Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mud Pies and macaroni

I'm in Michigan for several days spending some time with the grandkids. Just as I was ready to go stark raving mad after beeing cooped in the house with several days of rain, the sun finally came out. So we took the kids on a grand adventure hiking through the woods. We found some great trails and were able to talk about amazing fungi and bugs and other things we saw along the way. Looking at the world through a child's eyes is a great way to recapture awe and wonder. Of course, everything was pretty wet still from all the recent rains, so everyone came out looking like mud pies. So it was back to the house for marathon showers and then a feast of macaroni and cheese. It takes so little to keep these little ones happy. Now if I just had a laundry fairy all would be right with the world.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Magic Ju Ju Beans

For the past several months, I have been experimenting with homeopathic remedies.

Not one willing to take traditional sedatives, I was hoping to find something that would address my raging insomnia. Learning about Homeopathy has been an interesting journey. My RATIONAL mind scoffs at any possibility that this stuff could work. It defies all logic. But my EXPERIENCE tells me there is something to it.

However, homeopathy is more an art than a science. The remedy selected must be just the right match, fitting the individual like a key in a lock. I've tried three different things that clearly did not work. Each time I was ready to just quit, determine the whole thing to be a bunch of nonsense and move on in my usual sleep deprived way.

But the particular practioner I have been working with has been doing an incredible job of listening well, paying attention to what worked and what didn't, and trying with all diligence to find just the right match. He's somehow managed to have just the right blend of expressing confidence in the process without discounting my reservations. He's been respectful of my need to understand what I'm getting into and patient with my balking and suspicious mistrust. Little by little the guy has genuinely earned my respect. So, after very nearly throwing in the towel, I've begun a new remedy recently and this one SEEMS like we might finally have made a good fit.

The sense of well being I am finding goes far beyond being rested. This is no "happy pill." Yet there is no question in my mind that I am feeling calmer, more balanced, more at home in my own skin.

I've gone through so many phases with this stuff... from outright skeptism to guarded willful suspension of disbelief to wishful hope. I'm still not entirely convinced. But I'm exploring, trying to stay open to the possibility that not everything has to be rational and logical to be real.

The whole premise of homeopathy still rather baffles me. But I'm quite certain that there is much truth in this world I do not comprehend. This might be one of them. It may just be some mysterious thing that has real power to heal.

Comment Moderation Now ON

I never had any intention of turning on the "comment moderation." I am a supporter of open dialogue and liked the immediacy of having comments appear as soon as they were posted. Alas, some commercial spam has begun to appear. That simply will not do. So I've turned on the moderation. I have no desire to screen out any legitimate comment,whether I agree with it or not. But I will not tolerate salespeople trying to shlep their wares on my blog. I apologize for any inconvenience this is to my blogger pals...but I am confidant you will understand. As most of you know, I'm online FREQUENTLY, so as soon as I get the e-mail notice you've made a comment I'll go right in and pass it through to appear...should be minimal delay. So keep them comments coming and now I can relax without worrying about those pesky sales things.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Contemplating Evil

There is badness in the world.

Chris N., aka the Pondering Pig, has been commenting on the depravity of the human race.

Matthew, AKA "Mr. H" over at Its Later Than You Think has shared some thoughts about mental illness.

Then, over at Apprentice Human the following questions were asked: At what point do we think of someone as "sorta quirky" and when do they cross the line into "mental illness"? To what degree should "bad behavior" or criminal acts be excused due to a diagnosed mental illness?

I remember seeing a rabid dog when I was a kid. A neighbor brought out his hunting rifle and shot it point blank. Everyone was relieved. Was it the dog's FAULT that he was behaving in such a menacing fashion? Nope. Clearly, the poor pooch was sick. But the dog was also a serious threat. It needed to be put down.

