Friday, December 30, 2005


Lisa’s comments about archiving have me revisiting some of my entries. I may just find myself reflecting on them and perhaps updating and posting as I think about the past year.


About a year ago The United Church of Christ ran an ad that all three networks refused to run. I watched on the net twice and either the local ABC affiliate showed it or it was on Northwest Cable news I forget now. It created a stir on the far religious right because some of the couples were perceived as gay. I guess I’m so far out of step with the mainstream that when I see two men or two women together I don’t automatically assume that they are a couple as in a “couple” And as I rework this entry I’ll say right up front that I don’t give the north end of a south bound rat whether two folks who share a life have matching chromosomes or not. It takes courage, patience, understanding and yes a lotta love to let another person past our defenses and anybody who can make it work is aces in my book.  


What I did see was a widely divergent group of people. Some were being allowed into this unidentified church based on some surface impression that apparently only the “gatekeepers could see. While I’m rethinking this entry I want to address one comment it picked up the first time around. I really don’t care what other people may perceive about me. Life’s too short and as long as they don’t get in my face I won’t get in theirs. And frankly most of those folks are more to be pitied and prayed for than anything else. And I’d hope that would be my reaction. Sorry you feel that way I’ll be praying for you.


But what really got me thinking was this. There is a wonderful scene in the mini series Jesus of Nazareth. (I highly recommend it and it’s available on DVD.) The apostles are ready to try their hands at teaching and are being sent out two by two. As they set out some of the pairs have their arms slung over each others shoulders. If something like that is going to cause the gatekeepers to bar the door imagine the reaction when the whole group shows up. Imagine thirteen dusty,sleeping in their clothes, bearded, longhaired, travel-stained, taking what they’re offered for dinner, homeless guys showing up at the door. The mind boggles.


It’s a year later. We’ve have had Paris Hilton’s infamous hamburger ad. We've had the intro to the football game where the actress “lost” her towel. I haven’t seen as many ads for Viagra and related drugs but we’re being inundated with ads for the Medicare prescription plans that are little more than give a ways to the drug companies. I’ve already seen commercials for the 2006 Christmas season. We’re still being urged to buy, buy, buy whether we can afford it or not. We’re still being urged to measure ouR personal worth by the cost and size of out possessions. The temporary wake up call of three dollar a gallon gas has all but disappeared. Heck prices are so low on SUV’s you can afford the gas with what you save on the rig. So say the ads anyway. Never mind that the mileage still stinks and the oil is still disappearing faster and faster. But, we’re still being spared the horror of being asked to be part of something larger than ourselves.  


The original post for the little ad that could can be accessed here.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


One of the plants we 'inherited' from one of my grandmother is a Christmas Cactus. A "Christmas" cactus that has bloomed anytime from Halloween to Easter depending on whatever internal clock the plant has.

This year it actually bloomed for Christmas. As cactuses go, this one doesn't look too bad, but for two or three weeks, it's magic.

Uh, I just found out where I can write the captions. Yippee! It's not like I asked anybody where they were. I just sort of fell over them. LOL

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Today I remembered the little mini tripod that came with my cam corder. Mated with the new digi and this is what I got. No matter how hard you try you can't hold a camera still enough to get decent macro shots.

The rose is from a bouquet my uncle brought for his big sister for Christmas. I'm not sure who has been getting a bigger kick out the flowers. Mom or me, because I've taken a ton of pictures. Ok. half a ton And these are the absolute best of the lot. I swear I can pick up the scent of the rose. I'm not sure I can see them that well for real. So, if you have time look at these in the larger view. I'm still pinching myself.

I guess I need to do a little shopping for something a bit taller. The one I have stands about six inches high without the camera attached. I will definately need something by early spring when the new blooms start to come up.


I think I should clarify something. Yippee, somebody in the family may have signed the Declaration of Independence. There are some folks who get really puffed up about the sigining part. I'm just thrilled I can get a name from somebody that far back.

The thing is, you have to do the math. If there are ten generations between my birth and Mr. Hopkins, there's about five hundred other people involved. My reaction is not "I have an ancestor who did something really great." It's "what have I done to support what this person believed in."

There are times when I wish I could have a tea party with my DNA and find out where it's been and who it's been. :-)


Tuesday, December 27, 2005


I still wish there was a mood entry for PO'd.

AOL had a poll to suggest things that the president should consider doing next year. I dipped very briefly into the postings. Basically looking for the most outrageous title and read it. It was an extraordinarily badly written and misspelled entry that basically said “if you don’t love President Bush get the hell out of MY country. Go back where you came from.” That got me thinking. Where would I go?


Family folk lore places the first immigration of some of my ancestors to the mid 1600’s in Plymouth Colony. Through a cousin line we can claim Stephen Hopkins who signed the Declaration of Independence and was a grandfather when he entered the Continental Congress. He was also from Rhode Island. The only state that didn’t have a representative in Philadelphia when the Constitution was drawn up. They didn’t show up and nobody went looking them. I guess the contrary streak in the family got started really, really early.


My last name is Heaton. I’ve looked up the name on the net and traced it to Yorkshire in northern England. One of the last parts of England to accept the Reformation. So my money is on a Catholic who was tired of persecution, a fisherman who either wanted his own ship or was just plain tired of fishing, a crofter who was tired of looking at the north ends of south bound sheep, or maybe a younger son who wanted his own land and wasn’t cut out for either the law, the church, or the army. Heck, maybe even somebody who was really dirt poor and indentured himself for five or seven years in return for passage to the New World


Another ancestor was born in Vermont in 1814. We’ve got pictures of men who fought on both sides of the Civil War. Considering the strong strain of pure contrariness on both sides of the family, one probably went one way to spite the other. Since at least two of the lines in my family come from the border states, they may have put people on both sides hoping they’d come up with a winner one way or the other. That happens in Civil Wars sometimes.


One great great grandfather was at least half German and was born here. Near as we can tell everybody in the family was in place here in the United States by the mid 1800’s. So, my family has at least five perhaps over a dozen generation born in this country. Over the years they’ve poured their work, their hopes, their dreams, their children and yes their blood into this country. So yeah, I don’t like President Bush and I’m not going anywhere. This is where I’m from and I’m staying.


Sunday, December 25, 2005


Russ over at Inner and Outer Demons has a great entry on Christmas memories and the importance of hugging your kids this morning. I have a co-worker who calls hugs Vitamin H and insistes that it is impossible the replace with anything else and absolutely vital for survival. Merry Christmas morning. I hope some of you have sunshine in your little corner of the world that is actually shining. Western Oregonians call our rain liquid sunshine. We got a resupply last night and we're due for a refll later today.

Hey, the house is warm. The lights are bright. The stereo is playing one of Narada's Christmas albums. Some of the Sunday funnies are actually funny and the coffee is stll hot. We laughed over an early Christmas dinner yesterday and I got plenty of Vitamin H from my nephews and their folks. My brother in law John is a great believer in the power of hugs and he has an endless supply.

