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Some things are much more important than others,  and whether it’s the urgency of a project in process or the immediacy of turf defense, Lucy the cat and I have our priorities.Dinner tonight --BIG ADMIRER  freshly caught.jpg

Sometimes one has no conscionable choice but to be a scoff-law.

Lucy has her priorities and they take precedence over all conventions of the household.
Chasing Varmints


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Isn’t worshiping a ideologic symbol, like a book, or a firearm, badly missing the mark?

I have long been puzzled that humans seem to become much more attached to relics, or symbols, or talismans of their ideology than to the ideaology itself.

Here is a story today that prompted my post:  A schoolboy was suspended from school because he chewed a sandwich into the shape of a pistol.  !!  Okay, no guns in school, but really… a bit of playing with food,  some sculptural inclinations, and cleverness are grounds for being kicked out??

But this is not the part of the story that got my post-begetting reaction.  The part about the NRA reward was what astonished me.

Talk about lobbying!   The huge NRA is making a hero of a little boy because he “found” a shape of a gun in the canvas of his sandwich.
It immediately made me think of the spectacularism surrounding the image of a saint appearing in a used napkin, or on the stained side of a building.  Or a cloud.  Or a shape on the sand.

The fame and fortune to be gained by celebrating such happenstances is sometimes worldwide publicity and adulation.  Somehow the principalities and powers who feel “blessed” by these events want to make really big publicity of it all, and hopefully a bit of money– no a lot of money– and some validation of their cause, and hopefully a devoted following of more groupies to their cause.

It is not so different, is it, from the worship of religious shrines where phenomena appear, and in the name of glorifying a deity, pilgrimages are made,  fasting and praying are dedicated,  beasts are slain,  and even in some brutal cultures humans sacrificed.
For the passionate attachment of a body of people to an inanimate object that stands for some idea.

So, it looks to me as if the NRA worships guns.  They even worship a gun made of bread!  They even glorify that yeasty weapon enough to thumb their noses at a boy’s schooltime poor judgment that got him suspended, and make a hero out of this kid. It is not that the kid was exercising his second amendment rights!  He was just playing with a sandwich, and seeking to impress others at his table.  Maybe he was championing a cause his father or mother are passionate about.  But he was just a little guy playing little guy stuff.

I am embarrassed to admit that some of my fellow believers in Christ actually worship the book they take to church with them each Sunday.  It is a relic that stands for what they are members of.  But do they really think that it is a god?  It’s a paper reproduction of written material sourced from God.  It’s not The Word.  It’s the issue of The Word.  This can become an idol just as a golden calf can or a plastic statue, or a special place where a miracle occurred.

I never believed that our creator intended for us to worship the creation, whether it is the magnificent world we live in, or a kid’s lunch.  One cannot really believe it is possible to insult a book!  It is not any skin off God’s nose if you insult a book.  HE is the Source!

Do gun worshippers think it’s more important to protect guns than it is to protect lives?

We are totally missing the mark when we start thinking that the killing question is moot, but the gun question is vital.  Will we kill in order to protect guns?  I say, insult the gun!  It will make not one whit of difference to the gun.

Something very wrong here, and we are dying of it.   Men were not designed to ask inanimate objects how to glorify them.
We are asking dead things for guidance.  What kind of living person does that?  How long does he ask?  Will he kill someone for taking away his object of reverence?  Something very wrong with all of this.

Old Swimmer

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The Fragility of the Good Life

Here is a quote from my AWAD (A Word A Day) feed this morning:

“The skylines lit up at dead of night, the air-conditioning systems cooling empty hotels in the desert and artificial light in the middle of the day all have something both demented and admirable about them. The mindless luxury of a rich civilization, and yet of a civilization perhaps as scared to see the lights go out as was the hunter in his primitive night.” -Jean Baudrillard, sociologist and philosopher (1929-2007) 

I am guilty of being somewhat of a Jeremiah (which was the word of the day today), in that I have been frightened about the fragility of the internet.  While I have been worrying about this for some time, my closest community has sort of rolled eyes and chalked it up to my being a worry-wart, as they say.

