Friday, September 23, 2016

when Clyde went down

I so thought he was dead.  And of course he still might be.  And of course one day he will be, as will I.

I so thought he was dead, even the very moment that the husband called me, working at the other barn, and said, "Clyde is down and can't get up."  I went from standing to kneeling in that barn's isle, trying to catch my breath.  I've been through this before.  Duke is down and can't get up:  But he'd been unwell, and unwilling to eat so it was not a surprise.  Bill is down and can't get up:  He went down suddenly, had broken his leg, but the ground was so slick then, and a slip and a torque did that.  Rose didn't go down but was thoroughly wet and shaking when we found her, her stomach burst.  And after all that, getting Clyde at all was an act of bravery, derring do.

And he just saw the vet yesterday?  Got his teeth floated and a few vaccinations?  And today he is down and can't get up? 

And there is nothing we know of wrong?

I so thought he was dead.  To see him struggle.  To see him give up.  To see him close his eyes against the glare of the sun though we were trying to shade him as best we could.  We got a tarp and stood, each one of us at a corner, holding it over him, burning in the sun ourselves, shading and sometimes fanning him.

His feet were uphill and there is no possibility of him standing from that.  So we first tried to slide him around.  Well, we couldn't budge that big horse, not an inch, not without a tractor or something.  Us trying to do that, however, made him try to get up again and in doing that he got to a more directly uphill position and from there I knew I could flip him.  We tied ropes on both bottom feet and Ro and I pulled.  When he was up a little, the other guys pushed from uphill.  He flipped.

He tried to stand a few times, once making it to a sitting position and staying there a little bit but being unable to get up.  I gave up.  After that I just tried to keep him still, tried to get him to NOT try to get up.  We offered water and he tried to drink a little and then seemed to give up on that too.  We'd dribble some in his mouth now and then.  When a breeze would blow, we'd try to make sure it got under the tarp to cool him off.  I became concerned about dehydration -- maybe that was the whole thing, the creek being low from this dry spell, but I couldn't make him drink.  We waited for the vet to get here and I wondered what in the heck she could possibly do when she did.

I reached down to uncrumple his bottom ear that had gotten into a bad position.  I rubbed his TMJ to try to relax him.  I imagined life without him; without him we have enough horse feed to last us a year, and that thought made me tear up.  I imagined just sitting down beside him and never getting up, but I know in truth I'd just go on about life as though nothing had happened and all the changes, all the heartache, would be inside, invisible.  His hide, his tail, his great broad blazed forehead, his unmatched eyes, his white spotted underbelly and all those interesting whirls.

My family stood there with that horse, holding that tarp, burning in the sun.  Eventually we brought a gallon of water for the humans to drink and passed it around.  And we just stood there, mostly in silence, waiting.  Two hours was like two years, or twenty.

And then, almost slowly, he decided to give it a try.  I had discouraged several of his attempts but there was something about this.  I looked at him and said, "You really want to do this?  Don't get yourself in a worse position."  And the family slid the tarp away, and I pulled on the halter to encourage, and people got behind him to push to help him get up on his keel. 

And then, miraculously, he stood.

And we all held our breath.  Please don't fall.  And I called for the bucket of water and he drank it.  And a boy took off for the creek to get another gallon in the now empty jug.  We had another gallon jug so we emptied it into the bucket and another boy took off to the creek to fill that one while the horse drank it down and looked for more.  We had a half gallon of human water left.  Into the horse's bucket that went, to hell with the humans, we could burn to a crisp and dry into toast.  He drank it.

Then he stood there, still in the sun.  Woozy.  Unwilling to move.  But then, again suddenly yet slowly, he decided he could move, and with a steadying from the halter, he took maybe 10 steps.  Toward the shade.  Then he pooped.  Well damn that is good.  I called the vet's office to tell them he was up.  She was on her way.  Husband asked if I still had her coming.  Damn right I do.  As much as I feel that we don't have the money to do this, he is more important than that.  And gradually, gradually, he and I moved toward the shade.

