Posts Tagged ‘nature’

I don’t know where I first came  upon a favorite phrase of mine…someone’s parent used it, I think, when asked at a meal if they wanted more of something. They said,
“I’ve had an ample sufficiency;  more would be a superfluous abundance.”

Empty, full, overflowing

Don’t you love it?  I memorized that phrase on the spot and have found it fun and useful so often in my life.  It always gets a smile.

It occurs to me now that the OTHER extreme to “superfluous abundance” is something else again:  a “DIRE LACK” seems strong enough to balance the other end of the spectrum.

I ran into an article today which I found extremely interesting.  It was a talk by an atheist explaining how to ask non-athiests to accept some of the preferences of atheists! In particular was asking people not to pray for them!  It was particularly interesting to me because I am NOT an atheist, and I am sure that I have put atheists into the position of wanting to say how they prefer to be spoken to about such things as prayer, and blessings, and faith.

I was admonished a year or so ago for saying “God Bless You!” to a child’s sneeze!  I was sort of astonished, since it’s such a common sort of response to sneezes,  but the fact that the person who asked me not to say it was the father of the child.  They preferred their child not be exposed to “God Talk”, and so were censoring the kinds of things said in their house.

(So I semi-rebelliously said Gesundheit instead, and that was, somehow, okay, since no one speaks German in that house. But my reaction was knee-jerk, and not all that pure-hearted.  It was not a response of respect, at least, which is what the person may have expected of me.)

What I am puzzled about is how much we can tailor other people’s behavior in regards to their way of expressing themselves?  How okay is it to request, for instance, that someone NOT pray for you?   I say to people, quite honestly, that I will pray for them when I honestly do mean to do just that.  But when I say it, it’s not to convert them, or remind them, but it is simply a statement of how I will be putting my concerns into actionable form.  Of course, if they don’t believe in prayer, it will seem sentimental, old-fashioned, passe, and superfluous, and even obnoxious to people who severely disapprove of prayer and everyone who believes it to be effective.

But do I say to them that they are not to use atheistic terms and concepts in their conversation in my house?  No, really not.  People would pick fights all the time if that were true,  just as if someone were forbidden to speak any language but Urdu in a Palestinian home.  How divisive that would be! Of course they can speak of their belief in my house, even if it’s quite different from mine.  I would like to ask questions of that person and learn all I can about their beliefs.

If a person comes with a good-will gift, and that gift happens to be something repugnant to me, I will accept it with gratitude.  What seems good to some may seem awful to others, but a gift is a gift, and it’s the sincere gesture that counts, and the reception should be sincere as well.

Kindness makes for active tolerance of discomfort. Divisions happen when the “give and take” are refused.

But how much is too much?  And how about the opposite…too much restriction?

We used to be told in church to “witness” to others– actively and consistently.  This was one of the acts that Christians were to do.  Of course other religions have their ways of spreading what they believe.  And if they are earnestly innocent of ulterior motives (fishing for proselytes) they are simply doing what they truly believe is right.

There is a moving barrier in conversations across philosophies.  In this age of “coming out” when you are “different” in a way that is not always accepted, like gay, or Republican, or anti-gun rights,  you have realized by now that saying so will often cause a ripple of dissension and maybe even drive people away from you.   You learn to do it discreetly, and hopefully when others have learned that you are not a stupid person, or a fanatic, or a public enemy, but someone who has other “features” that makes you worth knowing even if you ARE something “odd.”

How about the ones who are coming up against the established accepted practices?

How much do we who have strong opinions about, say,  war, or God, or evolution, or global warming, ask of others to make room for our preferences?  When I go to a talk about athiesm, am I suppoosed to stand up and chant something to express my difference of opinion?  Only if I am on a campaign and am willing to take the issue to court, or to war, or to the press.  If I went  to this talk simply to understand others’ point of view, I have no business making a scene.

What if they come to my home and start telling me that I must stop believing in God and that I am ruining my family by not being an atheist?  Well, they will not be particularly cheered on, I will assure you.  If they persist, I may not invite them again– but it will be because they have delivered a superfluous abundance of their creed in my space, where my own creed is as precious as theirs, and it is offending me.  It’s just not polite.

