Thursday, May 17, 2018

All of Us, not Us vs. Them - Inspiration Thursday

"In our travels, we have come across many equations--math for understanding the universe, for making music, for mapping stars, and also for tipping, which is important. Here is our favorite equation: Us plus Them equals All of Us. It is very simple math. Try it sometime. You probably won’t even need a pencil." 
             - From Going Bovine by Libba Bray
This passage stopped me in my tracks.  It is both sarcastically hilarious and deadly accurate.
Living the golden rule is a challenge.  It is easy enough to write people off as "bad" people not worthy of our kindness and charitable treatment.  To label, categorize, and shunt off the "undesirable."  To put them on the opposing team. 

But at the bottom of things there really isn't any Us or Them.  It truly is All of Us.  We're in this thing together.  We're more Same than Different.  We're all--each and everyone one of us--a beat in the pulse of humankind.  And, as such, it seems to me that we don't have to agree with each other in order to be civil and kind.  Easier said that done, but shoot for the stars, I say.
Photos from Yellowstone National Park - August 2016

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Another Year Around the Sun

I realized last week that I failed to participate in Me Made May 2018. 
May really snuck up on me, I guess. 
And now it is my birthday.  Oh, the days go by.
I am feeling especially thankful for my family and friends.  For feeling so much better, arthritis-wise.  For the sunshine and bees and birds and flowers and baby critters everywhere.  For bicycling with bare legs and tromping in the yard in bare feet.  For my kitty companions.  For live music and dancing.  For my countless other blessings.  For this life I lead!
Happy birthday to me!  Life is good.
All photos from the Diamond Butte Fire Lookout which we rented again last weekend as a kick-off for my birthday week.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Morning Time Circle of Life Dilemma

