Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Hair Products are *Hot*

I mean literally hot. Not up-to-the-minute, the latest thing hot. No, literally hot. They’ve been in my bathroom all day with the door closed. My bathroom doesn’t have a vent but it does have a small window just above the shower stall so all day long this window is cracked open to let out moisture. Unfortunately, this also lets in the heat of the day. I keep that bathroom door closed so it doesn’t interfere with the cooling of the rest of the house by the air conditioning. Our air conditioning works best when it has as little to handle as possible.
So the bathroom, which is little and has a small window open all the time, has the door shut and it gets as hot in there as it is outside. Yesterday it was 102 outside. Then, as is my habit after I’ve been outdoors, I go in my little bathroom and take a cold shower. I haven’t taken a hot shower since summer began two months ago. I’m real used to the shock of the water now. It isn’t even a shock anymore. It just feels good. My partner Marty won’t swim in lake water for instance if the air temperature is not hot enough or the water is too cool. I, on the other hand, plunge right in and I’m sure my tolerance is partly because I’ve been getting used to it in the cold shower.
After I shower I have a ritual of hair products I use to keep the infernal heat and super low humidity from wrecking my hair. It’s so dry here that if you get wet or wash your hair and go outside your hair is dry in two seconds flat. The environment sucks the moisture out of everything. I felt sorry for the birds so I built a bird bath out front that is fun to watch as the birds come in for relief. The dogs have their swimming pools out back. Small, medium and large. They can just choose which one they like best. My hair along with every other body part is crying out for a moisture barrier so you can well imagine I’ve invested in the best skin products I can afford. Slathered on comes to mind. Not being shy about applying the stuff comes to mind.
In my bathroom I pour a little into the palm of my hand before applying it to my hair. It’s hot. Remarkable. I’ve never been in a place where the air temperature makes your hair product warm. All I can say is thank god for the air conditioner. I can see how this would be dangerous for old people who don’t have the modern convenience. You’d be better off going outside and sitting in the shade so you could at least get whatever breeze comes along. Without air conditioning the inside of the house would be stifling.
So yesterday we went on an adventure to check out Letts Lake which is 19 miles west of Stonyford in the Mendocino National Forest. As you drive west you think is this going to be all right because you have to drive through the area where there was a big fire two years ago and there’s nothing but bushes re-growing at this time. But not to worry. When you get to the lake you still have pine forest all around and it’s the cutest little clear lake. People are boating in kayaks, paddle boats and canoes so it’s quiet. I took my floating chair out and kicked around. It was great.
Then I thank god for my car so we can actually drive there and aren't stuck at the ranch indoors because of the heat. I have so much to be thankful for.

Me on Sterling who is one of the ranch's quarter horse geldings.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Keep an Open Mind

A person doesn’t get up in the morning and say to themselves I think I’m going to let my truck start a fire today and burn down 10,000 acres of forest. Well, most people anyway. I guess there might be one or two that might have that thought but if they do most of the time something else takes over and the thought is completely forgotten. Whew. That was a close call.
 Today I’m thinking about the guy whose name Freddie Smoke sounds like part of a bad Hollywood movie script. He’s the one who allegedly started the Bully fire up by Redding that has burned more than 6 square miles now. I’m pretty sure and I don’t know how I know this but I don’t think he was trying to start the fire. It just happened. Probably because of negligence if indeed that’s the way it happened and he is the one. But anyway the point is fate stepped in and now his life is totally changed. Even if he didn’t start it. His fifteen minutes of fame has turned into a lot more.
I hadn’t planned on even thinking about this but there I was feeding horses and blessing the sky for being filled with dense high smoke. Smoke so thick the temperature is now bearable because the sun is pretty blotted out. And I’m thinking this is nice. Wait. This is because of a tragedy. So what is it, this smoke? A blessing or a curse?
There is a story. Here’s one version:

One day a Zen monk walks into the village and there's great jubilation. He inquires into what's happening and the villagers tell him that they've acquired a new horse; a symbol of wealth and status at the time. They tell him how great it is that they have this horse and all he does is shrug his shoulders:

"we'll see..."

