Sunday, December 18

White Winter Solstice

Sun After the Snow - Cathedral Rock, Sedona, AZ
Tiny Solstice Witness
Nature's Soft Transition

Colors of Winter

"Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in."
   - Alfred Lord Tennyson,
     Ring Out, Wild Bells

Monday, November 21

Reservation Highway

Reservation Highway - Indian Route 16
Old Oraibi, Arizona - Third Mesa
Prophesy Rock of Old Oraibi

"Long before Pahana, the white man,
ever set foot in the Americas,
long before the hegemony of the red race
had been challenged by light-skinned people
as the prophecies told us it would,
a spot in the immensity of the desert,
a center of Spiritual power,
was Hopi.
The land of the peaceful ones."
from Meditations with the Hopi, by Robert Boissiere 

I recently visited Old Oraibi, Arizona, a settlement continuously inhabited since 1100 A.D. and in one of the most inhospitable places in America.  It is the center of traditional Hopi culture, a culture of simplicity, balance, gratitude and hope.  The Hopi are also very private people who value humility and ways in which one can survive in harmony with nature.  Through the centuries they have followed their prophecies and survived.

Their communities are small and compact located on flat topped mountains and surrounded by the Navajo nation.  The day I drove through, the sky was a brilliant blue until storm clouds moved through the area and then the Black Mesa transformed into a churning mass of slate clouds and vast, changing horizons.

Over my lifetime the Arizona skies and horizons have influenced me.  Any space, uncluttered, filled with light and texture is comfortable and familiar.  Any space which gives me perspective, that shows enduring beauty, exposes the patterns of time, and showcases the tenacity of human beings is a truthful place. I feel that truth on the Mesa.

May all beings know love and peace.

Tuesday, September 27

Mid Week Flower, Butterfly and Bird Show

 Buffalo Gourd,  Crescent Moon Picnic Area, Sedona, AZ

 Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly,  Chavez Ranch Road, Sedona, AZ

 Rufous Hummingbird, Chavez Ranch Road, Sedona, AZ

 Spur Genetian, West Fork, Oak Creek Canyon, AZ

 Wild Geranium, West Fork, Oak Creek Canyon, AZ

Western Dayflower, Griffith Springs, Flagstaff, AZ

Thought for today....

Sunday, September 11

It's Personal

I was with my Dad when he made his last visit to the East Coast in late October, 2002.  My father, brother, his wife and I, took a cruise from Montreal, Canada, through the St. Lawrence Seaway down the coast as the leaves were turning to red and gold.  Our final destination was New York City.

It was on this trip that we all learned how fragile and ill my father was becoming.  A brief walk from the ship to a dockside cafe in Quebec overstressed my father's damaged lungs and caused him to stay on board for the remainder of the trip.  As the storm tossed ship moved past Halifax, Nova Scotia, the stress of a night of constant violent motion affected my Dad's breathing so that he required oxygen.  Fortunately the ship had one machine available which made oxygen, so Dad did not have to leave the cruise.  Unfortunately, the oxygen supply was not portable and Dad was tethered to a small cabin he shared with me - cramped quarters.  To make matters even more difficult, his favorite television channels were unavailable and he had to settle for CNN which was saturating the airwaves with the gruesome carnage of the DC sniper.  He was able to move around the ship in a wheel chair,  and he spent a lot of time in the ship's Internet cafe, library, cafeteria and observation deck.  He really did enjoy the trip, despite his health set backs.

Throughout the ten day cruise, Dad talked about his family and growing up in Buffalo, New York.  In the late summers his dad would pack up the family and drive to Canada or the Adirondacks and they would camp.  These memories were golden for Dad.  He developed a love of nature through these experiences which fueled his love of travel throughout his life.   Seeing huge forests transform from green to gold to red as we cruised down the coast was breathtaking.  I felt blessed to share this beautiful experience with my family and was grateful to discover the source of my father's love affair with camping and nature.