This whole time the Inky horse, the small in-your-pocket curious bully but sweet horse, has been participating in the process, coming, sniffing, nosing, sometimes running off and nickering for him.  And the honorary Belgian horse of our tribe, who is really an off color Guernsey billy goat, ambled around near us the whole time.  After Clyde got up, Inky had to be haltered so she wouldn't bother Clyde because she wanted to move him.   The cows and the other goats joined us shortly.  The ducks are nearby, the chickens all around us (and trying to scratch through his poop which I was trying to protect in case the vet wanted to see it), my whole clan standing there with our horse on the hillside.  He is standing up.  Sick but standing.  He's pooped twice now, and peed.  Periodically he wants to pick grass, between woozy spells.  All systems are working.  All are here, waiting.


(photo later if I figure out how to get it off the darn phone)

Finally the vet gets here.  Clyde has a good bit of fever (103).  She didn't report any other findings, listening to his heart, lungs, guts.  She gives him some Banamine and an antibiotic and takes blood for a CBC just to try to see what that might indicate, if there is an infection or an underlying kidney or liver issue.  We offer him water every few minutes.  We take Inky and put her in a different field which doesn't make either of them happy but keeps her from pushing him down which is what I'm afraid of.  He moves enough to get near that field.  In a couple of hours, I offer him partial dinner.  He eats with gusto.

As Mack says, horses who are going down don't usually want to eat.  We checked him about every hour until we went to bed, and when I heard Rowan get up for work the next morning I knew the first thing she'd do would be to walk down and check on him.  When I went down his temp was normal.  I still gave him a gram of bute since I figure at the very least his muscles would be sore from the ordeal.  He'll get that for a few days.

His blood work came back completely normal.  He seems completely normal.

One thing I know is that courage is not really staying with the dying, even though walking that road is hard.  It is just duty: you cannot not do it; to not do it is cowardice or cruelty.  What is hard is walking that road and then choosing to walk it again, anyway, knowing the loss and the inevitability of that loss. I also know how easy it is when good things happen (like when that horse came to me) to think, "Oh, this is exactly what I need," and how hard it is, when hard things happen, to think "Oh, this is exactly what I need."  And yet it is exactly the same amount true both ways. If we are open. If we can see past the surface.  When stuff like this happens, if you are not a coward (or medicated), you just keep going, changed in ways you don't even know about:  You become crueler or kinder, more scared or more brave, more compassionate or more self-absorbed.

I am still awfully glad he's alive.

When I took his dinner down to him that first night, I laid myself down in the field as he ate and looked up at the darkening sky.  I watched as the trees bordering that sky turned from green to black and thought about not being separate and realized my arms were firmly crossed over my belly but he was lapping up his slobbery supper and the stars were coming out.

Friday, August 26, 2016

thoughts on interdependence

I was talking with a woman, a woman somewhere around my contemporary, who was talking about when she and her husband would buy 10 acres for her horse and, as she put it, "buy a tractor and do our own hay."  I opined as unobtrusively as I could, "There's a lot to hay."  She responded, "I know, but I don't like to be dependent on other people."

That sort of an argument, or at least an argument with dependence/independence as the dichotomy, is often used against homesteading.  In general, people homesteading like a good measure of "independence".  And in general, people too lazy to homestead (ok, there may be some other reason) love to give it the all or nothing treatment (bifurcation logical fallacy):  You can't be totally independent so why try at all.

It might look to you like I was doing that to her, but it is different.  "Look, you pay someone for hay (or to do your hay), or you pay someone to work on your tractor, and if your bailer tears up during hay season, no one has the time to fix it until after hay season anyway."  Do you see?  You are not "independent" no matter what.

People often want to be off the grid.  And it isn't that I wouldn't ever do that.  But if there is power available, and if you use as little as alternatives can supply, then there isn't a problem being on the grid.  If you do away with heat (and I don't even have to mention doing away with cool, right?) on the grid, and clothes dryers, well, that's a long way all by itself.  But it is a boon to be able to heat up a cool chick with a heating pad or a light bulb when it is a time of the year that the stove isn't burning.

Really, it is about skills.  And it is about having skills and about appreciating the skills in others.  Because that is another thing, someone told me the other day that there was little to no societal contribution to being a horseman (actually, they said shit shovel-er) or luthier (another word they didn't actually know).   And I had to laugh.  This is a person who has to hire someone to plunge her toilet.  Could this person grow a potato?  Can this person COOK a potato?  Can this person cook corn bread, much less grow then process the corn for that?