He comes back a few days later and a group of the villagers have crowded around an injured boy. The zen monk finds out that the boy was riding the new horse, fell off and broke his leg. The villagers shakes their heads, worried and tell him how terrible this is. He shrugs:

"we'll see..."

A few weeks later the monk returns to the village; this time there is great commotion...a war has broken out between the territories. All the male villagers must go and fight, except for the boy with the broken leg, which has not yet healed. 'Isn't it wonderful that he broke his his life has been spared', exclaim the villagers. The monk smiles and shrugs:

"we'll see..."

So many things happen in life. There is only one thing that is final and we all know what that is and it’s not taxes. Other than that everything is up for grabs. It could be a blessing or a curse. Let’s just stop there. We don’t want to over think this. I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t be too certain and keep an open mind.

Monday, July 14, 2014

It's 10 p.m. and It's Still 90 Degrees

I suppose you folks who live east of here don't think this is remarkable. Maybe you're hiding in the basement while a tornado roars past your head. If you are I understand and I award you the prize for the worst weather. But it's 10 p.m. here and it's still 90 degrees. I hope it isn't 90 degrees at 6 a.m. tomorrow.

Sweatfully yours,

RL Benoit

It's Too Hot to Do Anything

It’s 7 pm and it’s still 103 degrees outside. At 4 pm it was 110. All I can say is thank god for the person who invented air conditioning. Wikipedia says it was Thomas Midgley, Jr who created the first non-flammable, non-toxic chlorofluorocarbon gas, Freon, in 1928 which led to the development of refrigerant cooling. Evaporative cooling came before that. Thank you Mr Midgley. I believe I owe you my life.

Anyhoot, without our AC I would surely be dead. It’s been hot like this for days on end. Hawaii is sounding better and better all the time. It’s decent from the time I wake up at 6 am until about 10 am and then it’s all over folks. I felt sorry for the dogs and let them in today. If I don’t they’re passed out asleep in the shade. We have good shade from a big Blue Oak in the back, I run the sprinkler for a while morning and afternoon and then there are two galvanized tubs full of water plus a small plastic kiddie pool. Yet, I still let them in the house. The one dog Teddy has amnesia or dementia because after a while of being in the house he is pounding on the front door to be let out. His mission to chase squirrels is undeniable. But he’s forgotten from the hour ago how hell-ish it was and now he wants to be let out again. If I thought it would make him sensible I would let him out and learn him his lesson but I’m darn sure it isn’t within his capacity. Sorry Teddy.
When I step out to deliver a frozen jug of water to the chicken coop it’s like walking around in an oven. I’m not exaggerating at all. The weather man promises cooler temperatures tomorrow and for the subsequent days. Hey, in the high 90’s is a categorical improvement but pardon me if I don’t get up and cheer. I’m trying to be in denial for now. It’s mid-July and we can expect the certainty of this continuing all the way into September. I’m not sure I can promise you that you won’t hear me complaining again.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

