Sunday, October 29, 2006


These don't look like much now. We went back out to Johnsons's yesterday and came back with three more potentillas, AKA shrubby cinquefoile. The brighter green one will have tiny yellow flowers and will look something like this.

The lighter foliage plant in the front is called "pink whisper" and has flowers that should look something like this. They're only and inch or so across. The leaves are tiny and resistant to drought. We don't have problems with deer but they're supposed to be good to plant where deer are a problem.

Man I love the net, I can combine my shots with what's available on the internet.

Anyway mom got the first two in last week and while I was moving blocks out back she was pulling the last big lavender. We both worked on getting the first shrub in to replace the lavender. We pretty much decided where the other two would go while we were at it.

 So, this morning while she was at church, I crossed my fingers, stepped into the mists and started digging. Had to take time to lift some autumn crocus bulbs and put them aside in pots to rest until we can put them back in a little different place. Surprised myself with two completed, if muddy holes. Took the both of us less than half an hour to get the other two in their new homes. Made her very happy to get them out of the way so she has more time to work with the easier plantings, They're very hardy, so short of an extended freeze in January they should come through just fine and be raring to go in the spring.

Actually I have an eye exam to tomorrow afternoon and I took Tuesday off in case I don't have time to fill my new perscription Monday. So, I can probably give her some help Tuesday, too.

My knees are a little stiff this evening but it's been a long time since I could do something like this that I'm feeling a little proud of myself. I'm in no danger of breaking my arm patting myself on the back.


View from the side door of the enclosed deck towards the new six foot wide deck. It runs the width of the back yard. About twelve feet or so. The concrete blocks came from a half assed planter that was put in several years ago. Mainly to use the blocks. I spead the bark yesterday and took the planter apart. I really still can't believe I did it. Wonderful what losing about a hundred pounds can do. The blocks will be bases for oblong wooden planters. We saw some great combinations out at Johnson Brothers nursery the last couple of times we were out. Combos of grasses, herbs, perrenials and annuals. Spectacular ideas.The shrub is a volunterr forsythia that will probably be replaced by one of the native wild roses. Several varieties, all pink.

Back by the fence There will be an area using these plants.


The tall plant in the back is a variety of flax. It will probably get five feet or so tall. They didn't have any dusty miller left, but they did have an herb called silver santolina which has the same silvery color and also has yellow flowers. It will be about a foot and a half tall and wide. The fine green striped plant is a Japanese reed grass. The blue green grass is blue fescue. It will mound beautifully and everything should blend in very well.

We'll put a path through the middle. Combined pavers and the old bricks from the barbeque. Mom is visualizing grasses and using ferns that we already have. Just lift part of the fern, plant it and you're in like Flynn, And the smaller lavenders will work very well too.


Years before we bought the place, the old owners turned it into a rental. There's a retaining wall in the back and between the sections of the retaining wall was a brick barbeque. One weekend so the story goes, it got trashed during a drunken party. We put in some wooden steps that lasted about twenty years. We're still diggig up old boken bricks.

This replacement uses the blocks from my old block and board bookcases. (I had a lot of them) And guess who did the lions' share of the work?  My eighty year old mother. She did most of it during the week while I was at work and it took her the better part of a month. But, she darn well did it! She filled in the patterns with sand and we'll put some of the pretty white marble chunks on top. Just plain old bark nuggets on top. There's an enclosed deck with a door at the base of the steps. Much easier to get up now than trying to get up at the end

Saturday, October 28, 2006


This is a Hubble Telescope shot of two galaxies, NGC4038 and 4039, in the constellation Corvus. The two are about 63 million light years away, and are known as the Antennae Galaxies because of the stream of matter between them. Astromomers believe that at some point the galaxies collieded or at least came close enough to be a near miss. All that wonderful bright blue is from clusters of new stars created by the matter being exchanged as the two pass each other.

At 63 million light years, the light captured on this 1997 photo started out about the time the dinosaurs were dying out and flowers were becoming more common. I wonder what these star flowers look like now. Since blue white stars are the hottest and burn out the fastest, some of these stars may have already gone nova and given birth to another generation of stars.

