Tuesday, January 31, 2006


A few crocuses are blooming. Some tulips are up. A few of the star of Star of  Bethlehem bulbs are up. The heather has bloomed most of the winter and it's flippin' soggy around here. The last couple of winters it's barely rained. We're working on over twelve inches for this month alone. That's almost a third of what we got for the whole year last year. Anyway, the Celtic winter quarter ends tonight.

Go with thanks and go with blessing, season of deep memory. Souls with joy are deeply freighted, hearts are charged with heritage. As ancestors you have traveled, You have come to Winter's home. Father Counsel, you have cheered us, Mother Wisdom, who has smiled, touch the hidden seed within us, may we grow as Springs own child.

From The Celtic Devotional by Caitlin Matthews

Thursday, January 26, 2006


(I think half my synapses got overloaded last week. My mind has felt curiously numb. Sort of a brain encased in feather pillows feeling. If that makes any kind of sense at all. )


I’m a logger’s daughter. That might have something to do with a lot of my basic attitudes. If my dad had been a farmer, a miner, a trucker, or a sailor the result would probably be the same. They’re all people whose jobs depend just as much on environment as skill. You can plan all you want but you can’t beat the weather. Fire, flood, storm, lightning, or hail. You can’t beat ‘em. You can only try to work around them.  People who work in nice safe offices can afford to hang on to the illusion that they can control their destiny for a little longer than some of the rest of us. At least they could until their jobs started getting outsourced or mechanized too. Or the stock market tanks and takes some if not all of their retirement savings with it.


I had a pretty happy childhood but we never had three good years in a row. It’s kind of like the joke about the farmer who wins the lottery. When somebody asks him what he’s going to do with the money it’s “farm until it’s gone. ”Heck, dad never worked a full year in all the years I can remember. If it the woods weren’t closed down because the winter weather made it impossible to get the timber out, they got closed down for a stretch in the summer when it was too dry to run the equipment. And when the forest ranger came by and said “closer ‘er down.” You turned off the machinery and headed for the landing. Yeah, if things were closed down too long, the guys qualified for unemployment, but it was nowhere near what they brought home from working. And every three or four years there was chunk of wood with dad’s name on it. In a lot of ways it’s a miracle that he managed to last almost twenty five years working in the logging industry. At least he walked away, even if he was limping pretty badly.


Until dad was disabled, mom was a stay at home mom. And she was a busy stay at home mom. Three kids, canning in the summer, sewing all year round, three meals a day, laundry. There were times in the winter when they had to hang dad’s wet weather gear and pants on the clothes line and hose them down before they could be brought in the house. Oh, and we didn’t get a dryer until after kid number two was out of diapers. Heck, I think I was in senior high when we finally swung an automatic washer. But, there was always time to go to thepark in the summer. There was time to make cookies for Christmas.


I’m not telling this story to make anybody feel sorry for us. It’s just the way it was. Since Oakridge was pretty much a timber town, that’s how it was for most folks. We had a roof over our heads, food on the table, warm coats when we needed them, warm beds, a car, you get the picture. And when you look at most of the world you realize now that we were rich beyond the dreams of a lot of people. When I look back, we were about as happy as anybody else in town. There were good days, there were not so good days, and there were a few down right crappy days. The only clothes that came with labels on the outside were Levi’s jeans. We hadn’t gotten to the stage where you’re sold the idea that you should pay for the privilege of being a walking, talking billboard for some designer or store. We hadn’t bought into the idea that wearing clothes with no writing on them made you less of a person.


In the last couple of years my company has been heavily involved with one of these motivational gurus. You know the kind, visualize it happening, believe it’s going to happen and it will types. Folks like these always seem to have specials during the PBS begathons. To say nothing of Dr. Phil and his clones. Since it’s up to you to believe hard enough to make it happen if it doesn’t it’s your fault. You didn’t try hard enough. Never mind that the deck favors the house and makes you happy may be totally unique to you. What you recognize as success may not work for any of the other six billion people on the planet.



I’m starting to wonder if that’s part of the problem with this administration and some of its policies. Especially the war in Iraq. It’s certainly the tenor of the president’s statements. Just keep believing it will work and you’ll reach your goal. Maybe it’s no accident that a lot of these guru’s started out as salesmen. And no accident that the president’s degree is in business not the law or political science. Only now they’re trying to sell “happiness,” “teamwork,” or “democracy” as if these things came in little tins with labels. Happiness by the ounce. Democracy by the pound.


