In the middle of the ocean we have to keep swimming

Approaching COP21 … In Paris,  30 November – 11December 2015

I sit in the warm afternoon sun of the back yard this mid-November day, musing about the upcoming, awfully important Paris talks on climate change, in light of a recent scientific kerfuffle regarding mass extinctions on our pleasant little planet.  Evidently these catastrophic events — one of which many scientists tell us we are now in the midst of — occur roughly every 26 million years..  I note that the one that finished off those nobly enormous creatures, the dinosaurs, happened 66 million years ago.

Cyclical comet showers are named as a likely culprit.  The Atlantic has a full description about these events at

The magnitude of the time frame threatens to overwhelm my finite mind.  Here we perch at the beginning of what scientists are calling the Anthropocene Epoch. This goes down as the first time in geological history when humans became the drivers of vast alterations in life upon the planet, which, of course, also has its own grand cycles. None of the biological and some geological factors that allow the biological to live can entirely escape.  Human ancestors have existed for around 6 million years, but the ones we might recognize for a mere 200,000.  One fifth of one million years.

Musing occurs over the fact that dinosaurs roamed the planet for some 135 million years.  To this day we still know less about them than more.  In another 66+ million years what will the thinking life on Earth make of our fossils?  Should there be thinking life, of course.

I try to imagine my pleasant warm sunshine being blotted out by thick dust from a city-sized chunk of meteorite — six miles across — crashing into Earth’s crust.  Later a related series of volcanic eruptions that might go on for a few million years would continue to blot out sunlight, with catastrophic effects on agriculture, water, virtually all living things.  Dust that keeps temperatures cold, makes air hard to breathe, prevents much light from warming oceans, lakes, rivers, provides little for photosynthesis.

I cannot do this, not really.  If we were to foresee such an event perhaps some could survive in protected shelters that it would take a good while to create, considering that we might have to base ourselves in there for millennia.  When the time came that there was sun enough, and clean air enough, to make emerging comfortable for extended periods, would our surviving descendants resemble mole rats?

Just possibly more controllably, there is the fact staring me in the face that the current mass extinction is not caused by a big space rock, but by ourselves, pumping too much carbon, too many chemicals, into the Earth’s thin atmosphere.  Thin, at 300 miles, though most is concentrated within ten miles of the planet’s surface.  The familiar domino effect is tumbling along right now.

And then, as shadows deepen across the yard, a red-winged grasshopper rattles in flight to a clumsy landing ten feet from me.  Alas, while I reach for my iPhone camera Opus the Dog marches up to the hopper to hover his shiny nose over it. Off it goes, wings now deep orange in the sun, into a neighbor’s yard, where the resident dog probably eats it.

Grasshoppers are said to be rather good — there is a restaurant preparing to open someplace in the US featuring all manner of tasty insects.  In Japan sushi is made from insects ranging from mealworms to palm-sized beetles.

Grasshoppers and ants, children’s fables.  Off goes my mind to recent Republican presidential debates…

From the populous field of Republican aspirants to the US presidency come  absurd denials about the threats of climate change, while some steam in half baked awareness. Where are the moderates in all this?  It seems clear that these people prefer to pooh-pooh, dissemble and deny its existence before the very teeth of a beast too large for them to see right in front of them.  Extreme rightwing members of the Republican party have made it the only conservative party in the world that denies climate science.

If the big scary beast would just swallow the deniers on its way through, the way Roadrunners eat grasshoppers, things might not be so bad for the rest of the people.  But that’s the trouble with equal opportunity climate change, it affects every single person, from teachers through CEOs of fossil fuel outfits.

What is wrong in a country that takes so lightly the very real need to work hard to reduce the impact of this great threat?  Where gigantic fossil fuel conglomerates get away with manufacturing inaccurate, misleading and downright untrue evidence — for decades — in an attempt to show others what they know to be false — that there’s no such big threat looming over everybody, including their customers?  These giants of commerce have been fully aware of the risks of pumping so many tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere for a long, long time.  While telling us in advertisements how safely we can sleep in our gas or oil heated homes.

Perhaps we are a too-gullible nation, the USA.  Too ready to take as fact loud commentary blaring from radio and television shows, from websites that may or may not have a grip on all the facts.  From strangers and friends who just “look like they know what they’re talking about”.  Objectivity can be hard to come by.  Perhaps we need to learn this:  To love learning and thinking, each one for her/himself?

There are things we can change, alongside things we can’t.  Politics I  avoid, but I do vote.  As cooler and cooler shadows engulf my comfortable spot in the yard, I think of dinosaurs with no higher intelligent life around to make even minuscule efforts to spare some of them. As a small, civic act it is worth it to vote for people who are intelligently informed and committed to reducing the US’s carbon pollution, in sync with many other countries.  Vote about issues, not so much personality.

