Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Still sleepy

I totally need a vacation to get over my vacation. I'm still tired all the time. Best intentions for getting stuff done go out the window. I tried napping but ended up reading and staring at the ceiling in alternate steps. Overtired, I think the term is. Too tired to rest.

At least the garden got watered, and I started sorting through my desk stuff. It's a far cry from gardening most of the day, alas. I'd probably have more energy if I pulled it off. Well, there's tomorrow. A trick I read someplace was to wait to go to bed until you're on the verge of sleep when you're having trouble sleeping. I'm on that verge now. Time to plunge in.

See all y'all in the morning.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

With this Ring

We went to Bend, Oregon for the weekend. Friday and early part of Saturday was for fun. Saturday night time was reserved for a special wedding (aren't they all, though?)

So what do Millers do for fun? Glad you asked.

It's not really on the way to Bend except in a very loose usage of the term 'on the way' but well worth the extra miles. I hope we can visit again soon. There are so many things that are worth an extra long stare, so many that if you indulged yourself, you'd be there for days. We had time for a leisurely peruse through the museum itself, then moved on to the replica of Stonehenge, where we enjoyed wild winds, the straight-edged shadows and the brilliance of a blue and gold view of the Columbia river gorge through white-edged frames formed by the stones.

Once in Bend, after a good meal and a typical hotel snooze, we dashed out to Big Obsidian Flow and hiked among hills of black, red and silver glass interspersed with pastel versions of the same colors in pumice. A sign describes how people who live near obsidian flows have their lives and art and ideas transformed and imbedded with obsidian. After walking through big flow, I felt it too. I wanted to stay. It truly is a treasure.

Moving on, we went to East Lake and walked along the shore through thousands of butterflies to where hot springs bubble up into the water. No one felt like swimming (the smell and the goopy mud combined with rotted vegetation on the shore may have had something to do with this) so we drove onward to the lava cast forest. The mile long trail took us through acres of lava flow. The tree molds themselves are holes in the ground, although some of them are horizontal tubes where the tree fell over and then burned out on the inside while the lava cooled.

I'm so glad I can get out of the way of lava, or at least have a chance to.

We got back to the hotel in time to clean up for the wedding. The bride was gorgeous, we had perfect weather, and not a single fly buzzed around. Live music, dancing, a charming ceremony, and a whole lot of people in a backyard bbq-style shindig that lasted late into the night. The dogs were exhausted by the end of it, and I'm sure they whined when guests arrived yet again for breakfast. We didn't stay long, though. It was time to go home and take care of our own dogs.

We were swarmed, of course, when we came in, nearly drowning in a sea of unconditional love. I'm so, so tired, and glad to be back, but it was one of those weekends where everything worked out right. I'll sleep deep tonight. Hopefully I won't have that weird bus crash dream again where I helped save the bus driver who'd suffered a massive heart attack. Weird dreams with defined stories--a sign that I haven't written in a while.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


An empty bottle of Black Swan Vineyards Shiraz stands on the left side of my desk. The computer monitor sits on top of a 16x16 tile that matches the floor--it eases pressure off the G3 box, a horizontal rather than tower design that has no better spot to live in with the current arrangement. I'd move it onto a shelf, but then the cord wouldn't be able to reach the keyboard, and it's too out of date to allow a wireless connection. Three shelves are filled close to bursting with books on writing and books written by friends. Another shelf has office supplies, music and a shoe box that's filled with the clamjamfry that I can't quite bring myself to throw away because it might come in handy some day. To my right, Snape the laptop is shut down and closed up for the night, a combination travel computer, backup drive and photo modification/storage machine. To the right of Snape, in a place of honor, my Oxford Universal Dictionary on Historical Principles, Third Edition with corrections and revised addenda 1955. There are paintbrushes bristling up among pencils, pens and two chisels my son made in metal shop in a pewter tankard. A stuffed koala sits on top a three stack of clear boxes with different sized paperclips in each of them. In the back behind the computer collecting dust, a heavy commercial three hole punch that gets taken out three or four times a year for big jobs. There's an electric pencil sharpener that the kids use more often than I do, spare ink cartridges, game disks I never get out to play anymore, and my beloved fingerless gloves for days when my hands get stiff and cold. A garbage can that doesn't fit very well under my desk lives where a tower normally sits. A box with five reams of paper serves occasionally as a footstool when I kick one leg out to the side to stretch after kneeling in my kneeling chair for long periods. The mousepad has a skull and crossed swords. This workspace exists within a computer armoire that never closes up. Its wings hold poetry, a to do list, pictures of my children, a manila envelope that holds loose paperwork.