If you’ll recall the opening statement of the Declaration of Independence, while we have the right to “pursue” happiness, there is no guaranty that we’ll actually achieve it. Or that we’ll have the wisdom to recognize it when we do find it.

Saturday, January 21, 2006



The universe took out it's paint brushes and produced this masterpiece. It's a wonderful shot of the Orion Nebula.

Thursday, January 19, 2006



I suspect that some of the individuals we call “insane” may be tapping more deeply into this sense of what we’re doing to the earth and ourselves. And they just can’t take the pain. Is this attempt to communicate always there and we’re drowning it out with drugs and objects? Or think it’s the devil tempting us and run screaming to the nearest fundamentalist house of worship. Oh, there’s a devil all right. It’s called fear and we’re choking on it.


I’m still a little overwhelmed by what happened this morning and frankly it scares the hell out me. I’m getting an overwhelming sense that the scales are tipping and it’s not in our favor. I’m also convinced that the answers we need won’t be found in the organizations that run the churches, mosques, synagogues, ashrams or political parties. Too many groups are too invested in defining who belongs and who doesn’t. Too worried about what might be happening the bedrooms and not enough about what is happening in the boardrooms. Too tied up in the power games. Too busy screaming that they have all the answers that they can’t even hear the questions. So damned scared that if someone else gets a little “more” of something we’ll end up with “less.” Somehow we have to tap into the individuals that realize that the balance needs to be righted. That if we stick to what really matters, there is enough to go around.


We matter simply because we are. Each of us is unique. Each of the over six billion people on this planet is unique. No one is expendable. And I think that’s what scares us. The refugee in Darfur is just as unique in the universe as President Bush. And just as special. What we can’t seem to admit is that the whole universe matters simply because it exists. Too many are chasing things that they believe will make them better somehow. And so many have so little that just surviving takes everything they have.. One group can’t make the time to look up and the other group can’t find the extra strength.


I know that getting everybody to join hands and sing Kumbayah isn't going to solve the problem.But, I'm not going to give up, I've got too much riding on the outcome of this little thing we call life and so do the rest of us.


Something totally freaking weird happened this morning. And folks that’s the mild description. I was thinking about the journal entry I did last night. The phrase “the whole planet is alive” popped through my mind. That fits, that was the theme of the entry. Then the sentence completed itself. I was not expecting this, I really was not. The whole planet is alive; and screaming.  And just for an instant, maybe half an instant, there was this mind-bending sense of “wrongness." A jumble of sounds and images. Continental plates grinding, whole forests falling, winds howling and a feeling of bottomless, endless grief. Sorry, that’s the best I can do with the sledgehammer we call language. I had to get out of the office for a few minutes. I was almost in tears for crying out loud.


That’s the best I can do. I don’t think there are words for what I felt in that microsecond. And I haven’t had anything mind altering this morning. Last time I checked oatmeal, applesauce and lemon ginger tea aren’t on any list of controlled substances. I suspect it was the entry itself. If words are mind altering, then I’m altered. While my brain is still doing little (and not so little) summersaults this had to happen for a reason. What the reason is I’m not sure….yet. I tapped into........what or who?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


About two years ago the company I work for got involved with one of these motivational gurus. Who shall remain nameless. I'm low enough on the totem pole that I managed to avoid being shipped clear across the country. I guess this stuff works for some folks but the more I heard the less I liked where this guy was coming from. Near as I could figure out it's a cross between a mini boot camp, revival meeting and a rock concert. We got a mini taste at an office meeting and when I asked one "graduate" what the loud music was supposed to do I was told it was "part of the program." I still haven't figured out how keeping me up most of the night three days running or trying to fracture my eardrums is supposed to improve my team building skills. I guess this is why they pay him the big bucks.

Having figured out where I didn't want to go, I found myself trying to put where I was comong from into words. I think what still troubles me the most it the effort to keep us all running so fast we don't have time to think. To keep the man made noise so loud that we can't hear what the world around us is trying to say.

Anyway this is what I came up with. If you were to bet that I haven't shared this with anybody at work, you'd win. I think what bugs me the most is the idea that you can do it by yourself. The old visualize success and it's your fault if your vision doesn't come true. That may be true to a point. But nobody and I mean nobody makes it alone. And that is what brought this little entry to life.

