Thursday, January 5, 2017

We Were Made For These Times

"We Were Made For These Times" is by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. She is an American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst, as well as author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.)

A friend of mine re-posted this on his Facebook feed. He posted it in 2008 originally. It just shows that plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose (the more things change the more they stay the same.) (attributed to Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr)

"My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn't you say you were a believer? Didn't you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn't you ask for grace? Don't you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I, too, have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for."

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Into Putin's Hands?


I saw this on an MSN news feed and thought it was pretty interesting reading. Let's keep vigilant, folks. One eye open and one foot moving. Let's not go to sleep. Or get complacent.

The Republicans are Delivering America into Putin's Hands
by David Klion of The Guardian

At the beginning of the 18th century, Poland was one of the largest states in Europe, a sovereign, multi-ethnic republic. By the end of the century it had vanished from the map, absorbed by the expanding empires of Russia, Prussia and Austria.
Poland was brought down not by invading armies, but by the weaknesses of its political system, which could be paralyzed by a single noble’s veto and thus easily compromised by outside powers offering bribes. By the end, Catherine the Great of Russia had even taken the king of Poland as a lover.

Three centuries have passed, but Poland’s experience carries uncomfortable lessons for the US in 2016.

Last week, Barack Obama ordered the CIA to review evidence that Russia was behind a series of cyber-attacks that compromised Hillary Clinton’s campaign and may have helped Donald Trump win the presidency. There is also a strong consensus that Trump’s businesses and advisers have extensive connections to the Russian government.
In short, the Kremlin appears to have directly interfered with an American election in order to boost a presidential candidate with a Russia-friendly foreign policy.

It shouldn’t be surprising that Vladimir Putin would want to interfere in US politics to advance Russia’s foreign policy goals – from curtailing NATO to ending sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine and preserving Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria. And as many critics of US foreign policy have noted, Washington has its own long history of meddling in foreign elections, including in Russia and its closest neighbors. Maybe the turnabout is fair play.
But what should surprise and disturb all Americans is that our political institutions, and above all the Republican party, are so vulnerable to Russian interference. The Republican party, traditionally associated with a hawkish stance toward Moscow, threw its support behind a presidential candidate who openly called on Russia to hack his opponent’s campaign.

According to CIA sources who spoke anonymously to the Washington Post, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell told Obama and leading Democrats that he would regard any effort to release evidence of Russian interference before the election as partisan. In other words, he put his own party’s interest in electing Trump and gutting the welfare state ahead of the national interest.

Neither he, nor House speaker Paul Ryan, nor any other leading Republican seems the slightest bit apologetic about the Republican party’s all but open alliance with Putin.

Before 2016, it would have been unthinkable that Russia, or any foreign power, could exert this kind of influence on the US political process. That’s because no national politician before Trump would ever have been comfortable aligning so shamelessly with a rival government.
Trump has obliterated this norm, along with so many others, and his party has gone along with him. The Republican’s contempt for the democratic process and the national interest have created an opening Putin never could have created himself.

Besides the Republican party, America’s weakness can be seen in what appears to be an escalating war between our domestic intelligence agency, the FBI and our foreign intelligence agency, the CIA. The FBI released damaging information about Hillary Clinton shortly before the election, which may have swung the outcome in key states and allowed for the election of Trump on a law and order platform. Meanwhile, the CIA is belatedly undermining Trump by releasing information about his foreign ties. This is not the sign of a healthy democracy.
America’s political system is as broken as that of 18th-century Poland. Our territory may not be under threat, but our ability to govern ourselves without outside interference is. Our antiquated electoral system has yielded a president-elect who is unqualified and temperamentally unstable, and who is openly building a kleptocratic state closely modeled on Putin’s, to whom he arguably owes his victory. Given America’s vast arsenal and international commitments, a government that can be so easily swayed by outside powers represents a danger to the entire world.