This is my place, my writing place. This is where I sit, and dream, and create. I like it here. That's a good thing, because a good portion of my life is spent here. I wouldn't want to spend all those hours in a space I hated.

Hmm. Those paint brushes really need to go in my paint jar upstairs.

Cancel the paintbrushes in the pewter tankard. But the chisels stay.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Curse of the Crazy Paint Lady

I wondered today, at about 8:15 (the time when I was supposed to be leaving the store) if blogging about customers now and again had somehow messed up the customer character generator in the big game of retail checking. Characters seem to be melding into each other, or creating weird dopplegangers. Either that, or history is rewriting itself with my full awareness.

Now why would a relatively sane Kami think that?

Because today, shortly before closing, the crazy lady dashed in. "I have only one thing!"

Sure, whatever. The store is pretty full at closing today, so I figure she might arrive at a line if she hurried too much. I would probably be outta here in no time with just a few go backs to take care of when she inevitably changed her mind about her purchases. Except.

The crazy lady reappears near the front of the store. "Um, I need help at the paint counter."

Um, ack?

Someone dashes outside to get the hardware guy (who is doing his job starting the close up the store front since it's now after 8pm) so that we can have the hardware guy help her ASAP at the paint counter. Meanwhile, my line dwindles to zero. The other closing checker gives me a pitying look as she shuts off her light, ropes off her register and heads off to count out for the night. "It shouldn't be too long now," she says.

Uh huh.

Memories of the paint lady coming in (this was during the holiday rush crush) flood back. Could it have been the crazy lady back then as well? The crazy lady I remember from a different day, the post-holiday major percent off holiday stuff sale, where she was fine buying a $2.99 roll of tape (there was a different brand for 1/3 the price) but refused chocolate candy because even with the percent off it was too pricey. That was all fine and good, I get paid either way, and go-backs are a fun way to take a break from checking. I call it anti-shopping, cheerfully skipping through the aisles with a cart of things that need to go back on the shelves and stopping occasionally to spring on unsuspecting shoppers with an overly cheeful "Are you finding everything okay?" or, for thrills and variety, "Can I help you find anything?"

I imagine, as the minutes tick by, the crazy lady choosing colors very carefully while the hardware guy messes with the paint mixer, paces, stares at the different cans of paint and tries to anticipate her decision-making process by asking such questions as "light or dark color? Gloss, semi-gloss, satin or flat? What brand would you like?" How about we go with the first can that comes into my hand and go with, oh, I don't know, pure white?

I have one major consolation. I wasn't sure I would have enough fives, ones and pennies to get through my last hour, and I didn't want to call for those because A. if I didn't use them I'd just have more to count and B. if I used all my pennies and had to open a new roll just before closing, invariably someone, like a child, would come along with lots of pennies to get rid of, say an entire 39 cents amounting to the change on their balance, and I would have 89 pennies to count.

But it turned out that I would make it with change to spare. Yay! Even the crazy lady can't make me require a roll of pennies and a bundle each of fives and -- now don't be stupid, Kami. She might have a $100 bill, buy and candy bar, and want all her change in fives, ones and pennies.

The crazy lady arrives at last with her 'one thing,' which includes 4 large clear Rubbermaid storage bins, two paint rollers, a tarp, candy, sunscreen, and I don't remember what all else as well as the paint. "I'm an Oregon resident," she declares.

"Great!" Sounding like a cheerleader is my primary defense against being annoyed. Being annoyed is no fun for anybody. Just put on a smile, raise your voice half an octave, pretend you have DD breasts and bounce! The job's a game just like in Mary Poppins only career oriented! Check it out! I'm Barbie with a menial job!

I ring her up, but by the end I've forgotten the Oregon thing and I have to back up from the total, not a big deal, but she pipes in with, "is it too late to add an ice cream bar?"

It's not too late to ring up half our office supplies, ma'am. Bounce! "No problem."