So, how does one handle, say, a babysitter who is of the “other” persuasion, whatever that is?  Does one tell them what words are not acceptable?   I’m not sure how long the children will believe that everyone is like their parents,  but I can tell you that my kids learned an encyclopedia of words never allowed in our house on their first ride on a public school bus!  What a shattering experience!

I let my children play with the neighborhood group even though their creed was very different from mine.  There were words exchanged casually long before school days that caused them to realize that different families had some rather major differences in “okay-ness.”  It was still a shock to learn all the really “dirty” words on that schoolbus, but they were also aware that the world will be hugely different in a lot of ways from us.

AND, counter to what I wanted, they had a great time adopting all these forbidden words!!

  What one resists, persists…and parents should be aware of that.

Live and let live!  As we bump around and run into people who put their hands together and say “Shalom”, and into other people who sock us in the arm and say “What’s up, buddy?”, that both of those people are giving us respect as they are inclined to do, and all are worthy of our acceptance of their greeting.  It’s just polite!

I think no one ever did damage by allowing another his own creed, unless that other is trying to force his creed on others.  I will not adopt anything that is crammed down my throat.  But  will be thankful for people sharing their personal views honestly with me, and I will continue to pray for them, even if they don’t want me to.  It is not an act of aggression, after all,  and if they don’t believe in it anyway, why should it bother them?

Might as well tell people not to smile at you, as not to pray for you.

My atheist friends just say “I will send good thoughts”, and that’s okay with me!  I can use all the good thoughts I can get!

It’s all a journey.  And it’s good to have language with fellow travelers that crosses divides.

Old Swimmer


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You know how it is when you call those 800 numbers, don’t you?  You get voices saying how important your call is to their recorded selves.  Then you get options.

If you are Spock, this works.

Seth Godin is my new live person on my computer.  I find him with his lovely large forehead with myriad “smiles” (those creases some folks have lined up when they raise their eyebrows) dropping a little gem into my email.  I open them right away.

Here’s what Seth told me today:


YES!  This is why some people so enjoy the dashboard life!  It’s safe behind that keyboard and earphones!   No sticky messes to address!

I love Seth’s analogy (you did read the link, didn’t you?) and absolutely agree with every scrimptum of what he is saying.

I LOVE my computer.  It’s my connection to the whole world.

But there is NOTHING…nothing in the universe…more joyfully rewarding and more frighteningly fraught with “tarbabies” than human interaction.

I would die for my family.   But I can certainly imagine life without a computer…I’ve been planning for a while what I will do when cyberspace shuts down.   Only a matter of time… the cloud is heavy with potential bad weather.

Lurking in a wet environment

Old Swimmer

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Certain things happen over and over again, even if you don’t want them to.  Or even if you want them to, they happen very often at the most surprising time– or at least sooner than you would like.  Or later.  Like weather does.

  • Last Spring and This Winter

What you see in the large image is what the shop looked like about 10 weeks after we moved to this remote cabin about 800 feet up in the Olympic National Forest foothills.  A perfect spot for making art and carving bowls.  The boxes you see in there are unpacked items that had not yet found a good place to land, and the mess in the carport was stuff left from the previous tenant(s) who have enjoyed this property over its forty some years of existence.  The picnic table is sitting at that odd angle with its nearest side missing its bench board, because of the many times the driveway there has been badly flooded with run-off from the high mountains over to the left.  In rainy seasons, endless water comes from those hillsides, and in spring snow melt makes it even more dramatic.  The picnic table just kept sinking and sinking, and its big bolts rusted out and the wood expanded and contracted and then split, leaving the bench on the ground and rusty bolts sticking up at people contemplating finding a seat.   I find this table indispensable for outdoor carving and other messy projects.  I am indebted to the landlord for refusing to move that table (as if anyone could move it without simply sawing it up and burning it in the fire pit.) He knew how handy it always had been.