Assuming that there are such politicians.

It is worth it to pay attention to what occurs at the UN Paris climate talks (COP21) in early December.  Check out some issues in the link.

Why?  Because so many of Earth’s great civilizations of the past collapsed for one basic reason:  People were using their resources unsustainably.  One day there was nothing left to eat.  So, while you can’t be sure of deflecting meteors, you can be certain that doing something about human-caused deterioration of resources, such as the air we breathe, is the intelligent and loving thing to do for all of us, and for the planet.

This is the beauty of science.  It is based on the best known facts of the time, and when it gets scary we ought to take it seriously.  Skepticism is good, yet when hundreds of independent scientists come out with similar statements after long, painstaking, peer-reviewed research, it’s time to listen up.

“You may not see the ocean, but right now we are in the middle of the ocean, and we have to keep swimming.”  ~Tracy Kidder, journalist


Falling into fall

ginkgo leaves fallen

leaf with cacti

Golden ginkgo leaves

fallen, await windy transport

like feathers stalks nabbed

Cacti catch zelkova

gold.  Bonsai … now sticks,

distinction mere form

And is this process not like us, the human, flaring bright with our age, inevitably losing much of what made us so rare in our youth.  Yet we retain these colorful blazes of essence, beacons of what we have learned, given who we have been and now are.  Essence distilled from youth and midlife into a glowing offering of love, to be taken up or cast off into the winds with no one to know.  Finally, bare sticks, making ready to move being onwards, awarded fresh life.  A pattern drawn from the previous, yet not quite the same…

feather in agastache plain

ginkgo bare

Community: Rambles and Rolls

bird houses

Bird houses in the El Corazon de Belén Community Garden

There come times when I feel the need for community, despite having decided to settle for a bit in a small, isolated place where I know few people.  These days I am mostly a solitary person, generally found at home with my dogs, but this doesn’t mean there are no people in my life. They are where they need to be — but not near.  The lack of being acquainted with many  in this place can send me wandering, taking notice of the kinds of places where a few souls can be found passing time at work, reading, gardening, creating art, going to court, eating out, going to jail or chasing their runaway dogs.

I like to start with the biggest canvas and work myself in to where individuals share their stories with me.

One recent, cold morning it was either shopping or not much to eat.  Perhaps resisting my hurry to get the job done, the Inner Klutz spilled water all over me while watering bonsai.  It being a cold November morning the wise thing to do involved drying off before heading out.  Thus  the sun was getting midway up the sky before I rolled off in my aging power wheelchair.

community garden from across the way

The El Corazon de Belén Community Garden

Past the city’s surprisingly spacious new library with a generous courtyard, the HardKor gym where the parking lot can be completely full, the Department of Motor Vehicles where the gentle, elderly clerk (who had a handmade sign up in his glass booth, selling sterling silver jewelry) made me remove my glasses for my driver’s license photo recently — guaranteeing that nobody would ever guess it was me.

Belen Art League at ChristmasPast the Art League with its big painted zebra out front, where various friends display and sell their artwork or take water color lessons, past several lawyer offices in cookie dough adobe, past Rita’s New Mexican Restaurant where you might see ten or fifteen cop motorcycles pulled in, or three or four rattly old trucks alongside a high end, high up, four door pickup, blindingly shiny.

Old CIty Health Dept. & Bakery

Past the Municipal Court where offenders captured by said law enforcement frequently find themselves. Past the cop shop, doctor’s offices, dentist place, the two community pharmacies. Old, boarded up city offices — looking festive, despite their decrepitude.

Past the community garden, where I had to duck to evade many sunflowers growing through the fence into sidewalk space.

The community garden called to me, a place I had been meaning to photograph all summer, now clad in slowly dying greens, browns, golds, pinks and oranges.  For once nobody was sitting under the new canopy at the corner of 6th and Dalies, the one the city had ripped out last spring, then replaced with an identical model — for a reason best known to the city council.

garden shedThe garden shed, mainly put together with repurposed materials

I look for him, but am missing my veteran acquaintance, who often reads under the canopy.  The black Labrador who is wild to all but him rests at his feet when he’s there.  Yet..  With a heavy backpack, this “just another soldier” is a wanderer.  Out of view for weeks now.  The two of them striding south for the cooler months, perhaps.  One day on my way into the market there was the dog, sitting untied by the ice machine, looking straight ahead, concentration absolute,  keeping her place until her soldier should return.  I knew then that this was a one man dog, that I would never offer to scratch her ears.

