Posts Tagged ‘postaday 2012’

Compassion

It is rainy and overcast today; it looked at one point as though there was…an unencumbered afternoon ahead in which to get some lingering work done, since we weren’t going anywhere.

BUT OF COURSE.  Given the opportunity to stare blankly into space, an object will stare blankly into space.  Basic physics, right?  Also when a DVD gets put in that an object wants to watch, that object will somehow find itself watching that DVD.  I have the discipline of a wet noodle at times.  (We’re watching “Life”, a tv show we somehow missed.  When we had television.  It’s good.)

But back, or on,  to compassion.  There was an interview on NPR with a woman who wrote a book about a slum in Mumbai located next to the airport and a passel of luxury hotels.  One observation she made that was even more striking than everything else she said, hard as that was because this is one amazing woman even though I never did get her name (driving! in car!), was that the level of moral compass declines when poverty is rampant, in part because corruption rises and every transaction has a price, and also because in such corruption the monitoring forces of society are also corrupt.  So people are hesitant to, say, help someone in distress in the street lest they be arrested or forced to pay a bribe themselves.  When you couple that with the obvious atrophy of the soul that allows people to  pass by such a place on the way to another place close by- that is so removed from the squalor and suffering that the people in the place of squalor can, if they’re lucky, make a living from the trash that the jetting by people toss out- without thinking, hey, there must be something I can do about this and let’s get a few people we know together.  Well, what you’ve got is not just a collapse of moral thinking, but a total, stark absence of it.

It’s interesting to me how humans can do that, segment, compartmentalize, categorize people and things and then disregard them.  While not always as egregious as the Mumbai slum, this habit people have of deciding that they don’t have to pay attention is problematic.    On a personal level, people may “decide” what you are “like” and since they’re not paying attention, that decision can be way, way wrong.  That decision can also affect your life Gentle Reader,  and not positively.  Then you get to spend (x) amount of time unravelling that decision and its effects and getting back to square one.   This dynamic is as true of a parent who cannot recognize who their child really is as it is of a culture that decides wholesale swathes of people just don’t count and can be dealt with in whatever way is easiest.  Like, watching them living in poverty or endlessly cycling through prison, or just seeing them give up on their own humanity.  Seeing them give up on helping each other.  Seeing them give up on paying attention.

So, I’m thinking that this mutilation of moral contiguity also leads to a mutilation of all human functions, like thinking independently.  And independent thinking isn’t always valued as highly as perhaps it should be.  So it’s even more important than we might have already thought to pay attention.  It’s hard to do sometimes, which probably accounts for why I’m still sneaking looks at “Life”. Even though it IS really good!  Ah, distraction how we love thee.

 

Are We There Yet?

And yes, apparently, we are.  Because we have been visited! By the Norwegian Carrot Cake Spammer!  I was prompted to look up the word “blunt” used in the negative comment, which included the injunction to investigate Norwegian Carrot Cake . (Spelt flour, sea buckthorn.  Healthy, for sure, and ingenious, using a seaweed as a cake ingredient.)  Others, we learned,  have also been visited by this person who seems to stop in, sock you in a back handed sort of way, and leave untranslated directions for this unusual creation as resolution, in the name of bluntness.  And, shockingly, Gentle Reader? I’d thought it was the wrong word, but as it happens, it was totally apropos.  “Blunt- Dull in understanding, not acute.”  My goodness.   It dovetailed nicely with this week’s ongoing lesson, which is don’t take things personally.  Anyone can be blunt, after all.  Move along.

Meanwhile, it being February and Valentine’s thingummy and what not, I was thinking about love, the power thereof, and how it really is the substrate of everything, and an application of love can make almost anything better.  And that application can be the simple act of listening.  Also? leaving judgement at the door, simply being present and observing what is there.   Mostly we don’t know enough to judge another, even though we can make decisions about whether we want to be in their vicinity or not.   But in the course of getting through a day, many seem to operate under the rule that if you can’t say something nice, think harder.  Surely you’ll find SOMETHING. (*I* like a song lyric we heard recently about playing music in bars for drunks:  “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it more than twice.”)  In all the life and death struggles of last week, about who did what and said which and what not, suddenly I was aware that mostly it was totally unimportant and related of course to all the stuff we all carry around with us, from the past as well as the imagined future, and project out into the world as if it makes sense to do so.  Really,  much easier to just let it go since it isn’t really helping one.  Deep breath.  Smile.  Keep going, keep doing your work, maintain balance.  In short, be where you are right now.  Remember it’s more important to be happy than to be “right” for the most part. Plato reportedly said that since we are all fighting huge battles, we must be kind.   It’s pretty amazing, really.  I hope to be able to stay in that admittedly precarious balance more, and with fewer trackless wastes of off-road cursing and commentary, by me or Whoever.   Long and winding road, indeed.

