Monday, October 31, 2005

A Common Touch

The master farrier, occam's better half, put horseshoes on the old gelding today. He is ridden lightly as he has seen 25 years. While being worked on, his mate was fretful and pranced about her corral, worried over being left alone. Until she finally slipped and fell, hurting her hind leg. We aren't sure how serious it is yet. When you have animals, it is always something. They are as bad as children.

There is another Supreme Court nominee. Poor Harriet was harried into withdrawing. We'll never know what kind of judge she would've made. Now we will learn about Samuel Alito. And the Republic churns on...

Tonight is halloween. Sometimes I wish I could be scared. My favorite meat is heart. How scary is that?

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? I will spend less this year. (See yesterday's posting.) Too bad I'm not talented at making crafts. I'm envious of people who give homemade gifts. I can write. Want a poem? Not mine I'm sure. I have one to post tomorrow. It is fitting for the season of lessening daylight.

You may wonder why all my blog links are doctors. Why not? They are articulate, often funny, and cover human experience like no other professional can.

I will now explain why our place is called The Double Barrel Ranch. When we first saw the raw land in 1987 we found two very chummy barrel cacti growing together. When we moved here in 1988 we brought some of our belongings in two old fashioned wooden barrels. And we each had a double barrel shotgun. That was enough for me to see it was a natural name. Today the original barrel cacti are gone but others have sprung up to continue the tradition. In fact, we have two double barrel cacti here. Contrary to myth, one cannot get water to drink from cutting open a barrel cactus. They are just fine, plump, barbed green cactus with outstanding flowers and bright yellow fruits. If you must eat something from a cactus, eat its fruit. Lots of goo and seeds, fiber, good for you.

I've really cranked out the mundane today. Nothing cosmic on my mind. Pardonnez-moi. Nil desperandum. Be patient, occam will return, better than ever.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Divine Comedy

On October 23rd I posted "A Fistful of Dollars" and today I have a few more thoughts on revenue deficiency. I will preface by warning you that I struggle to decipher reality from false perceptions. To quote Carole King, "I feel the earth move under my feet". My sense is not your common sense. As I said earlier, in high school I was a rebel's rebel. I was too extreme for the hippies. Too unconventional for the nerds. Too aloof for the jocks. Too remote for the teachers to reach. I'm only answerable to the Deity. And today the sermonizer proclaims that poverty is an attitude of the mind. If I decide to think that I am really richly blessed, it will be so? God wants me to prosper in all areas of my life: relationships, physically, in the pocketbook, in my mind? Will He bestow on me the perceptual faculties to discern only this "truth" and not reality? Perhaps God only wants me to recognise the good things and forget the adverse circumstances, those very circumstances that shape me into a stronger human being? No, I think God does not want me to be a mindless cult worshipper. I believe He wants me to know good and bad. And that my attitude should be to live through whatever is my life. To me that means conflict. Peace is for the next life. God doesn't want to prosper everyone in every way all the time. Although I don't want to presume to speak for God, being just another peon. But from my exerience, as short as it is, life goes up and life goes down. There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven." Ecclesiastes.

Tomorrow I have to pay bills that total over $1000, and I'm a couple hundred short. Contrary to common sense, I am not worried, not panicked, I will sleep like a baby tonight. If I wake up tomorrow I will deal with it. See how insanely trusting I am? I didn't even buy a lottery ticket! Gut Gott! I expect conflict and I live it. Nothing new.

When I thrust from my mother's womb there was a message banner for me hanging above the delivery bed: All hope abandon ye who enter here!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

My Comfortable Opinion

Just another beautiful 80 degree day in southern Arizona. Sorry, I can't help myself. I brag because I love it here so much.

