Tag Archive | impermanence

Things We Never Knew

A photo from Singing Mountain Observatory just down the road from me on Fruitloop Mesa, four days ago. Thanks to George Dunham for permission to share his beautiful image of comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF).

I’m grateful for so much today, starting with the middle of last night. Just before I crawled into my cozy bed, for which I am always ever so grateful, I stepped outside on the deck with binoculars to see if I could see comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF). I don’t even need to know what that name means, except that I do know it was discovered less than a year ago as it approaches Earth for the first time in roughly 50,000 years. How exciting is that? I’m grateful for things we never knew.

Once I finally figured out where the Little Dipper is, which I never bothered to learn, it was easy to find the comet, and a thrill to observe it even though it was just a bright smudge in the dark sky through my birding binoculars. It will be another few days before it reaches its perigee, but it might be visible to the naked eye tonight in a dark enough sky. Last night, at 12℉ with a faint cloud cover, I didn’t stay out long. Talk about perspective though! I love the cosmos for putting me in my place.

I am little ashamed of myself that I boycotted the sciences in college because of judging the credit system to be unfair. It seemed wrong that should get three credits for three one-hour classes in English, and three credits for three one-hour classes PLUS a four-hour lab once a week in most of the sciences. I was also attached to what I knew, and I resisted the idea that in science, what we know changes constantly. I wanted to learn something and have that be that. That ridiculous bias faded through the years of simply living and recognizing the impermanence of everything, and now I kinda wish I had studied science more intensely. However, it’s been my hobby for decades, and one delight has been the night sky. For the requisite science course, I took Astronomy/Cosmology, which did not have a lab requirement, with a fabulous professor named Hans von Baeyer. I had a massive crush on him, and loved that he sent us out overnight to keep a star and planet log. I went with my new boyfriend and it’s one of the happiest memories of my college life, dozing and waking in our sleeping bags through the night to keep my log. I’m a fool for physicists still. Not the boyfriend, he was a sports writer who enjoyed a long career in that pursuit; I mean my crush on Hans and a couple of other physicists through the years.

I’m grateful that Wren had a rather uneventful vet visit today, with good heart and lung sounds, and the sad news that she is a little too chunky for her health. This did not come as a surprise, and it’s going to be hard to cut back on her treats, but she needs to lose a couple of pounds. She didn’t get even a tiny taste of the Sonic shake despite her best efforts at persuasion. She also has a little freckle on her belly that has been growing since I noticed it a few months ago. Dr. Emily measured it at 1.5 mm and told me to come back in six months or if it reaches 3 mm, whichever comes soonest. She mentioned the risks that come with anesthesia and didn’t want to do an unnecessary biopsy. So we wait and see, and hopefully it stops growing and is just a freckle.

And finally, after leaving out a dozen other quotidian things I’m grateful for today, I’m grateful for maybe the best loaf of bread so far. It freezes well so in the morning I’ll slice it and freeze half, and enjoy sandwiches and French toast for a couple of weeks.

Beautiful Citrus

I’m grateful for this box of beautiful citrus that arrived today from a dear friend in Florida. Four grapefruits, three satsumas, and two Meyers lemons. And I’m grateful for the other box too, with even more. A few of those satsumas were smashed and leaking, but they had a long cold trip.

I’m grateful for these generous gifts and the causes and conditions that got them here. As I think about all the steps involved in their journey from seed to tree to fruit, from High Springs to here, how they made it through or before the ‘once-in-a-generation’ winter storm, I’m considering that roughly 60% of the US population is experiencing extreme cold tonight, including blizzards, and lethal windchill temperatures. I’m grateful I’m safe and warm. I’m sadly aware of those many humans and other people who are not. Wild animals of all kinds, those in captivity, neglected pets, stray dogs, feral cats, and many more are also at risk from this massive storm. It’s tough to think about. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg of suffering across this fragile planet. I’m grateful for people of all species everywhere who make time to be kind, to support and care for each other.

Stability

I’m grateful for the occasional stability of my skeleton, always enhanced by a visit to Dr. Leigh. Wren helped her at this morning’s appointment, following her about as she moved around the table gently pressing and pulling on my body, assisting as needed, and a couple of times lending an extra four hands by jumping up and standing on top of me. When I peeled myself away from the soft, heated table, little Wren did not want to leave.

I’m grateful for the tenuous stability of the cliffs on either side of the hairpin turn heading to or from town. From halfway on the south slope you can just see the road below wintered cottonwoods, and above it the giant boulder with a smaller boulder tilted on top it. There’s a deep crack between boulder and cliffside. More and more often, especially in winter, I keep my eye on it as I approach, then punch the gas as I pass beneath it–just in case. I’m grateful it hasn’t crashed down on me or anyone else so far. Someday, maybe tomorrow, the rock will fall.

