Men and their guns

Guns don’t kill. People do. Well, duh… Obviously. But no one says that to state the stupidly obvious. It’s used as an overly simplistic piece of byte-brain verbiage to endorse and perpetuate the devastating American male love affair with guns.

semiautomatic rifles at a gun show

This time, as Santa was about to hear a child’s Christmas wish, 22 year-old Jacob Tyler Roberts was wildly firing an AR-semiautomatic rifle at people he had never met. Their particular crime was to go shopping at the Clackamas mall. Continue reading

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If it’s so simple, why can’t we get it right?

Sometimes I really don’t want to blog. I think, maybe I don’t get personal enough. Maybe I should blog on writing, or herbs, or my other passions. Maybe I just shut up before it looks like I never, ever think happy thoughts. To be a contributing member of society, there are certain sine qua non’s, right and a lot of them have to do with staying positive: Visualize Beauty. Experience Wonder. Live in the Moment. Look on the Bright Side.Yeah, yeah… Continue reading

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Climate Lulls and Lullabies

Following the long hottest summer and unprecedented fires in the western US, along comes October and Sandy-Franken-Super-Storm. And that’s only the climate happening in the headlines. How’s the weather right now where you are?

Sandy’s projected path 10/25/12

If we listen only to mass media, we could be lulled into believing these thousands of weather-breaking records across the U.S. (yup, some thousands were broken just this summer) and around the world are one-offs. The media doesn’t want us connecting dots. If we did, we might get upset. Very upset indeed. Which brings to mind one of my favorite anti-Bush slogans:

If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. Continue reading

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Felix, You Rocked Our World

Felix rocked me today. And a lot of others from the sounds coming out of the cyber stratosphere.

Austrian Felix Baumgartner, broke a record that had been set 50 years ago in a death-defying jump by retired Air Force colonel Joe Kittinger. Kittinger, now 84, coached the 43-year old Baumgartner and today talked him through the 2+ hour ascent into the edges of outer space. He coached,comforted  and cheered him until the bunny jump — Baumgartner’s leap into space, 24 miles above sea level.

Here’s what I love about this. Continue reading

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Sound Bites for Dinner

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”

Poor Americans. The vast majority of the potential voting public* are pathetic huddled masses indeed. An outsider might say this is an overweight country stuffed with folks that feel entitled to all the goodies and seem to keep grabbing them.

May be. But it is also a country on the brink of starvation. Sensationalism is Coke Cola — an addictive, zero content, high calorie, sugar-oozing carb. America, never really full, keeps coming back for more. So what looks well-fed on the outside, is just excessive bloat. Continue reading

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The Grandfather of Stupid Human Beliefs

I have an A list of stupid human beliefs.

Denying the existence of human-engineered climate change.  Making a woman’s personal choice a political issue. Hate crimes. Opposition to any form of weapons control. Believing the Tea Party. Releasing sequestered carbon, using untold energy, spending megabucks and endangering lives so we can pull  non-renewable oil from the earth while ignoring free abundant energy that streams from the sky and blows in the wind. Transporting GMO food grown by megabusiness around the globe instead of supporting small and local. Overfishing. Continue reading

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Gun Pop Quiz

The Blogosphere is burning with opinions on the Aurora movie theater slaughter of July 20th. Personally, I’m speechless. Instead of saying something I’m likely to regret, I’ll satisfy my need to write about this tragedy with a pop quiz. Let me know what grade you get. Be honest.  As for me, due to underestimates too vast to note, I flunked miserably. 

The mass shootings in 2007 at Virgina Tech. How many people were killed (excluding the shooter who killed himself)? Continue reading

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Edges

 

Odd name for a Blog, Naturally Thinking. No idea how it popped into my head. My intent was to blog about Nature as mentor, ally and part of us. Nature-ally thinking about our actions and their impacts.

Technically, with Nature as mentor, guide and ally, anything goes. Rants about lost opportunities to educate children or raves about cooperation among naked mole-rats. But my lens is applying wisdom to natural resource use. Ways and means to open our hearts, minds and web browsers to solve apparently intractable problems. To harness proper resources to get the job done.

