Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Advent of Winter

The three sisters reflecting the red sunset.

After a most unusual summer of cool temperatures and rain, the prairie was spectacular with rich color this month. There were trees covering the green and growing grass beneath with blazing yellow leaves, generously spilling color. I should have spent time photographing the glowing orange and yellow and red of the tall grass. I did not. Now the color, and the chance, has been lost. It remains only in my memory, and that too will fade and become nothing.

The fall of leaves is as magic as their arrival, a silent ebb and flow, a living time signature through the melody of each year's turning, and to me, more beloved each season. It is not a sad passing, but the signal to look toward the coming change.

I was thinking how our lives are like leaves. We arrive and fall away individually, yet taken together, we adorn the trees in our season before falling back into the earth. Leaves continually return, never exactly the same, in new time. Above the fallen leaves, the limbs hold the machinery and spirit for new leaves. When the limb falls, others bring forth the leaves. When the tree is gone, when all the trees are gone, there are seeds of new trees, and the idea of new trees, all with long summers of leaves.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Trickster

All night long the Duke was barking in his most authoritative voice. I knew something was out there he did not want coming around. It could be skunk, opossum, bobcat, deer (though he only half- heartedly warns them away), fox, or dog. Maybe an escaped cow. Or a coyote. Duke knows his wild cousins are up to no good, day and night. Good old Duke.

So, this morning, I was having my hot tea as I checked email and read the online newspaper. Duke was asleep on the front porch, having worn himself out from a long night on duty. I had not yet turned the chickens out for the day, and was feeling guilty about it. I could see them crowded around the door waiting to get started on their very busy day. They have soil to scratch, bugs to eat, seeds to peck. If they get too close to one another, there is squawking and pecking and irritability among them. I fully understand this. I do not want to talk to anyone at work until about eleven or so. On a bad day, I would appreciate it if I did not have to speak to anyone until about 4:15 pm.

Out my east window, about thirty feet from the house, I saw a coyote, crouching low, sneaking toward the chicken pen. I should have taken his picture before I knocked on the window. He looked at me but waited to see what I was going to do. I shouted at him, and he turned away. As I watched, he loped few short yards, then sauntered away. What a punk!

For once, my laziness paid off. That coyote would have picked the chickens off one by one. I fed the chickens in the pen, scattering milo throughout so they could scratch and peck for it. They have settled down now that they know they are not going to leave the pen.

A good farmer would have shot the coyote. Even though I love my chickens, I could not kill a coyote. Duke and I will have to work harder to keep the chickens safe, but they will always be under threat. I will keep them penned for several days but eventually I will let them out again. I do not know how persistent the coyote will be.

Coyotes are smart. They are also severely persecuted in Kansas. Stockmen claim coyotes kill their calves. I am going to commit blasphemy here, but I would have to see coyotes kill a healthy calf before I believe it. It would take a pack of coyotes to worry a cow away from her calf and bring down a big calf. I never see coyotes running in packs - never in my entire life.

I knew it was going to be a challenge to keep chickens. Everything likes to eat chickens, not only humans. Better to live free, scratching happily in the dirt, and be taken quickly in death than to spend an entire life in cages, on concrete, never seeing the light of day. Duke and I will do what we can, but there is only one guarantee in life. Party on, little chickens.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Live and In Person

I just spent the evening with Bob Dylan, and my daughter, and Sgt. Robert Clark, newly returned from Iraq. From Baghdad to Dylan in less than thirty days. Think about that.

I was worried the concert would be a long, boring endurance test for my two companions, neither of whom have entered the Church of Dylan before. I knew they would hear excellent rock music performed by consummate musicians, even if the songs were unknown to them, and even with no personal emotional history to any of the music.

Privately, I was hoping the sixty eight year old Dylan still had what it takes. He has been an important spiritual resource for many of us old hippies for lo, these many years. He has provided the soundtrack for many important events in our lives. What if this concert was that one tour too many? It would mean the end was just that much nearer for all of us. It would mean my generation's season was drawing to a close.

All my fears were unfounded. Those musicians on that stage were playing smokin' hot rock music, and Bob was still The Bob Dylan. I am not sure about Sgt. Clark, but my daughter is a brand new convert. That skinny, gravel voiced, hard minded old poet still has what it takes to charm women and impress men. My daughter came entirely under his spell. She will be borrowing ALL of my cd's.

Looking around the crowd, there were many my age, white hair visible in the low light. There were many of our children there, and more importantly, a good number of our grandchildren, too. The culmination of the Bush years has been hard on us in Kansas, in so many ways. The Bicentennial Center was not sold out. It would have surprised me if it had. But the Faithful were there.

