Saturday, July 31, 2010

a life unplanned

We had a young black tom cat that had the run of the place. He was so full of life he even bullied the dog.  All his previous experience and knowledge led him to believe that life would always be the way it had been before.  One day he confidently wandered into the dark woods and met something that was beyond his ability to cope. It reminds me of a book I read, "The Black Swan - The Impact of the Highly Improbable ”. The author tells the story of a turkey who lives for a thousand days. It is fed by the farmer every day. Each feeding reinforces the belief that it will always be fed my a member of the human race “looking out for it’s best interests“. Then the day before Thanksgiving the farmer shows up with an axe.

Those of us who grew up during the 50’s and 60’s, like the turkey, learned things we thought would always be true. That our homes would always increase in value and be a source of wealth. That a college education would always guarantee a job. That our jobs would always be secure, our wages would increase over time, and there would be a pension waiting for us at the end of our careers. And that the people we elected to protect the American Dream for us would always act  “in our best interests.”

I’ve always wondered what life was like for that generation that came of age on the east side of the Berlin Wall. They weren’t allowed to enjoy the freedoms of those on the west side , but surely they were able to find life partners, have children, and experience some joy in the everyday of life. I’ve read that when the wall came down many people were frustrated at the thought of finding their own job instead of one the government provided for them, or having to find their own housing instead of having it assigned to them by the Politburo. So there was a certain security for them in living without freedom.

Japan calls the years of the 1990’s the Lost Decade. That country was rolling along with an expanding economy until it imploded . The circumstances that caused the economic downturn for Japan are similar to what we are seeing in our own country today. The Japanese are traditionally a frugal people and that mitigated the effects of the downturn on everyday life. But, here in America conspicuous consumption is a way of life and if our economy continues to plummet the perceived quality of life for many people will also sink.

In my opinion freedom and security are illusory. We are all like the turkey. We live our lives according to the knowledge we have and the lessons of past experience not even dreaming that there may be something we are unaware of and incapable of discovering that will do us in. We yearn for certainty but meet vicissitude. Perhaps accumulating wealth and possessions should not be the measure of our success considering how things can change so rapidly.

I always go back to Alan Watts who said, :"But tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live. There is no other reality than present reality, so that, even if one were to live for endless ages, to live for the future would be to miss the point everlastingly."


Saturday, July 24, 2010

roadside produce

Friday, I went with Dorothy to a  doctor's appointment in Tulsa. On the way home we spotted this produce stand in the shade of a tree. We pulled in and bought some okra, a cantaloupe, and a watermelon.
Here you can see Dorothy negotiating prices with the farmer. Tonight she's going to fry up that okra and I'll make some corn bread. My stomach is talking to me just from writing about.

Friday, July 23, 2010

rockin birthday cake

This birthday cake for Tara's boyfriend was a group effort. Tara and Jarrett made the cake, Dorothy iced it and piped on the borders, and I used my pasta machine to roll out some fondant icing and then used a palette knife to cut out the letters,  guitar parts, and music notes.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

opposite ends

In 1961 the chairman of the FCC, Newton Minnow, described television as a vast wasteland. That statement is even more true today. I would also extend that description to the internet. There may be some factual information available on the internet but how does one go about obtaining it, and how do we recognize it? Most political websites, whether liberal or conservative are instruments of propaganda and misinformation. What makes them so successful is the fact that we humans will not accept any information that does not reinforce our prejudices. How we come to have these prejudices could be the subject of a different post. The conservatives think that the word liberal is synonymous with evil, the liberals think the same of the conservatives and each side has their sources of information to gather ammunition to throw at the opposition . I am right and you are wrong. There are no nuances of meaning, no mitigating information that would help us to understand another view. Both the liberal and the conservative media are guilty of fanning the flames. But, after all, they are capitalists. They are in the information business to make money. The more sensational the story the more readers/viewers they can pick up. Some of the more well known pundits are making millions of dollars by stirring up the fear, righteous indignation, and anger of the American people. I would like to think that we have the potential to rise above our prejudices, but we seem to be a people who are easily and willingly misinformed. It won’t be the liberals that destroy the country or the neo-cons. It will be all of us who refuse to set aside fear and hatred long enough to listen to each other.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

a week with grandpa

Kelly and Marley went to church camp last week so Jenna and Hunter stayed with us. We had pancakes for breakfast almost every day and to beat the heat we spent some time at the creek on my friend Kathleen's property.  She has it fixed up and perfect for a swim or a picnic.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Every year I drive to Tulsa and buy my tomato plants. This year I planted an heirloom variety called "Royal Hillbilly".  They have a good balance between tart and sweet.  The one shown below weighs 1-1/2 lbs. That's a quarter on the table next to it.

Jenna wanted to pose holding the red beauty. We're having the grandkids over tonight for tacos so a few minutes after I took these photos I chopped it up and combined it with onions, jalapenos fresh from the garden, cilantro, lemon juice, salt, and garlic and presto! Pico de Gallo.

Monday, July 12, 2010

what i'm reading now

I haven't read James Michener in years.  I'd forgotten just how much history one can learn from his novels.  Caravans: a novel of Afghanistan is set in 1946. It was published in 1963. It paints a picture of Afghanistan just after WWII when great caravans of camels carried trade goods from India, Russia, and Iran just as they had been doing for 3,000 years. What I found interesting was how a few enlightened Afghans were attempting to bring the country into the modern world. Here it is more than 60 years later and there's been no appreciable progress. It will make you question America's continued involvement there.