Somehow though, when dealing with human beings, the answers do not seem so clear cut. What is the appropriate response when someone is discovered to be manufacturing, selling or even owning/viewing child pornography? Worse yet, what should be done for those who act on their twisted fantasies by physically/sexually harming little kids?

Clearly, the problem is rampant, not limited to a few isolated cases. Depravity and sickness seem to be spreading exponentially throughout our society. What can we do to stop it? How can we keep the ones we love safe?

I know scriptures council us to "love the sinner but hate the sin." Perhaps some can pull that off. Not me. I say the way the rabid dog went down was a mercy for the dog as well as for those who might have been bitten.

But knowing what I know about the inequities in the implementation of capital punishment and all the many flaws of our justice system, I'm not entirely comfortable suggesting we designate child rape as a capital crime.

How one is supposed to live a sane life in this insane world is a mystery. We are each confronted with evil in some fashion or another along the path. The degree to which we are willing to stand up against it, in my mind, is a measure of our souls.

But moving away from loose philosophical concepts over into the realm of daily living life in the midst of depravity is a complicated thing.

I certainly don't have the answers.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Why I love Geocaching

Someone I know recently asked me to explain why I enjoy geocaching. (He had never heard of the game and was curious what it was all about.)

There are a lot of reasons - but for me, it has five key elements:

1) It gets me outdoors - usually in peaceful, pretty places. Sure, there are plenty of "in town" sites, but I choose the ones that take me by rivers or out to cool overlooks. I like being connected with nature.

2) It gives me exercise. I sit in front of a computer most of the day. Both my work and my main free time activities (reading/writing) are physically passive. They keep my brain active, but my body needs to move. Hunting for geocache is a great way to get me up and stretching, pumping more oxygen, and that's a good thing.

3) It gives me something fun to focus on. I've been told at times I put the A in Type A, being a rather driven sort of girl. While I don't necessarily agree with that assessment, I will admit I can get very caught up in work or task lists at home, being very focused on what I need to do. When I am geocache hunting, I put all that aside and focus entirely on the puzzle of the hunt. It is a time when I allow myself to completely relax and immerse myself in the adventure.

4) It appeals to my techie side. I love technology and seeing how to adapt different tools to use in new ways. I have a pretty cool GPS receiver that I am still learning all the features of. I like the sense of mastery I get as I develop expertise in using it to full capacity. However, it does not REQUIRE technology know how....that's just a fun sidebar for me. Even for someone who is more of a Luddite it is a very doable diversion. A LOT of families take their kids on geocache adventures.

5) It satisfies some of my craving for community. The people who play geocache "talk" to each other via websites and e-mail. After doing it a while, you get to where you "know" who hides the really tricky ones, who does the fun ones, what sort of things to expect. We compare notes about what we've been looking for lately and any particularly fun finds. So, not unlike what I've found in blogging, I've begun to build up some cyber-relationships that amuse me. We e-mail each other back and forth to discuss various elements of the game and read each other's comments on the logs.

Those are my main reasons....

A few others:

It also appeals to my sense of social responsibility. I practice CITO, which stands for Cache In, Trash Out - I almost always take a garbage sack with me and pick up any litter I find on the trails where ever I go. I like knowing that the place is left better because I passed by.

It appeals to my sense of adventure. Some of the hunts are very straightforward. You get a set of coordinates and then just need to find a way to get there and look around for whatever is hidden. Others are more complex. Some require some math calculation, some solving a riddle, or others are multi-phase scavenger hunt with each "find" giving you coordinates and/or clues to the next piece, culminating in the main cache. It's a grown up version of an Easter egg hunt with all the fun "ah HAH!" when you find it.

It connects well with my love of travel. There are geocache hidden all over the world. There are geocache sites hidden in small towns and in major cities. They are in every state in the union and most countries throughout the world. There are even geocache hidden in ANTARTICA. It's fun to look at the maps and think of places where I'd like to go someday to do some searches.