Backstory:  Ginger killed us a baby bunny last week.  Matt and I had interestingly opposite reactions to this increased level of predation.  When I opened the back door to let her in and saw the tiny lifeless fluff ball laying there at the bottom of the steps I said something like, "Awwwwwwww, Ginger!!  Not the baby bunnies...  That's not a vole.... Man....tisk-tisk."  Matt on the other hand praised her resoundingly.  "Oh, what a good hunter kitty!  Yes, she's such a good kitty.  Anything that moves out there is fair game.  You get 'em."  It was interesting.
I guess Matt was seeing the bunny as one less budding garden pest to contend with.  I saw it as a harmless little baby who'd been killed for no reason.
Ginger had never caught a rabbit before.  More voles and mice than I could keep track of in these four years and two birds (until I thoroughly discouraged her of that--and she likes to keep me happy.)  The bunny thing was new--and I'd hoped a rarity.
Which leads me to my morning dilemma.
I called Ginger to come in because I needed to pedal off to work, but she was so deeply involved in hunting by the shed that she ignored me.  Our mower needs sharpened and so it is a veritable cat jungle out there.  She is eating it up, stalking through the tall grass.  It being a nice day and that she has both shelter and water out back I decided I'd just let Ginger kick it in the yard all day.  Hunt to her little heart's content and then bask in the sun.  But, I checked out the back window a second time just as I was about to leave and she was sitting there.  Looking up at me expectantly.
Perfect, I thought.  She will come in now after all.   But, oh, no....that wasn't it.  She'd turned up by the steps because she brought me another little bunny.  This still very much alive fluff ball had presently escaped Ginger and was cowering under the barbecue grill. 
I waffled.  Do I leave her outside to finish this?  Do I bring her inside like I'd intended and save the bunny?
Ginger's body was tense and intense with the thrill of the hunt.  She chased the rabbit back and forth a few times from one end of the grill to the other.  The rabbit was clearly terrified.  And so small.
So, I used my human powers, for better or worse, and intervened.  I lifted Ginger up and brought her into the house with me.  I immediately started second-guessing the appropriateness of my actions.  I gave Ginger an excessively large pile of treats as a consolation prize.  Which was dumb.  Animals died to go into the treats, too, so why is that different/better than letting her catch a bunny?
Ginger had invested a lot of time and energy into catching that bunny.  Matt, and to a lesser extent, myself invest a lot of time and energy in the garden.  Matt had just been telling me the lettuce had come up, but was gone now and he suspected rabbits.  And I saved one of their babies...
It doesn't make sense.  But, at the time, looking at the baby bunny quaking and cowering in the face of sharp, vicious death, there didn't seem any other choice for me.  My empathy is unreasonably overdeveloped.  I have always more easily imagined myself as the bunny than the cat, the gazelle than the lion.  This is why I choose to eat/live the way I do.  I don't want death and suffering on my hands, or done on my behalf, if I can avoid it.  But apparently it is different with the cats.  Say, the treats.  Or the fact that I know they'd prefer fresher food--fresh chicken and fish.  But I cannot bear the notion of preparing such food for them.  I prefer the kibble, safely remote from the animals therein.
And just when I am convinced I did the wrong thing the pendulum swing back into uncertainty.
Ginger is not a lion.  She is an well-kept and pampered invasive species that I personally introduced into the backyard biosphere.  The cottontails are the native species here.  We could put up a chicken-wire fence around the garden to keep the rabbits out if they truly become a problem, but they never have been in past years.
Plus, she didn't even eat the first bunny she caught.  Just killed it and left it on the step so she could go out hunting again.  She only eats a minuscule amount of the animals she kills.  It is pleasure hunting.  Instinctual hunting.  The same drive that make her chase string and balls around the house.  If Ginger was actually hungry and ate her kills that would be a totally different story.
I couldn't stop thinking about it the rest of the morning. I finally turned off my audiobook as I kept having to rewind over and over and over as my mind wandered back to the morning's dilemma.   When the cats moved in I expect they would bring challenges to my mostly-vegan way of living.  They are predators and I would never suggest they be forced into a herbivore's existence like mine.   In many ways wish I could just fully embrace my omnivorous place in the circle of life.  But, I can't.  Or won't.  I love all things natural...but distance or remove myself from the cycle of killing and death because it makes me uncomfortable.  It is a double edged sword.
I came to a double edged conclusions, too.  I believe I did the wrong thing in saving the bunny at the intellectual level.  On an emotional, spiritual level my heart feels good and says it was the right thing to do.  Gall dang, that is the disparity that makes my life tricky sometimes.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical - Inspiration Thursday

I had a rather life changing experience at Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical when I first saw it several years back.   It sounds almost absurdly cliche when I talk about it, actually.  It was epic.  Affirming.  Altering.  Magnificent.  My boss at the time, Bill, bought me tickets for my birthday as he suspected it would be right up my alley.
And it was!  I was reading Phil Lesh's memoir Searching for the Sound at the time, which was a tremendous bit of companion reading.  Pieces fell into place in my heart and are locked in to the beat of it now.  If that makes sense.
The Hair soundtrack is the only music I keep on my iPod, a fact which Matt likes to razz me about with some regularity.  98% of the time I just use my iPod to play audiobooks, but Hair is there for when I need to rock out.
This past weekend I scored the original cast recording on album while perusing an antique/consignment shop with my dad.
It is such a tragic, moving, passionate, and inspiring story.  The plot covers so many thought-provoking subjects, as well as ideas and values I hold dear and features the immense span of human emotion.  The intersection of freedom, peace and war.  Personal expression and exploration.  Music.  Environmentalism.  Religion.  Implications of race and gender on life experience.  Diversity.  Activism.  Love.  Economic disparity and social justice.  The power of friendship and trust.
I've been able to see two live theatrical productions of Hair.  I sure hope there are more in my future.  The music, the message...they just fill me up with their emotive power.
Below are a random smattering of lyrics which stop me and make me think, in one way or another.

"Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derision"

"I believe that now is a time
For all men to come
To the aid of love
I believe in love!"