We disembarked in New York City and had four or five hours to sight see.  My brother had the foresight to rent a limousine so we could see the city in comfort and spare Dad the pain of walking.  He didn't complain about his confinement to the car for the hour or so we spent exploring Battery Park, Ground Zero, Central Park and a few other places.  For me, the visit to Ground Zero was overwhelming.  The terror attacks were a vivid memory and I was curious about the extent of the physical damage.  We started walking in Battery Park and I was comforted by the sight of so many mothers and children enjoying the sunny fall morning.

We reached Ground Zero right after the park.  There were miles of fencing and construction barriers while huge cranes and bull dozers scraped away the debris and repaired the surrounding tall buildings.  There was already a small crowd walking around the site.  Everyone was quiet.  Everyone was thoughtful.  Everyone was stunned at the size and depth of the physical destruction.  Everyone was silent as we viewed the photos of missing people.

I remember hearing the sounds of machines, the click of cameras, the sigh of wind through the fencing and a low murmur of voices invoking god.  I felt proud of the citizens of New York City who were working, sweeping, paying bills, playing with their children in Battery Park.  These strong and powerful people continue to live with their trauma and grief, not because of it.  They are not fodder for our soul sucking media intent on selling as much ad space as possible by pushing the concept of New Yorkers as the world's eternal victims.   Such focus works to diminish the strength it takes for all survivors of hate and war to live with pain in dignity.  My family and I were thoughtful of the insanity of the attack only a year before our visit.  We could not comprehend the hate behind the act then and I still do not understand it.  I accept the fact that hate and terror exist, but I will never understand it.

The limo driver recognized Dad's restlessness once we returned to the car, and suggested lunch at the River Cafe in Brooklyn, the highlight of our brief visit.  Once we all returned to Southern California and talked about our trip, it was clear that Ground Zero was the most moving sight.  The most fascinating and empowering parts of our journey, were witnessing the miracle of the changing of the leaves, the beauty of nature, the power of the ocean, and the impact of people on the natural world.  I learned about my father's childhood and his deep fascination and love of nature.  I learned about the source of life which is evident in the laws of nature, a spirit of creation, survival and renewal which connects us all.  I learned about myself.

May all beings know love and peace.

Sunday, September 4

Who's Watching the Watchers

"In a culture where shame is passé, we must ask often: Who is watching the watchers?" - Derek Lazzaro, Truthdig blogger

In his fine essay (link above), Lazzaro gives three examples where government oversight programs have gone off the rails.  His first example describes the ATF's trafficking of over a thousand automatic weapons into Mexico; his second example describes the SEC's systematic destruction of evidence against banks; and the third example describes NCAA misdeeds.  The people employed by taxpayers to enforce laws and oversee these critical areas of American life have not been held accountable.  They have received little or no punishment and probably do not even realize that they have done anything wrong.  They don't realize they are wrong because in more than one case, they have been rewarded with even more power.  We have foxes guarding our henhouses.

So, instead of doing their jobs and making sure their programs serve American citizens, meet current law, and are effective, these people and those that support them, work to change the laws or make sure those enforcing the laws/rules/regulations are just as criminally inept and corrupt.

If you look to Congress for solutions, they come up with partisan oversight committees  or obstructive and wasteful legislation such as the REINS Act (H.R. 10/S 299) - which would require each new government regulation be approved by both houses of Congress within 70 days, or the regulation would cease to exist.

In today's poltical environment, the government, it's laws and agencies are fodder for election speeches and political one-upsmanship, not subjects of serious concern and care.  I am reminded of a marriage gone bad when I think of our political system.  The "parents" will not reconcile, they try to inflict as much damage on each other as they can, and they ignore the suffering of their children.  So, like neglected offspring, Americans get to stand by and watch their elected leaders bicker and manipulate while gunrunners, crooks and liars set fire to the house.

A wise man said recently that in the old days of American politics, politicians tried to at least cover up their disdain of America's middle and lower classes, but back then, they had a few morals and a healthy fear of getting caught.  Now....  it's "no fear and no shame" politics.  It's all about the Benjamins.   

Tuesday, August 2

Hey Losers! I Don't Have to Play With You Anymore...

House To Leave FAA in Limbo

“If things follow their current course, as I believe they will,” furloughed FAA workers “will go at least another month or more without pay,” Rockefeller said.

