Sunday, July 27, 2008

Still evolving...


“To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selections, seems, I confess, absurd in the highest degree.”

~ Charles Darwin

As a person who has spent countless hours observing nature, life as it flows second by second, hour by hour, day by day... lifetime by lifetime... I have been blessed to witness beauty immaculate, glorifying wonder that creates awe in me of how majestic this place is. Even when caught in raging storm or frigid, killing cold, rolling and quaking earth, or in the drought of years of blazing sun with no significant rainfall to quench the living that are so dependent on that most basic element of water, even then, in those most extreme moments of nature's sometimes raucous forces I recognize creation's beauty. And perhaps moreso than at any other time it is at those instances I understand how tentative the hold any individual has on life.

But it is the surviving of those moments, the understanding of the significance of the means and methods of that survival that best defines the evolution of life. Adaptation is mandatory. And a lesson learned is etched not in just our minds but is encoded into those most basic particles that make up our beings, becoming not just part of our DNA but integral to that ancestral memory underlying all of our development as individuals and as a specie. We adapt or die.

Humans are an incredibly brilliant life form capable of accomplishments nearly as wondrous as the workings of nature itself. But...

...we are also incredibly (and sometimes fatally) stupid. We are prideful and boastful at times when humility would best serve us and we are greedy and malevolent when need dictates we share and display compassion and kindness, one to another. We hate when we desperately need to love.

How dare we -- when millions die from the lack of receiving the most basic needs of food and water -- waste resources on researching and building more devious and deadly weapons of death? How dare we ignore the wails of starving babes? How dare we ignore the cries of the victims of violence perpetrated by those wielding weapons of destruction, be they mass killing machines or "mere" guns and machetes? Whose wealth is squandered in such hateful enterprise? And governments that sponsor such acts, that create those wailing and crying voices need be condemned and torn down. Entropy ensures that such governments will not last, but that is of little assurance to those whose lives are tormented ech and every day by such faulty human constructions.

And I'm not preaching here... I'm not trying to push any one's guilt buttons... but I am saying we as individuals and as families and communities... we cannot afford to tolerate such human failures. It is in that sense that we truly are a global community. Yes, we differ in our cultures from valley to valley, region to region, continent to continent... but we are essentially as alike as peas in a pod. We all have a birthing, we all will die, we all have family, we all need to eat and drink, all of our days are 24 hour cycles, our years all are one cycle of the earth's revolution around the sun...

We have made fantastic leaps in technology, our world has been transformed. But we have gotten lazy. We bask in our magnificence and fail to recognize our barbarity. Our religions? They fail us. If the major organized religions had any significant relationship to their message a day would not pass without a chorus of their voices raised as one booming exclamation of outrage aimed at the violence and neglect occurring each and every day and proclaiming their demand for peace.

Every civilization that has risen, has fallen. It is not our place to wait for that inevitability. It behooves us at the most elemental levels of our lives to work to change this world gone awry. In my mind there is no doubt that we are at a fulcrum point where what we do in the near and immediate future will tip us one way or another.

We need to evolve. I do not believe that a crash-and-burn failure for humanity is inevitable. I know there is a chance we will change in a way that is fundamental and beneficial. But I also know that there is a real collective spiritual epiphany we all need to experience together and simultaneously-- as a specie -- for things to change.

There is a most basic truth in which I put a great deal of faith. That truth is that each human being is equal to the other. I believe that as beings in an infinite creation we are insignificant yet each one of us is endowed with the most basic right of a sovereign being, the freedom to live, think and act as we so wish.

I also believe that that most basic right not only overrides any other but that it carries massive -- perhaps even the ultimate -- responsibility. That to live free and sovereign requires of us recognizing that same right for the next human and the next and the next... and taking the ultimate responsibility of sovereignty... living life with respect for all life... is the only way that works.


Of course my life is not as heavy as the words above. I'm a single dad with kids to raise, a job to go to, a home to maintain. My life is really pretty mundane with most of my time spent meeting basic needs. But occasionally I have to make time to just go watch. And luckily I have my camera. An hour or two exploring this area around the farm with camera in hand is my great escape, a time when I get to think of nothing other than what is immediately around me.