I can only pray that the rest of you are as blessed as we are.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


It's Christmas Eve and I have a thought to share. For those who worry about how stores do their advertising and what they tell the associates to say. Jesus said "people will know from how you treat each other that you are my followers." "Nuff said on that.

Friday, December 23, 2005


First things first.I was playing around with the space program last night. One setting allows you to see the earth as if you were standing on the moon. I set it up and just let it run. It can be almost hypnotic to watch the earth's image wax and wane like the moon. It had worked its way up to mid August or early September of next year when I noticed a shadow on the earth. It's the moons' shadow and a very nice picture. (I think)

We're being invaded by Portland first thing in the morning. Somehow my sister and her family have work in hers (us) his (back in Portland) and get the heck out of Dodge by about three am Christmas morning so they can boogie down south for the Holiday Bowl. My nephew is on the second team and got to travel with the Ducks. If he's really really lucky he might even make it on the field next week. In any case he'll be yelling his heart out come the 29th.

So in case I don't get to tickle the keys until sometime Christmas Eve, I'll wish anybody who stops by a Merry Christmas. May you be safe, warm and surrounded by those you love and love you, whether they stand on two feet and can hand out what a co-worker calls vitamin H (hugs) or stand on four feet and get their jollies by applying figure eights and cold noses where they're least expected. LOL

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


It's the first day of winter here in good old Springfield, Oregon. And it's over fifty degrees. Go figure. It's the Solstice anyway. Now the wheel turns towards the sun. The shot is from Starry Night Backyard. The earth and the Pleides star cluster as it might look from the moon.

Brightner of Darkness, Hail!
Keeper of Clearness,
Opener of the depths,
Gifts of plenty are arising,
Winter wonders, white snows' fall.
Joyful be the heart within us,
Open wide the guesting door,
Wisdom waken in abundance,
Warm our beings to the core.

Celtic Devotional by Caitlin Matthews

Sunday, December 18, 2005


AOL’s newspage opened this morning with a picture of somebody in a Santa suit protesting WalMarts’ use of the word holidays in their seasonal advertising. Now, if you’ve followed some of my entries you’ll know I’m not exactly a fan of WalMart but this whole War on Christmas crap is just too much.


For one thing I guess I missed the entry in the Bible that included Santa Clause with the Three Wise Men on the way to Bethlehem. All holiday means in holy day. If you aren’t sure who is celebrating what it’s perfectly acceptable. And it looks like just everybody who is anybody has a festival at this time of year when the year turns and the sun starts climbing up the sky again. You’ve got Hanukkah (Jewish), Diwali (Hindu), Rohatsu (Bhuddist) and Kwanzaa (African-American) to name a few.


There was an excellent my opinion column in the Register Guard here in Eugene on the so-called war against Christmas. The author is a local Presbyterian deacon. He traces at least part of the beginning of this newest diversion of attention to Fox (we report, you decide(very audible snort here)) News anchor John Gibson, talk show host Bill O’Reilly and a group backed by Jerry Falwell. CNN and MSNBC have added fuel to the fire by parroting Fox News stories. Just another reason why we watch MASH in the evenings, read the local papers, read Newsweek, and watch Northwest Cable News.


Christians aren’t in any danger in this country. What is at question is what I call Civic Christianity. Public lip service that acknowledges this country as a so-called Christian Nation and basically tells anybody who doesn’t agree or follow a very narrow interpretation that doesn’t represent most people who call themselves Christian to sit down and shut up. For me this ranks right up with being required to show up at the temple once a year or so and make offerings to the gods and emperor of Rome.


For me this is just another attempt to divert attention from not only the very real war in  Iraq  but the war on all the people that Jesus had in His heart when He said “as you do to the least of these, you do to me.”


This last part from somebody who carries very little cash, finally got smart and asked bell ringer at Fred's if Salvation Army takes checks. THEY DO!

Saturday, December 17, 2005


Too bad there isn't an entry under mood for totally PO'd. Not only did the president ok wiretaps and the like without a court order in spite of the fact that there is a court available for this type of court order, but the New York Times had the story at least a year ago.

They held off releasing the story at the request of the White House for "national security" concerns. More likely it was "job security" concerns. I'm betting that if this story had broken before the 2004 election it would have swayed enough votes to deny Bush re-election. Any takers?


We had our office Christmas party Wednesday. Nice place downtown and all
that good stuff, but that's not really what this story is about. Looked
around the table and noticed one of our co-workers was missing. She'd been
in that morning so it was " gee what happened to....." She'd needed to leave
to deal with a family member who had a medical emergency.

Turns out the daughter is on medication similar to that unfortunate air
passenger who had a panic attack on that plane the other day. She also
had a panic attack and needed help to one,  get out of it and two, to get
her medication adjusted. It happens. Dealing with these things is not an
exact science. But, after the incident with the air marshals there have to
be families all over the country in a cold sweat wondering what will happen
to a member of their family with a similar problem if they get in any kind
of situation where "security" is supposedly involved.

There's always been a strong strain of shoot first and ask questions later
in this country but it seems to have gotten much worse since 9/11. What is
really scary for me is that so many people can't seem to imagine that one of
their loved ones could end up in the same situation. And the attitude that
"he got what he deserved" is baffling. For what? For being scared and confused? For mistakenly believing he could cut back or stop taking his medication. You can be on your medication and still have problems if something causes you brain chemicals to be out of balance.

Have we become so obsessed with our personal safety that anyone who is perceived as a threat no matter how remote doesn't deserve to live on the same planet or breath the same air we do? I'm not sure I'm willing to make that trade.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Four years ago this summer we pulled the grass and planted other things. Especially lavender, lots of lavender which I hope will survive the nearly two weeks of just above and below freezing weather. A lot of things came to together to bring this little piece  to life the next summer.  

Star stuff danced and new stars were born. One star began to shine and discovered it was not alone.  

Other star stuff combined and recombined and planets were born.   On one rocky little world, star light and star stuff joined the cosmic dance and life began.  

Life danced: jigs, reels ad waltzes Star stuff is dancing in the lavender. It just looks like bumble bees.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Diviner of the Mystery,

Catalyst of Creation,

I rise up with you,


I bathe my soul in the well of Wisdom:

Drop of protection,

Drop of strength,

Drop of healing,

Be upon my being, my mind, my heart.

May the triple blessing be upon my soul

From dawn's chill,

Till swift twilight. 


I don the breastplate of wisdom:

Protection of evergreens guard my heart.

Rightness of pine,

Sharpness of holly,

Protection of Juniper,

Courage of laurel,

Nobility of cypress,

Endurance of yew,

Health of Eucalyptus,

Splendor of cedar,

Beauty of arbutus.

Nine evergreens to guard my breast.

This Winters day,

This Winters night.


May the blessing of the True Taker

And the Glad Giver be upon me

As I brave the winds of winter.


The Celtic Devotional by Caitlin Matthews

Monday, December 12, 2005


Anyone who knows me, knows that my perspective on the world is just a few degrees off of what most folks regard as centered. LOL

Had fun with the Starry Night software this weekend. You can run it forwards, or you can run it back. Back to say, midnight of December 25 of the year 1 BC. I know the date is totally arbitrary. Since the night the angels were singing their star songs was probably a few months later and a few years earlier. Still, the symbolism of the turning of the year and the beginning of the year’s journey to renewal is hard to ignore.