Chop wood, carry water

The Partner is doing the chopping; I did the water carrying.  Soon, we have to go down off the hill, which I figured costs us a minimum of $5 in gas each time, because our phone is out of order and there isn’t any cel reception up here to speak of.  It’s all in the exhausting nature of life here which does have the effect of keeping one FLEXIBLE.  Gumby-esque, you might say.  I had things planned for Monday, for example, but now I have to be here all day waiting for the Phone Company to show up.  So that means I need to do something else on my list Monday.  Which means the errands I had planned for Tuesday need partly to be done today.  And so on.  We couldn’t do laundry while the sun was out because….hahahaha!!! there wasn’t any water.  And so on.

The Business Issues continue but with my new Carefree, Relaxed Attitude, do I care that I have orders to get out that are waiting for the New Size Jars since these are all custom things?  And that the label issue, much as I tried to do an end run around it, required certain large purchases to be made.   At least we got a “free” shredder thrown in. ( It says “LIGHT DUTY” on it; the Partner asked what that meant, and I figure it means this shredder is not for corporate use, right? ) However and, with my excellent New Design and Brain Consulting Staff, I think that while there will certainly be lots of cursing and stepping on the Screaming Doormat (which last uttered a spontaneous and un-stepped upon scream as we were walking out into the eclipse to drive to the Christmas Fair), ultimately it will all be better.

It finally snowed in the mountains and at last, there is snow on both Lassen and Shasta which glows spectacularly in the sunsets.  The other mountains had snow, and were wreathed in fog and clouds which gave them the appearance of floating, until the snow largely melted.  The frogs are coming out to sing, and the gray squirrel was out front this morning, first facing us eating an acorn so that his white stomach glowed like a beacon.  Then he turned around and we watched his little head and ears as he padded around foraging.  The manzanitas are blooming, too- the pink ones always come out first.

You could almost think everything is alright.  But in the words of the songwriter Tod Snyder, everything is not alright.  As in the song I heard, wherein he described being about to crash his car.

I spent a whole day last week with a friend, going to the doctor first and then to the lab where in theory lab tests were to be done.  The high point was seeing the miniature donkeys on the way home, besides getting to hang out with my friend of course.  The low point?  All the rest of it.

WHICH.  We will summarize because really?  I’m starting to see how things really are intimately connected even though the Average Citizen is doing their darndest not to see it.  And it’s really exhausting.  But the medical establishment in the country?  The war on drugs?  The prison system which has been privatized?  All connected.  Directly.  And it is all about profit, Gentle Reader, not to put too fine a point on it.  We were told, point blank, that surgeons in particular and physicians in general in this area will not take on patients who do not have health insurance.  Because why?  Because their insurance carriers have determined that people who don’t have insurance and pay cash are more likely to file malpractice suits.  A get rich quick scheme we were told.  Which told me off the top that nobody knows their right from their left here.   Lawsuits are no longer “quick” in this state with the budget cuts to the courts.  There are caps on malpractice settlements.  Then we were told that these same individuals (lowlifes was the implication) were “no better off financially twelve months later” than they were before because they “can’t manage money”.   Apart from the fact that if they did manage to get a settlement, a pretty large portion of it would go to their attorney.  And to taxes.  But, hey!  It’s all about money management, right?  So, if you don’t have insurance FOR WHATEVER REASON?  and you get sick?  Sayonara, where’s the airport.  Also, if you refuse the Pharma Platter suggested to you, no further assistance will be rendered.  If they think you’re too sick to benefit from said Pharma Platter, even if you have insurance, you’ll be let die- and I personally witnessed this with a client.  It blew my mind, really.  I was shocked that in a society where many people seem to think abortion is wrong, adults are let die because….because,  it seems, they are no longer profitable.  So, in essence, the insurance and pharmaceutical industries control the sort of medical and health care you get in this country.