I admit that I teared up a time or two. It is one thing to love Bob Dylan's music when you are young. But when you have been through a thing or two in life and you hear his music with a deeper soul, music written thirty and forty years ago remains relevant. When you know how goddamned hard it is to do what you love in this world - when you count all you have sold out, traded away, given up, lost, and done without, yet Bob is still making his music, then you think most likely you are still doing your own thing, too. Not that I need a Dylan song to know what I am doing. It is simply a fine, fine thing to have him put our lives to music.

At the truck stop after the concert with our tickets, which had our names printed on them!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The News

The last few days the local news has been dominated by an Amber Alert for a seventeen year old girl who was supposedly abducted by a twenty one year old man. The man had recently made the news for entering into a few high schools, asking about wrestling programs. Of course, any stranger entering schools should be checked out. Though he did have a record of some wrongdoing in Texas, his inquiries in the local high schools were found to be harmless.

This week, news broke that he had taken a seventeen year old girl against her will, and both had disappeared. The FBI was called and the Amber Alert issued. From the moment I heard this, I knew the girl was not in danger and that she had gone willingly with this young man. A sense of sadness came over me each time I heard the Amber Alert reported or saw the headlines.

The two were found yesterday. It made the top news this morning. Along with the news, a video recorded yesterday in a Topeka liquor store was aired. It showed two young people calmly walk into the store and speak with the clerk. The girl did not seem to be afraid, or under duress, or attempting to alert the clerk that she was being kidnapped. Their body language, as I saw it on the tape, did not even indicate that they were anything other than friends.

The kidnapping came to an end when a bank teller recognized the pair as they attempted to cash a check. He stalled them at the bank while law enforcement was called. The girl was in the bank when the man was arrested in his car. The arresting police officer emphasized that the young man cooperated fully with them. He reported the girl was scared and relieved.

If in reality the girl was taken against her will, then my concern is entirely misplaced. But if she went willingly, then it is a bad situation. A young man, who may have some mental deficiencies, is facing major federal crimes, serious enough that he could spend most of his life in prison if convicted. Our federal laws have become an enormous burden upon us. We are the least free people of the Western world, imprisoning more of our citizens than any other country, including Russia and China. Our justice system is such an array of twists and turns that no innocent human being can hope to navigate them successfully.

There is the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. The letter of the law decrees the young man kidnapped a minor and took her over several county lines. If she engaged in any sexual conduct whatsoever with this young man, the letter of the law will effectively pronounce a life sentence on him. In reality, it may have been two young people together on nothing more than an adventure.

The spirit of the law is to enact justice on behalf of innocent victims of kidnapping and rape. In this case, I think the young man will be the ultimate victim.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Roosting Chickens

Baby Sister (left) and her son, Junior (right).

From left to right, in the nests, Baby Sister and Junior, Mrs Peckins, the Four Girls - only one has a name, Peepy Peeperton. She is the little white head just visible in the foreground. You can see that while she is white, she has a tan cast to her feathers. That means she is genetically Mrs. Peckins' daughter.

The Weird Sisters.

Baby Sister is the best hen mother. She hatched Peepy Peeperton and Junior this summer in two different settings. Junior is clearly one of Mrs. Peckins' eggs, and I think he is a rooster. (If Mrs. Peckins had hatched him, he would already be on his own!) Even though he as big as his mother, he still makes baby peeping noises, so Baby Sister continues to look after him. I think those baby peepings translate into human phrases like "Where's my college rent money, Mom?" or "You still need to pay my car insurance while I'm in college, Mom."

Last week, I opened the nest lid to count heads, and poor Baby Sister had her little wing stretched entirely out trying to cover Junior. In her defense, Baby Sister has endured much motherly trauma.

Unfortunately, I took all the eggs but one from her nest and put them under Mrs Peckins when they started hatching. When I checked on that last egg, a tiny little chick had only half hatched and was dried into the shell. That chick smelled HORRIBLE but she was so alert and conscious. When I was trying to determine how to best get her out of the stinky shell, her bright little eyes were fixed on me. I know it sounds silly, but that tiny little chick was conscious and present the way the other peeps were not. I soaked her and the shell in warm water and peeled it away without harming her or her fluff. I also washed her with soap and water because of the enormous smell. After she dried I returned her with all the peeps under Mrs Peckins instead of Baby Sister. I thought a single chick would be better off with a nest full of peeps, so that is why I put her with Mrs Peckins. She was so tiny it was easy to recognize her among all the other chicks. She was always losing the others and peeping loudly for them, so I began calling her Peepy Peeperton.

