Friday, June 27, 2008

Wanna see some nekkid pichers?

Heh heh...gotcha with that header, didn't I?

One subject that always piques interest is pornography. Love it or hate it...collect it or turn away from it in disgust...seems like everyone has a strong opinion.

Personally, I have a mixed-bag relationship with pornography. I believe that healthy, responsible, grounded, sexually aware and educated adults can enjoy pornography with no ill effects. On the other hand, the way sexuality is depicted in most pornography is far from reality, separated from the rest of human interaction and relationships and often far from healthy. I can see how someone who is less grounded or experienced could end up with a warped view of sex. If porn is your sex-ed, you're going to have a hard time living up to the illustrations!

Still, I just don't understand how our culture got so out of whack about sex in general and pornography in particular. I read an interesting essay today. The writer makes the point that pornography isn't fundamentally any different to other forms of entertainment that depict and arouse human emotions and reactions. You watch other people have sex and you become aroused. Is that any different to watching a movie wherein someone grieves and it makes you cry? What about scary movies - do you feel a little fear when you watch? Is that wrong? Morally reprehensible? Fear and sadness are human reactions to specific stimuli; so is sexual arousal and it's no less a natural part of the human experience than any other physical/emotional/psychological response. I don't know that I agree with everything the author says, but it's food for thought.

Ahh, I do love to bitch and moan about our culture's twisted views on sex. Thanks for another opportunity to spew about one of my pet peeves. Now...go enjoy the weekend...have some healthy, happy, responsible sex and enjoy it, free of guilt and angst. Call it activism - saving the human race from sexual oppression one great encounter at a time.

That helpless feeling...

I hate knowing something is wrong, knowing someone is in trouble and needs help and not being able to make it happen! Arrrrrrhhhh! It's infuriating and frustrating and makes me feel helpless and ineffective and ... awful. I'm watching that happen right now with a woman in a horribly abusive situation, mentally and physically, and it's driving me nuts.

I'm doing what I can, which isn't much, but the ball is really in her court. There are people trying to help her, making a way for her to get out of the situation she's in, but until she is willing to take the proferred hand and make the first step out the door, all the efforts are in vain. That's the part that frustrates me most.

I believe with all my heart that we learn lessons in life through experience. Most of the time we're where we are, experiencing whatever we're experiencing, because we've got something to learn. Sometimes it's a direct, immediate cause-and-effect relationship; sometimes I have to think it's more karmic. In all cases, we usually keep experiencing until we get the lesson. The learning shifts our behavior which changes our experience and we start with new lessons. I don't want to interfere with anyone's learning experience but DAMN! Get this one already and get the hell out of there!

Sorry...had to say that somewhere. End of rant...back to work...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Through my Mother's eyes...

We had a big Solstice party at our place this weekend. About 40 people brought chairs, food, drums, guitars, and kids. It was great! It was also the first time my mother has been around that many pagans at one time.

I was a little worried that she might be upset by bits of conversation she overheard or see something that unnerved her. I don't hide my path from her; I don't put it in her face, either. She's a Jehovah's Witness and 81 years old, neither of which makes her a prime candidate for an open-minded acceptance of paganism.

As it turns out, she had a great time! A friend from work, not a pagan exactly but definitely a new-age sort, spent a lot of time talking with her and that helped. I checked on her as frequently as I could between hosting duties, but she was largely on her own. I touched base with her the morning after the party:

Me: "Mom, did you have a good time?"

Mom: "Yes, I did. I had a great time! Those were really nice people."

Me: "They are nice people; we're really blessed with good friends."

Mom: "You sure are. I couldn't find anything wrong!"

And there you have it - insight into the way my mother views the world. "I couldn't find anything wrong!" was a telling statement. She enters every situation looking for the wrongness in it. It's as if she lives her life in a minefield of wrong and the least little pause in her vigilence could land her right in the middle of some heinous activity that she would then be on the moral hook for.

I'm glad she couldn't find anything wrong. I'd be gladder still if she didn't always feel like she had to be on the lookout for it.

Goodbye, George Carlin... will be missed.

George Carlin crossed the veil on Sunday, June 22...and there's a big, George-shaped hole in the universe.

