Sunday, June 29, 2003

I've been mulling a number of things over tonight. Among them: why do people have such a strong need for religion? While there may be some truth in seeing organized religion as a means of control (and a very effective one at that), this overlooks the large number of people who have deeply held religious convictions without attending church.

Religion has got to be one of the controversial of topics. Is there any easier method of offending someone than to call into question his religious beliefs? Even fairly insignificant details can become the subject of heated debates and severed freindships or family ties. There is something- almost desperate- about the way a person will defend their spiritual values, like a drowning man clinging to a raft, however sodden it may be. I think that's the main root of the issue. To confront the fear that our lives may be without any higher purpose or meaning than simply to exist as we are is too threatening. Such a notion scares us so badly that we'll attack the person who brings it to our attention.

Perhaps there is an afterlife. For my part, I'm inclined to doubt it. It doesn't make sense; what could possibly be done in a second life (without a body, besides) that we couldn't already have accomplished or attempted in the first one? As far as I can see, the only afterlife we have is in the matter of our corpse, as it returns to the earth, and then to plant and animal life once more, and in the memories and effect out life had on the people we knew, and in turn the people they know.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

We're still eating on the blue goat cheese, which is sort of surprising, even though there was three pounds of it. Usually I wouldn't order so much, but Nolan was coming and so I wanted him to try it. As it turned out, he didn't stay long and the cheese came late. Will have to get some more sometime. Not that it's a problem; this cheese is the sort that could be polished off in a day or two. I overstated things when I said it was the best cheese I'd ever had, though. It's good, really good, the best I've found yet in Idaho. But Humboldt Fog is better. I ate some at the ADGA convention a couple of years back, and have never forgotten it. There just is no comparison between it and anything else, in my opinion. If I find some chocolate that's up to those standards, I'll be in deep, deep trouble.

Anyway- I think I'd like to get into some serious cheesemaking. Specifically, mold ripened goat cheeses such as camembert and brie. I have a recipe here and it looks pretty simple. Besides, it's sort of hard to justify having so many goats (I'm milking ten of them) without doing something with the milk. We'd need a little more cheese equipment, cultures, and candidum penicillum (the white mold powder that makes the rind).

The only thing is, every time I get really excited about some new interest, something happens and it falls apart. Like the lilies, for example. They cost about a hundred dollars, which didn't matter since I really wanted them, as well as a lot of work preparing the beds. But after I got them planted, there was no water. This is stupid, since there's a huge pond very nearby. I watered them by hand for a while, and then it rained, which helped. But between the damned gophers and several weeks without much rain, there are only about a dozen of them left, and I planted about 50. The ones there are look pretty sad. We finally got a hose long enough to reach them, but it won't is just insane!! :gnashing my teeth: It's the same way with just about everything here; nothing is ever complete or turns out the way it should. Rant!!

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Reading: I finished Family by Pa Chin. This is a classic, unknown to most westerners. It's set in China and is partly autobiographal. It was a good book, but to be honest, if you're feeling depressed you probably shouldn't read it. Now I'm started on Lucifer's Hammer, and still reading about art- The Flow of Art, essays and criticisms by Henry McBride

I'm still culling through our excess of personal belongings. I've got this idea that it'd be a lot easier to keep things clean and organized if there were fewer of them. I sent a bunch of clothes to the thrift store; among them a blue dress. I found that dress in a dumpster as a teen, and I never wear it. So why did I have it at all? It was the dress I was wearing when my first love asked for my hand. He was 35, I was 17. It didn't work out; my parents forbade the match and he got bored with waiting and moved on to other conquests, then died of cancer. It took me a long time to get over him- 12 years. 12 years of missing him and remembering all sorts of minutea, like his birthday (4-29-54). Now, I wonder. Because really, what responsible 35 year old man would court a 17 year old girl and then ditch her for no good reason? So, goodbye, Daniel Haugen. You were a nice guy, but the truth of the matter it that it probably wasn't worth crying over for twelve years in the first place.

"God loves you!"
I've never derived much comfort from this. Even if it's true, it rings hollow. For one thing, why should G-d love you or I more than the next person? I mean, out of billions of people, I'm so special? He loves the starving and AIDS infected Africans too. Maybe there's a God and He loves us on a collective scale, but to love any one of us more than another? Secondly, what good is it to be loved if you can't feel it? Despite what people have always enthused over to me, I can't feel an overpowering love from heaven. I don't even feel a simple hug from Him, which any human can give. So really, what good is it, anyway?