The West Virginia Democrat said House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., seemed willing to “shut down the FAA” over an "ideological issue," and called the dispute "a tragedy that never had to happen" that was ultimately about "bullying."

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said it was Democrats who were insisting on inserting pro-Labor “bullcrap” in the bill.

On April 3, the House passed H.R. 658, a bill which would fund the FAA over the next four years and included HR amendments making it more difficult for airline workers to unionize and stripping sixteen million dollars out of the appropriation for rural airline subsidies.  Realizing that the new provisions would require Senate approval, the House passed a stop gap funding bill through July 22. Through conferences with House and Senate committee leaders, a unified bill should have been crafted for House and Senate approval by May 31.  Nothing.   Input, revisions, compromise requests from the democrats in the House and Senate were ignored.  So, with the House in recess, the Senate is left holding this steaming bag of partisan poo.

I guess republicans really don't care about revenues when it comes to the deficit.  They are taking a month long "recess" ( perfect word for the playground antics of the 112th Congress), and leaving millions in airline ticket taxes in limbo.

The House of Representatives is taking it's ball and going home.  Fvck the thousands of federal employees who are working without paychecks and the citizens who must fly to and from American airports.

It may seem really clever, really funny, really genius to out maneuver those Senate democrats by bailing on reconciling this bill, but I think it's reckless one-ups-manship and those 4,000 plus workers, their families, friends and creditors will remember that the House of Representatives went on vacation without making sure they got paid.   Update:  Senate leader Reid has worked with La Hood and President Obama to craft a compromise that will pay salaries until September when the issue will come up again.

Dirty politics just got dirtier.

Tuesday, July 26

This Week's Featured Flowers

 Magenta Hedgehog Cactus Blossom

Penstemon "Firebird" Blossom

 Indian Paintbrush Blossom

Mourning Cloak Butterfly on Geranium

The Flowers
by Robert Louis Stevenson 

All the names I know from nurse:
Gardener's garters, Shepherd's purse,
Bachelor's buttons, Lady's smock,
And the Lady Hollyhock.

Fairy places, fairy things,
Fairy woods where the wild bee wings,
Tiny trees for tiny dames -
These must all be fairy names!

Tiny woods below whose boughs
Shady fairies weave a house;
Tiny treetops, rose or thyme,
Where the braver fairies climb!

Fair are grownup people's trees,
But the fairest woods are these;
Where, if I were not so tall,
I should live for good and all.

Monday, July 18

Deficit Reduction While America Burns

I am hoping that the latest right wing insanity, the debt ceiling obsession, will go the way of Carmageddon - a fizzle not a firestorm!

The republicans voted to bail out the banks, they continue to fund two disastrous Middle Eastern wars and now a third, they voted tax decreases on high income earners, they voted to increase the size of the federal government by adding the bloated Homeland Security Department, hell, they even voted themselves a salary increase!  And, the democrats voted for the same things.

The difference between the two is that republicans can't or won't remember their big part in creating the ever deeper deficit hole and now refuse to pay for the debts they incurred.  In fact, they play the victim - amnesia victims, who have forgotten that they are the government they hate while collecting their paychecks.  They aren't public servants trying to make a better government for suffering constituents. They're  anti-government activists whose only tools are pitchforks and blow torches aimed at burning down the house.  

These teapublican amnesia victims are dictating that the only solution to the debt crisis is the blow torch.  They want to remove all other tools, especially credit, to dig our way out of this deficit ditch by holding America hostage with their useless haggling over the debt ceiling?  They play partisan politics with my 92 year old mother-in-law's social security checks, and with the health of lower income workers through medicaid cuts.  The Paul Ryan "Path to Prosperity" wants to roll back expenditures to 2001 levels without eliminating the Bush tax decreases which were to expire when the surplus was spent.  Not only do they want draconian cuts in everything except the military, they want to replicate California's disastrous revenue straight jacket - the dreaded 2/3rds majority rule to pass a budget and raise revenue.  The golden state finally had to eliminate this arm of its financial straight jacket, but continues to maintain the constitutional requirement of a balanced budget.  So..., even though the California legislature passed a budget on time this year, it was not balanced and therefore not legal, so no paychecks legislators! California's budget delays and government shut downs have become an unfunny joke nationwide   So..., why saddle the U.S. Constitution with requirements that are unworkable?  Only someone familiar with Republican logic can explain this one.