And it is also about community.  Tim helps us with cars; we help him with homeschooling.  Dowd helped us 25 years ago; we help him now.  I might think Bill is completely insane with his pyramids, but I'm going to try to help him breed his goats. Mike knows his insecurity lights irritate the fart out of me but he'll let me use his back pasture to isolate off goats to control breeding.

We are all dependent.  That doesn't mean we should wallow in dependence.  We should, it seems to me, seek to add value, to always hope the other person in the exchange feels like they got the best out of the deal, because when you have an exchange and both of you feel like you got the best out of the deal, that's what win-win is.

And in the downright end, like everything else, it comes down to values.  What is important -- status or service?  Appearing to be big and important?  Appearances?  Experiencing something out there?  Or actually being important to some one?  Reality?  Experiencing the here and now intimately?

There are lots of reasons to be independent.  It is nice to be able to skate by a hard spot when you have to on your own, certainly.  But truly, the more independent you are, the more skilled you are, the more useful you are, the more of service you can be.  And real leadership isn't bossing, it is being the most of service.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

goat life

The goat, the white goat who was raised in the kitchen, is tame (and nice) as the dickens, the "don't you have a horse treat for me" goat -- that goat ate the year sticker off my license plate.  So it said 07 instead of 17.  How long can I drive with that without getting pulled over?  Even if the registration is actually current?

So we were out and went by the court house to see what we could do.  After we divested ourselves of our pocket knives and made it through checkpoint charlie, we got to the tag office.

"The goat ate our tag."

"You'll have to fill out a police report."

Well, ok but (further explanation).

"Do you mean goats as in animals?"

"Yes, goats as in animals."

"What do you keep them for?"

"They are milk goats."

"You milk them?"

(milk and cheese talk ensues, along with the mandatory "there is someone in our church who does all that")

"No we don't sell it but I've got a boy goat for sale is you want to get started in it yourself."

We filled out and signed a form or two, gave them $3, told them we hoped we wouldn't be back but very likely would, and got our new year sticker.

And when we got home I smeared hot sauce on it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

you chose this

"You chose this," he said. 

And that is true.  I did.  And I knew the consequences.  What I am saying is that those are unjust and immoral and just plain not productive consequences.

THE SAME WAY THAT RESISTING ARREST SHOULD NOT LEAD TO IMMEDIATE PUBLIC EXECUTION

Yes, that's a bit extreme but it is happening, over and over again.

There is an informal fallacy known as "the false dilemma".  Parents use this all the time as a way to control their children:  Kid doesn't want to wear coat; parent knows kid is going to get cold; parent says to child, "Do you want to wear the red coat or the blue coat?" to give the child a false sense of choice in the matter, to pacify the child into compliance with the parental wishes.  Instead of letting the child have the choice of having a coat or being cold, the child will be warm with either the red coat or the blue coat. 

And the child will learn nothing, have no power over his/her life, and will still not want to wear the coat next time.  OR will learn to passively accept false choices, such as go to work as some form of corporate slave or have no health care.

After all, it is your choice.  Red or blue.

The Nazis used this technique to get people to quietly walk to their deaths.  (Complete and utter hopelessness was also a technique)  Marching, come to fork in the road, do you want to take the right road or the left road?  Or perhaps, do you want to walk or take the train.  The only difference, of course, was which death camp they were going to, not whether or not they would die.

The false dilemma now is that you get to choose how you want to be rich enough to afford health care:  You can lie and cheat and steal yourself; you can work for a corporation who will do it for you and pay you enough to overlook that detail.  Like the people who insist that they don't kill anything, just because they don't do it themselves.  You open a can of cat food, you kill something.  Shoot, you eat hay, you kill something.  Just the way it is, vegans be damned.

So yes, I choose to not participate, as much as I can figure out how, in the larger system of exploitation.  I also choose to  do work that is worth doing, in and of itself.  And I choose to do work I like and enjoy doing, work only for and with people I find worthy to work for and with, etc.

RESISTING THE SYSTEM OF EXPLOITATION OF OTHERS AND THE ENVIRONMENT SHOULD NOT LEAD TO WHEN YOU GET SICK, YOU DIE.

