Sunday, June 30, 2013

I WANT MY WORDS BACK PART 2

Perhaps the most important word that the fundies have hijacked is family. The fundies would have us believe that real families are the married couple and their biological children. Which would have really surprised my mom's family. Her dad died too young from complications of TB. He asked his best friend to look after his family. He did more than that. He married my grandmother and took on mom and her two brothers. And then they had a baby too.

And it would have come as a surprise to us after my sistre's started their families. Without anything being said I knew that if anything happened to their folks those boys would be taken care of come heck or high water.

Families come in all shapes and sizes not just the proverbial husband, wife two and a half kids, a house in the 'burbs with a mortgage and a minivan. So, either give it back or we'll just take it back. Now that I think about it, we've already started.

I WANT MY WORDS BACK

I decided to go for the full text of the Think Progress artice. The Family Reserach Council is listed, for what it's worth, as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. For me this is a prime example the high jacking of certain words by the radical, fundamental right. Twenty years ago this individual would not have been called a "top conservative." He would have been labeled what he is. A right wing religious radical.

"The Supreme Court’s rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 were “disappointing” decisions that “dragged ‘we the people’ from behind the wheel of this republic and carjacked the nation,” Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said on CBS’ Face The Nation Sunday.


Perkins argued that the Prop 8 case represented a “silver lining” for anti-equality conservatives, since the Court did not “impose same-sex marriage on the entire nation.” Nevertheless, he predicted that the rulings were dangerous decisions that will terrify Americans once they learn the true consequences of marriage equality.

“Americans will begin to see that with same-sex marriage does not come a hope chest, rather a Pandora’s box,” Perkins said. “We’ll see parents who pay taxes to send their kids to school, those schools are going to start teaching those children values that are in contrast with their parents. We’re already seeing bakers and florists and photographers forced to participate in same-sex marriages under the threat of law and in some cases even jail!”

Asked by Schieffer to elaborate on why bakers and florists were being thrown in jail, Perkins referenced states like Colorado and Washington that have expanded anti-discrimination statutes to include sexual orientation. In those states, refusing services to any individual because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or because they have a disability is illegal."

The same groups have latched on to the word Christian like a leech with a new blood supply. Christian is an umbrella term for a group of related religious beliefs. Come on guys be honest. Let us know where you're coming from. Most of the mainline denominations are proud to name who they are. Methodists, Presbyterians, Unitarians, Quakers. They'll let you know where they're coming from and where they've been.

So come on Southern Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Pentacostals and all those -----Christian Fellowship congregations. Be up front with the rest of us. And stop pretending you're the only Christians in Dodge City. Or anywhere else for that matter.

Although for me it's more a question of truth in labeling. I'm still about half Quaker and that is fading fast.





Saturday, June 29, 2013

THE GREEKS CALLED IT HUBRIS

"I did not believe that as a member of that body that I should allow someone to make comments such as he was preparing to make that ultimately were just open rebellion against what the word of God has said, what God has said, and just open rebellion against God's law," Metcalfe said.

Rep. Metcalfe blocked one of his collegues, Rep. Brian Sims, from speaking about the DOMA decision. Sims is gay. The first openly gay member of the Pennsylvania legislature. His attitude is so wrong on so many levels. Yo, sepration of church and state anybody? As long as his fellow reresentative isn't yelling, screaming, calling people names, throwing things etc. he has a right to speak. And you don't have the right to shut him down. Especially for this reason.

So just keep pushing guys and gals. The Greeks had a word for that attitude. It was hubris. The push back is coming and when it happens it will be epic and then the screams claiming "persecution" will resound throughout the land. And the response will either be laughter or...a thundrous silence.

All that and his sentence would get him a fail in any comp class.




Friday, June 28, 2013

FRESH OUT OF LIGHTNING BOLTS.

The cartoonist's last name is Lowe, I think. I'm not sure what paper this originally appeared in. I kiped it off Lisa's entry on Face Book. And she lifted it from somebody else.

Further evidence that what the fundies believe the Creator wants and what the Creator is actually going to don't match up very well most of the time.

Rainbows are good. I love rainbows. We need a lot more of them.

GOVERNOR 38 PERCENT TEXAS STYLE

Rick Perry, the man is a gift that just keeps on giving. Even when you wish he’d just go away.

Dear Texas, if this man decides to run for governor again, I don’t care how you do it, please for the sake of the rest of the country make sure he only has one opponent. Arm wrestle, thumb wrestle, cut the cards, consult a Ouija board, hold a s√©ance and ask Sam Houston who should run, ANYTHING to make sure that whoever gets the office has more than thirty eight percent of the vote.

And it would really help if it was someone who understands that this country was built on the right to protest. Not just protests you agree with, but the ones that you don’t. The first amendment has four parts. The two that are usually overlooked are the right to peacefully assemble and the right to petition. Frankly my view of peaceful assembly is just about anything that doesn’t involve loaded guns, rocks, bottles full of noxious or flammable liquids and soggy vegetables.

And the right to assemble and peacefully protest isn’t limited to so called Free Speech zones. The first group that allowed themselves to be herded into a fenced area two blocks away from the cameras gave up a valuable right. And the media is just as much to blame for going along with it.

So governor 38 percent, pushing an agenda that more than half of your constituents don’t support, all the yelling and opposition is democracy in action. It’s noisy. It’s messy. It’s loud. It spikes the guns of your well oiled machine. Instead of giving speeches at out of state fundie gatherings why don’t you come home and LISTEN TO WHAT THE PEOPLE PAYING YOUR SALARY HAVE TO SAY. I know it’s a little late in the day but, you just might learn something. Sorry for shouting.

And for the record this is the noisy, obstreporous, actually sedate gallery all the fundies were screaming about. Man they are a scary looking group, aren't they? LOL



Thursday, June 27, 2013

POLITICAL SAWDUST

Various political, social sweepings from the last couple of days.

The following opinions are purely mine and nobody else's
Not content with losing on the omnibus abortion bill in Texas, a governor elected with less than forty percent of the vote is calling ANOTHER special session to try (again) to pass bills they couldn’t get through during the regular session. Restrictions that more than half of citizens of Texas have said they don’t support. Guys make sure you get out and vote next time and for heaven's sake don't split the vote for governor between four different candidates. The rest of us have to live with the results too.

During the rather epic filibuster at the end of the session a CNN pundit Chris Cuomo basically admitted he didn’t understand what was going on and why didn’t the opponents of the bill try harder to compromise? Chris you do know the meaning of the word compromise? That’s where both sides give up something in hopes of getting a result everybody can live with. It’s impossible to compromise when one side won’t give on anything and insists that YOU have to go along with what THEY support.

See also the Republican definition of bipartisanship.

Justice Antonin Scalia threw an epic temper tantrum yesterday over the majority ruling of the court on marriage rights. I mean epic. This just might qualify as what my Iowa born grandma called a little blue butter bean. I mean he just threw affirmative action and the core of the voting rights act under the bus. And he voted with the majority when they defined corporations as persons when it came time to hand out the political contributions. I mean, what’s his problem? Besides the fact that he’s Catholic and well over the Biblical three score and ten.

And last but not least we come to the other candidate for least popular justice. From a liberal point of view at least, Clarence Thomas. He is supposed to have said that affirmative action made his degree from Yale Law worth about fifteen cents.

Well, it was worth slightly more than that since he probably wouldn’t be on the Supreme Court without it. Current breakdown? Columbia (1), Yale (3) and Harvard (5). As it stands, if you aren’t Ivy League you probably won’t even be considered. I’m willing to concede that race might have been a problem for Thomas but there’s an even bigger problem than early affirmative action. Thomas was born in 1945 so I’m betting he got into Yale on brains; Holy Cross and Yale Law and admitted to the bar in Missouri in 1975.

