Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter...

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“Look round and round upon this bare bleak plain, and see even here, upon a winter's day, how beautiful the shadows are! Alas! it is the nature of their kind to be so. The loveliest things in life, Tom, are but shadows; and they come and go, and change and fade away, as rapidly as these!”

~ Charles Dickens

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I've mentioned many times my love for sitting here at my qwerty in the early mornings and watching through the windows the morning's dawning. With the big sky we have here at the farm, sitting in the middle of the valley as we are, we witness some awe inspiring sunrises and sunsets. But for me it is the sunrises... I'm a morning person and I can think of no better way to start my day than waking with my part of the planet. Living out in the desert in southern Oregon had to be my favorite place for day after day sunrise greetings. The quiet in such a broad expanse suits me.

Here in the south Willamette Valley we get our share of fog. Especially as autumn moves into winter we see more and more fog. There are different fogs that form... and I'm a sucker for those low, thick, drifting fogs that ebb and shift and only get 3 feet or so deep, hugging the ground. The next photo is from a couple of weeks ago:



Back in early October we had our first snow in the Cascades.



It surprised me a little... Oct 9 is way early. But our weather here in Oregon can be pretty diverse from year to year. I've lived here long enough to know the stories of the "big snow" back in the '60s (I'll follow up on this with some more specifics). Here in the valley we apparently had 5' - 6' of snow and the storm shut life down for a few days. As I heard the stories (and you'll hear 'em hanging around old farts) it dawned on me that that storm was the one that dumped 20' on Opal Creek when Indian Billy was the only person in camp. 20'!

My first ever snow camping trip was in the Sierras, led by my friend Greg Burke (his photo galleries are linked over in the left column), when we went into the backcountry skiing on a base of about 25'. Phenomenal skiing and fabulous views. With 25' of snow under us there were no rocks, no brush, just big, big trees, snow and sky. Aaah, such good stuff. Of course I'm less a fan of snow now. Its cold, creates extra work and takes more money out of my pocket...

... anyway... that snow in October kind of told me that we were going to have some real winter storms. Then came the rest of October and such great weather! Then came November. One of the warmest and mildest Novembers I remember. There were a couple of good freezes and the cold snaps really made the autumn leaves put on a great show that lasted way longer than normal because the weather was so cooperative.

But now we've had some real winter. Down to 10ยบ here early last week. Snow and ice. The weather almost shut Portland down earlier this week.

Our last good snow storm came overnight and the morning was gorgeous... here are some photos from that morning:











I hope everyone stays safe this winter in the cold climes of the northern hemisphere. Those of you in the southern hemisphere... you're on your own with that warm weather stuff...

~~~

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

~ Theodore Roosevelt

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

The West... women... war... and just random thinking...

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"Kids. They're not easy. But there has to be some penalty for sex."

~ Bill Maher
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I'm so proud... I received my first official rejection for a story idea submitted to a national, popular publication! Gosh...

But that step of submitting a pitch is exhilirating. And I'm going to have to do it again. The challenge has been made.

I mean I was thinking about it last night. About my life here in the west. I truly love the west, I believe I live and have grown up in what is still a truly wild wild west.



We still have cowboys (buckaroos!), Indians and struggles over land, water and law. And I thought about those people I have met, the people who represent so many different aspects of belief, of profession and outspoken passionate activism that have inspired so much in me, for me. People whose touch upon my life has brought personal change and growth. People who are public figures, and people who remain very private citizens, yet have definite effect upon this wide open landscape that I see as the place "where I'm from."



I've roamed a lot of this vast expanse, from oceanside to the Rocky Mountains and meandered through many parts of the broad western desert. I've roamed from the southern border to the northern, from Texas to Idaho, California to Colorado...



I've found myself in the midst of battles both epic and insignificant. And to experience them, not just as events to view, but in which I participate as an active advocate for one side or the other, is for me a treasure. I would not exchange any of my adventures for a life of middle class, suburban comfort. I cringe at the thought of myself as someone who did the family, 9 to 5 job, TV watching middle-American thing. While I find nothing wrong with that -- heaven forbid! some of my best friends have spent their lives doing just that -- I know for me it would have been a kind of submission and rejection of spirit. And submissive I'm not. I'm Scandinavian. Hard-headed. Sometimes I feel like the descendant of a long line of Vikings and nomadic Reindeer herders who is just trying to get back home after a long, long journey to a strange, faraway land. I love my freedom and room to roam...



I give thanks to the gods that be for a rich lifetime, even tho' I've been a poor man monetarily most of that time. I've been able to love (and be loved by) beautiful, wild women. I've been friend with cowboy, Indian, cop and robber. I've broken bread with Muslim and Jew, Buddhist, Christian and Pagan. And (to paraphrase Edward Abbey) while I've never been lost, I've sure been a mite confused at times. I've failed and succeeded and have grown as a man. I know where I live and have a pretty good idea about those with whom I share this earth. Sometimes I can easily curse humanity and wish a pox upon its collective head and sometimes... sometimes we are as regal as any life form in the universe and I am so glad to have this form and this life. Sometimes we radiate in truly vibrant glory and sometimes we grovel in depths dark and dismal. I suppose therein lies one of the great gifts of friendship, the necessity and the reward of being loved, and loving...



I've come a long way... and find, still, my life is just beginning.
~~~

OK... I'm going to venture onto dangerous ground here. In a move that endangers the very fabric of reality I havta speak out on a subject that has affected me every day of my life. I'm going to talk a bit about women.

.
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... no bolts of lightning...

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... no bricks thru my window...

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.
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Ok... I think its safe. But I'm not actually worried, I like women. My mother was one. My sister too.

Every girlfriend I have had has been one. My ex-wife is one. Heck, I'll bet Santa's wife is one...

Besides the obviousness of being born from woman I'm sure glad for all the good women I've known. Kinda fond of some of the bad women I've known too... but seriously...

As I think about this I'm not really sure where to start. I guess a big "Thanks!" would be appropriate about now, so ladies, "Thanks!" I know you have collectively put up with a lot of shit from a lot of men for a lot of years. See... this is what an education gets me. I know that hundreds of thousands if not millions of women in Europe died during that continent's "rise to civilization." That is the cost of to a matrilineal, agricultural collective type society when it runs into a patriarchy willing to rule by extremely heavy hand. Violence is the hallmark of such men. But truly? Those who would (and have, and do) rule by brutal decree, are a pox among men. There are those among us who have no problem beating women and children. There are those of us men who are terrible, terrible people. And in that regard, we men have failed to control and remove this particular vermon from our communities. But I do believe that -- if it is not too late already -- there may be that pivotal shift in men's collective thinking that says we have reached that point of "enough."