"All things work together for good"
What they don't tell you is that this verse is incomplete and taken out of context, and the rest of it says, 'for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes.' So- when things don't seem to work out well, you can conclude that
a: You don't truly love Him. (How can you? You've never seen Him, we can only imagine and fantasize. To really love someone, you have to know them. And contrary to what some say, it's pretty hard to love an invisible person based on what you've read about them in a book.)
b:You aren't one of the chosen who are called according to His purposes. See: Calvanism. What other conclusion can you come to?
c: That however screwed up things may seem, we feeble humans don't know what's good for us. It's *good* if you're starving! God has a purpose for it! It's *good* if you've been paralyzed from the neck down! God has a reason (maybe He'll heal you!) It's *good* that your child just died in a car wreck! Who knows, maybe God knew he was destined to go astray as an adult? So he tok him early. That way, he could go to heaven.
I can only conclude that this verse was intended to pacify through empty consolation. Sort of like the livestock in Animal Farm; what do we know? After all, we're not pigs.

"He never gives us more than we can bear."
What exactly is this supposed to mean? It is the platitude to end all platitudes, IMO. Of course you don't get more than you can bear. If you do, you lose your mind, or die. The human body or mind can only endure so much, and then it gives way, thus not having to bear the pain (or whatever) any longer. I guess this little gem of wisdom is meant to tell us that whatever happens, we should put up with it uncomplainingly. After all, we're still alive and ostensibly sane, right?

"Pray about it. God answers prayers."
OK. Except, he doesn't. I could pray until I'm blue in the face, and it won't matter unless I take action to change things. Of course, any results from this action must then be chalked up as 'answered prayer.' And if by some fluke, something unexpected and good happens, it's immediately attributed to answered prayers. Never mind the unexpected bad things life throws at us. Those are good, we just don't realize it yet. And, if your prayer doesn't seem to be answered, there are all sorts of one-size-fits-all reasons for it; you have sin in your life,(who doesn't?) or what's going on must be God's will, or an unaswered prayer is, in itself, an answer.

I'm not saying prayer is useless. Undoubtedly it does one good to scream out your troubles and frustrations to the universe. The trouble comes when you expect an answer and all you hear is the sound of your own echo.

"I'll pray for you."
This can be taken in two ways: your own prayers aren't good enough, or you're not righteous enough. Therefore, you need someone else to pray for you on your behalf. Or, the person simply dopesn't know what else to say. They're at a loss, they've got nothing else to offer, but they'd like to say something. This is the way I usually take it, so this bugs me less than the others. It's sort of like, 'I'll be thinking of you and hoping the best for you.' In that context, it isn't offensive at all.

I guess that the purpose of platitudes is to make ourselves feel better, to wish and imagine that our lives have a purpose and a meaning, and that life's hardships are not, in fact, random and senseless. Just don't think too hard about it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Current music: Art Garfunkle- ' I believe'. Not sure that I do believe that, but it's still a nice song.

Current goings on: the house goat, Syringa, is nestled between my feet. She's learned how to drink from a bucket, so I don't have to wash out bottle anymore. A friend dropped by and delivered 3 lbs of some of the best cheese I have ever sunk teeth into. It's blue goat cheese. Making pasta tossed with it for dinner. Several ducks have hatched out nests of eggs and are now swimmign out in the pond surrounded by downy little ducklings. I discovered this site thanks to a poster on the INTP list. It's pretty neat; you can add to entries (assuming you know something about the subject in question).

Current mood: I don't know. Thought I was upbeat, but the music makes me sad. :-(

Sunday, June 22, 2003

What made me smile today: this. To understand it in context, you should probably visit this page first. Heh. Brought back memories of life on the streets and waaay back, when I lived in Chicago.