As you see, July turned into January of the following year, and the records will show that we had a record breaking winter storm during the first part of January which dumped well over a foot of snow all over the place.. over our trees (some of the well over 100 feet and with limbs stretching well over fifteen feet laterally, with lots of good surface footage to collect heavy loads of snow), and piled up an extra-huge layer of white on the picnic table.  Attatched to the building there are tarps to direct the wet or frozen material from the eaves to somewhere outside the unsealed base of the building.  The floors are not graded, and water likes to run inside. It is a garage, after all, most people think!

I have been maintaining two moats that go abreast of the building– the one of the left is currently a swiftly running river which, by human design, skirts the underpinnings of the building and sends the rushing water off into the woods as it slopes down behind.  On the right side is a smaller moat leading from the flood-prone graveled area to a groove dug around the periphery of the carport, which also (if debris is kept clear) moves toward the back of the building and then down the gorge to the right.  I have no idea where it goes from there, but am just happy to see it not staying near my shop for any length of time.

The cycle of seasons is clearly a life-principle that reminds us mortals that there are systems that we don’t control.  And the same sorts of things happen in all realms of life, for better or worse.

The repeat of relationship dysfunctions insists on reappearing time and time again.  Even through generations, things happen a certain way because they ALWAYS happened that way in a given family.  Opening one’s eyes to see the patterns is very difficult.  And while it is  difficult to understand the pattern as regards other people in an “off” relationship, it is nearly impossible to get any objectivity as to one’s own patterns within the cycle.

Dance of Anger is a helpful book.  Case studies on close relationships that are awry– and the story of how certain people approached mending this.

I am by nature a person who abandons things I cannot solve.  Really.  No wonder I have several really special friends who have accused me of being disloyal and abandoning them.  Well, it was out of self-preservation.  How did I get into these relationships?  Out of caring for the good things in these worthwhile and excellent people.  But I can not weather the storms that arise in these particular close relationships– not with the tools I currently have.  How long would it take to teach a 74 year old woman new tricks?

Actually, I have had professional counsel that leaving these relationships alone was a good move– because the gyrations of keeping them alive was going to make me nuts. I was told that the other party, in each case, was one that needed therapy also, and that was not something I could do for them.  And they would not.  One of the very serious mistakes I have made over and over again is choosing just the kinds of interesting folks who will get into this interplay with me– and it’s likely because it is a pattern that I grew up with and thought was normal.  I thought it was just natural to be bullheaded and to have close relatives who were also bullheaded and self-absorbed.  (Not a good combo if two such ones try to collaborate without some professional coaching.)

So, I need reworking — but I’m too tired now to do it. (the bullheaded part of me is insisting that that is true, and my aches say amen.)

I hope others will get smart soon and find out soon enough what is causing a disagreeable and disheartening demise of good friendships and other relationships.  Identifying the pattern is the biggest part of stopping the cycle.

It can, happily, work the other way.  I like the way bread teaches you how to handle it so that the loaf comes out smelling and tasting exactly perfect– a win win. You make mistakes, but you adjust…and you read about yeast and flour and heat and timing and try again.  In a while, you wonder how you didn’t make a good loaf of bread!  You forget the clumbsies you committed because you and the bread have created a cooperative give and take that works for both of you and produces something special.

May the readers of this enjoy mostly good cycles and learn to make the most of them.  Like all that snow in the small picture above… it makes the green happen next spring.  And the table gets lower and lower.  Soon a bench will be moot.

old swimmer


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raindrops in the workshop

raindrops in the workshop

We have been looking for rain for a long time.  The forest is dry;  the bracken is yellow; the fire danger signs are up;  the bears are coming down from the mountains looking for food, and so are the deer and their accompanying predators, the mountain lions.

Every thing is coming down from up above.  And the rain is a relief.  But it’s coming down in some wrong places!

I knew the water problem would come up with fall weather.  We have a ditch dug, thanks to a nice person named Alfredo who works for my landlord.  Last winter my son dug out a ditch in front of the garage apron and filled it with gravel. But what about the water that comes down ON the apron and invites itself into my workshop area?