You see, health care is already rationed, it is just that poor people don't get it.  Instead we can ration it so that in actuality, there is plenty to go around, rationally.  Pass out vaccinations for free, that is the first cost effective measure.  Likewise, birth control.  Drug treatment.  Inpatient mental health.  There will need to be less heroics, less end of life extension (and beginning of life extension too).  There will need to be less rich health care, less "it's my money and I can buy it if I want" health care, more "sorry you made bad choices but we'll make you comfy while you die" health care.

But wait.  Food.  Shouldn't people who refuse to work go hungry?  Who the eff is refusing to work?  Oh, me?  Because I won't take that swing shift job for $30K?  I'm not refusing to work:  I'm refusing to be exploited.

So can we just agree that people need a basic, decent place to live;  decent, fresh, nutritious food; healthcare; and probably access to transportation and interwebs.  Can we just agree that we don't expect you to sell your soul to the devil, or the corporation, in order to do this?  That if you work, just regularly work a regular job/business, you'll have more than this minimum?

Obviously we can't just agree on that.  So I guess I'll have to just continue to not participate and to call out, when I see it, injustice.  Like the doctor stating three weeks after the fact, "She should have been put on a course of Augmentin and rabies prophilactic," when at the time she ignored that anything was even taking place right in front of her.  Like the doctor who is going to warn you of birth control side effects while refusing to prescribe it because it is (irrationally) abortifacient and ignoring the side effects of pregnancy.  Like the health department making appointments for 7:30 am when no one is even in the office until 8.  Like people on habitual script drugs are addicts just like heroin or alcohol in need of treatment (not more drugs) (or more excuses).  That no one "earns" millions of dollars but exploits them from the labor of others.

Yeah, that guy wants Putin in office because then we'll really have a choice.  We'll also have free energy machines.  It's just a conspiracy.

Friday, July 22, 2016

response to RNC and PokemonGo anger

The whole anger thing toward Pokemon Go players got me to thinking:  people are evidently looking for things to be angry about.  Donald Trump knows that and is encouraging that.

Look, I know you got laid off from your job and it went to Mexico.  I know your CEO stole your retirement.  I know there isn't another job with benefits and "decent" pay even out there, much less out there that you can do.  I know.

But while you complain about how "entitled" the millennials seem to feel, I'd suggest it is you who feel (unjustly) *entitled*.  No one owes you a middle class wage, or life.  And demonizing someone else who also doesn't have one ain't gonna get it for you.

What we need to do is to talk about peak oil and limited energy again, because in that context people can at least come close to understanding the need to live smaller, more simply, stay home, entertain themselves, grow some food, cook it, eat it together, play some music, laugh.

Because there is no alternative energy going to make our current level of usage sane (or even possible, long term).  Every source has its consequences.  USE LESS.  Period.

And that also means, making less money, spending less money, living smaller.  That the economy isn't what it once was is not something that is fixable, and any short term "fix" is only at the expense of some other person or environment -- and truthfully, no matter how selfish you are, I don't really believe you want to hurt other people.  You are just afraid of being hurt yourselves, losing the privilege that you've come to think belongs to you.

Well, if all you have going for you is your "middle class-ness", I guess you are hurting.  So get something else going for you!  Find the joy in the small things.  And do them.  Then there won't be enough time to get all paranoid about everything else.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

on the mundane

which is of course not really so mundane because, after all, who has fresh chevre balls in their fridge?  Who has fresh whole grain bread?  Who has hoes that are balanced and sharp and can go through the corn row in just a few minutes, and maneuver around the purslane?



Yes, we're special.  The thing about that is, you can be too.  And it doesn't take a roll of the dice or someone else's approval to be able to either.

Let me recommend these Rogue hoes tho.  They just came today so we haven't used them much yet.  Would have liked to have bought them locally but the closest place that carried them was 100 miles one way.  Would have liked to have talked our local metallurgist into making practical tools like this but he doesn't have the foresight either.  More's the pity.  Bless his heart.  But they are sharp, heavy metal but surprisingly light tool (with nice thick long handle too) that seem to really get the job done efficiently.  Love quality hand tools.  And you could buy the best of the best of every hand tool and still hardly spend any money to speak of.

