Monday, January 30, 2012


In other words squirrels. We've got a couple of gutsy ones visiting these days. I really need to take my camera with me on the seed runs. There's one that sits right up on the branches and watches while I fill things up. And as soon as
I'm two or three feet away, down she comes. No, fear at all. Looks me right in the eye, and gets to it. Of course if you're willing to take a chance, you get the first shot at the fresh seeds.

Heard some wild geese go right over the house this morning. Nothing quite beats wild geese singing in the gray morning.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I'm not sure you can call this a review, but here goes.

Just finished my first run through if John Brunner’s classic and often out of print classic The Sheep Look Up. It was published in 1972 just after the EPA was set up under in the Nixon administration. It is classic dystopia of a world in the not too distant future, especially the US, on the verge of a total breakdown.

A world where the water is undrinkable, the air is almost unbreathable, the soil is almost unfarmable, the insects and other pests are immune to every pesticide available, diseases long thought eradicated are back. The oceans are polluted and the Mediterranean, Caspian and Baltic Seas are dead and dying.

Turns out the book was one of the handbooks for the Earth Liberation Front and similar organizations. And the warnings of the radical environmentalists after the Patriot Act was passed have turned out to be true. We’ve gone after as many environmentalists as we have Islamic terrorists. And that’s scary.

His portraits of the US president and some of the industrialists were a little over the top, but now that I think of it, a couple of them remind me an awful lot of Donald Trump, and it’s not a compliment. The US was still in Viet Nam, we’d started our decade’s long proxy wars in Central and Latin America and the summer were still long and hot in the inner cities. The writing is excellent and the story is subtle as a chain saw and a sledge hammer combined. Imagine a world where stories of blue skies, being able to swim where you want to, take a drink out of a creek and breath without a mask are treated as old wives tales.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I have posted part of this before, but some further reading has tempted me to do a little revising.

Cruthaitheoir (noun): creator. Cruth (noun): shape. Cruthigh (verb): to create, to shape.

I’ll be honest, I have no idea how to pronounce the Irish Gaelic. Even the net wasn’t much help. Traditionally, when we speak of creation stories we mean that something was brought into existence. But, there can be a second meaning; to bring into a new form. And, since the root word, cruth, means to shape, there is the implication that the Creator is working with something that already exists.

In the Irish mythology that survives, there are no creation myths as we usually understand them. There seem to be no in the beginning there was “nothing” and then there was some “thing.”

The eternally curious scribes in the old Irish monasteries translated, copied and recopied every scrap of paper that came their way. It’s likely that they would have copied a pagan story of creation if they had access to one, even if they reworked it to give it a less pagan emphasis.

Or perhaps, as Tom Cowan author of Yearning for the Wind suggests, the Irish Celts didn’t have an “In the beginning” story. The universe didn’t have to come into
“existence” because it has always existed. If, somehow, the universe has always existed then the Creator has always existed, does exist and will always exist. Creation becomes a reshaping, not a sudden appearance of something out of nothing.

So where did the raw material for reshaping come from? Cowan believes that the raw material comes from the Creator. The ever changing, ever shifting and always becoming universe is the essence of the Creator.

If Creation is made of the stuff of the Creator then all Creation is shared. The birds, the trees, the grasses, the sea, the smallest grain of sand, the smallest seed are part of us and we are part of that Creation. Imagine a world where we respected each other because of our shared Creation. Imagine a world where it would be unthinkable to destroy the natural world because by destroying that world we are destroying ourselves. Imagine a world where human beings act as the co creators we were meant to be instead of the destroyers too many of our businesses and governments have become and claiming that they are committing that destruction in our names.

In the words of Helder Camara late archbishop of Olinda and Recife in northern Brazil “Human beings, who were raised by God to the glory and responsibility of co-creators are destroying nature. Capable of transforming wastes to fertile land, we seem proud of creating deserts.” from Sister Earth: Creation, Ecology and the Sprit.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


It’s strange, you start down a path and you never know who you’re going to meet along the way. Or, maybe it isn't so strange after all. I don’t really remember how I stumbled across this writer. He is, was, the archbishop of Olinda and Recife in Brazil for many years. He probably would have shared Oscar Romero’s fate under the military dictatorship in Brazil, but he was too well known outside his country and perhaps, too well loved inside it. There’s an almost Franciscan flavor to this piece.