I know how women's history has gone and it is a sad legacy that says far more about men than it does women. But the heroic woman archetype is as real as that of man's. We share that legacy... that both our genders have produced true heroes and too often made the ultimate sacrifice putting forth the proposition that life is sacred and that we will stand up to anyone in defense of home, family and community.

to be continued...
~~~

My nomination for picture of the millenium:



That image just blows my mind. Thanks to brother Marty for showing me the Nat'l Geographic magazine that had the story. From Mexico's Cave of Crystal Giants...

In the same edition is this great shot of the Tarahumara in Mexico:



A People Apart
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According to a new survey, women say they feel more comfortable undressing in front of men than they do undressing in front of other women. They say that women are too judgmental, where, of course, men are just grateful.

~ Robert De Niro

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanks...

To those of you who continue to stop by... and from looking at the visitors' map y'all continue to drop in from many places around the globe. Which is pretty darn cool for this old blue collar, forklift driving lumberflinger.

This blogpost is another story by my daughter, Robin. The girl has talent I tell ya. Of course, she grew up w/ books and loves a good story. Books books and more books and what does she do in her spare time? Write... go figure.

Robin submitted this as an assignment in her creative writing class... not bad for a junior in High School (and a blonde junior at that...).

Let me -- and her -- know what you think. Her previous story "The Blue Swing" was published here on the Donut a while back:

The Blue Swing

This story is called "Feathers."

(©Robin Erickson, 2008)
~~~




Feathers

Beep, beep, beep. The monotonous tone of the checkout scanner was putting me to sleep. I looked up vaguely from my register to ask just one more shopper if they would prefer paper or plastic. Paper. Cans of soup, a loaf of bread, various lunch meats and a carton of eggs went into the bag. Thank you for shopping at Save-Way, have a nice day, I parroted over and over to what seemed like the same person, over and over.

There was the perfect way to describe this day: over and over. I’d been lost in my head all day, or, if we were to be honest, all month. Ever since my parents dragged me to this lame town. I missed my city, with its small dramas and big buildings, and people dressed to make you look. I sighed. Break time. I sat on a wall outside, unscrewing my thermos and sniffing the soup inside. Still hot, thank God. The steam rose and drifted out into the parking lot, making a catching swirly pattern against the stillness of the dark clouds. My mind was going into overdrive. There was no sound here. I gazed around; my outward appearance would’ve never given away what was in my mind. I matched this place perfectly. My plain brown hair was pulled into a lopsided pony tail today, and too lazy to put on my contacts, I had on my wire framed glasses. The black pants and shoes required for my job stood out from the white snow, and my blue button up shirt plainly said ‘boring nobody, please ignore’. Well, in reality it said ‘Chloe Mitchelson, welcome to Save-Way!’, but that was beside the point.

“Hey, you!” I nearly jumped out of my skin. I twisted around, with barely enough curiosity to see who was shouting at me. There was an old, bent over man standing outside his car staring directly at me. I gave him a blank look. “Do you work here? Hmm?” He didn’t pause for an answer. “Well get over here and help me unload these groceries!” I didn’t move.

“I’m sorry sir, I’m on my break. Someone inside would be glad to help you.” Ugh, my voice irritated me. It came out so soft and meek sounding. He shrugged at me, and headed back into the store. I looked back at my soup; my interest in the situation had been lost immediately. Finishing my lunch and storing the thermos in my bag, I hopped off the wall and trudged my way back through the cold snow and inside for another three hours of work. Sigh.

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

“Shh. She’ll hear you.” Trin whispered to me, just outside of Chloe’s window.

“I was just saying!” I frowned. Trin was still young, much younger than me, and had been appointed my companion for experience points. Having Trin around was not the most helpful thing for my task, but it was alright. It was at least entertaining. And entertainment was not something that came around very often in our world.

“Hmmph, ‘just saying’. This whole speaking thing is soo irritating.” Trin complained.

“I know, just let it be. You’ll get used to it.” We fell silent. I had to admit, this world was beautiful. The snowfall made everything glow, especially in the night, with a piercing cleanliness and silence that almost physically pressed on your mind. “Ready?” I whispered absentmindedly.

“Let’s do it.” Trin spoke with a bit more effort.

And we both faded. In the same instant that we had been standing outside, we were now standing in Chloe’s bedroom, an arms length away from her sleeping body. I blinked. “Let me concentrate now,” I thought to Trin. Half a second later I was in Chloe’s mind, seeing what she was seeing. Basically, I had entered her dreams.

We were in a small room from her childhood, maybe inside a grandmother’s house. In a corner there was a small rocking chair, child size, facing the door. Chloe sat in it, but was only partway visible since she was the dreamer, and not completely aware of herself. I, on the other hand, would appear fairly solid. Actually, I was curious to see what form her mind would turn me into. Frightening or welcome? I turned towards a mirror on the wall which appeared for my use. Interesting, she had put me in a female form. Striking red hair and green eyes rested on my pale face, Chloe had made me beautiful. My curiosity satisfied, I spun on my heel and faced the girl. She seemed to notice me for the first time, and looked up, childish eyes wide.

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I blinked, “who are you?”

The gorgeous red haired woman spoke. “I am whoever you chose to make me, child. Perhaps a girl from school? I would not know.” She sat down on a chair that had not been there a second before. “Look at your hands.”

I looked down, saw nothing at first, and suddenly seemed to be more aware of myself. I saw my hands, with my familiar row of rings and dirty nails. With my sudden consciousness of myself, the strangeness of this situation seemed to clarify itself. I was unexpectedly afraid. I didn’t know where I was, or who this person speaking to me was, or how I came to be here, but I wanted to find out. “What’s going on?”

The woman smiled at me. “You are in a dream, I am merely your guest, although I admit I’ve come uninvited.” I was still confused. She seemed to sense that, “My name is Felix and I am an Angel.”

“Oh. I’m dreaming.” I looked around the room with a new understanding. “Cool.”

“You must wake up.” She said it bluntly, “we must speak with you.”

And she took my hand.

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I blinked my eyes open, and stretched. A glance at my alarm clock told me it was 1:23 in the morning. Rolling over to fall back asleep, I heard a whisper behind me. I tensed; there was somebody in my room. Very slowly, I turned my head to see if it was a family member, but I couldn’t see a thing. My hand found a light switch and I switched it on; my eyes saw someone in the corner, a stranger. I screamed, but not a sound came out, someone had stuck out their arm from behind and put their hand over my mouth. I struggled away, but soon there were another pair of hands holding my arms. I kicked and tried to bite or scream, get my arms away, something, but the grip on my arms was strong, and I could not break it. Finally, I collapsed, breathing hard. They seemed to sense that I was done resisting, and slowly let go, letting me fall into the fetal position on my bed, receding into myself.

“Chloe,” two voices said in unison; whether they were male or female, I could not say. I raised my head. My voice didn’t seem to want to form any words, so I just looked. They didn’t seem threatening, so I uncurled myself and took a more defensive sitting position, waiting for an explanation.

Finally, I seemed to find words. “What the hell are you doing in my room? Who are you?” I managed to sound angry.

