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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Musings on morality and civil unrest

A lot of people are unhappy with our Congress with the shenanigans pulled to force the so-called health reform act down our throats. "Deemed as passed" in the House, without even a vote--clearly unconstitutional, and the IRS, heavily armed, our own answer to the KGB, it seems, to be the enforcement arm. I myself have no health insurance and don't want any. I will pay my own way, and if I can't make it, then no one else is obligated to take care of me, and certainly not at the point of a gun. I am dismayed, if not despairing, over the corruption in government, at all levels. I see it here on the local level, at the county level, at the state level, and blatantly at the federal level. In the midst of all this, I exchanged emails with a good friend who is about as angry as one can get. In his words, the ballot box is dead. Electronic voting machines are easily manipulated, and elections are a fraud. He sent me this quote from Alexander Solzhenitsyn:
And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say goodbye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling in terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand. The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst; the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! 

I’ve been pondering this all morning.  I don't want to be part of a bloody revolution, yet I don't want to be a slave.  Our country has been sold out, our Constitution destroyed.  The people of the United States have chosen the road to destruction.  It's easy to say that the Congress did it, but that ignores the fact that we sent them there!  Most people just "don't have time" to be "involved in politics", which means, they are willing to let someone else run their lives.  I'm torn.  I can't see any way out except the hand of God, and even that won't save us unless we as a nation return to his precepts--which are embodies in the Ten Commandments. 

Funny thing about those commandments.  Thou shalt not steal seems to have been changed in the minds of the people over the years.  Thrown out, even.  And all these wars?  Thou shalt not kill (slay), seems to have many exceptions now.  Thou shalt not commit adultery?  Gee, that's pretty old fashioned, too, isn't it?  Why not whore around with this one and that?  As long as you never get married, or get married and divorced a few times, it's still okay, isn't it?  Thou shalt not covet?  Why, if we all had the same as everyone else, then we wouldn't be able to covet, so we should just share the wealth and then all would be well.  Remember the Sabbath?  Too old-fashioned.  Too much money to be made by carrying on business 7 days a week, and we'd lose our competitive edge if we did that.  And a little lie here and there doesn't hurt anything.  Sometimes we need to stretch the truth or make promises we can't keep in order to do more good.  Gotta get that foot in the door, y'know.  That's not bearing false witness, that's just playing it smart.

As for the rest, well, why should we have only one God?  We can have government as our god, or money, or whatever we choose.  God is whatever we make it, right?  We don't have to make an graven images--that one we'll keep--we'll just pick and choose our god from day to day.  Take the name of the Lord in vain?  Where would we be without a good epithet to express ourselves?  "Mickey Mouse" or "Golly darn" just doesn't cut it when I'm really ticked off.  I'd honor my father and my mother if they weren't HUMAN!  They have FAULTS for goodness sake!  I can never forgive them that! 

There's always a "good reason" to turn our backs on morality, and our founding fathers warned us that the Constitution would never suffice except for a moral people.  They told us we needed to be involved.  They gave us a federation of individual republics and told us to beware of factions that would tear us apart.

We've ignored both God and his emissaries.  We are reaping what we have sown.  I don't think even a bloody revolution would help without a change in the hearts of the people, and I wonder if that's even possible now.   As a nation, we're neither brave nor moral.  The military consists of the mindset that will fire on its own citizens, and the citizens are either too cowed or too apathetic to get involved politically.  How do we take our country back, and restore the Constitution, if no one wants be involved?

I think we have a lot more to go through before this is over.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Newt

I'm not at my best when I'm tired, which means I wasn't thinking as quickly as I should have been when I found the newt.

I noticed that Sassy was watching something intently.  Just about that time, Jethro (aka Mighty Hunter) also noticed.  Sassy doesn't usually spend a lot of time hunting anything, being more prone to let mice run across her toes than to swipe at them.  However, there's spring in the air, and it's been raining heavy off and on today, so it's within reason that she might be responding to something. Even Jethro noticed, and padded over to investigate.  Now there were two of them watching, Sassy sitting and staring intently; Jethro crouching, gazing in the same direction.

I watched them for a few moments, until Sassy began stalking and then sniffing, getting that look that cats get when they're not sure what they're seeing.  Thinking perhaps it was a small insect of some kind, my curiosity was aroused enough to take investigate.  No insect this!  Against a small wooden box that I'd left on the floor was a newt, green with yellow spots, a good 8 inches from tip of nose to tip of tail.  Fascinating!  It must have come in through the sunroom door, left slightly open for the cats since the day was mild.  Not that they'd used it (what self-respecting cat volunteers to go out in the rain), but that newt surely had, for here he (if it was a he) lay.  After examining him for a short while, I went into the kitchen and grabbed a paper towel.  Just in time, too, for Jethro took the opportunity to put out a tentative paw and see if the creature would move.  I shooshed him away, scooped the newt up, walked to the front door, and unceremoniously dumped him onto the ground, close to some rocks where he could hide.  Only after I'd gone back into the house did I think of taking a picture.