But now the headlines are talking about the very real threat of cyber warfare.  I was not really crying wolf, it seems.

This does not make me cheerful (as in “I was right…see?”)  but rather really really worried now.  The Information Age hangs on such a corruptible thread!  We have been joyfully reveling in the ability to communicate freely and often and somewhat “securely” with anyone in the world at any time we want for a decade or more now.  The old fashioned means of interaction have nearly become obsolete by virtue of inactivity.  When was the last time I wrote a handwritten note and sent it by USPS?  Well, even so, the USPS is using computerized systems to sort and route mail, and if those failed, even an express-mail letter would have a very difficult time getting from my place to, say, some place in the middle of New Mexico, or Taipei.

How easy is it to disrupt a whole hunk of country simply by weather damage to power stations and transmission towers?  In my part of the country we still have outages that can last for days and days, simply by virtue of a wind, or ice storm.

Batteries only last a little while.  The gas pump works by computer.  So does the checkout station at the gas station and at the supermarket.  Our phones are dependent on systems that are computerized, and radio and TV stations are too.

So do we remember how to wash clothes without washing machines?  Do we even have clothes pins to hang up the clothes after we are finished using the washboard?  Can we cook over a fire anymore?  Do we have fuel for such things?  When we run out, are there alternative fuels we might use?  On our property?

Would we be able to function without banks dispensing money to us on demand?

I am seeing a frozen world, in my imagination, here in Seattle WA, with nothing moving but anxious and panicky people…moving desperately around in a wilderness with no amenities.  I am visualizing a world that puts everyone on the same democratic level as everyone else,  with many of us asking the street people for tips on how to get from one day to another without heat, food, clothing.

Not a bomb would need to drop to disable an entire country.  Are we vulnerable?

Old Swimmer

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PALEO: (sort of) Many Happy Returns – or- The Graying of America in a Poor Economy

This trip would not be possible on foot without my drastic change in diet.

NOTE: 8-11-2012   UPDATE, now settled in, and enjoying some real “bennies” within my family circle.   see 
  NOTE:  This is only slightly Paleo/Primal related, but it still belongs in this blog because I   am a grateful recuperating Senior who was helped enormously by my change to a primal style diet! Without this diet, I might be rolling into my next residence in a wheel chair!!!

            I remember when the children took their stuff and ran away from home…  maybe down a few houses to a girlfriend’s house.The girlfriend’s mother would call me and say “It’s okay, she can stay for a night or so.  She’s welcome here.”   A day later my daughter would be back, probably with her friend, and ask if SHE can stay overnight at OUR house.  As teens they traded houses for longer times– it was a good thing to learn someone else’s parents’ ways, and the independence struggle seemed mitigated some by having a home away from home.

Then they start a career.  The career often starts many many months after higher education ends and guess who is still in the old bedroom with the little ruffled dressing table and the stuffed animals?

It’s really so nice to have a place where you have a roof you can count on and good stuff in the fridge.

The so-called greying of America thing is causing some of us old people to come and go pretty much the same way.

This old MeJane lady is going back to the kids.    My move will be complete in about two week’s time.  It’s been happening over about two month’s time, since this old lady is not the kind who sits in a little chair and knits and then goes to bed.  This old lady has a painting studio and a woodshop and a self owned business, and that requires a staggering amount of STUFF that has to find a place to be.

It was a good idea for me to have THREE children.  One of them is going to put up with me in person (that’s the Paleo one, who got me started on this new diet regimen.   Another of them will allow me to use her garage for my new workshop, which is where I will do most of my carving and the larger messier paintings.   And the third child will be looking after my finances, since I am sick and tired of being so disorganized about them and so are my creditors and bankers.   This will be so wonderful.   I have needed a mother for a long time– and they learned good stuff about mothering from me.  And they also learned how to be organized, believe it or not, from me.  But now I’m going to let them take me under their wing so I can have a second childhood!