Seemed to me, working out there today, that a shed roof installed over the apron would be a plan:  something to direct the water into the driveway at least.  I rigged something just to see if it would work.  I spent probably two hours fussing around with long sticks and also with some left over shingles.  The picture shows the wonderful black plastic solution I came up with, using long sticks as springs propped against the supports in the garage doors, and such.  The shingles are now arranged shingle style on the apron, hoping the rain will decide to shed down into the driveway, but the apron is really quiet flat, not sloped.  I need a dam in my doorway!  And I need to put the stuff in the carport on stilts!  (I need to get rid of it.)

Well, I did get some work done in the shop today, but most of the progress was conducted in my studio where chips and leather scraps are on the floor and things are drying here and there.  It’s good to see some progress.  A vase I have been working on for several days (actually it started months ago with the basic repair of a large check in its side,) got its finishing touches today.  I have created a handle that is installed right over the epoxied and stained crack — quite an invention our of leather scraps and with little holes burned along a strip that I sewed with waxed linen thread and then affixed to the side of the vase with escutcheon pins and two strong leather supports.  The final move was to lace the stitched handle so it had a uniform shaped grip.  I think it’s quite handsome, really.  Not useful– just handsome.  One can put fake flowers in this, or dry weeds.  Or nothing.  It looks as if it has a history.  Well, it has!

Who knew where that tree grew, and how and why it was cut down,  and why the wood turner chose that particular shape, and why the wood decided to crack open just there?  Many hands have handled this piece of wood, including mine.  I know that other hands will come at the bowl outstretched to feel the smoothness of the satiny wood and to try out the handle.  They will look inside and ask if water can be put in there (no), and then they will have their inner dialog about whether they should part with a sum of money for something that is only decorative…but it’s so decorative, after all.  And it’s hand made.  And it’s smooth.    Someone will buy it and love it a lot.  Like I have.


Old Swimmer

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My thoughts as I work on this piece (it is sitting on my printer right now under my Blue Max light in the middle of the night,) have moved from the sort of rhyming name I have given to this piece to the natural significance of its title.

Earth begets trees.  Sky begets seas.  The soil and matter recycles from plant to compost to soil and around again.  The sky returns the sea’s moisture in rain and snow and saves it in vapor.  The stars look on like my Blue Max light is watching me work at midnight.

A nice trip to go on this September day.. thinking about the turn of the season,  and working on wood products for the coming bazaars and retail venues.  What to present for Christmas shoppers?  Shall it be themed, or just beautiful and/or useful?

My privilege is to play with these objects and see what comes of it.  Often it’s scrapped.  I have a boatload of unmet expectations…and some of them have been yanked out and reworked a second or third or fourth time.

The nicest thing about a “bad” bowl is that I have permission to try wild and impetuous things with it.  This is the stuff that keeps my inner artist keen while I work at the mundane tasks:  patching, shaping, sealing, carving, staining and coloring, putting on coats of appropriate finish.

Sometimes these experiments have weeks of work tied up in them by the time I have done all I want to.  There is no way I will ever be paid much for all this except inside myself.  I like it.  That’s pay.   The other kinder gentler creations will bring in some revenue to support the play-stuff.   Thank you, woods.  Thank you earth, sky and seas.

Old Swimmer

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Before, After, and Later on at Mt. St. Helens


Today is the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001.


Then and Now at the 9-11 World Trade Tower Site  Recently I watched a video in German about the eruption in 1980 of Mount St. Helens.  The photography is fabulous, but what sticks with me is the degree of devastation,  the widespread effects it had not only on the nearby states, but on the whole world, and ESPECIALLY what sticks with me is the image of a little rodent mole creature digging out and rebuilding.  The story is a victory story.

What I get from this video is the answer to “what can one do?”  One can do a lot.  Individuals, each doing what he can do well in his given corner can grow a whole new ecosystem in a barren place.

The much coverage of our 9/11 monstrosity event AND the progress report on what individuals have built so far from the chasm left after the collapse of the twin towers will, I hope, give the same hopeful after-memory to linger after the pomp and circumstance, the tears and mourning and remembrances are over.