So the ice cream sandwich gets added in, tax is removed, paperwork is achieved and I'm done for the night. A supervisor loiters at my checkstand. The hardware guy is locking up the cigarette case behind me, crowding me while I'm trying to get out of my register. The crazy lady is forced to edge around a palette of goodies now blocking the back door. Two employees help her carry her stuff to her car because there's no way a cart is getting out.

I guess that's the way to get primo service. Only next time, I think the managers might close the store a bit early if they see her coming. As for me, I got primo service too. A supervisor helped me count out, and I was on my way out to the car by 8:24. All's well that ends well.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Miscellaneous Day

Light rain off and on kept me inside most of the day, though the sprinkles didn't keep me from doing a bit of weeding and wandering outside. The goldfinches alternated between the feeder and flitting among the mix of tall, spiny dandelions, evening primroses and other miscellaneous weeds to get at the fluffy seeds. Watching them eat their natural food was something else. They land on the main, upright stalks, sometimes forcing the weed to bend way over, and grab at whatever seed bunches are in reach. And the really, really amazing part--those bright, bright yellow birds that I thought stood out more baldly than chalk on a blackboard actually blended in with the primroses. They're the exact same color. If they didn't move, I couldn't see them.

A lot of writing happened today too, and cleaning. Ugh, the cleaning--taking out the shelves from the refrigerator, disassembling them, cleaning the glass and frames separately and then reassembling and putting them all back in after scrubbing out the walls. I never did get to the door, or the freezer. Tomorrow after work, maybe. I'd had enough of the old food, dried hamburger blood, random drops of dried cream that I missed from a cream spill cleanup a couple of months ago, jars of condiments we'd never get to before they expired if they weren't already expired, on and on. Afterward, I spent a pleasant hour (read much sarcasm here) scrubbing out the catboxes and filling them with fresh litter, because that has to be done now and then.

The good part is that a lot got accomplished despite picking away at random at things that I happened to get annoyed enough at to do. Normally if I don't have much of a plan, then nothing gets finished and there's a mess of half done things everywhere.

Hmm. I wonder if I can get some painting in at the eleventh hour. Well, the tenth hour, actually. It would nicely top off a fine, miscellaneous day.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Afterglow

I finished writing the first, and possibly last love scene in Masks, and it was fun. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

I spent a lot of time today weeding when I should have been working inside the house. The flowers are grateful, at least as much as flowers can be. The war for complete domination over the earth has swung in their favor, while the weeds must gnash their teeth and sing dirges tonight. It's all a very grim affair, the green carcasses piled high in the compost heap. Meanwhile, the bees hum happily among the blossoms, only occasionally put out when I work too near them. The hummingbirds continue to play flinch. I'm not sure how many hummingbirds we have now. I haven't counted them lately.

It's all very distracting, having so many enjoyable things to do. What's better to focus my time on--writing or painting? Gardening or tiling the office? Priorities get muddy when they're all worthwhile.

I want to do it all, and yet, I want to nap. I think that's because after writing a scene I've been thinking about a lot and stressing over, I have as much a sense of afterglow as poor Mark. And I get that with any accomplishment. For an undetermined period of time afterward, I'm pretty worthless. Finished a painting? Time to sit and drink wine. Got some tiling done? No housework for two days. Write a complete, pivotal scene in a novel? Sitting on the deck and doing sudoku sounds about my speed. I wish there was a way to harness that happy glow and use it to spur on even more work, but I guess we all have to rest sometime. Wouldn't it be nice, though, if after finishing a project, I get so excited I just go straight to the next one?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Photo notion

So I think I've finally got photobucket to talk nice to me. Keeping fingers crossed that this doesn't end up as so much spaghetti on the screen. It works for my Mac, anyway. I did have to sacrifice my old template, though. The really big pics (at least on my screen) mucked up the formatting and the text became less readable. We can't have that!

The wildflower garden is pretty weedy, and it has a couple of bare spots, but it's surprisingly photogenic. In some ways it looks better here than in RL. In other ways ... you really miss the sounds and scents and the vivid sights. When you walk by the poppies stand out and demand to be noticed. Also, beneath the baby's breath (it's a baby's breath explosion!) there are smaller flowers hiding. Bees hum around, and the hummingbirds zoom through during their war games. Surprisingly they'll stop to take a look at people, hovering in place and blinking their tiny, beady black eyes at me when I'm wandering around. Either they're getting used to me, or they're plotting my demise.