What Being a Hippie Meant To Me

And what it means to me now

Now that I am getting old I get an opportunity to review my past. This is the privilege of age and I think it’s perfectly A-OK unless one then begins to live in the past. The present is not over with after all and there is a future and it certainly could be a stellar future (and present) if one simply puts everything one has into it. But a little walk down memory lane is good now and then especially when the memories are pleasant, entertaining and in general nice.
My years being what is now known as a “hippie” actually began when I was 12 years old. The Beatles invaded America and took over my life. Up until then I think I was destined to be a mid-western farm girl with an art avocation. The Beatles opened up a whole international world I knew nothing about but then became passionately interested in. Eventually the Beatles and other well known bands started experimenting with drugs and then everybody and his uncle started “letting their hair down”. Literally.
I jumped on this bandwagon but I was terribly poor at it. There was an older guy in my home town that was all too happy to supply me and my high school girl friends with marijuana. We’d get in my Harold and Maude-mobile (a red convertible VW bug) and drive out to a country road, smoke a joint and then marvel at the lightening bugs. Later on I compared my experience of being “high” with not being “high” and found that I wasn’t high at all. The bugs were just the same. It was a let down but, oh well, we were just caught up in the moment and were willing to invest it with any profound meaning our pea brains could come up with.
Well, high school graduation came and went and I found myself in Hawaii living with my mother’s sister and her family while I went to the University of Hawaii. Batik, madras, tie dye, incense and long hair ruled the day for a certain group of causasians. It hadn’t caught on with the surfer or the asian yet. I stayed away from drugs all that time but I lived about as free as I could. Hawaii was a sensual explosion and I allowed myself to open up to different cultures and the boys of those cultures. We had fun. No one expected anything from anybody except to be loving and easy. The only thing that I regret from this era was not going to Woodstock. A boy I met in Hawaii was from New York and later on when I came back to Iowa he wrote me and said would I like to come to this music festival in upstate New York. It was in Woodstock he said. But I didn’t have any money and I didn’t like him all that much so I passed on the opportunity. Later on they made history but I was not part of it.
When I went to the University of Iowa everything broke wide open. I was an art student and you know, of course, art students come out of the womb ready to try anything and believe anything. The first year my dorm room mate would sneak out at night and come back bloody claiming to have been beaten up by the cops. Students were rioting in the streets over the war in Vietnam and she had to be in on it. There was one time we fabricated a story about being journalists so we could go over and have a face to face meeting with Biff Rose who later faded into obscurity. I can’t even remember what songs he sang. John Denver came to the Student Union before he was famous. Judy Collins. Keith Jarrett. Paul McCartney went out on his own. Everyone was just starting. Some were starting and then going no where.
A girl in my dorm came down to the cafeteria line one day without a bra and caused a scene. The next time she came she was wearing the bra on the outside of her t- shirt. She had been told she had to wear one. So... this is possible? Well, what the heck. I want to be free, too. I remember the first time I went out in public braless feeling very self conscious. I had been in some kind of a “bustenhalter” since I was 12 and looking forward to having some boobs of my own. I didn’t need a bra at 12. They were called “training bras” then. No, really. They were. Looking back I can’t believe everyone bought into that absurdity. I guess it made sense since as babies we wore “training pants” before moving on to underpants. But what were we training for in those bras? It wasn’t a time for much reflection I guess. Maybe we burned our bras because we were protesting the absurdity of holding those body parts up in the air to try to fool men into thinking we had the shapes of adolescents. Maybe we were just tired of the pretense. We found out that guys didn’t care. But they did like girls who were free.
Anyway the next thing we knew was that there was a call for people to come down to the freeway to stop traffic and call attention to the fact that having a war in Viet Nam was all wrong. Some of us were getting drafted and killed and what for? The government had been lying to the people since time immemorial but now with television and other media it was getting hard to do so. So I went. That was my one and only foray into protesting. It went well and no one got run over and I guess the point was made. But it wasn’t really my thing. Not politics. Living a natural, home-made life was my statement and I was really getting into it. I loved anything associated with back-to-the-land.
By that time the hippie culture was in full swing. We ate organic. We started food co-ops and we practiced free love. My favorite song was “Love the One You’re With” by Crosby Stills Nash & Young. We lived out in the country in a converted church like Alice’s Restaurant and we had goats, made our own yogurt in jars and baked our own bread Tassajara style. Everyone played the guitar and sang freedom songs. I smoked some pot but not much. I always had very poor paying jobs and besides I found that I could have as much fun without drugs. I didn’t need to be stoned or drunk.
All my friends lived in old houses out in the country and drove power wagons because their dirt lanes were impassable in wet weather. I have no idea how they could afford any of these things. No one had any money or so it seemed. One guy who we all called “Baseball” lived in a converted chicken house. I thought he looked like Robert Plant and so did all the other ladies. Eventually he got married to a beautiful woman and they ran a soup kitchen. I still can recall how wonderful the homemade bread and pumpkin soup smelled when we went it there.
What started moving me out of the hippie lifestyle was Transcendental Meditation. It was sanctioned by the Beatles who had gone to India to be with the Maharishi. So given my history of Beatlemania it’s no stretch to say that this was right up my alley. Of course the fact that this beautiful creature named Paul was doing it helped tremendously. I had met him at a “Centering” class that was held off campus at U of Ia and we tried all sorts of different activities to raise consciousness. One was meditation. The guy who led the class was this brilliant and courageous guy who called himself David Sundance to signify his allegiance to the plight of the Native American. Did we leave no stone unturned? During demonstrations this David would walk around town dressed up as the grim reaper. Honestly, we were a crazy bunch and we had good intentions.
TM opened the world up in ways I had not thought possible. First and foremost it explained my experience of making art for the first time in my life. My experience in meditation was completely and exactly the same as my experience when I was “in the groove” of artistic expression. I went somewhere and time stood still. I had never thought of my experience of making art as transcendent but it was true and it was pretty remarkable.
So I began to follow the Maharishi. For the next 10 years I pretty much lived and breathed TM. Being clean cut was important to being a teacher of TM because the Movement was trying to capture the attention of mainstream America. So away went the bell bottom jeans and home made shirts. It was still ok for girls to have long hair but the boys had to cut theirs. All of this fit me like a glove. It was a natural extension to hippie life because it was still counter culture to be sure. We still had a free love ethic. We still ate organic, mostly vegetarian, as before and lived “naturally” in natural fibers. We didn’t drive cars for the most part. We were still mostly poor.
When I look back on these years I can say it was mostly just so nice. Of course there were romantic disasters, broken hearts and tough financial times. But the freedom we gave ourselves and eventually left behind is something I will always miss. We allowed ourselves every thought and every action. Mostly within reason, rarely not. We wanted to experience everything we could experience. We tried to be moral and ethical for the most part although I’m sure many of us weren’t from time to time. To live honestly was our intention. We wanted to live truthfully and sanely and naturally. We didn’t want society to shackle us with unnecessary stifling ideas and expectations.
Now many of us have moved on from that time. Pretty much all of us as a matter of fact. But I know that the “hippie” sensibility is still with society. Nothing exactly like that time had ever happened in the world before. Maybe nothing like it will ever happen again. My hope is that whatever is to come will exceed that time in love, understanding and compassion for all the nations, animals and people alike.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Up Close and Personal

