Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Supreme Beings

Coming home last evening, I saw Wally toss his head up at the first sound of my car, and then leap forward into a joyful gallop toward the barn. His head high and his beautiful tail streaming behind, he was breathtakingly beautiful in the waning light of day. I wished with all my heart our paths had converged much earlier in life. He and I could have covered hundreds of miles together. He does not possess the most beautiful conformation of the Arabian breed, but he does possess the grace and lightness of all his forebears. "Oh, Wally!" I thought to myself. "You deserve a far better name!"

Of course, the magnificent gallop was toward the barn because I would soon be throwing hay. Wally knows if he gets there first, he can sometimes grab a few bites of extra hay before Miss Thang gets there with her iron hooves of rule. He also uses it as an excuse to run because that is what horses do.

Though I had spent most of my childhood around horses, I did not know a lot about them. I am still a rank amateur except in what I have observed of their behavior during the time spent caring for them. Before Wally there was my dear little Orphan Annie. She was a horse with a sense of humor. She thought it was funny to gently knock me over when I was bent down pounding the snow and ice out of the feed tub. I realize the idea that a horse might have a sense of humor is impossible for some people, but once you've experienced humor from another species, it is unmistakable. The intent is clear.

Ginger is too busy making sure she is the boss to have a sense of humor. Everyone better do as she says - or else! She and I have had a minor dispute a time or two. Hard to say who won. I am still walking around without any broken bones, so I guess she grudgingly concedes the ultimate title of boss to me. Some one has to have a job to buy her hay and hoof care, after all. Since I bring home the bacon, that makes me the real boss. Ginger loves me. Of course she loves Wally more, but I am her favorite human being. I humbly accept her highness's affection.

Wally is a different story. He has never bullied me or pushed me around - except for unceremoniously rubbing his big head against me whenever I put a halter on him! He loves Ginger and takes his duties as protector of their little herd seriously, always going forward toward whatever they both can hear along the creek that keeps them on point. There seems to be a sadness in him. When the vet visited Wally the first time, he came into the pasture wearing a ball cap. At first sight Wally snorted in recognition, running toward the man. He slammed on the brakes when he realized he did not know the guy. I was sure he thought it was his former owner. Perhaps Wally still misses his old owner, which breaks my heart. Wally likes me okay, but he does not love me the way Ginger does.

I have read about old horse cultures that built their winter dwellings so they could shelter their horses with them. Of course, horses were the lifeblood of their survival so they would go to great lengths to protect them. But anyone who has ever loved a horse knows that if it were just more practical, living together in the same dwelling would be a great idea! They are just too darned big and then there's all that manure... I will settle for looking out the back door every morning to see my horses waiting for their breakfast.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Easiest Things

It is the last day of the year and time for reflection. Contemplation. Comparison. It is a good opportunity to consider any needed course change - adjusting for local conditions as I like to call it. When I was a young woman there were many times I needed to make significant adjustments - in relationships, employment, locale. Those were gross adjustments. As I look back, the mature years of life have been mostly quiet - internal adjustments - fine tuning.

I gave the Christian religion a serious run but it simply did not hold up to the wear and tear of real life. The Christian arrogance of the "true believers" chased me out of adult Sunday school when a young man confidently concluded that my best friend was condemned to hell for being homosexual. With the full weight of all the generations of imperious Christian fascism, he concluded the "debate" with the church's ace in the hole: "It's scriptural!" His tightly sealed lips drawn into a self-righteous frown of stern finality, as if he had just won a debate with Satan himself, showed me most clearly that I was wasting my time with such bullshit. Of course, I did not and do not paint all Christians with that particularly distasteful brush. There are true Christians in this world, and they are gentle, loving people who do not bludgeon others with scriptural hate and intolerance. They are the true followers of Jesus.