Ahem.... not to digress further into republican fantasy, look at California now.  Republican anti-tax crusaders have proven that cuts, caps and balances do not work in the real world.  The people had to bring back ole Jerry Brown to salvage what's left of the state.  I don't want the U.S. government to go down that path.  As far as the debt ceiling is concerned - raise it or eliminate it.

One more time...  three expensive wars, lower taxes on the rich, bank bailouts, ObamaCare, and unforeseen natural disasters require lots of government money.  If republicans do not want to raise taxes, then the costs are deferred and money must be borrowed.  If our AAA credit rating is destroyed, then it will cost more to borrow the needed funds, much more than can be gained by gutting social security, eliminating ObamaCare, halting all public works, etc.  So, by playing around with America's ability to borrow, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and his overlords make the deficit problem worse.

Good credit is a useful tool and a necessary one right now.  We need to be able to borrow more to pay our bills and keep interest rates down - right now.  That is separate from cutting costs and living within our means.  America has turned the economy around before and will do it again, but not by taking a meat cleaver to granny and the grandkids she's supporting.

A man like Cantor who has the balls to say to Joplin, Missouri, that the U.S. government can't find the bucks to help them recover from devastating tornadoes because of deficit spending is a disgrace and an embarrassment to public servants everywhere.  He doesn't serve the public, he serves his ideology and partisanship.  He is a tool, but not one America should use to revive our ailing economy.

Saturday, June 18

Into the Blue

"Liam Devlin: [to the pilot] How do I jump out of this thing?
Pilot: Undo your safety belt. I turn the aircraft upside down, you drop out."
- from the movie The Eagle Has Landed.

Last Saturday, Jay and I took a helicopter ride over the canyons of Sedona and what a thrill!  Because we wanted to take photos, we had unknowingly reserved a tiny copter with no doors, an ancient lap belt, and for that extra secure feeling, a tiny nylon strap just inside each door.

The initial terror of simply flying above all of this massive rock and forest was almost overwhelming.  Then the pilot started explaining what each rock formation represented, which Indians lived where, how roads were carved out of rock, and various other facts about this region, and my pulse settled enough that I could take some photos and enjoy the amazing landscape.

If it wasn't so expensive, I'd do this every week.  Wheeee!

Friday, May 27

A Day to Remember

"..,Whatever its causes, the decline of violence has profound implications. It should force us to ask not just "Why is there war?" but also "Why is there peace?" Not just "What are we doing wrong?" but also "What have we been doing right?" Because we have been doing something right, and it sure would be good to find out what it is." - Steven Pinker - The Myth of Violence

As discouraged as we get in tough times, a generous dose of historical perspective shows us that human beings crave peace, recognize love, and struggle to make the world a better place.

Most civilized people will agree that war is insane. It is the last resort and a sad spiral into chaos. It is the break down of civility and reason. War is hell, and when we accept this notion, we must also accept that human beings have made progress from dumb acceptance of fists first to fists last. More freedom, fewer class distinctions, and less racial discrimination result in people looking for similarities more often than differences. Freedom from tyranny and brutal oppression result in less fear and more love.  Despite the current collective unconsciousness telling us to think poverty, think lack, think conflict; the prevailing collective consciousness persists on thinking of ways to move forward peacefully, sharing, and caring for the planet and for each other. 

It's good to know that over the past two thousand years or more, people have changed. We have evolved to accommodate a larger population. We recognize the value of cooperating and innovating to make better use of limited resources.  We can and will do better.

Wednesday, May 18

Mid Week Wildflower Show

"My god is nature." - Janice, a neighbor.

Tuesday, May 10

Get Your Hands Dirty

Yesterday evening, my friend and I began our "Pottery for Beginners" classes.  I remember that in my twenties, I made fun of middle aged women who crafted, quilted, potted, found satisfaction in homely, hand made things.  For a time, my Mom tried decoupage and water color painting, both of which she enjoyed and was good at.  Even after her inspiring example, I still couldn't "find the time" to create something from scratch, to get my hands dirty, to learn a new skill.