I shone a flashlight onto the place I'd left him.  Good!  He was still there!  I grabbed my camera, flipped the outside light on--and discovered the batteries were dead.  I quickly reloaded the batteries, and found that I hadn't inserted a memory card.  Off I went to find it.  By the time I got back, I realized I'd left the light on, and my quarry had fled.  I wish I'd had the presence of mind to just lock the cats up so I could spend more time enjoying that newt.  It's the first one I've ever seen of that size, and right in my living room at that.  As I said, though, I'm not at my best when I'm tired. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cats, goats, horses, and names.

Maine Coon CatA while back, oh, maybe mid-October, I went looking for a Maine Coon Cat.  I had had one prevously, an orange and white tabby, Copper (short for Copernicus).  After two years, it was time for another Coon cat.  I put out feelers; I mentioned it to friends.  Shortly after, a good friend called me, and said, "I saw an ad for a Maine Coon Cat in Bangor."  Happily, she had the phone number, and when I called, the owner said, "come on up".  Off I went to check him out.  He was perfect:  a 3 y.o. male orange Coon cat.  He looked at me, let me pat him, snuggled up, and I brought him home. As I left, I asked, "Oh, by the way, what's his name?'  "We've been calling him Ninety-nine," he replied.  Ninety-nine?  Odd name for a cat.  That just wouldn't do.  So, as I often do with my animals, I asked him what his name was.  I always figure I've probably got it right if it's something I'd never think of myself.  The name?  Jethro.  Not a name I'd have chosen!  I asked again over the next few days, trying out different names.  Nope, it always came back to Jethro.  Jethro it is, then.

Some people associate the name with The Beverly Hillbillies, but I think of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, a strong patriarch who gave Moses advice on how to handle the recalcitrant Children of Israel.  Jethro the cat is not a comical character.  He's independent and willing to tell you just how things can be improved.  And like Jethro of Biblical times, he is able to make his presence known without causing hard feelings.  Sassy, my older cat (whom we've affectionately called "Sassy the b*" for quite a long time) always takes umbrage at other animals in the house.  When I had 3 dogs and 7 cats, she was a terror, and never settled down until she was the only one left.  Did I mention she's rather long-lived?  At any rate, Jethro just wouldn't take offense at anythiing Sassy did--spitting, hissing, batting at him--he just looked at her and went back to whatever it was he was doing.  This was something new in Sassy's experience, and she really didn't quite know how to handle it.  In a very short time--a week or two, she stopped  considering him a threat and actually sniffs noses with him occasionally. For Sassy, this is an amazing accomplishment.

Jethro is an outdoor cat, no doubt about it, and, like most Maine Coon Cats, a wonderful mouser.  He's at his happiest when he can slip in and out the door at will.  Home is a place to eat and curl up by the wood stove on a particularly cold or wet day.  When he's in on one of those days, or at night when I refuse to let him out, he climbs on my lap, purrs contentedly, and goes to sleep.  Just the kind of cat I like.  Not too demanding, but very affectionate on a limited basis.  And I haven't had a mouse problem since he came.

Emily is another of my animals who told me her name.  I got her at five days old from a dairy farm.  I'd actually been looking at another Saanen doeling on the far side of the pen, bigger, broader, possibly even show material.  That doeling steadfastly refused to come to the front, and another little doeling steadfastly refused to go away.  I finally picked up the pesty one with the intention of looking at her horn buds to see how well-developed they were, figuring since they were all the same age, it would tell me how far advanced the others were as well.  As soon as I picked her up, I found myself saying, "I guess I'm taking this one."  It was a bit of a shock. I hadn't intended to take her, but I there didn't seem to be any doubt that she was going home with me.  My friend Laura was with me, and she drove home while I held the kid in my lap.  I studied her for a few minutes, and mused, "I wonder what I should call her?"  The next minute, in wonderment I was telling Laura, "Her name is Emily."  Emily?  Where did that come from?  From Emily, actually.  No one will ever convince me that she didn't tell me her name. Like Jethro, Emily is not a name I would have chosen.

There are other aspects of names.  One must always beware of what name is given.  I bought a Trakehner filly once, a Vincent daughter, a redhead.  I called her Freedom's Fire.  Big mistake.  Freedom joyfully broke out of every fence and went through every gate that she could.  She loves freedom, she revels in telling you so.  I sold her as a five year old to a woman in Missouri.  She has ruefully agreed that Freedom's name fits her too well.  However, she produces beautiful babies, so she has a home for life.