In an 1838 speech in Illinois, a young Abraham Lincoln considered how the United States might fall, asking: “Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never!”
Instead, he warned, “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.”

Today, Russia may be a transatlantic giant, but the author and finisher of America’s destruction is weeks away from the White House, with Lincoln’s party firmly behind him.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

I Couldn't Handle It


I had a momentary thought to get on the internet for the Black Friday deals. I had a couple things in mind to get for Marty and Ari and I was not about to get into the crowds in the stores. I think I have claustrophobia and besides, there are so many germs. Howard Hughes and I have a teeny bit in common.


O, woe, it was not what I thought.

First off, the things I wanted were not on sale or they were "sold out" (click here so we can let you know when they are available). Then other things I wanted were available but the discount came in the form of gift "cards" so you would be locked into spending your discount at the place where you purchased the original item. For a person like me who buys very little and then more than likely only one thing  at a time this was an anathema.

So I gave up. I'll go find these items somewhere in a real live bricks and mortar store. I might not get a deep discount but I'll have the satisfaction of spending only what I want to spend on the thing I want to buy and not get roped into buying more than I need. The rest of my gifts will be handmade.

Here's my theory and contest it if you will but I think this Black Friday business is just for people who spend, spend, spend and love to surf the internet or brave the crowds as some sort of ritual. They are ok with seeing what they can find for the most part randomly and getting a spur of the moment good deal. This is my humble opinion.
The best of luck to all these people and I hope someday they realize this is not the path to happiness. It's just not me.
I like what this guy says about "stuff".

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2016/11/24/efficiency-is-the-highest-form-of-beauty/

I hope you had a really, really nice Thanksgiving and that the Christmas season will find you joy and peace.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Trained Beyond Use

I had a hard time figuring out what to entitle this piece. I thought about "Adjust to Fit the Situation" because what I'm feeling right now seems like a horse training philosophy promoted by Tom Dorrance, the famous natural horsemanship trainer.


But "Trained Beyond Use" won out because it, too, is a horsemanship phrase and it feels more apropos. You see Marty and I are studying to become real estate agents. Our state test is scheduled at the end of this month and we are studying with an unrivalled ferocity. We have to make this work. And we will. Living on social security doesn't cut it. So we're adjusting to fit the situation. (Thanks Tom) We'd love to be able to make a living from our homestead but that isn't in the cards. Anyway, not any time soon. Even the redoubtable Corina and Steve of Marblemount Homestead, who I love to follow and learn from, have Steve going off for part of the year working for wages to plant trees for reforestation.
Alas and alack, we're too old for that. So what can we do?

To keep it within budget we signed up for self study through an online class. We passed the first hurdle and received our certificate of completion which entitled us to sign up for the state test. Now we're preparing ourselves with a few hours study every day. We're going through chapters in the last book which is the exam prep book and then we take the quiz at the end of the each chapter.

I saw this house recently. Look at all the amazing architectural details.
The quiz questions are badly worded and the answers sometimes incorrect! The questions are about things that I am 100% positive we will never use as agents. Subject matters such as Legal Descriptions, Methods of Acquiring Title, and Deeds,  or Encumbrances, Liens, and Homesteads sounds benign enough. (Is your head popping just reading that? Mine is!) But then you get to the chapter on Taxation and you start to really wonder. That's when I feel like what John  Lyons said during one horse training seminar. He stood up in the arena in his usual way and asked the crowd if they knew what the term "dressage" meant in French (it was originally a French system for the refined training of horses). A few people volunteered an answer and then he said you're close but it actually means " trained beyond use".
Everyone laughed.
Now I doubt that is the real definition in French. It sounds pretty sassy and John Lyons was a funny guy prone to injecting humor into his seminars. But it fits. I feel trained beyond use.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

It's a Wonderful Life


I was recently reflecting on how much my life has changed since I moved out of the city and into the life in The Big Valley. First the northern part of The Big Valley and now the middle part of The Big Valley. If only it were more like what Barbara Stanwyck's and Linda Evans' life was like on the TV show set. Being a rancher is a very interesting existence. It's nothing like City Life. Maybe even 100% different in every way. Here's a list I have compiled in the 5 years I have been away from City Life that I have to gratefully and sometimes not-so-gratefully contend with.


