Sunday, August 31, 2014

We Aren't Going Too Fast

“Before enlightenment I chopped wood and carried water. After enlightenment I chopped wood and carried water.” - Zen saying.

I was very sad to hear of the passing of Robin Williams. He was one of my favorite actors. What bothered me the most was that he committed suicide and I could not figure out what he had to be sad about. Until I heard that he had Parkinson’s. There’s no way for me to know this for sure but I’d like to think that part or all of the reason why he killed himself was that he didn’t want to be a burden on his family. That his act was in some way an act of courage. I like to think of this man as courageous. This seems in line with how Robin was purported to be as a person. I’ve heard that he required that production companies hire a certain number of homeless people as part of his agreement to work with them on a project. That’s a pretty thoughtful act if it’s true. I’ve been watching re-runs of his movies. Robin, if you’re up there I hope you’re skating around in the painting of heaven just exactly like the one in your movie “What Dreams May Come”.

I had a great 2 day visit with my daughter in Santa Cruz recently. It was so nice to be in a place where even though there’s still a drought in California - and Santa Cruz is no exception - you can deny all that because the air is laden with moisture and then there’s that big ole Pacific Ocean that, guess what, is full of water. So unbelievably different from our ranch. There’s no water here. The air humidity is some where around 19%. In Santa Cruz it's 54%. Here you wash your jeans, hang them in the bathroom and in an hour they are dry. I’ve taken to smearing my face with jojoba oil and Vaseline Deep Moisture. I rub a quarter cup of Biolage moringa oil on my hair and leave it in. The next day I wash it out. It softens my hair for about a day and then I do the process all over again. What a crunchy place!

The official shoe of Santa Cruz is the flip flop. I noticed this on this last visit. They’re on everybody’s feet. Makes sense in an area next to the ocean. I have flip flops that were made or designed in Hawaii. They know flip flops, trust me. This pair is well constructed with an ergonomic footbed. They’re Olukai brand. Paniolo style. Olu = comfort. Kai = ocean. Paniolo = Hawaiian cowboy. Fits real well.

Back in the day we called flip flops “thongs”. I guess that wouldn’t work now. There’s an underwear garment by the same name. Can you imagine the confusion? “Honey, can you bring me my thongs?” I was 18 when I lived in Hawaii and I loved my Japanese zoris. Another kind of flip flop or thongs. No, I don’t think anybody calls them “thongs” anymore.

So now it’s still hot during the day but we notice a slight shift. The season is changing from hard core summer to early fall. The temperature might still be in the 90s during the day but when dusk comes it cools off rapidly. Gone are the days when it stays 95 or 100 until 9 pm. I hope this means rain is not too, too far off in the future. Someday when I check the long term weather forecast and I see rain I will feel as though I’ve hit the jackpot. Oh, how I could enjoy some rain. That would be a change I would welcome. Otherwise everything remains - for the most part - the same each day. But this is how I notice the changes at the water trough. In early spring the grass around the water trough is brighter green than the grass farther out. In summer we let the leaky water trough float overspray get us wet, letting it mist a little relief our way. In fall that same overspray now chills us. In winter we break the ice that forms on top of the water in the trough by hitting it with a nearby shovel placed there for that purpose. Here we learn to slow down. Nothing asks us to hurry. We can see what is happening. We aren’t going too fast.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Some Suggestions

(inspired by Ben Hewitt -

To the greatest extent possible, stay out of debt.

Eat real food.

Spend as little time as you can stand staring at a screen. Stop right now and go do something else.

Take a hike. Or swim. Or surf. Or bike. Move. Everyday. Whatever you enjoy.

Assume there are other stories than the ones our culture tells us.

Sleep outside from time to time.

Submit to inconvenience from time to time.

Make something with your hands, something with shape and texture.

Listen to yourself more carefully than you listen to anyone else.

Listen to loud music. Sing along with it while you do the dishes but when your partner/roommate/ Sig-O asks you to stop for the third time, stop.

Thanks Ben. You da bomb.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Guest Blog "Plier Equity"

Last week’s blog inspired a dear friend of mine to write her own take on the Finding Things Issue. This is what she wrote and she gave me permission to reprint it. I think it’s great.

Plier Equity 

by Georgia Williams

The human who helps others whether, male or female, is a special person with a big heart. My husband, helpers, friends, my construction guy - they all find things that I have misplaced. They look for them. Sweet. I have half an acre - indoor and outdoor with dogs and the contractor, kids, telephone ringing, cooking, healing, selling things and assorted distractions.

This is my solution for finding things: I use the "Law of Plier Equity" system. Equity is when the number of pliers equals the number of pliers needed so ONE pair can be found in about 1 minute. Currently I own a minimum of 10 Dollar Tree pliers. My current project is the irrigation system. One pair of pliers lives in the drawer and the rest live all over the property. I use the closest one. I use the others, too. The pliers scatter to the most helpful place.  Occasionally, I put them all in the same basket. Plier Equity. I also practice Hammer Equity. Last year it was the Dollar Tree Paint Brush Equity. Related, we also have a Dollar Tree Reading Glasses Collection. We have about 30 pair that start .175 strength up to .400 strength. .400 is great for removing a splinter. But I digress.

Lenny gave up trying to find and use my tools so he bought his own. If I use Lenny's tools, I AM SUPPOSED to put them BACK. That is a different system completely. Lenny tried to organize his shop but gave up because of the incursion of other person’s tools in "His Shop". Soon, Honey, in a few more months, you can have your shop back. The irrigation system in the yard will be done. Thanks for your patience.