That old lady in the picture is not much like me in a lot of ways…I still dress young, whether I should or not, and I usually am dashing around with a pony tail behind and jeans and a turtleneck on, and my feet are not fat, and I wear less “sensible” looking shoes!   The other way is less obvious.  I do not decorously drag a civilized wheeled piece of luggage behind me .  I have to transport my stuff in hundreds (literally) of boxes and  tall tubes and strange shaped rigs and also bring the stands, and lights, and cabinets and easels and saws and grinders and a ton of tools with me.

Guess who has already done a lot of moving of this stuff for me?  Yup, my three kids.  Guess who is coming next weekend again with the moving truck?  Yup, the kids again.

What does all this have to do with paleo/primal?  Not much, except I am doing it standing upright, which was not what I was doing before I started the no-carb stuff.   I had been sick, and now I am feeling much better.  I can hardly wait to get back to work in my shop. And, yes, the place I’m moving to has a paleo-type kitchen!!     What a nice chance to be near my kids… and their kids.


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Bisonlike drawing red…© Susan G. Holland


Deerlike drawing

Mama stubborn,  Daughter persistent,  Igluk to the rescue.

Stay posted… Mama moving from modern to primal… feeling like Jane.

My past several weeks have been spent in a sort of gastronomical time warp.  After resisting,  questioning, and criticizing the seemingly whacky diet my daughter has been touting, (and she has become so very thin and model-like and her husband has become so trim and un-diabetic looking) and having told my daughter “Enough!”, and having my daughter look crestfallen and sad, saying “Ok, but I’m giving you gold, and you’re trashing it, Mom,” ….after all that angst I did some research, including the all-important checking with my doctor.

Well, two doctors, actually.  The first one who has been a lovely person to me, but not at all proactive about finding out what’s the matter with me, waved off the concept, told me to eat anything I wanted, and that I was fine because I was not fat.

The NEW doctor is, indeed proactive,  quite well-spoken of in the medical community, and supportive of the paleo/primal diet idea! She said what I had been trying to find out for sure, i.e., “it’s a legitimate diet and may be a real help to you.”

SO!  Out goes bread and toast and peanut butter.  Out goes sugar in my coffee and syrup on my waffles.  Out go the waffles!

The idea is that Igluk did not find farmers cultivating grain or growing legumes, nor did he find manufacturers crystallizing sugar from beets or cane.  He did pick berries, and leaves, and fruit, however, and he did hunt and eat animals.  He found roots and tubers and ate them.  And he worked hard to find his food and to keep warm.  So did his wife.  (Jane, maybe?)

So instead of dousing our systems with carbohydrates — sugars and starches — we are now going to eat primal food only.  This will teach our bodies to draw on the fats and proteins and fiber and nutrients of earthy, basic, primal edibles for the energy it needs. And to quit drawing on sugars and starches.  You stop sugars and starches (yes, pasta, pizza, pie) and start on things you have resisted for health’s sake for years and years and years.  BACON! EGGS!  Cheese!  Butter! Steak!  And some things you avoided for years for your own preference’s sake, like liver, cabbage and collards, and turnips. The one potato you can munch on is sweet’s a tuber, so that’s okay.

Well, there are other frills, like not eating anything but raw milk products, and not eating beans!  (the musical fruit, we call them.)

I’m not going that far– my milk will come from the supermarket.   Tarzan discover fire; Jane heat raw milk over fire, get pasteurization.  Jane believe pasteurization good.  But my much loved cheeses often come from raw milk — and even caves in Switzerland!(** see addendum)  That is so wonderful to be able to eat them and feel virtuous!

No colas, and no orange juices– full of the wrong things to swig down.  NOT JUICE?  Nope, too much sugar to introduce.  Eat fruit sparingly, like I used to eat cheese.  Hmm.