“As I stated in your dream, I am an angel,” the form on the left spoke. He, she, it, whatever seemed to sense my disbelief. “My name, once again, is Felix. My companion,” and here he gestured to the figure on his right, “is Trin.” They waited, looking at me. Or I assumed they were looking at me. The more I watched, the more I realized that they didn’t quite seem to be there. Or they seemed more there than anything I’d seen before. Or... Oh, this was confusing. They had a solid shape, I could see defined limbs and torsos and heads, but all at the same time, if felt as if they weren’t there, like it wasn’t all of them. It was almost like looking at the footprint of a cat instead of the whole cat; but as if you knew the cat was there, you just couldn’t see him. You could only see the print.

“I don’t understand.” Was I hallucinating? This couldn’t be right, “what do you mean you’re an angel?” I was hesitant.

“Mm. Watch,” and Felix spread his wings. “I do not like to use many words. Perhaps I can show you.” He glanced at his partner, and she in turn spread her wings. They were like shadows, but not shadows in the sense of darkness, shadows in the sense that I felt these wings must be much bigger, much more intricate, and this was their base form. Then, the two angels exploded with light. Light filled every part of everything I could see, filled the corners, chased away every piece of darkness, and not only that, but the light was piercing solid objects. My walls appeared to glow, filled with light, I could feel it on my skin, in the air entering my lungs. And the two beings creating this light looked as if they were holes in the very solidity of the universe, repelling any bit of matter that was earthly and solid. I could only stare, my mouth open.

But then it ended, the light was sucked in, the wings disappeared, and all that was left were two indistinct human forms at the end of my bed.

“We need your help,” Trin stated, and as she said it, a strong feeling of acceptance filled me. My whole world had turned on its head in that moment and it seemed as if there was only one option for me. A few seconds later I was standing between the two angels, the three of us hand in hand, and we vanished.

And where did we appear, but in my small town’s library! I still wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or not, so I shook my head, trying to rid my eyes of sleep. “What are we doing here?” I directed the question at Felix, who seemed much more comfortable with speaking. Trin had the look of a High School student visiting their dream college for the first time. Half awe, half excitement, and half timid. Yeah.. Three halves; but angels had to made from more than we were, so I thought it would work.

Felix looked at me, or so I assumed, and said, “I think the easiest way to explain things is if I use my usual form of communication.. It is much faster. To you it will seem much like a dream.” I nodded. Felix walked up and placed his dim hands on top of my head, gently, as if he were feeling for something. He muttered a small ‘ahh’, as if he had found what he was looking for, and I felt my eyes close. Suddenly images were pouring into my head, quickly, all of them jumbled in no particular order; but soon I could sense them organizing themselves into a pattern. A story, maybe. Then the ground lurched, and I was no longer a physical thing, I was immerged completely and totally in my thoughts.

First I saw a world that was beyond description, so much so that my mind seemed to reject the impossible images, turning it into a mess of every color and shape and sense I had ever experienced, but within that mess I could see the blurry shapes of Felix and Trin. They were with another Angel, Zachary, and they looked on guard. Then, in an instant so immediate I felt something close to vertigo, they were surrounded by many more Angels.. And yet, these weren’t Angels. They didn’t give off the same feeling; they felt darker, more tangled, not as complete as the other three. I was shocked as I realized these darker beings were people mimicking the form of Angels, making a mess of the beautiful structure with their incomplete ‘costumes’. One of these counterfeit angels seemed to give a signal, and they all fell in on Zachary, catching him, controlling him, making escape impossible; and in another second, they were gone.

The next story of memories I saw were those dark angels restraining Zachary in a dark room, every way in or out was guarded carefully by a man. And I recognized these men. Each and every one of them lived in my town, they were my neighbors, or my teachers, even a bus driver or two. The weapons they were holding looked as nothing I had ever seen and I didn’t even want to guess at what they could do. My vision seemed to expand as images of that room grew smaller and I saw that it was the basement of the town’s library.

And then my eyes opened, and my own flood of memories and thoughts reentered my head. Questions began to push through my mind, each one wanting to be immediately answered, but I chose the most obvious one. “How do we rescue him?”

This is when Trin spoke, “that is why we need you. They took Zachary,” she seemed to stumble over speaking the name aloud, “they took him to find out the secrets of life. They want to be rich, to be powerful; they want to know the thoughts of all their enemies so they can overthrow them. They want to be unstoppable.”

“But what do you need me for?” I questioned them.

“Because they are waiting.” Felix spoke now, “they are expecting a daughter to bring them the final tool needed to retrieve the information from Zachary.” Here he shuddered, and I realized he was keeping from me the way he expected them to do that. I didn’t ask. “We need you to pretend. You are a daughter they will not expect, and they will not question you because of that. We need you to get in that room, because we cannot go in ourselves.”

I stood for a minute absorbing that information. Then I asked my final question, “What do I need to do?”

“You must go cloaked in the darkness their costumes are made of, which we will provide you. But this darkness will press on your thoughts, and make it difficult for you to keep on track. That is partially the reason we chose you, we can sense the strength in your mind.” Felix paused, then continued, “Trin will give you, for lack of anything better to call it, one feather from her wing. Keep it inside your jacket. They will see the energy it gives off and think it is the tool they need. If you are confident, they won’t question your entry. Tell them you must speak to Zachary. When you approach him, expect a struggle. He is a powerful being. Just tell him acceptance is key. He will understand.”

I was confused, but I didn’t question him. “What do I do with the feather?”

“The stuff our wings are made of is the most powerful substance you can imagine. They will have Zachary’s under control with a mind drug, otherwise he would have been able to escape immediately. The feather will cut through anything like butter, and it will allow you to create hallucinations in these men’s minds, once you gain their trust.”

With that, Trin plucked a feather from her wing with a slight pained expression, and gave it to me. I stuck it in one of my inner pockets. Anticipation seemed to fill the Angels as they each walked up to me, and spread their wings. This time, no light filled the room; I felt no power, only a cloud of something dark forming inside me. Or around me; or maybe both, I couldn’t particularly tell. And then the two Angels stood back, examining me, obviously keeping a little distance. They didn’t like the darkness. Neither did I, actually, it was pressing on my heart with an odd feeling. There was no more speaking between us, only a nod from Felix, and a wistful look from Trin, before I made my way for the dark staircase. I had to breathe carefully to keep my concentration, whatever darkness that was clouded around me seemed to be trying to pull me into a form that I absolutely was not. Whether it be angel or villain, I didn’t like it. It was too much. I stopped and closed my eyes firmly, trying not to think of the dark, my feet finding their own way down the stairs. Once I was at the bottom, I opened my eyes and found myself in an eerie state of calm. Fear was building in my chest… What was I doing? I should be in bed, I shouldn’t be here. This wasn’t right. I was just the checkout girl in a small forgotten town! I had no part in this; it was too big for me. I turned halfway around, finding myself heading back up the stairs, when I broke.

I slumped down against the wall, a sob barely concealed in my throat. I couldn’t do this. How could I, when these men had already captured one being so much stronger than me, and the other two couldn’t get him back? I would be killed, I was sure of it. Who would believe I was here to destroy a beautiful Angel? Even I couldn’t fathom it. I was beginning to give in to the hopelessness, when I heard footsteps coming towards me. I straightened up immediately, something inside of me corrected itself, and I felt confident again. I could do this.