The war on drugs? Links directly to the Prison issue, and they both go directly to: Profits for Corporations, Pharmaceutical, and now, “Corrections”.  People can be as loaded as all get out on vicodin, xanax, oxycontin, whatever their doctor will prescribe.  But smoke marijuana and you’re in the slammer for a long time.  You are depriving Pharma of their due profits, after all.  So then you go to prison, and the prisons? Are largely for profit corporate entities now.  The simple math:  More prisoners mean more money coming in.  Fewer services for those prisoners means the more money can be turned into profit instead of used for the betterment of society by educating prisoners and helping them improve their lives.  I mean, really.  Explain to me how you can throw somebody in jail for ten years and they come out worse than when they went in.  Plus they can’t: vote, rent a place to live, get a job.  And for extra fun they’ve got a mountain of debt for their jail term.  Nelson Mandela got a huge bill from the South African government for his term of incarceration, and so do many of the spider web tattooed guys you see on the street from time to time.  It becomes a revolving door situation: There’s nothing for them to do on the outside and they’re money makers on the inside.  Adam Gopnick has written an excellent article in the January 30 issue of THE NEW YORKER on the subject of prisons, and it is something everyone should read.  We have, apparently, more people in prison than were in Stalin’s gulags.  The racial composition of prisons is another, sickening, subject.  And the War on Drugs, which when you look at it goes pretty much directly back to not only the Pharmaceutical industry which militates against anything they aren’t selling themselves,  but also the endemic corruption in law enforcement (they can get money for broad swathes of drug arrests, for example).

So, as much as we’d all like to deny that we’re sitting on top of a mountain of excrement which is about to sink under it’s own nasty weight, it’s still the actual case.  It doesn’t seem like it would be all that difficult to undo either….but that would mean a restructuring of things and profit would have to go, as it is currently understood and manifested.  Surplus ? To be used consciously to improve whatever the purpose of the initial means of production?  A more workable concept.  (the Partner, again.)

We’ll be back to recipes next time I think.  All this tough sledding has made me cook like a maniac.

First, the news…..

We’re watching FAVELA RISING at the moment, or the Partner is and I’m …multi-tasking.  It’s inspiring and dispiriting at the same time, of course, this film.  Incredibly, I think, worth seeing.  It kind of embodies everything in this post (more eloquently of course), plus there is SPECTACULAR drumming.  This post does not have any sound effects at all, since you, Gentle Reader, cannot hear either the intermittent gun shots nor the honking loud truck up on the ridge.

*sigh*.  Just when I was feeling a bit, tiny, tiny, tiny bit better about President Obama.  The Partner wanted to hear the State of the Union speech; he was surprised that I couldn’t have cared less.  We tried streaming it but our internet provider (who I now hate, thoroughly.  I can’t even update my software on this…”service”.) is not quite up to streaming, or much else.   So I read the speech out loud.  We both thought it had some good stuff, Maynard.  Along with the mention of the “small business owner in rural America who can’t sell HER (!) products abroad” (this was connected to an internet topic, but still…), it seemed to contain some common sense, cogent ideas.  So when I saw today that, yes you gullible kids, even though SOPA and PIPA went down, President Obama had already signed in on an agreement that required no Congressional or Judicial oversight or approval at all, LAST OCTOBER, that provides for the mandate of all (as in every single one) ISPs to maintain total information about everything you do on line, and terminate your connection and ability thereto if you violate their rules.  Which of course….are meant to protect the Intellectual Property…of….wait for it!…. all the people who were backing SOPA and PIPA.  Pharma, Entertainment.  Etcetera.   Many countries have already signed on, and apparently the EU and Mexico have indicated that they will sign.  Sometime.

More uplift? Not so much.   It made me a bit crazed for a minute, that revelation.  But then I remembered this.  One of the really big things the Internet has done is allow people all over the world to relate to each other on a peer level.  Share their concerns and realities.  Work toward solutions.  Realize, in short, that we are not alone- we are really all together.  I think about the indomitable spirit out there among all who struggle with the daily obstacles of poverty, injustice, who work toward a better world for all in whatever way they can.  So I decided to take the Dalai Lama’s advice: No reason for too much worry.   I think we will all do just fine, because we’re already doing the work.  Once the inner uproar subsides and the inner back relaxes back down, it can be seen that all this negative, let’s just say it: evil, stuff will sink under its own weight, as those who strive for the good keep moving in the right direction.   Not without cost, but without giving up on truth, and beauty, and love.  No matter what.