But I also love to travel. The only major region of the US that I have not visited is the Pacific Northwest. I've heard it is lush and green there, but also cloudy and rainy. I had enough clouds and rain where I grew up thank you. But I've been to Europe and the South Pacific, Mexico and Canada of course. My favorite city is Venice, Italy and my favorite wilderness area (outside of Arizona) is somewhere near Shillington, Ontario, Canada, where a stream runs through a natural chute of black rock. If you can find Watabeag Lake you can find it somewhere nearby, I think. I haven't seen it in over 25 years but if it stuck in my mind this long, it must be really special. Northern Ontario is a real treasure of wilderness. And I am not being paid by Travel Canada or whatever they are called these days. I just love Canada. Even though they have repressive gun laws. In the states, Wyoming and Colorado are the places I've seen that can touch the wilderness in your soul. My favorite island is the Cook Islands. They speak British English there and it is lots cheaper than Tahiti. But Prince Edward Island is a close second. Beaches are a little cooler in Canada though. My favorite mountain is right outside my window. It isn't the highest or the easiest to visit, but it is familiar and I know a lot of special places up there. Nothing can beat a free campsite at 9500 feet in June with an 80 degree temperature when at home, 30 miles away, it is 105. Enough travelogue.

A Cox News Service article in today's paper reports on a 60 page booklet produced by Roman Catholic leaders that says the bible is not "fully...accurate" nor does it have "complete historical precision". This comes as a shock to fundamentalists who believe the bible is the inerrant word of God. But they aren't Catholics anyway, so who cares what R.C. bishops say? When I was in a parochial elementary school I was taught about God creating the world in 6 days and then taught evolution. Nothing seemed amiss. Can the bible be without error and still be not fully accurate? Seems a contradition. But we live with contradictions every day. Do I have to spell it out? Most Americans need to lose a few, or more than a few, pounds to be healthy. Everyone wants to be healthy. But we continue to eat junk food. Even moi. I ate some halloween candy this afternoon. Shame on me. And I was even losing weight. Until today. How did this get to be a discussion on weight? Anyway, let the bishops nit pick. There is incredible truth in the bible, both the old and new versions, the Greek, Hebrew, English whatever language it is translated to. It still stands as the Greatest Story Ever Told. (Apologies to Cecil B. De Mille, I think that was his cinematic title). Pick it up, dust it off, and read it sometime!

Those are my opinions and I'm sticking with them!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Dissolved. Unresolved.

Today I browsed my favorite blogs and found one to be highly hilarious. In part of the posting for today at Via Negativa, there is a quote from which I will quote a part, just so you can get a flavor of it: "...all dogmatic assumptions are dissolved by the inner self production of reason..." Now that is sharp thought, eh? Makes you want to go out and ask your friends if they agree? Actually I think somebody drank a thesaures for breakfast, with something illegal dissolved in it. My inner self production doesn't dissolve anything without coffee. And my dogma maintains a pure doctrine of whoever gets to the bird first gets to eat it. Then the dogma assumes the meat, bones, feet and feathers into its own being through gastric juices. Which becomes a satisfying inner production for him. Yes, I love to read blogs. Never know what treasures you might find.

Halloween is a conumdrum for me. Fundamentalist Christians do not find it an appropriate thing to celebrate due to its relationship to witches and satan. The Mexican Catholics seriously celebrate the day of the dead and even go to cemetaries to decorate tombstones. The northeastern US (as I remember) is awash in young trick or treaters who are just out for candy and couldn't care less about pagan origins. I am not one to promote evil things. Damnation does not interest me. Nor does it please me to disappoint children who desire candy and can learn a lot about dressing up and pretend and reality. I don't know how this can be resolved. I am glad I have no children to decide for. I hate hanging chads.

After wrapping my dogmatic assumptions in a water proof cover, I'll slink off into a dark cafe for recharging my self production.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


I've been pondering the idea of principles or the lack of them, mostly. The decline in moral standards in this country is no secret. Take television as an example. Rin Tin Tin or Desperate Housewives? Which would you prefer your 10 year old to watch? I am not suggesting that bad conduct has only appeared in the 21st century; however, it has become more blantant. More people wink it off. I would like to think I live in accordance with higher principles than most but I don't know for sure because there doesn't seem to be an agreed upon standard anymore. Most of the time I drive the speed limit. But not always. I hear a joke that would be offensive to members of a certain religion, race, ethnic origin, etc. and I laugh and feel guilty later when no one notices. I am undercharged in the check out line at the store and I fail to alert the clerk. But if I am overcharged, boy, that is another story! In general I think that we all expect others to have high principles. When they don't, well, we feel smug. Self-satisfied that yes we are superior to that cheat or that prejudiced person. So I am thinking. Am I really a principled person? Or am I perjuring myself as I shuffle through this mortal existence? I want to do better. Do you?