Or both.

But, onward:

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Poppies, bachelor buttons, cosmos and calendula swim in a froth of baby's breath.

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View over the wildflowers toward the house

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Bachelor buttons echo the deepest colors in the sky.

This is not even close to being wildflowers, but what the hey ...
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Lagerfeld roses bow from their own weight over the infamous white path. If you stand on the path, you're surrounded by the scents of so many roses--they mingle into an exquisite perfume. It'll smell even better there when the bouncing bet starts to bloom.

Last but not least, for all you animal lovers out there:

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The Weeez watches the goats eat from his supervisory perch and scratch post.

Staying Cool

It's another hot hot day here in SW Washington. The thermostat says 100 degrees on the button. The soaker hoses are so fantastic, I'll let them sing their own praises.

[sounds of seeping]

It's like the Sound of Silence, only better. Well, the plants think so, anyway. I'm not completely free of hand watering, not even close, but at least I can water most of the garden (the hoses all run through shade so there isn't too much loss due to evaporation) while I'm inside doing Other Things. Today, that means sewing curtains for our side windows, which let the sun in for about an hour in the late afternoon. Not too bad, all things told, but today it annoyed me, and I have all this fabric just laying around ...

Of course we've hit 5:30 pm, which is nap time. My sleepy brain goes round and round and doesn't get anywhere. The only landmark is a side alley that when my brain looks down it, we see a nice, comfy bed in the dark. Mmmmm. Around we go again, thinking about this chore and that, and there's that side alley with the bed again. I think there might be more than one identical side alley, as often as I think about it.

But, I must not succumb. If I do, I'll continue my badness pattern of staying up until one or two a.m. writing on Masks. That is, it's good to write, but bad to write late. Bad Kami, bad. Good Kami, good! Bad Kami, very bad. Why is it bad? Because early in the morning, it's cool enough to work outside, and if I stay up, I'll stay in bed until at least 8am if not later.

When it cools off tonight (and it will cool off, won't it?) I'll quick connect the hand watering wand and go play in the garden. So far, no casualties that I've found among the plants, even the pot-confined ones. I'll have to post a pic of the wild garden soon, assuming photobucket works for me still. They're in full bloom, and there are some blossoms that I've never seen before (and can't identify.) It makes walking around the garden a small letter a adventure, looking for and spotting things that have come up from seed that I've forgotten or never known because it was part of a misc. mix. Alas, still just the one tiger swallowtail butterfly. But it sure is pretty, especially when it sits on the huge purple butterfly bush plumes.

Note to self: water the butterfly bushes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


We're in the middle of a heat wave here in the Pac NW. I'm not sure (accurately) how hot it got today up here on the hill, but at one point the outdoor thermostat was around 102 or more today. What I really need is to have a thermostat outside in back to register more accurate temps during the hottest part of the day. The current one sits out front where, in the late afternoon, it is still in the shade but is also in the front porch microclimate where a lot of light and heat are trapped up against the house windows. Tomorrow it'll be almost as hot, so I'll be outside watering.

So how hot is 102ish up here on the hill? It's not a humid heat, and we have a fairly constant breeze, so it's not bad, unlike down by where I work. My theory is that the breeze is the real reason why we have all kinds of hummingbirds and wildlife here and down in town there's not much. The concrete and asphalt are brutal, and breezes are blocked by fences and buildings. There aren't enough trees to cast sufficient shade to offset the heat, but ironically there are enough trees to slow down any breezes that might build up. The result is that hummingbirds pop like popcorn down there.

102 up here is hot enough to melt cats, though. Our cats were melted all over the furniture. At one point Wizard followed me outside, but he only got as far as the back porch cement pad, where he promptly melted. Even his head seemed to flatten as he sucked up against the pavement to cool off.

The weather has driven me to shopping. I got a bunch of soaker hoses and quick connects. I still have to hand water, but boy, not nearly as much as the original set up, the original setup being absolutely nothing set up. Well, I have the wildflower sprinkler, but it wasn't on quick connect. Tomorrow morning it will be. Tomorrow morning I will wake up and quick connect the sprinkler and let it water the wildflowers while I breakfast. That sounds like bliss. Then after breakfast I can hand water the veggies, then start one of the rose garden soaker hoses and weed for a bit. Connect again, weed some more. Connect again, go in and write. On it goes. The hand waterer is on quick connect too so the plants that I couldn't manage to weave a soaker hose too can get caught before I abandon the area.

