Wednesday, November 26, 2008


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)


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.


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.


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