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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

2020 Chinese New Year

Saturday, January 25, 2020, marks the beginning of the metal White Rat Chinese New Year that continues through February 11, 2020. The Rat is the first of all zodiac animals. The Rat is yang and marks new beginnings, fresh hope, and rising excitement. The Rat is seen as a sign of wealth and surplus, ushering  enormous optimism. 


"White Rat is the metal Rat. 
Metal, when it expresses masculine yang energy,
is symbolized by a weapon. 
If you are born in the year of the white Rat, 
a weapon is your personal symbol.
Metal qualities are:
righteousness,
independence, 
strong will,
intensity, 
uprightness,
determination
and ability to focus.
These powerful qualities
add to the white Rat's ability to survive....
White Rat succeeds by being less opinionated,
accepting change and gracefully releasing the past."
Taoist Astrology of the Authentic Tradition (1977)
by Susan Levitt
with Jean Tang


 


Structure, order, and precision will be rewarded in this Year of the metal White Rat. Authentic, heartfelt and clear communication will have rewards for all who are able to rise above their habitual personality traits. The Rat is often referred to as "clever" so what better time than to reimagine oneself in the "Higher" or spiritual sense?

May we embrace our differences, honor each and every creature no matter our preconceived ideas, thoughts, attitudes and comfort zone. As we become less opinionated, accept change and gracefully release the past, may we 



Saturday, January 18, 2020

Parallel

For those of you who know me personally, you are aware I am a fan of baseball. I grew up watching and loving baseball above all other sports. While still living in California my dear friend and I had season tickets to all of the A's midweek afternoon games, a ticket plan no longer available to an A's fan.

Today I am struck by the parallel between the "earthquake" that has happened within baseball this past week and hopefully the one that will happen in the Senate. The issue of presidential impeachment moves from the House of Representatives, where the President was indeed impeached, to the Senate where its process begins Tuesday, January 21, 2020.

Unlike the previous Commissioner of Baseball who did not confront the prevalent usage of performance enhancing drugs by professional baseball players, Rob Manfred, the present Commissioner of Baseball, drew a line in the sand this past week. He thoroughly investigated the sign stealing by the Houston Astros in 2017 and in 2018. Commissioner Manfred is holding managers and general managers accountable for the behavior of baseball players on their teams. He suspended both A.J. Hinch, the Astros' manager, and Jeff Luhnow, the Astros' GM. Both men were subsequently "dismissed" by the Astros' owner, Jim Crane. Manfred's mandate directly affected not only the Astros but two other teams where "the ringleaders" from the 2017 and 2018 Astros teams have been hired to manage those teams: the Boston Red Sox hired Alex Cora in 2018 and the New York Mets hired Carlos Beltrans in this off season. So for those of you following the news in the baseball world, you are aware these two men have also been relieved of their duties. This leaves three teams scrambling to find managers with Spring Training "just around the corner". 

Nancy Pelosi has guided the House through the process of impeaching the present United States President. Now I wonder whether the United States Senate, as Rob Manfred has done in baseball, can step up to the task of ousting the President who has grossly boggled his job? Will the Republican controlled Senate be able to set aside their adherence to party line and impartially view the wrongdoing of their party leader? 


Life On Mars is a community gathering place
and bar serving vegan food in Seattle, Washington.
Dwight's daughter, her husband and another
couple, who are vegan hence the menu,
 opened Life On Mars this past May.
We no longer live in a "Blue Bubble" here in New Mexico. We have neighbors who have befriended us who believe the present President supports their firmly held position against abortion, that he has masterminded the strong economy and he is an upstanding human being. Whoa! I say. Then I realize one of these neighbors watches no news and the other gets her news from Fox. Those neighbors whom are "functioning" adults are as appalled as I am that these lovely neighbors could have voted for and continue to support this sociopath who is our country's 43rd President.


View of the recent snow from our open front door.
Stillness is abounds when snow falls and dampens the massive turbulence here on Mother Earth. Will humans still step up and "do the right thing" when there is so much at stake for our country, i.e. the upcoming impeachment process in the Senate . . . not to mention the climate crisis threatening all BEings on our planet we call home?