Later in the summer, Baby Sister hatched two more chicks, both of them brown. One hatched on Saturday and the other on Sunday. They were so cute, and Baby Sister was a ferocious mother. Despite her best efforts, one of the chicks disappeared when it was about three weeks old. The remaining chick (Junior) plaintively peeped for his sister for a couple of days. It was very sad. Due to so much loss and trauma, Baby Sister still tries to protect Junior as if he is a peep - that and he still makes baby peepings so his mother has not noticed how big he is, apparently.

Now, the Weird Sisters are a hoot! They are very high strung and go flying off in a big flurry at the slightest disturbance. When I call the chickens, those three goofy girls come flying and hopping as fast as they can. They are always together in a little gang of three. Even though they are so excitable, they are also the most curious. If I am outside doing something, they are the first to come around, craning their necks and observing everything with their big black eyes. They will also eat from my hand. Their feathers are smooth and their little bodies are very round and fleshy. They are very different in temperament than the D'Uccles. And, of course, no one is a sweet as Mrs. Peckins, the tiny Partridge Cochin hen.

I had no idea how much fun it would be to raise chickens. I should have guessed that they would each have their own personality. I knew I would get attached to them but I never suspected the depth of that attachment. I guess when you know'em from the time they were peeps....

Monday, October 19, 2009

Medical Alert: Discussion of Snakes in this Post

I am a responsible blogger and a good friend. I know my friend Sharon never wants to be reading along and suddenly find herself up to her eyeballs in snake photos, snake descriptions, snake songs, snake poetry, or snake drawings. That is why the medical alert is prominently displayed today. I do not want to be responsible for Sharon's herpetological break down.

Yesterday was the first warm day for several weeks. My daughter and I were coming home from Dover about 3 pm, and snakes were crossing the road every few miles. Most of them were small. They must have hatched this summer and were desperately on the hunt for food and warmth before their impending hibernation. I have never seen so many snakes in one day, ever. We had been meditating most of the day, so the doors of perception were wide open, too. I continually got glimpses of the prairies crawling with snakes in my mind's eye. It was not a good thing. I need to talk to the instructor about this possible side effect of meditation.

Close to my house we came across one of the big prairie snakes crossing the road. I stopped to allow it safe passage. These snakes eat a lot of mice and rats, so they are worth their weight in gold... in the wild... far, far away from me. It was either a prairie king snake, as pictured here. or a great plains rat snake pictured here . Based only on these photos, I have a difficult time correctly identifying them. They look so similar.

As I was driving away from my daughter's house, there was even a baby snake in the street. He was not moving so I was not certain he was alive. To get a closer look, I got out of the truck. He was alive. Even though he was harmless, even kind of cute for a snake, when he moved, I instantly astral projected back into the truck, another possible side effect I should discuss with the instructor.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Living Skies

Taken in Hines, MN by Laraine 12.5.07 from the web site:

A daily benefit of the commute through the wide open Kansas landscape is the unavoidable observation of the sky. I have witnessed a few things I did not know existed, and a thing or two that remain mysteries.

For a period of about three years, roughly centered around 9/11, I witnessed many sun columns, both at sunrise and sunset. The first one I saw was spectacular. A burning gold beam rose splendidly from the eastern horizon, piercing high white clouds, just before sunrise. Later, with no idea what the phenomenon might be called, I guessed and googled for "sun column". There in cyberspace were photos and a scientific explanation for sun columns. Certain flat shaped ice crystals form in the atmosphere, reflecting sunlight specifically into a single ray that appears as a column of sunlight to an observer.

I saw sun columns often for that period of time, but none in recent years. At dawn, using pastels, I recorded a sun column I witnessed from a country road a few miles out of town the day of my mother's funeral. She died the Saturday following 9/11. Those two events and sun columns are forever linked in my mind, but not in a negative way.

Just recently, I left for work one morning in a wet fog blanketing the valley. Driving east into the thick mists, I witnessed the moment they brilliantly luminesced as the sun cleared the eastern horizon. When I turned north, I immediately noticed a white-on-white glowing in my left peripheral. It appeared to travel with me. At first I thought it was something on the truck window, so I rolled the window down. Then I stopped the truck and removed my glasses so I could look directly at it. It was there - a wide, white column of light glowing within the fog. It was very beautiful. I could see faint bands of reddish light on the edges, exactly like auras I can see sometimes around people. What came to mind was an albino rainbow!