While I'm thinking of it.  Remember years ago Madcap's post (I can't find it in a really quick look see but if you do, I'd love to link it) about what would everyone contribute to their community?  And it garnered a LOT of responses mostly of coordinating this, supervising that, lots of Chiefs not many Indians (is that ok to say? probably not, probably an expression I'll edit out of future editions of myself), nobody really producing the food or cleaning the toilet.  Well, the other day a local friend did a facebook status intended to promote local businesses and no one produced ANYTHING.  Well, except the husband, I put his link up there.  Most of the various things I do are services too, so I'm not one to talk.  But in the end, someone has to make the food, the house, and clean up after, and do the stuff, and the people who do should not be the lowest rung but should be highly valued.  And the antidote to privilege is not stopping at recognizing it but refusing, as much as possible, to participate in the culture of it.

Do real stuff.  With real tools. Yourself.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Privilege

this is something I wrote some time ago (in the winter obviously) and found in my file today and thought I'd post

I am privileged.  I have always been privileged.  And I knew, I was cognizant, from the time I was six years old and standing in the front yard under the pin oak tree wondering why I was well off, well coordinated, and white, that white was part of it.

And money is definitely part of it too.  I got to do things because of money.  Not talent, not deserving.  That I am even alive is because of money.

I have always found the "well coordinated" part of that a little funny, but then again, being in touch with your body, having proprioception, just flat being able to do things, really does make things easier.  Like everything else, a whole lot of that is just practice.

But we have chosen in our lives to forego most of the money part.  Although we own our land and house and so comparatively we are wealthy because of that.  But money flow wise, it would be difficult to be more poor.  Poverty is not an easy path, for sure, despite the memes.  But it isn't a path one is supposed to "choose" either.  One gets there by being "sorry" -- too sorry to work.  Sure I work, but I like what I do, and I only work for good people too, and there are things I won't do and don't do.

What I don't do is work for as much money as I could, or work in "my field", or work full-time, or work for or much with people I don't like, lots of other things. 

See, I took some paperwork by an office the other day, stood behind the sign that rather rudely stated to wait until you were called, got called by an invisible person sitting down behind a window, left her a sheet of paper, and left.  And thought, with only a few different choices, that could be me.  Actually, that could be me now because even with the age of my degree, I could get that job if it were open.  If I'd stayed in the field, I could have been like "director" or something.  And just exactly like the photos of the yayas with whom I graduated with their bleached hair and perfect make-up and scarves around their necks and matching paint by numbers pictures, I think, "Shoot me.  Just freaking shoot me if it comes to that."

But I do know that expectation wise I *should* go to work like that.  I mean, I don't have insurance and Tennessee won't expand Medicaid.  I don't always have "reliable" transportation (in this storm, should anyone really be going anywhere?  I think not).  Right now I'm even chilly, and my bedroom will stay in the 40s if I'm *lucky*.  Going out to Red Lobster would be a major savings commitment, and going to the Chinese buffet only happens a few times a year.  Some people would think that we should not even buy the occassional six pack of beer, or have pets, because, well, because we are not wealthy enough to deserve to buy that.  And it is funny because people will give you stuff, but often they expect to be lord and master because of that, in your perpetual debt.

Well, no.

And make no mistake, I am still privileged, I know that.  Privileged enough to NOT work that deadly dead end dead job.  Privileged enough to actually do something I'm passionate about without the need to compromise it in order to "make a living".  Although that could disappear in a heartbeat. 

Perhaps that's the thing with privilege -- that it could disappear.

And people get so damn defensive about that.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Iconoclasts

We once had the best neighbors, up the holler from here.  We saw each other several times a week, we were close in age, had similar enough interests and diverse enough skills, had families, had some fun and passion and joi de vivre.

But George was an alcoholic and eventually that took them both away, the way that will.  I don't think I ever saw him that he hadn't been drinking some.  He did things only people who drink all the time do, the funniest of which was to complain that the rest of us didn't "take naps", which meant we didn't pass out at odd times and wake up randomly.  The most dangerous of which was to practice his "fast draw" in the mirror with a loaded gun -- which went off leaving a hole in the mirror and the wall.

But that is not what this is about.  This is not even about George and his sawmill although that is my icon for this phenomenon.  You see, George was a mechanic and body shop guy by trade, and we had another neighbor who was a logger, and so it wasn't a big stretch for them to decide to buy a portable sawmill with which to gain some independence from the paycheck.  In fact, it seemed like a brilliant idea.  The sawmill was ordered.  The sawmill came in.  George got it set up in his basement, adjusted, cut a few things.  And then it sat there.  The logger came and talked to about bringing some logs and what the turn around into lumber would be, I mean, like trying to place an order, real business, get busy you don't even have to go look for it.  And nothing happened.  And nothing happened.  And nothing happened.