"Oh, Great Spirit,
I pray for myself in order that I may be healed.
Oh, Great Spirit,
I pray for my close friend who is sick and needs help.
Oh, Great Spirit,
I pray for this world so that all these atomic weapons
And other bad things that we point at each other
Will someday soon all be destroyed.
I pray that adversaries will communicate
And all the mistrust will be healed.
Oh, Great Spirit,
I pray for the environment.
I pray for its cleansing
And the renewal of our Mother Earth."
Ed McGaa, EAGLE MAN.

"Oh, Great Spirit", I pray that our voted in Senate members of the Congress of the United States will step up and perform the job Chief Justice Roberts has sworn them to do.

To discharge all of our emotions lauding the excellent job the baseball commissioner has done as well as those emotions surrounding the impeachment trial soon to begin in our nation's capitol, may we often





Thursday, January 9, 2020

Climate Crisis, Part II

Why were people of old so integrated with their surroundings?
Because the objects that they used, 
the food that they ate, 
and
the activities that they engaged in 
were straight from their surroundings. 
They used sticks made from bamboo as eating implements.
They used vines to make baskets. 
They used gourds as vessels. 
For food, 
they grew plants, domesticated animals, 
and caught fish and game. 
Their social structure was built 
around the cycles of the sun,
moon, and stars. 
Newborn babies were washed 
with the waters of the nearest stream. 
The dead were buried in the same earth that
provided sustenance. 
Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao Daily Meditationspg. 320


The post-apocalypse era will not occur from nuclear warring but rather from humans unwilling to call a halt to our exploitation of Mother Earth and her natural resources.  The agribusiness and chemical giants have access to a seemingly bottomless pit of money to influence food and farming policy makers. How will you as an inhabitant of Mother Earth step up to intervene in this exploitation?

Animals, insects, birds, trees as well as other plants are dying or becoming extinct at rates here to for unheard of. Some of us just go about our daily lives as usual while the loss of diversity is rapidly growing. Those who do step up to thwart "big business" and our present administration are penalized. Are you willing to step up no matter the personal penalty?


Snow Geese and Ross Geese at Bosque del Apache
In a conversation at Santa Fe's independent bookstore, Collected Works, between Terry Tempest Williams and Tom Udall, Terry shared how she was fired from her long standing, and beloved, teaching position at the University of Utah, the state's flagship university of higher learning. She was highly respected and honored with numerous awards including commencement speaker. She attributes her firing to her and her husband buying up oil and gas rights in Utah ... as many as they could pay for from their bank account. These purchases were "frozen" and are presently in litigation, something that has never happened before. She shared that Trump cronies intervened on multiple levels, affecting her and her husband's lives in Utah.  

From her most recent book, Erosion: Essays of Undoing:

"BOOM! EROSION OF BELIEF, December 2, 2017
What is beauty if not stillness?
What is stillness if not sight?
What is sight if not an awakening?
What is an awakening if not now?

The American landscape is under assault by an administration that cares only about themselves. Working behind closed doors, they are strategically undermining environmental protections that have been in place for decades and getting away with it, in practices of secrecy, in deeds of greed, in acts of violence that are causing pain.

Like many, I have compartmentalized my state of mind in order to survive. Like most, I have also compartmentalized my state of Utah. It is a hidden silence that we all share. This is the fallout that has entered our bodies; nuclear bombs tested in the desert - Boom! These are uranium tailings left on the edges of our towns where children play - Boom! The war games played and nerve gas stored in the West Desert - Boom! These are the oil and gas lines, frack lines from Vernal to Bonanza in the Uintah Basin - Boom!This is Aneth and Montezuma Creek - the oil patches on Indian lands - Boom! Cut Grand Staircase - Escanlante in half - Boom! And every other wild place that is easier for me to defend than my own people and species - Boom!...

President Donald J. Trump will try to eviscerate Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante Monuments with his pen and poisonous policies. He will stand tall with other white men who for generations have exhumed, looted, and profited from the graves of Ancient Ones. They will tell you, Bears Ears belongs to them - Boom!"

