Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Always Trust Your Cape

Here's a cool song. Check it out.

The Cape
By Guy Clark (in memory of)
Eight years old with a flour sack cape
Tied all around his neck
He climbed up on the garage
Figurin' what the heck
He screwed his courage up so tight
The whole thing came unwound
He got a runnin' start and bless his heart
He headed for the ground

He's one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
Always trust your cape

All grown up with a flour sack cape
Tied around his dreams
He was full of spit and vinegar
He was bustin' at the seams
He licked his finger and he checked the wind
It was gonna be do or die
He wasn't scared of nothin' boys
And he was pretty sure he could fly

He's one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
Always trust your cape

Old and grey with a flour sack cape
Tied all around his head
He's still jumpin' off the garage
Will be till he's dead
All these years the people said
He's actin' like a kid
He did not know he could not fly
So he did

He's one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
Always trust your cape

© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Hills east of Madera on the way to Hensley Lake at twilight

Friday, May 13, 2016

Madera Likes Me. It Really Likes Me.

I now have something in common with Sally Field.

I didn't get this feeling that I was liked when we moved to Elk Creek. Well, I should say I knew that our employers, the ranch owners, liked us. For sure, they were going to come to adore us because we were the first caretaker managers that actually did anything. Yeah, the ranch owners were really sad to see us go.

But, honestly? The people who lived in Elk Creek and the area around there couldn't have given a hi howdy about us. Now I can say what I think and I'm really pretty sure we'll not be burning any bridges. No, we'll not be going back there. Ever.
OK, the area folks were "friendly". Enough. But they were not welcoming. There's a difference.  And I've written about this before. I've written that Marty said, "What do you expect? People don't live out here on the edge of nowhere because they're super social. They live out here because, for the most part, they are loners." And I believe that but I also felt a level of, how shall I say it, distance? To the point that I almost felt NOT welcome. When Marty and I would talk we would postulate something along the lines of "Well, we did take away a job from a local." That certainly would not endear us to the local people who are having a hard time making ends meet.

Now I know how Mexicans feel when they go to, say, Marshalltown, Iowa (my hometown) and take a yucky job at Montrose, the local meat packing plant and they get attitude from the local Marshalltonians. It's rude and not right. I could say to an Elk Creekian, "Dude, if you could pass a background check maybe you could have the job." There's a sense that they feel entitled even though they are not qualified. People. Hmmmpfh.
I think if we had bought property out there they may have accepted us more. Just more. Not totally. Because there are the folks we did get acquainted with who would say things like "I'm still a newcomer. I've only been here 20 years." I'm sure there's a feeling of "Well, they won't last so why bother getting to know them or even giving them the time of day much less be welcoming?" Don't you know that your reticence contributes to people taking off out of there when they get fed up?
It took me 4 years and I finally made one real friend. Anna Dearing. And then within 6 months of getting to know her she passed away. She was 88 years old. She was the only  real friend I made in 4 years. Even Anna herself said "The people in Paskenta are much nicer than the people in Elk Creek." (Paskenta is a half hour drive over back country gravel roads from Elk Creek.) Anna had lived in the Elk Creek area for more than 30 years. Maybe they considered her a newcomer, too.
So it's really nice to experience being welcomed into a community. We haven't been here but 2 months and I already am going to be an art teacher for the Madera County Arts Council. When I call Sherril Royce, who runs the program, she greets me with "Hey, You!"

Alma gives a yoga class at Thrive Fitness and she invited me to a get-together at her house and she doesn't even know me from Adam. Just from the yoga class. The neighbors are great, too. Hector, Jaime and his wife, Gustavo and Heidi and her husband.

Madera may be hot in summer but it's pretty cool. I think this is going to be a little bit of all right.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Oligarchy and Demagogue

My potato patch is growing nicely. Therefore, I'm taking a short break.


NOUN - a small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution

I remember back in 1969 when we went down to I-80 near the Art Building on the University of Iowa campus and laid down in the freeway to stop traffic. There were about 150 of us and we had let the newspapers know. There were enough of us that we weren't putting our lives in danger. Too much. Besides the cops showed up and they helped us stop traffic because they didn't want us to get squished by someone who wasn't paying attention. Then they told us to disperse or be arrested. We had made our point. We dispersed. People and police didn't panic in Iowa as much as other places.

We wanted people to notice how we felt about people being killed in Viet Nam. We didn't like it because we felt the reasons why they were being put in harm's way were flimsy reasons at best. There's something about masses of people shouting out all at once that finally gets the attention of the law and policy makers. If people don't organize and shout all at once there is a tendency for a small group of people to take control.

It's human nature. Or maybe it's nurture. Families aren't democracies. Maybe we're just living out the grown-up version of what we learned as children. Ya think? Maybe that's the trouble.

Here's why I feel there is hope for the human race. Things aren't as bad for children as they used to be. It's all about education. There's more of it and we want better. Everybody is always clamoring for it. And thinking up ways to improve it. Yes, one step forward, two steps back, three steps forward and so forth. The change is taking place at a glacial rate. It seems that things are not getting any better but, trust me, they are. Hey, we've now had a black President. Now maybe we'll elect a woman. Don't get me wrong. I love old white men. I live with one. But let's share the responsibility and the power. Hey, old white men! Don't you want a vacation?


The situation we find ourselves in with the person who is winning the Republican nomination is just part of the Old Way that will not die easily.

NOUN - a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument

It's OK. It certainly doesn't seem that way but it is.

The way of Old White Men Exclusively is slowly giving way to a new way that includes everyone. Those of you who are dismayed and losing heart. Don't. Just know that through your efforts change is going to come and even if you aren't here to see it, it will come. Just keep going. And while you're at it. Celebrate. Death will come soon enough.

Yoga stah, kuru karmani

Established in Being, perform action. (Chapter 2, verse 48, The Bhagavad Gita)