The community does not forget its more memorable special residents.  The garden holds a small stone bench inscribed to Trini Pito Pito Baca, another man who wandered the city streets.  For some decades there he was, smiling, waving and dedicationgreeting just about everyone.  He had a family to care for him — he simply preferred long daily walks.  When he died a year or two ago his funeral was packed with people to see off the man with the beautiful smile.

Often in summer there is an accessible city transport van pulled up by the garden, out of which emerge two or three people in wheelchairs and a few gardeners.  A team effort, it is.  Some watch as others move between raised planters like so many flocking, gleaning birds who swiftly pull, tug, rearrange plants. Coming together for chats, moving apart to water planters or move a wheelchair into a shadier spot.

They swoop in, they swoop out just as fast, leaving the garden empty, quivering a little, perhaps, from their lingering vibrations.

Here are a few photos from this high desert community garden in the area called the Heart of Belén.  There are colorful bird houses, a garden shed and covered bench made of repurposed materials, numerous raised boxes full of tomatoes, cosmos, sunflowers, morning glories, several herbs used in local healing practices, and lots of multi headed sunflowers.

free lending library 1

Mysterious trickster forces slung an upside down rainbow into one of the photos … Amidst the plant containers perches a free lending library, which held fewer books than normal.  Very possibly because it faces south, we’ve had lots of rain lately, and storms generally come from the southwest.

water tower flowers 1

The books inside to the left.books on offer

Following Atticus by Tom Ryan is a favorite …

But you can stuff the low fat living book in a dark place, by me.  Bad science in that thing.

Inexorably, the heavy touch of nights below freezing creep into the living garden where fewer readers and resting ones will stop to spend a few contemplative moments, no longer offering themselves to the gaze and conversations of passersby like me.  And the reading bench will be empty of all but a few passing birds…

old wood and seedneads

covered bench 1

Here we go…

This is the excerpt for your very first post.


Emily on 1-28-16 at 1.51 PM

It’s my latest in a fifteen year series of blogs. So on with the explorations.


A few thoughts from many that inspire me:

The intellect is good but until it has become the servant of the heart it is of little avail. -‘Abdu’l-Baha

Few know how to help themselves when they are beset by misfortune. Bound by fate, humanity runs an endless circle of sorrow. Their grim companion is disunity from themselves. Father Zeus, free them from these great sufferings and show every one of them the GENIUS who is their guide. ~Pythagoras

But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. ~ Khalil Gibran

Submit to a daily practice. Keep knocking and the joy inside will eventually open a window. ~Rumi

We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever. – Carl Sagan

What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy? -Ursula K. Le Guin

Was it games in the mind?

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

dangerous 3
From a similar event which took place during daylight hours when photography was possible.

From October 22, 2015

Our high desert has had unusual periods of rain this year. During a lull in Mother Nature’s proceedings recently a brilliant sun going low behind rising cumulonimbus clouds to the west was trying its best to squeeze out a rainbow. There was no color, simply sharp, curved lines radiating across the blue sky, a slivered moon hanging tentatively in their midst.  This cloud and its numerous relatives were about to bring us a night to remember, featuring steady lightning through the darkness, followed by a crashing thunderstorm before dawn.

When I got up an hour or so before the sun I turned on the vanity lights with a dimmer switch, set low.  Trying not to awaken the dogs, I was getting dressed by that low light.  Bam!  Lightning hit nearby and off went only those particular lights.  Especially eerie it was that the kitchen light never flickered.  Being still somewhat in delta-wave state, the serious thought that angels were playing games with me tickled the edges of my mind.  A message from a lingering dream?  Perhaps, but the part that I can tell is that there was a circuit breaker, aged beyond ripeness, that didn’t like the fluctuations in current during the early storm.

Changing seasons can be hazardous around here.  For three days my miniature “city” has experienced thunderstorms with cherry sized hail, a continuous lightning show for one night and early morning, plus drenching rain and steadily decreasing temperatures.

Desert people can get edgy during prolonged wet periods.  Rain is loved enough that dyed-in-the-wool New Mexicans seldom dream of donning raincoats and will even rush outside to get soaked in a sudden downpour.  But three days of cloudbursts, tornado warnings, so much lightning can make us twitchy. …  Who could tell if there was a connection, but up the road apiece a fellow got into a road rage episode with another driver and shot that man’s four-year-old daughter through the head.  Nearby another man in his early 30s was about the shoot a cop many times during a traffic stop.  A good man, the police officer hung on for over a week before he passed.  This much violence within so short a time span — even involving a tiny child — is beyond rare.

I am glad, then, that I was only thinking of angels playing with my mind during one of the storms…