What else- I had started an oil painting of a skunk cabbage flower a few weeks ago. Today I finished it. The name sounds kind of nasty, doesn't it? But it's quite a striking bloom, a shocking yellow streaked with chartreuse green spathe embracing an oblong pistil studded with knobbly protrusions. They grow in swampy areas around here. When I was a teen and still strongly in my tomboy phase, my brother and I used to take the ripened fruits, which are about the size and shape of a grenade, and hide behind logs and throw them at one another. They'd bust into a lot of pieces, which made the game more realistic. I didn't know if I'd be able to capture the essence of the flower on canvas, but when i look at it now, I can almost smell the skunky I guess I succeeded, particularly when the smell/taste of alizeran crimson is still in my nose, don't know how a paint could have a taste but it does.

Gunite- a mixture of concrete, sand, and water. Sounds like something to pour down a gopher hole. >:-) Last night I found two more holes; stuffed them full of digitalis purpurea leaves and fritillaria imperialis seedpods. The former should cause fatal heart problems, the second is a deterrent, don't know if it's actually toxic or not, but they avoid it like the plague. Die, thou evil bulb-eaters!!!

It's a cold, damp day today. I keep dreaming about my Grandma Amy. Her name isn't really Amy; when she came here from the Philipines, nobody could understand her name, it sounded like 'Amy" to them. She gave up telling her real name and adopted Amy. How many women are like that? We have a dream, a goal, a personal sense of what we want or of our own identity, and someone who seems like an authority figure comes along and tells us that we want, or are, something different, so we adopt that instead...and only later, wonder why we're unhappy when we have everything we thought we ever wanted?

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Current mood: Bored and blue.
Current music? None. The radio stations around here suck. I spent about 10 minutes trying to find something decent. The offerings were mostly country (depressing), sad/wistful songs from the 80's- 90's era, and other dreck. I tried in vain to locate NPR or the oldie's station and finally gave up.

Miscellania: Mable (my 4yo daughter) came running into the house, scared breathless, said she'd seen a moose! I've sold two more goats. These went to a really good home and I'll be seeing them again, so I was happy about that. There are still 8 meat kids to butcher, 4 doelings, a dry yearling, and at least 2-3 milkers to sell. Nathan (8 yo son) helped me in the flowerbeds this morning, and is learning to milk. One of the beds of Oriental lilies is almost a total loss to the gophers. Even after gassing them, the place is still overrun with the critters. I'd kind of like to do something creative but there are so many half finished projects lying around that it seems irresponsible to begin another. I haven't played Boggle in months, so last night I played online, did pretty poorly overall. Best word- sheered. Also gunites (I think. It was a wild guess that turned out to actually be a word.)

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Got a lot of cleaning done yesterday and today, in the trailer. I'm a horrible pack rat, and it doesn't help a bit that I married another one. I'll be undecided as to throwing something out or not, and he'll say, 'Oh, we can use that someday, here, I'll take it.'. Then he squirrels it away in one of...hmmmm, I think there are 8? cars and trucks on the place, as well as a number of sheds, bedrooms, corners, and assorted piles on the place. It's really out of hand. Anyway, I digress. I have to be in just the right mood to clean and throw stuff out. Happy, contented, or calm just doesn't work, angry is best, enraged is better, sometimes despair will work. Otherwise, I end up sitting down and looking at this and that, remembering this pleasant time when....and oh, look at this!!, etc etc.

So I'm out there cleaning- got a lot of stuff bagged up for the trash and thrift store, as well as stuffing the stove full of old papers, when I come across a folded piece of paper. It has water damage and has been partly eaten away by mice, and I was about to toss it. It says: "Dear (legal name), Congratulations! You are invited to be an honored guest at the annual Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce Academic Acheivement Banquet. The banquet honors the top 2 graduates of Quapaw Technical Institue as well as the top 10% of the graduating high school seniors in the county. (lots of details)." Apparently it was a banquet where the top students had an opportunity to further their education. I don't know, because I never went to it.