And here we are finally at the initial thinking of today.  The Partner is a carpenter, builds houses and all sorts of things.  He was talking about how wood has to be a certain percent dry before building in order for the house to be stable.  Too wet, it’s bad, too dry, also bad.  The resonance of the place is off because the parts are energetically, so to speak, out of synch, so things don’t fit together in the end.  Everything is moving after all, everything has magnetic and electrical currents.  So when a house isn’t in synch with itself, the materials are not really integrated with each other-  it probably won’t be with you either. It is like when you’re looking for a place to live and some places make you really comfortable, others make you want to run and hide.    Out of synch things don’t last as long or as well, either.  Recently I also read a study that discovered (amazing, but there it is that such a thing as this has to be “discovered”) far better health outcomes for poor people who were placed in attractive and harmonious surroundings.  I mean: it doesn’t take much to realize that someone is going to do a whole lot better with their asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes or whatever it might be if they’re living in a well maintained, reasonably safe, light, clean, pleasing to look at place.  Instead of being crammed into some apartment in a dangerous location.   What all this said to me was that we live in a society, a culture, that expects- demands, really- that you do whatever is in front of you whether it is in accord with you or not.  You do a beastly job and you’re thankful because you’re not starving, or on a somewhat higher level you dog paddle because you can buy things you think will make you happy.  You cross borders illegally to work, or you live apart from your family because that’s where your good job sent you.  Or the new one you got after being unemployed sent you.  You live wherever you can find a place, and this can range from awful squalor to simply a cramped place in a neighborhood you like if that’s the level you’re at on the monetized scale.  You may buy a house because of the staging or the prestige of the location, not because you are comfortable in it and really like it yourself.   But nothing is really in synch, in accord, moving in complementary directions.  To me it means that we have a society in which people  are deeply out of touch with themselves, their real goals and aspirations, their physical realities; the prevailing paradigm reinforces that to a big extent.  So we have people who are physically unwell, mentally unwell, all because while we may say that individual rights are important, they really aren’t.  The pressure to do what you “have to” is overwhelming for many and their individuality lessens and lessens as a result.  From my point of view in terms of health particularly, we really do need to be mindful of what is in resonance with us, and what is not.  This is the first step toward awareness, which is what leads toward action of any kind, whether it is toward better health or a better attitude or a better school district, or whatever.  Action taken in resonance is right action because it is action that is in connection, properly, with what is around it.   Right action is what we all need, all the time.  It really isn’t that hard, once you take the first step.  And remember, No need for too much worry!

Won Ton W/rappers

Yesterday was a blur of difficulty, let’s just say.  Emotional instability reared its ugly head, dueled with logistical nightmares and potentially lethal snafus, skidded on muddy roads, and eventually baked cookies.  Today started off with telemarketing calls from the moon ( no, I didn’t buy any),  and then the real fun began.  My glass supplier called to say the jars I’ve used for the past several years and just reordered are no longer available.  Period.  Nyet.  Not making ’em anymore.  So, this is getting into real fun, here.  I make and sell a product that, up to now, has been a SPECIFIC SIZE, right?  Because I’ve used the same jars FOR A LONG TIME.  A jar is a stable little thing, isn’t it?  Who’d’a thunk that such a small thing could turn into such a big deal?   Except of course that it is always the things you don’t think of that suddenly afix themselves to your posterior with all the might of their pointy teeth and strong jaws.   Because, see, we have labels that have to be very specific about what is in the jar, including size/amount. The labels have to FIT a certain size jar.  Plus, it’s a certain price for a certain amount and size of jar.  So, basically, this jar isn’t a negotiable item.  We use amber colored glass and not clear or blue or green or purple  for preserving purposes;  plastic is of course totally out of the question.   Glass is essential, versus plastic, for preserving purposes and non-chemical contamination issues.  Why make an organic/biodynamic product and then package it in —– ? However much the petrochemical industry would like you to.  Heck, you can use the lotions that have all their petro stuff in them as preservatives, put it in plastic made from the same lovely stuff, and voila.  Toxic immersion, a concept we’re all swimming in.

My supplier was struggling to maintain composure through the many calls she had to make to tell people their orders weren’t going to happen. It made me feel terrible.   I called another source who reminded me that, as small businesses, manufacturers don’t really give a flying whizzbang about you.  They decide what to make, what not to, and you as the tee tiny business person out there get to, essentially, retool on a dime.  It took a huge amount of tooth gritting determination to keep my mind from completely exploding (again) when I think about the TOTAL FREAKING HYPOCRISY that is rampant, about “small business”, “job creation”, “support for entrepreneurs”, “getting America back to work”, blahblahblahblah….BLAH.   As a small business person, I have not found that support or help terribly available.  I couldn’t get a Small Business Loan at the startup because….I hadn’t been in business long enough.  I really liked that.  The bank wouldn’t lend me any money unless I essentially bought my car over again.  Once per car is enough, don’t you think?   I’d love to be able to expand and JEEZ, maybe even hire someone to help us.  That is definitely out there in fantasy land at this point, as the Partner and I toil on here in Biodynamic World.  But anyway.