"The sun is the most evident thing to be seen, and yet the hardest to be looked upon."

I am glad people like my photography. I've been taking pictures since I was 8. And seem to have a knack for it. Or maybe it is the result of practice. It is the same with writing. I've been doing this a long time too. I've made a concerted effort to improve at it. When I wasn't writing creatively, I've written letters to penpals all over the world. To these women I owe a debt of gratitude for continuing to write me back even if they didn't know what the heck I was rambling on about. For an example, see the first paragraph of today's post. And that is pretty coherent compared to some of my poetry. Remember I like things sharp. The parsimony of words in poetry really intrigues me. I don't understand why poets write elephants when a speck will do and get them more readers. I imagine it's individual style. If I like things crisp, why do I write such long blog posts? Oh, I just have weak principles.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Botany Question

As you might have guessed from the preceding photos, I've been up on a heavily forested mountain. Went camping for 2 days and became so enamored of colored leaves that I took 64 photographs. Scientifically I understand that the color is caused by the loss of chlorophyll in the leaves. But why on God's green earth are there such brilliant colors underneath? And why not on all deciduous leaves? I've not found anyone to explain that to me. So in the meantime I am going to anthropomorphize the reason and believe some leaves are colorful because people need a little cheerfulness before the dark days of winter fully set in. Anyone have a better reason?

Steep mountainside

Steep mountainside
Originally uploaded by edification.
Yellow aspens among the evergreens cling to a steep mountainside. Arizona has rough inclines when it comes to hills and mountains. Oct. 25, 2005.

Forest Floor

Forest Floor
Originally uploaded by edification.
Autumn colors mixing on the forest floor on mountain top, 9500 feet elevation.

Autumn in Arizona

Autumn in Arizona
Originally uploaded by edification.
Found a nice maple tree in full autumn splendor that I wanted to share with you all.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Fistful of Dollars

Today I listened to a lecture about poverty. He stated that poverty is an attitude of mind. And that the poverty mindset can be on the rich as well as the poor. I can see his point. But I also know that poverty is a choice for the rich and not always decision by the poor. Or the sick. One can decide in their mind that they are rich in the things that are eternal but still have hunger pains. One can have a mindset that claims they are strong but still have hours to live. In the Bible, Matthew writes that it rains on the righteous and the unrighteous. Well, no kidding. For example, one the winners of the Lottery the other day was a man with a net worth of over a million dollars. I can imagine that is me, but my credit card company knows the truth. And truth is always truth. Unless you are wealthy, then you make your own truth, as long as you retain wealth and influence. Power does corrupt. And with that power and wealth you can influence the mindset of a lot of folks. Poverty can take away your ability to choose wisely. Poverty can take away your desire to choose. Sickness can alter your mindset so much that one cannot even see there is a choice. I am going to give this preacher a chance to prove his theory in future episodes. But as one of the millions of Americans living beyond my means, I want to know how I can learn to be rich when I know that huge boulder (debt) is about to crush the living daylights out of me.

That being said, as I sit here at my expensive computer that I paid cash for, what else do I want to squawk about? Well, I am not enjoying the dispute I am having with my health insurance company. They loudly proclaim all these procedures that they will pay for 100% and when you are not looking they charge you for this or that. An uncritical customer would just pay the amount due, thinking that they are a big company and must be right. Then there is occam. Occam no like paying extra when not liable. Occam prefer we all play fair. Even if have to go through 6 menus on phone call to big insurance company and three people who have to consult their supervisors. Once they billed me $500 and after a few phone calls and a few weeks, they admitted I was only required to pay $10. Oops! Only a $490 mistake! Luckily occam not so sick that cannot see that big companies often make big mistakes. I question everything. Maybe I have a future as a consumer advocate.