Ludwig Wittgenstein is quoted as saying “the limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” So what happens if we move our language/world out to the edges and explore. What might happen if we shift our thinking from negative news of the day to positive solutions of our generation?

Some do, and these folks are among my heros. Frances Moore Lappé, (Diet for a Small Planet) and her most recent book Ecomind: Changing the Way We Think to Create the World We Want spring to mind. Her thesis is that the scarcity mentality among environmentalists saps energy, impedes progress, and is plain wrong.

You can listen to her discuss it at Powell’s in Portand or order the book from her Small Planet Institute.  Their tag line is Living Democracy. Feeding Hope.  Which sums up a lot of what I admire in her as well as much of what has sustained her through 47 years of work. She feels the same frustrations we do and springs over those shadows to formulate positive solutions.

She is not alone, not by a long shot. The ridiculously brilliant and versatile Paul Hawken created an astounding slide show that later morphed into a book and a sustainability social networking site. He spotlighted organizations, projects, associations, projects and amorphousgroups that work on solutions to environmental and social justice issues. Groups that had been unaware of each other, with no central leadership, and had no idea g that together they form the largest mass movement the world has ever witnessed.

He closed a 2009 Commencement Speech this way:
Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hope only makes sense when it doesn’t make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.

Edges. The most changeable, complex, challenging places on Earth. Where are your social and environmental edges? Where are the edges of random kindness and intentional activism? Do you know anyone pushing them?

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Vallarta’s Most Wanted

 

Stella is a timid girl. She lived on the Puerto Vallarta streets for most of her young life.  Weighing in at about 12 lbs. caution meant survival. She lived in hiding under cars only dashing out to eat. Then one day she was rescued by a passionate, affluent, dog loving activist here in Vallarta. She had been watching and coaxing the frightened pup until finally she could bring her off the streets. The two adored each other and Stella blossomed in her two months of care!

We got lucky and were able to adopt her after she was psychologically and physically strong enough to go from her rescuer’s home to a permanent one. It was a hard separation, but she got along fabulously with her new bro, Strider, another rescue pup. A little older, a little smaller he also had a tough start and was glad to have a  frisky, friendly — not large — companion.

Unfortunately, PTSD doesn’t go away so quickly. As I’m writing we’re enjoying a tropical thunderstorm. After a particularly loud thunder clap, Stella got off of the bed and crawled into the small space under it. Now that it has stopped, she unceremoniously hopped back up and went to sleep.

A few nights ago, coming back from a walk, she got spooked by a little dog that dashed out his door yipping and chasing. In a split second, she wriggled out of her collar, leaving it, her leash and her i.d. tag behind. She ran like she had a hell hound on her heels. Tail solidly between her hind legs, I swear I saw both back paws in the air at once as she raced off, small dog on the chase, and two teenagers behind him, screaming for their dog. Fueling her nightmare.

Some blocks away they found the trouble-making pint-size attack dog and brought him home. Meanwhile, Stella kept running. And running. Away. It was dusk and we called and ran and walked and jogged and called some more. It was hopeless. We knew she was crazed and by then, completely lost.

The kids pointed to where they last saw her, and the hunt was on. Until dark and way beyond. One of us dashed back home and grabbed the car, one rode shotgun and the third kept watch in case she came back. We quickly printed up fliers. When I had house watch I took a deep breath and posted her picture on Facebook.

Then I waited for the recriminations I knew would come. You, You did this. You big human You lost a tiny, timid, puppy dog. After all she’d been through.  And in the rainy season to boot.

I heard it all, over and over. Plus anything else awful I could throw my way. I replayed every horrible moment and tried to see who, other than myself, I could be angry with. OK, so maybe I wasn’t being reasonable. But I got a lot worse by morning.

I gathered my courage and checked FB again. Kindness! People I didn’t know began to repost. For the sleepless in Vallarta. More reposting. More compassion. By early morning my FB page was filling up with prayers, hopes and shares.