I stumbled over this as a black and white shot accompanying a story about possible repairs to the Hubble telescope next year.  

Sunday, October 15, 2006


This is the entry I started with. It turned into a two parter when I remembered that not everyone shares my love of all things Tolkien. Thank heaven I didn't have to go any further back in Tolkien's creation to explain who and where these people are in the story.


If you can rent of the extended versions of the three Rings films, do it. It’s probably as close as any of us will get to old fashioned, in your face, up close and personal warfare with swords, daggers and clubs. Actually second and third films are loaded with ancient weapons and battle engines. Catapults, trebuchets, ballistas, battering rams, you name it the bad guys have it. Remarkable how much damage you can do with machines that aren’t mechanized. It’s intense, dirty, bloody, and brutal.


Theoden’s despair as he faces what defeat at Helm’s Deep will mean for the women and children who’ve taken refuge in the caves behind the fortress and Aragon’s desperation as he tries to find a way of escape for at least a few are heart breaking. There is a path into the mountains, but a surviving member of the kings’ guard tells him “they will not get far.” The berserker’s charge down the causeway by the survivors in the great hall is led by an old man who has fought many battles over the years, a man who may be a king, and fueled by desperation and hope. The hope that not only will a wizard be on time but that Gandalf will have more to work with than a good horse and a really cool staff.


Defeating Saruman's Uruks at Helm's Deep is only the first step. Gondor is an old ally and desparate for support. For many if not all of Theoden's riders this may be their last ride and it reminds me that while we’ve been told we’re in the battle of the century, very few of us have been asked to do more than keep buying SUV’s, shopping at Wal Mart, upholding the tax cuts for the rich, and staying scared. The lines of riders facing the enemy on the plain before Minas Tirith include a old king who leads from the front, the nephew he trusts to pick up the banner if he falls, more than one grey beard, many horses that look more suited to the plow than a cavalry charge, one very stubborn young woman and one hobbit, who suddenly looks very small.


And the decision to ride out in spite of the odds reminds me that Americans aren’t the only ones with courage to keep fighting even if you may not win. If we can cheer for the good guys when they keep going in spite of the odds, why can’t we understand that those we call enemies are capable of the same desperate courage.


The extended cut of Return of the King has something very few films have. The scene after the battle. And it’s just enough to get your imagination to fill in the details. Blood soaking the grass, bodies of friend and enemy piled on each other, dead horses, the search for the wounded and the numbering of the dead.


The screams of the new king of Rohan when he finds someone who wasn’t supposed to be on that field kept echoing in my memory for a long time. It was that very stubborn young woman, his sister Eowyn. She survives in the end and in the novel version finds some measure of happiness. And there is also a desperately successful search by a little hobbt for his cousin and friend. A search more imagined than shown, that lasts from the end of the battle sometime around mid day until well into the night. There is also a glimpse a strong thread in the third novel. That the returning king will not only be a warrior but a healer. Not unexpected from the devoutly catholic Tolkien. But something that is very rare in those who claim to be leaders on any side in this world. We see many who claim to be warriors, dismiss those who try to be healers, and end up being neither.


We attack, the insurgents and the Taliban counter attack and the civilians are caught in the crossfire. Everyday one person or ten has to crawl out of the rubble, crack open a door, slip out a window and try to make sense out of the carnage. We know how many of our troops have been killed or injured in the last three years. Nobody seems to know how many Iraqis and Afghans have been killed or injured. Each light in this universe is unique and irreplaceable. Let’s extinguish as few as possible.


My last entry and a late night session with Return of the King sort of got together and this is one of the results. I know that not everyone is familiar with either the films or the books so here is a link to an online reference called the Encyclopedia of Arda. The link is sort of the lazy woman's answer to trying to explain the whos, the wheres and how they fit together. If you scroll down to the bottom of the frame at the left you'll get to the index.

But the relatively short version of the whos and wheres is this.


The peoples

Elves-immortal beings sort of. They don’t age, they don’t get sick but they can be killed by accident, in battle or by despair.


Men-exactly that. Human beings of all shapes and sizes with all their faults and heroism.


Dwarves-shorter than men and taller than hobbits. Miners and craftsmen. Very handy with an ax, or two or three.