Well, instead of making fun of someone, I'm now simply making fun.  For those twenty-somethings, busy with work, romance, etc., I hope you will bypass the scoffing and find the fun and satisfaction of creating something from a blob of clay or paint, or fabric, or all of the above.  Several women in the class not only work with clay, potting or sculpting, but also make jewelery, textiles, paintings, and other beautiful things.  It seems that once a person catches the "get your hands dirty" bug, the sky is the limit.

My first few attempts at making a clay cylinder, simple as it sounds, were intense and rewarding.  Our instructors, Dennis and Julie, made my stiff and pokey fingers work magic through patient explanation, example and encouragement.  Maybe the real reward for making things is the addition of a whole new set of friends sharing similar interests and experiences.

Now, on to the glazing and firing!

Friday, May 6

People Are Beautiful

- Youssou N'Dour Feat. Neneh Cherry—"7 Seconds"

I dreamt about Osama bin Laden last night.  I can't recall the details of the dream, but I do remember the terror and sadness that pervaded the dream.  When I started to wake up, in a twilight half-sleep, I heard a crash and the breaking of glass.  The terror had followed me from my dream to my half reality.

My husband and I held each other, waiting for more noise and more information and I realized what happened.  I had placed one of my fractal collage pictures on a shelf in the bathroom yesterday.  It was a beautiful blue spiral fractal superimposed on a palm tree photo taken by my son and I loved it.  I had leaned it against the wall and even then, I wondered if it might fall.  Once I figured out what had happened, I calmed my husband and went to see the damage.  The picture had fallen on the floor and in the fall, it broke a beautiful "sleeping cherub" snow globe that I cherished.  Nothing else was harmed.  The picture's glass was fine, but the fragile glass of the globe was shattered.  Glittery water sparkled amongst the glass shards and wrecked porcelain.  I cleaned it all up as quietly as I could while my husband and the rest of the family slept in peace.  Things could go back to normal.  The terror that my mind had manufactured and amplified receded like a dark tide.  It was there, but not here.

What was that all about, I wondered.  I seldom have vivid dreams and rarely do I remember nightmares.  Then I remembered that I had read two things about Osama bin Laden last night before I went to bed.

One was the "clarification" of the Dali Lama's comments yesterday when he was asked about the killing of bin Laden and replied that,  "Forgiveness doesn't mean forget what happened. ... If something is serious and it is necessary to take counter-measures, you have to take counter-measures."

The second commentary I read is by Chris Hedges, the author of one of my favorite books, "Losing Moses on the Freeway."  His commentary is the most disturbing, because he cuts through the nationalistic fist pumping of the media and gives some perspective and scale to this killing.  He articulates the relief I feel that this terrorist is gone, and also articulates the ambivalence I feel about the way he was destroyed.

These thoughts were percolating in my brain last night and I am still trying to sort out my feelings.  I know that because of bin Laden, terrorism is now ingrained in American life.  I know that America can and does do terrible things to good people because of this terrorism.  I see tiny fissures in America's facade exposing powerful fault lines, ready to pull apart and separate us from each other with each terror quake.  I know it is inevitable that a jolt of hate either from within the country or without it will cause shifts, changes, crashes, damage, the loss of something cherished in my lifetime.  The glittering lifeblood of our democratic ideals is already leaking out of these fissures because terror is at our heart now, not courage.  I am sad that we must grow up and live among people that do not value what we cherish.  How do we do this?

Are we humble enough, clear headed enough, compassionate enough to see through burkas, head dresses, tank tops, gang signs, all of the different trappings of survival on this planet, to the people we must live with.  Maybe, as we grow tired of the rhetoric of terror, we will clean up the damage and really look at what we have and realize we, the people, are responsible for the nature that nurtures.  If we persist in demonizing and hating and separating ourselves we will perish.  People are beautiful.  We are connected and must find philosophies, ideologies, governments that support these connections.  Dreams are strange and disturbing things.

May all beings know love and peace.