As I type I am sipping on a soup I made that turned out so surprisingly delicious I have my housemate craving it.  Sweet potatoes, onions, chicken, a bit of dandelion broth!!!!,  some tomato sauce, lots of chicken broth, a bit of white wine, and even a few sections of tangerine!  Spices to make it savory and a bit of lemon juice.  I top it with a lovely sauce of thin sliced cucumbers in plain yoghurt with a LOT of dill weed and some scallion rings.  It is absolutely yummy.

Not everything I have made is yummy.  The dandelion broth, for instance.  I had to add some maple syrup (straight from the tree) to it and freeze it to debitter it some.  But the stuff is great for adding in small amounts to give character to a meat dish, and the dandelion turns out to be a fantastically nourishing green.  Maybe I should go into selling fresh dandelion greens and roots? I’ve got plenty to share in the convenient patch outside our house that used to be lawn.

Yes, I have apparently lost four pounds…and I notice it gone from the spots that seems too pudgy to me.  My belly and waist are noting the difference, though I was not aiming to lose weight.

I was sick this winter…really.  I couldn’t seem to get better.   Now I am actually getting better!  I actually am not sleeping all day and getting short of breath and feeling light headed and getting every ailment that comes along.  I can do work again!  I can think about filling orders for art objects again.

Is it all the diet?  Yes, I do think that has made a huge change.  Like my new doc said it would.  She said not to bother worrying about LDL and other such chronic worries; that it would all align properly once my body got used to the new regimen.

Am I happy?   So far, I am surprised and surprisingly happy!  I am pleased to tell my daughter that she was right on.  She is smiling a lot, and sharing recipes.   She out-stubborned me, and got me to try it.  Imagine!

Old Swimmer  (Jane)

** Addendum: Imagine my delight when I discovered THIS TREASURE while looking for a really good gruyère to put in a home made French Onion Soup!  It was in my lone grocery in a remote town along the Olympics side of the Hood Canal!  Who would have thought?  Well, it was ten dollars a pound,  but it’s so very very very yummy.

On my cave-aged gruyère cheese find: CLICK


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Shall I Feed My Compost Hydrocodone?

(not Paleo related)

Recently I was given a prescription for a pain killer after a nasty dental surgery,  and I found it powerful to help me sleep through pain,  but horrible to get rid of when I wanted to.  I suffered withdrawal in the form of sleeplessness until I weaned myself off more slowly by taking less and less each time.  Now I have the greater part of these pills in my medicine cache, wondering whether to flush them, crush them, or simply feed them to my Compost Pile.

Why not let them be digested that way?  I spent some time in the shower trying to figure out if hydroco biodegrades when sent down our gullets,  and if so, why not let it biodegrade in the innards of a hot compost pile.  Same difference, it seems to me.

Why is is okay for me to send digested hydrocodone into the septic tank, but not okay for me to set it free in the environment?

I’m not MANUFACTURING the stuff, after all, and am not sending huge amounts down the water supply to my neighbors.

Anyone know?  I’m not fixating about this,  but I am asking rhetorically whether things designed to work in human digestion systems are really all that terrible to release back into nature.  Didn’t the ingredients exist in nature once anyway?

What do distillers do with the fermented mash?  All of a sudden I am alive with wonderings and lay-theory.

Anyone know?

Old Swimmer

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The Vintage Machine …still loved but getting worn in places.

This is a fortunately fuzzy picture of how I looked to my littlest grandchild last week during a visit to my family of grown children and grandchildren in Seattle. My granddaughter loves to take pictures with my camera, and often the pictures are of me.  This is fuzzy enough to be publishable, I think.

Considering my recent battle with some wintertime bug , I think it’s a pretty cheerful rendition.  Maybe I should always have my portrait taken by my granddaughter.  Well.. anyway this one was nice…there were some I deleted post haste– way too OLD looking!

