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
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.
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.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

revisit: for Sam

from 11 years ago before we'd made contact again.  Sam died a week ago.  I am broken and I am full and I am thankful and I am struggling with the concept that we are not our bodies.

I Am A Rock

Posted by Hello

This is a real place, painted from memories more than 25 years old. The story goes that Chief Benge carved this saddle in a rock overlooking a pass and from there shot settlers. I think the official chroniclers of such say that isn’t actually so. I don’t know who carved it then, but it is there. I always imagined him sitting on his carved saddle, doing what he could do. He was just one man and he could only do what one man could do, but what one man could do, he did do. Maybe in the end it made no difference, and then again, maybe just the saddle being there made a difference in more lives than just mine and it doesn‘t even matter if he carved it or not.

An old boyfriend name of Sam took me there. He had sat there and carved his name in that rock. I’d like to go see if it is still there sometime. I wonder what he is like, 20 years after I last saw him. We used to go out there and stay until the middle of the night. He was an old soul Capricorn. He was a great mystery before I knew all men were either boys or great mysteries: Before I knew that I had no patience for the boys. I grew up on that mountain and I’ve always been that same girl even when I lost sight of her. Remembering Sam has helped me remember me.

Living on land with creeks and a long dirt road, you learn that things move. They are the same creeks, the same road, but in slightly different places. The ruts and the rapids and the pools and the puddles move around. And it reminds me of me, as a person. I think essentially I’ve always had this beingness that is me, yet I’ve struggled for the appropriate and constructive expression of that.

I think Benge and Sam knew who they really were. I can tell you, a cow knows who she is and that is an inspiring thing. So does a carrot, growing itself unfailingly, carrot to carrot to carrot. The sky may question itself, furrowing its brow. So might the forested hills changing colors in the fall. “Who am I really?” they might ask, but the changes and the cycles and the seasons or even the comings and the goings do not change their fundamental nature. All the navel-gazing in the world cannot reveal who we really are, only living and life and knowing does that. Beingness. It does not depend on an audience, it does not depend on anything. I am that I am God said, and indeed, we are.

Monday, March 28, 2016

on the cascade of interventions

The cascade of interventions is an idea I first came upon in midwifery.  Midwifery itself is shorthand for "how I learned to be pregnant and give birth in a way that promotes the health of the baby, the mother, and the family".  Although interventions in pregnancy and other areas can so often be sidestepped entirely by eating well.  And not being fat.  And not smoking.  And working physically hard.

Those are the four pillars, in no particular order.  Your genes are a crap shoot but there is always epigenetics and if that can go in a negative way (which is the direction in which it has been studied), then it can go in a positive, adaptive, functional, healthy direction too.

Smaller things likely get in there, like don't live in Flint sorts of things, but that's going to exist in high end places perhaps even worse with the lawn chemicals. So anyway. 

In midwifery the cascade of interventions generally starts during the process of birth if it hasn't begun before:  Go into labor, have them attach fetal monitors which requires some time on your back which leads to the perception of fetal distress so they "enhance" labor to speed it up which causes more pain which results in epidural which slows labor . . . and pretty soon you have yourself a c-section and being told by your doctor or perhaps other perhaps well-meaning people that you just could not have a baby vaginally.  Bullshit.  It does happen but it is rare.  You have millennia of successful birthing women standing right behind you. Also:  Birth; as safe as life gets.

None of that means that you are to "blame" if you have a c-section. But it may mean that you didn't know better.  And it may mean that you didn't believe better, like the plethora of people I've known who don't believe that diet can prevent pre-eclampsia now generally called PIH.  If you didn't follow the diet however, if you didn't get enough protein, if you didn't support blood volume expansion, then it doesn't matter if you "believe" it or not, you could have at least tried to prevent it and you didn't.  You didn't, as Maya Angelou said, "When you knew better, you did better."  It isn't blame, it is responsibility.  And responsibility moves.  With information.  There is very little cut and dried anywhere.

I have always felt rather strongly against diagnoses.  Here's a box, get in it, stay put.  Life just isn't like that.  Yeah, maybe once your pancreas stops working, then you are an insulin dependent diabetic, but even so much of that "after the diagnosis" depends on diet and that ubiquitous "lifestyle".  The folks who argue for a chemical basis for mental illness conveniently neglect the fact that while when you change the chemistry you sometimes change the thought, when you change the thought, you do change the chemistry.  The best (that is, most clinically effective) anti-depressant is exercise.  Better than exercise is work to exhaustion with an accomplishment at the end (not a treatmill but a garden, say -- and oh look, then you get to eat food that is chemically and spiritually more healthful, and also then the whole community is stronger and the things that need to not be supported aren't supported, etc.).  People who fart too much after eating beans generally just need to eat beans more often to support the correct gut flora to digest them -- and of course realize that farting is healthy.