One of the biggest things I like about it is that it is an activity that can appeal to ALL ages. I have eight grandkids ranging from age 6 to 18. There are very few family activities that everyone will enjoy. Do you know a teenager who sincerely wants to play Candyland or a six year old who loves the mall? You get my point. It's just plain hard to involve our whole family in any other kind of activity because there are so many with such diverse abilities and interests. But every time we go to Michigan to spend time with the brood we have our traditional family geochache hunt. It's something they ALL look forward to and all enjoy.

All in all, it's a harmless diversion. It's a cheap date for when my love of my life and I want to spend time together, and a fun way to get to learn about the world. It's a cool game.

If you haven't been geocaching, those of us who play the game call you a "muggle".
Who wants that? Come join the magic. You'll be glad you did.

Geocaching again

I had a hellish day at work yesterday. I came home feeling tired, discouraged, frustrated and overwhelmed.
I was tempted to just sit in the soup of my misery and "endure the miserableness" as Becket would put it. But instead I chose to get my butt up off the couch of woe and go do something to interrupt the pattern.

First I took the dog out for a hike - drove a few miles to where my favorite blackberry patch is to check the status of the berries. They were not quite ripe, so dog and I just walked for a mile or so to work the kinks from the day out.

When I got back home the gloom I'd left behind seemed to still be lurking, as if it had waited for me. So instead of trying to wrestle with the dozen and one "responsible" things I might have done, I just grabbed my trusty GPSr and headed back out. It was really too late in the evening for a geocache hunt. The sun was setting low with only a very short window of light left. But I figured it was worth a try. I got to the coordinates of a cache hide in Milton Freewater and then proceeded to scramble around the rocks to see if I could find the ammo box of goodies that was hidden there.

The sun slipped down as I climbed towards the river. I looked in many a nook and cranny as best as I could and all through the cracks and crevices. However, I never did turn up the cache I sought. I got a little disappointed and frustrated that I could not find the geocache I was hunting for. I had the EXACT coordinates and looked all over the place on either side and just had no luck. Then, to make matters worse, as I was crossing the rocks I slipped and just about went ass over teakettle. But somehow I managed to right myself and get back up the hills not too worse for wear.

It finally occurred to me that it really didn't matter that I did not find the geocache. Doing the SEARCH had gotten me out of the house, showed me a new place that I'd never been, and gave me a specific purpose to focus on for a bit. It took my mind off my worries from the day and got me some exercise. That's treasure enough for me.

I plan to go back when I have more daylight so I can find the silly thing. But I'm learning that this is far more about the journey than the destination. It feels good to get out an about, even if only for half an hour, to play the game.

So the hunt is on... I'll keep looking and eventually may hide a cache or two of my own.

Today I will go back to work and "endure the miserableness" of a particularly tedious project that is not turning out as I had hoped. I will sit through interminable meetings and struggle with the pathological politics of the unhealthy family that are my co-workers. I'll get through another difficult day. One of the things that will make it manageable is knowing my GPSr and new coordinates will be waiting for me when I get back home.

Monday, August 14, 2006

East, West and Inbetween

I've been cruising through some different blogs I like to read and came up with a question for myself.

Over on the Pondering Pig's blog are some nice shots his lady love took at Pisimo Beach, CA. Then, a meandering to Foghorn Leghorn's spot shows scenes from a Florida beach.

I've spent some time on both coasts and had very different experiences. I'm wondering whether the difference had more to do with who I was with, what I was doing and what stage my life was at at the time or if it was due to inherent differences in the two locations.

I have lived in the Southwest, the Midwest, and am now in the Pacific Northwest. I have found along the way that the whole world is NOT like my back yard...there are distinct differences in the ways people approach each other and life in general based on regional flavor. Yet, at the same time, I've found that people are people where ever I go - we all love, we laugh, we cry, we worry and pretty much do what we can do make our way in this crazy world.