Standing up, I spoke before the advancing man could fully see me. “Hello? I am here, by the staircase.” I found myself sounding slightly arrogant and proud. Well, that would work, I supposed.

The man stood before me now, leering, big and powerful. I tried my hardest not to shrink back into the shadows. “And what’re you here for, darling?”

“I am the daughter you are expecting. I must see…” I realized they probably would not know the Angel’s name, and it would seem odd for me to, “I must see the Angel.” I looked at him defiantly, almost daring him to say no.

He just looked at me, probably measuring me up, deciding if I was fooling him or not. He seemed to come to the conclusion that I must be the right girl, and at least if I wasn’t, I seemed harmless. “Come with me,” he turned and stomped down the hall.

I followed with as much strength as I could manage, not looking anywhere but straight ahead. After a few seconds, we reached a door with two more men standing by. “Derek, Thomas, this is the girl.” He nodded his head in my direction. “She says she needs to see the Angel. Was that part of the plan?”

The two guards, Derek and Thomas, just looked at each other with blank expressions. Apparently they weren’t too involved in the whole arrangement. Just doormen. “I don’t see the harm,” the guard on the left said, “She can’t make a mess of things, even if she’s not supposed to be here.” He smiled at me, and then looked meaningfully down at his weapon; he was sending me a strong signal there. I just blinked, an unimpressed expression on my face. Inside, of course, every instinct was screaming at me to turn and run. This was a bad situation; but instead of listening to sense, I followed the first man through the door, and into a dimly lit room.

Inside was a strange arrangement. Zachary sat, slumped, in the middle of the room; his head was down, his wings folded sloppily. Around him were men arranged in a circle, keeping a careful distance between them and the Angel, all of them holding the strange looking guns. I took three seconds in my head to collect myself, took a deep breath, and started walking towards Zachary. Immediately his head whipped up, and he snarled, staring straight at me. My hope dwindled a bit then. How was I supposed to get anywhere near him to tell him the safe words? I couldn’t say them from here, the men would hear me. Silently I stared into the Angel’s beaten eyes, begging with all the feeling I could muster, for him to trust me. I held images of Felix and Trin in my head, trying to throw them into the air for him to catch, if it was possible to do such a thing with thoughts. It didn’t seem to be working. Zachary slowly stood up, strength in every controlled movement of his body, and stared straight at me with an obvious meaning. Move any closer, and you die, the look said. A chill passed through my whole body, from head to toe, as I did something I never meant to do. Almost involuntarily, I took a step towards him. Zachary lunged immediately, the men surrounding us all gasped and stumbled backwards, unsure of what to do. I shut my eyes tight, and braced myself for whatever impact was coming, ready for the pain I was certain was just seconds away. And then I heard a ripping sound; ripping, tearing, urgently, and I felt warmth. Warmth at my chest, and slowly surrounding my entire self.

I opened my eyes to find Zachary smiling at me, “acceptance is key?” he guessed gaily. I looked down to find the source of the ripping noises, my jacket was torn to pieces; and the warmth was coming from Trin’s exposed feather. I almost laughed with the relief that was washing through me, and with wide eyes looked into Zachary’s face. He almost seemed familiar to me, not in appearance, but as if he was a personality I had known my whole life; it was like staring at my own soul. I was in awe. He cocked his head to the side, indicating that I should look around the room, which I did. The men with the guns were all just standing, staring at nothing in particular, as if nothing out of the ordinary were happening. I looked at Zachary with curiosity. “I am making them forget you ever came. They think it is still as it was five minutes ago, when I was sitting alone. May I see the feather?”

“Yes, of course. I don’t know what I was supposed to do with it anyhow.” I looked as he took it, and cut through some invisible binding around his wings. He shook them out, looking relieved and delighted, and then he did an odd thing. He plucked one of his own wing feathers, and pressed it together with Trin’s, whispering at it, making it glow. Then he took my hand, pushed up my sleeve, and pressed the combined feathers into my exposed wrist. I gasped with the strangeness of it. It wasn’t pain, it was definitely a good feeling, but it was almost as unbearable as pain has a habit to be. “What did you do?” I was staring at my wrist. There seemed to be a faint outline of a feather, and the two from his and Trin’s wings had disappeared.

“I’ve given you a gift. You now have the power to shift atmospheres. Not as strong as ours, you cannot change someone’s whole view of reality, but you may change the feeling of a room, or a situation. You can make someplace happier, or someone see you as frightening, or beautiful. It’s a great gift to have.” I gaped at him. I could feel the power of the gift in my veins, and I could feel how to use it. It was an amazing sensation. He smiled at me again, “let us return to my companions.”

And we were again standing in the library, this time on the upper floor, with Trin and Felix next to us. They leapt up immediately, overjoyed, pressing themselves into Zachary, making sure he was not harmed in any way. Then, they turned to me with the happiest, most thankful and polite expressions I had ever been given. “Thank you,” they seemed to say it a million times in one. I nodded, suddenly overwhelmed by exhaustion, ready to collapse back into sleep any minute.

“I’m glad I could help,” I stifled a yawn. It seemed my adrenaline had worn off, leaving me worn out and barely awake. They took notice to this immediately, and rushed to touch my shoulders, taking me back to my room. I blinked, no longer surprised at this mode of transportation, and sat on my bed. “Well…” I said, not knowing how to finish my sentence.

All three of them looked at me, but Felix was the first to speak, “thank you Chloe. We are indebted to you now, more than you could know.” And Trin hugged me. After one more curious look at me, those two disappeared, which left me and Zachary alone in my room.

He had an intent look on his face, staring out my window. Turning, he looked at me intensely, “aren’t you going to go to bed?” he questioned. “You must be half asleep already.”

Surprised that this is what he had to say, I blinked. “Well… I mean… I suppose I am. Aren’t you leaving though? To join Trin and Felix?”

Oddly, Zachary laughed. “Oh, they didn’t tell you, did they?”

I shook my head, “tell me what?”

“I’m not leaving. They must be getting back to their usual jobs, but mine is here. I am your guardian Angel. That is probably why you felt I was so familiar when you saw me back in the library. It’s also partially the reason you were the one to rescue me. An odd switch of events,” he mused, “the guardian Angel being guarded in turn by his human. I’ve rarely heard of such a thing.”

I looked at him. “My guardian Angel? For my whole life?”

Zachary seemed to be in a very pleasant mood, for he laughed again, “yes, Chloe, your whole life.”

“Oh. Well what will happen to you when I die then?”

He looked amused to be explaining these things. “Ah now. I will find another human to guard. And so will you, as when you die you will become an Angel in your own right. Perhaps not a guardian though, we all have different jobs to do.”

I just kept staring. I was almost too tired to be having this conversation.

“Felix used to be Trin’s guardian angel. And before that, he was mine. That is why we have such a strong bond. But enough of this, you do need to be going to bed,” he said, almost parent-like, as he saw me yawn.