Someday it will all be on drip system, and the soaker hoses will serve the veggie garden, which will all be weeded. Really. This will happen. And I'll have water features and tall hedges and big, big trees. And a greenhouse. And the porch will be enclosed.

But I get ahead of myself.

I wonder if I can soaker hose myself while I'm weeding--just lay it across my shoulders. Hmm.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Jestanuther Religious Nut

Religion is a hairy thing, a thing that licks its butt in the center of the living room floor when guests are over. Lately I've taken to telling people, when they notice my ring (worn beside my plain gold heirloom wedding band, featuring a pentacle with Celtic knotwork adorning about half the band) and ask about it, that my husband is Irish. "Oh," they say, as if they now understand. They're easily placated by this non-explanation because they see me smile, feel my empathy and sense my optimism and general sickening-sweet cheerfulness. This person couldn't possibly be Satanic/pagan/heathen/other than me because this is a good person. Her husband is Irish. We like the Irish--they make good whiskey and believe in leprechauns, and I like wearing green on St. Patrick's Day. She must be harmless! (Don't even get me started about this view of the Irish, btw.)

I've already griped about monotheism. Monotheism appears on the surface an advancement, an evolutionary step from the more primitive polytheism practiced by many if not most of the ancients. Returning to polytheism, however, is not a solution but a passage fraught with peril. Our ancestors were in fact primitive in many ways--brilliant in many ways too and in some cases a lot smarter than us (definitely smarter than we give them credit for)--but also lacking in important information that caused them to blame quite a few problems on the wrong agents. They also blamed success on wrong agents as well. They performed elaborate rites, sometimes to the destruction of their own society, to appease forces that may or may not have existed and if they did exist, may or may not have cared.

Which isn't to say there aren't gods. I think there's good evidence that there are--but not scientific evidence. Science itself can become a religion, and going the way of the Amazing Randy and the Skeptical Enquirer is also extremely fraught with peril. Ooo, how about a good example? The Amazing Randy has a standing offer of $1,000,000 to anyone who can provide scientifically verifiable evidence of any paranormal agent or ability--ghosts, telekinesis, prophesizing, etc. The trap is 'scientifically verifiable.' My friend and I, after several hours of concentration and practice, achieved telepathic communication. No sh*t. Great, you think. Call her up, meet with Amazing Randy, and go for it! Well, in order to control the 'experiment' The Amazing Randy would set us up for failure (but not deliberately, as far as I know. He seems an honest fellow.) Under the stress to perform, separating us, possibly insisting that we transmit to a control (person of their choice) so that we aren't 'tricking' anyone by deciding in advance what to send each other or using some other means besides telepathy to communicate with each other, not allowing us to practice first (it took a lot of warm up to achieve) and not taking 'close' answers (we found that the images transmitted at different speeds--the sender would draw slowly in her mind and the receiver would receive a fast image, often retraced many times which sometimes muddied circles into spirals or ovals and turned an oscillating line into a series of waves) and the general air of skepticism would likely get us laughed out of the lab. And then we'd be out airfare because The Amazing Randy won't come to us--we have to go to him. My understanding of how telepathy works and my confidence in that ability is so fragile I wouldn't want to stake twenty bucks on it, much less airfare and scrutiny by some very self-righteous skeptical scientists, assuming he even used real scientists using proper scientific protocols for the experiment.

After I've provided an example of something that could possibly be scientifically verifiable but will have the deck stacked against it to the point that it probably wouldn't even work under those arduous conditions, imagine trying to prove something that can't be measured by scientific instruments? How about beauty? Awe? "Hey man, the dude was really up there, his awe rating was like totally 7.3." How do you explain people in high risk professions who develop a sense that they're being watched by someone or something hostile? Hey, let's test that in a lab under controlled conditions!