Now, I know something about procrastination because there are things I put off.  But I do get to them.  You know the saying, "Shit or get off the pot"?  Well, George passed that point right on by.  The rest of us talked to each other (probably while he was "napping"), speculating what was going on, and only concluding that it just was not going to happen.  Finally it got brought up directly to George, that he was pissing a very good opportunity away and it was already all but beyond his grasp to recover.

And George said, "Well, I'll tell ya something I've figured out.  It is a whole lot more fun to talk about cutting wood than it is to cut wood."

That reminds me, of course, of just about everything else in the world.  Just how many things in the world can you think of that that applies to?

When we moved out here, young and idealistic and full of plans and piss and vinegar, people would say, "I always wanted to do something like that," and I would say, "No you didn't because if you did want to you would have.  You just like the idea of it." 

How many people want to be "horsemen" but don't want to do the day in, day out work?  And I'm not talking about stalls, I'm talking about trying to do something and failing because you don't know how until you do know how.  How many people want to eat "healthy" but want to buy it instead of do it?  How many people want to BE healthy but simply won't move their bodies enough to be healthy?  How many people want to save the world so long as it doesn't affect the day to day way they live their luxurious lives?

So the real importance of this icon is to begin to see what it is we are giving lip service to.  What wood do we *talk* about sawing but never saw.  And probably it is ok to not saw it.  It is a good enough thing to find out you don't really want to do a thing.  It is a good thing to actually do something that you actually do want to do.

But make no mistake, faith without works is dead.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

when I curse you

You know the curse, "May you have an interesting life"?  My curse on people is, "You need a real problem."  Maybe even a real problem that you can't solve, that you just have to live through and make peace with.  I've had a few of those.

Here is a not a problem (I had a whole list of them at one time, but this was the most dire one, and the one that involved me, so it is left):  experiencing the love of your life's body dying.  It is sad.  It is a process.  But by gawd you had him.  And if you aren't trapped in the ego-state, if you evolve instead of involve, you always did/will/do "have" him.  "Have" there of course not being literal but being a shorthand for co-creating an experience in which you fully recognized the unseparatedness that simply is with the whole universe but is impossible to see in the human kingdom most of the time.  It is not a problem but another layer of gift.

Frankly most people who are suicidal need a real problem.  Why?  Because they need to get out of themselves.  I understand that that sounds un-compassionate but that is particularly because people don't understand what "compassion" is.  It is like "polite" is not the same as "kind" is not the same as "nice".  Polite is just customer service; a surface interaction.  "Polite" is asking, "How you doin' today?"  "Kind" is being interested when someone actually tells you.  A "nice" person gives you what you are looking for.  "Kind" is compassionate.  "Sympathy" is nice but singularly unhelpful.  Compassion does help.  Compassion feeds the hungry.  Compassion mows my MILs yard even tho I think mowing is the most wasteful and stupid act in the world and she is incapable of appreciating me doing it for her.  Compassion doesn't make me feel good in the end, or her feel good in the end; compassion just gets the job done.

I have long seen that humans evolved to deal with real problems; real, life threatening, problems.  And to accept that not every problem can be fixed.  Food.  Shelter.  Survival.  Death.  But modern life presents us with few, most usually no as in zero real problems, and the illusion that what we do view as a problem needs to be fixed.  So we pretend that things that aren't real problems are problems, react with the same vehemence, try to get other people to see them with the same intensity.

When I get very anxious, when I feel lost, betrayed, unappreciated, a failure, whatever, it is difficult to remember the lessons of real problems: that you walk, and you get through them, and you get to the other side.  And that what someone else thinks, what someone else does, even what ultimately happens, makes no difference at all.  "Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself continually?"

Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches of other lives --
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey, hanging
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early morning, feel like?

Do you think this world was only an entertainment for you?

Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over the dark acorn of your heart!

No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!

Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
continually?
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?

Well, there is time left --
fields everywhere invite you into them.

And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?

Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!

To put one's foot into the door of the grass, which is
the mystery, which is death as well as life, and
not be afraid!

