes things worse, might be a good thing.  We’re really not paying attention, and we need to.  The questions of finding meaning and purpose are always there but perhaps the real thing is finding that quiet piece in the spin of what to do.  There’s a starting place- not the place we so often start at which is the place where we just left off.  I’m trying it myself.

What we see when we look at….

Anything.  Lately, Gentle Reader, it has been a rather disturbingly visionary time for me.  It is as though in a way everything has become visible and it’s all…a bit strange.  Because it’s not just a never ending view of faces in clouds, but it’s as though what everyone is thinking is like a film strip I’m watching.  I’m trying not to get too frantic in my search for the “off” switch.

The other day whilst realizing the truth of the Buddha’s reminder that we create our world with our thoughts, it was like crashing through a whole bunch of divergent worlds when I bumbled through all the day’s interactions.  Just because YOU can see that love is the glue of the universe, doesn’t mean anybody else around you does.  What they see is just as real to them as what you see is to you, and can be very important to bear in mind.  When what you see isn’t particularly something for which you can provide a cogent explanation (like, say why you’re doing what you’re doing or love who you love), AND if heaven forfend it is something that clashes with the audience’s perspective on what is real, sturm und drang can and does ensue.  The admonition to play nicely doesn’t always stick, after all.

It really is macrocosm in microcosm: Everything we feel and think and our experiences are our-sized versions of things that go on everywhere, both in larger and smaller forms throughout the cosmos.  Really.  What is it, I wonder, that keeps us all from doing the “right” thing.  From stepping back when we feel ourselves getting overextended, overemotional, reactive.  Like, say, wouldn’t it be great if Israel decides that even talking about bombing Iran is a bit over the top?.  Or  Assad decides maybe he should, for the moment, step back from killing everyone in Syria?  Maybe every individual with their finger on the trigger of an AK-47 could stop and reflect that there might be an easier way to live than being caged inside anger.  Maybe every politician could take a vow of silence for the rest of…well, for a Long Time.  We, in our daily lives, can decide NOT to bite our loved one’s head off because old material in us is being activated.  What keeps us from doing that?

It might be put forth that the pressures and difficulties of life intrude on the use of common sense.  It seems easier to go with the habitual (after all, Nature IS a creature of habit) when it often really isn’t.    Somehow we have really fallen for the okey doke.   It comes down to the challenges of really being present, really paying attention, and really thinking about what one experiences.  It’s all a huge opportunity to learn- and once the habit is developed of REMOVING the thorn from the paw instead of stepping on it, ramming it in deeper, and going into a frenzy, it really does get better.  You see much, much more of what is before you and as a result your decision making improves.  A dazzling array comes forth, with not just differences but huge swathes of similarity, which make it conducive to feeling at home in life.  It doesn’t get easier, but it does get better.  If things have been a particular way for your entire experience of them, expecting them to be different just creates a problem. As does applying those expectations to others.   If you can, however, step back, exercise restraint and respect, and let a higher good than personal gratification be the operating principle- we might all get someplace, and soon.  So whether it’s a toxic person or toxic waste: There IS a solution and it is really easier than we think.   Now, if I could just get this into a Youtube video- just think!! Instead of going around shooting people we could have mass kiss-ins!  Or hand shakes and smiles…..what a concept.

An Understanding

The May 5th edition of THE NEW YORKER had a fascinating article, “Kin and Kind”, by Jonah Lehrer.  It was about the origin of kindness in species, and the research both biological and mathematical that has carried on since Darwin first broached his findings.

One of the main scientists referred to in the article was E.O. Wilson, who among other things is probably the world’s expert on ants.  Ants live quite cooperatively, as we should know.  So do many other creatures; kindness is not always intermittent it seems.  So Wilson explored the question of how cooperation developed, some mathematicians joined the project, and they proceeded to create quite a kafuffle between biologists who felt their math was too complex and others who felt the original math that had led to some understanding of the development of kindness and altruism was too simple.  One thing Wilson observed was that at times altruistic behavior is a response to an environmental situation such as scarcity of living space.  Other times it is part of a hierarchical organization with a supreme ruler, the Queen of the Ants for example, where everyone serves her but in return gets protection and a functional life.  Anyway, you should read the article, Gentle Reader.

