Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blogging is Not for the Weak of Heart

I never realized that blogging would impact me this way.  I have lost another blogger.  Oh, he never  rarely commented on my blog and I wasn't even on his blog list of blogs that he followed.  Actually, he posted only rarely as well.  He and his wife were the only hippies that I really knew, although vicariously.  Being as I never met them, and he blogged less and less, I guess I can't really say I knew him, can I?  So why do I feel as if I did?  Why do I feel as if we once met somewhere and were just keeping in touch via the Internet?

His independence of spirit and willingness to live his beliefs and his interesting photographs were the things that drew me to reading his blog.  After retirement from being a Postman, he lived in the mountains of Southern California in a tiny house.  He and his wife, a lovely bird-like creature, once a model, sold their car and made do with bicycles to get to the local train station on infrequent shopping and visiting trips.  They belonged to food cooperatives, grew much of their own food, and for the most part lived off the land.  He valued independence from society as most hippies do and was hard on those who did not treat nature with respect.  He was wary of any big brother interference in his life and raised his children by the strict standards he set for himself.

He and his wife had recently moved down to the plains for a brief period to help his mother with her house.  Then, after that, he blogged less.  And then, on January 22, he disappeared from this earth.

Being the self-reliant guy he was, he left no indication he was having health problems and I do not know how Peggy, his wife, is coping and whether she will be able to stay in the home she loved so much.  They were a loving couple clearly happy in this end of life living so close to the earth.  I would never have known what happened to him had not his son, in pain, posted a brief epitaph.  If you want to know more about him and his life style go here.

This blogging is not for the weak of heart nor the loner without a family shoulder to rest on.  It will grab you and shake you to your core and cause you to question your values and ideas and take a long hard look at your life.  When I began blogging it was all about putting into the ether sphere questions and feelings and events of my life...but then the great out there began to impact me back.  Who knew?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Not Wanting to Be Seen

Just as the night was fading
Into the dusk of morning
When the air was cool as water
When the town was quiet
And I could hear the sea

I caught sight of the moon
No higher than the rooftops
Our neighbor the moon

An hour before the sunrise
She glowed with her own sunrise
gold in the grey of morning

World without town or forest
Without wars or sorrows
She paused between two trees

And it was as if in secret
Not wanting to be seen
She chose to visit us
So early in the morning.

...Anne Porter,  from Living Things

( I know, no full moon now.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Doing Things the Hard Way

Not sure why these birds are using the steps up to the deck when they can fly??

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Some gifts are just so precious that you do not mind oooing and ahhing like a little old lady.  They look as though they were made/selected with love and careful thought instead of made with gears and delivered via conveyor belts after being wrapped in a sterile plastic bubble.  Above is the gift that I received from my son's new girlfriend this past Christmas.  She has met us only a few times, but already she shows insight and taste.  She bought this at a bird store near her home at the edge of  "Pennsylvania's Great Lakes Port City."  I am thinking that our little wren couple, the duo that nest everywhere impractical on my back porch, may find this tiny home inviting come spring.  I can hardly wait!  I already caught the quick shadow of one bird peeking in during one of these dreary winter afternoons.  I find the re-cycled barbed wire for the front 'doorstep' a nice statement...bringing down boundaries.  The whimsy of the curled bark on the roof is the cherry on the frosting roof.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hollow Whistle

She is biting sharp like the blade of a knife and as cold as the last song of the loneliest sparrow.

This confident weather has thrown me to the ground and has me gulping parchment air.

There was a time when winter was fresh like sparkling ice milk
and soft and delicate like downy white feathers.

There was a time when winter was a novelty
like an antique satin music box
with glittering snow fairies twirling to winter waltzes.

Now is the time when the death rattle of paper leaves is gone
and the birds have cloaked themselves with the dark green thorned holly leaves
or shrouded themselves deep in the barbed rose tangle, huddled frozen puff balls.

Now comes the time when bleak shadows are dark and long witches fingers
and the sun seems embarrassed to try and play the game anymore.

The glow of the water's surface has become opaque steal gray.  The trees bare arms plead silently for forgiveness.  The wind whistles smoothly on its way past us all.

I am a coward and will hibernate until the days grow long once again.

(Everyone has posted such lovely words on winter and I am feeling gray and brave enough to post the other side...)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Use Up and Then Re-use.

Above is my sugar bowl after too much holiday celebrating.  This photo was taken after I added the leftover powdered sugar with red sprinkles from my holiday cookie baking, just a little recycling of the more attractive variety.

We have a small lidded jar on the kitchen counter that gets all the vegetable and fruit peelings, the coffee grounds, the wilted lettuce and anything else that will work to our benefit in the compost pile in the garden.  We do get the rare batch of hatching fruit flies, but if we are careful, they only last a few days.