I am going to try to add more links to my blog here so you can check out my favorite bloggers. Right now I only have Dr. Sanity listed. She is a conservative writer who is always on top of the news. But I have other doctors to recommend that each have their unique worldviews. None of them have a poverty mindset, that is for sure.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Pointed Speech

I know someone that I am very glad I am not: Harriet Miers. Even if it meant I was nominated for a job for life (Supreme Court Justice). Her every blink is being scrutinized by all these would-be experts in judicial fitness. I don't care what religion she is or that she is a good bowler. I will wait for the hearings.

Four desert cottontail rabbits ran out of my barn when I went out to feed the horses tonight. They are powerfully cute little animals and don't run away too far from me so I get a good look at them. I don't begrudge them the little hay scraps they clean up for me. Will try to get a photo up of them someday. They are just one of the delights of desert life.

The birds of summer are all but gone and the winter ones are arriving. One of our year round residents, a cactus wren, is busy preparing a nest in a Palo Verde tree. I doubt it is for procreation purposes but to shelter it during our surprisingly nippy winter nights.

Some scientists have proposed that birds evolved from dinosaurs. My image of a dinosaur is a big, lumbering beast. Nothing like the darting loveliness of a hummingbird. I reserve my right to believe that some evolution is more far-fetched than intelligent design. Which brings me to my name: occam. In 14th century England there lived a Franciscan monk named William of Occam. He formulated what is known today as Occam's Razor, because William is too common a name to be used in a famous saying, so his town got the glory rather than poor childless William. Anyway, his "Razor" states that given two equally possible theories, choose the simpler. These days some people have shortened it to K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple Stupid. But that is a little too short for a razor. I have adopted the name because I need an explanation for everything and since there are a whole heck of a lot of things in the universe, I tend to believe the sharpest interpretation. I like razors.

As I continue my uncommon journey through life, I wring hope for a better tomorrow out of the imperfect knowledge of today. Au revoir.

Friday, October 21, 2005


I have a suggestion for a newspaper headline. Concerning the woman who threw her 3 children off the end of a pier to drown: Mentally Ill Woman Gives Mentally Ill a Bad Name. Then an eminent psychiatrist should be interviewed about his overwhelmingly benign patients and how such behavior is rarely found. The general public is often fed spectacular stories for their shock value. Whereas your garden-variety non-conforming individual never makes a scene; yet suffers the stigma from the media's delight in publicizing the extremes.

The Double Barrel Ranch has horses but no grazing pasture. It is too dry and occam have no water well. So every 5 or 6 weeks I have to go buy a load of hay. I dread the day I go to buy and find the price hiked due to the cost of fuel to harvest the crop. I won't blame the farmer who has to make his little profit. But I can't help be a little suspicious of the oil companies who seem to be making record profits. There have been crooks in every generation and I am beginning to believe that Big Oil is front and center right now. Big Pharma has been edged out for the time being.

So how has life been treating me lately? Well, I woke up this morning. That is what my Dad always used to say. Actually I am starting to believe I have been given a "present" and it is up to me to decide what my attitude toward it is going to be. Today I employed procrastination as I am wont to do. I have the "deer in the headlights" look on my face when I realise it is 2005. This isn't quite what I expected to be doing at this stage in my life. You probably have not guessed that "procrastination" is the word for the day, I so proficiently wove it into this text. I have no excuse. Qui s'excuse s'accuse.

No being can predict the future. Sorry all you fortune tellers and tarot card readers and pollsters. So when I wake tomorrow I will have no preconceived expectations. The day will either be good, bad, or both. Whatever comes it will have to be lived. Or else you won't have this blogger to kick around any more!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Excuse Me, I Diverge

In Robert Frost's poem: "A Road Less Traveled" he writes about two roads diverging in a yellow wood. With fall upon us in the northern hemisphere, a lot of my readers can relate to the "yellow wood". One of my favorite places on our nearby mountain is in an aspen grove in October with the golden leaves fluttering in the breeze and slowly sailing to the ground. The next lines in the poem are something like: And I took the road less traveled and that has made all the difference. One of the strongest points in poetry is how powerful statements can be made so succinctly. And today's vocabulary word isn't succinct, it is diverge! Back on point, if you think about the road less traveled in a wood, there could be many reasons for it. The road is probably steeper, rockier, muddier, lonlier, there may be trees fallen across it that have to be circumnavigated, it may be the longer distance to a similar goal, unfriendlies may inhabit the woods this less traveled road passes through. But the poet implies that when he prevailed against all those odds, it made a lasting impact in his life. When I first read this poem as a young teen, I decided the road less traveled was the road for me. I was the rebel's rebel in high school. Today, many decades later. I still cannot conform. I still fight the unfriendlies in the woods.

