Monday, May 14, 2012

Apparently, I'm back.

I know I haven't posted in a really long time.  I got busy with life, or life got busy with me.  Whatever.  Anyway, after the smoke and the concern about the wild fires last summer, things settled down here in the mountains.  The closest the Wallow fire got to us was about 40 miles.  Close enough!

Now we are in the pivotal year 2012, and all kinds of stuff is supposed to hit the fan.  I don't know about that, really, it could be just another year.  Recently, our years are filled with storms, earthquakes, wars, and deep economic fluctuations.  However, we've also experienced peaceful sunny days, beautiful clear nights, superb full moons, happy holidays, the births of children and unexpected opportunities.  We must be able to see the positive and the negative in all things, or we (maybe just me) could go nuts.

So, the Mayan calendar is coming to a close and a cycle is ending.  Is that really a big deal?  Doesn't our own Gregorian calendar end every December 31st, and don't we start a new yearly cycle every January 1st?  Is this always an earth shaking, or earth ending, event?  No.  All the ending of the Mayan calendar means is that it is starting over.  Just like when the Gregorian calendar ends.  The only difference is that one calendar is much longer than the other.  Big deal.

I guess I am trying to say that there is no reason for the fear and angst I see and hear all around me.  Some folks are doomsday preppers anticipating a worse case scenario.  Others are grasshoppers, not anticipating any scenario!  I think reality is somewhere in the middle.  Is it good to be prepared for hard times?  Yes, unless you have plenty of money and you can be positive that money won't lose its value and goods will always be in the stores.  Could a magnitude 9 earthquake rumble through your neighborhood?  Well, yes, but the chances are probably good that it will not.  Tornadoes, hurricanes, solar storms, 300 mph straight-line winds, floods, or nuclear attack could happen.  However, am I going to be in fear that one of these could visit my house at any moment?  No.  Do I have some extra groceries put aside, along with kleenex, paper towels and toilet paper?  Yes.  Why not.  Why be foolhardy.

I know people who are expecting Armegeddon and economic collapse by the end of the year.  I know others who believe everything is going to change for the better, all debt will be forgiven, and we will all own our houses free and clear.  I don't know, but I kind of think 2012 is going to be just another year.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Summer from Hell

If you think of hell as a place of eternal flame, Arizona is turning into that.  The big Wallow fire is still burning, about 75% contained.  The Monument fire down near the Mexican border is still burning.  There are two new fires along the Mogollon Rim, the Willow fire and the Wash fire.  Lordy, where is the rain??

We are in the monsoon season now, here in the Southwest, although usually it doesn't start really raining until July.  Not a drop so far.  Up here in the White Mountains we have gone from cool and windy, too hot and windy.  It is eye drying, lip chapping, skin cracking weather, with humidity often less than 15%.  And, there is just enough smoke in the air to cause your eyes to burn, like a smoggy day in Los Angeles.

In the winter I was praying for warm weather.  This afternoon, I'd be delighted if it snowed, just for an hour.  It is hot.  I know I demand a paradise climate, but even in paradise the weather is changing.  Drought in the south, fires in Florida, flooding in the upper Midwest, and I don't know what in California.

I was listening to a Mayan scholar on the radio the other night, and he was saying that the Mayan calender will end on October 28, 2011, not December 21, 2012.  He said he did expect some "challenges" around that time.  Here we've all been gearing up slowing, thinking we had over a year to prepare.  Now he says October, only four months away.  Should we be scared?

I'm not going to be.  We are all born onto this planet, and we die to go back Home.  None of us knows the day or the hour that will happen, but we don't live in fear our whole lives either.  No point in starting now.  These days demand we be alert and creative, and both are states that make us feel alive.  Challenges are good for the soul and they strengthen the mind.  Like a roller coaster ride, it is exhilarating while it lasts, and scary too.  Yeehaw!

Like the old Chinese curse/proverb says, "May you live in interesting times."  Well, let's ride the wild ride, and if it is fated to be so, slide into The Other Side grinning and laughing, saying, "That was fun!  Let's go again!"  Let's pretend we're running the rapids on the Colorado River, getting wet and sunburned, and having the time of our lives.