The Northeast was still a powerhouse back in the sixties and early seventies and Thomas had two strikes against him. And neither had anything to do with race. He was from the south. And his last name wasn’t Cabot, Lodge, Prescott, Adams, etc. Pure hard work might get the black kid from Georgia into Yale Law but it wouldn’t get him into the old boy network that went back for generations of who knew who, who married who and who got admitted to the best clubs where the decisions were made over cigars and a couple of fingers of top shelf single malt. Politics just as down and dirty as the old Pendergast machine or Tammany Hall but carried on behind closed doors and with more refined accents. WASP’s as opposed to the newly arrived Irish or that uppity black guy from Georgia.

Remember the Grand Poobahs may have supported Kennedy for president but they never forgot that Old Joe made most of his early money as a rumrunner. And when LBJ became president? I’m guessing the entire Northeast had severe attack of the vapors. The old Dixiecrats probably figured they’d gone to heaven until Johnson started pushing the first Civil Rights Bills and the Great Society. Lordy, Lordy, he was worse than Truman! :-)


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

FACE SLAP, FOREHEAD HITTING DESK DOMA EDITION

Think Progress's take on some of the crazier conservative reactions to the Supreme's rulings on same sex unions. Rand Paul may be the most interesting in a way. He's supposed to be a Libertarian. That means keeping your nose out of other people's business as long as they keep theirs out of yours. Or he's a libertarian in the same way Fox is a news channel. Faux all the way. Look for increased attempts at the state level until the Catholic church and the Mormons go broke or the dinosaurs finally go extinct.

And I love justice Scalia's call for judicial restraint after gutting the voting rights act. If he had his way I suspect that voting rights would still be restricted to white, protestant, property owners. No women, Catholics, Jews or free blacks need apply. Most blacks would still be counted as 3/5 of a man and justice Thomas would at best be a sharecropper down in Georgia instead of parlaying his Yale law degree into a seat on the SCOTUS.

For the record the breakdown is Columbia (1), Yale (3) and Harvard (5).

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

FACE SLAP HEAD HITTING DESK THE TEXAS EDITION

There's a lot of misinformation about how women's bodies work floating around out there, but when the source of misinformation is another woman you have to wonder what planet or alternate universe she just beamed in from.

In case there's anyone out there has been pulling a Rip Van Winkle for the last half century or so a rape kit is an evidence gathering tool. Evidence is collected that hopefully will lead to finding the attacker and it's all in one place. It has absolutely nothing to do with abortion. Treatment may also include offering the morning after medication to prevent a possible pregnancy. That may be where the confusion comes from. And some folks seem to be really easy to confuse.

Texas has just passed some of the most stringent laws in the nation all in the best interests of the poor misguided female half citizens of the state of idiocy also known as Texas. Remember it was Louie Gohmert who told a mother who terminated her pregnancy because the fetus basically had no brain beyond a brain stem that she should have carried to term. "After all, doctors make mistakes."

I looked up anencephaly on the net. Wickipedia, complete with pictures. You cannot mistake this condition for anything else and believe me there's no treatment for it. And, FYI, I don't recommend researching birth defects just before going to bed. Not good, so not good. And that poor mother. Frankly it would have been all I could do not to deck the SOB and take the consequences.

FACE SLAP HEAD HITTING DESK THE FOOD STAMP EDITION

Last week when the farm bill with potential cuts to food stamps were being debated several liberal members of congress attempted to go shopping on a food stamp budget for one person for a week. I know Peter DeFazio went a bit over, not sure about the others. Anyway, Republicans naturally dismissed them as grandstanding. One of Rep. Stockman's (R-Texas) aides took the challenge and frankly, didn't do too well. The aide's shopping list. And from the companion article on the net, HE didn't actually do the shopping. He sent an assistant out to do that little chore. Also not mentioned was a container of milk.

For $21.55 Ferguson purchased at Dollar Tree:


Two boxes of Honeycomb cereal
Three cans of red beans and rice
Jar of peanut butter
Bottle of grape jelly
Loaf of whole wheat bread
Two cans of refried beans
Box of spaghetti
Large can of pasta sauce
Two liters of root beer
Large box of popsicles
24 servings of Wyler’s fruit drink mix
Eight cups of applesauce
Bag of pinto beans
Bag of rice
Bag of cookies

As you can see, this is certainly a well balanced diet. NOT. OK, mom and I can cook and we aren't on food stamps. What you will not see on our shopping list if we were. The soda, the popsicles, the fruit drink mix and the cookies. I can bake my own thank you. Ditto on the boxed cereal. We buy in bulk oatmeal, five grain cereal, dried beans, brown sugar, spices, herbs and pasta. Much of that got started not only for cost but we don't have to throw away or recycle the packaging. We buy family packs of what meat or sausage we do eat divide it into smaller sections and freeze it. I have no arguments with peanut butter and at least he had them get whole wheat bread.

I suspect that if I had to stretch a dollar until screamed for mercy I'd be checking out dried milk and egg products, especially for baking. And canned products would definitely be store brands.We haven't seen much difference in quality between store brand or name brand flour and sugar and I may start checking out the bulk prices just for the heck of it so that I can ball park what something like the following might cost per serving. Oh, and what I have noticed is that packages of sugar that used to weigh five pounds now weigh four and the prices are only a few cents cheaper. Store brand and name brand both.

Pasta dish I made the other night. Probably would have served a family of four with a couple of hungry kids fairly well.

Started with six cups of water and added

1/4 cup soup starter veggies
Spoon of chicken base
Some dried onions and dried chopped garlic
About 2 1/2 cups rotini pasta

This is less water than you usually use for pasta so you have to watch it make sure it cooks evenly and doesn't go dry. The idea is to use up most of the liquid. When it got a little scant I drained the liquid off the can of tomates I was going to use and added that. No extra salt was used beyond the soup base and whatever was in the tomatoes added later. The idea is to use the soup veggies to ramp the flavor on the pasta.

When the pasta was done I added the half package of chopped spinach left over from last weeks impossible quiche and the can of chopped S&W tomatoes with garlic and basil. Both the veggies were name brand. I suspect that if the budget was tighter they'd have been WinCo's store brand. Not quite the same quality but they'll do as ingrediants in something else. As a luxery I added the last half pound of Italian sausage hiding out in the freezer. Topped with a generous topping of domestic parmesan it made a pretty good one dish meal.

More than one commenter pointed out that he'd used his food stamps to buy the very things conservatives who attack the program bitch about. Sodas and desserts. "People shouldn't be allowed to buy that stuff on my dime." I guess the aide didn't get that memo.

I don't envy anyone with kids trying to make it on a food stamp budge. Especially when the kids hit that can't fill 'em up no matter how hard to try age. But, grudging food to anyone, especially when we're still subsidizing corn and soy so we can use it for livestock feed is just plain stupid. We do eat some meat. But, like that pasta dish it's almost always an ingrediant, not served on it's own. And we know how to cook.

Monday, June 24, 2013

WHO WOULD JESUS BOMB PART 2

Who would Jesus Bomb? And what would He use to do it? The interviewee in the previous entry seems to believe that a nuke or two would solve all our problems in Afghanistan. After all it worked in Japan, didn’t it?


After all the situations are similar. Aren’t they? Let’s see Japan was the aggressor nation, invading everything from China to Guam and Wake Island and finally knocking on the door to India. And let’s not forget Pearl Harbor and their plans to occupy Midway Island at the west end of the Hawaiian chain. In the end Japan was an island surrounded by enemies, almost out of fuel, food and so desperate the military was planning to meet our invasion with the last of the kamikazes and civilians armed with bamboo spears at the beachheads.

The war finally ended because the emperor said so. And that was a near run thing. The emperor just couldn’t say “we’ve had it, surrender.” He had to be heard to say it by the people. And he couldn’t just go on the radio, he was the EMPEROR. Some things just aren’t done. They had to make a recording of his speech and get the record to the nearest radio station for broadcast. And, believe me, there were militants who tried to stop them. The speech was broadcast. The war minister committed suicide. Japan surrendered and Douglas MacArthur moved in as military governor.