Yesterday during the long, 2 hour drive to the city, I admired the puffy white clouds in the strikingly clear blue sky. And listened to Rush Limbaugh for about 1/2 an hour. He makes me laugh. For those who aren't familiar with Rush, an icon of conservative talk radio, I'll just say: he is rough on the Left. Myself, I lean conservative but I have a liberal heart. So I laugh at Rush, read blogs written by partisans of the left and the right, and cast a secret ballot. I thank God I live in a country with open debate.

The news is full of stories about the huge $340 million jackpot in the Powerball Lottery right now. The masses of people in this country don't realise how infinitesimal their chance of winning is because they never went beyond beginning algebra in high school. I heard rumors in college about how tough the undergrade class in Statistics was so I never took it. But I know enough to avoid buying scads of lottery tickets. And the majority of lottery ticket buyers? Those who can least afford it. Myself, I confess, I buy about 2 lottery tickets a year. Cost: $2. My mad money. I only buy state lottery tickets because I want my "donation" to stay within my home state where it funds various projects. It is a rare diversion for me. And diversion comes from diverge which as you may recall is the word for today. So divert your $1 today, but don't bother again until next April. It's all in the numbers, statistically speaking. That is my inference and I'm sticking with it.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Tighten up

I've been with the same cell phone company since they started. They are a regional company. I always had great service and a great price from them. Now they've been bought out by Verizon and I have to switch to them in order to get a free phone, but I also will be paying a lot more for a single line than I was paying for 2 phones with the old company. And there is a 2 year contract. A multi-national company is like an octopus. Once they got you, they got you. And you are bound to pay for their slick TV ads. Can you hear me now? If I didn't travel outside my own town so often, I'd stick their fancy phone where the sun don't shine. Oops! Almost forgot this blog is rated for all audiences.

The Iraqis voted on their new constitution. To the consternation of the Muslim fascist terrorists, it seems that Iraqis like the idea of voting with real choices (unlike under Saddam where everyone voted for Saddam.) I am sure the voting system is not perfect. Is ours? (think- hanging chads in Florida). But to paraphrase what someone famous once said: Democracy isn't the best form of government, but it is better than anything else we've come up with.

Heard a discussion of charitable donating fatigue yesterday. There are so many needy people in the world simultaneously that the normally generous are saying "Whoa" we can't give anymore. A lady actually said she would have to start thinking about not buying her morning latte from Starbucks in order to have extra cash to donate for the earthquake victims in Pakistan or the mudslide vistims in Guatamala. Oh please. My heart goes out to you lady! Especially since I am still able to walk and talk and I have never been in a Starbucks. And I love coffee. (Just ask my cousin.) So I don't want to hear about charity fatigue. Unless you are going to take me out for a Starbucks! Not!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

St. Rose

Have you ever felt that life is rushing at you and there is nothing you can do to slow it down? When I was young I thought I was going to be dead by the time I was 20, so I adopted St. Rose as my patron saint because she was martyred when she was 20. Quelle surprise! I am still here. Maybe because I am not Catholic anymore? No, that doesn't follow. It is a miracle that I am here though. My mother survived the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. Now it is thought, this generation may have to face the bird flu. There are no guarantees in life. Having spent my youth in air raid drills in case the communists dropped atomic weapons on us. I scratch and claw for every day. It rushes faster and faster every day. My Dad said it goes faster every year. Thanks Dad, that gives me great confidence. I already can barely handle it. But I'll try hard to go on, as long as you are out there, my family, my friends, other members of the human family, my horses, etc. I have no illusions about the predetermination of nature: dust I once was and to dust I shall return. Sic transit gloria mundi. (Latin, did I forget to tell you about latin sometimes popping up here too? Gut Gott! I am a veritable bottomless abyss of linguistics. Or is that abysmal? Whichever.) Quem Deus vult perdere, prius dementat.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Mid-October Musings