Don't get me wrong. I actually very much admire the spirit behind The Amazing Randy's desire to both debunk quacks and charlatans as well as his apparent desire to find actual proof to support paranormal or otherwise fabulous claims. But (and this but is bigger than my butt by a substantial amount) science has limitations, and this is seldom acknowledged by skeptics. Science has been abused like statistical analysis and even legitimate science has 'proven' completely false ideas. People are fallible, and the science they employ is also fallible as a result.

This wraps back around to religion, gods, and the wearing o' the ring. What's a rational gal to believe these days? If the polytheism of old is flawed, and monotheism is flawed (man, Kami, how arrogant can you get here!) and science is limited and its usage is flawed, what's left?

Life, mortality, intelligence, ecosystems, the wide universe filled with distant stars and planets, music that gives you goosebumps, the feeling that you're in a sacred space, the adrenaline rush when faced with a wild predator that has no interest in your survival and every interest in its own, awareness of how small we our and how brief our lives, love for our children, respect, on and on the list goes. What's left is infinite possibilities, and our finite perceptions compressed into a human lifespan. Religion is learning to coexist with the universe with as much awareness as possible; coexisting with things much larger than yourself, bearing in mind that our minds are good at fooling us. What's the difference between someone who hears voices telling him to kill everyone and me hearing a human voice in my office when no one was actually there (and we didn't have running water or electricity in the house so it wasn't the tv or radio or water burbling in the pipes)? A hair's breadth of difference, if any. It's not scientifically proven that I'm sane, and that my religious experiences weren't all chemical imbalances or group hysteria in the cases where my experiences were shared with others. I'm just another religious nut who tends to anthropomorphize my deities when I'm not paying attention and who relies on faith (one of the deepest and most dangerous forms of trust) that what I believe has enough accuracy that I can stake my life, and my soul, upon it. I'm okay with that. I come from an ancient line of people who have lived within the frameworks of many faiths, and the DNA continues onward through me. I'm willing to take a chance on what I believe.

That probably makes no sense to anyone but me.

So why the pentacle?

Because what I believe has no name. The pentacle is a symbol used by some who try to stay in tune with nature, the feminine, and the masculine as spiritual entities with their own power in our world. They don't believe like I believe, not even really close to the same, but the melody for the chorus is similar even if the words, verses and traditional harmonies are all radically different. We get along pretty well, I think, the community of pagans and me. Besides, the ring is pretty. The symbolism works for me, even though it's not scientifically valid, and I like the knotwork. Carve it on my tombstone. I'll rest easy within the tangled strands.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

War and the World

When I was young, maybe ten or twelve (I suspect twelve because that was a huge year of revelations) I started thinking about how awful it is that life eats life. At the time I decided that plants were an ideal, innocent life form and I decided that trees deserved to be some of the longest living life forms on the planet. I wished that it didn't have to be this way.

As in many things, this idea has come around again, but with a forty year old's sensibilities. I've been reading "Achilles in Vietnam" (highly recommended) and my sense of compassion began throwing a temper tantrum (though with a calmer facade than my twelve year old self could pull off. Hey, by 60 years of age, I might even sound wise!) I started (silently) whining about why we all can't just get along. I don't mean the end of war. Although the end of war would be nice, it's pretty unrealistic. I mean that if we must conflict, and it seems we have little choice, can't we respect each other? In the book the author blames the loss of respect for one's enemy in part on the goat herding religions, which tend to cast the enemy as the part of villian/evil/monster/subhuman who God will righteously smite. The trouble being (besides the fact that this is horribly prejudicial thinking not to mention really bad manners) that when the righteous God-fearing people start to lose, bad things happen to them psychologically. They are, after all, losing to someone inferior to them in some (or many, in their minds) ways. How could this happen, except that (gasp): God might not exist, or God doesn't love them anymore, or God is an asshole. What follows is a moral breakdown, an emotional mess, and a human being that becomes a danger to himself and others because he's lost one or several vital things that allow him or her to be a positive force in society. Granted I tend to agree with the author's take on all this, especially the religion part, because I'm a pagan and it serves my points of view. But it also makes terrible sense. How many people have had a crisis of faith because something really, really awful happened? If there's one God and that God is good, then what gives?