Hobbits-also known as Halflings. They live in the Shire, farm love good food and plenty of it, but can get by on short rations if they have to. Don’t travel much and stick mainly to farm tools and the like.


Wizards-old men of great age, mysterious origin and uncertain temper. The two in the stories are Saruman who hangs out in a very tall tower with many sharp edges called Orthanc. Saruman’s curiosity has gotten the better of him. The other is Gandalf. A wanderer with a reputation for showing up only when he’s needed. Also creates fantastic fireworks displays.


The One Ring-a piece of bad news jewelry. Lost by it’s creator, Sauron who created it in an effort to control Middle Earth. Lost the ring in a great battle centuries before. Since he allowed much of his power to enter the ring. Sauron is currently visible as great flaming eye. The ring was lost in battle, landed in a river, was found by creepy character known as Gollum and dumped him for a hobbit named Bilbo who left it (very reluctantly and with a lot of persuasion from Gandalf) to his younger relative, Frodo. The ring leaves you not the other way around.


Orcs -creatures of uncertain origin and extremely nasty dispositions. One real draw back-they don’t do well in sunlight. Saruman claims they started as elves who were twisted by this universes’ version of Lucifer. I think the fallen equivalent of what we would call an arch angel who tried to claim all of Middle Earth ages ago, and almost succeeded. Basically sword fodder in the films. The sword fodder also includes Uruks. Created by Saruman they are bigger than orcs with even worse dispositions and an ability to function in daylight.


The where’s


The shire-think rural <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />England without the lord of the manor. Basically the yeoman style farmers. Hobbits don’t travel outside the Shire very often. Since an average size person won’t fit in a hobbit hole or house, they don’t get many visitors. Lies to the west of the Misty Mountains.


Gondor-A kingdom of men to the south and east of the Misty Mountains. The survivor of two kingdoms. The northern kingdom, Arnor fell centuries before as did the royal house of Gondor. Currently governed by a series of hereditary stewards.


Rohan-plains country, home to a people modeled after a cross between the old Anglo Saxons and the Scandinavians with horses instead and ships and much friendlier than the old Vikings. The Rohirram don’tsend their summers raiding their neighbors. Small communities scattered across thecountry. Led by a king.


Mordor-the one place in middle earth you don’t want to visit. Rocky, black, twisted, almost impossible to get into and even harder to get out of. Main landmarks include waterless plains, a volcano where Sauron had his forge, channels of lava and a huge black tower with that flaming eye on top.


The main characters that show up in the second half of this entry.


The Fellowship


Includes four hobbits-Frodo, Merry, Pippin and Sam. Two men, Boromir from Gondor and Aragorn. Boromir is the older son of the current ruling steward. Aragorn is the last of the line of the northern kings. Better than great with a sword, older than he looks and haunted by the failure of his ancestor to destroy that cursed chunk of gold when he had the chance. The other three members include an elf, a dwarf and Gandalf. By the end of the first film Frodo, Sam and the ring are headed to Mordor on their own, Merry and Pippin are in the ungentle hands of Saruman’s Uruks. Gandalf literally fell out of the picture in the ruins of the old dwarf kingdom of Moria only to return better than new.  (It’s hard to explain without sounding totally off the wall. Let’s just say that Gandalf is more like a lesser angel and leave it at that.) Boromir fell trying to protect Merry and Pippen. The remaining three are pursuing the Uruks-on foot.


Theoden king of Rohan, his nephew and heir Eomer and his niece Eowyn.  Saruman is very good at mind control and Theoden is his current victim. Eowyn, well lets just say that watching the uncle she loves turn into a mindless shell and dodging the attentions of his slimy advisor, appropriately nicknamed Wormtongue, do not make her day. Frankly she’d rather join her brother in battle. A duel of minds between Gandalf and Saruman that plays better onfilm than in words results in a healed Theoden. Unfortunately he’s up to speed just in time to lead the retreat to an old fortress in the mountains. The man who is a king and the warrior who may become a king if he manages to live long enough lock horns a time or two over strategy. Gandalf and Aragorn counsel that warriors try to lead the enemy away from the city. Theoden prefers to lead the entire population in a retreat to Helm’s Deep. Definitely more defensible. Trouble is it’s at a dead end. The only real way out is the way they came in. Which is where part two comes in.