Thursday, May 5

The Drama Kings

"But, just as I told you before, the fool sees his neighbor's peccadillo and fails to see his own enormous crime." - Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies

"Which would you rather be, a boy or a girl?" I asked my older brother.

"A boy, of course," he said.


"Girls bleed, they have babies which is really painful, and they're stupid and weak," he explained, exposing his twelve-year-old, second-hand-experiences, and hearsay wisdom

I was puzzled.  What about the Virgin Mary?  What about all of the women saints?  What about our mother?  What about the nuns and teachers at school?  What about Mrs. Lawler, the cafeteria lady?  I saw the faces of so many women who contributed good things to my world that my brother's comments seemed wrong and false.  In his mind men were superior

As I grew older, I realized this male superiority complex is prevalent and my brother's complex was pretty tame compared to the right wing conservative men in today's U.S. House of Representatives. Men and women voters elected these men to represent, protect and serve their needs, not feed their egos, grandstand, and create needless drama.

What purpose does H.R. 3 and H. Res 237 serve but to broadcast to women that their role in life is to bleed, have babies, be stupid and weak.  These men must protect the unborn from the culture of death inhabited by demented women, even and especially those women who will deceive the government by crying "rape."  These men advocate a small, less intrusive government which allows gun owners, weapons manufacturers, job creators (aka corporations), get the picture...less oversight and more privacy.  But, women!!!  Society must be protected from women who choose legal abortions.  Why?  (See brother's answer above.)

Women are made to bleed so they may reproduce.  Women are made to suffer excruciating pain so they may keep the human race going.  Before birth control, women were weakened and died from too many pregnancies.  Before abortion was legalized, desperate women sought back alley abortions and often died from them to avoid unwanted pregnancies.  Today, a woman's life is not all about preparing to be pregnant, being pregnant, giving birth, and preparing to be pregnant again.  Today, women do not have to bleed, nor do they have to deliver babies.  Thanks to Margaret Sanger and other feminist pioneers who were not only concerned with women's equality in the workplace, but more concerned with a women's right to be healthy.

Women have a right to be healthy.  Giving birth is a personal health issue not a political football.  My life is more important than that of a fetus.  If my mental, physical or emotional health is endangered due to a pregnancy, I may choose to end the pregnancy.  The reverse is also true.  A woman may choose to go ahead with a pregnancy even if it kills her.

H.R. 3 intrudes into this difficult decision making process.  It dismisses the health risks associated with pregnancy.  It denigrates women who do not want to take the health risk because they are too young, victims of incest, poor, or incapable of caring for an infant.  It is a steaming pile of legislative crap created by hysterical chest beaters who have no business representing serious men and women faced with feeding, clothing, housing, educating, and parenting children today.

I keep trying to think of a scenario similar to women's reproductive rights.  Something that these chest beaters might grasp.  All I can come up with is a man's choice to enlist and fight a war, or not enlist.  Like child birth, there are good reasons to enlist.  Like childbirth, there are serious health concerns, but the statistics are in favor of surviving the ordeal.  Now, what if a group of women legislators, penalized men for not enlisting.  What if this difficult decision making process was proscribed by law - IRS audits, no federal health care funding, private insurance company oversight, parental consent....yadda, yadda - how would men feel?

Then again, these people are pretty heartless.  Look how they take care of  the children already born in this country.  The republican voting record when it comes to children's issues is terrible.  Finding a beating heart among the drama kings is hard, but finding any productive reasoning, is almost impossible.

May all women know love and peace.

Saturday, April 16

Rainbows on a Knife Edge

by Emerson, Lake, Fraser, Janacek

Just a step cried the sad man
Take a look down at the madman
Theatre kings on silver wings
Fly beyond reason

From the flight of the seagull
Come the spread claws of the eagle
Only fear breaks the silence
As we all kneel pray for guidance

Tread the road cross the abyss
Take a look down at the madness
On the streets of the city
Only spectres still have pity

Patient queues for the gallows
Sing the praises of the hallowed
Our machines feed the furnace
If they take us they will burn us

Will you still know who you are
When you come to who you are

When the flames have their season
Will you hold to your reason
Loaded down with your talents
Can you still keep your balance

Can you live on a knife-edge?