“Yes, I suppose I should…” My eyes were half open now. I fell back on my pillow, feeling content, involuntarily rubbing my new feather tattoo. I think I must have muttered goodnight to Zachary, but I fell asleep almost immediately, and when I woke up, my Angel was invisible again.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

more pictures, less words #2...

~~~

“There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”

~ Will Rogers
~~~

Another Sunday morn. Foggy at first, but now that it is afternoon the fog is lifting and it looks to be another nice day.

The elections are calming down. Many folks are flush with excitement, some filled with dread. And my mind moves on to other things. Time and money have pretty much kept me close to home. Creative thinking and my camera haven't connected lately. Which is ok... having a lover fills part of that void. And what a good lover I've found. Way smart (the word geek comes up often), absolutely gorgeous, a sense of humor that compliments mine... and a physical match that is, well, ecstatic. Electric... zzzt!

I have several photos not shared from a few outings so I'll maybe comment as I post (I'm cooking breakfast) and load photos.

I'll start off w/ some people pics, from the recent Eugene Celebration Parade:



Euegene Mayor Kitty Piercy. She won her re-election in a squeeker...



Congressman Peter DeFazio. He won his race with over 80% support. And a few faces from the parade...









This next one is a self portrait. I shot this one day in my kitchen when I was deep-thinking about losing my job. Does it show?



~~~
This post is taking a few days... sorry about that. Such is life when things get hectic and there is an economic crisis looming nationally and personally.

This next pic is from Pablo's wake, held up at Jawbone Flats that sad fall of 2004 (Paul died in September, my mom died in October and Grampa Semu passed in November... sigh...). There is more coming on Pablo and when this September rolled by I thought of my old buddy a lot. With the elections and the climate of the country, Paul would have been thrilled with all the action. Plus... I've been out to a couple of bars and I can't go to a bar or tavern where I don't see that ubiquitous sign:



Many times when we came down off the mountain (and yes, there are at least a couple of ways to take that...) and we'd stop for a beer there would be that sign, No Minors. Which of course would launch Paul and I into a whole lamentation... a stand-up comedic dirge on the woes faced by a couple of guys, fresh out of the mines and come-to-town. Gravelly voices and all, the miner's gruff voice being pretty close to that of a pirate but without the aarrrrs thrown in. We were ready to launch into our bits almost instantly... about stuffing George Atiyeh and putting him and Cody (the Dobie wonderdog) in the lodge... on how a miner is like a miner's donkey. I'm not sure how many hikers ever returned to their cars thinking that their packs had gotten heavier along the way only to discover that someone (or someones had placed a few rocks in those packs. That one cracked us up the most. We never took things out of packs, we put things in! Jawbone's miners weren't thieves. Comedians maybe... cranky for sure... but folks were mostly in a state of shock and we were just part of the Opal Creek experience. Those miners at Jawbone... a fine legacy we were handed and a fine one we passed on.

This pic is of (l to r) Julio, Hoos and Ken, sitting on the Bunkhouse steps:



~~~
This next set of images comes from Oregon's arid east side. Most folks (even some Oregonians) think of Oregon and think of mountains and forests but most of the state is dry. The largest portion of these are from a 3 day trip I took this summer over that-a-ways:


looking northeast from Painted Rock pass on Hwy 31 travelling between LaPine and Lakeview


Hwy 31 south of Summer Lake, looking east at sunset


Coglan Buttes southeast of Paisley, Hwy 31


Deep Creek


Deep Creek canyon, west of Adel on the south side of Hwy 140


the view north (towards Hart Mountain) from Fisher Hot Springs (Lane family property) on the east side of Crump Lake


the view from the "hot tub" (some years the cattle graze these grasses down and the view is of the whole valley)


local petroglyph, Crump Lake


the view north towards Hart Mtn from The Nature Conservancy's now abandoned Crump Lake Preserve


self portrait, Crump Lake Preserve


Canada Geese and Sandhill Cranes north of Valley Falls (the intersection of Hwy 395 and Hwy 31)


Davis Lake and Davis Mountain
~~~

“The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”

~ John Muir

Saturday, November 8, 2008

... a baker's dozen... more or less...

~~~

"I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do."

~ Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
~~~

What a beautiful fall... November so far is a mix of wet and dry, nice and not-so-nice but with snow falling in the Cascades this weekend its all pretty normal. When Halloween comes up at Jawbone Flats, odds are in favor of at least a modest dusting of snow. Some years tho'... the first snow may be a few days late, but generally... within 2 - 3 days of Halloween.




I love my Oregon...

Here at the farm the rain has turned the browned pastures back to green... trees in the copses and yards and streets have been ablaze in color for the last few weeks, the autumn sun is lowering to the south and the light and clean air make for beautiful days and give some great sunsets. Sunrises can be pretty cool too, especially when the fog lies low at dawn:



~~~

And in about 2 months and 2 weeks the US will have a new President. I'll have much more to say about Mr Obama as we get closer to coronation day. ... rrrr... I mean the inauguration. One of the strongest sets of images from the hours and days after Obama's win has been those of our nation's black citizens. There is such a visible shine of pride, of relief... at last, at last...



And while I remain a doubter, I sincerely hope that President-elect Obama is at least part that which so many hope him to be... because it was not just the blacks that celebrated what is truly, truly an historic moment in our nation's history. Obama created a voting coalition that covered the spectrum. Looking at the voter percentages it is interesting to note that all the independent candidates combined garnered only about 2% of the vote. Ross Perot, when he ran as an independent garnered what, about 15% of the popular vote? There is quite a mandate on our next President's plate. Not to mention a major quagmire (and no, not Family Guy's Glenn Quagmire) or two. A couple of wars (I can count a handful without any effort) and an economy that oughta wake everybody up... if he shows himself to be some of what many hope him to be we may find a way to solve many problems. If he conducts business like just another Party shill... I see not much good ahead in these next four years.

But for our nation to actually elect a black man as Prez... wow. I'm proud of my country. To think that it has been but a mere 2 generations since our nation's black citizens were treated like this:



And all in a struggle waged over and over and over throughout human history. But these days are different. No longer are we a world of distant and relatively isolated societies. We are truly at a critical pivoting point in mankind's time here on earth.
~~~

Because I am out of the closet -- so to speak -- about my cannabis use I thought I'd share this picture of the truck I used to drive when I worked for Bill Conde at his Redwood Lumberyard outside of Harrisburg, OR.



I put tens of thousands of miles on this truck, delivering redwood lumber throughout the western half of Oregon. And even tho' the truck is quite obviously covered in cannabis leaves I never was pulled over. In fact in all those miles I received one negative response. Driving north on I-5 one day I actually got flipped off... but that was the only time. Usually it was honks and waves, peace signs and lots of gaping. And the occasional offer to stop for a smoke (which I politely always declined). Even had folks asking to take a picture of the truck.

For such a benign and multi-faceted plant cannabis sure receives its share of grief. And of course I must note that President-elect Obama admits that when he was a young man he actually inhaled. A black man and a cannabis consumer... but ya know... he never would have gotten here if he had been arrested for possession of pot, back in da day... so, while smoking pot doesn't disqualify him for our nation's highest office it is important to make that connection that a conviction would have. And these days? We arrest almost 100 people every hour for pot here in the US. Isn't it time to drop that charade? Is it any of our business what our neighbors smoke? Pot has never killed anybody on its own while tobacco deaths (just in the US) number about 400,000 a year. Isn't that a bit incongruous? How many hours of police time do that many arrests take? How much court time? And the occasional jail time? Aren't there better allocations of our police and criminal justice system's resources?

Prohibition II will become an issue that garners this nation's attention as we look at ways and places where we can start not-spending money. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy directs most drug policy moves and comes up for reauthorization in 2010. I say axe it completely. How does a free nation -- a democratic republic -- even think that naming a bureaucrat a czar (as in Drug Czar) is acceptable? Especially when he directs and advocates policies that are repressive and grow ever more intrusive of Constitutional protections. We cannot protect our precious liberties by allowing the government to declare a "drugs exception" to the Constitution...

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) head guy Jack Cole estimates that we now spend roughly $70 billion a year on Prohibition II. Well... in 10 years we would get back the initial $700 billion we (our government) just threw at this "bailout" of our financial institutions. And that $70 billion a year is just the basics of enforcing Prohibition...

A point my friend Kirk often makes -- quite concisely -- is that it was not the efforts of G-Man Elliot Ness and his Untouchables that took away Al Capone's power in the booze trade. It was the ending of Prohibition, the re-legalizing of alcohol that in one fell swoop put booze back in the hands of legitimate tax-paying companies and their tax-paying employees... and eliminated the very rampant corruption and public violence of the syndicates who ran the booze trade.
~~~

“Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.”

~ Thomas Jefferson

~~~

Sunday, November 2, 2008

circular thinking... or how I came to hate the bomb...

~~~

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

~ Albert Einstein
~~~

I spent an evening last week listening to young voices. Voices singing in harmony... and my daughter was one of those voices as Willamette HS hosted the 2008 Metropolitan Choral Festival on Tuesday, October 28th.



What a treat. I had forgotten the power singing presented in the form of choir...

I had the rare opportunity when I was going to college to travel with the Allan Hancock College Acapella Choir on a tour that took us from Central California to British Columbia with stops at high schools, state capitol buildings and churches throughout California, Oregon, Washington and ending up in Vancouver, BC. My musical experience up until that time had centered around popular music. Rock and Roll. I was after all a child of the '60s.

But that trip (I travelled as the group's photographer, documenting their performances and life on a long bus trip) opened my eyes to worlds I never knew existed. But it was the choir that blew my mind. I had never had music bring me to tears. And some nights those voices were so in tune, so vibrant and emotionally poignant that tears came, drawn out only by the magic that such harmonious vibrations can create. Surely our voices were our first music, our first expression and sensing of the harmony of life, the vibrations that all of life is tuned to...

Both my kids are into music, my daughter Robin plays piano and my son Alex plays guitar and electric bass.

But I didn't know Robin had kept at her singing. She always sang as a litle girl, a sweet lilting sing-song that was, I believe, her joy bubbling out... raised as she was her first 2 years in some of Oregon's most beautiful landscapes, surrounded by people who loved her. That and she was born under a full moon, along a river that was that morning covered in mist, surrounded by her aunties and then taken and raised in seclusion in the beauty of Opal Creek's rainforest by cranky miners. So when she and her piano moved back in to my house I found out she was playing piano and singing. And I found she has a beautiful, husky voice that can hold a tune and stay in pitch. And this... she has done all on her own. Her only voice training coming when she sang last year with the Cleveland HS (in Portland, OR) choir (where she had a couple of solos that went well, according to an objective observer, her mother).

So I was forced by the sheer weight of parental duty to attend this concert of area high school choirs (Junction City HS, Creswell HS, Pleasant Hill HS, Sheldon HS, Thurston HS, Churchhill HS, South Eugene HS, Springfield HS and two songs with Mass Choir).





It was my pleasure to be there and a thanks to WHS choir director Mike McCornack, the kids in the WHS choir (and all the other HS as well!) and to the local Kiwanis and the Springfield Utility Board (SUB) for their sponsoring of this event.

The Mass choir (the evening's last two songs) was conducted by Dr. Wallace Long, the Director of Choral Activities at Willamette University (in Salem):



~~~

Only 3 days left to cancel the election!

~~~

And speaking of voices...

Studs Terkel's will no longer be with us. A writer for the reg'lar folks, I was introduced to Studs back in college. RIP Studs...




“Perhaps it is this specter that most haunts working men and women: the planned obsolescence of people that is of a piece with the planned obsolescence of the things they make. Or sell.”

~ Studs Terkel

~~~

Sunday, October 26, 2008

aye aye aye...

~~~

“Don't have sex man. It leads to kissing and pretty soon you have to start talking to them.”

~ Steve Martin
~~~

Well gosh... sex. Hmmm... how do we talk about sex, you know, responsibly? I know my teens don't want to hear it. And we as a nation can freak out over the silliest of incidents, like Janet Jackson's .5 second nipple flash during a Super Bowl halftime performance. (Googling the words - Janet Jackson Super bowl - brings up 348,000 hits) I swear, that moment of flash raised so much hullabaloo you'd think she'd dropped her drawers and mooned the President. A thought I'm sure that has occurred to more than a just few citizens over the last 7 1/2 years...

I mean I'm 57 and I've had sex a few times in my adult life. As a man, sex has on occasion occupied a bit of my mental meanderings (but no more than 80 - 90 % of the time!) and I've been through periods both of activity and of abstinence. Personally? I'd rather be active... with a partner... than not. And luckily these days I've found a woman friend that is both good looking and... mmmm... active. Plus she is intelligent, passionate, well read and well travelled. And an old hippie. We make each other laugh. Not just giggling but full blown gut-busting laughter. During sex! Whats with that? And I must admit, sex is better now than when I was a young man. Who woulda thunk it?

What is it that makes this nation so weird about sex? Puritanical roots? Obviously at least a few folks engage in sex as we keep reproducing. Our schools still have kids in them... hospitals and midwives keep delivering babies... so, someone somewhere is engaging in the act. Watch TV and you can see how important boobs are. And certainly in comedy sex has a large role. Even Presidents have been known to have sex... but on TV sex is used to sell virtually everything. Have you ever noticed in commercials for products totally not connected with sex, how prevalent cleavage is? Especially beer... beer drinkers love boobs. Apparently...

But how silly does this US obsession get (beyond Jackson's nipple)? (hah... and you thought this was really about sex...)



The Obsessed with Breasts Public Awareness Campaign "ignited controversy and comment around the world."

Is the above image shocking? Not for me. Neither is it titillating. Apparently it was controversial enough to get the ads banned in the SF Bay Area. It is about a real issue for many women. Over 180,000 women will be found with breast cancer this year. 40,000 women will die from breast cancer this year.