To set one's foot in the door of death, and be overcome
with amazement!

To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine
god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,
nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the
present hour,
to the song falling out of the mockingbird's pink mouth,
to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have opened

in the night

To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,

and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.

Only last week I went out among the thorns and said
to the wild roses:
deny me not,
but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe

I even heard a curl or tow of music, damp and rouge red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery bodies.

For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in!

A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what's coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.

Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable.
What more could one ask?

And I would touch the faces of the daises,
and I would bow down
to think about it.

That was then, which hasn't ended yet.

Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean's edge.

I climb, I backtrack.
I float.
I ramble my way home.
From:
West Wind: Poems and Prose Poems
Copyright ©:
Mary Oliver

Sunday, May 08, 2016

revisit: ever.y.body

I thought of this for Mother's Day and then I thought, I think I wrote about that before.  It always surprises me just how long ago -- this was for the husband's birthday more than 11 years ago. Ever.y.body is somebody's baby.  Ever.y.body has a secret life, the life only they know, only they experience;  1st person all the way down.  Ever.y.body. Co-creators, creating all the time.  "Yes, I like that.  Nope, not putting up with that.  A little more blue."

Love your babies; love your mommas.  But don't make them more (or less) than they are. 

Everybody Is Somebody's Baby

Some religions call us all Children of God. Some greet each other with, “Thou art God/dess.” Some recognize the light of divinity within all. One of my favorite books, Gervaise, used the phrase, “Hither world, thither world, all worlds are One.” My friend Laura says that for her there came a revelation that everyone is warm.

Personally I don’t always have a way to see it so clearly. Sometimes it is easier for me to see my spiritual relationship with a carrot than with other people. But sometimes, when I drive around I am overwhelmed with the feeling that, all these people out here actually have a life. Not unlike I have a life. Wow.

But the thing that sometimes gets me more than anything else is thinking about how everybody was somebody’s baby.

A little baby. So cute. So helpless. Smelling so wonderful. Coming into this world through some union of man and woman. Gazed at in wonder, the same wonder with which we gazed at our newborns.

It doesn’t diminish, the wonder, as they get older. For me, I just don’t know how it happened, how that baby turned into that almost man. But I can still see the baby in him. And I can look at the youngest and see the eldest; the eldest and see the youngest.

So once upon a time, husband was somebody’s baby. Adored no doubt. Only son of an only son of an only son for I don’t know how many generations. His grandfather, I believe, could see the man in the boy. He was born in a snowstorm, his mom walked to the hospital just a couple blocks away.

And even that dirty-faced husband of mine was somebody’s baby. Fifty-two years ago today. He planted carrot seedlings out in the circle garden in celebration. And got a new muck tub too. Like the horse, he's a pretty easy keeper.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

what is wrong with the world

Money is itself a thing, is the measure, is God, is all that is important.  That is what is wrong with the world.

If someone has the money to do something, people say, "More power to them, it is their money."  And if someone doesn't have the money to do something, people say, "Sucks to be you.  Must have made bad decisions."

If someone has the money to do something, people say, "More power to them, it is their money," no matter how BAD an idea they have.  Move to the country, install four sodium vapor lights, for example.  No matter that their light doesn't stop at the border of their property but polutes my walk, my sky, my sight.  Tear the top of a mountain down.  For profit?  Then fine.  Attempt to buy a life.  Attempt to buy an election.  Hoard water, hoard food, hoard.  Have someone else clean the toilet.

If someone doesn't have the money to do something, people say, "Sucks to be you.  Must have made bad decisions," and it doesn't matter if they did everything "right" or not actually, you play the game, you takes your chances, sucks to have cancer, or get hit by a car, or break a leg.  Don't have enough to eat?  Well, don't dare ever have a chocolate bar, much less a beer.  Berate yourself for just not working hard enough even with the several jobs.  And your car needs brakes?  And why don't you have insurance for that?  You should have been more like me, obviously.  Work that crap job and we'll still berate you.  Now, shine my shoes and maybe I'll provide a crumb.  You'd better be shoe licking grateful.

And that is what is wrong with the world.