Friday, June 10, 2011

More on the Wallow fire

The big Wallow fire is burning about 35 miles from my house, but fortunately it is headed north east instead of west.  It is now threatening the New Mexico towns of Luna and Reserve.  Springerville, Eager, Greer, Alpine, Nutrioso, and Round Valley in Arizona have been evacuated.  Last night's news said the fire had burned through Greer, destroying 22 homes, 24 outbuildings, and a truck. They also said it was about 5% contained.  There is a very long way to go.

Evacuees are staying in St. Johns and the Show Low area (Lakeside, Pinetop and Show Low.)  Many folks have probably gone back down to the Valley (Phoenix area) or other towns up here on the Mogollon Rim.  It was such beautiful country, tall ponderosa pines, and mixed pinyon and juniper forests with grasslands here and there.  However, years of drought have taken their toll and the forests are very dry.  We had a snowy winter, but the summer monsoons haven't started yet.  Please, do your rain dances, pray for the winds to die down and the humidity to increase.

There are other fires burning in Arizona, so I don't want to forget the people effected by those fires.  I hope they are well and safe, and that those fires are being contained.  But the fire that started in the Bear Wallow Wilderness is the big one this year.

When the Rodeo-Chedeski fire burned up here several years ago, I was still living in the Valley.  It was a huge fire, and it took a long time to put out.  The Wallow fire is going to be bigger, if it isn't already.  Fire is one of Mother Nature's cleansers.  When the forest gets old, or dry, or diseased, lightening starts a fire and it sweeps through and cleans out what isn't needed, then new life begins.  Ponderosa pines don't like to be crowded, and the mature trees have evolved to tolerate fast-moving fires that clear out the understory.  When the fires move more slowly, however, and crown in the trees, the trees die and the forest goes to grassland.  Then opportunistic plant species move in, different species of wildlife move in, and it can take centuries for the forest to regenerate. 

Nature moves in long cycles, and human habitation in the numbers currently living in this area is relatively recent.  We are caught in these cycles and we get very upset when the expectations of always having green forests in this area, or any forested area, are not met.  The west is not capable of supporting large numbers of people without modifying nature in huge ways.  We have to import water from far away.  We plow up the deserts for farms, destroying the natural plants and animals, and our garbage and our pets invite the native predators into our neighborhoods and cities.  We cut down trees for homes and businesses, and then wonder why the rainy season brings flooding.  We carve up the prairies, removing the natural sod, and then bemoan the dust storms. 

We humans are a part of nature, not above it, and not separated from it in any way.  We are the greatest force nature has unleashed on the planet in the last two million years.  Yet, we have set ourselves against nature, rebuilding the natural world with concrete and steel, designing it to fit our wants.  Now, the nature we are a part of seems to be warring with us.  Who is going to win??

Friday, June 3, 2011


There are fires burning in each corner of Arizona, one of them is not far - as the crow flies - from my house.  The winds have been strong over the northeastern part of the state for days and days, or is it weeks?  It seems like forever!  I think the winds that blow over us end up in the midwest and southeast as tornadoes.  Isn't it Chaos Theory that says the breeze from a butterfly's wings in Asia can end up as a hurricane in the Atlantic?  It feels like Chaos Theory is ruling the world.

I belong to a small email list that is local to my area.  We talk about farming, gardening and ranching.  However, the last day or two people (including myself) have been offering shelter for people and animals affected by this fire, the Wallow fire, which led to the evacuation of Alpine, Arizona.  Those of us who are not affected by the fire are all thankful for that, but those of us who have extra space are banding together in community to help those who are affected.  In times of trouble, that is what humans do.

Well, I do believe more trouble is a-coming!  Whether it is weather related, or economically related, we need to band together in small, like-minded communities to help each other out.  Back in the day when there were far fewer humans on the planet, we lived in tribal villages.  When the tribes got too big, they separated into clan villages, because the people knew that it was easier to mobilize smaller groups to act for the good of the whole community.  Too few, and defense was impossible... too many, and agreement was impossible.

Now, there are too many of us, and our weapons have gotten too sophisticated, so that tribal warfare is a very bad idea.  Nowadays, that is called terrorism.  However, banding together for the common good in times of trouble is still a strong human instinct. 