I can set the viewing position pretty much anywhere so I used Jerusalem and pointed my compass towards the southeast. There is only one real difference in the sky. (Besides the fact that the countryside was probably a lot darker so the stars would have been much brighter.) I ran the software to the same time and date this year. This year Leo will be rising from the horizon. About two thousand years ago it was Virgo. And really, that’s the only difference I can see. A couple of constellations might be at slightly different angles to the Milky Way but I suspect that it’s more a display error than anything else.

So, with a little imagination you can see the sky as a bunch of startled shepherds might have seen it about the time some very unexpected visitors popped in. I suspect the translators have cleaned up the language, made it a bit more formal. “Hey! Yes you! Come on! Look lively now. Get over to that stable down the hill. The Lord has really done it this time! We’ll watch the flocks. I promise that nothing two legged or four legged will touch a wisp of their woolly hides, now get moving!” Just doesn’t have quite the same presence as “Hosanna, Glory to God in the Highest” you know? Although if it happened, when it happened, that may just be close to the way it happened. Eyebrows go up, jaws hit the rocky fields, variations of “did we just see/hear what we thought we saw/heard” go rustling through the darkness. Followed by morning with variations of “you won’t believe what we saw last night! And that I think is what keeps it going after all these years. Very ordinary people saw something. They heard something. Maybe it was starlight and moonlight shining through the night mists. Or maybe there was someone there. Seen out of the corners of their eyes and slipping away before it could be fully seen. Maybe it was the just the wind whispering through the bushes and scrub trees or maybe, just maybe it was angels singing.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Silly me, I had to go into the chat rooms discussing the air marshal shooting last week. Again, a bit like taking a swim in the castle moat at high noon on the first day of summer, in Madrid There are a lot of things I could say, but I prefer to post this entry from Wishful Thinking- A Theological ABC.




 When Jesus said to love your neighbor, a lawyer who was present asked him to clarify what he meant by neighbor. He wanted a legal definition he could refer to in case the question of loving one ever happened to come up. He presumably wanted something on the order of: “A neighbor (hereinafter referred to as the part of the first part) is to be construed as meaning a person of Jewish descent whose legal residence is within a radius of no more than three statute miles from one’s own legal residence unless there is another person of Jewish descent (hereinafter to be referred to as the party of the second part) living closer to the party of the first part then on  is oneself, in which case the party of the second part is to be construed as neighbor to the party of the first part ad one is oneself relieved of responsibility of any sort or kind whatsoever.”


Instead Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), the point of which seems to be your neighbor is to be construed as meaning anybody who needs you. The lawyer’s response is left unrecorded. – Frederick Buechner.


I think what surprised me the most were discussions of things I’d never even tie to the incident. His wife’s appearance, that not agreeing with the marshal’s decision was somehow “liberal,” that being mentally ill affects intelligence, that the gene pool was somehow better off with this guy gone. Oh, and I’m going by the titles of the entry. The majority of them were dismally graphic if not almost obscene. Actually I guess they couldn’t get worse and still keep their AOL accounts.


On the plus side the Christmas lights are up, the tree is up, the cats are trying to lunch on said tree. and maybe it will get over forty tomorrow.  I can only wish.  

Friday, December 9, 2005


An angel told Your mother You were coming.
The angels singing to the stars
Told them where to look.
Wide-eyed shepherds came to speak
Of star songs.
Three strangers brought their gifts and wisdom.
The brightest star of all blazed over Bethlehem
It brought them to Your door.

Welcome to your Father’s world.


I like to make my own cards for Christmas. I used the star shot I found on the net for the cover and the text is the inside of the card. This isn't the friendliest set up for formatting. It appears I can format the text in Word, e-mail  it to myself and copy that. Is this a disguised IQ test? :-)

Thursday, December 8, 2005


The flash hit Lucky's eyes just right. Makes the gentlest pussy cat you'd ever want to meet look like a little demon. LOL For some reason she decided that the basket and autumn leaves were a good bed.

Monday, December 5, 2005


I probably couldn't post this any bigger if I could stick in the text of my journal instead of doing it above. This is a screen grab from a couple of nights ago. The view is of the southern sky. I love the beautiful shot of the new moon framed in Capricorn. Along the white line there are Uranus, Neptune, and Venus. Little Pluto is off to one side.

Of course the only planet you can actually see without a telescope is Venus. I've been lucky the last few nights. The rain would break off on my way home from work and you could see the evening star through the break in the clouds. Let's see what else I can dig up. Entry will probably load like a snail but what the heck.

Image take with the Magellan space craft. How Venus would look without her cloud cover. Photo from Astronomy photo of the day.

A kind of blurry infrared shot taken by Hubble and posted on the same site. Shows the thin ring system surrounding Uranus.The white dots are moons (I think) and I'm not sure which ones.

Shot from the Voyager space craft during the 1989 fly by. Remarkable shot of some fine clouds at the top of the atmosphere.Posted on the same site

Working with the computer is fun. I can see things that I wouldn't be able to see even if I had a telescope. Between the lights, the hill and the trees you aren't left with much sky to see. Anyway, I had fun putting this together. :-) So, for awhile I'll post above when I have to and in the journal when I can.

And I noticed when I finally read this over this morning that my typing wasn't worth diddly last night. LOL

Sunday, December 4, 2005


I ran across this in a fanfic work on net several years ago. I believe it's very appropropriate for this time of year.

"Bless us, O Lord, for these, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Food in a world where many walk in hunger; For faith in a world where many walk in fear; For friends in a world where many walk alone; We give you thanks, O Lord. Amen."

Saturday, December 3, 2005


If you use the view larger option, this picture isn't half bad. It's a saved scene from my Starry Night Program.

I can export the image and save it as a jpeg in Photoshop Elements. I started doing it so I'd remember what I wanted to look up without having to stop the program every thirty seconds to look something up and then have to reset everything.


Ok, I'm saying uncle until after the new year on the pictures in the journal. Thanks for your suggestions everybody. Lisa, there's nothing wrong with your instructions. They work just fine as long as I'm working with pictures with permanent ID code. If the code shifts for some reason the pictures dont' come through.

Anyway I've started my Christmas cards for the year. This one is from the advent display on the table of all things. The bell is from India. Something that my great aunt brought back from here stint as a missionary. The berries are some plastic doohickies that look a lot better after they're run through the camera and played with.

I've used the last verse from I Saw Three Ships



And all the bells on Earth shall ring

On Christmas Day on Christmas Day

And all the bells on Earth shall ring

On Christmas Day in the morning.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Well, I see that they've inserted little disclaimer notices under the ads. That helps a little I guess. I haven't noticed anything too outrageous blessing me with its presence but on the other hand I usually go out of my way to ignore them. The most interesting thing I've noticed so far is something for a dating service, florists, and B of A ATMS.