The last two miles of county road commute, traveling north, the land widens into a valley lying west of the road. At that point, I could see the entire white rainbow arc. It appeared as an opalescent glowing portal within the fog. The colors off the edge where dynamic, seeming to radiate, just visible. The gates of heaven could be no more beautiful. I stopped the truck several times simply to fix the sight in my memory.

As soon as I got to work, I googled for "fog rainbow" and once again, there in cyberspace were the answers to all my questions. The droplets of moisture in the fog are not large enough to split the sunlight into the prism of colors seen in a rainbow, but the same arc of light forms. People who live by the oceans apparently see fog bows all the time. Not so much in Kansas.

In my life I have seen strange cloud formations, and brilliant "sun dogs" in both the east and west. I have admired the infinite shades of blue and observed the living spectrum of colors turning in the sky, coalescing in the massing, dynamic clouds. Some mornings, descending Buffalo Mound on Interstate 70, towering banks of eastern thunderheads appear as the front range of a mystic mountain range, visible only on high magic days. I hate the thought of going to work then, wishing to travel on into those ephemeral peaks.

The most mysterious sky ever was on Monday morning, December 27, 2004, on the way to work. It was the day after after the Indian Ocean Tsunami. The entire eastern sky was absolutely clear, not a single cloud. I have seen cloudless skies before, but this was different. There was an unknown quality that drew deeply into my awareness. Never has the empty sky been so profoundly beautiful. Never have I seen such a pure blue. A whispery thought rose, so quietly that I could have easily missed it. "It is the true color of the sky." It was the sky cleared of pollution, cleared of karma. I do not know anything other than those were the thoughts that came in connection with that most unusual sky.

Amazingly enough, I have also witnessed the aurora borealis in Kansas skies. The first time, I was about four years old. My mother and father took me into the night and pointed to the northern horizon. "Those are the Northern Lights," they said. All along the edge of the earth the sky was glowing red. To me, it looked like a prairie fire just out of sight.

It was the second winter or so after the move to Spirit Creek, I had left work late, and even in the lights of Topeka, I noticed a strange reflection in the north. Out of the city, I could clearly see the entire northern horizon glowing a ghostly green. I drove faster. I wanted to get home to my dark Flint Hills. After supper, I wanted my son to come to the pasture so we could see the Northern Lights, but he was not interested. I went alone and was rewarded for my efforts. Green bands of light brightened high above the hills to the north, slowly changing shape and intensity. At one point they became so bright that I could easily see my hands in their silent glow. I have seen the aurora borealis before and since, but that night was the best. I think there is still time to see something even more spectacular, and I hope I do.

public domain photo, Wikipedia

Friday, October 16, 2009

One Hundred Posts

It looked like a mighty sky spirit and luckily, for once, I had my camera!

This is the hundredth post for the Spirit Creek blog. Who would have guessed I could write so much about nothing?

The encouragement I have received to continue writing has been wonderful, an unexpected gift.

Thank you, readers, for sharing my simple work and my ordinary life.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Light in the Dark

I awoke with a start at 1:15 am this morning and dizzily searched for my shoes. I had fallen asleep watching television (Ghost Hunters) and failed to close the chicken pen! Drat!

I could not find a single flashlight, not even the headlamp my kids gave me for Christmas. How would I be able to tell if all the chickens were alive? Oh yeah.... I could turn on the yard light. I stumbled around, still stupid from waking so suddenly, trying to get my bearings. I turned on the yard light and stepped outside.

The faithful Dukenator was at the front door and ready for any adventure, even if it was just out to the chicken pen. We made our way over the wet leaves and across the uneven ground. Evil Roo was crowing, so I knew he was still alive.

I am loathe to admit it, but if something should happen to the Evil Roo, formerly known as Elvis, I would grieve. Though there has been personal animosity between us since he matured, his chivalrous dedication to his flock has won me over. There must be romance or there would be no peeps, but I have never witnessed it, nor heard any sexual assaults the way it was with Big Man, the first alpha rooster. Evil does not bully his ladies or peck his children. The babies know they can shelter by their father. ALL the hens peck them. There is a strict pecking order in the flock and the babies, once they are a certain size, get pecked if they get too close to a higher ranking chicken. Their mothers will defend them ferociously until they are on their own, but as adolescents they continue to shelter by their father. I do not know enough about roosters to know if this is typical behavior. It is touching and admirable. I was relieved to hear El' crowing.