I’m trying to maintain a calm, easygoing, upbeat attitude about all this.  It’s just change! A shift in direction! We’ve been thinking that we should raise our prices a bit.  The only jars I can find that are remotely acceptable now are  bigger than our current ones and a fair bit more expensive.  It makes sense to raise the price on something when you’re getting more of it, doesn’t it?   So we get to ponder this price point stuff too.  There’s a whole ecosystem for that, too.  At this point, my products aren’t expensive enough for people with  money to be too interested in them- they are lovely, they work, they’re good for you, but sadly no Swank Factor it would seem.  If we raise the price,  current customers are going to think twice, and we hope continue their purchases but after all.  Things are dicey and money is funny.   This is the life, Gentle Reader!

On a positive note, at least SOPA and PIPA, those two mutant darlings, are off the table at present.  Probably to be..retooled! and brought out again but nonetheless, something good happened there.  Tonight I’m making ravioli (hence today’s title),  another guided meditation to  keep everything loosely connected while we fly through the air hoping there’s a trapeze out there somewhere.  That tree branch I got stuck in last night wasn’t, in the end, all that comfortable.

Vicious Circle Surfeit

It’s getting harder to know what to do about things, Gentle Reader.  How does one participate productively, when do you just shine things on, how does a change in paradigm get implemented and, really? Is it any of one’s business?  Of course it IS quite often one’s business if only insofar as we each have a responsibility to tell the truth and ……oh dear.  Well, you can see my quandary.

We have drama brewing apace here on the hill, which used up quite a bit of my time today.  The good news was that our landlady had indeed returned on Monday with plumbing parts, did fix the leak to a certain degree, and then?  The pipes froze.  That was yesterday.  So when the phone rang and the day went to hell right off the top, I guess I was temporarily buoyed up by the knowledge that the pipes weren’t frozen TODAY! All the water I’d put in buckets all over the yurt could stay there for now! Just in case! And even though my mail wasn’t reaching its important destinations and my calls weren’t being returned, there was still a (temporary) sense of having backed away from the actual edge of the cliff.   But back to the Drama.  Perhaps the importance is in knowing when to say something, when not.  Also to whom.  Stupidity, however, IS forever quite often, and attempting to provide redress to that fundamental gaping hole in things is pretty damned hard.  This particular case in point showcased my general tendency to jump in, sort things out, get the life boat provisioned, and other people’s willingness to send me straight to the front.  Etcetera.  But then I thought, hmmmm.  When it’s drama, and high drama at that, the messenger often gets shot so really it is probably better to wait until everyone is calmer. It has also been brought to my attention that people don’t listen all the time, and that being the case a different approach than talking might be better.  But then people may indeed experience the consequences of their own actions, which sometimes has a scattershot effect, and in this case would be highly undesirable to say the least.

So.  Public policy.  How do you get people to actually act in their own best interests?   A spot of news listening doesn’t cast much light on this, either.  Boehner of our existence, WTF?  SOPA? PIPA?  I actually heard someone say that these bills are, get this! ABOUT JOBS.  Zillions of innocent people will lose their jobs if these bills are not passed because…er….piracy of films online will…..why, it will…..Totally did not get the connection there, except that JOBS are a catchword now, used by Republicans in every context whether appropriate or not.    I think if I hear…(well, and here it is! ONE MORE TIME! Mitt and Newt running their mouths with minimal brain engagement and maximal use of “job creation” ) any more malarkey about jobs I will scream.  Pardon me……

The birds screamed for me just now, the sweethearts.  Still.  It is really something to be on this runaway train.  We can’t agree that climate change is real in the Hallowed Halls of Legislation but we can sure wade in and make sure censorship is alive and well, because why? Because it’s easier than tackling the actual problems of the world.  And? Because the money has to stay where it is.  The laws will still be broken, criminals will still succeed, but by cracky we’re striking a blow for….certainly not democracy.  I wonder what they’re going to call it this time.  All they really need to do now is put Monsanto in charge of the internet, and their work would be done here, the forks could be removed.  They could go back to being Job Creators!  I suspect our fine legislators are just as confused as we are, however, because I also heard something quite interesting from one of them this past week, something to the effect that half of the people in the US don’t pay income tax.  This, it turned out,  was an allusion to people at or below the poverty line not having to pay income tax.  Therefore, it would seem that this person was saying that half the people in the US are at or below the poverty line.  Wow, I thought.  Inadvertent truth!