I mean, it is not really all that different from cancer.  Cancer is terrible, I'm not saying it isn't, but when talking about a need for a "cure" for cancer, why when people absolutely completely ignore what we know about preventing cancer:  eat widely, work hard, don't be fat, don't smoke.  Sometimes our genes or just the luck of the draw gets us anyway, and almost certainly age itself will get us (the idea that if we don't die of something else, we will die of cancer, eventually), but that doesn't change what we know about prevention.

And then there's the "don't stress" roof over the pillars of health: physical, mental, spiritual.

And so far this whole thing has been about the cascade of health instead of the cascade of interventions but again, what got me thinking about that was the cascade of diagnoses.  The first and most obvious to me example was a good friend to the husband who randomly got screened and had prostate cancer.  In getting "healthcare" for that, he got "healthcare" for a whole lot of other things, I don't even remember now what all but I know it included cholesterol.  Within a couple years he was so very very sick.  Not of prostate cancer, which may have killed him eventually, if given enough time.  After he died his wife told us that he had said to her, "I'm on too much medicine.  It is killing me."  It did.

Years before that a man I knew was in the hospital dying and there was nothing medicine could do for him.  He said, take me off the medicine and let me be.  He got better.  For years.

Some 25 years ago another man we knew took some medicine for a mild condition, a one time medicine, and it shut down his gut and he was far enough gone that he got his affairs in order and stopped all medication except he still took the TPN.  He's 80 now and a fantastic old fart, my favorite old fart.

So those are persons I know/knew and life/death.  But there is also the woman we knew from a homesteading list way back in the day.  I always doubted her "homesteading" because she was exceedingly fat.  You just can't do that much work and be fat.  She has, through the nearly 20 years we've "known" her (virtually -- she blogs now), had every "diagnosis" in the world, including Munchausen's which was likely the only accurate one.  Every doctor who doesn't diagnose her is a quack.  Nothing is ever enough.

But I suppose at least hers are physical diagnoses.  Now I come to the mental ones:  the ones who believe they have ADHD, then autism, then bipolar, until maybe you finally get all the way up to the schizophrenia spectrum.

My point is that just exactly like there is a cascade of interventions possible in childbirth (and likely in medicalized birth), there is likely a cascade of diagnoses and going through that cascade is quixotically enticing and treacherous.

And a particularly ineffective way to be a special snowflake.  Why not admire health instead of unhealth? Strength instead of weakness?  Function instead of disfunction?  Wealth of skill instead of wealth of debt?  That whole sort of thing.   There are a whole lot fewer of those snowflakes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

it is started

"So did you get finished?"

That was the question, after "I saw your photos of your family doing whatever."  She used that word, whatever.

I'm afraid I just blinked.  And finally said something like, "That isn't something you finish."

Even though all my life I have heard people talk about getting the garden "put out", as though it were something done once, at once.  And "putting the garden up" as though you could finish it and put it away.

It is not like that.  I suppose it could be if all you put up was tomatoes.  But if you want salads and greens and peas and cabbage and beans and corn and cucumbers and summer squash and winter squash and potatoes and turnips and and and, well, then it is not.

As one friend of mine puts it: In farming, when you are born there is work to be done; when you die, there is work to be done.  Or as another once said:  Life is work; work is life.  Not employment, not career, not wage or salary, but work worth doing in and of itself; the work of life.  Sometimes that is work that is paid but far far more of it is not, and the less of that we can have, the less we can pay out for other things, the better.  The better off we are, others are, community is, the world is.  And if that is something that you need to "retire" from, well, that is certainly proof it isn't worth doing but rather a selling of your soul.

"You must have had a goal," she said.  Goals are very important to her.  Concrete goals.  Moving right along goals.

"We got started," I said.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Holy. With gravy.

I had burdock in my hair, in my braid, and it wouldn't come out until I unbraided.  Don't know quite how I did that.  I'm used to it on the horse's feathers and the metal mane comb quickly takes that out.  He had some in his tail but not deep, thankfully.  I had them on my pants, shirt.  Something sticks you and you know, oh, a burdock hid there.

Garden work started today, our sabbath, which is our family day and most often involves work together of some sort.  It is the day we have, all together.  We keep it a little holy.  With gravy.

"Everyone" included the big horse today.  He was bad.  Last time he was out, he was so good.  We hadn't prepped a lot or more could have been done but then again, this is the start of prep, and everyone has their things they are doing.  I do the horse.  Sometimes other stuff.  But the horse, this horse, does not wait well.  Unless he gets tired.  He did not get tired today.  He is in magnificent shape.  I am so tickled.  Although that rude stuff, well, maybe we'll use him enough this spring that he'll just learn better than that.

Today included fire, burning brush and corn stalks.  Earth and air and fire and water, return return return return.