Now on to Afghanistan. The country has been a doormat for two generations. First the Soviets invaded and we supported the militants trying to fight them off. Then the worst of the militants took power and tried to take country back to, I’m not sure what century, it certainly wasn’t the twenty first or even the twentieth. And while the Taliban government appeared to be stuck in the tenth century, they didn’t try to invade anyone.

For some reason known only to the Bush administration we invaded the country. Yes, I know the cover story was that Osama was hiding in the mountains on the border. Yeah, right. Ignoring a history of failed invasions from Alexander to the Soviets we went in with flags flying. Actually one invading force did manage to succeed and it wasn’t us, it was the Mongols. And their strategy was really very simple. Surrender or else. The or else was “when we finally starve you out we’ll raze the city and kill all the survivors.” Brutal, but effective.

So Afghanistan is the nation that was invaded. It’s a landlocked nation surrounded by groups that are at least moderately sympathetic and able to resupply the war lords they’re friendly with. The handpicked (by us) president barely tolerates us in spite of the money he’s managed to skim off and stow away in his get out of Dodge if necessary fund. And most of the rest of the country either hates our guts or just wishes we’d go away taking our drones with us.

Yes, I can see where the two scenarios are very similar. Mr. Emery, do you think we’ll need two nukes or will one be enough?





Sunday, June 23, 2013

WHO WOULD JESUS BOMB?

When Newsweek went to an all digital format early this year I started looking around for an alternative and finally settled on Sojourners Magazine. They tend to do "themed" issued and this month it's the military. And as you can see from the cover storty it's a whopper. Jerry Falwell may have gone to the big pulpit in the sky but his questionable legacy lingers on.

Here's link to the Drones for Christ article. And the composite shot is the cover plus the Liberty University logo.I really hope they don't mind. But I'm including a lengthy quote from Libery (oh that name) University graduate who apparentyly has absolutely no idea what nuclear weapons are capable of. God/dess help us the exit door is looking better all the time. 

“Richard Emery obtained a bachelor’s in finance from Liberty and went to Afghanistan with the Air Force. But Emery left the military in 2010. He told me he was troubled by what he saw as a pursuit of vengeance rather than justice.


“I’ve thought about this a lot, how we’re supposed to be forgiving and yet fight wars against enemies,” he said. “We blame Osama bin Laden for what happened on Sept. 11; one time I was in Japan, and they had a picture of him in a urinal. You were supposed to pee on his face. I thought, ‘I don’t feel right about this.’ I’m not going after some kind of vendetta. I just want to bring justice. You’re supposed to be forgiving, but you’re supposed to do your job. I’m not going over there holding a grudge against Osama bin Laden. All the people we’re killing, you know, I’d like to see them get saved.”

“I have no problem taking another person’s life,” said Emery, “if it would promote peace and liberty and the interest of the country we’re in. I have no problem giving my life for it. I’d end up going to heaven, so it doesn’t really bother me. But it becomes a problem when I start to doubt what we’re there for.”

Emery proposed the nuclear bombing of Japan as a model for how Afghanistan should be handled. “It was painful, but we dropped a couple of atomic weapons and they quit fighting, and now Japan is one of our closest allies.”

Emery expressed general disagreement with President Obama on “moral issues” until I asked about drones, and then he praised him.

“They’re cheaper. They’re effective. They’re tiny,” he said. “The difference between an F-15 and a drone is just the cost. If a baby is killed by a drone or an F-15 or a gun, the problem is with the intelligence, not with the drone.”

Emery, however, was clear on one thing. He doesn’t want drones patrolling our own skies or listening in on our cell phone conversations. In the view of this graduate, and others at Liberty, that wouldn’t be a godly thing to do.”

Ohhhhhhkay. It's alright to bomb the hell out of the people we call enemies, but it's not alright to use them for surveillance in this country. He differs with the president on "moral" issues but is ok with automated drone strikes. To be honest I'm not sure if the word drone applies to the machines themselves or their "human" operators.

And let's not even go near those peace inducing nukes. I'm not up on all of Afghanistan's neighbors but I believe that Pakistan, India, China, possibly eastern Russia and several other sovereign nations would object to glowing in the dark. And let's not even mention the west coast of this country depending on where the jet stream is aimed at the time the fall out could anywhere from Alaska to California. And points east.

I'd really love to know where this "individual" went to school before Liberty got their hooks into him.



Saturday, June 22, 2013

BOYS ARE BLUE GIRLS ARE PINK

At least according to Rep. Phil Gingery of Georgia. Have to hand it to him. He's got great teeth. What is it with these guys. Do they have a time machine hidden somewhere? Or a wormhole to an alternate earth where "June Cleaver" still rules the roost?

This seems to be another in a sort of series of cases of Republican Foot in Mouth disease. In this case a Georgia congressman wants schools to start the old style gender indoctrination as soon as possible.

For starters this whole guys do this and gals do that is so middle/upper class it isn't even funny. Then add in the push towards getting women OUT of the home and into the work force so that they can earn the green to buy what they used to make for their families. But it looks so much better on the books when you spend three bucks on a package cookies that somebody else made in a factory and shipped half way across the country. There used to be some jobs where you didn't find women. Logging and heavy manufacturing usually. Although my brother in law worked with the occaisional gal pulling green chain while he was finishing his teaching degree and looking for that first job.

And I ran across Stone's novel about John and Abigail Adams. Who do these guys think kept the farms and shops going while the men were off creating a new country. Lucky for Abigail she could afford a hired man to do the plowing a grubbing. But some of her neighbors ended up doing a lot of the work themselves. And she did run the dairy and chickens, She could a sheep fleece through the whole trip from fleece to finished cloth. And I'm guessing she could probably work this guy under the table.

I had a university classmate years ago who grew up on a small ranch on the Rogue River. The family ran to girls and as she put it "I was liberated before I knew I needed to be."

Friday, June 21, 2013

MIDSUMMER

So, today is the longest day of the year. If I was standing on the North Pole it would still be several weeks until the first sunset. If I was at the South Pole is would still be several weeks until the first sunrise. As for midsummer in Springfield, Oregon? We had two weeks of summer like weather to go with Beltane on May 1,

After that? Well, I looked out the window this morning to a grey sky and the left over rain drops on the rhodies from the rather spectacular showers yesterday. In other words a typical midsummer’s day in the lower Willamette Valley. With luck we’ll get real summer in a couple of weeks. For the sake of the tomatoes and peppers if nothing else.

Found the picture on the net. It's called Suntwist. And was on a website about ethnic restaurants of all things. Would make a heck of a cinnamon bun

I'VE GOT CHICKENS IN THE TREES

The Supreme Court hasn't ruled yet on the limited marriage equality questions before it but the fundigelicals have already issued their warning. Hey, Boomers. Remember the Viet Nam era or even the Afghanistan/Iraq war era with the "America! Love it or leave it!" Well, ladies and genttlemen. Noting that a few of you probably should be in prison with the guys you lobbied for, this is the new America. Unfortunately the contries that YOU might find the most congenial would probably insist that you convert to Islam first. So I guess we'll have to put up with you for now while we're waiting for you all to go the way of T Rex, stegasaurus and the triceratops.

And remember how many times liberals, progressives, neo pagans, agnostics, atheists and just plain humane human beings in America have been told "it's the law, so just shut up." And how it didn't seem to matter how intrusive, humiliating, cruel or just plain inhumane the laws the party of so called small government have been continually pushing were? There seem to be whole lot of chickens roosting in the trees around my house lately. Watch out for falling eggs and "other" things that might come dropping down.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

THE GREAT SPIRAL

This didn’t come out quite the way I hoped. I’ll keep working on it. Image by Barbara Kahn-Spiral Dance

Daystar we greet you in the dawn of the new day. We watch in renewed wonder as the colors unfold. As light spreads from the horizon darkness fades and we seem to see the world as if it were new. It is the same world you left in darkness, was it only a few hours ago. But it isn’t. The wheel of the year turns but time keeps it from being a repeating a circle, turning the wheel into a spiral.