"My soul is in orbit
With God face to face"
"There ain't no words
For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder
Of my...
Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it"

"There is a peculiar notion that elegant plumage
And fine feathers are not proper for the male
When actually
That is the way things are
In most species"

"How dare they try to end this beauty?"

"Welcome sulfur dioxide,
Hello carbon monoxide
The air, the air is everywhere
Breathe deep, while you sleep, breathe deep"
"We stop-look
At one another
Short of breath
Walking proudly in our winter coats
Wearing smells from laboratories
Facing a dying nation
Of moving paper fantasies
Listening for the new told lies
With supreme visions of lonely tunes"

"Good morning starshine, the earth says hello
You twinkle above us, we twinkle below"

"Walking in space
We find the purpose of peace
The beauty of life
You can no longer hide
Our eyes are open"

"It's a dirty little war"
"How can people be so heartless
How can people be so cruel
Easy to be hard
Easy to be cold
How can people have no feelings
How can they ignore their friends
Easy to be proud
Easy to say no
Especially people who care about strangers
Who care about evil and social injustice
Do you only care about the bleeding crowd
How about a needing friend
I need a friend"

"President of
The United States of Love"

"My hair like Jesus wore it
Hallelujah I adore it
Hallelujah Mary loved her son
Why don't my mother love me?"
All photos from Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Fall 2017

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Muir Song - Inspiration Thursday

"...every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love." - John Muir

I have a rather long-held intellectual crush for John Muir and was pleased to recently stumble upon this short video in his honor.
“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us. Our flesh-and-bone tabernacle seems transparent as glass to the beauty about us, as if truly an inseparable part of it, thrilling with the air and trees, streams and rocks, in the waves of the sun,—a part of all nature, neither old nor young, sick nor well, but immortal.”  - John Muir

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Happy Signs of Summer

I am enthralled with the seasons.  Each has myriad unique delights.  Each has its harbingers and these delight me so!  These signs and glimmers, hints and shouts of things to come.  Of change.
I've been smacked in the face with signs of summer this past week.  It gave me a smile to realize the varied nature of these signs, too--from sweet birds to yucky ticks.  Ha!  What a world!
I gaped with radiant eyes at the bright bunches of lemon yellow tulips on Monday.  These were the first in full bloom which I'd seen this year, joining the earlier spring flowers--the grape hyacinths, daffodils, and narcissus.
Matt and I went on a day trip to the prairie rimcountry east of town and collected no less than 20 ticks between us.  None actually in us, though.  Not my favorite sign of Summer's impending fullness, but an abundantly clear one none the less.
The garden is going--garlic and carrots are up, though small.  A garden just looks more like a garden with green shoots springing up from the earth though.  Matt has planted onions, greens, and peas, too.  I am trying to keep up with digging dandelions as they reveal themselves.
Ginger, a rather fair-weather gal,  is back outside hunting voles again.  I wish her luck.  We've never had much issue with vole damage, but they were sure busy in the yard over the winter this year.  I wonder if this may be due to the fact it was (literally) a record-breaking cold and snowy winter.  I'm not sure.
I don't have to wear socks every day, nor leggings.  Both bring me a sense of freedom and freshness.  Bare legs under my skirts feel so much like summer.  It is as if my skin is taking a much-needed deep breath of fresh air.  My naked toes wiggled in delight in the cool, damp earth this weeknd.
Our local downtown alliance announced the lineup for their free summer concert series.  Woohoo!
The birds are nesting, calling, showing off, and acting otherwise twitterpated.  This makes for some swell Bird TV.  A nuthatch is carving out a nesting cavity near the front door and a chickadee going back and forth with nesting materials to the small birdhouse out the front windows.  That chickadee is driving Johnny wild.
Matt and I paged through the calendar marking down camping trips, tie-dye gigs, family reunion, a concert weekend at the Gorge, weddings to attend, and so many other fun experiences that are down the pike.
Yes, yes.  Soon.  Summer is soon.  And I am excited.  Like always.
Photos: A Mishmash from 2016-2018.