I remember playing several of his albums (yes, they were albums - shiny vinyl with paper covers) when I was in my early 20's and loving them. He made me laugh - hysterically at times - and made me think. I can still recite the seven words by heart, and I never get on a plane without thinking, "We can snatch that pussy, put it in a box, and take it on the airplane!"

The genius of Carlin was his ability to recognize the absurdity in our world and mirror it back to us so we could see it, too, in a humbling, thought-provoking, and infinitely entertaining way.

Rest well, George...well done...and we'll look for you in your next go 'round.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Do you answer your cell phone in the bathroom?

...and other random thoughts.

I'm working from home today, taking a lunch break and enjoying the warm, gentle afternoon. I love my work-at-home days (usually two a week)... and the view is much better here than from my office. Because I cherish the privilege of working at home so much, I'm really careful to not do anything that might make folks at work think I'm slacking, so I carry my phone with me anytime I step away from my computer. This morning, I took it into the bathroom wtih me and then wondered what I would do if it rang? Would I answer it? Would you?

Before I started work this morning, I tripped out to the herb bed for some fresh basil (for my cottage-cheese-and-tomato breakfast). Mama had left some beautiful beadwork for us! Who knew squash plants could look so pretty!

Of course, my mind is running amok - as usual - with ideas and thoughts...things like, "Does anyone read this blog?" I tried to put a web statistics applet on here yesterday but haven't quite figured it out yet. If you're reading, leave a comment and let me know you're here! If you know how to install Google Analytics, better yet! And I'm still thinking about my writing career, the one that doesn't exist yet unless you count what I do at work, which is, in fact, mostly writing but not the kind I truly yearn to do.

Time is just so darned hard to come by! And it takes time to write. Ahhh...but therein lies the rub, does it not? We all have the same amount of time. Successful writers choose to devote a large portion of theirs to writing. I seem more inclined to devote mine to earning a living the less interesting but more immediately profitable way and helping take care of our home and land. Maybe what I need is a priority shift...or less sleep (though I can't really see that one...I don't sleep a lot as it is!)...or learn to not care so much about the other stuff.

A lot to worry about on a short lunch hour. My nose has been missed and must return to the grindstone immediately! Y'all stay tuned...more to come...and keep those cards and letters coming!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign...

...blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind...

I find signs amusing this one:

More great signs to come...stay tuned...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

History of the Vibrator...and one wonders...

...why such a simple, pleasure-giving device has such a history?

A great article - found here - in the TimesOnline UK edition recaps the history of the vibrator. Seems the handy little devices started life as medical equipment (which most of us already knew) and only gradually made their way into the hands of the women they were designed to help.

Interesting stuff...a good read...and begs the same questions I've asked since I was old enough to have the faintest tingle between the thighs and the awareness that something was "wrong" about that sweet tingle...that I wasn't supposed to feel that and NEVER supposed to talk about feeling it: How in heaven's name did we become so screwed up about sex?

Case in point: the article talks about the vibe's rise in popularity and acceptance, right up until silent films began depicting it being used sexually...after which it disappeared from advertisements and ready availability for 50 years. What the...? It was all fine and dandy when it was a medical device but the minute it's associated with sex, back into the closet it goes!

We've certainly come a long way, but I'm not sure it's all been in the right direction. No...that's not true...I'm entirely sure that much of it has been backward. We no longer, praise be, deny that women do, indeed, enjoy sex...and, at least in American culture, we don't openly deny that they should. But you can't buy a nice vibrator at the drugstore, either. Well, you can...but it will be called a massager and will show pictures of perfectly manicured female hands blissfully massaging neck and shoulders, with copy that reads, "Relaxes all kinds of muscles, relieves tension, soothes and refreshes...". The best of those illustrations are for the pale, creamy colored plastic vibes shaped like vaguely penis-like rockets, shown cozied up to the little indentation where the cheekbone and neck meet. Puh-leeze! Who massages their jawbone with a hard plastic penis? For that matter, who massages their shoulders with one?