Anyway.  The sky is completely clouded over, no visibility and dark falling rapidly.  The weather is changing, and winter may have actually arrived in full force.  This will make the coming week a logistical nightmare but what else is new?  Meantime, I found a recipe for pinto beans with garlic and red wine (Lynn Rosetto Kasper, in the JPR Monthly)  and it is a winner.  Simplified:  Cook beans in pressure cooker.  Saute finely diced carrot and onion until beginning to brown, then add 8 or so thinly sliced garlic cloves, cook until they are softened.  Then, a cup and a half of red wine, bring to simmer lower heat and let reduce to almost nothing.  THEN, add beans and their broth, let cook for a half hour or so to meld flavors.    This was a really good variation on pinto beans, and with some good bread makes a good meal.  Tonight we’ll probably make something spicier with them, which it is now time to ponder.  Chili? Cumin? The challenge of making something interesting from a basic and often used ingredient, as well as something good out of nothing particular, is always eventually very enlivening.  Thank goodness.

Oh, Lordy

Yet another couple of hours of potential productivity dissipated this afternoon; somehow time flies by and today what it has brought is high wind and perhaps the start of rains.  This means, among other things, that we have to scurry around and get more wood before everything turns to freezing mud.

I was talking to an old friend who remarked that parsing ideas was becoming ever more difficult.  BOY HOWDY, I said.  Sometimes you find yourself simply unable to respond to things.  Anyway, it being Sunday we’re listening to Harry Shearer again.  Monsanto!  Mitt Romney!  UGH!   Not to mention all the local excitements of dwelling here in the land the BiPolar Express visited once and then forgot.  As in, restraining orders being tacked onto neighborhood bulletin boards with warnings scrawled thereon in lipstick.  But who’s counting?  The entire world seems to be more than a bit excitable.

And so time moved on and found us here at Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, erstwhile holiday.  I had actually thought about writing about that today until I found that we were unexpectedly  back at the part of the film titled “FUN WITH PLUMBING”.  The Partner had noticed a growing leak at the pumphouse (of the relatively recently replaced well, another fun time) which this morning culminated in:

The landlady’s husband turning off the water without telling anyone, then leaving.  He does things like that.

The landlady calling and saying they were BOTH leaving, she’d turned the water back on, and if anything happened THEY DIDN’T DO IT.   This was fun.   In addition, The Partner responds especially well to stimulus of this sort.  The water was indeed on, which also meant that it took some time for it to get back to a point where it would come out of our faucet.  This did finally happen, accompanied by huge spurts and sprays, green water (just like before!), muck, nothing, spurts…I decided to bite the bullet and wash dishes.  While I could, sort of thing.

While engaged in this attempt at productivity, I found my inner voice going: WTF! Am I the worst person on the planet or what? Why me??? Screw the easy button! That’s not good enough any more!  I can’t take any more of this (spurt, spray, glob, wild temperature fluctuation, rinse and repeat).  I NEED A NEW LIFE RIGHT NOW.  Then as if in some sort of dizzying technical display, I saw every plumbing fiasco I’ve ever experienced flash before my eyes.  There was the festive house where the original owner had used the wrong kind of materials when building the bathroom with the following results:

1) There was a constant ring of slugs around the base of the toilet until it eventually fell through the floor.  This was resolved by calling a plumbing company run and exclusively staffed by the Hell’s Angels.  Oh, yes.  During this time the sewer line from the street backed up into the bathtub also.  Tree roots, don’t you know.

2) Shortly after the toilet and floor and whatnot was…er…fixed, the shower wall/back outer wall of house, collapsed in due to…well, see toilet bowl above.    This repair took MONTHS.  Then the landlord’s son knocked up his girlfriend and I got shown the door.  Isn’t that always the way?  You just get things the way you want them, viz basic amenities, and then, whammo!  So.  Ultimately after looking at a variety of lodgings that made me cry,  I moved to another seemingly fine house in another adjacent town, where this happened:

Every drain in the place spewed straight up and then an air lock descended and nothing would move.  THIS TIME, I missed the Hell’s Angels.  This time, I got the Persian Plumber who, after thwacking, hemming and hawing, saying things along the lines of women should never go near plumbing, got up on the roof to clear out the roof vents.  Barefoot.  With his roto rooter thing, which smashed into, yes you guessed it! the kitchen window I had just replaced because it had gotten shaken loose in the earthquake and…..