The closing quote, however, that entered my quivering little brain was this, from Wilson himself:

“Selfishness beats altruism within groups.  Altruistic groups beat selfish groups.  Everything else is commentary.

I thus realized that the experiences of the weekend tied right in to my ongoing struggles in understanding why it is that non-violence, which seems so obviously the right choice as to be a no brainer, is such a challenging practice over the long term.  Lost in the commentary again!   As humans we have a barely navigable mix of SELFISH and ALTRUISTIC.  Given that selfishness trumps everything in groups- and we can see this is true by a simple glance at our current society and government.  Selfishness trumps everything in this group.  We know deep down that kindness and cooperation go alot farther than pushing our own agendas no matter what but somehow….the lure of that success right in front of one seems to win out over the larger sense that we do better when we ALL do better.  So we’re, in essence, hardwired for this push pull, this WTF free for all in which our altruistic selves swim up stream against the tide that says selfishness and temporary benefit is “right”.

For a minute I saw myself floating way up in the sky, looking down, and thinking, well.  Heck.  There is clear evidence that altruism and cooperation do, indeed work, and work very well.  But somehow it is very difficult to make that work as well as selfishness seems to in a given instant.   Selfishness seems to always lead to conflict, violence- problems.  So why do we keep behaving in such a poorly adaptive manner?  I still don’t understand that, but I can see that those two strains of being, we might say, are constantly locked into a dance with each other.  It’s real, and I’m not crazy when I feel these energies pushing and swirling around.  So what it requires is thinking.  Attention.  Awareness.  On everyone’s part.  Oh, my goodness.  Seems like a tall order.   The quotes that are rattling around in the cranium at this point are:

Martin Luther King, Jr. ” I have decided to stick with Love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

A Cuban revolutionary, Menoyo: “When you are subjected to a policy of savagery and barbarism, you come to the conclusion that you have to reject those methods, that you have to be the first to set hatred aside- otherwise it will destroy you…”

And, of course, Gandhi’s tomb, where an inscription asks the visitor to imagine the poorest person they’ve ever seen, and ask themselves if their next act will be of any use to that person.

Armed with this new understanding, I think I feel more dismay, oddly, than before because in a way it seems that the only way to get society to grasp this concept is by, again as Gandhi said, doing it yourself.  Being the change you want to see.  Etc.  At present that seems to be a Sisyphusian task.  Now I see that the forces that operate against this approach are implacable in their own way, have always been there, and transmutation takes a long time.  It has to shift and evolve and that means some need must present itself, essentially, in order for shift to move progressively instead of congealing into pockets of conformity and apparent “safety”.  It isn’t even necessarily good, bad or indifferent in the overall view. It’s simply that selfishness is unproductive of overall good in the long run.  So one goes, essentially, against the tide and…..hopes for the best.

At the same time, of course there is hope, because this impulse toward good is just as real and powerful as everything else, as its opposite is.  It’s all energy, all moving.  Perhaps it is simply that as humans there are things we cannot see ahead of us, thus we cannot be overly concerned with them.  As in, what’s going to happen here?  Answer: Anything is possible.  And out of the truth of that possibility, let us focus on the endless possibilities inside that possibility, even though attaining them means repeating the same actions over and over, on and on.  Being the help first before we consume.

And so it is that every answer creates another question, don’t you think?

24 by what?

In the continuing Sea of Confusion I’m sailing through, someone asked me the above question about the yurt.  They first asked how I liked living in “the hut”.  Accustomed as I am to saying YURT over and over, since people continue to call it “a urt”, which drives me bananas,  I murmured the words its a yurt.  Then, we wanted to know size.  So, I said, it’s a 24 foot diameter yurt.  This elicited, as mentioned, the above question, and I admit I panicked a bit. I looked at the Partner for help and he studiously attended to his fingernails.  I tried to freeze my face into a composed, pleasant smile while I wondered how to answer that and not seem insulting or peremptory.’s a circle.  It’s round. It’s not an x by x measurement- that would be a square or rectangle. So? What size is it?  What by what?  As I pondered the fact that while I used to know how to find circumference and diameter and don’t now, I also thought about how it can be that someone doesn’t understand the concept of ROUND at all, period.