The three Weird Sisters, the remaining Silver Sebrites, were roosting below El', so that was a huge relief, too. (I lost three of the silvers in one night, which is when I implemented the closed pen before dark policy.) I could not see well enough into the coop to see if everyone else was present, but I could hear low mutterings. At least no one seemed to be traumatized. I think they are all safe. I will have to wait until the sun comes up to get a count.

The good thing about having horses and chickens... and trees and tall grass and a creek... I might have to go outdoors, at any time of the night, into fresh air, warm or cold, beneath a dark or light sky, and be instantly at peace. When it is raining at night, it is so black, and quiet. The comfort is tangible and I breathe it deeply into my spirit.

As long as I have Duke's trustworthy companionship, nothing dangerous will catch me unaware, so I am never afraid. If the sky is clear, the stars are bright and immediate and beautiful. Sometimes there is moonlight. Living here, I have had opportunity to observe the phases, position and rhythms of the moon. It is surprising how much more often the sky is dark than lit by the moon. I understand a bit better the power and magic the moon held for our ancestors, as if I have to think about it. We are steeped in the ancient power of moonlight. We recall it with cellular memory and carry it in our spiritual DNA.

Any excuse to go out at night beneath the ancient burning sky ....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Balance

Everything in life has a counterbalance. I have a daily commute of fifty six miles or so, round trip. That is a lot of miles and a lot of greenhouse gases. The counterbalance is that on my official twenty six acres (unofficial thirty acres) I do not use herbicides, or pesticides, or allow hunting. I connect with the nature intelligences directly at Spirit Creek, and work in partnership with nature to bring as natural a balance as possible to the uses I personally have for the land. This is not crazy and the techniques are not difficult to learn. Anyone on the planet can work directly with the inherent natural intelligences that exist in every molecule of the physical world surrounding them. It requires only that you are willing to try, whether you believe or not.

I learned how to do this from Machaelle Small Wright, the co-creator of the Perelandra garden. Inspired by the successes in conscious gardening at Findhorn, Scotland, Wright established her own connection with nature, co-creating a beautiful garden, and oh so much more, on forty five acres of land in Virginia.

It is not magic but it is work. Sometimes it is a pain in the neck because once a segment of nature discovers it is no longer being actively warred upon, it floods into an area, hence my mice misadventures. This same resurgence happened with spiders. Every web building spider species in the area were happily draping the outside of my house in their huge webs, which became full of dead insects and dirt and twigs. My house looked like an abandoned witch's house. It was embarrassing and an eyesore. At one point I gave the spiders ample warning before power hosing the entire exterior of my home. I became impatient after two years with nature's timetable to re-establish a livable balance between the spiders and me. I hired a man to spray just the outside of my house to stop the spiders from their happy web celebrations. When I saw the exterminator deliberately douse a big garden spider with his poison, I felt very bad. It was no way to treat my natural partners. I had reneged on my side of the bargain. (There is a learning curve.)

The work I did with ticks and poison ivy was very easy in comparison to the work with mice and spiders. A one-time balancing process did the trick for the ticks. At one point the infestation of ticks around the house was so bad that I would find ticks on me after walking the five feet of sidewalk between the house and the truck. Even now, I must still use common sense about the ticks in the warm weather, but since the main balancing, I have had not a single tick bite, and only found one or two on my person. I still treat my dogs and my horses against ticks with powerful chemicals, but only because it is far easier and faster than doing all the balancing work and tweaking with nature. Once I retire, there will be time to work 100% naturally and do away with the need to poison the dog and the horses against the ticks entirely.

Believe it or not, all I had to do to balance the poison ivy was to clearly indicate the areas where poison ivy could not grow, and welcome it to live undisturbed wherever else it wanted to live. It does not grow in that area. Easy.

The mice are a different story. A combination of things contribute to the mice problem. They have been trapped and poisoned here since the first building was placed on this land. There is a long history of human genocide toward mice. They are naturally going to be attracted to a house in the woods, beside a creek. There is no way I can plug every hole into this old house. I have a lifelong issue of not setting personal boundaries very well and the mice breach my boundaries every year.

I also have not entirely dropped my adversarial attitude toward mice. Try as I might to regard them with neutral emotions, I actually kind of hate them. Well, no one can only "kind of hate" anything. I hate mice now. The only good mouse is a dead mouse in the physical space where I live. In fact, I am so over "look at the cute little mouse" that I was able to heartlessly drown them when I found them in the sticky traps. It is not fun, and I hate feeling them struggle, holding the traps under water with pliers, but I can not smash them to death. I can not free them from the traps to feed them to Duke. I refuse to let them die slowly in the traps. I want to find the perfect balance that keeps them out of my house. It will not happen until I can let go of my hate and anger toward them.