I could go on about names--how Angel came by her name, how Magic's name got changed and why, but that'll have to wait for another day.  Suffice it to say, names are interesting things; they have power, and sometimes they have histories we're not even aware of.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Green smoothies

I've been paying more attention to diet lately.  I tend to grab whatever is close to hand and munch unthinkingly.  That often means I'll make a crusty whole wheat bread, then dip it in olive oil with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Very good tasting, but is this what I really want to eat, no matter how healthful the bread and olive is?  Or sharp cheddar cheese on Triscuits, hard boiled eggs, and so it goes. So a few weeks ago I got back in the habit of making green smoothies for breakfast.  I've had to tweak amounts a bit, because I tend to make enough for an army, and the army never shows; so it's smoothie for breakfast, smoothie for snack, smoothie for lunch, smoothie for snack--you get the picture.

Sometimes my combinations are challenging to the palate, to say the least.  Yesterday, for example, I blended a little banana, part of an apple, some frozen, cooked rhubarb, an orange, a bit of cranberries, and kale, and added kefir to the whole lot.  The result was--well, different, but i added a little Stevia to the lot to make it more palatable, downed it anyway (several times because of the sheer volume) and way glad to see the last of it.

Today, however, ah!  I've hit the jackpot!  Frozen green grapes, frozen blueberries, an orange, kefir, and endive.  For good measure, I threw in a heaping teaspoon of Diamond V yeast.  I'm sitting here now enjoying every mouthful.  This combination I need to write down. Yum!  This is how life (and breakfast) is supposed to be.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Ali went to her new home Sunday.  It was rather bittersweet.  Ali's a sweet doe, but very dominant, and much more aggressive than my Saanens.  And when I wanted everyone out on grass, she still wanted to be in the barn eating hay.  So, not a good match.

Her new owners came to take her home.  They had a van with several bales of hay surrounding a deep bed of hay for her to lie (or stand) on.  Ali was so good!  I got in and tugged a little on her lead and encouraged her to hop in.  Well...she really sort of climbed in, because she is just huge with kids.  But she put up first one foot and then another, and with a little help from the back, negotiated the big step into the van.  She looked around, started munching hay, and all was well.  This was really the last day I felt comfortable transporting her anywhere.  She's due April 1st, and was literally scraping her sides coming through the goat door in the barn.   In fact, we had to widen it for her. ;D

I got an email today.  She never made a sound all the way there--over two hours.  What a good girl!  And she looked around, explored a bit, and settled in nicely.  All in all, I'm very happy with her new people.  They seem to like her a lot, and I think they'll take great care of her.  And what's best is that they're interested in natural ways to care for her, rather than the chemicals that are so prevalent in animal care today.

The only one that's a little unhappy is Sanuba.  She and Ali shared a stall for a while, and she misses her buddy.    Now I can start preparing for the spring kids. Beatrice is definitely carrying a kid or two, and due on April 20th.  Sanuba?  Well, she never came back into heat, so I'm assuming she's also pregnant, but with goats, especially first fresheners, it's sometimes hard to tell.  I hope she is.  Some changes I definitely look forward to--like kids bouncing and playing everywhere. 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Raw foods and health--why vegan?

I've been eating from 50-75% raw foods now for about two years, and it's obvious to me that eating raw foods is one of the best thing I've done for my body.  The one thing I find, though, as I look for more information and connect with more raw foodies, is that I'm a definite minority in a minority way of eating.  It seems that most raw foodies think any animal product is anathema!  But why?  Where is the rationale for that?

Victoria Boutenko, for example,  states that human being all come from tropical climates.  Oh, really?  Tell the Inuit that!  Tell Laplanders!  Tell the Hunza!  The claim makes no sense to me.  Now understand, I have a strong Judeo-Christian background, and when I read the scriptures, I see God leading the children of Israel to "the land of milk and honey".  That doesn't sound very vegan to me.  I also read that all herbs and grain are good for man, but that we should be very sparing in our use of meat, except in times of cold or famine.  No problem there, either.  My point, I suppose, is that if the Creator tells us to use animal products, and in some climates the population would have died out long ago had they not eaten animals, why, then, are those in search of a more healthful diet so eager to throw out all the wisdom of the ages? 

I agree that in our over-processed, phoney-food society, we need to get back to more healthful ways of eating.  In fact, I think we need a more agrarian society, and we should all be growing at least part of our own food supply.  No one, though, is going to convince me that vegan is the most natural way to eat.  I rather like the idea of a land of milk and honey.  My goats supply me with delicious raw milk, which I'm free to ferment as kerir or yogurt, make into various cheeses, or drink down fresh--and raw--as it comes.  This, too, is raw food, and don't see any good reason not to enjoy it.

Here's to raw health--in all its wonderful flavors!