We take out the leftover grease from the pot roast and carry it to the ravine for the squirrels and foxes.  We dump the shells from clams and oysters at the far edge of the river for the raccoons and otters to clean.  The stale crackers go to the birds and the stale bread to the ducks, and recently, some spoiled raw lamb stew meat to the crows, which was most interesting to watch.

We use the newspaper to mulch the weeds in the garden and recycle all the magazines at the dump along with the rinsed glass and metal and plastic and foil.

We take the clothes, shoes, games, books and other stuff we no longer use to the church store.

We usually take our own cloth bags to the grocery store, but when we forget, we still find uses for the plastic bags that we bring home.  They help group all the zip-locked garden vegetables by type in the chest freezer or they are used for carrying stuff up to my daughter's house or holding the used batteries until we take them in.  We tuck them in our backpacks to carry out any trash we may find on our hiking adventures.  They are useful as shoe-bags in the suitcase.

I return my printer cartridges to the office supply store for a discount on expensive new printer cartridges.

We combine our errands so that we take fewer car trips to the store and post office.

But I am not patting myself on the back because these are such teeny-tiny and common gestures to help reduce our footprint on this planet.  We are not handy types and thus fail to repair or replace broken machinery or appliance items so that they can be used once again.  We are not as careful as we should be on our use of oil and electricity since we are only two people using a big house,  and we tend to move to new technology as soon as we can afford with my camera and PC and my husband with his GPS and boat.

I sincerely believe that global climate change, removal of fossil fuels, disposal of toxic waste, and accidental introduction of non-indigenous species to areas is changing this planet at a hugely rapid rate.  Just watching the natural disaster news for a month proves that.  I work regularly to help my grandchildren learn what fresh natural food tastes like, how being careful with toys and turning off batteries help the planet, and keeping them aware of the fragility of our natural environment as they tramp through it.  But my overall battle plan seems so small and weak and any help you all can give will make this much better.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday Thoughts #31 ---13 Things I Have Learned

  1. Working on photos has a lot to do with math and precision and I am not good at either in spite of being known as somewhat an anal retentive bitch.
  2. Any other person who called me 2 hours ahead to let me know he was coming to spend the night with a guest would get a piece of my mind or at the very least a lie about our sudden plans...except for my son whom I see not often enough.  Instead, he got a piece of my pot roast.
  3. I need to drink more water...really!  (Wine and tea and coffee are not enough.)
  4. You don't always get what you ask for or want and more often than not you get something you did not ask for.  I asked for bubble bath for the holidays, and since I found none in my stocking, I ended buying it on sale after Christmas.  I did not ask for a Kindle and did get that.
  5. It is hard to find meaningful volunteer work in a rural area if you do not belong to a church.
  6. I am a good and patient teacher, except when trying to teach my husband Windows stuff and I think this has more to do with Windows than either him or me (or is that he or I ?).
  7. My daughter had dinner with Rob Lowe recently and while they were prepared to talk entertainment industry, to my relief he really wanted to talk politics.  No air head there.
  8. Thread was recently found that was 30,000 years old made by humans using plant fibers (wild flax) in different colors on pottery.  It seems mankind has always wanted to make and decorate cloth.
  9. Flamingos use a makeup they secrete from a gland near their tail to keep their color bright during the breeding season when the colorful shrimp they eat are not available.  (How long before H. Couture starts selling lipstick made with essence of flamingo butt for thousands of dollars?)
  10. One of the most moving exhibits I have ever seen is the Pulitzer Prize Photos Gallery displayed at the Newseum in Washington, DC.  It brought me to tears several times and reinforced my love of the power of photography.
  11. A 47 F degree gray day with gusty wind is much colder than a 27 F degree sunny day with no wind.
  12. I fear the world will go to 'hell in a hand basket' if my children's generation continue to value "reality" television over reality.  I stumbled across The Bachelor while waiting for another movie to start and actually got nauseous watching the last ten minutes. Why in the hell we spent time burning bras....?
  13. And finally, the best thing I learned this year, is that no matter how many new years come around each is a valuable opportunity to do it better this time.
(One thing I wondered about most recently and have not learned is why is bicycle not pronounced like motocycle in the English language?)

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Power of Rhetoric

I wrote a long and complaining post a few weeks ago.  I was smart to sit on it.  I had scheduled it for posting on the 20th of this month and just now I marked it as a draft and will probably not post it, and once I get over myself, will actually delete it.  It was one of those "the world is going to hell in a hand basket" posts.  Since we all know that is true...why belabor the point?  People have enough crud in their minds and probably read blogs for enlightenment or humor...although both of these are in limited amounts on my blog.  The recent Arizona shooting of a large number of people including a Congressman(woman) and a Federal judge brought me to my knees...and most of you know by now that I am not a religious person but certainly spiritual and willing to call on any good powers that be.  But the tragedy also caused me to remove that scheduled post.