I don’t have a TV in my quarters.  I could go upstairs to the part of the house occupied by my co-renter and watch her TV if I wanted, but I have plenty to do here without the constant invasion of media and my connection via internet is sufficient for me to keep in touch with world events.  This is how I keep my artistic sanity.  Not for everyone, but it works well for me.

So I am knowing through conversations with fellow travelers in my world that they are inundated with the sorrowful commemorative rites and are turning off their TV’s.  I hope they somehow get a message that we are still alive and able to function as long as we don’t stay focused on the debris all around us…as long as we begin by moving big boulders in front of our own front doors and making our paths clear to do our regular life duties.  This is what it will take.  Simple.  A matter of duty and regular daily work done with patience and hopefully, skill.

This is what I am hoping for this poor old world of ours…and for the relatively young, but still brash, country we live in.

I talk about the end times often, thinking in Bible Prophesy terms.  In the very large picture, I am expecting this,  and have hope because of remedies laid out long ago to help victors through the devastation to come.  But in the meantime, we are told to “occupy.”  And, like that little mole-like creature in the German YouTube video, I hope to be faithful and hopefully also skillful in my efforts to do my daily vocation(s).

Old Swimmer


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Just one bough of the Red Huckleberry bush outside my window.

Maybe it is too much coffee, but I think it’s more likely the weather.  September in the Pacific Northwest is often my most favorite month for clean air, brilliant sunshine and sparkling changes in the woods.

I tried sleeping several times today — after all it’s the day after the weekly huge project of setting up, running and taking down the Farmer’s Market booths.  Usually on Sunday I do a lot of catch-up sleeping.   But today my attention kept wandering out the window, no matter how good being prone felt.  I have the most wondrous forest outside my big bedroom windows, and today, as I tipped my head back on the pillow to see the upside-down view beyond the head of my bed,  the sunlight had just hit a bough of red huckleberries making them into translucent orbs of magical lights on the green bough.  I had to grab the camera and go out there.

Along with the huckleberries I took shots of what I consider KCQ’s tree… a giant sequoia that my cat, (Kitty Cat Quantum) climbed in terror in the early spring months and where he could not get down until an arborist, tree-climber expert came to rescue him!  There is no way to take a close=up shot of such a tall tree.

The tree soars well over a hundred feet into the air, and the cat was lodged about forty feet up where the branches begin.  He didn’t know how to get down.  (being mostly an indoor cat.)

Is it okay if I change my favorite time of the year to September?  It used to be April because that was the beginning of wonderful summer months of vacation and such.  But now I like September for other sorts of reasons.  The smell of the sun on drying leaves.  The amazing changes in the colors– different from one day to the next.  The possibility of snow.  The cleansing of rain.  The drama in the sky.  The thankfulness of the land for moisture after some dry weeks of late summer.  The changing of the guard in the wildlife.

My son said it’s quite possible that Elk will come down from the mountains and appear around here as the food becomes more scarce in the colder elevations.  I do know two cougars are lurking around this area– they have been seen.  It may well be that their regular prey are coming down — the deer and elk.

I saw two adult Mulies and a young deer leaping away over the lawn when I went out two mornings ago. Lovely to see.   A carpenter bee has made a perfectly round hole in the side of our house.  I will have to get some diatomaceous earth to put down that hole to rout out her eggs and keep our house from becoming an extensive apartment building for carpenter bees.

Someone came and dug a great trench on the watery side of the garage I use for a workshop.  It is going to save me from working in a flooded garage this winter.  Now I must figure out how to be warm in there.   There’s an old wood stove, but no stovepipe.  Insulation is needed.  Rubber padding on the floor.

It’s probably partly the old student in my getting ready for R & D …  something left over from school days.  But I think it’s just euphoria, with the air, and the sun, and the sky, and the possibilities.

I’d like to bottle this for future dreary months ahead.  But never mind.  I’ll click my heels today, even though the Phillies lost and I have a broken fingernail that I’m afraid to clip.  Such trivia!

Just LOOK at those Huckleberries!

Old Swimmer

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