We always mean to plow in the fall and grow a winter cover crop but we have not yet actually done that.  A cover crop grows anyway so I don't really see what the problem is.  I think there isn't one and we could just get rid of that thinking that we need to do that.  As we walked across that ground dragging limbs and trees and brush in mostly from the ditches and sides of our road (anything over arm sized will be used as sides for beds and the like, anything smaller helped to burn the corn stalks, add nutrients to the corn field), as we walked over that ground, I took note of the various things growing all over it but even more I noticed all the things scurrying all over it, bugs and spiders and who knows what.  But the ground, the earth was moving, actively.  Now that is an alive soil!

So yeah, we worked, we got started, we have plans, some of which might actually come to fruition, some of which have been plans for years.  Some gets done, some doesn't.  Walk and walk and walk and walk.  Get up today and see what gets done.  When one can choose to work in the garden, do.  When one can choose to ride, ride.  When one has opportunities that one thinks one might want, sure, dare.

And we are tired.

Thursday, March 03, 2016


"So the bodhisattva saves all beings, not by preaching sermons to them, but by showing them that they are delivered, they are liberated, by the act of not being able to stop changing. You can't hang on to yourself. You don't have to try to not hang on to yourself. It can't be done, and that is salvation."  Alan Watts

I had wanted to say how we lived, examine the choices we make and their results of joy basically, an alternative to all the whiney complainy, joyless, this is what you have no choice but to do, it's not my fault I have to be medicated to get through my day bullshit.

I have a friend now who is mad a lot; mad at the world.  I want to take photographs of all the good stuff in her life and make her look at them.  With no "but"s.  I have had these friends serially now for a while.  They have evolved, no doubt as I have, to show me stuff.  It is interesting how the anger has come to the surface now, from the sad.  Mad often masks sad in men.  In women, sad often masks mad.  But then there is so much anger in the culture now.  Which is so sad.  And all of that over fear.  Over fear that is there because the culture has stolen and is living on the exploited backs of others and it is not right and it will fail it is just a question of how and when and it scares people and they know it deep down but refuse to look.  And they get mad and sad about it.

It does not scare me.  I just live as much as I can outside the circle of exploitation.  Which is no way no shape no form entirely outside of it.  But it is with joy.

When I started blogging I did not work outside the farm.  Now the husband doesn't.  When I first took this last job (five years ago) and it seemed to want a lot more time from me for ostensibly less money, I said, "Just wait until it settles out.  It will settle out."  It took it awhile.  I quit baking much.  He cooks a lot more.  I found ways to a little more money.  The kids stepped up in household management and paid work both. 

But I and thus my family became more of the community and I can't emphasize how important that is, and how not natural to either one of us that is.  I must have to meet someone 50 times before I know who they are.  He is just anti-social.  But if we need anything, there are multiple people to call now.  Someone who knows cars.  Someone who knows hay.  Someone close by.  All the vets know me.  The feed stores.  And the people, there is real connection.

I remember reading books and blogs of people who'd move to a place and then not get along with their vision of how it would be (because I can assure you, whatever your vision is, it will NOT be like that) and blamed it on the locals somehow.  Once someone's bees swarmed and we said, "What about your hive?" and she said, "It is not them," and later when it was her own bees who had swarmed we said, "thought so," and she was mad that no one told her.  We can't make you listen.  You have to figure that out.  You have to figure out, I reckon, that you are the problem a lot of the time, and then you have to figure out how to get out of your own way.  Whether you are Bonbon or Laylo or Fury or Capitan.  Or me.

Is it important to live outside the cycle of exploitation?  Is it important to attempt restorative living (where we don't actively kill the earth?)  Is it important to be kind and honest and expect the same in return?  I mean, really, what IS important?  The next generation, is it important?  What about it?  That they know how to allow their hearts to sing and also how to make a fire and a supper and milk a goat?

Eating.  Maybe that is a good place to start.  We have to eat: we might as well be passionate about it.  It is a place where we can impact our health, the health of our community (don't get too effing high and mighty about this however:  $75 turkeys are not helping anyone), the health of the planet, and humongously increase joy and satisfaction.  And bread is the staff of life.  And yet for some years I did not regularly make bread.  After years of making ALL the bread.  What is that?  Life.  In the years of making all the bread, I did not have a relationship with my hay guy.  But having hit a stride here, the bread is again a thing.  And I have made most or all the bread for far far more years than not.  It is not a passing fancy.

Nor is gardening, which is part of eating of course.  Way back when, before the husband, before the kids, I bought a freezer. . . to put up apples and green beans specifically.  The main things I remember in my grandparents' freezer (which was communal with our family) was apples and green beans and corn.  And although the husband is "the gardener", I would have a garden without him and I'm pretty sure the kids would too without either one of us.  It is not a passing fancy, a fad, but deep and etched and, frankly, important.