The advantage that the pagan has (in the book, he looks at the religion followed by the ancient Greeks--which is not an endorsement for that particular olde tyme religion so don't go flocking to sign up and start sacrificial pyres for that pantheon--it's never that easy) is that there isn't one God, and the many gods aren't necessarily good, at least as far as making life bearable on the planet. Gods don't work like that, any more than corporate chairpeople don't concern themselves with Bob in accounting or Sue in HR unless they happen to take temporary notice and start playing favorites. And when *that* happens, you can bet they all won't be on the same page. In fact because Sr. Exec has the hots for Sue and wants to put her on a fast track up the corporate ladder, Jr. Exec may snarl and start to undermine Sr. Exec's efforts. *Which is exactly what happens among the gods in the Iliad.* So what's this mean? It means that if you aren't a peon, you're not playing the same game the peon is playing. Things that you do to try to help may hurt, and you're helping with a sense (and perhaps not always a good sense) of what the big picture is, which may screw over a bunch of people on the side. Whole departments can dissolve and all it might be is a compromise with another exec--we'll cut this department and boost your favorite, and in return, Sue gets to end up head of HR. This is an unequal trade, so the next time a department gets cut, one of yours gets the axe--my choice of which one. Go corporate politics! It might not even benefit the company in the long run. It's just the way it works.

And so it may well be with the powers (if you believe in such) that are immortal (or near-so) and greater than human beings, but still confined within the tides of Earth. The gods don't have to be dead just because things don't go your way. Right? Maybe it goes the other guy's way because s/he's the favored one, or maybe they weren't even paying attention that day. Even if that's wrong, what really matters is that the other way of thinking, that there's a One True God who Loves Everybody, has done some serious harm to a lot of people.

So my (mature-er) tantrum is this--if it screws people up so bad to disrespect the enemy and believe God is on your side, and people know this, why do so many do it? Why are we still following this system of thought?

Because as a species we're slow to change. Individuals can be fast learners, but cultures are not, and the human race moves forward at a painful crawl. We're still fighting holy wars, for pity's sake, and via that mechanism creating monsters out of decent people. And so my soul wants to bang on the keyboard in frustration. Gaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!

Who would have thought that the concept of respect could matter (and how many nations respect each other--egad)? Who would have thought that monotheism could do emotional harm? In theory, it does. I wonder what else matters that we undervalue. Hmm, several spring to mind without me even having to sweat--work ethic, compassion, thriftiness among them. Most days I have an optimistic outlook on life and living. These past couple of days I've been verging on cynicism, and it's all because of war and the world.

Poopyhead war. Poopyhead world.

I hope that someday it all works out okay.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Smaller than a petunia

The hummingbird wars have commenced.

Last year was a quiet year. Not much warfare, a few skirmishes. Last year I think we had one local rufous hummingbird ruling and the others moved on. Last year I didn't have a hummingbird feeder, or a hummingbird garden, although I had a few hummingbird-friendly plants--butterfly bushes, an ailing honeysuckle, a small patch of monarda, a few penstemon.

It seems I must have outdone myself in providing hummingbird fodder because we have at least four. They're hard to count when they're chasing each other back and forth over the house and into the blackberries at 60 mph. One has claimed the feeder, and guards it from within the butterfly bushes which haven't come into bloom yet (although I saw a few bits of darker purple that may be flowers opening.) Another I call the petunia hummer, and it's cute to watch that one feed because the petunia blossoms are much larger than the bird. The poor thing has a very small territory, the four hanging baskets by the stairs, and is close enough to the butterfly bushes to annoy the feeder hummer. S/he makes forays into the monarda as well, where fights occur with the rock garden hummer who also wants the monarda. Rock garden hummer? Yep. Yet another has claimed the rock garden where all the penstemon are. And then we have raider hummer, who apparently feeds from the fuschia baskets in front and then zooms back into various territories to nip from the others. As the salvia and new honeysuckle by the garden bench grows and the wildflower garden blooms up with hummingbird attractive species (right now I all have a few cosmos, the more percocious bachelor buttons and lots of gypsophila (aka baby's breath)) I imagine that will become highly disputed territory.

So the morning has been filled with the outraged squeaks and mechanical brrts of hummingbirds chasing each other and trying to steal from one another. A couple of them have flown up to see if I too plan to try to claim some territory. If I did, I'd claim the roses. I'm sure they'd laugh at me. Go ahead, stupid human, claim the roses.

Don't mind if I do.