Earth, Air, Fire and Water, each element has a voice-but it can't sing
without the others. Without the Earth in the form of the moon there would be
no tides-no waves. Without the waves there would be no hiss of the little waves meeting the sandy beach. The great booming roar when tons of sea water meets two hundred feet of black basalt cliffs would be lost forever. Without the mountains to form cliffs and steep falls the roar of the waterfall would not exist. Without the rocks and stones in their beds, rivers and streams would lose their voices

Fire has a quicker, harsher song. Without water to make steam and sizzle,
without trees or wood to burn, Fire would have almost no voice. As a lava flow cools the rocks grind together and the escaping gasses hiss and twist. Take away the fire from the earth's mantle and these fall silent.

Air has a voice when it meets Earth and what grows from the Earth. The
sighing of the trees, the lonely whistle around the cliffs, the cry of the gulls carried from a windy beach, the rustle of the grasses, these come together to make a chorus when the Air sings its songs.
Earth sings some of her songs alone; the sounds of rocks falling and sand or
gravel rustling when someone walks across it are earthly solos.  But many of Earth's songs are sung by what grows from the earth or swims in the water. But, without air to carry birdsong or the sea  to carry whale songs the world would be a quieter, lonlier place. Let us join our songs to the songs of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Together these are the songs of Creation.

Monday, January 16, 2006


I couldn't resist this one. It's called the Iris Nebula. I'm not sure if it is the shape or the color. It doesn't exactly look like an iris but we've got some in our yard that are close to that color. The nebula is in the constellation Cepheus which is visible towards the northwest this time of year.

Had my nose stuck in a couple of books on English history over the weekend. Just getting reminded that is much as we'd like to think it, there is very little new under the sun when it comes to political hanky panky. Somehow Americans have had the idea that we're immune to that sort of thing. Sorry guys, there is truly nothing new under the sun. Doesn't make it any better, just more understandble. Too bad those who refuse to learn from history will turn around repeating it.



Sunday, January 15, 2006


This is a real picture of an image I copied off my astronomy software awhile back. It's a cluster of young stars called the Pleides. It also used to be called the Seven Sisters. There are six bright ones visible now. The theory is that since stars don't move fast enough for the seventh one to have wandered off, it may be just dim enough to be unable to compete with our level of light and atmospheric pollution. It's a real beauty.

Most of the stars in the cluster are about 100 million years old and only (so to speak) 425 light years away. Barely out the back door in stellar terms. The entire cluster contains hundreds of stars barely out of their gas cloud swaddling clothes

Oh and the puzzle- it's sandbox. Yah, I know, pretty bad isn't it?

Saturday, January 14, 2006


I was going through a book I haven't read for awhile and found a sheet of rebus puzzles that I think I got in a meeting at work. Don't ask, we do some weird touchy feelie things in these monthly meetings. Not actual touchie touchie, but more in the get in touch with your inner whatever. Again, don't go there. It can be one of those "smile and put up with it" kind of things.

Anyway, some of them are pretty cute. And I think we can all use a chuckle right now. So I thought I'd pass them along. Dole them out so to speak while I have my nose firmly stuck in some English history books. Between reworking Celtic prayers, and my other reading I think I'm at that "I've got a few theories, I'm just trying to stitch them together" stage.

Good luck with the puzzle. The sheet has a couple of dozen I just have to figure out how to DO them.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


A letter in the local paper (Eugene Register Guard) had a quote from Benjamin Franklin today.

"Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." This is just as true today as it was in 1755.

We've also had several other interesting letters asking the supporters of President Bush who believe that he can do just about anything he wants to a simple question. Would you want a president you don't support to have the powers President Bush is claiming? Good question. Considering how some of these folks despised President Clinton, for example, would you want to bet the farm on their answer?

Sunday, January 8, 2006


I'm not sure I'd want to be Tom DeLay this morning. He's finding out what most bullies and enforcers eventually find out. You may get to come in the front door. You may even be served on the best china. But, don't  make the people using you look bad. Not only will you not even be let in through the back door, they'll claim they never knew you.

Saturday, January 7, 2006


Think it would do any good to post a copy of my last post to Tom DeLay? I know he dug his own hole, and he keeps digging, but it does look like he's been hung out to dry by his colleagues. "Tom who? Never had anything to do with the man" will probably be the refrain from now until November. NLOL


For those who are lucky enough to actually see the night sky this time of year, it can be like diamonds scattered on black velvet. For the rest of us who have to settle for sparkling raindrops in street lights, I guess we just have to use our imaginations.