May we come together in an inclusive community, not an exclusive compound.  May we come together in a spirit of love and sharing, not with suspicion and distrust.  I think that what is coming is going to test humanity in the most basic of ways.  I hope we all pass the test, and come through whole and happy on the other side.  It may be a little like going through a black hole:  there are theories about what that process is like, and what is on the other side, but no one knows for sure. 

Let us cross our fingers, hope for the best, but take steps to ensure the continuation of our villages and communities.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day for American Warriors

It's Memorial Day weekend, time for barbeques, the Indy 500, and visits to the cemetary to honor those who fell in war time.  These are all good things to do.

However, I believe the other American warriors existing today, beside the brave men and women who serve in our military around the world (and thank you all for serving), are the millions of people who are struggling to make a living in today's economy.  There are way too many of us trying to get by on our social security and disability payments, our family support payments because we can't find jobs, food stamps, and medicare and medicaid.  Too many states are bankrupt or verging on bankruptcy, and are cutting back benefits.  Extended unemployment benefits are being cancelled because the jobless rate has improved.  Unfortunately, the new jobs may pay far less than the old jobs, and the competition for the new jobs is so fierce that marginalized populations, like older workers, have little hope of finding anything outside of WalMart.

There are things we can do to help ourselves:  grow food in your back yards, in containers on your balconies, in pots on your front porch.  Do something entrepreneurial, even if it is babysitting, picking up after yuppie poochies, dog walking, pet sitting, making herb vinegars and oils and selling them at the local farmers market.  Whatever.  Of course, making and selling craft items presupposes one has the funds to buy raw materials. 

Even trying these types of fixes may not be enough.  How can we make our dissatisfaction known to our governments, both state and local, which all too often side with the oppressive corporation?  That would be a good topic for discussion.  We can boycott spending our limited funds at companies that do not put consumers first.  We can write letters to the editor, go on the internet and post stories of consumer abuse.  Gathering in the streets, even peacefully, is risky now, as evidenced by the dancers harassed by the police at the Jefferson Memorial.  Good grief!

One thing we cannot do, we can't just drift along with the attitude that if stuff doesn't happen to us personally, all is well.


Friday, May 27, 2011

The Winds of Change are Blowing


Hi Y’all...  Yep, those winds are really blowing!  Weather-wise, tornados up and down the Alley, and east and west of the Alley!  Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee,even Northern California of all places.  Earthquakes, tsunamis, radiation spreading across the Pacific, and volcanic activity in Iceland, again.  Other places that don’t get tornados, like where I live in the mountains of northeastern Arizona, have endured strong and continuing winds for months now.  Unexpected high temperatures followed by sudden freezes have made gardening iffy.  We need this food!

The political winds are blowing... the Patriot Act has been extended, giving TSA more encouragement to grope and irradiate little children and senior citizens, not to mention the many business travelers who fly across the planet on a daily basis.  Are we that afraid of shadows that we allow our sovereignty to disappear?  What happened to Live Free or Die?

Economically, we are really struggling.  Our dollar is losing value; the money lenders have not only defiled the temples, but the marketplaces as well.  Mortgages are hard to get, jobs pay much less (when you can find one).  Our homes are worth less every month, but the payments and costs of maintenance don’t go down.  Hundreds of neighborhoods across the country are turning into ghost towns, as family after family have abandoned “the American dream.”  Retirees are watching their savings diminish and are having to stretch to live on just their social security.  The gap between rich and poor is growing exponentially.

There are wars, and rumors of wars, there are comets, not enough sunspots, or too many sunspots.  There are conspiracy theories aplenty about everything from weather manipulation by HAARP, to invasions of space aliens to either save us, or enslave us.  Help!!

Are these the End Times?  What does that mean, anyway?  The rapture was supposed to happen six days ago, but was apparently called off due to bad weather.  I understand there has been another date for that set.  We’ll see.

I want this blog to be a forum for all of us who are desperately bracing ourselves to withstand these winds, and come through stronger and wiser.  I just have one request:  be respectful of one another.  There are enough wars nowadays.  And please, I am old enough to blush at bad language, so none of that either.