This shooting while involving public servants had very little to do with politics, and I think most of the media are missing that point, although by the time I write this, they may be getting more accurate in their questions.  This shooting was no more Republican than President Ronald Reagan's shooting was Democratic.  Drawing a line from this incident to violent rhetoric is also fuzzy and difficult.

The most frightening aspect, to me, was Secretary Gates recent announcement of plans to cut military health care at the same time the talking news heads were discussing the lack of aggressive mental health support for this shooter.  Gates is probably just shaking the bushes as no one will allow this.  He knows that.  He doesn't talk about tighter controls over contracts and lost money in Iraq, unfortunately!  But if anyone needs easy mental health support, it will be our returning troops.

Well enough.  I need to find something more inspiring to post.

Going with the Flow

This is my Chihuly inspired photo of the leaves of fall.  Dave Chihuly, for those who live on the edge of the wilderness, is a famous glass artist.  Born in 1941 his Hungarian, Slavic, Czech, Norwegian, Swedish ancestry may have contributed to his varied and zig-zagged path to glass blowing fame.  He exhibits all over the world and has many permanent and temporary exhibits in museums and hotels and restaurants.  I first saw his work in Las Vegas many years ago.  I recently saw a documentary about him and that inspired my work with the photo of fall leaves above.  I think the fragility of his work lends even more interest as well as controversy to what he does.  The work is mostly beautiful without making a statement as many other art media do.

Below is a photo that I took of pink grasses in the early morning sun at the National Arboretum last fall.  Continuing with the flowing glass theme after some photo-shopping they almost look like glowing or broken glass... no?  My work with digital photos is also just about as fragile as I tend to just experiment without any plan and don't save my steps and therefore, cannot recreate it on a similar photo.  Anyway, I kind of like these, or are people not supposed to say that about their creations?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

This Is Your Brain Coral on Hyperbolic Geometry

The photos below are pictures of coral reefs. Well, not actual coral reefs, of course, but reefs replicated through crocheted yarn. Coral forms created by many hands. This was on display in the Hall of Ocean Science at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History this winter.  I could have spent quite a while studying the colors and shapes and there were several displays throughout the room of this incongruous craft at a natural science museum.

Appear to be some soft corals here.

Blue Jellyfish

Coral colored corals.

One of my favorites

All of these structures have been completed with great accuracy in terms of  relational size and shape...perhaps not in terms of color.  This project reaches across five continents and there are many exhibits in other parts of the globe.  What does this have to do with hyperbolic geometry?  What does it have to do with how gender changes science?  What on earth does it have to do with coral reef science?  Well, go here for a few minutes of blowing your mind and be sure to watch the TED talk linked on the page.  I just love this stuff!  (You should be able to get a closer look if you click on the photos.)

Sunday, January 02, 2011

A (Wo)Man and (Her)His Dog

This post is in honor of Barry who touched many of us with his love of his dog and his blogging tales of their many walks together.

We have always had a dog in the family as long as I can remember.  That is until Buster, a mixed breed mutt, passed away about 10 years ago.  Then with the children moving out and with us changing houses we decided to hold off on getting another canine companion for a while.  Dogs have usually been an important part of my life.  I got my first dog, a collie, when I was about seven years old.  Taking hikes and walks with mans best friend has been the best therapy on gray days.

I have always been surprised at how certain dogs can look at me and I can immediately relate to them.  It is as if we are doing a "Vulcan mind-meld" as we lock eyes and even perhaps put our foreheads together.  We seem to understand each other, have the same energy levels and the same fun levels and actually seem to be exchanging ideas.  This happens to certain dogs whether they are at a shelter or out with their master/mistress.  One day I will take one of these mind-meld dogs home if he is free.

While walking around the National Mall last month, and checking out the many museums, I also had time to watch those who had brought their best friend out for the day.  This fellow and his dog in the photo below are very close.  All he had to do was shift an elbow or raise an eyebrow and the dog would respond with glee or by doing a trick.  The dog spent about 5 minutes just following commands for the man before they went on their way.

This gal and her dog had a very different relationship as both were free spirits here mimicked by their flowing locks.  There was a spring in their step as they walked by me.  They exchanged mischievous glances upon discovering the doves gathering on the lawn nearby.  Neither her she nor the dog wanted to follow any commands this day and I could tell when she first saw the doves in the lawn that skipping with her dog to that feathered group was the only fun challenge that was on both their minds as they locked eyes in agreement.  The geese in the far background were also wary of this game and sensed the mischievous nature of their stroll.  The dog remained on a leash, of course.  (Yes, these are two of the dozen or so lost photos...this one only exists on Blogger's Picasa and in condensed format.)

He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; 
my other ears that hear above the winds. 
He is the part of me 
that can reach out into the sea.....Gene Hill