And then, there's the issue of how female celebrities and models look or are made to look in photographs and movies. For one thing, they don't look that way. They're real people and real people, without exception, have hair, bumps, lumps, cellulite, discoloration, dark eye circles, thinning hair, enlarged pores, and a host of other beautiful flaws that just go with the human territory. You won't find many pictures of fact, you find photoshopped miracles of inhuman beauty everywhere. If a young girl gets hold of a men's magazine with production levels of any quality, they might (and do) get the idea that "pretty", "sexy", and "beautiful" are all synonymous with hairless, flawless, perfectly made-up, and forever young. What a disservice!

Yes, I know...I'm not saying anything new. We're all aware of the issues. But are we aware enough? Has our awareness led to action? Have we,, me, your next door neighbor, your daughter/mother/wife/girlfiend...have we done anything about it? Have we begun to talk more openly and honestly about sexuality? Have we admitted, even to each other, that we actually own sex toys? Have we made sure our daughters see as many examples of real, beautiful, sexy, flawed-and-thus-flawless women in their lives as they do artifically enhanced paper dolls? Have our celebrity women talked candidly about their profession and about how what they portray is not who they are? Have we ended the disgusting habit of mentally clawing the eyes of every woman who shows a bit more skin than we think proper, or who openly dates multiple men or has multiple sexual partners? Have we given up judging each other more harshly than anyone?

And while we're at it (though this is a slight left turn), have we wised up and started giving violent, horror-filled movies depicting scenes of bloody dismemberment, unspeakable cruelty, and death by the minute the same XXX ratings we reserve for movies that depict sexual acts? I'm no big fan of pornography because of the distorted way it portrays sex, but I fail to see how it can be worse than "Saw". In fact, given a choice between my 17-year-old watching porn and watching a crazy, demented, violent blood-fest, I'd have to say, "Bring on the f***ing!" At least sex is a life-affirming act.

I don't have answers; I have questions, and I have to keep asking them because none of the answers so far have made much sense.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Nothing succeeds like success...

I weighed in today for the first time in at least two weeks, maybe three. In that space of time, I have been anything but diligent about following my Weight Watchers plan. Tracking? We don't need no stinking tracking! Well...actually...we do...but you get my drift. I've eaten all kinds of stuff that really wasn't in my best interest...chocolate chip cookies (that's cookIES, as in multiples), ribs (the whole slab, not one of those wimpy sampler portions), grilled burgers made with ground beef so fat-laden that it was barely light pink, hot dogs (good beef hot dogs, but still...) - and the list goes on. So how did I still manage to lose weight?

Well, here's my theory: I think I've changed my regular eating habits so much that it offsets my occasional indulgences. Before WW, I ate enough fried food in a week to keep the people producing frying oil in business for a long time. My arteries were so accustomed to their daily grease allotment that they suffered withdrawals for a while. And it was a struggle to give it up. I began working in restaurants in my teens and learned to make killer deep-fried food - seafood, mushrooms, pickles, chicken (oh yeah, I can make some fried chicken)...and fried green tomatoes. I no longer get the oohs and ahhs that came from putting a plate of golden, crispy, sizzling chicken fingers or succulent fried shrimp in front of my friends and family. I miss that.

But you know what? It's ok. I miss that ego-boost now and then, but I don't miss the 68.8 pounds that I'm not hauling around anymore. I don't miss buying size 28 slacks or 3X shirts. And I definitely don't miss the wheezing wreck I used to be when I climbed the hill at 5th street or attempted the 61 steps into the back of the building. Nope. Not at all.

So...thinking back over the last couple of weeks...I've eaten when I was hungry, indulged some less-than-stellar cravings...and still lost weight. I didn't gorge on fried food. I ate quite healthily at work every day; indulgences were saved for dinner out with my husband and the occasional warm cookie. That's a life I can definitely live with. And seeing a weight loss today instead of the gain I was afraid I would see has actually motivated me to get back on track.'s to the next (and final) 70 pounds and a life that just gets better all the time. Thanks for letting me celebrate a little...and happy Monday!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Acorns for peace

Datinggod -(a GREAT blog) most recent post pointed me toward Yoko Ono's new blog. What a great find! Read her profile...and the lovely concept of air dancing. I'm air dancing now...

More wisdom from Mom and good stewardship...

(from a personal email sent to ChattanoogaPagansATyahoogroupsDOTcom, June 2, 2008:

When I was growing up, I thought my mother was the cheapest, stingiest woman on the planet! She reused EVERYTHING!