There’s a lot of that, we might say, going around.  Some of it can be attributed to the fact that people don’t always listen.  And who can blame them?  There’s a good deal of disagreeable stuff to hear out there.  In this particular case, it was more a case of inability to listen and understand, period, so kindness was appropriate.   When, however, people only listen to THEMSELVES when they speak, perhaps some sort of chastisement can be apportioned.  Still working through this question after all these years!  But really.  One should observe and draw one’s inferences and conclusions therefrom.  Not the other way around- where there’s an inferred pattern and everything must fit into it or be found defective, all dwellings are square, my deity runs everything, we’re in total control.    The demarcations laid out about what will, and what will not, come into a person’s field of understanding are becoming more visible every day and it is sometimes hard to know how to pass through them.  Sometimes people don’t understand what you’re saying when it’s vital that they do.  Like a police officer or a doctor.  Or a politician.  Those can be situations where cutting your losses and getting out of Dodge to a more enlightened place is the best answer- possible, we don’t always know.  Other times, people don’t understand what’s being said because they really don’t want to.  Their reality cannot be safely challenged, and if you do challenge it, you get nowhere fast. It’s their way, their view, period.  There simply isn’t anything else, even though one may be standing right there nose to nose.  You don’t exist on some level.

So I’ve decided to, for now at least, abandon detente as my global strategy.  An old habit to keep some sort of order among the warring experiences of my existence, it’s time for it to retire.  This ought to be really interesting- total honesty in the moment and no misplaced placatory efforts.  None.  If someone isn’t happy, they’re going to get to work it out themselves unless I’ve had (another) attack of ham hands or something and have to grovel in mortification.    Neutrality and hammered out agreements in oppositional situations, no appeasement if there is no agreement- in short, we’re not just automatically going to do it your way all the time any more.  Unfailing politeness will also be a goal.  After all! I didn’t flip anyone off that day I went downtown and everyone, in sequence and exponentially, was out of their mind.  I did tell one guy he was a supersized asshole, as I mentioned at the time, but that was under extraordinary provocation.  I do believe that civility goes a long way in any situation.   You can still say what you want.  It’s just that often I don’t in interpersonal situations.  I can write a HELL of a letter to my congressman, but it is harder to deal with an insinuation, an insult from someone I know.  But, as a Turkish friend once told me, sometimes you have to show your teeth.  The Partner considers those words to live by so I’m sure he will be Most Relieved to see me practicing at long last.  Balancing that tooth baring with non-violent approaches has preoccupied me for a while- it just wasn’t something I ever learned how to do.  I suppose you could say I was a proponent of “peace at any price” for some time.  Not, I think, any more.

We’ll see how this next step goes.  It sounds like something may have been learned at long last, but you never know. It may be a bit scary really and truly not worrying about whether others approve, or understand, or like things.  But I think it’s time to…just Be.  We are, indeed, here to help each other and be kind.  But as even the Buddha said, there is no need to take abuse- in fact that doesn’t ever help anybody.

Conflicted Hour

Usually, of course, it’s Happy Hour.  I KNOW THAT.  Still, with the extra load of (self inflicted, I admit it) pain and injury and having once again looked at the news, it’s more of an alligator wrestle with the mind to get it to sit down and focus on the important things, like…dinner?

Speaking of which, last night we did indeed have chilis.  In a sauce that eventually required more heat than originally included.  So I put a small piece of habanero in, from an already cut specimen on the counter.  I always test them with my finger to see what to expect.  I touched the end of the chili, but being a bit dried it revealed nothing.  So, I, Genius, got my finger wet, touched the chili, put the finger in my mouth.  Then, in an extraordinary display, even for me, I put that same finger ( I’d rinsed it off by then while screaming) in my eye.  Yes.  There’s also a third degree burn on one hand and an injured thumb on the other.