To read more I highly recommend her book published this past year. In her book she includes essays about other climate change activists who are literally and figuratively laying their lives on the line to bring the environmentally destructive behavior of humans, including big corporations, to a halt.


Greater and Lesser Sandhill Cranes at Bosque del Apache 
For sure personal changes have an enormous effect as suggested in an earlier post! For each of us active participation in change of a larger magnitude is essential at this time of crisis on our planet we and so many other BEings call home. So I ask, how are you willing to act to bring about the necessary changes so that our governments on all levels recognize the dire situation affecting each and every BEing here on Mother Earth? 

“Fill each of us with love for our true Self,
which includes all of the creatures and plants
and landscapes of the world.
Fill us with a powerful urge for the wellbeing and
continual unfolding of this Self.
May we speak in all human councils
on the behalf of the animals
and plants and landscapes of the Earth. 
John Seed  
Earth Prayers from around the World: 
365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations for Honoring the Earthpg. 34

As we consider our commitment to the well BEing of Mother Earth, may we


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Awesome

We have just returned from visiting the Bosque del Apache along the Rio Grande River near San Antonio, New Mexico, and 156 miles South of Santa Fe. The driving time from Socorro, New Mexico, where we stayed was 20ish minutes.

Before the "fly-in" of geese at dusk we noticed a very large flock of black birds   . . . very large black birds with very long tails. Not ravens but what? Pulling out our Sibley's we were able to identify a new to us bird: Great-tailed Grackle which is quite a stunning bird. We also saw a number species of diving ducks, all of which we have seen previously when living in Northern California.


The Monday sunset" fly-in" of  Snow Geese and Ross Geese. 
About four Sandhill Cranes were spotted with
our binoculars on the far shore.

The stellar sunset added lovely New Mexico colors
to the  "fly-in" of thousands of geese.

After getting our fill of geese, visually and auditorily, we went to the Wetland Roost along Highway 1. The Sandhill Cranes (both Greater and Lesser) were returning to the shallow waters for an overnight rest. This is a grand place to view the cranes since you can stand really close to the water's edge.


Early, especially for Dwight who is a "night person" rather than a morning one, we left our hotel to arrive before sunrise. "Well worth it," said Dwight as we stood at the water's edge awaiting the "fly-out" of the cranes. They left in small groups sometimes only a couple and many flew right over our heads towards the East so it took well over an hour. And it was cold: 13 degrees!



A few Snow Geese and diving ducks in the background beyond the cranes.
It was interesting to me how the cranes'
 legs remain extended until they reach a
certain altitude before pulling them in.





Just glorious to see and experience these awesome birds
both resting in the water and leaving to feed.
It is especially joyful knowing that the
Australian record breaking bushfires
have reportedly killed more than 1 billion animals.
BirdLife Australia has "considerable concern
for species with small ranges and small
pre fire season populations." So sad!

FYI All photographs were taken 
by Dwight J. Sims
with his iPhone.
The Visitor's Center at the Bosque is one of the most informative we have been to in our travels enjoying wildlife, birds and the glorious landscapes in the West. There is a Desert Arboretum with a National Pollinator Week celebration in mid-June. One of the Rangers shared with us that along the South Loop drive before turning North there is a javelina family. And continuing to drive up towards the North Loop one might see a coyote family and bobcat family as well.

We did not allow for near enough time to explore all Bosque del Apache has to offer! We plan on returning for a week over Thanksgiving. Perhaps we have found a place to spend extended time in November as we did in the Eastern Sierras exploring.

Many visitors noticed Shasta in the car and her interest in the thousands of birds, commenting to us when we stopped at the Visitor's Center Tuesday morning after viewing the cranes' "fly out." Shasta is a delight to travel with since she is so curious and wants to see all we notice, barely resting, so upon our return home she had a very long nap before her dinner.