Thinking I washed all the chicken feathers/horse hair/etc. off and then getting in bed at night and finding more.

Finding alfalfa in the washer and dryer, my bra and hair, shoes and pockets.

Painting my nails not because it's pretty but because I can't seem to get all the dirt out from underneath.

Sweeping the dust off the floor and then having to go back and do it again because it's never ending and then saying heck with it and not sweeping the floor and letting it accumulate until I'm disgusted.

Having a "Farmer Tan" (i. e. electric white forehead, upper arms, legs and torso; George Hamilton color on face and forearms and hands)

Going to the auction to pick up what we bought and calling it a vacation.

Having to stop whatever I'm are doing to chase (horses, chickens, dogs, guineas, etc.) that got out on the road (usually in the dark in the rain). Thanking God I live in the middle of nowhere so there's no traffic and no one gets hit by a car/truck/pick up.

Not knowing what holiday it is because I basically work 24/7 360 days a year.

Buying boots and gloves is a bigger decision than buying a car.

All my clothes have stains on them except a couple nice outfits that are back in the closet that I never wear.

My (horses, cows, chickens, etc) live better than I do. (they're essentially on welfare.)

I really look forward to when it rains because I can stay inside.

A romantic adventure is riding out with Marty to move cows from one pasture to the other.

Shopping for clothes in the men's section of Tractor Supply because they're sturdier and fit better.

Realizing that being a "morning" person looks good on the resume because the work day prevents me from sleeping in. (Always.)

Getting my boot stuck in the mud and my foot pulls out of it and there I am having to figure out how to get the stuck boot out while balancing on one leg. In the middle of cow/horse/pig/etc. shit.

Thinking the smell of horse manure is pretty good! (but not extending that to pig manure or dairy cow pee. That I've just gotten used to.)

Having animal tails smack me in the face while I'm working on them.

My haute couture is dirty jeans, a grungy baseball cap and a snap button cowboy shirt.

Having peanut butter sandwiches for dinner because I'm too tired to fix anything and I forgot to set the crock pot to cooking in the morning.

Thinking the cooing of chickens is better than music.

Having to explain to my city friends what those Burdizzo pinchers are that are on the kitchen counter. And what they are used for.


Monday, August 29, 2016

She's My Daughter She's My Sister


Some of you may remember the iconic movie China Town which was a fictionalized account of how water was gotten from the Owens Valley to supply the growing metropolis of Los Angeles. That was the subplot. The main plot involved an investigation into the murder of an engineer married to the local power broker's daughter, Evelyn Mulray, by private eye J.J. Gittes, played by Jack Nicholson. All this was part and parcel to the subplot of stealing water from the Owens Valley.
Somewhere along the line J.J., confused but smelling a rat, tries to get the truth out of Evelyn, played by Faye Dunaway, and he slaps her as she says, "She's my daughter. (slap) "She's my sister". Finally, breaking down, "She's my daughter AND my sister".  It turns out that the power broker, Noah Cross, played by John Huston, molested his daughter and a child was the result.

My recent turmoil of not being able to get my Valley Fever medication - Itraconazole, it controls the spores in my lungs, keeps them from taking over - felt just like China Town.  In a moment you'll see why. But first let me preface it by saying three months ago I found out my meds were not going to cost $100 a month any more but over $400. $424 to be exact. Humana, the health coverage, couldn't/wouldn't help.