One of the reasons I hate most malls is because they tend to LACK regional flavor. They export the same-old, same-old homogeneous commercial America that always leaves me feeling annoyed and anxious. I far prefer to seek out little downtown enclaves or pockets of mom-and-pop stores that may offer up some surprises. The selection and the service at these out of the way spots is not always GOOD, mind you, but at least they are original!

I guess I still miss the old days when my little town in the Verde Valley of Arizona had "Verde Lee Dairy" where we bought our milk in glass bottles, a butcher shop where we got our meat, a green-grocer for vegies and fruits, and a hardware store that was not a chain outfit. There was a shoe repair shop (IMAGINE! FIXING shoes rather than throwing them away when they started to come apart) Lillian's cafe, an old saloon, a clock shop and a feed store. We got to know the proprietors at each place, so doing business held much more sense of community back then than the fluorescent efficiency of supermarkets can offer.

So now days, when I travel, I love looking for little shops or restaurants that I have no idea what to expect when I walk into. Sometimes they are lousy or overpriced. Sometimes they are GEMS! (Like the Clam Chowder I had the Firehouse just south of Heceta Lighthouse or the Pizza at someplace north of Seaside) I remember some dynamite red beans and rice and great blues in New Orleans before the Katrina floods turned that part of town into a war zone. I had a fantastic sandwich and listened to some jazz just outside of Denali park in Alaska and some pretty fine Indian food in Salt Lake City...

HMMM what's with all this food reverie? I must be hungry. Time to go grab a snack.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Geocache delight

Original plans had been for my husband and I to head out to Joseph, OR for the blues festival today. But after a LONG, stressful week at work, compounded by some personal stuff going on, I just wasn't up for the trip. So instead we decided we'd make our own good time at some local venues. We slept in a bit (ok, so HE slept...I was awake but resting) and then sorta puttered around the house a bit. Then we headed out to find a couple geocache that were hidden along the Walla Walla river - one up beyond Harris Park and the other at at Marie Dorian park above Milton Freewater. It was a fabulous day for a hike. We did some CITO (Cache In, Trash Out) at the first place - felt good to be able to clean up the trail head and leave it looking natural instead of like a party dump. The hike was a bit strenuous, lots of rocks and fallen trees to climb over and some stickery weeds to navigate. But we ran into a wonderful blackberry patch full of juicy ripe berries and ate till we were sticky and purple. The cache in both places were fairly easy finds...the hikes were more the focus of the day than any impressive orienteering. We saw all sorts of wild flowers, birds, butterflies, and small watersnake. We had a picnic next to the river and played kissy face in a secluded spot in the trees. Found a stone chimney out in the middle of nowhere that made me oh so curious about who had built it and when. Had there been a cabin there? I played out in my mind all sorts of scenarios of who might have lived there and what had become of the place. Later we came home to be lazy, eat watermelon, listen to music and just veg for a while. Now I'm sorta getting my second wind and am about to go do some work in the yard and play fetch with the dog for a while. So, all in all, in the words of a young friend of mine, it was truly a "Lovely Day!"


The things we do or don't do in order to enhance our appearance rather fascinates me.
I do not pluck my eyebrows. I do shave my legs and pits. I do not normally wear make up. But I do put it on for hot dates and job interviews. I've been told I look attractive with make up. Every now and then I'll surprise myself (and most the people who know me) by doing it in the middle of the week for no particular reason just because I feel like it. Hey, even an old barn looks better with a fresh coat of paint, eh? Normally, however, I just don't bother. Using the word "style" when referring to my hair is a bit of a stretch. This hair has not seen a blow dryer or curling iron except for family weddings where I bent to peer pressure to glam up a bit for all the photographs that would be taken. I do, however, color my hair and probably will continue to do so for many years. I like me better with hair that is not streaked with grey. Vanity? ABSOLUTELY! But this is one area I have no intention of changing any time soon. I feel frumpy and unattractive when my hair is dull and shot through with grey. I feel more attractive when it is a radiant auburn, and even more so when I get highlights painted in. I KNOW the time and money and amount of attention I spend on this is absurd. I KNOW that I am conforming to lots of advertising and marketing skams that have trained me to believe I am less attractive in my natural state. So be it. I want "pretty hair." So sue me if that seems shallow and superficial.