The mice are offering a mighty lesson to me. I know this because the reason we incarnate in this marvelous physical realm is to learn, to evolve, to work out karma and become wise (or not). The physical universe, the manifestation of the Creator's consciousness, responds forever and immediately to our need to evolve.

I am not sure what the balance between me and the mice is going to look like. Last year I was sure I had found it. I kept the snap traps set and baited with peanut butter, and the mice found their way into them immediately. Instantly dead mice do not give me a guilty conscience. But peanut butter lost its allure this year. The mice ignored the traps and happily ran amok in my house, so I escalated the war with sticky traps. I will not use the glue traps again because they are inhumane. It is unrealistic to expect no mice to ever get in the house. It is unrealistic to expect me to tolerate their presence in my own personal space. All I can do is to keep working toward balance. Nature is the best teacher in the entire universe.

Visit Perelandra here.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I Should Be Paying Attention

Every morning I let the chicken flock out of the pen so they can free range, eating insects, plants, lizards, and anything else good their investigations might uncover. Chickens are an industrious nation, and straightforward in all their dealings. They set excellent personal boundaries. If someone less intelligent, less attractive (or less in any way) gets too close, a well aimed peck restores social order immediately with no hard feelings.

Chickens expect to live according to their consideration for natural rhythms. At first light, they immediately begin their commerce. As the day fades, they slowly gather about their pen for final scratchings, then peacefully go to roost.

Friday afternoon I was leaving for an overnight trip and I needed to leave well before the chickens would be ready to roost. Without thinking, out of habit, I let them out of the pen Friday morning! I have tried before to herd those chickens into the pen early. It can be done, but it takes a lot of time and patience and a very long stick. Duke could be a big help, but apparently the shepherd genes he carries have never activated.

If I leave the pen open all night, not even the Duke can protect them from some silent predator that takes them as they sleep. It was imperative for me to close them in their pen before I left.

The local forecast was for a hard freeze Friday night. It was a good time to remove the old bedding out of the coop and replace it with fresh hay. It is a dusty job, not the worst one on the farm, but in case of mites, I went directly in for a hot shower and fresh clothes. I was worrying about the time it would take to herd the chickens out of the timber and into the pen. After the big round up, I would likely have to shower and change clothes again. I get poison ivy even in the dead of winter, and there is enough poison ivy in the timber to make my life miserable for months.

When I was ready to begin the chicken wrangling, I found, to my surprise, most of the chickens were already in the pen, busily scratching through the fresh hay on the ground around the coop. Some of the hens were going into the coop to inspect the space where they lay their eggs, I guess. Only Evil Roo and one of the young hens were not in the pen. I was flatly amazed. I have never seen them in that pen during the day, even if it is raining. They shelter with Duke on or under the front porch!

The entire flock had been scattered across the yard and by the creek when I had been working in their pen. I had no idea they had been aware of anything going on in their home space. Silly me. As soon as the dust settled, they apparently went to investigate the home invasion. Consequently, it only took me thirty seconds to get the little hen into the pen. Evil Roo was more of a challenge. As any good patriarch and warrior king, he would not abandon his flock, but he was not willing to give up his guerrilla advantage either. He finally agreed to enter the pen after I had skillfully herded him around the pen squawking and flapping (me, not him) for a good ten minutes.

I did not need another shower or another set of clean clothes. I had plenty of time and the chickens were safe. It just worked out because those chickens were paying attention.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wake Up with the Blues

"Just one more mornin I had to wake up with the blues
Pulled myself out of bed and put on my walkin shoes
Went up on the mountain to see what I could see
The whole world was fallin down right in front of me
Pulled myself together, put on a new face
Came down off the mountain and got back in the race."
from the Allman Brothers - Dreams

When you wake up with the blues, the way I did this morning, the only cure is to put the Allman Brothers on the stereo and crank that southern fried rock UP! That is the good news. The bad news is that I do not own a stereo and all my Allman Brothers albums were sold at a yard sale years ago.

Everyone's taste in music is personal and regardless of the snobbery of some who think classical, or jazz, or this or that, is the best, people who create music have a gift the rest of us depend upon. I rue the passing of those great old rock bands, like the Allman Brothers. They played big, loud, magnificent music and you could not feel bad listening to it.