With all the ills that plague us, with all the disease and starvation that occurs daily in the world we all need to participate in some way towards moving modern "civilization" away from the world that focuses far more on bombs than starving babies. Breast cancer activists have started what is a very visible and impressive Pink Campaign. As usual... there are profiteers who portray themselves as helping the Breast Cancer Awareness movement. Unlike legitimate supporters these profiteers only put on a facade. Be aware of Think Before You Pink. Give your time and/or money, but give intelligently, know where your resources are going and make sure they go where they will do some good.

In these tough economic times, make every investment count. Create health. End the 21st century campaigns of war. We must change. We must seek peace. Prosperity and health, not clusterbombs and misery. Feed the starving. Money for peace, not war. Race to the cure.

...et, etc...
~~~

“Approximately one in seven American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime and more than 2 million Americans are living with breast cancer today. I am joining the more than 200,000 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.”

~ Sheryl Crow

~~~

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

oh yeah... that other war... "Who cares if it cures cancer?"

~~~

“Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could.”

~ William F. Buckley, Jr.
~~~

I've been putting off writing this next piece. Its hard to write and say the truth of what must be said. What I've been saying in this long series of posts on the drug war -- aka Prohibition II (or in new millenium parlance: Prohibition 2.0) -- is truthfully a condemnation of my own nation. I like this place. But in the context of where and how we began as a nation I think my attitude is both justified and patriotic.

I continue to stand on the principle of founding that the Constitution is our document. It and its declaration of our right of independence as human beings was placed in our care. But we've neglected our responsibilities. We've left the chicken coop open and the foxes have taken over.

Many, many people are relatively unaware of the drug war's specifics, knowing only what glimmers they glimpse on the news or in their newspapers. Few take the time to investigate the issue and end up being spoon fed misinformation that only serves to further entrench a bureaucracy within which dogma reigns supreme and heaven help those who stand in opposition. A bureaucracy that has as among its guidelines the power to lie:

The Drug Czar is required by law to lie

Title VII Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998: H11225:


Responsibilities. --The Director-- [...]

(12) shall ensure that no Federal funds appropriated to the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812) and take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form) that--

A. is listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812); and
B. has not been approved for use for medical purposes by the Food and Drug Administration;


But there is no surprise in that really. Considering the false premises (often inspired by racial bigotry) upon which this nearly century old drugs Prohibition was founded, how else to maintain the lie than to pass a law mandating use of "... such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance..." This is a terrible power to bestow upon a massive government run by human beings. There is no human being that I've met that is perfect. We all suffer the same (yet uniquely individual!) faults just not in the same measures.

Because of who I am and the way I am I've found myself on the unpopular end of a few hot button issues. I've kind of developed a thick skin about epithats flung my way, preferring instead to come to know those who fling them. I actually believe that in the 30 plus years of my politicking things have gotten much better in the US. But fighting against this new/old Prohibition (and I say it that way because Prohibition is a very specific entity and even though it's target may change, Prohibition doesn't because it operates on certain immutable fundamentals) brings up some terrible vitriol from those who are Prohibition's most ardent supporters.

These are people who take to heart the ONDCP's edict to take "such actions" as necessary to prevent legalization. Even discussion is verboten. There is no national dialogue, no debate. The folks who lead this Charge of the Dim Brigade operate free from any major scrutiny. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) head John Walters has never faced tough questions. No reporters who would ask tough questions get close enough to Walters, the "Drug Czar" (and I'm sorry but this is not Russia, we don't have czars in the US), to ask those questions. He operates from behind castle walls, insulated from those who would challenge his falsehoods and end the reign of the czars.

An example of this law-to-lie is the insidious denial of cannabis (marijuana) as a legitimate medicine. The feds firmly deny there is any medical use for pot. Yet the plant has a history as a medicine that goes as far back as recorded history, some 5,000 years ago in China:

"Marijuana has been a medicine for 5,000 years," says Donald I. Abrams, MD. "That's a lot longer than it hasn't been a medicine." Abrams, who is an oncologist and director of clinical research programs at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine in San Francisco, is one of a handful of top-flight doctors in the country researching medical marijuana. "The war on drugs is really a war on patients," he says. (from here) (emphasis mine)

And its not like one day in China there was this big "POOF!" and suddenly this plant appeared. The relationship between cannabis and humanity is so old that we don't know how old our relationship with it is...

"In Chinese medicine," Abrams says, "they prescribe whole herbs and usually combinations of herbs."

It just seems a little odd that what was medicine for millenia is all of a sudden not medicine. Odd that some bureaucrat with more than a trace of racial prejudice could override use of such an ancient, basic resource:

The use of cannabis or hemp can also be traced back to the Stone Age. The cannabis plant is native to Central Asia but had already spread across the Old World before history began. As well as having psychoactive properties the cannabis plant also provides an extremely strong fibre, which has been used from time immemorial. Nevertheless its mind-altering effects were also made use of in Neolithic times. Stone Age cultures on the steppes used it in a ritual fashion at least as far back as the third millennium BC. In a burial site in Romania belonging to the Kurgan people (identified by Gimbutas as the Proto-Indo-Europeans), archaeologists discovered a small ritual brazier which still contained the remains of charred hemp seeds. This, like the use of opium in Old Europe, seems to be a practice that is ancestral to those known from historical sources. ...

... The excavation of Scythian tombs at Pazyryk in the Altai mountains of southern Siberia (dating from the fifth century BC) revealed metal braziers, the burnt remains of cannabis seeds and even the poles used to support the tent! ... The presence of charred seeds in both the Kurgan burial and the Scythian tomb indicates that the combustible (and psychoactive) parts of the plant – namely flowers and leaves – had been consumed and the hard residue left behind.

Cannabis not only went west to Europe from its homeland on the steppes but also travelled to China. Linguistic research undertaken by the Chinese scholar Hui-Lin Li indicates that both the technological and the psychoactive uses of the plant were known to the ancient Chinese. In Chinese, hemp is referred to as ta-ma, meaning 'great fibre' (ma = fibre). Li also points out that in archaic times the character ma had two meanings. The first of these was 'chaotic or numerous', a reference to the appearance and quantity of its fibres. The other meaning was 'numbness or senselessness', a reference to its stupefying qualities, which were apparently made use of for medicinal and ritual reasons. The current state of knowledge concerning the prehistoric use of cannabis indicates that it was first cultivated in northeast Asia both for its fibre and also as a means to induce ecstasy among shamans. There are a number of references in ancient Chinese writings to the use of cannabis by magicians and Taoists, and it appears that such uses stem from their shamanistic forebears.
(from here)

I'm not a psychologist, psychiatrist or psychotherapist but I do know dementia when I see it (hey, I live in Eugene!) and our prohibition against cannabis (and all the other banned drugs)(its a short list, compared to the thousands of legal drugs) is highly demented.

Do you think this is a minor issue? What, with our economy in the tank and the general state of today's affairs that its really all about a buncha pot heads who just want to get high? If so then perhaps you need to reread these posts. Or in a kinder more gentle prodding... read on.

I talk about the Constitution quite a bit. There is a lot of momentum among cannabists for the belief that hemp paper was used in the original drafts of the Constitution (or the Declaration of Independence). If that little bit of history is a question of curiosity for you, here is an excellent thread on the topic: Original Declaration of Independence printed on 100% hemp paper?

