Sunday, May 28, 2006

Leaving in a Toyota

Another multi-state trip is about to be embarked upon. This time going WNW westnorthwest. A peculiar manifestation of geography makes close neighbors of the lowest spot in the US and the tallest mountain peaks in the lower 48. I'm not planning to visit Death Valley. But I'll be nearby. Mainly I intend to visit the Giant Sequoias in the High Sierras of California. They are higher and wetter than the mountains I'm most familiar with. I hope to catch a stirrup and have a horseback ride to report to you about later.

My own horses will be languishing here when the hottest temperatures of the season will hit. Poor guys. I'd take them with me if I had a 4 horse trailer with living quarters and a pile of money for gas. But then they don't like dogs in National Parks so I'd still have to leave some animals behind. There is just no getting around it, when you have pets or livestock, you have to sometimes leave them in other hands if you want to travel very far. Where we are going, it is only about 15 hours away, but it'll feel like we are a continent apart.

Let's hope that this is not the time that California decides to have "the Big One" and fall into the sea. I've never felt an earthquake. Who knows, I might get lucky since I'm going to be sleeping in a tent on the ground. Can't get much closer to the earth.

So prepare yourself for my California Dreamin' posts coming to a blog near you in June.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Denial is a River in Egypt

Recently I fasted for 2 days. The bible is big on fasting. I must be a real wimp. I was hungry the whole time. Toward the end of the time I didn't even want to drink anymore, I just wanted something salty, like french fries. Guess I can cross off "nun" from my list of prospective occupations. The result of not eating for 48 hours? I gained two pounds.

I had expectations of how it would feel to fast. My mind would be clearer. My body quieter. Where did I get these fanciful ideas? All I could think of was food. I wanted meat. Where was this spiritual experience? My body screamed at me. I should have been able to concentrate on the meaning of life, on my Creator, on improving my actions in this world. Instead there was nothing but steaming vegetables and the smell of grilled chicken. I will meditate on a full stomach from now on.

My advice on fasting? Only do it if you've gone on a hike and forgotten the vittles.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


When I was young, paper was expensive. Once a year, just before school started, my Mom bought me a pad of lined paper. It was meant to last the whole school year. I learned to write neatly, and only when I was sure. There would be no tearing up a sheet and re-writing something.

To say that I am paper parsimonious would be an understatement. I love paper. I've even tried making paper and burned out a food blender in the process, but it made some fascinating paper.

Now I've been introduced to scrapbooking. This is a natural progression in my worship of paper. Single sheets of premium scrapbooking paper can cost 89 cents or more. They are beautiful. Royal paper. One way to build an artistic page for a scrapbook is to tear paper. It's hard for me to rend paper. Even if it is to be artistic.

A friend who visited Egypt brought me a bookmark made of papyrus. It's pleasurable to the eye and to the touch.

I own a lot of paper, some of it is printed upon, some of it is pure, virgin. My thoughts may be ephemeral but the paper lives on after me.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Taste of the Desert

Due to the drought, there aren't as many insects pestering the horses as one would expect. Hey, one has to look for a silver lining in severe weather.

This last week I've picked and ate my homegrown cherry tomatoes. In the northeast, where I was raised, tender vegetables haven't even been planted out yet. Like my sister says, Arizona is a whole other world.

I met a two foot long rattlesnake on a dirt road. Since it has been awhile since I've seen one of the little devils, I poked at it once with a long stick. Not unexpectedly, it responded with vigorous rattling. There is something primeval about that sound. My blood ran cold even though it was warm out. I almost felt I should apologize to the snake. But I didn't stick around long enough. Diamondbacks belong in the wilderness. Not on a baseball diamond or on the receiving end of stupid human teasing.

The heat is on for summer 2006. There have been at least two days of 100 degrees already. Though in May the temperature drops precipituously at night so that by dawn the next day it is nearly 40 degrees cooler. Mornings are exquisite. The clear blue sky, a riot of birdsong, and the scent of flowering trees. Miss the day before 6 AM, miss a lot. Or I should say: priceless!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Masses of Swirling Letters

As a result of harrassing the metro paper, I am still a subscriber to a print newspaper. But something, a tradition, is lost.

Satellite TV and the internet are really taking the lead as far as communicating current events. It is a sea change.

The network TV season is coming to an end. Lots of "Finales" being broadcast. Some of them are pretty good. I am too hooked on TV drama. It entertains me when I don't want to face real drama. But I don't think anyone can face real drama hour after hour, day after day, without a break. Medical doctors for instance have an unexpected high rate of suicide, maybe because of the real drama of their professions?

Books are being turned into movies before the books even drop off the best seller list. For instance: The DaVinci Code. The premise of this book/movie is so silly. There is no accounting for the taste of the masses.