We laugh a bit at our ancestors because they didn’t know what we know now. I mean Earth, Air, Water, Fire and those are the elements of Creation? What about all those elements on our nice orderly Periodic Table? Look at from their time. What more did you need. The great cycle still exists. Fire is the life force in all of Creation. Fire from the sun that powers the growth of almost all the plants on earth. Water to keep them and us alive and growing. From earth we came and to earth we return. The great spiral. The great spiral.

So we know now how the world is put together down to the very building blocks. And what has it gotten us? We believe ourselves to be smarter, but are we wiser? And I got some news today that makes me hope that we will become wiser as well as smarter.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

DEFENDING LIFE BY RAFFLING GUNS

Article from Think Progress.

An Ohio personhood law advocate is trying to raise money for his cause by raffling off three of his personal firearms. All three take the same ammo as an AK-47. And two have high capacity magazines and the third has a drum that holds one hundred rounds.

So we'll defend life by raffling his guns. That's an oxymoron if I ever heard one.

A GROVE OF TREES OR A GROVE OF STONE


North Facade of Chartres from the net

This is a poor thing, but it’s been trying to get my attention for awhile, come what may. So here it is


Chartres Cathedral stands on an ancient sacred site about sixty miles away from Paris. Long before the cathedral was built there was a great grove of trees. Many of them ancient oaks. It was known as the Great Grove of the Carnutes, a tribe of the ancient Gallic Celts. According to some histories, this was premier grove of the Druids of Gaul. Some time between the conquests of Gaul by Juliius I came, I saw, I conquered, Caesar and the reign of Tiberius in the early first century the grove was destroyed. Burned to the ground, and the land sown with salt as part of the suppression of the society of the Druids.

Oddly enough the Romans have a reputation of religious tolerance. At least as long as the gods of the conquered resembled their own man made gods of stone and marble. The Druids, however had no resemblance to anything the Romans understood. They did not worship nature, they worshipped in and within nature. If you look at Celtic art it’s full of circles and ovals intertwining, weaving with nary a straight line in sight. Perhaps the Romans, in love with stone and straight lines didn’t understand. Perhaps they didn’t even want to. Not when Gaul sat ripe for conquest and the plunder that would bring to finance Caesars, political ambitions back in Rome.

So now, instead of the living, whispering trees, the birdsong, the dappled sunlight, the songs of the earth and the cycle of the seasons in the Great Grove there are several tons of stone and stained glass sitting on that plateau. It is very beautiful, it really is. A triumph of the art of medieval engineers and glassmakers. But, if it’s all the same to everybody, I’d rather sit at base of those long lost trees. As I’ve said before I’ve never felt inside four walls what I’ve felt outside them

Saturday, June 15, 2013

PRAYERS COME IN MANY FORMS

Just when you think certain folks can’t get any weirder somebody comes along and lowers the bar. This a picture of the official, standard license plate for the state of Oklahoma. The the sculpture image on the left is titled Sacred Arrow Rain. The warrior has shot an arrow into the sky in hopes that the arrow will carry his prayer for rain to the Gods. The artist was named Allen Houser and just happened to be a Chiracahua Apache himself.

This is a picture of the original and it was the centerpiece of the display at the Olympic Village in Colorado for the 2002 Games. It is an absolutely marvelous piece of art work. To be honest I’m not sure what the hoo haw is all about. The sculpture doesn’t depict a rain god. It depicts a human being using an arrow a means to carry prayers for rain. The prayers are probably meant for a Being sacred to the Apache, but hey, he could be sending his prayers the only way he knows and “target?” Well, Catholics use incense. Many groups light candles. The Orthodox pray to icons. Perhaps it’s best to leave some wiggle room.


Damn, I probably shouldn’t use all the terms I’m tempted to use because, frankly I’m fed up. Heck I passed fed up and entered the region getting really PO’d a couple of years ago. How often are neo pagans, agnostics, atheists and even other Christians who are tired of the in your face fundamentalists told basically told to “suck it up” when the subject of school murals, nativity scenes, mandated prayers etc. come up.

Well, a Methodist pastor who shall remain nameless here has decided that this beautiful piece violates his first amendment rights and he’s being allowed to bring a suit in federal court. He tried the state courts and it was thrown out. There is a plate with In God We Trust on it but it costs more money. And God/dess forbid he should have to carry around what he considers a pagan  symbol on his car. Wonder how much research he had to do before he learned enough to be offended? Again, I see a human being sending prayers the best way he knows how. And is the target of the prayers. The sculpture doesn't say. It's left to our imaginations. To be honest I prefer to leave it that way.

And God/dess help us. He’s a Methodist! Arrrrrrgh! (I used to be one)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

STRANGE ATTITUDE

The party of “No” is at it again. This time it’s Marco Rubio. It should be legal he says to fire someone for being gay. He appears to be ok on race and gender, for now anyway since there are laws on the books. Senator, you do know that laws can be changed, repealed? Don’t you? We’re all free or none of us is protected And he’s being touted as a possible candidate for president.


Let’s conduct a little thought experiment, shall we. One foot is still half in the Christian camp. My Quaker side is hanging on by the fingernails and, and to be honest, my hands are getting tired. The other side is Celtic pagan of a flavor to be decided later, but I’m leaning towards bard in the Druid tradition, what we know of it anyway.

Let’s say that a group of pagans or Christian/pagan hybrids have started a business. We’re doing well, We need to add some help. And to be honest, we’d really prefer to “stick to our own kind so to speak.” Imagine the foaming at the mouth outrage if we made it very clear that no Christians need apply. Especially fundamentalist evangelicals. Or if we did hire a Christian or three insisted that they show up early the hymns to the sun. Or suggested very strongly that they should show up for major celebrations such as Beltane or Lughnasa. Or the solstice and equinox celebrations. Or else.

It would be wrong of course. Discrimination is discrimination no matter who is doing the discriminating. And the Republicans and the fundigelicals just don’t seem to understand that the shoe can end up on the other foot so easily.

A WORLD FIT FOR HUMANS TO LIVE IN

Looks like I'm on a roll here. I've been reading Wendell Berry, especially his The Gift of Good Land. He may have written the essays back about 1980 but it really brings what we've allowed the would be oligarchs to subvert, divert and steal. No, not everybody needs to be a farmer, but we need to build a world we can sustain. Human sized and fit for human beings to live in.

Ohio is one of the states that seems to be out to convince women that we’re not human beings with functioning brains but little more than door mats. Perhaps it’s time for a national mental health week for women. Unless you’re working for a hospital, the fire department, police department, EMT or are serving in the military stay home or check into a half way decent motel with a few friends and any kids under say, ten. The menfolks seem to believe they know it all. Let them prove it. And the kids will survive on peanut butter and jelly for a few days.


Is it my imagination, or was it about the mid nineties when the anti abortion crowd really started getting in our faces. Curiously, that’s right after the USSR stopped being the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and went back to being Russia, minus a few significant pieces of real estate.

Without the threat of Soviet backed revolutions in our back yards the oligarch wannabes in this country needed something to keep the pot boiling. Keep the peasants trying to guess which shell the shiny little pea is under. And while we’re concentrating on the twisting and turnings hopefully we won’t notice that everything except the table the shells are on has been sold overseas or stolen. And I’m not too sure about the table. Aftre all we can all sit on the floor just as well.

After all, rhetoric aside, most of the fundibaggers (and yes I know about the other meaning for tea bagger. And you know something, I really don’t care anymore.) don’t give a rat’s a$$ about the kids after they’re born. If they did, they’d make sure that we were building a world fit for a human being to live in. A world where we stop strip mining everything in sight including the people.