Of more interest is the face of pot Prohibition today. As a student of the issue I've noticed there are a few names you'll never hear any ardent drug warrior mention:

Donald Scott, killed in a no-knock raid because police (and other agencies) wanted to seize his multi-million property in the coastal mountains of southern Cal. He was "suspected" of growing marijuana. None was found.

Peter McWilliams, died while awaiting trial in federal court on charges of manufacturing marijuana. He was. But Peter was a best-selling author (Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do who suffered from AIDS and cancer.

Patrick Dorismond

And the list is far, far longer. A list comprised of innocents who became victims not of drugs but of the drug war - Prohibition II.

Government's job is not to protect us from ourselves. Besides, pot doesn't kill people:

While there have only been two deaths worldwide attributed to cannabis, alcohol and tobacco together are responsible for an estimated 150,000 deaths per annum in the UK alone.

In the US, the number of deaths from alcohol and tobacco is over 1/2 million per year. Some might call that carnage. If it were a war. But tobacco products can be obtained virtually anywhere. Liquor is sold ubiquitously and the delerium and the social damage it causes is the stuff of legend.

So what would you think if you found out the US governement once stumbled upon a possible cure (or highly effective treatment) for cancer but kept it secret? You'd think that was pretty sick, yes? Well...

US: Pot Shrinks Tumors; Government Knew In '74

Fortunately cancer doesn't run in my family but if it did... wow, I'd be more than a little miffed. Pissed off is what I'd be. And follow up studies have confirmed this trait of cannabis:

Studies Showing an Anti-Cancer Effect

And my my my... what about all you women? Concerned about breast cancer?

Marijuana Compound Shows Promise In Fighting Breast Cancer

“Right now we have a limited range of options in treating aggressive forms of cancer,” says Sean D. McAllister, Ph.D., a cancer researcher at CPMCRI and the lead author of the study. “Those treatments, such as chemotherapy, can be effective but they can also be extremely toxic and difficult for patients. This compound offers the hope of a non-toxic therapy that could achieve the same results without any of the painful side effects.”

It just seems to me that the shelving (burying) of that study in Virginia in 1974 probably set cancer research back 25 years.

And if this all works out the way I believe it will, that cannabis, useful in treating so many medical conditions, will eventually be recognized for multiple benefits for our health and we will have generations of folks wondering why their families were made to suffer at the hands of those who themselves suffer from a disease. A disease known as Reefer Madness...

A pox on the houses of those drug warriors who lie, who have cost us inestimable damage. Being tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail would be too good for them.

To deny reality in such egregious, wholesale fashion is not just un-American it is anti-American. This "war" is not a war on drugs, it is a war on we the people, the very citizens this government was formed to serve.
~~~

“Marijuana is self-punishing. It makes you acutely sensitive, and in this world, what worse punishment could there be?”

~ P. J. O'Rourke

“I think people need to be educated to the fact that marijuana is not a drug. Marijuana is an herb and a flower. God put it here. If He put it here and He wants it to grow, what gives the government the right to say that God is wrong?”

~ Willie Nelson

~~~

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Oh no! Not another election???

~~~

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies.”

~ Groucho Marx
~~~

My my my... elections anyone? Everyone is having fun I hope... I wish I could but I can't say as I am.

I have far more friends who will be voting for Obama than for McCain. I live in a blue state, what can I say? Actually the western 3rd here is green and the eastern 2/3 would overall qualify as a tan color I suppose. The desert is multi-colored, hues and shades that are phenomenal. Here in the west though, we only have 3 colors in winter... green, brown and grey. So I'm not big on that blue state thing. I think all the states are feeling a little blue these days.

So... friends voting for Obama... Me, nah. While I reserve my decision to vote until that moment I mark my ballot and stuff it in the envelope and mail it off (yes, Oregon has mail-in ballots and I like it even tho' I miss the trip to the polling place) I won't be voting for either of the two major candidates. I'm personally sick of 'em both.

And it is less anything specific than it is most things in general. I'm tired of the charade. I'm tired of the richest geting richerest (richester?), I'm tired of having my friends send their children off to Afghanistan and Iraq for multiple tours while Katrina's damage still lays heavy on the south (listen to Doctor John's latest, City That Care Forgot for one piano playin' man's perception of that fiasco).

I view the "two-party system" as one beast with two heads. While they seem to argue, they actually work in concert, to the same end. And that end, it seems, could very well be our end. John McCain and Sarah Palin are the perfect icons for our state of affairs as a nation. John McCain, whom I've never met, comes across as a snide, rude man. Sarah Palin... the young, female equivalent of that.

If I were to vote Dem or Repub I would vote Obama. While others berate his youthful activism I applaud it. Obama is smart and behaves with respect towards others. Of course him I've never met either.

Whomever you want to see as President... we'll get what we get. Heck, if we can make it (albeit just barely) through 8 years of George Bush, who knows... but whomever we get our next President he will be facing a huge challenge. Possibly the largest challenge our nation has ever faced.

We are disturbed and stretched to the breaking point. Consider that "Retirement accounts have lost $2 trillion" in the last 15 months... that is a lot of loss for a lot of folks... put that together with a country now $10 trillion in debt and what do you get? Broke, like me. Poverty can be a great equalizer.

What I hope to see is that the financial crisis is not handled like Katrina was. Word...

What I hope to see is a President who will figure out that our husbands and wives, son and daughters, and brothers and sisters can come home from the middle east. What I hope to see is a President willing to invest the moneys wasted in middle east adventures instead put those funds to work here. Fixing the south, fixing our roads and bridges, raising the bottom line on our health care system, equitably rehabilitating our education system... What I hope to see is a President who acknowledges that literacy is the key to many things, that an educated society is far more effective than a nation addicted to low grade television pap with a reading level that barely raises above the 8th grade. What I hope to see is a President who says that a nation that leads the world in its rate of incarceration cannot stake claim as the "Land of the Free."

When Katrina hit and then through the horribly slow days of misery after its departure we failed to respond. IF our National Guard troops had been home they could have set up housing and helped distribute food, water, participated in rescue and salvage... Mr. Bush could have called upon those of us with skills who are unemployed or underemployed (especially among our veterans) to come and work for a period for minimum wage, 2 squares a day and a roof (even if only a big tent) and bed.

My dad worked with the CCCs building trails in the Olympic Mountains in Washington state. When I lived in Fresno (California) many of the sidewalks in the old neighborhood where I lived bore the Works Progress Administration stamp. Many of the small highway bridges over our many creeks and small rivers here in Oregon are WPA projects.





So, no, I will not vote Democrat or Republican. A pox on both. I hope the voters deliver a message far stronger than the one we last delivered to the Republicans. The Republicans have to get off that nasty attitude high horse they're riding. The Democrats need to grow a pair.
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"If we ever pass out as a great nation we ought to put on our tombstone, 'America died from a delusion that she has moral leadership."

~ Will Rogers

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