So then.  This morning I learn that the Oakland P.D. shot an unarmed and nonviolent #occupy oakland protester.  In the head.  They haven’t commented, the OPD.  Why should they?  The video footage makes you want to scream.  Two IVAW and Veterans for Peace members are standing at the perimeter of the “protesters”, in front of the barriers behind which stand the Darth Vader’d Out aforementioned OPD.  These two men, one of whom is in a Navy uniform, the other of whom is in a camo jacket and booney hat, both well worn and obviously by him for a long time, are standing quietly and peacefully between the OPD and the crowd.  Suddenly you see a projectile and sparks and the man in the camo jacket, Scott Olsen, is on the ground.  People from the crowd quickly rush up to help him- remember this is in front of the barricade behind which stand people..uh, sworn to protect and serve and who see this man fall to the ground with a head wound (which I am pretty sure they witnessed as it happened.  Unless they were napping at the time.).  And then? Then the OPD contingent fires a tear gas/ flame thingy RIGHT NEXT TO OLSENS’ HEAD.  While he’s on the ground.  Filling the area with smoke so no one can see or do anything.  Except the Navy guy who had, after calling for help at first injury,  immediately walked right over to the OPD line, faced them, and presented the Vets for Peace flag: At Arms.  So, to continue getting this straight, this man lying on the ground bleeding from the head  in front of the OPD line has served, at age 24, two tours in Iraq. ( Which for OPD? is probably more often than not pronounced EYE RACK.)   No injuries or wounds except the ones you can’t see.  Until now, when he is exercising his supposed First Amendment rights, peacefully and non violently and documentedly to boot.  (oh, dear…) When he gets shot by civilian police.  With a tear gas cannister to the head.  For extra fun he gets to go to Highland Hospital, about which I have written before.  Because, see? The Partner is FROM Oakland, and I have lived in and around it for the bulk of my adult life.  Until we Came To The Yurt.  So we already know OPD.  This seems pretty raw even for them.   And they are renowned for raw.

It makes me think that back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and the Black Panthers were a presence in the community, and people in East Oakland often took shots at the OPD helicopters buzzing their neighborhoods with bright lights at all hours of the night (ever had that happen? It is quite something, and a real test of your commitment to non violence)- maybe they weren’t wrong to do that, take that shot, say You Can’t Do This In My Neighborhood.  It’s just that it never gets anywhere, that sort of action.  Which seems to be something Mr. Olsen understood and felt strongly enough about ( perhaps naively but what the hell- he earned the right) to attempt to express the awareness that peace IS the way,  in a setting where it might be of service, the best way he could see at the time.  Perhaps, if this senseless act provokes some communication it will be of immeasurable service.  But I think about his mom and his friends.  And him.  And it took me a long time to stop crying today and although I still don’t know how to deal with all this? One thing is for sure.

I’m a person who has always voted, has always felt it was profoundly important.  Now I see we have a completely corruptible system, we know voting has been a sham and twisted to the purposes of those who meant to win no matter what. The people who are running for and in office are despicable more often than not, and also more like something straight out of the Psychiatric Diagnostic Manual than is even palatable to think about.  It is very largely about how much money they can raise.  So I decided to register to vote up here- I hadn’t yet, being so disgusted and confused about it all- only to enter NONE OF THE ABOVE.  Some how, some way, Gentle Reader, fellow beings, we have to turn this thing around.  We are here on earth now, and really.  We need to remember that.  We have to have an alternative so that we can all move forward for the good of all, not just the few.

Some Days….

One just cannot get oriented, right side up, calibrated, none of it.  Today is shaping up to be one of those days.  The laundry, for example, has morphed into something monstrous.  I’m staring at it but the synapse that fires and says, pick this up and go do it is AWOL.  I’m trying to write a business plan, too. Ha, ha.  This is quite the endeavor, gentle readers.  Quite the endeavor.  I look at sample plans and they’re all, we expect to make X jillion $s by year two, and the demand for this service is yadda yadda.   While I think it is a worthwhile thing to write this Ostensible Plan, at the same time I see how far out of the mainstream we are here at the Rancho de Boo.  I happen to think the mainstream at this point is corrupt, to put it mildly, and I don’t WANT to be part of it.  However, back to the infrastructure issues which the Business Plan might address….oh, dear.  So, I’m waiting for inspiration.   Again.