Time for an across the board yanking of tax exemptions and requiring a list of ALL donors. And none of this “we’d be happy to tell you where we’re getting our money but we’re afraid of a backlash.” If you really believe this baloney then you shouldn’t mind letting the world know about it. At least we might find out how much traces back to say, the Koch brothers for starters.

And no, I’m not a fan of abortion unless there’s a damn good reason. But, abortion is just a symptom. A part of a mindset that nobody seems willing to fix because too many people stand to lose too much money. And I don’t mean Planned Parenthood. See the previous entries.

MOTHER EARTH DOESN'T GET MUCH RESPECT EITHER

I’m going to post a warning on this entry. I’m royally p***** off. So yeah, this is a pretty in your face entry. But, after this I’m going to be writing about what people, lots of little people are doing to take on the control freaks the strip mine mentality. And winning more often than not. The conservatives blather about the short comings of the main stream media. And they do go on about that "socialist" in the White House. News flash boys and girls. This oligarchs in this country have done a fantastic job of privatising the profits and sticking the rest of us for the cost of cleaning up their messes.

Well, the local paper didn’t give more than two sentences to the Monsanto protests here and around the world. So I have to turn up a few rocks. And bite back the urge to heave them through a few windows.


I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at the belittling attitudes women face. Or the absolutely entrenched attitudes towards sexual assault. Remember it’s not about sex. It’s about control. And we’re up against a group of extraordinary control freaks.

What’s the cheapest way to get to the coal and other ores we want to mine? Rip up the mountain and dump the debris over the side. Too bad about the stream, the fish, the other wild life that depends on that watershed. And really too bad about the folks living downstream that have use that water for their kids, their farms and their gardens.



And it isn’t a strip mine but the front page of the B section of the local paper headlined a superfund site in Douglas country south of Springfield. The mine was operating from 1990 t0 1993 when it forced to close for violating just about every environmental rule in the book. The Formosa mine was operated by a Canadian company backed by a Japanese company. The Canadians are out of business, the Japanese can’t be touched and there’s no money to clean up the site. The debris field is leaching heavy metals into the ground water and the flooded mine is draining into a creek that feeds into the Umpqua river. The creek used to host salmon and Chinook runs. It’s pretty much dead now. So sorry about that.

What’s the cheapest way to grow crops? Genetically modified monocultures engineered to be poisoned and still survive. Too bad about the loss of genetic diversity. Too bad that more than one study shows that the engineered crops don’t have the same mix of nutrients that their unf***** up relatives do. (sources Animal Vegetable Miracle, Wendell Berry and various Vendana Shiva essays). Too bad the herbicides screw up the mix of microbes and insects that allow the plants to absorb nutrition. Too bad about the loss of topsoil since we keep taking without putting compost back or giving the land a chance to rest and recover between crops of subsidized corn, soy or cotton.

Too bad about the falling water tables as we try to grow water hungry crops in semi deserts. Barbara Kingsolver finally decided to move her family to land her husband owned in Tennessee. The deal breaker? Tucson built a new canal (open canal not a pipeline) to bring in a new water supply. Users were warned that while the water was ok for human use don’t use it for your goldfish. It’ll kill ‘em. Ugh.

What’s the fastest, cheapest (up front at least) way to grow beef, chicken and pork? Stick ‘em in feed lots or warehouses, stuff them grain and ship them to the slaughter house as quickly as possible. Too bad the high grain diet isn’t what cattle are adapted to eat. Some studies suggest that we didn’t turn them into roasts and steaks they’d probably die anyway.

And you have to wonder what the stress hormones due to overcrowding do to the meat. And I wonder how we’d like standing around in our own s*** for the six months or so it takes to get the critter to slaughter weight. Too bad that the manure that would have helped replenish pasture is now sewage that we can barely handle. Too bad about the spinach crop that was contaminated by feed lot run off a few years ago. What were the final death toll and hospital costs for the e-coli outbreak?

Then there’s the low dose antibiotics meant to counter disease brought on by over crowding. Guess where the majority of antibiotics used in this country end up. Hint. It isn’t in the people.

I could go on. The collapse of the fishing industry as we strip mine the ocean the same way we’re strip mining the land. And too bad about the environmental damage done by fish and shrimp farming. Funny how critters that are used to swimming around in the ocean don’t take to being penned up any better than steers or chickens do.

The control freaks are raping Mother Earth in search of the quick buck every day. I suspect that Her daughters and sons shouldn’t be surprised when get the same lack of respect. Physical rape is just the tip of the iceberg. The destruction of traditional, sustainable ways of living in search of the almighty dollar, yen and Euro is rape too. But, with no police reports to fill out.



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

IF ONLY YOU HADN'T DARED TO ACT LIKE YOU DESERVED RESPECT

It was a steady drumbeat in the run up to the election last year and it continues. “If you’re really raped you won’t get pregnant.” “A woman’s body has ways to shut down so she won’t get pregnant if she’s really raped.” “If you hadn’t been in that bar you wouldn’t have been groped.” “If you hadn’t been dressed the way you were you wouldn’t have been attacked.” "If you just stay in the house with the blinds closed you'll be safe."


A girl passes out drunk at a party, comes to, discovers she’s been groped and that instead of interfering everybody stood around taking pictures. And where the hell were the parents of all these kids? I mean, do you believe everything your little darlings tell you without doing some double checking? This isn't the fifties. Ward and June Clearver aren't the ones hosting the parties. And what about the pathetic, almost criminal attempts to deep six the case because the accused were star athletes? And discovering that the rumors that the “rape culture” had been going on for years. Rape and culture. There’s an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one.

Hearings are being held to investigate sexual assaults in the military and former Florida representative Allen West opens his pie hole to announce that if women weren’t in combat units there wouldn’t be a problem. come on Allen, the military isn't a treehouse where a club of ten year olds can just put up a sign saying "no girls allowed."

Conservatives claim that lowering the age for over the counter contraceptives will make it easier for sexual predators and pedophiles to prey on young victims. As if the prey getting pregnant even crosses the predator's mind.

I was born with two X chromosomes so I can’t really say what I’d think or say if one of those little buggers had been a Y instead. I’d like to think that if I was a man I’d be really pissed off right now. All of these statements seem to have one belly crawling assumption. That men can’t control themselves. That it’s somehow “normal” for at least some men to prey on vulnerable young women. That a woman in a bar or a party is fair game. That it’s boys will be boys no matter what the situation. Rape isn’t about sex it’s about control, power and when it’s used in war telling their men that “we control everything, even the women around you.”

And that was one (one of many) things that really ticked me off about last year’s Republican candidate for president. And his running mate. They both had a chance to draw the line in no uncertain terms when other candidates were offering their unsolicited opinions about whether a woman was “really raped” or not. And they didn’t. They had a chance to “man up” and they kept silent. And we all know the saying about silence and consent. Well, "gentlemen?"

Monday, June 10, 2013

THE FAMILY NETWORK

Mr. FM 2030 had another reason for changing his birth name “to break free of the widespread practice of name conventions that he was as rooted in a collectivist mentality (whatever the heck that means), and existing only as a relic of humankind’s tribalistic past. He viewed traditional names as almost always stamping a label of collective identity-varying from gender to nationality-on the individual thereby existing as prima facie elements in the thought processes in the human cultural fabric that tended to degenerate into stereotyping, factionalism, and discrimination…. The name 2030 reflects my conviction that the years around 2030 will be a magical time. In 2030 we will be ageless and everyone will have an excellent chance of living forever.” from Wickipedia.