The quest to post "my" pictures in my journal continues. At least it works for those great astronomy pictures. And they're the ones that really benefit from being in a larger format. If anyone has any good ideas I'd love to hear them. The weird thing is that some of the stuff that doesn't show up on my PC shows up on my Mac. Go figure. I can't post them that way from the Mac but I can see them. Bless the universe in it's endless quest to keep me from being bored.

Speaking of astronomy, I've probably used the Starry Night software more in the last two weeks than  have in the last year. Of course the recliner is much more comfortable than my desk and chair and the newbie is a laptop. I can reset the home location for just about anywhere in the world. I can look at the night sky my cousin sees from her home in Tauranga in New Zealand. Which I think is kind of neat, Or for the sky over say Ireland this time of year. You can set the software to run in real time and watch stars come out in your living room that you can't see through the rain outside. Or you can set it to advance faster and go through a whole night in about twenty minutes. The weather inside is not only drier but a little warmer.

So far there's snow above us and in all the passes but no snow down here. Since snow lost its appeal about two days after I got my driver's license it can stay up in the mountains, thank you very much. So wherever you are, may you be warm and dry and in the company of friends.


Well, I see that they've inserted little disclaimer notices under the ads. That helps a little I guess. I haven't noticed anything too outrageous blessing me with its presence but on the other hand I usually go out of my way to ignore them. The most interesting thing I've noticed so far is something for a dating service, florists, and B of A ATMS.

The quest to post "my" pictures in my journal continues. At least it works for those great astronomy pictures. And they're the ones that really benefit from being in a larger format. If anyone has any good ideas I'd love to hear them. The weird thing is that some of the stuff that doesn't show up on my PC shows up on my Mac. Go figure. I can't post them that way from the Mac but I can see them. Bless the universe in it's endless quest to keep me from being bored.

Speaking of astronomy, I've probably used the Starry Night software more in the last two weeks than  have in the last year. Of course the recliner is much more comfortable than my desk and chair and the newbie is a laptop. I can reset the home location for just about anywhere in the world. I can look at the night sky my cousin sees from her home in Tauranga in New Zealand. Which I think is kind of neat, Or for the sky over say Ireland this time of year. You can set the software to run in real time and watch stars come out in your living room that you can't see through the rain outside. Or you can set it to advance faster and go through a whole night in about twenty minutes. The weather inside is not only drier but a little warmer.

So far there's snow above us and in all the passes but no snow down here. Since snow lost its appeal about two days after I got my driver's license it can stay up in the mountains, thank you very much. So wherever you are, may you be warm and dry and in the company of friends.

Monday, November 28, 2005


These are our three little ladies. From left to right. Lucky, Sunny, and Misty. Each is very unique. I knew cats had personalities, but it wasn't until we could keep them in full time that we discovered just how different each one is.

OK one way or another there is a picture of three cats in this entry. It's either in the entry or above the entry. Good luck. Looks like just copying from webshots without downloading doesn't work. This will be a work in progress because AOL's picture feature is wiggy too. :-(

Sunday, November 27, 2005


Found this on a website that called Astronimic Photo of The Day. Enjoy Also Lisa was showing me how to put pictures IN the journal entry instead of the little tiny pictures at the top.


I was having so much "fun" trying to get last night's entry into my journal formatted the way I wanted it that I forgot to include an attribution (whoo boy, there's a word worth a good buck and a quarter.) This one is also from Caitlin Matthew's Celtic devotional.

If anyone is missing a favorite there are three more where this came from. One for each season.

Saturday, November 26, 2005



I clarify my soul in the snows of  Winter:
Crystal of truth,
Crystal of nature,
Crystal of knowledge,
Clarify any darkness
In by breast, my being, my minds.
Three candles to cleanse my soul
From broad daylight
Til dim of night.  

 I don the breastplate of Wisdom
Wrought of the constellations of Winter.
Vigilance of Orion,
Splendor of Taurus,
Faithfulness of Gemini,
Patience of Cassiopia.
Nine star powers upon my breast
To preserve my soul,
From crack of light
til fall of night.  

Cunning Woman,
Trickster and Clown,
Keep me streetwise
To the wile of the world
This Winter's day
til I come home to you.  

I know it seems a bit odd to ask a Celtic style blessing of constellations that are known by Greek or Latin names. But I've just spent two weeks fogged in at the southern end of the Willamette Valley. And when the fog left the rain came in. If the weather in Ireland is anything like western Oregon, they're darn lucky to see any stars this time of year much less find pictures in the sky of mythical heroes and beasties.   Cunning men or women are traditional conjurers, advisors or herbal healers, and according to the Cunning Folk website  they were common in Britain until the early 1900's.     

Friday, November 25, 2005


Well, that was very weird. I'm used to doing longer entries in Word and then copying to the journal. I'm also used to finding the little id thingies between the paragraphs. I am NOT used to finding little squigly things everywhere I put punctuation other than a period. So after e-mailing this to myself because the Mac has the printer, here we go again.

On the hit side, I have plans for later this weeked so I stayed home yesterday. Spent the day periodically refereeing encounters between the new membor of the family and her adopted "sisters." As in I have a water bottle and I "will" use it. Doesn't take much. The idea is that when the newest fur face goes back out she's relatively relaxed not feeling run out. We're moving towards Sunshine for the new one, so far she hasn't expressed an opinion. Lucky doesn't get too uptight and Misty is well Misty. Adorable, a little insecure and likely to try to go three directions at the same time. In other words, a cat. And I have just been informed by Lisa that we have a Calico Point. Looks a lot like Lisa's Choo Choo, except bigger and with shorter fur.

So far, so good. No strange little symbols. My Starry Night Backyard software works beautifully on the new PC. Turned it on about four yesterday afternoon, let it run and watched the stars come out in my living room. You can let it run in real time. It updates, say every five seconds, and the sky changes to approximately match what you would see outside. Without the lines showing you where the constellations are and without the label names, of course.You can also set it to run a little faster. You can literally watch the night sky change in one direction, reset and watch another set of stars cycle through on the opposite side of the sky. We live on the east side of a hill and we have a lot of trees and security lights in our neighborhood so I have a better chance of exploring the stars in my living room than in the backyard.

The living room was the only place the stars were coming out last night. We went straight from fog to rain. On the plus side I can see the neighbors and the temperature is about ten degrees higher than this time yesterday. On the down side it's a lot wetter.

On the miss side. the guy who was running FEMA during the Katrina disaster is starting a consulting firm. Get this, he'll advise clients how to aviod his mistakes I'm not going to hold my breath.

It appears that we're about to lose one of the three daysof the year that were considered no-shopping day for the big retailers. Yep the biggies are starting to make being open on Thanksgivig Day noises. God forbid they only have access to my check book 362 days a year. I'm trying to cut back on my shopping, not increase it. Of course they're only responding to "consumer demand." And I have a piece of real estate on the Gulf coast I'd like to unload.

It's seventeen days since the president made his "we do not torture" speech. The Register Guard is still running their big little editorials. I'm not upset that they are. I'm mad as hell that they feel they still have to. Bush, Cheny and the rest: please, please, please get a clue guys.