This, in short, is how things Usually Go In My Life.  Apparently I am still delusionally attempting to pretend that I have a NORMAL LIFE.  Normal, schnormal.  Now I’m just working on telling myself that, uh, that……surely there’s something I can do today that will at least lend this Punch and Judy show the air of having a plot.  Meanwhile, the landlady’s back, perhaps with piping.  We’ll see what happens.   If we dare………..

 

Tiny Bubbles

That’s sort of what the inner mind looks like right now: Bubbles swirling around, rising and bursting.  It’s constant movement, so unless one is Right On It, lotsa those brilliant bubbles just float…away…and one is left with the awareness that there was, yes! really!, a flash of understanding, a moment’s repose, and then….uh…….huh?

But at the moment,  the concept we’re getting the Intensive on is perception.  We see what we expect to see.  So, when we’ve misplaced something for example, it can take a long time to find it because we, perhaps unconsciously, keep looking at where we expect it to be instead of clearing our mind’s eye and scanning the whole area impartially.  Of course Attitude influences Perception.  So, on that last lengthy trip down the rabbit hole I couldn’t get right side up for a while because my attitude was…on a par with a squashed Dixie cup.    I do feel that the Stuff that’s Going On right now is affecting how everyone on earth feels, whether they know it consciously or not.  So many things are staring us all in the face at present we just can’t see it all.   And that can make it seem as though there are no options, not just for whatever we’re trying to figure out, but at all.  That, of course, does not help at all.

So, when my kind Gentle Reader mentioned that…well, basically tags have a purpose….it was a tiny bubble moment.  Because what I saw was that, essentially, tags are a way of describing something, in a specific sort of shorthand way.  The way *I* look at thing like tags is as a broad philosophical sweep that doesn’t include enough concrete definition.  To oversimplify.  And? This is an ongoing feature of my challenging engagement with The World.  Who knew?  So that was a really good piece of information and now? Now I get to learn how to do something new.  Analyze things in a totally different way.  I’d come to the conclusion, while sitting in a small and wonderful German cafe in Berkeley waiting for my mechanic, that I’d raked over the coals so much they all had parts in their hair and I was no closer to either question or answer than ever.  This meant that once again I had brilliantly replicated Einstein’s definition of insanity.  Something I’m really good at, as it happens.  So the idea of looking at things in a piece by piece way instead of an amorphous all overish way…well, it’s different.    I managed to pull myself together, mop my eyes, snag my notebook and write down the salient points, just as a start.  There was a bit of a distraction- or perhaps a clue- provided by two women sitting next to me eating lunch.  They were discussing how so very  many people they knew were out of work and desperate, needing to be “taken in” (in one case), and how they (the two women) weren’t going to do that.  “Something will happen” they said.  “He/She/They will be all right.”  And so they kind of tagged all that as managed.  Not their problem.

Seeing as how I felt some not small similarity to the Unemployed Individuals, and nothing in the following interactions of the afternoon  made me feel much better about Things as They Are, and I had actually starting writing some defining words down in that cafe (OMG, I thought.  Now I’m one of those people sitting at a cafe table writing! Holy Cats!), when I got home to the Tag Comment, it was like a big light went on.    My teacher used to say that true listening is healing.  And we all need a witness.  It’s just that sometimes that witness has to perform a describing function to complete the circle, as it were.  Things now are on a knife edge, and clarity is fundamental to the navigation of that edge.  I drove back up north, through the gathering dusk, purple clouds and rolling brown hills (now we’re in a drought, usually they’d be green) feeling all of us hurtling through space toward whatever destination there may be.  We may, and probably do, tell ourselves that “something will happen” implying a dramatic rescue, but I think we’re at a point now where Tags are, really, not just our friends but important ones.  We have to start calling things by their proper names.  Otherwise we won’t be able to see the whole picture.

About the Rice Cooker

Well, we’ve had many adventures the past few days, lots of push pull and all the rest of it.  Instead of all the brilliant understandings I came to after an extended period in Meltdown Central, and lazily did NOT get up and write down and thus have somewhat forgotten and which will perhaps be attended to tomorrow- we’ll address the previously promised subject of the rice cooker.  Which, of course, has you jumping up and down and going, At last! Tell us everything!

When the Partner came into my life, he came bearing a Martin Yan rice cooker.  I had always thought rice cookers were silly, WHICH JUST SHOWS YOU WHAT I KNOW.  (Also demonstrated in my last post. *sigh*)  However, after a few years of use and live and learn, I can now say that this rice cooker is practically the best thing ever.  Ever.  It is amazing.  It produces perfect rice, and holy cow.  If you follow instructions? Amazing.  I finally started soaking my basmati rice for about 20 minutes before cooking, like it says in the..instructions…and using butter instead of olive oil.  Now I Am A Rice Genius.  All because of this stellar piece of equipment.  You can even make risotto in it.  And sweet potato, saffron, tomato or artichoke heart rice.   And the beauty is that after the initial soaking? You turn it on and IGNORE IT.  Which I really like.