"The Psalms teach us to lend our voice to all creatures: to the light that comes from above and to the earth that provides for us; to the creatures of the sea from the tiniest fish to the whale.

Who has seen the same dawn twice? Who has seen the same sunset twice?

It is a pity that there are people who will go through life never having thought of watching the sunrise. Or without thanking our dear friend at nightfall.

Ah, but would you have like to see the splendor of the act of Creation? Then just think, creation is made anew, instant by instant, in God’s hands."

Dom Helder Camara in Sister Earth: Creation, Ecology and the Spirit.

What a world it would be if we would just stop for a moment and thank the birds for singing and the flowers for blooming. I know they don’t do it for us. Shouldn’t stop us from being grateful and thankful anyway.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Is a cat in a basket. It's kind of a tight fit, but Bandit is just the girl to make it work.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Wish I could have gotten pictures of Bandit last night. The Christmas decorations are boxed but not all put away. One cat plus one box with cut out hand holds equals laughter. Had to check out the holes.

"Is there any paper I can pull out? Nope, there's no fun here. Oops my paw's caught. Quit following me around, darn it. Try out the top. Oh, this could be fun. The lid moves. Well I got my head in, but there's no room for me in here. Hey, mom! I can't quite get the lid back. Thank you. If I can't do anything else, I'll sleep on it. I don't exactly fit. yet. Ahhhhhhhhh, finally got everything arranged just right. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ"

Monday, January 9, 2012


I haven't indulged in a good old fashioned rant in quite awhile. I'll be honest, proceed with caution. Jackie's been working on her to do reading list and that can be a dangerous enterprise.

Ron Paul’s rise in the polls (brief I hope) has brought his hyper libertarian beliefs into sharp relief. As well as some pesky newsletters that JUST WON’T GO AWAY. Libertarian beliefs are fine, in theory. You leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone. But, that isn’t how it plays out is it?

I have the right to use my property any way I want and you have the right to put up with the fallout. That scenario is playing out south of here as a couple of developers try to turn a small butte into a quarry. Apparently they’ve started their work without the proper permits or giving any warning to the neighbors what was going to happen. Trouble with a situation like this is that the neighbors can’t prove they’ve been hurt until their property is worthless and their wells are going dry.

We have some fellow citizens who seem to believe they have a special set of beliefs that can’t be criticized. Their freedom of speech or right to criticize other’s speech or lifestyle is protected; you have the right to keep your mouth shut or leave the room. And you have no right to criticize if you don’t agree. You’re either infringing on their freedom of speech or religion, or both.Asking questions is evidence of either hate or persecution, or both.

To those who claim your faith or your politics is being persecuted in this country, I have some questions.

Have you had any problems building a new church, except for problems with traffic or noise if you’ve plunked down in say, a residential neighborhood?

Has your tax exempt status been revoked even though you’re tap dancing on the line that says you can’t recommend specific candidates?

Has the army showed up and kicked out the minister, then turned your church into a barracks?

Has your pastor been beaten or worse murdered for standing with the poor, the oppressed or those fighting for the right to organize a union or a farmer’s cooperative?

Have you or your neighbors had your outdoor communion service turned into a free fire killing zone by the National Guard or army?

Had any neighbors disappear because someone didn’t like what they’ve been reading or saying?

Have any Christian radio stations been blown up lately?

Had your newspapers or websites been shut down?

And to the very vocal Catholic hierarchy in this country. Had any archbishops murdered lately?

I suspect that the honest answer to almost all of these questions would be a resounding no.

Have over eighty thousand of our fellow citizens been murdered or disappeared by their fellow Christians because of their faith, their politics, their attempts to organize unions or farmer’s cooperatives. All this happened in El Salvador during the late seventies and early nineties in our little proxy war to “defeat” communism, socialism, Marxism whatever the hell we were fighting over. And that was just El Salvador. Let us not forget Honduras, Guatemala or Nicaragua.

Is this an extremely cranky entry? Yes, and I won’t apologize for it. I’ve just spent some time being reminded of what was done in our names and the cost not to our citizens but to innocent third parties. The very least we can do is thank the pure chance that landed us in this country and not one of the little ones caught in the middle.

And while this is not true of everyone under the umbrella of the radical right/fundagelicals I have to ask this final question. Which end of the rifles would you be on?