All in all we did indeed enjoy our brief but spectacular outing and often did


Friday, December 20, 2019

Winter Solstice: Beginning of Winter




"Winter Solstice: At the Crossroads of Light & Darkness.
We stand now at the beginning of winter, when the days are short and the dark closes around us. It's a time for cleansing, for self-reflection and preparation. How do we let go of patterns and choices in our personal lives that have led us down destructive roads? What does it feel like when we choose courage, creativity, compassion?" Starhawk, 2019

As we all are on the brink of existential crisis, are we ready to embrace earth based spirituality and to let go of our self centered consumption?

Record breaking snowfall here in Santa Fe, NM, during Thanksgiving past.

Most mornings we walk along the Santa Fe River. Frenchy's Field has been planted with many crabapple trees. At this time of the year the small crabapples are wizened but stunningly beautiful natural ornaments. I feel these trees are a gift from Mother Earth and a reminder of all she gives us.


As we old people wake up from our sense of entitlement, taking without regard to what is "enough", may we experience the fear and outrage of the teenage movement led by Greta Thunberg and chart a new course. We are facing mass extinction of all living BEings, including us humans, on Mother Earth. Will we individually and collectively embrace once again loving and honoring our home, Planet Earth, now . . . immediately, like on 2019 Winter Solstice?

A reminder of childlike wonder and laughter

As we go deeply into ourselves to reconnect with what really matters, may we experience life altering discharge of held onto emotions in our physical bodies with a good focused belly 



Wednesday, December 18, 2019

2019 Yule Tree and Deep Connection




Our freshly cut Pinon Pine from the Pecos National Forest
a few days after the record early snow and low
temperatures during Thanksgiving week.
This tree was positioned and secured atop Stella. 
Towards home we drove with our 2019 Yule Tree.
Precious ornaments decorate our Yule Tree
in time for Auntie T's momentous visit.

Years and years ago at a Crusher's game in Sonoma County (Rohnert Park, was the actual location) where I first met Tanis. Their stadium was just a few minutes from my home and tickets were cheap. The team had the best ever mascot!!!! And wonderful, feel good atmosphere for baseball for all who attended to enjoy.. During the first ever Crushers game I experienced, Dwight, my now husband, introduced me to Tanis, a long time Cubs fan. She grew up just a few blocks from Wrigley field and went to games that cost only a quarter. I grew up with a father who coached, brought out the best in his players and scouted for Major League Baseball. Tanis and I clicked right away with our long history with and love of baseball. We frequently went to Crusher's game and began expanding our outings to local plant nurseries, lunching, and soon became fast friends weathering the trials and tribulations of living and growing older. 

Alas, Crusher and his team eventually folded. Not to worry, our love of experiencing baseball moved to Oakland. Tanis bought season tickets and I paid for mine with canned fruit and jams. We were fortunate to qualify for the midweek afternoon games with a senior discount. This season ticket plan is no longer available but Tanis still qualifies: "grandmothered in" so to speak. Sad, sad, sad that I am now in Santa Fe, NM, and no longer able to share this season ticket plan with her.
Celebrating my 67th Birthday at an A's game. 
And so our friendship evolved into a deep connection. When I moved from rural, residential West Sonoma County it was difficult for both of us. Changes in life are inevitable but none the less heart wrenching when two friends are separated by half a country. 

Plans were made to once again share some of the A's home games on Tanis' season ticket plan for 2018 but alas illness prevented it. However, Tanis surprised me, and everyone else who knows her, by recently visiting us here in Santa Fe. Shasta was just so happy to see her dear Auntie T who always brings her toys each time she visits. Of course, this recent visit was no exception.
"I love my Auntie T", says Shasta 
with her favorite holiday toy
she picked out at the Holistic Hound 
in Berkeley, California, oh so many years ago.


What a challenge for a person who cannot eat nightshades to go out to eat here in New Mexico, which is touted as the"chile capital of the world". Tanis was a trooper, however, looking carefully over each menu item for the absence of nightshades at each eatery.

The Museum Hill Cafe had a number of wonderful food choices.
AND Tanis got to BE with a cow that was
exhibited in Chicago a number of years ago.

There were many different cows scattered throughout the city.
This particular cow was bought for $3600 to adorn the entrance to the cafe.