Leaving organized religion behind for good was a fundamental course adjustment. The beginning, middle and end of significant relationships were course-altering events. Jobs and friends and neighborhoods and other such details all influenced my journey. When I turned forty, an enormous dissonance plainly revealed itself. I had been living unaware on the very mountain I had been searching for most of my life. It was when I made the conscious decision to locate the mountain that everything changed, though I did not know it for many, many years. It was a simple decision - a mere thought, actually. It was a brief moment I had while sitting on the floor praying. I only recognize that moment in hindsight. It was the merest fraction of a degree course correction that brought me to my current place all these decades later.

Sometimes I imagine my course extending far ahead into future lives, though I cannot imagine what a single one of those lives might be. The Tibetans say it is not an individual, central soul that extends through all lifetimes but that reincarnation is more like "dice, stacked loosely atop one another". I admit I felt faint when I first experienced that statement. It took a couple of years of chewing on that idea, worrying it around like a dog with an old bone until I felt comfortable with it. If that is true, my understanding of it as I sit here today is that our physical lives as we know them are simply small manifestations welling up from an infinite sea of life force and consciousness, loosely bounded by karmic forces and chance. There is so much more!

Knowing something intellectually is a far cry from being able to practically use the knowledge, but knowing something intellectually is also the first step of any journey, even an infinite journey toward understanding. The concept that there may not be a Chief Engineer carefully attending to every, single, minute detail in my life as I once imagined literally blasts my carefully structured "understanding" into infinity. It is almost more than I can safely imagine.

The sacred mountain is within every single human being. It is surely within every single living being, and within things we in the West consider inanimate. It is our true nature. We have forgotten it. It takes a lifetime - maybe many lifetimes - to remember.

The times I have drawn nearest to that knowing, in both spirit and in the flesh, I have been in the sweat lodge. It is in that sacred space, that incredibly hot, claustrophobic, pitch black moment when it is impossible to avoid myself. There I am - every single thing I do not like about myself - what I am ashamed of, embarrassed for, and disappointed in. All the pain and anger I have brought on myself and others - the injustices that have been inflicted on me - it is all there, revealed in the dark as if illuminated by the brightest light. If I may quote myself, that is truly a "well, hell" moment. It is ugly and feels terrible. I eventually realized the point of that moment is to clearly see myself, to find what needs attending. It is also a chance to look beyond - far beyond. It is the easiest of all impossible things.

As is customary: Wishing peace on earth and goodwill toward (some) men - from the Crazy Woman, the Supreme Beings, and Jake the Bad Dog here at Spiritcreek.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Well, Hell.

Yes, another birthday is on the way. I know I am getting old because my hair is mostly silver (not gray, goddamn it!) I have to walk with a cane in an effort to relieve some of the pain in my knees. I am too stubborn to take the medication that is recommended by the doctor. I tried but there are so many side effects - headache, itching all over, my liver burns. The worst long-term side effects of this type of medication is sudden hemorrhaging to death and heart attack. Well, hell. Guess I'll just hobble along on these ruined old knees until I decide to burden my family and friends with helping me when I get reconstructive surgery. It sounds like a horrible ordeal in every way. A normal person would never have willingly suffered for so long. What is wrong with me? Aside from getting old, that is?

Though years of experience have smoothed many of my rough spots and I have learned patience - 87% of the time - I still feel as if I do not know what the hell I am doing. I mean, like, what the fuck. Does everyone just bumble along, blindly hoping for the best outcome in situations that actually require an experienced attorney, an economist with a PhD, a detective, a scientist, a master mechanic, or a psychic?! I thought people my age were supposed to be wise.

I am a bit wiser now than I was at age 21. I drive the speed limit. I yield the right of way. I pay the utility bills on time. Whenever possible, I avoid people who aggravate me. I try my best to not aggravate others though I can tell I am often unsuccessful. I avoid drugs and alcohol and people who abuse either. I try to mind my own business. I try to appear as if I know what the hell I am doing but I rarely fool anyone. It is a good thing that I have very low self-esteem because I make a fool of myself routinely. I no longer wake in the middle of the night groaning when I recall some embarrassing situation or something I should never have said. I am at last inured to that particular suffering simply because I have experienced it so many times. I know it is not going to kill me. I just think to myself: "Well, hell. It's not the first time and surely not the last."