I'm trying to figure out where I draw the line between vanity and taking pride in one's appearance. Are they the same, with one just being more extreme or are they inherently different? I'm also curious about why and how our culture decides some features are "beautiful" while other features are "ugly". What makes someone look attractive to me is when they get that kind of smile that goes all the way to their eyes and they appear open to possibility. What I find ugly is the haughty expression of condescending scorn. But whether a person's nose is big or eyes are spaced a certain distance.... how does it serve anyone to name that as "pretty" or "plain"?

I can think of certain specific times I very much FELT "pretty". They were not based on clothes or make up or hair. I can think of other times I have felt horribly ugly. On the outside, I doubt there was much difference. But on the inside, the affective experience was in extreme contrast.

What is beauty? How do I experience it? How do I express it? How much does it make sense to try to look good? When I am out and about in the world, what features or styles do I praise and what do I criticize?

These are just some of the thoughts I came up with after reading RC's comments on Beauty and our Critical Culture.

Friday, August 11, 2006

How's your REM?

I've spent some time exploring a website by a group called the DREAMS foundation, with the word DREAMS being an anachronism for Dream Research and Experimental Approaches to the Mechanisms of Sleep.

Anyone who knows me well knows I have struggled with insomnia for many years. I've had several people tell me there is a sleep lab in a town nearby where I could go get evaluated and possibly helped, but I have been extremely reluctant to do so. In the first place, I just don't like going to doctors for any reason. In the second place, I'm not willing to define my insomnia as being "something wrong with me" that needs treatment. I prefer to merely view it as a characteristic, like the fact that I have blue eyes or long toes. I notice it. I don't have to name it bad or wrong.

When my body gets tired enough, it WILL eventually sleep. Granted, sometimes I go through cycles of several days on minimal rest. But I cope.

Lately, however, I've been thinking more about the different states that my mind experiences. I've been comparing how I notice, perceive and interpret things when I am well rested to when I am very tired, or when I am just about to fall asleep, or when I am first waking up. Why is it that sometimes I am quiet and reflective, other times I am brash and bold, or other times other ways? How much does my sleep cycle have to do with that?

I find it interesting that I can sleep straight through a major thunder storm but I am awake instantly if a baby in the next room simply coughs. But then, on closer examination, only CERTAIN baby's sounds trigger that instant attention. Guests with babies who I feel so particular responsibility for are far less likely to wake me up, even with loud crying that those babies who are flesh of my flesh. How does my mind know the difference?

Then there is the whole world of dreams and what they mean. My dreams are some wild equation, part memory, part symbolic metaphor, part longing, part mystery. I remember them for a brief, fluid time when first waking up and then they disappear.
There is actually an International Association for the Study of Dreams which has been holding conferences for twenty four years now where serious academic papers are presented on the topic.

I'm not one to give too much credence to my dreams. At one point I kept a dream journal, writing down key aspects of my dreams when I first woke up. I have not done that in quite some time.

I have a hard enough time figuring out what my waking life means, I'll leave the dream world analysis to someone else!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Love is a Verb

I began with trying to write a comment of response to Spoke's latest post, but realized I was going on way to long so decided I'd move my thoughts here...

When I consider the main message behind the beatitudes, I keep coming back to the commandment to LOVE. I used to think that love was a feeling. But I've come to have a different view as I've gotten older. In my view, LOVE is a verb - it is something I DO, not some intangible thing that I feel. Emotions are chemical storms in my brain built of hormones triggered by thoughts and sensory experiences. But I believe love is far bigger than that. I may or may not feel attraction. I may or may not feel comfort and nurturing. I may or may not feel all sorts of things that we've come to associate as "love". But what I DO, how I BEHAVE, is how I love.