So tonight in the midst of my dis-inspiration post re-entry into earth’s atmosphere, we’re having roasted vegetable chickpea curry.  Over wonderful, individually tasty and non-stuck to pan, rice.   We’ll discuss the armed struggle it took to get this written another time.  Thank you, Gentle Reader.

The Weather’s Fine

More or less.  Freezing at night, very dry and the mountains don’t have any snow, but it’s almost…balmy of late.  Today of course the wind is blowing at 20+ mph but still.   It’s a novel sensation to not be actively wretched because of the weather.  I had forgotten what that was like.

There are a lot of things it seems I’ve forgotten lately, and at times I feel like an amnesiac in my own life.  Probably it is just the cumulative stress of the past couple of years; at the same time it’s as though things are slipping away and freeing up space, turning some lights on and others off.  It isn’t all bad, at times even restful.   Not remembering things, not keeping the same old opinions- for a minute there’s a feeling of freedom and openness.  The trick is to keep on the sunny side of life, of course.   Mostly it’s interesting to encounter daily life in what amounts to a whole new way.  Other times it is tremendously alienating, very lonely, cognitively dissonant.  Reconstructing a whole life is quite a project, and of course generally? You get to do that after a moment’s leap that may have been years in preparation but remained largely unconscious in nature.  It’s all a big surprise.   It amounts, in this case, to being in a sort of exile where the past has been wiped away and the future stretches out from an inchoate present.  I think many must be feeling this sense of dislocation now, given the times and the tenor thereof.  But it’s difficult.

Meanwhile, here it is yet another year, time marches on and all that.  Realizing that the lay of the land has changed in a timely way is important to running a business.    The digital world, for example.  All kinds of apparent rules, SEOs and niches and what not.  At the end of the day, it’s like a big race to the bottom.  So many “opportunities” that seem to me to be rather parasitic.  Sell this product to x number of people and then you’ll get money from them and the people they sell the product to….ye olde Pyramid Scheme.  The market place is full of middlemen and the flow of things is indirect.  But, you gotta do what you gotta do, right?  Still it seems to me that a system built on consumption may not be the most long lasting.  The producers of commodities get relegated to a lower and lower status, and the people who step in and affiliate themselves (!) to sell said commodities seem to be able to dictate everything about how those things get distributed, sold, for how much and when.    So I see more and more people falling behind because they can’t sell what they produce for enough to live a simple life.   Thus they stop producing those things.  Then what happens?  If you look at agriculture, you can see that one or two things happen pretty routinely.  The commodity disappears, the original thing itself is no more.  Except.  It morphs into something that is mass produced and whose value is completely controlled by those who control the means of production.  Think food.  Chickens, for example.  You have no idea how that chicken you’re eating was raised, what it ate, whether it was genetically modified or what.  But the individual farmer, who used to raise chickens- actual real chickens for sale in a market- is hard to find in the maze of agribusiness.  The same thing happens with the things I make.  The hours I spent trolling through resources and visiting people and giving talks and handing out samples.  To find that even a small, local grocery/natural foods/health store in a small place gets provisioned through a larger, middle man, entity.  And whatever that entity carries is what the store will sell.  Whether you have a small, feasible, competitive product, or not.  So it’s interesting.  The dance card is filled in advance.  I still believe that success is possible, but it is a question of scope and degree more than one might have thought.   Perspective, what really matters, what you really need- all that sort of thing, right?

So, in pondering the New Year Business Plan,   how to “increase traffic” to the things I do,  the website and this blog and stuff, I find that generally I’ve jumped through all the hoops.  Except that I don’t put pictures on the blog, which apparently is CRUCIAL, Gentle Reader.  Crucial.  If you don’t have pictures there’s nothing for searchers to hang on to, more or less.  Then there are all those bloggers I follow who quite often post nothing BUT pictures.  Also, the places I do post pictures (website, for example) I do get a lot of traffic.  Yes.  But it is from people who come and download my pictures and text and that’s all that happens.  I suppose I could say you’re welcome, but really.  So I’m ambivalent about the picture thing, let’s just say.  And, meanwhile, yet another computer fiasco so I can’t even GET to my pictures at the moment.  A little matter of the photos going into downloads instead of the photo app.  *sigh*