From the same place in the road (I rarely stop on this road for obvious reasons, but today was feeling stable enough within to risk it), other boulders loom and another huge piece of the cliff overhangs, just waiting for that one last freeze-thaw cycle to release its grip and tumble down. The road itself constantly requires repair as the steep slope below steadily, slowly erodes. We dwell on a living, breathing, sighing, sloughing planet, clinging to our diaphanous illusion of stability. I’m grateful for the illusion, and for the stability gained from knowing it is just an illusion.

Contentment

I’m grateful to see Ice Canyon forming up, and to be able to walk there with my little dog. I’m grateful for the vast, tremendous sky and all that happens in it day to day, moment to moment. I’m grateful for my life just as it is on this day of giving thanks, for where I live and how, for teachers and students, for friends and community, for a sense, in this moment, of safety and ease. I’m grateful for knowing any of this can change in any moment, which inspires me to appreciate all of it every moment as much as possible.

I’m grateful for a tidy stack of wood in the shed, protected from the elements, and for the helpers who stacked it. I’m grateful for the simple meal I made for my Thanksgiving dinner, cheesy samosa puffs, and for the jar of last year’s salsa verde I pulled from the pantry to dip them in. It was a delicious early dinner.

I’m grateful for eggs, flour, sugar, cocoa, and vanilla extract, cream cheese and butter, and the knowledge to turn them into a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. It’s not exactly like the Sarah Lee cakes I grew up with, but pretty good nonetheless! I did substitute cream cheese for some of the butter in the frosting because I could and plain butter cream is too–well, buttery–for my taste. I’m grateful that two dear neighbors wanted to share their Thanksgiving dinners with me, and that I was able to share this cake with them. And so glad that I’ll have plenty of turkey, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and more to enjoy for the next few days. I’m grateful for leftovers! I’m grateful for friends. I’m grateful for the leisure and opportunity to cultivate contentment in my life.

Plagiarism: Special Election Day Bulletin

   Maybe no political party is as virtuous as it wants to claim. But there was a time when the Republican party could at least bill itself as the party of financial responsibility, small government, defending democracy, supporting the troops, paying your bills, family values and even telling the truth. These values are now gone from the Republican party. And they didn’t fall, they were pushed.

Maybe until now you’ve stayed with the Republicans hoping once Donald Trump was gone the Republican party of old would re-emerge. But two years later it’s clear even his sizable loss didn’t open the door to the party returning to its values but instead somehow managed to only accelerate the decline.

Every political party through history has had its more extreme elements, but few have allowed the extremes to seize power and control the agenda. You saw with your own eyes what they did to Liz Cheney for keeping her word and honoring her oath to uphold the Constitution. This isn’t just not your father’s Republican party anymore, this isn’t your Republican party either.It’s been said elections have their consequences. Part of this is who gets elected, but equally important is how our votes define who we are as people. Who are you? What do you stand for? Do you really want children to have to carry their rapist’s children? Do you really want no exception for abortion to save the life of the mother? Do you really want gay friends and family members to fear for their marriages? Do you really want birth control to be a conversation between a woman, her doctor, and her local politician? No, of course not.

So maybe this is the day you stop voting for all these things you don’t believe. Maybe today’s the day you stop waiting for a miracle and simply admit you are done with the nonsense, done with the cruelty and that you really just aren’t a Republican anymore.

So what next? If you are in a spot where you feel safe to do it, I’ve heard from customers making the leap and telling the world the Republican party is no longer for you can be quite freeing. People will be excited to have you on our side.

For those of you living more complex lives in less liberal communities with all the scary bits about what Republicans have become, there’s something to be said for starting out with a slightly stealthier approach. Maybe borrowing a page from the LGBTQ+ rural teen handbook and living a double life for a while is your safest bet. Ultimately this is more about who you are than about who others see you to be. Today who you vote for is far more important than who people think you voted for.

I know this isn’t easy, but I think you may be surprised just how many of your old values have found a new home in the Democratic party. At the heart of conservatism is the belief in passing on an at least as good of a world to future generations as the one we inherited. To achieve this we must preserve the environment, education, and equal rights. To think, the Republican party was started to end slavery. Times change.