I’m not quite sure what to make of these ideas. My family tree on Family Tree Maker has more than 6500 entries. And no, I haven’t gone through and figured out how many are duplicates. But, Charlemagne is in there ate least forty times and he’d be there more if I’d cared to follow that branch. You get to a certain point and it’s “I know where this is going, I’ll come back later. Maybe.” And where you have Charles the moderately Great you’ll have Clovis I, one of the original “convert of else” kind of rulers. Which proves that one, you can’t choose your relatives. And two, half the people in Western Europe are my shirt tail relations. And that if you go back far enough we’re all related. Maybe that’s why we humans have such a hard time getting along with each other. We really do realize that we are one big family. And family disputes can be most destructive. Which we seem determined to keep proving for some reason known only to our ancestors.

Of all the others, you have to wonder why they chose to do what they did. Especially what drove them to come the other side of the world. I know a little about Robert Heaton. He was a Quaker and a small entry suggests that he was a small time merchant who had goods seized for some reason. Not paying tithes? Not going to church? Refusing to take off his hat? Doesn’t say. But, He haled from Yorkshire in northern England and although I got tired of making entries Heaton’s under one version of the name or the other have been in Yorkshire since the Norman Conquest. That’s a long time to be in one place. And the reasons for leaving would have to be almost overwhelming.

My family is part of a world wide web of generations going back to the first one celled critters. We’re interconnected in a way that is almost impossible to comprehend. I don’t look like I did twenty years ago. In many ways I’m not quite the same person but I’m still me. Changing my name wouldn’t change that.

Honestly, I get the impression that a lot of the folks who spend a lot of time focusing on the future not only don’t much care for the present, they don’t much care for other human beings either. Most of their projections are full of wonderful technology but not very many persons.

And that is that. This has been knocking around for a couple of weeks and now it’s out of my system. And needless to say has no resemblance to the dozen versions I wrote in my head. Sometimes the words go where they want to go, and take me along for the ride.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

THE FUTURE IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Wendell Berry quoted a “futurist” in one of his Unsettling of America essays. Apparently this individual was fairly well known in his time. Even changed his name to FM-2030. And no, it’s not a radio station, if the numbers went that high. First off, he believed he was going to live to be one hundred and he was born in 1930. Missed it by thirty one years when he died of cancer in 2000. Second, he believed that by 2030 we would be on threshold of either greatly enhanced life spans or actual immortality. Well, it doesn’t look like that is going to happen either.


Apparently he garnered quite a rep at the beginning by predicting teleshopping and telelearning. Well, geez, anyone familiar with the Monkey Ward catalog (extra points if you remember the name of the real store) or the one from Sears wouldn’t have make a big stretch to realize that using a computer would make it easier to shop. Or that a computer would make it easier to take what we used to call correspondence courses.

He was further off the mark on alternative energy sources. Solar is slowly catching on in this country, doing much better overseas. As nice as wind power sounds, it’s exactly that and still growing slowing. We don’t seem to be any closer to fusion power than we were a generation ago and conventional fission plants are declining, not growing. In part because we didn’t realize at the beginning what radiation does to building materials like metal. And then there was the miracle of cars powered by fuel cells. I don’t know where this guy went to school. The Wicki website was silent on that. Yo, to get hydrogen you need water and electricity. Water is in short supply already in many places. And using as much power to get your energy source as you’ll in fuel supply seems a bit, shall we say, shortsighted. And storing hydrogen is tricky, it tends to go BOOM when you least expect it.

But, what really caught Berry’s attention was the push to a fully mechanized, computer directed agriculture. ‘three or four technicians could feed million people” from an article entitled Homo sapiens the Manna Maker. And as usual the metaphor is totally misunderstood. (It's a PDF file on the net, just Google the article name)

In scripture manna is a symbol of abundance as a gift of God. But, an abundance within limits. The People were to gather enough for the day, that day. But, double the amount to have enough for the Sabbath. More than was needed for the day would spoil over night. In the Lord’s prayer we recite give us THIS day our daily bread. In at least one section of scripture we are advised to care for the evils or joys of this day. And worry about the future when it gets here. That could be seen as a recipe for fatalism, but I don’t believe it has to be that way.

But, when we spend too much time focusing on possible future problems we can lose sight of the problems of today. Take a look at the total mess our foreign policy over the last fifty years. How much cash, weapons and training did we shower on little countries in Central and South America. How many governments did we help overthrow in the name of preventing communist “subversion?” We’ve got semi scandals of the wazoo right now because too many of us are terrified of possible terrorist actions.

The other problem that bothers me when it comes to those who spend too much time focusing on the future at the expense at the present. Too many of them don’t seem to like human beings very much. Four computer techs can feed a million people. Presumably a similar small crew could run an automated factory producing almost any product. Sooooo, if the computers are growing the food and making the goods. Where are the nameless, ignored citizens supposed to use for money to buy the goods? Out of thin air?

I think I’ll stick with the present for now.

For anyone who is curious the FM-2030’s original name was F. M. Esfandiary.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

KENTUCKY FARMER

Wendell Berry is a writer, peace activist (of sorts) a Kentucky farmer and a bit of a curmudgeon. His essays support the ideas of truly sustainable agriculture, technology appropriate to the land and the people, and working to keep rural communities vital and healthy. To do that we need to protect the land not strip mine it. Rotate crops so that pests and diseases don’t get a chance to take hold. Enjoy good food in season as much as possible. Buy as close to your community as possible. I am learning to love his work.

When he isn't writing about the land he's protesting mountain top removal mining, new coal powered plants, our new, improved national security state and gave voice to his opposition to the Viet Nam War back in 1968 in statement that covers much of what he's written about over the years

"We seek to preserve peace by fighting a war, or to advance freedom by subsidizing dictatorships, or to ‘win the hearts and minds of the people' by poisoning their crops and burning their villages and confining them in concentration camps; we seek to uphold the ‘truth' of our cause with lies, or to answer conscientious dissent with threats and slurs and intimidations. . . . I have come to the realization that I can no longer imagine a war that I would believe to be either useful or necessary. I would be against any war"

Needless to say that if you believe that all life is interconnected you’ll probably treat it with a lot more respect than our current Monsanto/Dow driven industrial, factory farm, strip mine the earth model of agriculture the US has been pushing for us and the rest of the world since the end of WWII.

Back in 1979 Berry attended a conference on hunger at the University of Arizona. Someone in the audience asked a panelist about encouraging local, traditional systems of agriculture as a tool to fight hunger. The panelist dismissed such practices as “subsistence” agriculture. Apparently what was needed was more export oriented agriculture with the farmers now working for someone else for wages so they could buy food. And that "when traditions get in the way of the growth of a cash economy, they must be removed 'by surgery.' It is thus possible within the length of a breath to go from paternalistic economics to tyrannical politics." And whether the locals agree or not.
In other words we have to abandon local farming that feeds families and communities and keeps most of the produce local for large scale agriculture. In many countries the people on the land don’t own it. They’re tenant farmers or indigenous peoples who have lived on the land for generations but don’t hold the titles. The land gets consolidated; the farmers are forced out or onto marginal lands.

Some do get hired to work the export oriented cash crops, but there are never enough jobs. And the export crops force out the local food crops. Whoopie. You’re working for somebody else, you’ve got the cash but there’s little or no local food to buy and the imported products either are too expensive or not what you’re used to consuming. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is wrong with this picture?

What the panelist really meant was “we need to convince you ignorant peasants to work for cash so we can convince you to buy what we want to sell you.” And we need to convince your upper class landowners to grow crops that need our herbicides and pesticides. To use chemical fertilizers that slowly destroy the soil instead of working the land in ways that preserve it.. But by the time you figure out you’ve been had we’ll be laughing all the way to the bank. Sound depressingly familiar?

FINALLY FINDING MY FOCUS

I seem to be settling in on a spiritual path of sorts. I want to continue to explore my Quaker roots but I’m being pulled towards what we understand of Druid tradition with a split between bard and healer. There’s a good website, The Henge of Keltria. Celtic tradition; what we know of it. The ancient Irish didn’t believe in writing things down. They valued ancestral memory and the ability hold that knowledge in their minds. The downside is that when bearer dies without passing his/her treasures to another generation the knowledge is lost. Perhaps forever.