So, photographically, here are images from two hours spent the other day of just wandering around the fields here at home:

It is also Sunday... homecooked breakfast. The blackberries are just ripening and I think today is blackberry pancake day.The first flush of ripe berries are always the best of the season. It helps too that blackberries love Oregon, because I swear they would take over the state if left on their own. Eating them is my way of keeping them in check...


“The tide of evolution carries everything before it, thoughts no less than bodies, and persons no less than nations”

~ George Santayana


Monday, July 21, 2008



Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.

~John Muir

It is summer...

Staying busy is a great pastime in summer and still... not enough time. I suppose maybe thats why we were given lifetimes. Between work, garden, and photography I'm out of time. Throw in some volunteering and I work at a defecit. A deficit that generally shows up in the Sleep column. But then again... I think that is why god invented naps...

In what spare time I do have I work here at the 'puter, downloading, editing and storing my images plus doing my usual wwwebsurfing of politics and blog discussions. And it seems I've been neglectful here. Over 2 weeks since my last post... dang.

I really enjoy discussions on philosophy, particularly how it regards "god." I mean really... I'm just a blue collar, forklift driving, window cleaning guy. I'm just regular folk. If -- of course -- there is any such critter as a "regular" person. About the only consistency among us I can recognize is our weirdness. We all are weird. We have quirks and personality ticks that make us who we are. But it is that individuality and its expression that makes the irregularity of humanity so regular. So when I come to god discussions I find there are those who assume a very righteous I-know-GOD-and-you-don't folks and there are those who are more humble and unwilling to be disrespectful of others spiritual beliefs and feelings. Over the years I've come to call those obnoxious evangelicals of any organized religion "spiritual fascists." I know good upright normal folks who are excellent ambassadors of their faiths and beliefs. They generally are the ones who live the teachings they would teach if they were ever in a position to do that level of teaching. Personal demonstrations are always helpful... and when done well, very effective.

Maybe that is a big part of why I remain a fan of my two favorite Oregon bloggers. Scott, down in Portland (Portland may lie north of Eugene but it is downhill from here...) over at The Narrative Image is funny, intelligent, light-hearted and a wonderful photographer. I'm always look forward to one of his new blogposts... And Rain with her blog Rainy day thoughts, another Oregon blogger who farms somewhere here in western Oregon, is a great bit of reading. Like Scott she is unpretentious, well spoken -- another example of a "typical" Oregonian -- and a photographer. Rain is thoughtful, country-practical and writes in a very readable and conversational style. (And they both can spell! Typos in final documents are one thing, but I am amazed at our collective rate of bad spelling! And the wwweb is rife with it... an epidemic of carelessness with our very American language.

But I'm digressing... my photographing of life around me I continue to be entranced by the simplicity of sun, sky and cloud. And I wonder how anyone could presume (and there are those who have...) to question or demean my (or anyone else's for that matter) spiritual view of my life and all the other life that passes around me in this vast and immeasurable universe.

When I look to the sky and in one portion of it I see the subleties of the sky painter's infinite color pallette and in yet there, another direction, I witness simple blazing radiance like this:

my faith is affirmed. And I am not persuaded to follow any other way.

What follows are images all taken within the last 2 weeks or so. With maybe a bit more commentary. There are, afterall, things to do...

And of course it is baseball season. This one is my favorite from this year at the Ems':


If people think that nature is their friend, then they sure don't need an enemy.

~ Kurt Vonnegut


Sunday, July 6, 2008



“Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Evolution is a funny thing. Biologically speaking it either makes sense or it is an abomination to some peoples' beliefs. But evolution is pretty broad. Thinking evolves, societies evolve and so do blogs. I'm thinking of starting another blog dedicated to Pablo and Opal Creek so that subject may not get lost here among all my other writings. It seems to me that my personal evolution continues and that this blog has become more than what I envisioned it as being. I enjoy writing and expressing my views on a variety of topics and as I continue posting there is much more I wish to say and so many subjects that I have an interest in discussing.

Like today for instance...

This past Friday was the 4th of July. Independence Day. A day to celebrate our freedoms as citizens of the USA. And celebrate we should. And celebrate we did.

But it aso falls upon us to be a bit introspective about those freedoms for which our nation's founders fought so hard and which were won at no small sacrifice.