Friday, April 8

Burn Down the Mission

"Hurtful policies are enacted, not because of any logical benefit they might bring, but specifically because they hurt people the Republicans want to hurt." - Esquire magazine

Sometimes child play gets rough and the bigger kids, especially the ones in a bad mood or the ones who were routinely beaten, will hurt and dominate the smaller children. I remember being told to eat worms once or suffer a tortuous belly rub. The few seconds I was given to decide were desperate and fearful. Could I run away? What would happen if I scratched their eyes out or punched their faces in or ....?"

Finally, I realized I'd do anything but what they wanted because if I gave in at that moment and ate the worms, I'd be their target forever. I decided I would not be bullied. Their stupid cruelty and hate would not stop this time, so I took the belly rub.

Obama and the democrats need to take the belly rub.

The American people who elected a democratic majority need to take the belly rub and make no mistake it is painful right now. We need to be held down by the House of Representative Tea Party bullies and take the punishment right now. They want to shut down this government in the middle of its worst recession, when we are the smallest and weakest, so they can make us eat the worms of repression for years to come.

They are the worst bullies - uncaring of who they hurt or how they hurt us. They want power over us and they want us to eat the worms of poor air and water quality, polluted and blasted landscapes, sick old people, weak and stupid children, second class women and minorities - the dregs of American life. All this pain and suffering so the "big dogs" can maintain their tax breaks and preserve the enclaves of their "good life" untarnished by dissent and the human rights of the undeserving masses - erm, that's you and me.

They don't realize that these worms they force on us can't distinguish the powerful from the weak and that every grave has them.

P.S.: Looks like it's worms for breakfast.

Monday, April 4

Consumer Conflicts

"But the truth is that we live in a society that’s complex, at best, and a cesspool of corruption at worst. It’s just about impossible to get through a day without compromise, and every time we compromise it’s difficult not to feel as though we’ve failed a little." - Samuel Smith from the article "Hard Times for the Pure of Heart"

We're on our way to Home Depot this morning. Lots of house repairs and upgrades needed and not a lot of choices when it comes to materials and supplies in this neck of the high desert. We have a good friend that makes it a practice to boycott places that are anti worker, careless about pollution, and do not meet minimum ethical standards. She avoids Walmart and Safeway, shopping at local owned stores or farmers markets. She gives a big thumbs up to Costco because they take care of their workers and have quality products, but does not buy salmon there because it is not "green." I am exhausted listening to her explain the ethical and ecological ins and outs of these places.

"Where do you get the time to continually research and monitor these consumer issues, " I asked one day.

"It only takes a few minutes on the internet. Just check out Scorecard to find out who the polluters are in our area and the Good Guide will help with groceries and stuff." she explained.

I try to spend my money where it does the most good, but like the article above explains, it's hard. I go for convenience sometimes and I feel like a hypocrite when I pass through the doors of Walmart or Target. I can't image not shopping at these places, either. Quite a conflict. The good news is that customers of these places can exert influence by letting them know we'd pay more if they pollute less and/or treat their workers better.

Meanwhile, where's the farmers market and how soon can I get there.

Saturday, April 2

Lurid Fascination

"If the evildoing of men moves you to indignation and overwhelming distress, even to a desire for vengeance on the evildoers, shun above all things that feeling." - Fyodor Dostoyevsky, "The Brothers Karamazov"

It is only human nature to be curious about horror. The paralysis that causes us to freeze and watch instead of move away from something awful fights with our genetic "fight or flight" impulse. There is that moment of watching we give ourselves to decide whether to fight or flee that causes so much mental anguish. We lose focus, clarity, the ability to control ourselves for that nanosecond before years of mental training, spiritual discipline, real thought take over and we decide to pollute our minds with horror or not.

This morning, I saw the headlines about the Florida "minister" who burned a holy book and the resulting beheading of innocent peacekeepers in Afghanistan. I made the mistake of looking at this horror show, a man with a flacid, bland face. I did not see an enlightened man at the height of his spiritual enlightenment, but a sad, fearful creature without spirit. How men a world away could consider this flyspeck as a threat against their beliefs is even more distressing and incomprehensible. Both Christian and Muslim religions have their zealots and bigots. Why should I see their useless faces? Why should I embed their hatred into my psyche? Why can't I shun their actions and their images. They add nothing to benefit me or the human race.