There seems to be a MAJOR THEME already, this year.  The hinges are getting worn and the nuts and bolts are getting loose in this “vintage physical plant.”  Occuppying my body is getting to be like having a nice, well-used piece of equipment in my shop that is gradually losing precision and has some wear in the cutting edges.

The old Sturgis Press that I enjoyed for years in my studio (on loan from the late Hewitt Jackson, an admired artist and craftsman who borrowed my large rug loom in exchange), was a wonderful example of simplicity and elegance.  A large heavy wheel with a handle for turning , and some simple adjustments for pressure of the roller over the blanketed plates,  it allowed for a lot of manipulation and experimentation.  I printed all kinds of things in that press, including embossings using materials like plastic screens for shop lights, for instance.  I remember the exciting effect of offsetting multiple passes of that stuff and making the wildest kind of moire pattern on dampened heavy paper.  When it was dried and matted it made a truly three dimensional piece that was hard to keep one’s fingers off– the jagged peaks were so sharp and clean.

But that old press was wobbly,  and one had to adjust the way the handle was held to get it to occlude perfectly as the roller went across the plate.

I wonder how many times that very well-used press did its work? ..Surely more than the 25.300 plus days I’ve accumulated since I was born.

I went to the doctor today and found out some things about my innards that I didn’t know but which he had recently visited via camera/scope.  I have scar tissue in my plumbing, he told me,  that dates back to as far as 1954, and was added to over the years by various surgeries.  Scar tissue! Who knew? This is making it a jerky journey for my fuel to get from here to there to propel my machine through it daily mechanizations.

Being advised that there is something that is definitely a part of you for the rest of your life, and which is not going to heal up and be gone is always a surprise.  Since it’s on the inside and not out there looking ugly where people can see it, it’s not so bad.  And I am not yet hobbling or having to use a walker or a wheelchair.  But things creep up unseen that will make a difference, and gradually, (I hope it’s gradual) get worse.  Hm.  I don’t like it.

How fortunate that many of us have working bodies for so long.  And we do take them for granted once we learn how to use them (how to walk, and swim, and run, and twist, and dance and such.)  We teach them fine tricks like sewing and making clocks and performing eye surgery, for instance.  I used to make very fine pen and ink drawings.  I am finished being distressed that I don’t do well at that any more.  My hands might still have the skill, but my eyes do not.  They are not good at threading a needle either any more.  But I value my eyes greatly, and they reward me daily with miracles of beauty wherever I take the time to look.  My hands still work very much better than they did when I was three years old and still learning to know how to tie a bow.

This past week: “Mommom, will you come out and do some batting practice with me?” asks my six year old slugger?  Two years ago,  even four years ago, he and I spent many hours tossing balls toward the bat,  and later tossing balls around in the batting zone.  He’s really good at batting now,  and also pitching and catching, and a lot of that started with our little games that got more deliberate and skilled as time wore on.  I was complimented to be invited…what a dear to want me to pitch balls to him.   I had to decline, having been ill– I can hardly climb the hill this winter after some nasty months of being a “shut-in.” I am not used to feeling old.

I’m going to have to brush up on chess, I guess, unless my physical machine suddenly grows strong and energetic and limber again this spring.  Even if it does, it would be good to get my chess game ready for some months ahead that might not involve prancing around on the hilly back yard chasing well-hit balls. My grandson is very good at most things and that includes chess.  At least I don’t have to count on my body to play that…just my mind. Well— hopefully the gremlins in my mind are not creeping in as fast as the gremlins in my gut!

The operative words in the title of this rumination are “still loved“.  That part is the real treasure.  I spend a bit of time each visit imagining these people twenty years from now, gathering either in that back yard or another one, remembering the old batting practice,  or wild games of hide and seek with Mommom.  I love being asked.  I think I can move from real ball to something like virtual ball using paints and papers, or something like that.  I notice they are now allowed to use magic markers.  This opens up a new arena.

Very grateful for new arenas…  Old Swimmer

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