Of course, there will be a last time. There is a last time for everything under the sun. That is not a sobering or somber thought to me any longer. We are the leaves of an infinite tree, and one by one the people we love drop away, never to be seen again. All the while a mighty pulse rushes through the tree, changing and renewing everything. At some point I will drop away, too.

Driving on a city street the other day I came across a drifting leaf. The stem, like a tail on a kite, stabilized its descent. The oak leaf itself, long dried and curled inwardly, slowly spun as it made a gentle arcing descent across all that moving traffic. I alone was in the right place, at the right time to witness its fall. As I rushed past at 40 miles an hour, the leaf surely fell beneath the tires of all oncoming traffic. In a very short time all the elements that made it an oak leaf will have returned to molecules and atoms. It will return to dust. No one knows what happens to its memory of being an oak leaf. No one can say for sure if it ever realized it was a seasonal leaf of an oak tree. It is a mystery - a mystery I am one year nearer to discovering for myself.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Two Moons

We know that other planets have extravagant and exotic moons. (The current count for Jupiter's moons is at 67.)  The four Jovian moons first seen by Galileo are easily seen with a small hobby telescope. I have seen them myself. It is difficult to imagine a sky full of moons.

I wonder if sentient beings on other worlds created myths about their multiple moons to comfort them in their long evolutionary awakening as we have here on earth for our one moon? Now we know there are no goddesses dwelling on the moon - no mythical creatures at all. Now we know the intrigue of moonlight is not even the light of the moon itself but a reflection of the sun. Though the old mysteries have died with the space age, our moon remains mysterious and alluring in our consciousness.

Should I reincarnate to earth in a future lifetime, when humans will have mined and polluted the moon as surely as we have the earth, I wonder if she will be held in any reverence whatsoever then.

The Lakota Moon of the Shedding Horns, the last full moon of 2016 setting over the west bend of the creek at dawn
And in the east, the Supreme Beings attentive to something only they can hear.
The same morning as I was leaving for work.
The last full moon of 2016 slipping behind the prairie hills for the last time.
The rising of the 2016 November super moon

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Well, It's Cold Outside

It is ten below zero officially in Paxico. Winds at 3 mph. To whatever Power or Force that rules such things, I give my sublime thanks for no wind with this bitter cold because I will soon have to venture out into it. The Supreme Beings will be impatiently awaiting their slow slug of a servant to provide their breakfast and to break up the ice on the water tank. (The slug groans when thinking about how thick that ice is by now...)

Yesterday I made the trek to the Portal of Hell to turn on the electric heater. That will protect the pipe coming from the well from freezing. I simply dread going into the basement in the old garage. The heater may not be needed by tomorrow because the weather is expected to return to more tolerable conditions. That is wonderful news but with it looms another journey into the pit! The ONLY good thing about that is when I close the door behind me and know it might be another year or two before I have to go in again!

There were so many birds at the feeders all day yesterday that I will have to refill everything this morning. I can see activity out there already in the dim light. I did not see a single squirrel yesterday, not even the one I think of as Donald Trump. He is the one that climbs into the middle of the main tray, leisurely stuffing his face until he is entirely full. All the other squirrels are satisfied with eating the food provided specifically for them in their own tray and on the ground near the safety of the big hackberry trees. Even then, they only spend a few moments eating at a time. Not the Donald. He imperiously grubs the best of the peanuts and sunflower seeds for as long as he wishes and not even the woodpeckers bother him. He ignores me when I open the door and yell at him. He refuses to move off the tray until I am within a few feet of him. I have chased him a few times even though it is futile. His arrogance is infuriating. He knows he is in no danger and stays a few feet ahead of me. Only when I close in will he reluctantly scamper up the big tree - but only a few feet up the tree. All the other squirrels scatter at first sight of me. I sit at my desk watching through the windows, glowering at that fat, self-serving pig of a squirrel. He is helping himself to the best of the best and frankly does not care what I think of him. There's one in every crowd.