We went to the movies yesterday, which was really quite exciting.  A matinee! during the week! Like a day game in baseball season or a trip to the track on Thursday, a lovely thing.  We saw AVATAR.  Which, moving beyond the quibble of how depictions of indigenous populations are often “idealized” (after their extermination, of course), and beyond the fact that the entities that bring us movies and films are often the self same groups that are exterminating the indigenes, as it were…it was really a great movie. IMHO.  Visually stunning, of course.  Sweeping movement and conscious content.  And, of course! Food for thought.  What does non-violent resistance really mean?  I suppose there is a point where one must physically defend one’s principles.  But fighting never accomplishes anything much except temporary population reduction.   Armed conflict is a tragedy for all involved.  But when an outside force is trying to crush you, literally, what do you do?  The eternal standoff between good and evil.  We all want to be on the side of the “good”, and so often are not, due to circumstances of birth, residence, space and time.  Good is, I think, a neutral concept in a way.  Good supports harmony and balance, but that support can involve things we don’t like, like death and disruption.  Evil, on the other hand, can appear to be good.  Over expansion, moving too fast, thinking only of one small thing instead of the balance of all.  Pretending that things don’t constantly change.  OH, DEAR.  The lengths I will go to to avoid laundry! Who’d’a thunk…….

Flame Thrower, or Rotten Eggs?

Before we get our selves in a twist regarding the reference above: This is just a fantasy I have about how my driveway should be dealt with.  I am officially over the edge about the driveway.  The rotten eggs might be workable.  I’d probably feel too guilty if I actually incinerated someone.  HOWEVER MUCH THEY DESERVED IT.

I was going to write about how it thundered all night long last night, much as it did on another September night eight years ago.  Completely out of season and unusual here, but symbolically? Yes indeed.  And I was awake for the entire thing because the Partner is still not well.

Then, the phone rang and I learned that a dear  friend had died this week.  I was going to write about her incredible grace, gallantry, bravery and humanity facing a travail that most would have found too much to bear long ago.  I got to see her a few weeks ago, because the Partner’s quick eye noticed her at the grocery store.  I got to give her a big hug then, at least.

So, perhaps I will write about those things.  When I am not so angry at the stupidity surrounding me.  This anger  involves- and I bet, Gentle Reader, you will not be surprised to learn….the driveway from HELLLLLLLLLLL.  AGAIN.  

So, despite on and off rain, there’s a garage sale across the street.  Parking across the street and on our side too.  So where does an idiot wench, about whom we now write,  park? My driveway.  Not in the parking place she could have backed into BEHIND the driveway, no, smack dabby dab in the middle.  There were three small children in the back, who eventually started screaming at the top of their lungs when I.W.’s partner, after lengthy perusal of yard sale, which was all toys, learned to her dismay and surprise that they didn’t take checks for seventy five cents.  But that was later.  Having spotted the blockage of the driveway at the outset of this festive encounter, I walked out and asked her, politely, and in my Jin Shin Jyutsu t-shirt for God’s sake,  to please not block my driveway.  Her response? Was that I was a crazy bitch and she wasn’t moving. They were just going to be a while and I wasn’t going anywhere.  She wasn’t moving.  I was crazy.  And a bitch. Etc. So, I said, you can’t back up, please, and not block my driveway? More of the same.  Thank you for being so cooperative and setting such a good example for your kids, I said.  She said something unprintable.  At this point she noticed all our neighbors were now out staring at her with obvious distaste and an air of let’s get ‘er boys! call the cops!  She backed up and managed to take two parking spaces.  Several people tried to park behind her, couldn’t because there wasn’t enough room, and left.  Our other side neighbors arrived home and squeezed their small car in behind her, narrowly missing the car behind them, which belongs to my other neighbor and is quite the Hot Corvette. He saw his car about to be smashed and entered into the fray.   Small car neighbors got out of their car and asked I.W. if she could move her, still idling, car up a teeny bit.  Mr. Corvette waded in saying, if my car gets hit somebody dies.  Finally I.W.’s Portly Partner wandered back from across the street, kids screaming with no toys, got in the car, flipped me off, and at long last they left.