Back to the plus side. The picture I've posted is a beauty called the Whirlpool Galaxy. I found it on a site called the Astronomy Picture Of the Day. It's a mere twenty three million light years away. That's how it looked twenty three million years ago last July 24, 2004. It's M51 on the Messier scale and can be found in the constellation Canes Venaciti, the Hunting Dogs. That's below the curve in the handle of the Big Dipper for those of us lucky enough to actually go outside and see the stars.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


The newest member of the family is getting used to her new digs. And I took the opportunity to get used to the new camera. She's obviously used to people. She'll go to the door when she wants to go out. Even try to reach the door knob if we're a little slow. She and the other two are getting used to each other, sort of. Obviously somebody has used a squirt bottle because I get the same reaction from shaking a bottle as I get from the other two. A temporary truce.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


Spent some time this afternoon seeing what would work on the PC. My collection for pictures from the Northwest and The Hubble Telescope. This shot of a star cloud that's stellar nursary seemed to fit this piece if only because the colors are so magnificent.

I waken my soul at the harp of poets:

String of joy,

String of peace,

String of truth,

Resound in my heart, my soul, my mouth.

May your soul be preserved in harmony

From Winters day

To Winters night.

I don the Breastplate of Wisdom,

The nine jewels of the gifted ones:

Song of poetry,

Sustenance of reflection,

Strength of meditation,

Deepening of lore,

Response of research,

Replenishment of knowledge,

Illumination of intelligence,

Nurture of understanding,

Exaltation of wisdom.

The nine jewels of bards and druids

Shield and protect my soul

From scathe this Winters day.

Sustainer of Life, giver of Death

May I be held in your blessed balance

This Winters day.

From the Celtic Devotional by Caitlin Matthews


Well I can save again. Tried reinsstalling AOL and downloading the latest vesrsion OF JAVA and yelled uncle. Got some help from AOL and I'm going to post what they sent me. The first suggestion got rid of the runtime error message and the second let me save again. So for what it's worth.

Dear Jackie,

I understand that you are receiving a run time error  message when you try to save a new journal entry on your PC.

Thank you for immediately bringing this matter to our attention and for giving me the chance to help you. I want to assure you that I will do my best to give you all the help you need.
??? 1. Please click START, select PROGRAMS or ALL PROGRAMS, then INTERNET EXPLORER.
??? 2. On the Internet Explorer menu bar, click TOOLS, then click INTERNET OPTIONS.
??? 3. At the General tab in the Temporary Internet Files section, click DELETE FILES. Put a check mark next to DELETE ALL OFFLINE CONTENT to select?? the option then click OK. Click DELETE COOKIES then click OK.
??? 4. Click the SECURITY tab. Click CUSTOM LEVEL then click RESET. Click YES then click OK. Click the DEFAULT LEVEL.
??? 5. Click the PROGRAMS tab. Click RESET WEB SETTINGS. Click YES. Click OK.
??? 6. Click the ADVANCED tab. Click RESTORE DEFAULTS, then click OK.

A damaged Web browser cache and/or a damaged AOL Adapter may cause this issue. Windows? networking requires that a network adapter exist for any application that must access the Internet. The AOL software uses the AOL Adapter to access the Internet.

NOTE: Please make sure that the AOL software is closed before you follow the steps.

   1. On the Windows? taskbar next to the clock, right-click the AOL icon, then click SYSTEM INFORMATION.

NOTE: If the AOL icon is not displayed, click the START button, select PROGRAMS or ALL PROGRAMS, select AMERICA ONLINE, then click AOL SYSTEM INFORMATION.

    2. Click the UTILITIES tab.
    3. Click the CLEAR BROWSER CACHE button until the CURRENT CACHE SIZE reads 0 KB, then click the UNINSTALL AOL ADAPTER or REBUILD AOL ADAPTER button.
    4. Click the OK button.
    5. Click the CLOSE button.
    6. Restart the computer and launch the AOL software again. The AOL Adapter will be rebuilt automatically.

Webutil restores system settings to resolve connection and browsing problems. There are two ways to run this utility.

Using an AOL? CD
    1. Insert an AOL? 9.0 or higher CD. If the AOL software starts to install, cancel the installation and return to the desktop.
    2. Click the START button, then click MY COMPUTER. Alternately, click MY COMPUTER on the Desktop.
    3. Right-click TRYAOL, then click EXPLORE.
    4. Double-click the AOLTECH folder.
    5. On the keyboard, hold the CTRL key, then click once to highlight both WEBUTIL.EXE and UNICOWS.DLL.
    6. On the menu, click EDIT, then click COPY.
    7. Right-click the DESKTOP, select NEW, then click FOLDER.
    8. Type WEBUTIL to name the new folder, then tap the ENTER key on the keyboard.
    9. Double-click the WEBUTIL folder.
  10. Click EDIT, then click PASTE.
  11. Double-click WEBUTIL.EXE.
  12. Click the OK button.

Using AOL? Keyword
    1. Go to AOL Keyword: Webutil.
    2. Read the directions provided, then click the DOWNLOAD NOW button. The utility will automatically install.
    3. Click the OK button when complete.
    4. Restart your computer to allow all setting to take effect.

NOTE: You will not see any changes to your computer. When the computer restarts, the AOL software will start automatically. If prompted, click RESTART NOW.

I hope that I have sufficiently provided you with useful information about your inquiry.

If you have other concerns or questions regarding AOL, please do not hesitate to contact us in the future.

You can chat online with a technical support specialist by going to AOL Keyword: Live Help. My colleagues there are available 24 hours a day to assist you in a secure, one-on-one session.

If you prefer to be assisted via phone, you may call us at our toll-free number: 1-800-827-6364. Calling early in the day usually reduces the waiting time to speak to a consultant.

We are always ready to answer questions and do whatever we can to make your online experience even more enjoyable.

AOL Customer Care Consultant

AOL? Keyword:


There is a scene in the first episode of Band of Brothers that keeps sticking with me. It's the evening of June 5th 1944. Since England was on double day light savings time during the war it's probably ten or eleven at night. Still daylight but getting close to sundown.

The troops are so loaded with equipment they can barely move. In the staging area by one plane the lieutenant goes to each man sitting on the ground, helps him up and looks him in the eye and wishes him luck as they head for the plane. These men are sworn to obey and perhaps die under his command. By end of June 6th 1945 this young lieutenant will be in command of Easy company. By the end of the war he will be in command of three of the companies in their regiment and he's still looking every man in the eye.

If I could tell president Bush one thing it would be this. You be there when a unit ships out for the Middle East. Not for a photo op. Not for a speech. Not somebody from your staff. You. Just be there and look each trooper in the eye when they head for the transport. These people are sworn to obey your orders and perhaps to die under your command. The least you can do is look them in the eye and wish them God speed when they head out.

When a unit comes back, you be there. You look them in the eye and thank them for what they did under your command. Just be there damn it!