And we visited the Chiaroscuro Gallery so Tanis could see some of Rose B. Simpson's work. She was also able to meet the owner of the gallery and learn of the gallery in San Francisco showing the same artist's work.


Dwight and Tanis have their own history and deep connection, as well. While we lived in California, they along with 2 other female friends would frequently have a full day excursion into San Francisco visiting various galleries and museums. So while Tanis was here they visited a couple of galleries and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, both to Tanis' delight!

We had a day outing to Chimayo, visiting the Santuario de Chimayo where Tanis filled a small wide mouth canning jar with healing dirt to place beneath her bed for health and healing. Then we proceeded for lunch to Rancho de Chimayo, where there are the best ever sopaipillas. 

 
After lunch we stopped in Roxanne Swentzell's Tower Gallery. Luckily Rose and Roxanne were at the gallery so Tanis got to meet both of them. Then we walked around to the entrance of the Poeh Cultural Center at the Pueblo of Pojoaque to see the 100 pieces of ancient pottery returned from the Smithsonian to their native Tewa peoples. 

All in all we experienced over the week lovely togetherness and further deepened our connection. Since Shasta's Auntie T loves to 

,

we all had an enjoyable and frequent 


Friday, November 22, 2019

Thanksgiving 2019

One Seed Juniper covered with berries for the wildlife.
Arroyo Hondo Preserve
Thanksgiving and our anniversary (we met 32 years ago on this day of giving
thanks) is happening "late" this year: on November 28. We honor one another on Thanksgiving each year in spite of the varying date each year. We are thankful that we both took up our individual friend's invitation to join a gathering at the late Helen Ramstad's home.

While pulling up our 30+ year roots in Northern California was by no means easy, we are ever so thankful we are not still living at MuRefuge in West Sonoma, California. Our friends and neighbors still living in the area were not only evacuated during the Kincade Wildfire but were without power since PG& E cut off electricity. Most people living in this area have wells and electricity is necessary for them to function. The nighttime temperatures dipped below freezing and most furnaces are powered also by electricity.  So all in all very primitive living and everyone is considering generators if they already do not have them plus installing solar panels, storing the electricity in batteries which have been much improved in the past twenty years.

Here's what the present steward of MuRefuge had to say about the evacuation: "the collective consciousness of 200,000 people experiencing the same drama is a truly interesting thing to experience - 'the new normal’ they say." Climate change is bringing more raging wildfires not only in California but throughout the West. "The new normal" seems to be a common phrase heard almost daily as erratic weather inundates Mother Earth.

Wide leaf Yucca in front of a local, typical reddish rock covered with beautiful lichen.
The Pinon Pine/Juniper Forest at the Arroyo Hondo Preserve
on the way from Santa Fe to Eldorado, NM, is one
of the most lush we have visited since our initial forays into
and now living in the high mountainous desert.
This year we will have our traditional Thanksgiving/Anniversary dinner of duck (Peking from Lotus Farms who comes to the Santa Fe Farmers Market each Saturday) with dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, fresh cranberry/Satsuma relish, Brussels Sprouts this year and Kabocha custard. Of course, there is always tons of left overs which is great since this year the day after Thanksgiving we are planning an outing to Hopi Pueblo then onto Gallup to visit my very favorite trading post: Richardson's. It is like walking into a museum of mostly Navajo artifacts. The antique jewelry and rugs, among many other items, are stunning. So all the left overs will be our meals on the road and at an Airbnb in Winslow, Arizona: The Haven which is a repurposed old vintage church.


"Eternal Spirit of Justice and Love,
At this time of Thanksgiving we would be aware of our
dependence on the earth and on the sustaining presence of other
human beings both living and gone before us.

As we partake of bread and wine, may we remember that
there are many for whom sufficient bread is a luxury,
or for whom wine, when attainable, is only an escape.
Let our thanksgiving for Life's bounty include
a commitment to changing the world,
that those who are hungry may be filled
and those without hope may be given courage."
Congregation of Abraxas

As we honor Thanksgiving, filling our day giving thanks and feeding those who are hungry, may we also have a good belly