I confess to puzzlement.  And dismay.  And? I’m really sick of this.  I can’t get out of, I can’t get in to, my own dratted freaking driveway that I get to pay extra rent for because of the Privilege of Having a Driveway.  Not even.  So I’m thinking that while mayhem will not help anything, of course, and we all have to try , as Gandhi said,  to be the change we want to see in the world?  A stash of rotten eggs might be perfect.  Oh, you’ll just be here a little while? Perfect! WHUMP. Right on the windshield.   Really.  Because the meter maids never come in time, except for the periodic person who parks there drunk and leaves, so that the car’s still there an hour after I call the police to come because someone’s blocking my driveway.   I’m open to better ideas.


Well, hello again.  Somehow the frazzled nerves here at House of Pain are soothed by writing, SO:  onward.

One thing I have been meaning to write about and haven’t  is: MY PROPAGATION WENT SWIMMINGLY THIS YEAR.  I was actually, for the first time, able to propagate a rose bush.  I know it is supposed to be easy, and usually my entire paw is green, but up to now, no baby roses.  This is an especially wonderful one:  Large coral and rose colored, intensely fragrant flowers.  I dry them and use in a Persian style spice powder.  The other projects, the grape, onion, ginger stalk, succulents, elderberry and scented geraniums are well established and on their way to being Big Plants.  I am thrilled.  Propagation is one of the joys of my life and given the Challenging Nature of Things at Present……

Which, ha ha, reared their ugly head while I was writing this earlier.  So.  Also, I was going to report on two things that made me laugh last week.  Thing the first:  My client in the nursing facility has a prized object, shaped like a cat.  A pillow.  One day last week, in addition to everything else, the cat went AWOL.  I tore his room up, got lots of inarticulate hand gestures in response to my queries about what might have happened, finally got my homegirl up front to let me into the laundry room.  So I could go through the dirty laundry from his wing in case the cat was there.   Which I did. And, which, yes, is another little piece of hell on earth I got to tour last week.  Nonetheless.  The two laundry people were standing there goggling at me.  I say I’m looking for a pillow, shaped like a cat.  Black, round, yellow eyes with a tail.  The man there, bless his furry and demented little heart, no doubt just wanted to help.  So he said, OH, IS THAT IT? pointing excitedly.  Hope springs eternal so I turned and looked.  And saw, yes, a pillow.

 A pillow SHAPED LIKE TWEETY BIRD. A BRIGHT YELLOW, EIGHTEEN INCH TALL, BULBOUS TWEETY BIRD.  Well, no, I said, barely holding it together.  Excellent try but I’m looking for Sylvester.  (Who, eventually, I did find.) (But not there.)

Thing the second was on dooce.  She printed an email comment from a headless, Germanic, anti-vaccination pioneer which…well.  I felt like I might have found my long lost sister.  I also wondered if all this hasn’t driven me just the teensiest bit crazy.  Just. The. Teensiest. Bit.

Meanwhile, watching a program on tv while The Partner lay in quiet misery, (since, of course, there’s no doctor we can see for him because…oh, well) we see that there is no water in Fresno, they’re mowing down almond trees before they die, and the ground is empty, unemployment there is at 40%, and the food lines are so long people can’t even get…..anything.  Which, since the San Joaquin Valley produces an awful lot of food? And it isn’t producing it now?  What do you think?

I heard a very intelligent person, who is on the grid (unlike me), has a brain and a heart, give an opinion about what she thought was happening, worst case scenario.  It really made my blood run cold because it makes a horrible kind of sense.  The fine folks who have brought us to this situation AND I’M SORRY YOU KNOW DAMNED WELL WHO YOU ARE, GRAND OLD PARTY , BIG AND MULTI-NATIONAL CORPORATIONS OF ALL STRIPES AND THOSE LUCKY FOLKS WHO ACTUALLY HAVE ALL THE MONEY, (sorry about the yelling) are just waiting for everything to collapse, undermining everything President Obama is working potentially toward.  Then they can rebuild, again, in their own image, pointing to the failure of the Democrats and of Obama.  Endless supply of immigrant labor, check.  The supermax prisons they said they didn’t build but did? Ready for occupancy.   These days are a real test of my faith, of my convictions about non-violent action.  About everything.  Thank God for gardening, is all I can say.

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.