Saturday, November 19, 2005


Clipped these out of some pictures I took this morning. Little guys were busy this morning. I really lucked out getting the little guy with the seed in his beak. Pure luck

Funny thing, It's actually easier to download pictures from my new camera to my OLD Mac. Partly becuase you do everything on the desktop and I really love the drag and drop option for dealing with pictures.

The U of O played the last conference game tonight. Officially it was the Civil War game against Oregon State. Personally I'm calling it the Fog Bowl. The fog came back in about four or so this afternoon and went right for the valley floor. It was so thick that the commentators were working off their monitors. There were times when about all you could see were the numbers on the players uniforms. The white on the OSU uniforms was blending in with the fog and the green uniforms on the U of O players was blending in with the green turf and the fog. Don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it. I can only imagine what the plays looked like to the audience at either end zone when it was goal to go.

Oregon won. I don't feel that great about seeing us wipe the field with OSU. Only the third time in the U of O's history that we've scored over fifty points in a game. We'll see what happens. If the fates are kind the U of O has a shot at the Fiesta Bowl. If not, it'll be another bowl game, somewhere.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Candle flickers, day's end,
    Winter shivers, nights' friend;
         Brightness echoes heart's giving,
              Soul's quickness ever-living.

I cleanse my soul in the well of wisdom,
         protection of being,
         strength of mind,
         healing of heart,
    be the triple cleansing of wisdom.
May the blessing-drop be upon all beings,
     conferring wisdom from swift twilight
         til dawn's chill light.

The blessing of the Eagle-winged Renewer,
    the blessing of the Raven-winged Transformer,
         attend my soul this Winter's night.
             May all that burdens my being
                   be lifted as I mount on wings of
                        dreams this night.

from the Celtic Devotional by Caitlin Matthews

A peaceful night to you all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Got these shots through the window yesterday. The leaves on the trees are pretty much down and the birds and squirrels are heading back down to the yard. These are for Lisa since the trees next to her place got cut down last year and her little furry friends have moved on for awhile.

I ended up with more camera than I anticipated. If you can spare the time to take the really big pictures you can crop the shot to look like a close up and still be focussed. I've barely scratched the surface but these two are actually better than anything I can get with my 35mm until I can swing a scanner with a transparency unit. I just have to be sure to print off the best ones.

If anyone is interested, it's a Fugi F10. Probably fairly high-end, since I went to the local camera store to shop. Technically it's a 6.9 megapixel unit, but it has two settings at that level. Standard and fine. I could probably tell the difference if I tried to print something.

Which brings me to something else that's been kicking around. I'm falling in love with the convenience of digital, but I'm afraid we may be in danger of a kind of amnesia. The things that jog our memories become ephemeral.

We went through a large stack of old photos that my cousin had stashed. Many of them were from the teens and twenties Some went back to the 1800's. It was almost magical to hear mom and Leah's niece talking about who they remembered and wondering who some of these people were. There was a picture of a man in a WWI uniform. I think he was a distant cousin. With the picture was a death notice. He died in camp in France in 1918. In camp, not in battle. Dollars to donuts it was the flu epidemic of 1918. It was something none of us knew about. And we wouldn't have known about it if Leah hadn't been a bit of a pack rat and if she hadn't had something to hang on to.

There were pictures from a road trip they took in the twenties. Including some road side attraction in BC that had a very large tree with a cleft in it. There was an ELEPHANT standing with its back to that cleft. Note to the folks who live back East. The old growth timber out here is something else. What's left of it. The real irony over the battle over the old growth is that there are no mills left out here that can take logs that big. I assume they'd be cut for export. When I can swing a new scanner, man do I have some pictures for you.

Imagine a tree that takes a half dozen trucks just to carry it to the mill or a stump that can hold the whole cutting crew. If you can get copies of some of the X-Files early seasons look for the stories set in the BC woods. You'll get a little taste of what some of the forests used to look like out here.

My, my this entry sort of took the bit and took off on its own. We've gained a lot in convenience as technology improves. What are we losing?


The ads are bad enough, but I get the feeling they jumped the gun and didn't have their programming up to snuff. Bad move guys. But, I put in my years in retail and I'm really good at ignoring advertising. The mute button on the remote gets a good workout. If you scroll down just a little the ad is out of sight. Personally I think I'd find the e-mail address of the company involved and go at it from the other direction. Tell the company where you saw their ad and tell them you won't be blessing them with your business and why.

My dad used to take the junk mail he got and take the material from one company, put it in the return mail envelope for another company and send it off. That way they had to pay postage on a useless piece of mail.

Just a thought for the day from your friendly neighborhood subversive. :-)

Monday, November 14, 2005


Between trips to the "reading room" today I spent some time getting to know our new digital camera. Here's a couple of shots of the little lady that's adopted us. She came in at breakfast this morning and checked out part of the house. We're letting her go at her own pace. Hopefully she'll leave a little of her scent around and the inside kitties will get used to the idea. Hoping I know.

Getting used to how to how this machine does things. The second picture is better.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Seem to have picked up some sort of bug. A general feeling of being "bleah" and not wanting to wander too far from the reading room. Either that or my system is not happy about the flu shot I had Thursday. Yuck. :-(

On a lighter note, we seem to have been adopted. There's a very sweet pussy cat that's been at our door for the last few days. Good appetite. Acts like it's not sure it's going to get to finish a meal. Friendly as all get out. Loves to have it's ears rubbed and purrs louder than Misty and that's saying something. Not too sure about coming in. We'll go at her speed. Can't take too long because we do not need kittens. She comes in, before the resident cats come in from the back room, looks around and heads for the door. Tabby point siamese markings and slightly cross eyed. First time in all the years we've lived here that we're run into this. We'll see how it goes. At least make sure it has food and a sheltered place to stay.It's definitely a newbie and low cat on the neighborhood totem pole. Either that or a couple of the others that hang around are absolute shits. (shoulders shrugging)

Managed to get some of my fan fic files transferred to the new 'putor. Finally figured the easiest method is just e-mail the darn things to myself. Out on one and in on the other. Saved all my photo discs to the new machine. Has a very slick program for that you just have to be sure to set up a folder before hand to save to. Letting them go to the desktop and then dragging them to the appropriate folder, forget that. With a folder for each batch, hopefullly it will narrow the search.

Oregon won. I've heard of Hail Mary passes, I think this was a Hail Mary field goal. Three pointer with four seconds left on the clock. Makes up for all the years they couldn't quite pull it together in the final quarter. But, really, both teams worked hard and we just lucked out. It came down to who was ahead when the game ended and it was the University of Oregon.

So, good luck for the coming week. Hope everything goes well for you all.  

Saturday, November 12, 2005


One of the nicest things about finally having a PC is that I can put links in my journal. The picture above is a collage using the Little Fairy Day Lily in our yard. I've done several over the summer and put them in an album on Webshots. There is a link below to album with the rest of the pictures. I hope you have as much fun looking at them as I did making them.