One of Gregg Allman's early songs, "Queen of Hearts", is still one of my favorite love songs:

"And after all that we've been through I find when I think of you
A warm soft wind runs through and through, in my heart there's only you
And I will always keep on trying, togetherness brings peace of mind
Without it there'd be lonely me and oh darlin lonely you"

Of the men I have genuinely loved in my life, three are gone - two dying in their early twenties, and one dying at age 51. Two are still kickin, happily married to other women, which is the best for all involved, believe me. It does not often happen but sometimes a memory rises in my consciousness that illuminates the present for a day or two -- my first kiss, standing in the twilight of my parent's back yard the summer before high school. Flying a kite in the middle of the night from the rooftop outside our bedroom window. Slow dancing with his heartbeat against my ear, knowing we would never dance together again. Leaning against his warm and broad back as we rolled through the dark summer nights on his Harley. Seeing his face for the first time after his son was born. And all the sad, disappointing, hurtful things that broke hearts, his and mine, no matter who it was I loved.

When I get to thinking about some of that old stuff, there is only one cure: Statesboro Blues!

"I'm going to the country Baby do you want to go?
If you can't make it, your sister Lucille say she want to go
And I sure will take her
I woke up this morning, I had them Statesboro Blues
I woke up this morning, I had them Statesboro Blues
I looked over in the corner Baby and Grandpa seemed to have them too"

Play it loud!

Statesboro Blues here

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Salina - Cosmic Wormhole?

When I was a young, impressionable girl, growing up in a relatively isolated farming community in north central Kansas, my only lifelines out to the real world were television and magazines and KOMA, a rock radio station in Oklahoma. I first heard Jim Morrison and the Doors, Cream, and Jimi Hendrix on my "modern" clock radio, a Christmas gift. You could only hear rock music on KOMA, and if I remember correctly, only at night. Rock music was not yet commonplace. My mother once shouted up the stairs for me to come watch a girl singing like a man, on Ed Sullivan. I knew it could only be Janis Joplin. My mother was mildly scandalized and largely amazed. I do not think Mom ever developed an appreciation for Janis Joplin.

My girlfriend brought an edition of the Los Angeles Free Press to me as a gift. Her family had been on vacation to the West Coast and she thought of me. I was thrilled. I read and re-read every single word, every advertisement, and every classified ad. It was psychedelic, subversive, strange and beautiful. The written words vibrated in my hands. People were thinking differently, living differently. They had a new world vision and they were changing it, but I was stuck in Backwater, Kansas.

My stepfather made it a point to watch Walter Cronkite every evening before dinner. We watched the Vietnam War together as a family. I distinctly recall a big argument over the war when the troops were shown pulling back from a location. The villagers were desperately trying to climb into the helicopters, knowing what was in store for them after the Americans were gone. The soldiers were throwing the Vietnamese people away from the helicopters, even smashing their hands as they tried desperately to hold on. I was horrified. My stepfather saw it in one single frame of reference - the soldiers were surviving. I thought we were fighting the war FOR the Vietnamese people. I vocalized my horror and dissent, but nothing I said or felt was valid to my stepfather. It was an argument that was repeated countless times every evening across the entire nation.

Into this wide expanse of white, Christian, conservative, hard working American agricultural communities, rock bands came from far and wide to Salina, Kansas. It seemed totally amazing to me at the time. Now I understand it was an easy stop on the way to Denver, or Kansas City, or Dallas for those traveling bands. I saw the Beach Boys at the height of their career in Salina, Kansas. I saw Herman's Hermits, all the way from England. I can not recall every band any more. I was always amazed when the real world arrived within one hundred miles of my house. It was as if Salina was some sort of cosmic crossroads where Real Life was seeping into Kansas.

Now I know I did not have to be on the West Coast for life to come to me. It found me because life finds us all, easily, even if we live in the middle of the great quiet interior of America. I have traveled, but I never had to leave Kansas to get what my soul needed. I found real Indians in Kansas, and have gone in with them in prayer lodges. I have been blessed with the prayers and the Pipe and the Feathers of holy men and medicine women, in Kansas. My children have been blessed and prayed and drummed by these good Indian people. I became a Reiki healer, right here in Kansas.

I do not know why I chafed so under my parents' love and concern. I set myself against them early on. What had served them so well, I saw as a yoke of drudgery and unenlightenment. Nothing they did suited me. Most of my entire generation seemed to have been born with the same dissatisfaction.