Now, if one’s spouse could find lost tools that would be a marriage made in heaven. Especially if the spouse actually brought them back after they fixed things. Not just spend time organizing them.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Because I'm the Finder. That's Why

I’d like to do a study. The title of the study will be “Can women find things better than men?” I don’t know but it’s always seemed to me that women can find things far better than men can. I have all sorts of theories. I can go back to a basic gender bias that women have found things far better than men because of practice.
Let me spell something out before we go any further. I’m talking about things smaller than a bread box. If men can’t find things larger than a bread box they need their eyes examined. I’ve known men like this. To be fair I’ve known women like this but it’s extremely rare.
Back in the day women had to find nuts and berries for the tribe to survive so I think after thousands of years doing this women have gotten really good at finding small things. This is one theory.
Another theory is that men are buffaloing women. They really can find things but they don’t want to. They know their women are all too willing to leap into the fray to demonstrate their superiority in finding things. If we women simply had enough fortitude to say honey I can’t find it maybe men would get it and start finding things on their own. Of course, you women who take this approach should be aware that you’ll have to endure possible tantrums on the part of your men. They will not like it that you’re not finding what they don’t want to find. The room will fill with curses while they go about looking for the unfindable. Don’t weaken. They’ll eventually find it and they will be the stronger for it.
Back in the day men had to find things. They were things like mastodons and wooly mammoths. These things were bigger than a bread box and imminently findable. They developed sign language, these early hunters, so they could find the thing before the thing found them and they got quite good at it. This proves that they can find things. This supports the theory that they are simply buffaloing us.
And yet the jury is still out. Why just this morning I went out to water the plants and as I rounded the corner Marty called out and said oh I’m glad you’re here. Can you help me find some thing. And because he’s a good guy and works hard at repairing things and such I said yes. I felt he did not need a lesson. Besides he’s practically blind without his glasses. Truth be told he’s practically blind with his glasses so as I approached to find out what was the matter he gave me his glasses and said I dropped a nut. It looks like this but isn’t shiny. He showed me a teeny tiny nut.
When I was young I went searching for Indian arrowheads and artifacts with my dad - who was an unusual man - in the plowed fields near our little Midwestern town. He told me scan the area in front of you for about 100 feet. Look for objects that don’t fit or look unusual. It worked well so I always employ this technique when I’m outside. With 30 seconds I found said nut. Marty said how do you do it? I told him soft eyes scanning for items that don’t fit and walked away. Another example of I’m the Finder. That’s Why.

Can you find the silver screw? If you can find the silver one and can’t find the rusty one scan the photo employing the soft eyes looking for things that don’t fit and you’ll probably find it. If you don’t, let me give you a hint. From the silver screw go one inch to 7 o’clock and if you still can’t find it give me a call. If you’re a man and can’t find it you’re on your own.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Music Saved Me

            We tried to go on a road trip yesterday. I had been craving some diversity for a while but it’s so hard to get away. We have to feed the animals morning and evening and generally be on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week to make sure no water lines break or stop working for example. So our road trips are confined to things we can do in a one day turnaround. The problem is we are far, far from everything. To get to the coast which would be very nice - since water is a scarce commodity right now - it is a 4 hour drive ONE WAY. Most things around here are a 4 hour drive so it was with great glee that I finally figured out that we could drive to Grass Valley in a little over two. We thought it would be fun to tour the Empire Mine and various other local historic sites of which there are plenty in or near Grass Valley. Like how about the home of infamous courtesan Lola Montez or the surreal Malakoff Diggins? I had never thought of Grass Valley being so “close” because my habit in the past had been to get there via I-80 which is all the way to Sacramento and then go east. That’s the long way around.

Lola Montez lived in Grass Valley for two years.
            First I looked at California county historic sites. All the counties bordering Glenn County which is our county have very few histories sites and we had been to them all. Then I looked east, saw Sierra County which was about the same as the local counties. Then I looked right next door and south to Nevada County. Speaking of Mother Lode! We hit it. That county has more historic sites than Carter’s got pills. (Carter’s Little Liver Pills manufactured by Samuel J. Carter of Erie Pennsylvania). So we watered all the animals and piled in the Honda. All we had to do was drive east on CA-162, turn south on CA-99, turn east on CA-20 and we’d be there in 2 hours 15 minutes. It was almost a straight shot going that way. 

That’s when we started to hear “the noise”. (Cue music from Jaws). In Live Oak - about 1 hr 45 min into the trip - we were dead in the water with a broken water pump. Luckily Geico sent a tow right away and after a short hiccup to the Gridley Honda Motorcycle dealer (what?) we were deposited at Yuba City Honda who had a mechanic and could fix it that afternoon.

            What do they say? The best laid plans of mice and men aft gang astray? When we heard that it would take 2 hours we immediately looked up local movies and next thing you know we were watching “Planet of the Apes – The Beginning” which is real fun mind candy. (But how do those apes ride horses bareback with their non-existent butts and short stumpy legs? Hey, it’s a movie!)
            But if it hadn’t been for My Music I would be insane by now. Music has saved me more than once in my life. Let’s not just leave it as a balm for annoying thwarted road trips. Music has saved me during depressed times when I was over tired and still had to work or commute and grocery shop and keep a marriage working. Just so you know My Music is anything from The Sixties. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Youngbloods, Judy Collins, Bobbie Gentry, Deep Purple, Joe Cocker, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Aretha Franklin, and Led Zeppelin. The list goes on. And on. Whenever I get depressed and life throws me a curveball that a little attitude adjustment can’t take care of I listen to My Music and then I’m all right. The synapses align and I can go on in peace. What’s Your Music?

Me in 1969 - Groovin'