So, while I’m trying to figure out just who inhabits the Celtic pantheon, my reading seems to be focused on number four of the Henge’s basic beliefs. “We believe that all life is sacred and should neither be harmed nor taken without deliberation or regard.” Just reread Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. There’s a lot of good material in this one. Especially in the little sidenotes from her husband and older daughter.

Anything by Wendell Berry that I can get my hands on. His essays are a treasure trove. Place matters. Knowledge of place matters and needs to be valued. I need to double check his assertion that Iowa will be out of topsoil by 2050. It wouldn’t surprise me though.

I have a couple of Vendana Shiva’s essay collections. I need to revisit those. She and those who support her have been in the frontlines opposing the likes of Monsanto and Dow. Two prime examples of the idea that life not only isn’t sacred, it exists to be exploited as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.

Along with Hope’s Edge that should keep me busy for awhile. And provide a wealth of blogging material.

Oh, and All Our Relations by Winona LaDuke.

Friday, June 7, 2013

PROBLEM SOLVING OR HOW DO I GET ON THE RUG

It looks like Midge isn't going to be that large of a cat. Which is nice to look forward to. We already have two behemoths in the family. She still fits in her laundry basket "play pen" when we want to make sure where she's at when dinner time rolls around. She still sleeps in the kennel at night because, to be honest I'm not into a cold nose examining my ear at two in the morning.

So it's catch up with the small, elusive cat, tuck in the crate and go about your dinner making business. Well, I guess she'd gotten tired of the linoleum and went looking for more comfortable quaters last night. She maneuvered herself into the bathroom with enough of the play pen onto the nice, soft rug. The nice, soft, warm rug, thank you very much. You go girl.

I just wonder what's going through that kitty brain when she keeps looking at the ceiling fan.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

ANGEL FOOD

What do you serve with fresh, Oregon Strawberries? Angel food cake, of course. We do custards a couple of times a month. The yolks go in the pudding and the whites go in the freezer. When you have the whites from a dozen eggs you haul out the mixer and practice patience. There are cakes you can "fudge" so to speak. But, this is one cake where following the directions pays off. Whip the whites until you can put a spatula in them and it stands up straight. Start the flour with the mixer but fold in the rest carefully. Very, very carefully. And use that serving ladle to gently put the batter in a pan that's older than I am. And ignore the advice to cut through the batter with a knife to remove large bubbles. What's a few holes when the batter rises so beautifully. Bake. Allow to sit until cool. Luckily this old pan has its own built in 'tripod." Pry out of the pan. Enjoy the crumbs and go find those barries.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

KITTEN UPDATE.


Midge is almost ten months old and long. Long legs, long body, long tail. But still doesn’t weigh that much. I can still tuck her under my arm. When I can catch her. She looks so small all curled up. She keeps looking at the ceiling as if she's trying to figure out how to get UP there. There must be some fun things up there if I could JUST get up there. And she isn't nearly as demonic as this shot suggests. Just hard to catch sometimes.


Midge the sharp eared and sharp eyed loves to hang out in the back bedroom where there is a fan in the window. Outside smells drift in and so do sounds. I looked in the other morning just as she gave the window a look. Then something was moving back and forth where you could see it through the fan. There was hum and then a ruby throat popped up, bobbed up and down, flitted its wings and zipped away while Midge did a pretty good imitation of a mearcat. ‘MOM! What was that!”

The shrubby fuchsia out front didn’t get cut back as far as usual last year which means it’s already up and blooming extravagantly. The bees and the hummers are all very, very happy. I’m not sure what kind it is but it came with the house. Small leaves, small red and purple blooms.

This is not a shot from our yard. I filched it off the net. I have yet to get a shot of a hummingbird. Even if I have my camera with me. If you could get a picture of a hum, I'd have it made. LOL



Monday, June 3, 2013

STRAWBERRY SEASON

This is the month every true Oregonian dreams of for ten and one half months of the years. The native Oregon strawberries are in season. For all of about a month. You can tell the real thing. They don't come in plastic clamshells. You pretty much have to go find them at the growers. Like fresh peaches, you can barely get these home and they must be processed that day. They're juicy, drippy, stain your fingers, make the care smell wonderful and taste fantastic. And they're an example of how sensitive a certain small cat's nose is. Because Midge's nose was really twitching. "I've never smelled this before. It doesn't smell like fish. It doesn't smell like the yard breeze from that noisy thing in the window. Hmmmm. I guess it doesn't smell like fish for a reason. You can have them."

THE FAMILY TABLE

I’m not sure this ended up where I thought it would when I discovered this quote in Berry’s book. But, for better or worse, here goes.


“But just stop for a minute and think about what it means to live in a land where ninety five percent of the people can be freed from the drudgery of preparing their own food.”

James E Bostic Jr. former deputy assistant secretary of agriculture for rural development. I didn’t find much on the net about him. He got a degree from Clemson in chemistry. Did the government stint and has held various positions with outfits like Georgia Pacific. You know the “we never met a tree we didn’t want to cut” guys, among others.

Ugh. I wonder where this person would have placed on the psychopath/sociopath diagnostic scale. Apparently he lumps actually growing the food along with preparing the food for your family.

There is nothing more basic to being human than the growing, preparing, preserving and sharing of food within the family or with friends. One of the basics of the school garden movement beginning the mid nineties isn’t just the garden itself. The students learn to cook what they grow and share it with their classmates. Preferably around a table with all the trimmings.

Some of my craziest memories involve dinner time. When dad was disabled mom worked at the U of O as a cook. Which meant that you know who ended up doing a lot of cooking. Robbie did try to help. I came through the door after classes one evening to be greeted with “how do you make a cream sauce?” She’d almost pulled it off on her own except for the fatal mistake. She turned her back on it for about twenty seconds and it was lump city. Then there were my experiments with pasta sauces. My youngest sister loves mushrooms. Now. Back then it was “are there mushrooms in this?” No sis that bowl has no mushrooms. Then there was dad and the chili. He’d slip in when he thought we weren’t looking and add a little more Tabasco to the mix. Didn’t take us long to just hold back on the final seasoning until just before we were going to serve it.

Then there was the three layer cake baked with baking powder that had lost its oomph. Good thing they liked frosting. And that chiffon cake. Nicely mixed, just turned into the pans with I spotted the measuring cup with the oil in it. That recipe was VERY forgiving. And the divinity that steadfastly refused to set. Pass the spoon.

Maybe it’s a guy thing, I don’t know. It was a challenge to step up and make sure that dinner hit the table on the days mom worked late and that it was something they’d eat. I have to admit dad and the girls were very patient with me. And some things got eaten then that have never graced our table again. Stuffed peppers spring to mind.

There’s a satisfaction to that and it’s a feeling he’ll never share.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

BUILDING A CULTURE CONTINUED

This was a companion piece to my last entry. Again it fits in with what I’ve been reading. It seems I was echoing Wendell Berry before I even heard of him. More later. I hope


You can’t run a household where you garden, can the produce and do most of without a considerable amount of hands on labor. What we call work, I guess. It was work, but it wasn’t. Mom learned from her mother and from dad’s mother. She passed it on to us. She and I don’t do nearly as much as we used to do but beans and peaches still find their way to the shelves. Colleen has been doing more the last few years as the kids got older. She makes a mean pasta sauce. One generation to the next down through the years.

But, there was time between canner batches to kick back, read a little, harass a little sister (or be harassed), pull a weed or three, to just be. That’s how I was raised. That’s what families do; or did. And that’s what they did for generations. What really bugs me is that when the work gets entered in the balance sheet for gross national product, all that ends up in the final total is the cost of the materials. There’s no line in GNP for the creation of the ties between friends and families.