* * *

The morning chores are completed. The horses were shivering and I felt so sorry for them. They must have suffered throughout the long night in the bitter cold. They have a good shelter but it is not like the shelter of a barn. The birds were reluctant to leave the feeders and flocked back immediately after I came in the house. Poor things. Jake was in the worst shape of everyone. He spent yesterday afternoon and all night sleeping on his big pillow in the garage. His hind legs were so stiff and it was so cold that he could not even keep up with me. The poor guy is not well suited to his job as a farm dog. Duke would have LOVED this snow and the cold never bothered him. I miss the old dog who never failed to escort me to the barn and back, to the Portal of Hell and back, to the mail box and back. I hope by now he has reincarnated as a snow leopard or a Siberian wolf, far from the noise and smell of man, where his noble spirit roams the wild places.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What Happened?

Our country has changed, deep down in its soul, and I am not sure who she is any more. We are angry at one another. We have insulted and harmed each other through abusive national discourse and now sit glaring at one another, truly angry and unable to tolerate much in the way of reconciliation.

We have elected a loose cannon as President – a man whose business practices and personal mores are despicable – a man whose entire adult life represents the worst of America and her capitalistic excesses – a man who made himself rich trampling everything designed to protect people and things which require protection from unbridled capitalism and greed. He is the President we deserve, I guess, as we seem to be a nation of hateful, selfish people. We have lost the middle ground – all of us. For instance, no longer can we safely and sanely discuss a humane and just way to keep immigrant families together. It has devolved into a national brawl of the extremes. No one wants freeloaders clogging up the system, not even hard working illegal immigrants whose sweat and tears are just as real and as hard-earned as our own, we who are descendants of illegal immigrants to the last man. We need to sanely discuss immigration then make humane and fair changes.

The hateful discourse has hardened our hearts. I literally cannot stand any more of the Fox News rhetoric and that ilk. It is like Antabuse to an alcoholic. It makes me instantly sick. I feel bad that people I love seem to be blissfully unaware they have been emotionally manipulated and – yes – how racist, homophobic, and all the other unfortunate “ist” and “ic” terms for undesirable human behavior that Fox rhetoric genuinely is.

Alternatively, people who consume Fox rhetoric cannot stand the stinging barbs of satire and irony the “liberals” and the Left use in their rebuttals in the national discourse. They have had their fill of being abused in this way because they do not consider themselves racist or homophobic. In their daily lives and actions most of them quite likely are neither racist nor homophobic. It is a question of degree, I think.

Now we are truly angry at one another. Every issue blooms into a huge firestorm of hateful spite. I understood the genesis of the Black Lives Matter movement instantly. American citizens are killed with impunity by police all over the country and nothing is done to stop it. Even women and children are gunned down. It is an established fact that black people are harmed by institutionalized racism, even to the point of death but instead of Black Lives Matter engendering a dialogue between decent, rational, concerned human beings, it touched off a reactionary firestorm of All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter. Folks! These are not mutually exclusive schools of thought! The irony of All Lives Matter seems to blissfully escape the most strident defenders of that particular group. If indeed all lives matter then Black Lives Matter would never have sprung from the mean streets of our American cities. We would have come together to tackle this horrific problem of innocent people being gunned down before our very eyes long before the need for a Black Lives Matter movement ever came about.

I could go on.  Environmental issues demand our immediate and undivided attention.  We MUST do something quickly or our children and grandchildren will pay an unbelievably painful price for our selfish inaction.  Instead of combining our might and considerable creative resources to resolve these issues, we are divided and angry and nothing meaningful gets done except for the few who profit mightily at our expense.