And who goes to the symphony anymore? More people know that Paul McCartney has filed for divorce today than know how to spell Beethoven or can name one musical composition that he wrote.

The last time I stared into a bowl of Alphabet Soup I realized I was seeing a metaphor of the modern world. The letters swirled around, sideways, upside down. Nobody on this earth can make sense of it all. Although I tried, by reading every word on that newsprint. But it is not there, nor on the satellite, nor in cyberspace. I am not going to try anymore. I am going to pet my horses, contemplate the cacti enduring the drought, and let the winds of change blow.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Oh Beeping Paper

Sadly, print newspapers feel the pressure from the on-line competition. Traditionally I've subscribed to a daily paper for the bulk of my news. On a lark, being tired of throwing away newspapers, I pretended to go on vacation and stopped my daily paper for two weeks. At first it was hard. I felt I was missing so much. Soon I was doing a lot more outdoors. Getting exercise early in the morning instead of reading the obits. There are news channels on TV, the internet, and lastly, the network news! So I did keep up somewhat on the current events. Finally I called to have the paper re-started the next day. So I be-bop out to my newspaper box and, it isn't there. I call. "Oh we don't have a start order for you." What on earth happened to the order I called in the day before? "Oh we had some computer problems." But I really wanted the Sunday paper. You know, the paper with all the special sections, book reviews, color comics, etc? "Oh, we can send it with your Monday paper." Fine, so I be-bop out to my newspaper box to find: only the Monday paper. I call. "Oh we didn't get that order to add the Sunday paper with your Monday issue." Tomorrow is Tuesday. This 3rd person has promised that I will get the Sunday paper then. If it is not there, I will call. I will cancel my paper. I am a customer. I will only be toyed with to a point. I can form new paths to get my news.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

No Complaint

Daylight today is one and a half minutes longer than yesterday. 45 days of increasing day length until summer arrives on the longest day. Although the weather is outstanding at the moment, we know the searing desert heat is almost here for 2006.

I am not really acclimated to Arizona's heat, but that is ok. Everyone needs to complain about the weather. It's: too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too snowy, too windy, too cloudy, too too whatever. Today there was no complaint.

Around 1912 I had an Aunt die of what our family always called "Summer Complaint". It was too early for the Pandemic of 1918. I've never heard this diagnosis made in modern times. In the past every family it seems had a child death. Just take a stroll through any old cemetery and read the baby tombstones. Offhand I can only think of two families who have lost a young child to disease. We have made progress in the last century. I was the first child in my family to get innoculated against polio. Before me, my parents had to worry over my older siblings. How many kids have you seen in Iron Lungs lately? Although it is sure our medicine is not optimal, it is the best in the world at this time. I have no complaint.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Immigrant Moon

Living in Arizona I notice the moon more than I did when I resided in cloudier climes. Tonight 68 % of the moon is illuminated. One can even navigate the desert in the night without walking into cactus. That should cheer the illegal immigrants sneaking into Arizona tonight. I don't know what kind of legal niceties my grandparents had to follow in order to immigrate to the US. They didn't speak English although they spoke 3 other languages. They immersed themselves into American culture. They didn't fly the flag of their homeland at their new American home. They learned English and never taught the old languages to their children. One of my uncles even "Americanized" his surname to make it easier for people to pronounce. They didn't send money back to the old country. They invested it here, in real estate, savings bonds, their children. There was no welfare, food stamps, or free medical care back then. They grew a garden, worked, saved for a rainy day, attended a church that was not being monitored for harboring terrorists. They took insults to their national origins and kept their mouths shut. They became US citizens. Sent their kids off to fight for Uncle Sam. There are similarities and differences with today's immigrants. My grandparents came here in the daylight, their heads held high. I am glad they came.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Nip

Occam having daily life interrupt her writing. Too much social stuff interfering with this, my solitary pleasure. I've been writing since I was in grade 2. My first poem was about a cat pondering whether to climb a drapery or not. My housecat does not climb the drapes. I got him a cardboard claw scratcher which he loves. Especially when I sprinkle catnip on it. Writing is catnip to me. I get delirious over it. I dream about it. I don't care if it has no socially redeeming value. It would be nice if people read me. Occam's husband wants her to write that Great American Novel. It would be par for the course if I had it published posthumously. For now, I'll continue my blog, with its little poems, short stories, and comments on life here on the Double Barrel Ranch.

Had a hot day yesterday. Omen of things to come. The swimming pool is looking better and better.

Bought vaccine for West Nile Virus for the horses. Tiny vial, smaller than the size of an egg, came in the mail in a box as big as a Thanksgiving turkey. I hope it protects horses big time like that too. Everyone is getting crazy over avian flu and all other kinds of bugs. I am not exempt. I don't want a mosquito to bring down one of my horses.

This isn't as much as I hoped to write but that stubborn life is bothering me again.