There must be a thousand ways to bake a great loaf of bread.  Ten thousand.  Or grow a garden.  If I had photos, right here would be two:  one of my grandfather's weedless rows and one of our weed patch, both of them producing tons of food. 

Each heart has its own song to sing and other songs will not suffice.

But I am still here to show; a different life IS possible.  Now.  Know the difference in waiting for things to settle out and selling out to some lie about "one day".

And everyday it will change and grow and shrink and change some more.

Friday, February 19, 2016

hope is a thing that roots

Even as I saw this and went to get the camera and then came back down the hill hoping I could pick this acorn out from the hundreds of others, even as I first noticed it, I thought, 'Hope is the thing with feathers.'  But of course here hope is a thing with roots, that roots.  Broken by winter.  Soaked by the chill of melting snow.  Here comes the sun.  Small chance of success.  Doesn't matter.  Take that next step anyway.  Root.  Persevere.

And this, this is wood, warmth, fresh bread whether no knead, corn, or biscuits and gravy.  This is the whole family working together even tho at diverse times perhaps.  This is community from how I got this horse to how I feed this horse.  This is, I remember those trees 25 years ago.  This is, we have a plan to get that road rocked again if we manage to pull it off littling along.  And this really is life to me, doing something I love with folks I love.  It is a real kick to finesse a 2000# beast doing something actually practical.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

revisit: Monday, March 27, 2006 The Silk Thread

I always think of this post as the next step, I always think of that night, indelibly etched, standing there in the dark, the next step.
If you want a horse to stay on a circle around you, whether lunging or round penning or whatever, you apply pressure and provide an escape route. When the horse does what you want, you lessen or preferably eliminate the pressure.

If a horse is pulling, trying to run away, the last thing you want to give to that horse is something steady to pull against. Pull and release. At the slightest sign of not pulling, release, reward, then pull again.

Betty Sue was a puller. Strong and a-go-go until she was tired. The first time I put her bridle on her, I loosened it two notches (4 inches) on each side. That’s a lot. No wonder she was pulling -- her mouth was always being pulled on. I’m amazed she could even feel any signals her driver was giving her through the lines.

So on the lunge, with the bridle properly adjusted (two wrinkles, barely, in the corners of her mouth), she still pulls some, but I pull and release and she learns from this how to give to the pressure. Just as she learned how to give to the pressures of lunging.

There are pressures in living. Do we, with our choices, live to relieve those pressures or do we just continually tighten the bit on ourselves? It would be my contention that most people live with a tight bit in their mouths, and of their own choosing. I choose a silk thread, and really, all I’d like you to do is to see is that it is possible.

A few weeks ago I was walking home after midnight on a dark moon night through a holler so deep that we call it The Valley of the Shadow of Death because the sun literally never reaches part of it. For a long ways I wasn’t really able to see per se but more sense my way, aided by the fact that I know this place so well and have walked it in the dark so many times. Still, that night it was so dark that at one point I became totally disoriented. I knew I was somewhere in the road, but not where (right or left or center), and I literally could not see my hand in front of my face. I had to stop and just stand there for a second. I could almost not tell which way was up or down. And then, finally, I just had to start walking again. Take the next step.

So that’s the thing too: Take the next step. Just take the next step. Always take the next step. It isn’t like everyone in the world hasn’t been pushed down on the ground at some point, so there is no use complaining about it or wallowing in it or panicking about it. But before you take the next step, stop for a moment to assess the direction you are traveling in, and is it in line with where you want to be, who you really are.

People think the way we have chosen to live is “hard”, and that their way, the more consumerist way, is “easy”. This is no less than Newspeak. And the old definition of insanity is when you keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.

It has certainly been a thing.  I remember the times when I didn't think I could take another step: once when I was 4 and there was something actually physically wrong with me; once in particular when I was 23 and I really just did not think I could do it and someone sat with me until I was just too tired not to; others before and after the realization.  My dad dying:  walk in your own integrity, which is just do what is right, what you know is right for you, anyway, despite anything (memory, hurt, what anyone will think or say or even do)Lately (which in my age means the past 30 years) it has been much quieter, much more about perseverance:  keep taking the next step.  It has been a thing.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

exercise juxtaposed with work

That's what I was thinking about today.  I think I'm too tired to write but I didn't want to lose that.  To do "work" means to accomplish something, not rehash the same thing over and over.  That's a stationary bicycle.  True, there is work we must do repeatedly (the dishes, the stalls, the toilet bowl for the Gods' sakes), but dinner gets eaten, poop gets to the garden.

But it is kind of like play vs. canned activity.

It is kind of like prayer in the closet vs. prayer in public, for real vs. for show, the cry of the heart vs. crocodile tears.


(guess which one is which)