October is turning out to be a beautiful month here, weather-wise. End of weather report.
I am an expositor. No circumlocation in my writing. Ah ha! The word for the day: circumlocation: speaking in a roundabout way. Not me! I go straight to the poop of it, I mean the heart of it. Yep, the straight heart, er, straight poop, ah whatever... Also no cuss words in my blog. Suitable for any age audience. Unless you can't understand words with more than two syllables. Then you'll be up a crick without an oar, or paddle, or is it creek? My goodness, what did I have for supper? It was strictly vegetarian tonight, no dead animals of any kind. My alfalfa-fed horses would be proud of me. They all got a pet from me today. All 5 of them. Due to the cooler weather the flies are dropping off in number. And we really had few mosquitoes this summer because it was just too dry. Horses are growing their winter coats and are soft touches right now. One of my very un-vegetarian dogs did a horrifying thing today though. She caught a quail and ate the whole thing. Ick! We have a wild flock of quail that come into our backyard every day for seed we sprinkle about for them. About twice a year, a quail makes a fatal error of judgment and comes within tooth range of one of my 2 mongrels that look like Dalmatians. I am under no illusions that nature is all flowers and sweetness. The bear that my husband "harvested" will not be eating deer fawns. We are the top of the food chain. Long live the whitetail deer!
I promise to write better in future postings. It is just that Notre Dame lost their football game in the last 3 seconds of the game. And I am all bummed out. I went to a Catholic elementary school and a small private college that used to be run by the Catholics so I've always had a soft spot for the Big Catholic University. Besides they are known as the Fighting Irish and who can't be inspired by that nickname? And I'm not even Irish. Although I like the Irish. The economy of Ireland is doing better than the US economy. Shamrocks are pretty. Corned beef and cabbage are delicious. And green is my favorite color. So there! Expository prose, no circumlocation. Gotcha!

Friday, October 14, 2005

The measure of me

I will apoligize in advance to all my non-USA readers that all my temperatures will be in degrees Farenheit, all elevations in feet, and distances in miles. This is because the USA school system barely mentions that other countries use another system and I am too lazy to learn it at my advanced age. Chortle chortle. I live at 3,170 feet above sea level, am 7 miles from town, and it is a lovely 76 degrees F outside, calm, dry and sunny. What the heck am I doing sitting at my keyboard then? I am a neurotic writer I guess. There could be worse things you know. I could be an erotic writer. Probably make a lot of money. But then I wouldn't be able to sleep at night. Or I could be a platonic writer. But then I'd put all my readers to sleep. Same as if I was an ergonomic writer. OTOH (this is a short cut that bloggers use that stands for On The Other Hand) OTOH I could be a supersonic writer. No one would be able to catch up with me then. Or a graphic writer but then half of you would stop reading because you don't want to hear about how my better half (occam's husband) is really expert at butchering dead animals. So I think I am safe being a neurotic writer and let's keep it at that. Most of you know what I mean when I say neurotic. Nothing bad. It is just that how many of you would be as excited as I am that I learned not to exacerbate my reader's pain by having long posts because my "word for the day" today is exacerbate. Yes, your vocabulary with grow along with moi as you read my blog. Isn't that wonderful? (I also know some other languages, so all you folks who took high school French, Spanish, and German... be ready to dust off your cerebra because multi lingual is fun!) (Cerebra is plural for cerebrum, of which we all have under our dura mater which is under your skull people.) But I digress. All part of being neurotic I claim. Did I warn you that this blog could contain sarcasm, wit, paradox, eccentricity, nonsense and twaddle? Oh but I repeat myself. It will all come out in future postings. As well as the sublime, the splendid, and the flow of life as I see it, here in the desert. Keep tuned.

Welcome to my blog

I've been reading blogs all summer and decided to get in on the fun Hope you find my writing clear, thoughtful, entertaining and informative. I will also post photos I have taken. This is an anonymous blog so those who know me, don't give away my identity in comments to the blog, ok? Thanks. Well, here goes my first head first dive into the blogosphere!