Friday, November 11, 2005


Well,  Pat Robertson has stepped in it again. The wire services would do us all a favor if they would just ignore the man. "Nuff said.  The man is a broken record. If something terrible happens to this town ten years down the road I suppose he'll pop up to claim he knew it was going to happen all along. Clicking on the link should take you to the CNN story. Thanks for nothing CNN.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


One of my favorite documentary sets is Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. I especially like the afterwards sections to some of the episodes. After the one on the lives and deaths of stars he described some of the recent research on the distribution of galaxies. Many of them appear to be riding the surfaces of giant “bubbles.” He ended with an aquarium full of soapsuds and a really big straw. And then he asked the question. “If a bubble maker created all those bubbles, who created the bubble maker?" It’s endless and to be honest, I don’t believe it really matters.


I honestly don’t know what to make of all the fuss and feathers over the attempts to get so called “Intelligent Design” added to the science curriculums. I suspect most of these folks don’t know their kids very well. If we’re going to do it let’s start in kindergarten. Kids that age haven’t really learned to self-censor. I can hear the questions now. “Who designed the designer?” Subversion, subversion, subversion. J


I would prefer to see it taught in a history of science section. I suspect what we really need is a more integrated curriculum. Teaching this as part of the history of science would give us a chance to integrate the scientific concepts with the other ideas of the period. (Man oh Manechevitz, talk about the buck and quarter vocabulary here). It would also give students a chance to learn how similar some of the creation stories are. For example, there are many similarities between the Biblical stories and the creation stories of the Babylonians. But, somebody lost a couple of zeroes in translation. The Bible time frame is about 4,300 years. The Babylonian time frame is about 430,000 years.


They might even get to learn about a “day of Brahma.” That’s 4.32 billion YEARS. But, I seem to be seeing some similar numbers here with a steady decrease in the number of zeroes. That’ssome trick. Start with 4.3 billion years and get it down to 4,300. I’m beginning to get a headache out of pure frustration. Actually, the only time frame that makes sense is the one from India. It is the only set of stories where the periods of time are actually longer than the apparent age of the earth.


The main concern of religious conservatives seems to be that acknowledging our kinship with the rest of creation somehow makes us less human. That realizing that we evolved over time makes us less likely to act in a moral or ethical way. Personally, I think this is an insult to the animal kingdom. I don’t know of any animal remotely capable of doing what humans do to each other.


In an earlier entry I touched on the idea that our ability to imagine, to put ourselves in a possible future that hasn’t happened yet is a blessing and a curse. It allows us to plan ahead, put food by, farm; compose sonnets, paint wonderful pictures, and dream of going to the stars. On the flip side, that ability also allows us to plan to do things to our fellow humans that would shame a so-called animal-if animals needed to feel shame.


Sorry if this entry seems a little disjointed. That’s what happens when you write something on your breaks and lunch. But, if I don’t get some of this down when it comes to me, I lose it.

Monday, November 7, 2005


Lisa made the comment that a lot of us in journal land seem to be getting very introspective these days. I can’t speak for anybody else but I always have been prone to introspection. It’s just more conscious right now.


For me it’s the realization that all the sturm and drang that fills the news these days are the symptoms. They aren’t the disease. I guess I’m trying the get closer to the roots of the disease. I find the unity between the physical and spiritual world in Celtic spirituality to be very comforting and maybe part of the answer.


We keep trying to treat the symptoms. It’s like trying to get up a muddy slope. Each time we get a little way we slide back and we never quite make it as far as we did before. A little further away from the light every time we slide back until we’re cold, tired, covered with mud and ready strike out at anything the seems to get in our way.


It appears too easy for too many people to use the Bible’s claim of a separate creation for humans as an excuse to not take care of the rest of the God’s creation. Here is a statistic for you. Scientist’s have mapped the genetic code for humans and many other creatures. There is an approximate four percent difference in the gene code between humans and chimps and approximately six percent for dogs. That means that over ninety percent of the genetic code does the same job for most of the creatures on the planet, especially mammals. We all breathe, digest, move our muscles, chew, swallow, create the substances our bodies need to work,  and so on pretty much the same way.


But oh that four to six percent. In that small difference you will find color vision, stereoscopic vision, fully upright posture, the ability to walk upright, fully opposable thumbs, (even apes can’t touch their thumbs to their first finger the way humans can) and spoken language. Apes have learned sign language and some symbolic computer created languages, but cannot speak as we do. The speech center in the human brain appears to be unique.


Apes make simple tools, sticks to fish for termites for example. They can pile objects to reach food that’s just out of reach. But I’m not sure if they stockpile sticks or big rocks for a rainy day. The ability to project ourselves into the future, to visualize possible futures and act on them may be unique to human beings. At least unique among land animals.


Unfortunately, that imagination also allows us to make war, find ways to oppress and dispossess our neighbors, and generally act in ways that “brute creation” never has and probably never will. Cats may not build cathedrals (they probably wouldn’t see the need for them even if they could) but they don’t make war, build torture chambers or death camps. And I fear that is our blessing and our curse.


We can build huge monuments to honor our conception of the Creator. But I’ve never felt in a building what I feel on the edge of a cliff above the waves at high tide or deep in a grove of trees. I can’t describe it. I suspect you all know what I mean and if anybody has found the words I’d love to hear about it. I don’t feel dwarfed so much as complete. It’s that “oh, these are the pieces that I didn’t even know were missing” feeling. Your soul feels like it’s glowing and you feel all warm and as if the cork has just been pulled from the bottle of champagne. It’s scary and wonderful. Does any of this make any sense?


I take it back I did feel this in church once. And guess I’m lucky to feel it even once. The cross on the wall behind the alter and organ in the sanctuary is lit so that it appears that the head and shoulder of a man are on the wall behind the cross. I’d just gone through the membership class again and it was communion Sunday. For just a moment all the pieces of the puzzle seemed to fall into place and I felt “something” that I can’t describe. I have never felt that inside a building since. 

Sunday, November 6, 2005


Between the new computer, laundry, cats, apples and a produce run something fell through the cracks this weekend.

The Ducks won in overtime in rain and windstorm. Yay for the secondary quarterback who stepped up and did a darn good job in a game that was anybody's right up to the last score.

For Sunday evening,

I soothe my soul at the harp of poets:
    joy of heart,
    peace of soul,  
    truth of utterance,
resound in living light this evening.
May the soul of all beings be preserved in
    from Winter's night
    all winter's day.

Grandmother of Memory,
Grandfather of the Dream,
May I sleep safely in you.

From the Celtic Devotional by Caitlin Matthews

Saturday, November 5, 2005


This is just a little weird. I'm getting used to this new notebook computor. On the PC all of my journal formatting has disappeared. I guess I shouldn't mind but it is a little strange. All the links and everything is there but the colorscheme has disappeared. Anybody ever run across this?

Friday, November 4, 2005


And a rousing good CD it is too. David Arkenstone at his toe tapping best.

Just a little thought for the night.

I veil my soul in the blessing of Winter:
Blessing of truth on my breast,
Blessing of nature about my being,
Blessing of knowledge in my mind,
The blessing of peace upon all beings,
This night and every night,
This season and every season,
Three candles to bless my soul
    from broad daylight
         till dim of night.

On the Ship of Silence I am safely borne
     to the Shore of Wonder;
this Winter's night I seek the harbor of sleep.