I spent all but two months of my high school years working in the woods, helping deliver newspapers, doing housework, helping our family survive, and ostensibly being homeschooled. There wasn't a whole lot of actual academic education taking place, though I learned an incredible amount of life experience. When I got married, I had no high school diploma, and I wanted to get my G.E.D.. My husband didn't have one either, so we went in at about the same time to take the test. I took it cold turkey, and did really well. It was an easy test. The people there made a real fuss over it, and my (now ex) husband wanted to do well, too. So he took out books from the library, studied, had me quiz him, and then he took it, and asked right away if he'd done better...but the ladies laughed at him. I guess he never forgave that, because he wouldn't let me go to the banquet.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Loneliness The ladies at the quilt meeting tonight were talking about this, and it made me think. In my mind, there are two types of loneliness:
>Due to isolation from a group of people, particularly when surrounded by them; for example if you are in a foreign country or a group that is antagonistic to you. I'm pretty familiar with this sort, having known it all my life. I've never fit in, and to be honest, didn't want to. The solution to this sort is to avoid being in such company, and most especially large groups of them.
> Due to missing a particular person, whose place cannot be filled by another. There isn't much to be done about this except to endure it. Happily, there are very few people that I care for enough to miss that keenly. (Yeah, there is the other side of the coin, too. Whatever...) Again, this sort is not alleviated by the company of other people, since their presence serves only to highlight the absence of the other.
So for either type, the solution is the same, to stay away from people unless they are the sort that you truly want to be around. Solitude is healing and beneficial in such circumstances.

The quilting gals, however, were apparently on a whole different wavelength. They spoke of how intolerable it would be to live in the woods if their spouse passed away, how cars and trucks passing by would make them feel better (?). Extraneous people just irritate me if I'm lonely...I don't get it at all.

Monday, June 16, 2003

I wish I could think of something witty and intelligent to say, but my mind is sort of on 'numb' mode right now...Called my dad yesterday (Father's day), and in the course of the conversation he asks me how's church? I told him I no longer attended that church; how to tell him that I'm totally disillusioned with many of the values that he so carefully tried to instill in me? In all fairness, I'm quite certain he believed them then and still does. Life was a lot simpler when the answers all seemed clean and clear-cut. Unfortunately, accepting these answers as gospel truth also entailed summarily dismissing large groups of people as unacceptable, and doing so in ignorance of other perspectives.

In MBTI, thy say that J types are more confident. INTJ's for example, tend to think that if they have enough data they can come up with the *right* decision. An INTP, on the other hand, is concerned that a: he/she may be lacking some vital piece of data and b: maybe there is not one right decision? We are forever second guessing ourselves and past decisions, what could have been done differently. Not very conducive to confidence! I'm pretty certain my dad must be a J, secure in the knowledge that the right answers are out there. Probably he's an ISTJ. It kind of explains why people tend to get irritated with me; I don't have a problem with questioning any strongly held belief or viewpoint, including my own (what if it's wrong?) and some folks find this threatening.

On the homestead: new baby ducklings (7-8 of them). And the strawberries are turning pink- should be ripe in a day or two.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Hot topic on the Homesteading Today forum: gay marriage. There are a handful of very volatile subjects that regularly surface there- homosexuality, abortion, AIDS in Africa, politics, and religion (usually Christians quoting bible verses in an attempt to convince atheists who don't believe the bible in the first place). In each case, the theme is the same; someone disapproves of what someone else is doing and feels holier by condemning said person, belief, or lifestyle. And you can count on it, the meanest, most venomous posters are the ones who claim to be Christians. What is it about religious belief that compels a person to shove their convictions down everybody else's throat?? Or---> is the religion an excuse for said attitude? Either way, it bugs the heck out of me.

Friday, June 13, 2003

It's 11:15 AM and I'm still groggy and tired. being a night owl with an early bird baby just doesn't work out well sometimes. :yawn: I finished The Disposessed. The author had a lot of interesting observations to make, and I could strongly relate to the leading character, to his sense of isolation and loneliness. He lives on a moon (Anarres) which has an anarchist society. The planet (Urras) from which the settlers of the moon came, is capitalist- propertarian. Life on Anarres if difficult, but life and work is meaningful, and the inhabitants have the priceless luxury of being able to do whatever work they enjoy doing wihtout having to be concerned over it's finanacial value or status. Life on urras is pretty similar to that of the U.S., characterized by extravangance, waste, and wide differences in status and standards of living. The women of Anarres are equals to the men, in the truest sense. They work just as hard, and are not granted special treatment or deference as the 'weaker sex', excpet that they are provided with extra meal rations when pregnant or lactating. There is no marriage and there are no sexual rstrictions or stigmas, provided that all interactions are consensual. If two people prefer on another, they form a partnership, which may last a few months or a lifetime. It's a different story on Urras; women are regarded as property- objects- and are treated as such. The ones that are owned (they're called wives), are ornately dressed in totally impractical clothing- imposssibly high heels, gauzy fabric, and their dresses have no bodice, exposing the breasts and displaying them as the man's trophies. In contrast to the women of Anarres, who wear the same practical, utilitarian garments as the men. Urrasti women are powdered, pampered, very poised, retiring and superficial. The authors point is unmistakeable.