Today's USA bears little resemblance to the early and largely rural agricultural society that existed at our founding. Today we are embroiled in war and controversy, society powered by wondrous technology. Those who question our nation's actions in Iraq have their patriotism derided by those who believe that struggle just and right. And in return those who rail derisively against the faction of protest are subject to criticism in return. "Conservatives" snidely demean "liberals" and versa visa. And this back-and-forth screaming has become a cacophonous wailing that drowns out those who can see both sides and call for real resolution. Is the Iraq war just? Or were we handed a bill of goods? Were we deceived? I think so but I don't know for sure... Do I feel Vice President Cheney is a lying scumbag who is but a shill for the world's oil oligarchy? Well... I can't really say. I've never met the man and I cannot measure a man without a personal glimpse. But I will say his presence on TV sure makes him look like an arrogant and surly prick.

One of the things I know for fact is that equality is reality. And our nation's freedoms are based on recognition of the innate equality of all human beings. I have met many whom are deserving of respect, whose wealth or education far, far exceeds mine, yet I look them eye-to-eye and call them by their first names. But the respect I see them as deserving comes not from their wealth, their brains or the pedestal on which others have placed them. Respect is a key ingredient in human social interaction. And equality demands of us that we treat all with respect. In treating others as equals -- fellow human beings -- we free ourselves from the chains of ego and false pride. We cannot all be equal in accomplishment but we can be equal in our individual joys, sorrows and... respect for one another.

The rancorous barrage of epithats flung between those self proclaimed as liberal and conservative (descriptions of questionable validity) do nothing to further our great societal experiment. I truly believe we in the USA are at the tipping point of being either an equitable and successful endeavor or failing miserably falling into social upheaval and chaos.

I do know that it was a very grievous process watching those in the deep south suffer the ravages of hurricane Katrina and then fall prey to neglect behind a government paralyzed by inaction. I question whether had our National Guard troops been home instead of fighting in Iraq we might have saved more and lost less. As I watched the recent flooding in the midwest I had the same questions. As California fights multiple wildfires in an early fire season that will stretch well into summer and fall I will ask the same questions. As our roads, bridges and cities fall into disrepair from neglect I ask the same questions. As oil prices skyrocket, as food prices rise meteorically and education slips us further behind the rest of the "modern" world I cannot help but wonder what world my children will inherit.

I know that when this nation was born it was born on a continent rich and fertile, waters abundant and pure, forests full and widespread. I know that we have degraded all of that inheritance and not planned well, valuing consumption and wasting much. Far too much. We waste resources and we waste lives. We neglect those in our military whose sacrifices in wars -- be they right or wrong -- were based on honorable service to a greater ideal. Sacrifices that cost limbs and lives. Sacrifices that cost families their young and a nation the promise of its youthful citizens. As a veteran I am disgusted with how little attention we pay to issues vital to our nation's veterans. I wonder why, with more veterans dying from suicide each year than have died in all the years of fighting in Iraq, that we as a nation of citizens are not outraged. We need to do more than put yellow, made in China, "support our troops" stickers on our cars. We need to thank these men and women, not with just hollow rhetoric but with real health care for their injuries, real treatment for their mental traumas, and endowments for the children and widows of those soldiers who have fallen on the field of battle. We owe them at least that.

I wonder at a political process that finds candidates for our nation's highest elected office spending hundreds of millions of dollars. I wonder at campaign conventions surrounded by barbed wire and highly armed security forces. It is not all about money. It truly is about Independence. Independence of thought and in our personal lives. Freedom to come and go, to find work, to become educated and then even better educated. To grow old and maintain our value as elders, not just become old people to be shuttered away in institutions where the accumulation of a lifetime's experiences go wasted, unrecognized and unused.

Historically it is proven that all societies rise and fall. The most successful still all eventually fell into decline and collapsed. We in the USA (and the rest of the world) are at the crossroads. Will we care enough to care for those with the least among us or will we fall into the apathy of individuals entranced by the glitter of plastic baubles and googaws and the minutiae of the lives of celebrities? Or will we see the impending chasm and apply the brakes and turn around and become a nation -- a world -- of citizens passionately involved in their own destinies, individually and collectively?

Truly, our fate is in our own hands.


“Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.”

~ Albert Einstein