At first light we were out again. My son, visiting from the States, jogged around the streets we thought she might be in. We drove and looked and hung fliers. A little rest. Repeat. repeat. Meanwhile each time we printed out fliers, I checked FB. I tried taking time to answer a few, but the response was too large and the clock was ticking.

My nasty voices began to recede, overtaken by the kindness, support, and drive of others. Most were strangers. They were helping find a dog they had never known and reunite her with a family they would never meet. I lost track of when I was crying out of gratitude, when out of grief.

One thing was sure. I was no longer drifting alone, hanging fliers, cruising, looking under cars, asking strangers. I was part of an invisible, powerful army. I was part of the largest dog hunt Vallarta had ever seen.

Late morning the call I had been dreading came in. Stella’s original savior. She was devastated, as I knew she would be. I steeled myself for the criticism. The only one I heard was ‘Why didn’t you tell me right away?’ Then she jettisoned into action throwing her considerable influence behind the hunt.

She put her business and personal life on hold, made her own fliers, put out her own reward, in addition to ours, sent out fleets of cars, and more. She contacted the media, the pound, the fire department. Her assistants canvassed the neighborhood like detectives.

Meanwhile my FB page exploded. Stella’s picture was shared at least 100 times. By the time she was found in the late afternoon, some 300 comments of support, prayer, visualization, and finally joy flowed over my FB pages.

The village’s efforts paid off. A local woman who spoke no English noticed a frightened little black and white dog run out from under a car twice, both times almost getting run over. She took pity on her and managed to coax her to safety. Two hours she kept her not knowing what to do, until the network of calls, requests and fliers bore fruit. Someone told her to look at the flier hanging at the grocery store.

She later told me she still wasn’t sure.  “It looked just like your dog,” she said, “but she had no collar or I.D.”

The power of an ex-pat community combined with FB turned out to be the stuff of dreams. Speaking of which, this was a while later. Three tired troopers:

 

This blog post is dedicated to all who showed up in our lives when we so desperately needed you. With ten thousand thanks.

###

 

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In a Flash!

Thanks to Doug Danielson, a friend in the Puerto Vallarta Writer’s Group, I happened across Ellis Vidler’s blog —  ‘Unpredictable Muse.’ The post was intriguing.  Three authors wrote a response to the picture on the right. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that at first I thought Ellis was the guy in the pic, only to find out she most certainly was not. Anyway, there it is  — it’s also on her post.

I also didn’t know she had limited the three authors to 150 words. Sigh. Ignorance really can be bliss. I loved what they wrote, but none got to my take on the guy. Wondering if I was the only one tempted to do the same, I submitted my version. Turned out to be a 300 word flash fiction that some readers seemed to like. That got me to thinking I might should post it on my blog. What do you think? If you like it, I got more.

I saw him every time I went to the Night Owl Cafe. Usually I pretended to be engrossed in a book. I’ll even admit I bought Camus’s The Plague to impress him. Significant, impactful. Not as well-known as The Stranger.
The night he came to my table I was actually reading – The Mists of Avalon. He slid into the chair across the small round table, asked if he could buy me a glass of wine. I smiled, nodded.
“I’ve seen you here before. You a student?” he asked, accent on the last syllable. I nodded again and finally managed a yes. Up close I found him even sexier. Curly black hair, 2-day beard, cigarette between his lips. He looked as if he spent most of his time in bedrooms, satisfying women. But his eyes. Set back under a powerful brow and thick eyebrows. Piercing, intelligent, a little scary. Irristible. I wanted them eyeing all of me, appreciating, soaking me in.
I stared at his cigarette, wanting to pull it out and fill the void with my lips. He asked questions. I remember telling him I was in Italy for my semester abroad and was only in Venice for the week. When he gently touched my hand and asked if I wanted to leave, my body answered for me. This sensual, enigmatic man would be my first one-night stand. Or just maybe he could be the one. His hand was cold; mine clammy. Maybe he felt it too.
We walked along the canals, chatting, laughing, hugging. Finally the kiss. I had imagined his full lips warm, hot on mine. But they were so cold. I pulled back and turned away, only glimpsing the sudden movement of his head and mouth before I felt two teeth sink powerfully into my neck.

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