This did grow didn’t it? Check out the website when you have time, it’s kind of cool.



Another tempest in a large teapot. As you'll see from the story she made her post to MySpace last spring, she took it down on her own when she found out it was against the law and the Secret Service didn't show up until just before this falls' election. A coincidence I find more than a little interesting. So, please go to this story first.

Jesus said at some point in the gospels that telling someone you hated them was tantamount to murder. Wicca teaches that whatever you do to someone else will come back to you. And that what comes back will be stronger than what you sent out. Some say three, others say seven or nine. And then there’s the scriptural seventy times seven. Now there’s an incentive to keep your actions on the kindness side of the scales.


So just some thoughts from someone who seldom posts to any boards and is probably hopelessly optimistic.


One, to the teen-answering the violence of war with an ill considered picture with a threat of violence of any kind doesn't solve the problem; it only adds fuel to the flames.


Two, one poster said this will follow her all her life. AWOL Bush disappeared from his guard service, never was held accountable, and managed to get elected governor of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Texas and president of the US, so I don't think this will really be a problem.


Third, to all of those who think a 14 year old should be hauled out and shot for treason because some other country would do the same thing, this isn't other countries, this is the United States. Incidentally, what do you call lying to the people you were elected to lead, trashing our country’s reputation, repudiating treaties and getting us into the wrong war, for the wrong reason with no plan to get out of the swamp? If we’re going to start down that road I suspect she’d have plenty of company.


Finally, call it the last judgment, conscience, karma, the Golden Rule or the Wiccan rede all that hate and threats you are spewing won’t just go away. You will have to listen to those words and relive those emotions over and over at some point. As good a reason as I know for thinking about what you're going to say or write in the first place. It's hard swallowing cold crow. I haven't found anything that makes it go down easier, and that's as it should be.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006



The Golden Rule according to the followers of



Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself.



Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.



What is hateful to you, do not do your neighbour. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary




One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated.



Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself.


Native Spirituality

We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive.



In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for thisis the law and the prophets.



I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all.


The Tao

Regard you neighbour’s gain as your own gain, and our neighbour’s loss as your own loss.



One word which sums up the basis of all good conduct…loving kindness. Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.



Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.



This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.


From a handout from mom's Methodist Women's group. The Wiccan Rede is very similar: An it harm none, do what thou will. Now if we could all just follow the blessed things no matter what tradition we follow.





It may be no coincidence that all the sayings are so similar. All the traditions lie withiin the complex of the ancient network of caravan routes called the Silk Road. From Rome and Egypt and the west to the cities of China in the east goods and ideas traveled back and forth at donkey and camel pace for centuries.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006


Well, congress went and did it. The detainee bill has been passed and to my shame the Republican senator from Oregon voted for it. Not only foreign suspects can be seized and potentially disappeared with no right to a trial or hearing or even to know what the charges are against them. American citezens are subject to the same treatment.

To anyone who believes that it will stop here this poem is attributed to Martin Niemoller, a German, a Lutheran pastor, an man who narrowly missed execution for treason at the end of WWII. A war he spent in the concentration camps of Sachsenhausen and Dachau. There are many versions, this is one of them.

First They Came for the Jews

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the social democrats
 and I did not speak out
because I was not a social democrat.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller


Sunday, October 1, 2006


Enough in the papers and on the news this weekend to depress a terminaly optimistic hyena so I went looking for something more hopeful.

Paint a picture of tomorrow

With gentleness, in your mind,

Tinting it all with feelings,

Every creation of humankind.


Be willing to feel every heart,

And the desires it contains,

Including every nuance,

The joy, as well as the pain.


Don’t forget to use all colors,

The pastels, tints, and hues,

That represent the wholeness

That Great Mystery can imbue.


Then sculpt the shapes of destiny,

The patterns great and small,

Weaving dark and light in unity,

Yet unfolding within the All.


But what is the difference

In this world and Yesterdays?

Is it the final ingredient

That changes our former ways?


Jamie Sams in Earth Medicine