I used to think it was hypocrisy, insincerity, some sort of lie if I behaved in a way different from my "true feelings." But these days I believe many of those feelings are simply mortal passions to be overcome. If my desire is to know love, then I need to act in a loving way, whether I feel like it or not.

Sometimes I do not feel the presence of God or anything even close to it. But if I can continue to BEHAVE in a worshipful, honoring way that is love. Sometimes I don't feel positive toward the people I encounter. But if I can BEHAVE in a kind, respectful, nurturing manner that is love. Sometimes I don't feel the will to respect my planet - my emotions may run rampant with greed and longing for self indulgence. But if I can ACT in ways to be a wise steward...that is love.

There is so very much I do not know and cannot understand. I am not wise.

But I am willing to listen and to learn.

So when I read stuff like Spoke's Beatitudes posting, rather than jump up to justify my position, my opinions, my ideas, my interpretations I try to go quiet inside and ask...how does this fit for me?

How might I be more willing to be present to God's will instead of my own agenda?
How might I shift my focus of what my treasure is?
How might I guide my all too often stubborn, spiteful, too proud spirit to soften to a broken, contrite heart?

What does it mean to surrender?

I may not have the answers, but I keep returning to the questions, and I suppose that's a start.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

New Toy on the Way

I've spent more time than I care to admit looking at all the pros and cons of different GPS units. I just ordered a Magellan eXplorist 400 with the Wilderness bundle. It has a 32 MB SD memory card and MapSend Topo 3D software, so it should do the trick.

Hopefully it will ship promptly - it is coming via priority mail. I plan to go up to Joseph, OR with my sweetie this upcoming weekend for the Blues Festival and it would be fun to hunt for some cache up that way while we are there. If our new toy does not arrive in time, we'll probably just take the work one again. Either way, I'll be looking on the net to find some coordinates to see what we want to go hunt. Should be fun!

At church today I was talking with a friend about my newfound hobby. I came up with the following analogy:

In order to be successful at the game of Geocache, you must begin with having accurate coordinates. Likewise in life, we need to know where it is we are trying to get to. Our material culture bombards us with messages saying the way to be "successful" is to have a big fancy house, social position, use the right shampoo and toothpaste and go to the right parties, etc etc etc and then we will be happy.

But Jesus Christ taught us to come unto Him. He is the way, the truth and the light. Christ taught us that the most important law of all laws is to love the Lord with all my might, mind and strength and then, following that, to love my neighbor. So THIS has to be my focus. I must start by having my spirit firmly committed to the right coordinates.

Next, I need to use the correct readings on a GPS to find my way to where I want to end up. When I went out yesterday I was using a GPS for the first time, and it was a borrowed unit I was completely unfamiliar with. Therefore, I did not understand at first that there are different settings. The coordinates I had for the caches I was trying to find were in degrees. But my GPS was showing minutes. I got very confused by that, and because I was watching the wrong sort of numbers I initially went the wrong way, taking me AWAY from instead of toward my goal.

Likewise - the world gives us different sorts of readouts enticing us to follow them. It is all to easy to get caught up in the drive for material success, popularity, or equally superficial pathways. But if I follow the RIGHT voice (the still small voice of the Holy Spirit) only then can I be guided to the true coordinates that will lead me to a meaningful relationship with my Savior.

I need to rely on prayer and quiet pondering to train myself to recognize the promptings of the spirit to know if I am getting closer to or further away from the presence of God.