My spirit quails at the thought of this madness as being deliberately engineered by the rich and powerful. People become rich and powerful by manipulating everything around them and through radical opportunism. Of course there are powerful groups – think tanks and various organizations everywhere - that clinically promote particular agendas. A little excursion into the history of our railroads is a nasty, despicable lesson on everything from genocide to wholesale government corruption, bribery, thievery and murder. Not much has changed since then. Our national consciousness has been bamboozled by the minions of the greediest and most corrupt to the point where we are literally at each other’s throat while they make off with all the money and destroy the planet while they are at it. We fight like cats and dogs and try to pin the blame on whatever whipping boy our national media chooses for the week. It does not serve you or me. We deserve better.

Not everyone wants or needs to be a billionaire. No matter what color we are, what our first language may be or what our religion, gender or political persuasion may be, we all want the same things. We want to work and pay our own way. We want affordable and equitable education for our children. We want and DESERVE affordable health care. We want competent and principled police forces. We want authentic and just representation in our government. We want equitable taxation for EVERYONE, including corporations and the rich. We need clean air, clean soil, clean water or we will not survive. We want to live in peace with the people we love for all the days of our lives. Americans can have that. We are already rich enough. We simply need to sit down with our neighbors and find common ground. We must work together to change our government, to rid it of corruption. Politicians must be held accountable to “we, the people”. We must stop listening to the voices that say this one or that one is to blame. WE are to blame. WE are the responsible party.

I do not know when or if civil discourse will return. This election we became painfully aware of our differences of opinion - among good friends, within families. The solution is to become aware of our commonality, to find the middle ground and value that far above our differences. Maybe that is the point of beginning.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I Still Know What To Do, Grandpa

Some weeks ago on the way to work, I crested the first hill going north on Vera Road and found an entire herd of cattle making a break for it through a gate that had been left wide open. One little group was already far down the hill, and one slightly larger group was in the road and moving north. The entire rest of the herd was gathered at the gate ready to make their break.

It was easy enough to herd the cows still in the pasture away from the gate. They slowly ambled away toward the north. The group directly outside the gate was a bit of a problem. As I slowly inched my car between them they moved north, too. Eventually I had parted their little group. I got out of the car then and quietly "shooed" at them. They turned and made their way back into the gate. That left the brave rogues who were already far down the road, enjoying the greener grass.

I was sure one of the Orc's big mining trucks would be coming from the north soon enough, and that would cause the cattle to move back toward me. If I just backed the car up south of the gate, any oncoming car or truck would hopefully pressure the cattle toward me and I could direct them back into the gate. But no traffic was visible. I finally eased the car past the wayward cows. By getting out, I was able to move them back toward the gate. Luckily,they entered the gate instead of continuing on past it. Though I was careful to not scare them or cause them to run, once the stragglers entered the gate, they decided they were in a hurry to join the rest of the herd over the hill to the west, so they loped over the hill. Out of sight. Not a single cow was visible.

I struggled with the barbed wire gate. I was not strong enough to close the gate all the way and could only get one end or the other into the wire loops that hold those wire gates taunt. I at least had the gate across the opening though it would fall down at the first pressure from the cattle. At least none of them were on the road now.

As I was walking back to my car I had left a distance to the north, a truck came hauling toward me. Turns out it was someone coming to make sure that gate was closed. I explained I had moved the cattle back into the pasture but was unable to close the gate. I explained there were about 25 cattle out. When I looked up toward the gate, there was not a single cow in sight. Not one.

I just hope that the guy did not think I was telling a lie, as in "Yeah, that broken-down old woman claimed to have herded 25 cattle back but there were none in sight!" Or that he thought I was exaggerating, like maybe only one or two were out. I was raised around beef cattle and helped herd the gentle beasts many times. As long as you do nothing to scare them, it only takes a little pressure to move them. They can be contrary, and sometimes a cow with a calf will match wills with you, but most often, just as that morning, they all graciously agreed to move back into their pasture at an old woman's bidding. Honest.