I've decided to take my writing here to the next level. To a deeper level if possible. I've been emboldened by a great writer whose name is Ben Hewitt.

He seems to know how to write about his life with just the right amount of self revelation and he manages to keep it interesting. At least for me and a couple other people.

So along those lines I would like to offer some affirmations that I've been working on recently that I don't mind having the world know.

They are:
Some beliefs that I have that I want to change. Maybe they will inspire you to think about what beliefs you have that are holding you back from living life to the fullest.

Here I state the belief and then I ask a question: Is it (the belief) true? Is it really true?
Then I answer and write a new belief that I want to adopt.

I don’t have what it takes to be a success.
How should I know? Maybe I do maybe I don’t. The only way to find out is to try something. Not trying will surely result in me not being a success. 
NEW: I have what it takes to be a success. 
I don’t have the drive to succeed.
What kind of drive does a person need? I have the drive I have. I don’t have the drive someone else has and comparing myself to another person and their drive is fruitless. I have the drive I have and I accept that and use the drive I have to get the success I get.
NEW: I have the drive I need to be a success.

I’m mediocre really.
What is mediocre? Who is to judge what mediocre is?  How does this thought help?
NEW: I am the best that I can be. Always.

I’m going to get hurt if I try anything risky.
It’s possible so I minimize the chances of getting hurt and then make my choices accordingly. Only I can decide to do something risky and if I want to opt out of a risky thing that’s my choice and I don’t listen to anyone even my inner voice especially if it’s accusing me of being a wimp if I don’t do it. It’s MY neck no one else's. I decide what I want to do or not do.
NEW: I trust in my instinct to keep me safe.
I’m too old and it’s too late to try something new or start a career.
      It’s never too late unless I’m lying on my death bed.
NEW: Seize the day. Now is the first day of the rest of your life.

People are just humoring me when they like my work.
Maybe they do maybe they don't. How would I know this? Furthermore who cares about what they think or don’t think. It only matters that I enjoy the things that I do
NEW: I like what I do and that is all that matters.