Then, when I found the cache, I could focus on "What's here for me?" or I could choose to focus on "What can I contribute here?" If I focus on what's in it for me, I'm likely to be disappointed, because the point of the game is the discovery, not the value of the prizes inside. Likewise, when I go to church I can choose to look for how others are going to meet my needs or I can look for opportunities for me to lift others up and to serve. Rather than worry about whether someone else came over to say hello or if the message was well presented, I can make sure that I go out of my way to greet others, especially newcomers or visitors, and to focus my attention and prayers on whoever is talking from the pulpit asking God to help that person to say the things the Lord would have said and also asking that members of the congregation will be able to understand it and apply it to their lives. I will get a lot more out of the meetings if I go with an open heart wanting to contribute than if I am expecting a pay off.

When I put goodies into the two boxes yesterday I had no way to know who would find them. Still, it felt good to know that someone might be pleased to find what I had had left behind. Likewise, when I share my testimony, give prayers, live my Christian life I have no way of knowing whose life may be touched by my actions. But I just trust that in the Family of Jesus Christ we are all edified as we lift one another - I have faith that God can use me as a means of bringing other people to know the Gospel and it really doesn't matter when or who or how. I just trust and have faith.

Maybe this is a bit of a reach to apply Geocache to Christianity, but it works for me!!

Saturday, August 05, 2006


I just got home from my first geocache hunt. It was a blast! We borrowed the GPS from my husband's work to see if we would even like this before laying out the cash for one of our own. So, I had the challenge of working with a device I was TOTALLY unfamiliar with. In the beginning we had the settings wrong which got us confused and headed in the wrong direction entirely. Found a neat, windy road and saw some deer, but went several miles away from where we were supposed to be. We FINALLY figured out what we were doing wrong and reset the readout on the GPS and then things started to get interesting.

The first find was a multi cache - the coordinates I had led us to a small can that was well hidden. Inside that were the coordinates to the REAL cache. I had walked right by it, completely oblivious, while my husband was trying to get a fix on the satellites. Once we got the GPS working and knew where to look we were able to find it with a bit of diligent looking.

Then we went on to a second site that was just a few miles away...lovely spot I'd never seen before. Enjoyed the peaceful setting and had fun finding the cache.
I had been warned by others that this game could be somewhat addicting - I am beginning to understand why. It got us out of the house to do some exploring - gave us some exercise and had a sense of curiosity challenge as we worked together to solve the puzzle of finding the treasures. What a great date! Afterward we went for Mexican food and talked about what areas we'd like to search next. Yep, I'm hooked. Now I'm ready to return the work GPS and get my own. I can see me very much enjoying this diversion.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Split Pants & Pamper Ethics.

Ever since reading Spoke's footprint post about recycling I've been thinking more on the ethics of Pampers. Disposable diapers are certainly convenient. But what is their impact to the environment? It's one thing to use them while on the road or out and about running errands. But most moms I know whose kids are not yet potty trained don't even OWN any cloth diapers...or if they do they use them only as "burp rags." I know that babies are far less likely to get diaper rash when using disposables. I know that disposables save on using water and pouring phosphate detergent into the drain systems. But I can't seem to get past the image of all those thousands upon thousands of Pampers and Huggies in land fills.

While I'm not one to advocate the Split Pants method used for years in China, it seems like there must be a manageable way to deal with baby poop with less impact on both the pocket book of struggling parents and the ever growing garbage heaps of the world. Am I missing something here?

However, I don't mean to be pointing fingers here. Granted, I used cloth diapers when my children were young. But I have PLENTY of room for improvement. When I took the footprint quiz Spoke linked to the results said that we would need nine planets worth of resources if everyone lived like I do. OUCH! that was a bit of a wake up call.

So how can I effect meaningful change?

I know I live in a house bigger than I need, but I don't plan to move any time soon. I CAN be more diligent about use of water/electricity. Probably the single most useful thing I could do would be to eat less meat. I go back and forth on that one. Intellectually I really do understand the impact on the planet of a grain based diet vs. meat fare. However, I've yet to get past my carnivorous ways.