How to change that?  Don't envy "the rich", and for the Gods' sakes, don't try to be like them.  Live smaller. Stay home.  Help someone else.  Hang your laundry.  Spend less money.  MAKE less money. Live a life you don't need to vacate from.  Also, don't pay unjust bills.  Yes, don't give them that money.  Don't work unjust jobs -- don't give them that money either.  Cook your own food, grow your own garden, clean your own toilet.

And at some point, sooner rather than later, make their money useless to them.  Refuse to be bought.  Walk in your integrity.

And lick no shoes.




Tuesday, April 26, 2016

with ears to hear, eyes to see

locust blossoms
 It is time for locust blossom fritters.  Life is punctuated by food and seasons and what is blooming and here it is, punctuated by locust blossoms and time for fritters. 

And one's eye is trained by what is important to it.  If you heat with wood, you will start being aware of firewood.  If you heal with herbs, you will start being aware of the coltsfoot beside the road; aware that this is the first time the birthroots have appeared just right there.  I still remember the year we sold stuff at the farmer's market that I'd taken a few messes of polk weed to sell and a woman bought one, asking how to cook it.  It was explained and I don't really know whether or not she had it or liked it but she came back the next week to tell me that now that she knew what it was, she saw it all over the place.  She rather meant it, I think, as though I'd ripped her off selling her something that grows wild on its own all over the place, but I think she got quite the bargain to become aware of one of the foods surrounding her for a few dollars worth of greens with the instructions on how to cook it!

So I've been watching things blossom as always.  The small things, the wild things:  I am ever more aware of how unimpressed I am with the ostentatious showy plantings than with the wee small subtle wild things.  The year has been particularly brilliant it seems.  The dogwoods have lasted a very long time, being only more beautiful with each day.  I believe I spotted bitty tennessee irises blooming the other day.  Green is moving up the mountain.  I was aware that many of "my" locust trees, the ones that I harvest from, had been cut last year.  They are on public right of way and I don't really know why they were cut but they were.  There are plenty plenty of locust trees but most of them you couldn't harvest a blossom from unless you were a bumblebee or a butterfly -- too tall.  But rights of way are often good places to find them because they are places the locust trees are reclaiming, and they are small enough to give their blossoms willingly to the human who asks.

I am that human, and "my" place of easily harvestable locust blossoms had gone from a plethora of trees down to a handful.  I'd been watching.  I stopped today, parked, unfurled my Walmart bag to collect them in, swang out my pocketknife, and walked across the highway.  Nope, those are waaaaay out of my reach after all.  Ok.  Ah, but there on the other side is a great looking tree, just one within reach but two trees there.  I harvest a whole bunch there.  It was quiet, not much buzzing, not much traffic.  I found one more tree at the lake access to get some from and then moved on to the next pull-over place, quite near.  My first bag was quite full so I got another one ready, crossed the road, major highway, again.  Beautiful beautiful trees, six or ten, low blossoms, and with so many high blossoms I'm free to take all the low ones I want.

I reach to harvest my first blossom and there, six inches to the side is a butterfly, the same kind (I don't know what that is) that I'd taken a photograph of some years ago and labeled "self-portrait" because, although beautiful, it was rather, shall we say, worse for the wear.  Except this one was perfect, new, sipping from a hanging pod of locust blossoms.

"self portrait"
 
I bowed to the butterfly with an internal "namaste".  And with that I realized why the common usage of that word so irritates me -- it is really only appropriate when we truly DO see the other, with compassion, without all the baggage we ourselves carry.

I continued to harvest blossom pods and add them to my bag but before the butterfly flew away I could have sworn that I heard her say, "Now, here, take this one I have supped from and you supp from it too, and we are one."  As I harvested those blossoms and she settled on the next set and spread her perfect wings . . . to reveal to me that they were not so perfect after all, that she too was worn and torn, and it didn't matter.  It didn't matter at all, to her, or to me, or to the locust blossoms, or anyone or anything.  And I was brought to the verge of tears.  And I harvested those blossoms and continued with others and then the blackberry blossoms, still tight in their spheres, started tittering that soon it would be blackberry winter and wouldn't that be fun.  And there was a grapevine, and redbud beans beginning in their pods, and all within 15 feet of a major US highway, talking to me.

So yes I am not a human being having a spiritual experience but a spiritual being having a human experience and for the time of harvesting those blossoms, that precious sanctuary of sun heavily scented with the blossoms, being human fell lightly off.