Please don’t let yourself be locked into continuing to vote for what you don’t believe in. Both our nation and our planet face serious issues that can’t wait another decade to be addressed. You being among kindred spirits where you no longer have to hide your empathy and compassion just to fit in is the first step toward preserving what’s good about this world. Come join in. You are welcome. Plus, our side has the tastier treats 🙂

Thanks for giving this some thought,
Bill

bill@penzeys.com P.S. Please forward this to everyone you know of who is far more kind than those you think they will be voting for. Thanks!       Penzeys Spices12001 W. Capitol Drive | Wauwatosa, WI | 53222 USview this email in your browser
 

With all the encouraging words out there from so many compassionate and wise leaders, this mini-essay from Penzeys exec Bill struck me as the one I wish I had written. Everything changes, all the time. The Republican Party has changed, dramatically, from the one I was raised to believe in. And I have changed. I’m not the same person I was yesterday, much less five, twenty, forty years ago. It’s no only OKAY to recognize the changes in ourselves, our beliefs, our perceptions, our needs, it is essential to our growth and maturing as a sentient being. If you haven’t already, please vote for women’s rights, human rights, and the rights of all those beings without human language who are being decimated by loss of habitat through destruction, poisoning, and other effects of human greed. Recognize our interdependence with each other and all beings, and vote for a real future: vote for love.

Looking Up in Wonder

As Wren and I were out on our afternoon walk, everything in front of us looking much the same as usual, the ground, sagebrush, trees, green mosses, and soft dry mud, I chanced to turn and look over my shoulder, and “ah, bright wings!” We followed the marvel through the woods until, as everything always does, it shifted, dispersed, dissipated. I’m so grateful for those moments when I am stopped in my tracks by looking up in wonder.

I’m grateful for the single Tabasco pepper I grew this summer, for its precious little hot peppers, and for it hanging on long enough after I potted it up and brought it inside to load up with ripe or ripening fruits. When I went to water it today I noticed an aphid infestation, and I’m grateful I had a plan for such an eventuality. Having observed in previous years that outside food plants brought in, peppers or herbs, often succumb to aphids, I was on the lookout, and had steeled myself for the necessary: I cut off all the peppers and put the plant and aphids outside to freeze gently to death; trying to control them has always failed and resulted in more houseplants becoming infested. I’m grateful I had “the strength to get up and do what needs to be done.”

Top of the Hill

Today I’m grateful for the view after a brisk walk to the top of the hill. It’s the first time I’ve had the breath, energy, and sufficient lack of pain to walk that far for a long time. Little Wren was thrilled, dashing up and back, hither and yon, inspiring me with her enthusiasm. I don’t remember the last time I walked the whole length of the driveway, but I think it was more than a year ago. It was a stark contrast to this day last year, and in the way of anniversaries I thought a lot about how that Friday unfolded. I’m grateful for the friends who carried me through that awful morning, that they are still alive and well and that we continue to support each other in the ups and downs of our lives. I’m grateful for Impermanence, for how loss and grief also dissipate over time as surely as any good thing; I’m grateful for the new little dog who’s been here just over six months, and how she continues to heal my heart, gradually stealing into the tender places that closed with Stellar’s death. I’m grateful for the slow, sometimes arduous process of healing my body, too.

Gold

Even as the aspens are just past their peak in the high country, canyon cottonwoods are turning golden. I’m grateful for the spectacle of fall colors across the valley and on the mountain slopes, more glorious this year than it’s been for many past. Grateful for a long wet autumn.

Chicken Soup

I’m grateful on this cold rainy day for the ingredients and ability to make chicken soup; for the stove and fuel to heat the burner and for the pot; for the fragrance wafting through the house; and for a friend to share the soup with.

Rainbows

The past week’s hot pepper harvest, ready to roll…
Practicing resilience, gambling, trying another batch of fermented hot sauce. This time, I let the saltwater brine cool down before pouring it over the peppers. The first batch met an ambiguous end. It’s been over a week, and still no bubbles, no cloud; so I poured off the brine, patted the peppers dry, and laid them on a pan in the oven at 275℉ for an hour. I should have left it at that. Instead, I turned it up to 400℉ for 20 minutes to give them a bit of a roast. When the timer went off, I was engrossed in something else, and way too long later I pulled them out of the oven. It’s possible I can salvage them with a pulse in the blender as ‘dark-roasted pepper flakes.’ I tasted one: smoky, salty, hot. We’ll know more later! I will pay more attention to this batch.
I’m grateful for a gorgeous storm that walked in late this afternoon…
…and grateful for this spectacular, fleeting rainbow that greeted me when I went outside to harvest tomatoes. Grateful to be a part of this fragile, precious world.