I went into hyper-drive to find a solution, calling internet help sites but none of them covered my weird medication. Would something else work? No, I patiently explained. We've been through that. The cheap meds give me excruciating joint pain.
Finally, I contacted the pharmaceutical and my Madera primary care doctor. Both my PCP and I made application to Johnson & Johnson to their Patient Assistance Program. I made application, too, because I didn't trust my doctor to make the application in a timely manner. I only knew her for a couple months and I wasn't sure if she had True Grit.
Two days before I was going to run out I got word from J&J that they denied my application.


I then went on GoFundMe to get by with a little help from my friends (I was desperate) and sure enough my friends were my friends and I was able to get a month's supply. Whew. Now I had 30 days to keep working on it. I then saw Dr. Thompson, my Valley Fever doctor,  who has been with me since 2012. I told him what was going on and he said we'll get the UC Davis Infectious Disease Pharmacy working on it. Now we were getting somewhere.
The very next day I got a call from my Primary Care doctor saying that J&J had called them and had approved assistance after all and that they would be sending a retail card*. This was two weeks after I would have run out had my friends not helped out.

A week later I got a letter from Humana saying they would help, too. Actually, it was a letter (and I was copied) to my Valley Fever doctor Dr. Thompson.


I don't understand how this "system" works.
I think I could call this blog The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease but She's My Daughter is what it feels like.
* a retail card means I get my medication free for a year! Yippee!


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Dust If You Must

We got back yesterday from the Memorial for my friend Georgia who found out she had a terminal brain tumor 3 years ago. It was a fine memorial and I walked away thinking what would Georgia say if she had been here to contribute? Many people had recollections of her and they were all wonderful. They said things like she was brave until the end but I had a different experience of her. She was human until the end. She was not brave. She was confused. She was angry. She was extremely sad. And she was also sometimes brave. It's ok to eulogize her as being brave until the end. I don't have a problem with that. Much. It's a bummer to pass but as Mark Twain said someone has to do it.

So I think I will videotape a short speech before I pass and have those guys play it at my memorial. I want to make a contribution, too. Don't worry. I'll try to be nice.

Life goes on as they say.

I'm going to visit my sister in Colorado. I'm really looking forward to it for a number of reasons. My sister turned out to be a really cool person who I get along with really well. Oh boy. It could have been different but it's not and for that I feel grateful. It's really nice to get along with someone who understands you and your family dynamic. It's really nice to have someone like that who you can talk to about anything and they won't judge you. Yes, I'm really looking forward to being with her. Lucky me.
She also gives me free laser treatments because she's a part time aesthetician. The treatments are a drop in the bucket of wrinkles and brown spots but I'll take whatever I can get. Also the weather is so much better out there. It's in the tolerable high 80s instead of the intolerable low 100s. She likes to do things I like to do. We're going to the best second hand store on the planet. I'm going to tell you what it is and I'm not afraid that you will get all the good stuff. There's plenty there. So here it is. It's Mile High Thrift in Denver. I don't even much look for clothes anywhere else. I see something retail and then I think, no, wait until you get to Mile High.

Then we're going to the Peach Festival and maybe learn how to line dance and walk and talk and walk and talk. Yah. We have fun.
So I'm running around trying to prepare so when Marty's here holding down the fort things won't degrade too badly. Marty is actually quite good at holding up his end of the stick. The house will be clean when I return and I'll not worry one lick about the animals. Maybe I'll worry about the plants because he has that black thumb. So I'll call him once a day and say how are the tomatoes looking? And they'll be fine.

I was out in the horse barn this morning after rounds and noticing the accumulation of dust.


I really wanted to get a rag and then I said no. I thought of my favorite poem.
Dust If You Must
by Rose Milligan

Dust if you must but wouldn't it be better
to paint a picture or write a letter?
Bake a cake or plant a seed,
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must but there's not much time
with rivers to swim and mountains to climb.
Music to hear and books to read,
Friends to cherish and life to lead.

Dust if you must but the world's out there
with the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair,
a flutter of snow, a shower of rain.
This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must but bear in mind,
old age will come and it's not kind.
And when you go and go you must,
you yourself will make more dust.

So what are you going to do today?