The work was done within the family or with friends. Think back on all those stories of barn raisings and quilting bees. The work got done, but no money changed hands. More than likely everybody went home with tired bodies, full stomachs, the satisfaction of a job well done and enough juicy gossip to keep tongues wagging until the next get together.

No income was recorded. No taxes paid. Well, in our case, dad got paid by Pope and Talbot for managing one of their cutting crews, but that information got put on a different line on the balance sheet.

I’m sure it wasn’t some sinister conspiracy, but somehow we’ve been convinced that it’s more productive for both parents to work outside the home and pay someone else to provide the things we did for ourselves. Or try to squeeze all that “unpaid” work in around the edges.

And no, we didn’t do it all. No family could ever provide everything they needed from within the family. They always had to fill in with what they couldn’t do themselves. And no, I don’t want to live in a country where the only job for woman is in the home. I like having the choices.

But, I get the feeling it’s a giant shell game. The same work gets done. But, now the national economy recognizes the value of the work because a dollar value can be attached to it and taxes get paid. And somehow the parent that stays home is seen as being less productive than if they were in the paid job market.

And I guess you need to push to have both parents in the job market while the pressure keeps building to turn pre-school into kindergarten and kindergarten into the first grade. Can’t have those pesky children taking too much time to become employable for the jobs we’ve decided are worth paying for. There’s very little room anymore for clowns, dreamers, contemplatives or other square pegs.

I truly believe we’ve lost even more. There’s a knowledge that comes from having to manage things. You don’t learn that in a class room. There’s a knowledge that comes from knowing you won’t always get what you want the way you want it. You just might have to settle for something else. You may have to wait awhile. And you just might find out that what you get is so much more than you expected.



Saturday, June 1, 2013

BUILDING A CULTURE EVEN WHEN YOU DON'T KNOW IT


I first wrote this back in 2008 and it fits in with what I’ve been reading. Especially Wendell Berry’s The Unsettling of America. I didn’t realize it at the time but we were building a culture and living within a culture. We knew the land. The people, especially Mrs. Johnson, knew her cabbage like we knew our canner. And she would NOT sell cabbage for kraut unless there had been a frost first. And once we moved to the house on Kelly the kraut was never the same. Whether it was different microorganisms in the house or the switch to electric heat from an oil heater might have made a difference. Anyway I’m resurrecting a couple entries to try and set the scene.
Dad worked for Pope and Talbot as a logger and mom ran the house. Part of running the house meant ensuring that there was food in the pantry during the winter. My folks bought two things right after they got married. One was a sewing machine and the other was a pressure cooker. We still have the pressure cooker and it still works.

In a small logging town, actually any small town of the times, that meant keeping track of the garden, canning the produce and keeping an eye on the toddler (me) while you were doing it. Later, as sisters got added to the mix I got drafted into toddler watching duty along with mom. But it wasn’t all work. There was time to read. There was time to check out the dry creek bed down the street. When we moved to another place there was a culvert that ran under the rail road tracks across the street that just beckoned the imagination. There were also plenty of trips to the park at the other end of town on those hot summer afternoons. Oh, and television. Yeah, we had TV. Two channels, black and white, and if it blew a tube between paychecks it might not get replaced for a week or three. Imagine the horror these days. LOL

What we didn’t grow ourselves meant a drive into Eugene/Springfield and trips to the local orchards. The usual shopping list included corn, cabbage, cucumbers, apples, cherries, peaches and pears. The really good thing is that these don’t come on all at once. Cherries first, then peaches and pears, and apples anytime from August to November.

Funny, nowthat I think of it, they go in order of ease of processing. All you have to do is stem and wash the cherries. And they are canned pits and all. Peaches are scald, slice, pit and can. Pears are the hardest. Those little beggers are slippery. Apples will keep a couple of months if you keep them in a cool place. Oh, and fruit you can just do a half hour in a hot water bath. Pressure peaches and you get sauce. It still can behot and steamy work even if you aren’t keeping a weather eye on the pressure gauge.

And the corn, oh the corn. That was a trip. You blanch the corn in boiling water and then you cut it off the cob, pack it with a little salt and process it. We finally got smart and just moved the whole operation out into the driveway. We took the cutting operation outside because it’s a lot easier to hose down a driveway than get all those little corny bits out from under the cupboards. Corn flies.

The cabbage went for sauerkraut. That was usually the last up because the gal we bought the cabbage from wouldn’t sell kraut cabbage until after the first cold snap. Claimed the cabbage made better kraut that way. And who were we to argue. We may still have the kraut cutter. It looks like a washboard with blades.

The cukes went for pickles. I used a fork to poke holes in more cucumbers than I want to think about.

And did I mention that the garden in Oakridge included strawberries, raspberries and boysenberries. They all went into the freezer or the jars. The neighbor kids were welcome to sample as long as they ate the ripe ones and didn’t mess with the green ones. About ninety percent of the time the kids went along with it. That’s good odds anytime. And there was always someplace around the edge of town where you could pick blackberries. With luck more berries went into the buckets than into us. They went into the larder, too.

There was a method to our madness. Once word got round in the family that we made good kraut, pickles, jams etc. guess what got passed around at Christmas? If all else fails, give goodies.

Some years when times were good in the summer the folks would order a quarter of beef. That’s literally one quarter of a steer folks. There isn’t a lot of steak on a quarter of beef but I don’t remember eating a lot of hamburger when we were kids. I think the tough cuts ended up being trimmed, cubed and canned.

You want tedious? Try nursemaiding a canner full of meat. Two hours at ten pounds pressure for each batch. It’s not like you have to watch it like a hawk just make sure it stays above ten pounds. Worth the trouble at the time though. It was fully cooked and ready to use; just open the jar. And most important, it was there in the winter when the budget was usually pretty tight.

Dad had coworkers who’d go to the coast in season and come home with a limit of salmon or other fish. Into the jars it went.

Oh, and the freezer was a full size Kenmore chest style freezer from Sears. Now that I think about it, just about every appliance came from Sears. That monstrosity was about three years younger than me and it was huge. It was really something when I could finally get into the darn thing without having to use a chair, much less get at the stuff on the bottom without standing on my head.. It was big, clunky, and defrosting it was an all day operation.

Not thatyou spent all day on that job. We chipped, pried, wiped and dried between doing other things. I was in my mid forties before that sucker gave up the ghost. Something necessary finally crapped out and we couldn’t get parts for it. Heck, by then my sisters were married, raising their own families and we didn’t need something that big anyway. But, for heavens’ sake never give up on something while it’s still running.

I don’t want to make things sound better than they were. We didn’t get a dryer until Roberta (middle sister) was nearly out of diapers. That means the laundry got hung out winter or summer, sunshine or clouds. If it wasn’t quite dry, it got hung over chair backs and the like until was. If it was too wet it got hung on a laundry rack by the stove. Try drying heavy duty work jeans on a laundry rack. It takes awhile. I think we finally replaced the wringer washer when we moved back to Springfield when I graduated from high school.

There were times when dad’s clothes were so muddy mom had to hang them on the line and wash them down with hose before she could wash them. A fun job in the middle of winter.

Logging is not a life for a man going into middle age. It’s a life that wears you out, and it does it fast. If and when there were discussions about tight finances or fears for the future; and I know there were; they didn’t happen where we could hear them. Nature finally took any decisions or fears out of our hands when one of his knees went out. We moved back to Springfield, dad ended up on disability and mom ended up cooking for other peoples’ kids in a dorm kitchen at the U of O. I’m sure there were times when my sisters’ weren’t sure if I was their big sister or a substitute mom. Somehow we managed to get through it all. We weren’t always smiling about it, but we did manage.

It isn’t and wasn’t a perfect life. It was just…..life. And it has never been boring. And if you were bored? You didn’t say anything where mom could hear you. She had sure fire cures for boredom. LOL Now that I think about it, she still has cures for boredom