Perhaps I've grown complacent and lazy. It is time to work on my own thoughts, time to continue to tame the wild mind and find a way to be compassionate and detached without hiding from the challenges of a world approaching the edge - a world that I live in and can impact by shunning vengeance and hatred and the polluting images of those that promote chaos. If I can find the strength to take that decisive moment before fight or flight and use it to look within, I may be able to resist the lure of drama and high emotion that often suck me into a bad place.

Sometimes reading the news is like walking through a minefield, one must find a safe pathway around harmful sensationalism and ignorant "opinions" hiding among the real and important facts about today's world. I knew when I clicked on that man's image that I'd made a mistake. Maybe I'll learn from it.

Saturday, March 19


"I tried to run away but I was just swallowed by the tsunami" - tweet from Japanese interviewer

The Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, is a disaster so huge, I cannot comprehend it. It is an event like this one that makes me say, "There but for the grace of God, go I." It could be anyone anywhere facing these monsters - I can only give to the Red Cross and pray. Both actions feel weak and ineffectual to me, but if others are like me, some help will find its way to the Japanese.

May all beings know love and peace.

Friday, March 18

A Dream

"Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and numbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me - I am happy." Hamlin Garland

I hear the coyotes. They are not close this morning. Sometimes I hear them in the wash right next to our house, yipping and howling with joy over their latest kill. I must study the coyote and by knowing more about them, dispel the uneasy, fearful feelings I have when I hear them howl.

There are many things I feel fearful and anxious about these days, but the feelings are mild for a change. The feelings are not gutwrenching and corrosive as they were just six weeks ago when I lived in Los Angeles. It was thrilling to live so close to the edge or maybe I should say the edges: the San Andreas faultline, the Pacific shore, the second biggest city in the USA. It was thrilling and exhausting to walk the tightropes of jobs, family, friends, health, culture and self, trying to find balance and move forward at the same time. Many, many amazing people do this dance every day and find joy in "the kill", the accomplishments, the success. Many people struggle to survive and not get lost in the thrill. Los Angeles is a dreamworld of tricksters, prophets and drones. I'm beginning to see that everyplace has its Los Angeles dreamworld, but not everyplace is consumed by the fantasy.

Sunday, March 6

Untethered and Alive

“It's exhilarating to be alive in a time of awakening consciousness; it can also be confusing, disorienting, and painful.” - poet Adrienne Rich

It's been over a month since the move. Before, during and immediately after packing up and leaving our home of twenty-five years, I thought, or felt perhaps, that my early adult years as a road musician had prepared me for a big move. The belief that everything would make it from "point A" to "point B" with a minimum of mess was based on my memories of living out of suitcases and making funky living quarters livable. Recent memories of over a quarter of a century in one place didn't seem relevant last month, but these memories have become shiny lifelines to sanity, order and survival today.

Our old life in Los Angeles is like a solitary lighthouse on the brink of a dark sea. It is tangible proof of a familiar place and time, comforting as we sail into the dark and unfamiliar. The brightness is with us for a long time and helps us get our bearings and keep on course, but even after a short thirty or forty days, the light fades.

We've worked hard to create a good living space in the desert, away from the familiar sea. We were raised in this desert and I'm amazed at how quickly I feel good here. My family and friends make it a home. The stark beauty and little dangers make it interesting.

There may not be the fear of drive by shootings, earthquakes, wildfires, and other big city disasters, but there is an uphill battle to accept the coyotes, scorpions, spiders, and other comparatively benign wildlife here. Earlier last month, my heightened awareness of little dangers like stepping on creatures that sting, or power outages, or getting lost on a trail was strong. Now, it's fading and I am much more comfortable with the true quiet at night and the true blackness of night and a true connection with unfettered nature.

I feel untethered from the burden of big city cares and woes. I feel life and find that I don't think of death as much as I used to. Being alive is a full time job.