I've been thinking quite a bit about which sacrifices I could make or changes in how I use resources that might help....something as basic as continually refilling one water jug from my filtered water pitcher instead of going through multiple bottles of Evian is something I've been committed to for years. But I am trying now to identify other areas where I am remiss in what I use and what I throw away.

I've often thought that if all of us had to personally burn or bury our trash instead of having it magically scooped away each week by garbage collectors we might be a lot more conscious, and therefore more careful about what we are so quick to throw away.

I'm Rich!!!

This morning I was reading the latest posting over at Pondering Pig. All the poking fun about an investment scheme to purchase James Dean's trousers has been a delight! Still, it caused me to do some serious thinking on the whole western view of "I want to be rich!" I am often troubled by the things people are willing to do, willing to compromise, willing to sacrifice in order to chase that dream.

Sadly, I've seen people destroy their relationships, their health and so much more in their frantic quest to "be successful" in worldly terms. I've known a few soul weary folks who managed to amass great wealth and recognized only too late they missed the boat in areas that were truly important.

I am not someone who eschews abundance. I do not think there is anything immoral about having a comfortable life. It is quite possible to have wealth and to stay connected to people, to planet, to spirit, to all that is good. Unfortunately, those that manage to pull this off seem to be more the exception than the rule.

In my mind, being "successful" is NOT so much about how many shiny things someone has...but how he or she VIEWS whatever they do have. It's about the relationship between the indivudal and how they fit with others and with the material world. I've seen rich people be miserably dissatisfied because there was always someone else with bigger yaht or better sports car. I've seen people in poverty share the only food they had with someone who had less. I've also seen people with plenty humbly accept that blessing and be willing to share it, while some people out on the fringe have turned bitter and stingy because they resented always being among the "have nots". There is no nobelness in poverty nor crime in wealth. In my mind, there is simply a great need for ALL of us, no matter where we fit on the economic spectrum, to be less greedy, more grateful, more willing to share.

As for me, I am rich. I certainly do not mean that in the piles of shiny things and money in the bank version. But in every way that counts to me, I am blessed far beyond what I ever expected or felt I deserved.

I have a comfortable home. It's not fancy. But its quite cozy and pleasant, and above all is a place where I feel safe and loved. It is my sanctuary from the storms of the world. To me, that's better than a palace.

I am strong and healthy. I have the usual assortment of bumps and strains that come from being closer to 50 than to 40. But my bladder, lungs and other organs all seem to be working cooperatively. I am able to hike and dance and work and play in a body that serves me well. For that I am truly grateful.

I am madly, passionately, crazy in love with a human being who has all the right stuff: integrity, kindness, humor and who happens to love me back. We have just the right balance of intimacy and autonomy between us. We have a delicious blending of me-you-us that brings us both joy. That is a treasure indeed.

I am engaged in meaningful work that I am proud of, that I'm good at, and that I can see is making a modest difference for good.

So yeah, I'd say I am rich. I have my share of problems and areas that I wish were different. There are things I cannot afford that I wish that I had. But in all the ways that matter, I'd say I am very rich. It shames me to see that I have not been nearly as mindful of or grateful for these blessings as I rightly should have been.

So while it is true I cannot afford to buy James Dean's pants, and I live on a budget that some might consider restrictive, I see that all my needs and a great many of my wants are well met.

I appreciate the Ponderer for helping me take time to notice that, to appreciate it, and to acknowlege my gratitude to my creator.

I will still wonder all sorts of things.... like how can I morally own eight pairs of shoes when I know there are people with no shoes?

What is my responsibility as a sojourner on this planet for how much resources I use up? Spoke's footprint post definitely caused some rumination in that direction.

WHICH fancy things do I justify having for my creature comforts and which do I turn away from as excessive, extravagant over consumption?

What is my relationship to material things?

All worthy things to sort out, I believe. But for today, I will simply revel in the knowledge that in all the ways that count...I truly am rich.

Enrich Your Word Power!

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