Celtic Devotional by Caitlin Matthews

Tuesday, November 1, 2005


Pangur Ban

I and Pangur Ban, my cat,
'Tis a like task we are at;
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
'Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill will,
He too plies his simple skill.

'Tis a merry thing to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur's way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

'Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
'Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our tasks we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

9th century
translated by Robin Flower from 1000 Years of Irish Poetry,  ed. by Kathleen Hoagland.
Copyright © 1947, renewed 1975

I first ran across this poem in Andrew Greeley’s “May the Wind be at Your Back” a series of meditations on some Irish poems. He uses the theme of the poem to discuss the problems many writers face from the people around them. “Why do you write so much?” may be the most common. Or that writing isn’t a real job. Ninety five percent of what I write is in this journal. Once in awhile it’s really easy and once in awhile it’s like pulling teeth.  

Pangur Ban is also known as the scholar and his cat. The scholar in this case is a monk probably Irish and the cat is, well the cat. Anybody who knows cats knows that you don’t own them. So you have the monastic writer, perhaps translator and his furry companion. Each doing what he does best.

The original dates from the late 8th or early 9th century. And other translations are not quite as polished. This is as much for writers as for people who share their lives with cats. Pangur is a cat and he’s very good at doing what cats do, catching mice. Chasing mice is part of what cats do. Part of their “catness” if you please. If Pangur quits trying to chase anything that moves he would lose part of his identity as a cat.

For those of us who love words, not writing is like cutting off your right arm.  If we don’t write part of what makes us who we “are” is missing.   And we give up writing because the outside world believes that we write too much or it isn’t a real job then a vital part of us is lost.

Part of the Winter season of Samhain is a time of reflection and remembrance. A time to remember what our grandparents, friends and teachers have taught us. Perhaps a time to remember someone who also loved to write and shared that love with us.

Monday, October 31, 2005


There are four Celtic Sabbaths. They come midway between the equinoxes and the solstices. Actually they would consider the December solstice to be midwinter and that makes real sense in this part of the country. We call December 21 the first day of winter, but by late January we’ve got crocuses and snowdrops peaking up. Although some of the crocuses that peak up during a warm streak may look like they want a rewind button before they get fully up. Shivering little frosty crocuses in late January give hope of spring.

So this is eve of Samhain. A time for remembering those who are gone and to reflect on year that’s past. To be glad for the summers harvest and plan for the year to come.

Threshold Invocation for the Festival of Samhain

Grandmother Wisdom, open the door,
Grandfather Counsel, come you in.
Let there be welcome to the ancient lore.
Let there be welcome to the Winter of the Year.
In cold and darkness you are traveling,
Under crystal skies you will arrive.
May the blessed time of Samhain
Clarify the soul of all beings,
Bringing joy and wisdom to revelation,
From the depths to the heights,
From the heights to the depths,
In the cave of every soul.

From the Celtic Devotional edited by Caitlin Matthews


Saw a little magic on the way in this morning. I don’t know if it’s because there is some bad weather coming in or if there’s something really good in the new grass that’s coming up in the local fields but I saw several snowy egrets and one great blue heron on the way in this morning.


The egrets were in a small field next to the new runway extension at the local airport and the heron was sharing a pasture with a couple of horses. If it hadn’t been right next to the fence I probably wouldn’t have even seen it. And there were the usual flights of ducks and geese making the commute between the two local rivers, the McKenzie and the Willamette. Wherever they spent the night they wanted to be on the other one for the day. Go figure.


Oh, and there was a picture of a river otter on the front page of the local paper this Saturday. They’ve revamped a local creek/canal that drains into the Willamette. They put back the curves that were taken out years ago, planted native trees and grasses and voila. Where you have otters you have good habitat for all the goodies otters like to munch on. One local naturalist has followed a group of five or six down the creek and apparently that isn’t the only one. According to the paper, Oregon has supplied breeding stock to other states where the otters were native but trapped out. Yay for Oregon.


After a Sunday of really feeling at sixes and sevens being able to experience this was really good for my spirit.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


Last week I was suddenly posting every day and this week zip, zilch, zero almost nada. It's not that I don't have anything to say. Actually I'm afraid there's too much and it's skittering all over the place. Keeping focused has always been something of a problem and my current reading list is literally all over the place.

I'm currently working my way through a book on the history of Tudor England, leafing through Affluenza, and glancing through three books on Celtic sprituality. Looks like some focus is required here. So on the eve of the turning of the Celtic year it looks like I need to do some evaluating. All of them are interesting but trying to do it all in one journal may not be the best idea I ever had.

These are all topics that I want to dig into more deeply. They would involve multiple entries on the same subject, book or books and I'm pretty sure I don't want to do this in this journal. I think I'd like to  take these potential entries into another journal and keep this one for the sudden insanities like my last entry. That had been kicking around in the old brain box for a long time and suddenly elbowed its way to the front. That and the little things like how bread dough feels when gets just right. Or how the front yard is suddenly full of birds now that the pickings are getting thin up the hill. Or how the color ot the sky has been changing as I drive to work in the mornings. And what a unique place Oregon is.

There are a lot of great things here. And frankly not so great things. Mostly because most of us live in the Willamette Valley and we're spread too thin in the rest of the state to do some of the great things I've read in journals from folks in more heavily settled parts of the country. I guess we're still trying to figure out who we want to be when we grow up.

Actually if I'd take the time to work through all the books on logging, the coast and Oregon in general I could probably do a journal on Oregon and keep myself in material for a couple of years. Oops, off on another tangent. I may have to start scheduling my reading. (God'dess that does sound a bit obessive doesn't it?) Frankly I think it's the only way I'm going to make any progress on any of it.

And I'm contemplaing becoming a computer hybrid. I need to upgrade my computer. Still works but needs some work. Frankly I like the Mac but, big big but, they're expensive and if get ol' Frankie cleaned and get a PC laptop I can still use the printer and scanner I already have. I have a top of the line Epson scanner  and the high powered new OSX operating system seems to have mislaid it. They simply aren't talking to each other. Gotta admit it makes a hell of a paperwight. Frankly, I can get a top of the line laptop and the PC version of Office for about what a new MAC system would cost me with no guaranty that most of my software would work with handy dandy newest version of OSX. It would be on speaking terms with my camcorder and I could buy a digital camera anywhere I darn well please without worrying about compatibility. Bit like an arranged marriage actually. And big difference. The Mac journal entries are one line to a paragrah. I've done some entries at work on lunch and PC journal entries are mulit lined paragraphs. Much easier to edit. I suddenly have twenty more hits on my counter and they're all mine as I try to edit this entry. I usually try to do them in Word and then copy. Easier to edit and it has spell check. I'm about to say the heck with to, two and too and post this as is. Any errors are mine and deeply regretted.  

Another advantage of the laptop is that frankly by the time I get home, I'm just not comfortable sitting at the desk. This way I can put one of those desk pillows in my lap, read and take notes and be in a much more comfortable chair. Why don't I take handwritten notes you may ask? Because my handwriting seriously sucks and it's getting worse every year.