I stayed in Kansas and raised my children here. I do not know how it is possible but they have turned out well, despite who raised them. My daughter called me today. She bought tickets to the upcoming Bob Dylan concert in Salina, Kansas, for me. Even though she does not like Bob Dylan and has no interest in any of his music, she is going with me. Bob Dylan is an acquired taste. It will be a personal sacrifice for her. What an amazing, loving gift.

It is such a heartfelt gesture on my daughter's part that I hate to place any negativity on it in any way, but the fact that Bob Dylan is coming to Salina, Kansas might be some sort of omen. It might be some circle completing itself, some event heralding a significant life change for me. It might cause some sort of rip in the time space continuum if Bob Dylan and I are in Salina at the same time. Perhaps the Mother Ship is coming?

Beam me up, Bob.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Landscape of My Mind

Many ancient esoteric teachings give much credence to travel in the Dream Time. Some disciplines of modern Western psychology are beginning to give a grudging nod to the possibilities of astral travel and other realities in various states of human consciousness. I spent some years paying my dreams much attention, hoping to find a clue. I have not reached any conclusions, but several dreams stand out, each in their own strange or twisted way. Welcome to my mind...

I Dream of a Celebrity:
I was living on a different planet, one of endless great empty plains and frugal vegetation. There was a terribly oppressive government on that planet and I was involved in some deadly serious subversive work against that government. I caught a series of trains in order to meet with another agent, who turned out to be none other than Florence Henderson.

When I woke up, all I could think was "Florence Henderson?! What?!"

I Crack Myself Up:
I was driving a truck overloaded with everything I owned, attempting to pilot that truck down the highway, but the steering was loose and required tremendous concentration and physical strength to keep it safely on the road. If I needed the brakes, I had to slam on them and apply every ounce of my weight and strength to bring that truck to a halt. Even then, it would never come to a complete stop.

I was careening wildly along the highway in a dangerous truck, doing my best to keep it in the correct lane and not crash into anyone or anything else. The front wheel of the truck suddenly slipped off the pavement beside a huge cliff that fell away from the roadway for hundreds of feet. I wrestled that careening truck with every ounce of my strength, bracing my legs and arms in various angles at the steering wheel. It was touch and go as to whether I could avoid going over the cliff or not, but I was determined. I fought that steering wheel and the terrible brakes until I finally had that truck back on the road and safely to a stop. I did it with willpower alone. The passenger, in awe and in relief, shouted "How did you do that?!"

I turned to the passenger and shouted back with great satisfaction and humor, "I have the strength of ten for my heart is pure!"

What Would Sigmund Say:
I dreamt my Harley had broken down along a country road and I was repairing it with wasps instead of nuts and bolts. It made perfect sense in the dream.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Autumn Comes to My Valley

My east gate, posted against hunting, yet people still ask to hunt.

The fall colors of the big bluestem are beginning to appear.

An old horseshoe used to maintain tension on a barbed wire fence. It is natural to see this artifact of the past in service today, and comforting.

Have I mentioned how much I love living here?

Living Language

Sometimes an expression will remind me of people I love, those long gone, and those still near and dear. Here is a list of the worst offenders.

"Knottin' and divvying" = planning, sometimes scheming. Karl Hansen

"Hundred-mile-an-hour tape" = duct tape. Tommy Reser

"Uglier than a mud fence" = no translation required. Grandma

"She could kill a bear with a switch" = exceedingly mean person. Grandma

"Toad strangler" = deluge, downpour of rain. Grandpa

"Nasty, nasty worms" = anything or anyone revolting. My daughter

"Dingo Man Dreaming" = acknowledgment of my son's mysterious powers. Me

"Worthless piece of shit" = term of endearment for an ex-husband. Me

"You want some cream with that?" = do not mess with me this morning. Transgender Dairyqueen employee?

"Mayor of Ass Town" = title of respect for a coworker. Me

"Plain words, simple spoke" = no room for argument. Billy Barber

"Man hater" = teasing from the son in law. My son in law

"Be glad you aren't on my list" = reply to the son in law. Me

Detente At Long Last

Evil Rooster and I have reached detente. We came to this accord some weeks ago. I have been hesitant to celebrate or make a formal announcement, but enough time has elapsed that I think it is a permanent peace.

Please let me share the sweet victory! As usual, I was not even in his vicinity and had my back turned, when I heard his hateful little footsteps coming fast behind. I had my hair wrapped in a big, thick towel. When I knew he was within range, I whipped that towel off and whacked him with it three or four times. The last time I got him just right and he went head over heels for quite a distance. For some reason, that apparently convinced him to stop the madness!

He has left me alone since that moment, my triumph in the Battle of Red Towel.