Friday, January 6, 2012


The public schools get a lot of criticism over how civics and history are taught. And some of it is justified. But, I find myself thinking about how we were raised. How our folks talked about other people, other religions.

I don’t remember my dad ever putting anybody down because of their race or religion. Heck he was a contrary cuss; he wouldn’t like or dislike somebody just because other people did, so that might be part of it.

But, my family comes from a certain heritage. Mainly New England Puritan and Mid Atlantic Quaker. Settlers from two fairly distinct folk groups with their own ideas of liberty. Puritans tended to see liberty as religious liberty while accepting a degree of social control that 21st century Americans wouldn’t stand for. Quakers also claimed religious liberty with a slightly more liberal view of political liberty with a kind of you don’t bother me and I won’t bother you outlook. By the time the family hit the west coast we’d added Methodists to the mix. We all hoped our neighbors would be fair and honest when they dealt with us. But, if they weren’t we believed that we needed the elected hired help to keep the playing reasonably level.

So those are the hooks I brought with me when I walked into my social studies classes. What was presented in my classes pretty much fit the world view I was raised with. But, what happens with kids who absorb a different world view with their mother’s milk and strained peas. How much can being in class for about two and half hours a week for nine months do to change a world view a person has been absorbing all their lives?

Thursday, January 5, 2012


The flickers were back on New Years day. Briefly. We have a large iron hook on the porch post that we hang pots and wreaths from. Heard a rustle and a flutter and there were two flickers on the hook, looking right through the half moon window in the door. I’m beginning to think they’re trying to tell me something.

In folk lore flickers represent healing and growth. And after watching the bird check out the seed feeders with a “I can do that” look I can believe it.

Then there’s Kim at Golden Pines. (there’s a link in the blog roll) She fosters golden retrievers, usually older dogs. And she’d just lost another one. Bubba was an old dog and it was time to go to the bridge. He apparently went very quietly and peacefully. Funny thing is, I started getting a vision of a young dog, starlight blue running the way young, healthy dogs do when they’re running just because they can. We had this little poodle mix years ago. Candy would run in circles in the front yard and bark every time she finished a lap. Anyway, I posted a comment on Kim’s story about Bubba and within a few hours the vision faded. So I guess she got the message.

And then there’s the picture and the drumming. A wonderful picture of the Neolithic site at what is known as New Grange in Ireland on solstice morning. While I was looking at the picture I started hearing drumming. I don’t know if old Irish who waited for the mid winter sun to shine that sliver of sunlight into the tomb passage were into drumming for that ceremony, but someone was drumming.

I’m starting to believe that somebody’s trying to get my attention.


The Great Mystery is one way of referring to the supreme being in some native American or First Nations traditions.

Just received a marvelous volume on Christmas and the Winter Solstice by John and Caitlin Matthews. The Twelve Days of Christmas have a theme for each day. It isn’t really a celebration but the ninth day is evergreen day and included this little story.

When the Great Mystery was creating all the trees and plants he wanted to give a gift to each of them. But he could not decide which gift was appropriate to each tree and so he held a contest to find out. He told the young trees that he wanted them to keep watch over all the earth for seven days and seven nights.

The trees were very excited to be given such an important task and for the first night they had no trouble staying awake. But, on the second night it was harder and some of them fell asleep. By the third night even more of them were unable to stay awake, even though they whispered to themselves for hours. On the fourth night even more of them fell asleep.

Finally, on the seventh night, only a handful were still awake; the pine, the cedar, the spruce, the fir, the holly and the laurel. “What great endurance you all have” cried the Great Mystery. “To you I give the gift of remaining green forever. You shall guard the forest even in the dead of Winter when all your brothers and sisters are sleeping.” Ever since then the rest of the trees lose their leaves in Winter and sleep until Spring; but the evergreen trees are always awake and always watching.

From the Winter Solstice by John and Caitlin Matthews.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


A rare shot of Amber when she doesn't know anyone's looking. And believe me, this little girl's radar is always on. Got her through the cold spell we had in December just fine. I tried getting a shot of her in the back this morning. It was nice and sunny and she was tucked into some ferns, but it didn't turn out too well from the angle I could get and not get spotted. I like knowing she's ok, but don't want to push her too hard, she tends to disappear for a day or two.