My dad carried sandwiches for lunch every day for years so we went through a lot of sliced bread. She carefully shook the crumbs out of the empty bread bags, folded them, and put them inside another saved bread bag in the drawer. Those bags got used for everything. We wrapped left over biscuits after dinner in them (which were, in turn, resued as biscuit toast for breakfast the next morning). We saved receipts in them. We split them down the seam and used them to cover a bowl that didn't have a lid (secured with a rubber band saved from something else).

Wax paper was the absolute gold standard for wrapping sandwhiches, and if Dad remembered to bring it home, it was sometimes resued, too. There was no plastic cutlery in our house. If Dad needed a spoon or fork, Mom took one out of the drawer and Dad brought it home to be washed. By the way, my Mom STILL uses much of the same set of stainless tableware we had back then, so I know that process worked!

Empty mayonnaise jars were used as canning jars, nail containers, bean canisters, etc. When Mom bought things like Zip-Lock bags, they were reused, too. In fact, she still saves them and has so many empty, washed clean, and carefully saved bags that she probably won't have to buy another for years! Popcorn came in just one bag, not a box with six bags inside it, each one wrapped individually in plastic. Cheese had one wrapper on it instead of an outer wrap and a wrapper around each slide. Things that grew out of style or didn't look quite as shiny and new as before were still used as long as they retained usefullness; Mom still has the same Charles Chips can she had when I was a child and still stores flour in it, and it works just fine.

She made new clothing out of old clothing and out of cloth flour sacks (not seen much anymore, but they do still make them), dust cloths out of old tee shirts, biscuit/cookie cutters from empty vegetable cans. We picked up hickory nuts and made hickory nut pies instead of pecan, made the best pear preserves in the world from knotty old Keiffer pears we picked up from old trees in the pasture, and ate persimmons, blackberries, dewberries, and mucadines we found wild in the woods. She and Dad grew much of what we ate, saving seed from one harvest to start the next. Dad kept a few cattle almost all the time, selling a few and using a couple a year to stock the freezer. The beef we ate was wrapped in a single piece of butcher paper with the contents written right on the paper, not in a stryofoam tray with an absorbant pad and a plastic overwrap with a paper label. Found objects and windfalls were put to good and lasting use; when my aunt was given l arge commercial spools of sewing thread, Mom and my grandmother carefully selected multiple strands of complimentary colors and wound them into balls of "yarn," crocheting clothing from it, some of which I still have and wear.

After that wonderful example of good stewardship, all I could do when I grew up was run madly from it and try to become much more sophisticated. I learned how to buy plastic bags and only use them to through away empty glass jars because I didn't can my own food (why, when it was so eash to buy it at the grocery?), ignore healthful, readily available food because it was too much effort to pick it, and to just chuck my old tee shirts and buy nice, neatly trimmed wash cloths new and use them for dusting and cleaning. Food scraps were just trash. I never reused bread bags because when I did, my friends said, "Ewwwwwwwww! That's not sanitary!" Somehow it didn't occur to me that A) the bread came wrapped in it and we didn't say, "Ewwww!" and B) I was over 20 years old and hadn't died from it in all that time.

So here I am, many years later, looking at Mom (right next door) and finally thinking, "You were one smart woman!" She was a much better steward of the land we have chosen to call home than I ever was. I'm learning all over again what it means to keep the promises Three Crows and I made when we moved up here. There are so many things that I can do that not only reduce my impact on the environment but save resources that my family can use for other things.

What has helped more than anything is awareness. From the moment we stood in what is now our back yard and promised to be good stewards and partners with this land, we have been more aware. By stating and sharing our intention out loud, we moved it from a nice thought to an act of will. As simple as that sounds, I believe it has been key to moving us more and more in the right direction. And conversations like this one have the same effect. As we raise our awareness, more opportunities will present themselves.

Is our family "there" yet? Heck, no! But we're closer...much closer...and like all journeys, this one starts with a single step. With the way we work now, I'm not sure returning to my Mom's way of life is entirely possible, but many of her tricks are already serving us...both our family and the big us...well...and we're enjoying the process as well as the product.

I guess it's like the rest of life - doing the right thing feels good.

Love in abundance,