Day to day life here on the farm: we now have a house goat. Mayflower had triplets, and since she has the CAE virus, I took the doeling at birth and am bottle feeding it. I put her in the pen with the junior herd sire, but this didn't work out well. At about 6 weeks old, he towers over her, and while he is gentle enough, he kept trying to mount her- which was funny since she had plenty of standing room under him! She's tiny enough to creep out from the pen and follow us up to the house, and so she now stays right by the front door. It would be irritating if there were several kids, but she's quiet and unobtrusive. In keepign with the flower theme, her name is Syringa. The two oldest boys, ages 8 and 10, have learned to swim, an incredible relief since we have a lrge pond and they'e always on the dock fishing or in the water, splashing. And now, I think it's about time for me to milk those goats.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Looks like it's going to rain this morning. There was a thunderstorm last night, with lightning striking pretty close to home. Was about to pick up the phone, when green sparks flashed out around it...hmm, maybe that call can wait...I advertised my goats for sale in the local newspapers with the intent to sell off about half of them. So far I've had one sale, a man who called, came out within hours, and bought Katydid. I had the feeling that I'd sold a friend for a mess of pottage, as though the money soiled my hand...I hate selling goats. Still, it's better than sending them to the sale barn, which I did earlier this year, knowing that most of them will be meat. Another person is coming out today, and sounds very nice. There are just too many goats here! I was milking 12 (by hand, twice a day) before Katydid left. Since I milk in pairs, selling her didn't reduce the time involved, her partner still has to be milked. It takes between an hour to an hour and a half for each milking. I am hoping to reduce numbers to 4-6 milkers, as well as selling off most of the kids.

I am still enjoying The Dispossessed. The author has many ideas which have validity and I wish could find reception in real life, beyond kibbutzim. Salvador Dali- after reading the entire book, it appears that Dali managed to maintain a rather precarious hold on his sanity, but that he dramatized and exploited his eccentricity for the sake of promoting his art. Meanwhile, a song from the Art Garfunkle CD (most of them are sweet, slightly sad, and haunting) keeps playing itself over and over in my mind. 'I only have eyes for youuuuu', until I begin to think that I too am losing my sanity. I haven't played any of it for the last few days, and when I did, I omitted that song, hoping it'd die out. Still it persists! The rain has begun, it looks to be a very wet day.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

By now the name for this page should make more sense...So, what has been going on here? All kinds of stuff, yet none of it seems worthwhile enough to warrant posting about it. There are a lot of flowers in bloom- wild roses, irises, columbines, delphiniums, to name just a few. We've been gassing the gophers with carbon monoxide poisoning. It's awful, but on the other hand, they have overpopulated and are eating everything in sight!

I finished the book about Salvador Dali and have now resumed The Disposessed. I am enjoying this book immensely. A quote- "You can't crush ideas by suppressing them. You can only crush them by ignoring them. By refusing to think, refusing to change." I thought that was a very astute observation.

Monday, June 02, 2003

It's taken a day or so to recover from the goat show. In all honesty, I can't figure out why I wanted to go to it! It was a lot of work, a lot of stress, cost a lot of money, and there were a lot of people there. True, there were people that I enjoyed seeing again, but still...large groups of humans are something I don't tolerate well, especially if it involves some sort of performance. Well, it could be worse; I could be a goat judge, and then I'd have to stand up there and actually say something in front of all those people, and make sense, besides! And then have people grumble and gripe about what I said! ~~shudder~~

The bright side of the thing is that we got a new herd sire, and I am very happy with him. He has good conformation and I think he will be the right man for the improvements that we need. This is in addition to having a very endearing and heart warming personality- which is a good thing because the last two days have been so wretched that I think I'd consider going out of goats entirely if I hadn't just invested in this little guy.