I adapted this from the Prayer for Comfort by Cathleen O'Meara Murtha DW from Knitting into the Mystery.

If you are very, very lucky you may live in an area where the night sky is dark and clear. Where you can see the band of stars some call the Milky Way wrap itself around the world as if it were a bright shawl knitted with threads strung with gemstones.

May the Mother of Mercy, the Father of Faithfulness and the Spirit of Compassion wrap this tired world with their all encompassing love this day.

May all find comfort when the path their life is taking becomes more than they can bear. May there be comfort when it seems that one more minute will bring them to the breaking point. May tired hearts and spirits find peace.

May those most in need find find shelter in a time when grief is overwhelming, shade in a time when sorrow is beyond words, a shield when faced with a loss that was unimaginable.

May loved ones provide comfort by just being there. Let there be faith in the eternal Loving One. And may the memories of those we love best be with us when all seems darkest.

Blessings of the Angel of Comfort be with you and all you love now and forever more.

Blessed be.

DW stands for Daughter of Wisdom, a women's religious order. http://www.wcr.ab.ca/news/2003/0120/wisdom012003.shtml

Wednesday, January 4, 2006


I'm going to admit right up front that this may not be as smoothly written as some of my other entries. A case of "pretty PO'd itis" is probably partly to blame.

There's been a great deal of publicity in the northwest over the arrest of several "eco-terrorists." That's a media designation, not mine. They are self-admitted vandals, I accept that and believe that the charges should be answered in court. It's the terrorist spin I have a problem with.

Yes, a lot of money was lost when certain labs and developments were torched. Yes, the results could have been a hell of a lot worse if the SUV's that were torched at a dealership in Eugene had blown up and taken the neighborhood with them. But, effect on national security, minimal.

Compare the heavy duty vandalism to what happened when the traders at Enron decided that trading energy futures was more fun than playing video games and took the west coast, especially California, for a roller coaster ride. Gee, too bad about grandma losing power in the rolling black outs. When you read the copies of the  e-mails going back and forth you really do get the feeling that it was all a game to them. That real people were being affected by their "gaming" was totally off the radar.

What about the damage done to the people working for Enron who saw their retirement dreams melting like an ice cube in a cup of coffee in July when Enron's shares tanked and they were blocked from selling by the 401K administrators.

How about the damage that continues to be done to the environment as protections are eroded. We've managed to end run a plan for a massive sell off of public lands at cents on the dollar, but for how long?

The damage to the body politic as both parties continue to gerrymander congressional districts into safe zones has to be at least as bad. Redistricting, there's an innocuous word for you. It's gerrymandering pure and simple and the only place I've seen the word used is the comic strip Safe Havens. The fact that I happen to like my congressman doesn't change the fact that the lines should be drawn according to population, period end of story.

According to a column in the paper this morning Medicaid for sick kids with no insurance is being cut. But, seniore citizens can get Viagra and similar drugs through Medicare coverage. It seems the companies that produce the drugs were "promised" that the coverage would be there in 2006. Welfare forpeople in need somehow weakens the national spine but welfare for corporations with deep pockets for lobbyists helps to avoid ostroporosis of the body politic. I know, I haven't figured this one out myself. What I do know is that kids can't afford lobbyists and the drug companies can.

I don't even want to go into the fraying of the threads that tie us together that we're seeing in the name of  "national security." I don't know about anybody else but I don't feel safer since the Patriot act was passed and the Department of Homeland Security was created.

I did this draft yesterday. I woke up this morning to the news of the Abramoff plea bargain. There have to be pols on both sides of the isle sweating bullets over what this guy is going to say under oath. I have no illusions that this will cure the problem. Only that it might become less blatant at least in the short term.

Sunday, January 1, 2006


As the year turns I feel like a hermit as this New Year's day ends. I want to turn my attention from the days' busyness and reflect on what the days of this past year have taught me.

May I remember those who are too proud to ask for help and those who may not realize that help  is near.

May I never close my eyes to the magic of the world around me. May I never be to busy to notice the first leaves of the bulbs that will bring the first flowers of spring or the dance of the last leaves as the winter wind finally takes them.

May the Holy Ones help those who are ill find healing. May they help those without refuge find a place to rest. May those whose minds are troubled find peace. May those whose souls are adrift come to a safe harbor.

May the Holy Ones also help us remember that there are riches that can't be measured on a balance sheet and  that a soul can starve while seated at a table filled to over flowing.

May everyone have a great start to the New Year