Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lori Papers: Women who came before

Lori Papers: Women who came before: I have to laugh, and maniacally, to keep from cryin'. I laugh, wondering what the hell my neighbors must think of me...something like; w...

Saturday, February 1, 2014


My new man, a real smart wildlife ecologist has an accomplished career in saving wilderness for the sake of the wild things.
Our conversation often turns to ways we might get people involved in caring about the preservation of the wild.
The conclusion is always; kids.
If we don't instil the importance of it in our young, impressionable generations we have missed all hope of saving what is left.
So, then the question; how do we get them interested in it to care enough to realize the importance of saving it?
I hate to tell him, but often do, that the youth of today, unfortunately is entertained not by a walk in the woods, rather by the phone/tablet/laptop at their fingertips. Pretty pictures of Nature. It seems that many children are raised today without any sense of the sacred or of there being something, anything bigger or more omnipotent than they are.
I ask the question of all my friends.
The answer I get is; In order to appreciate it truly, it takes more than a wild life film, more than a book, more than pretty pictures on Pinterest or We Heart It, more even than imagination itself. You must be out in it!
To Get Nature, you have to get a little Nature on you!
I think back, and ask you to do the same, and send me a comment if you would please, when I was young, how did I get so turned on to the almighty Mother Nature?
I read a journal my mother attempted to keep. It only had a couple entries in it. On return from a walk, my brother being pushed by mom in the stroller and me skipping down the sidewalk, she wrote: They just love being outside!
As we became more independent, my brother and I played along with the rest of the neighbor kids on a south facing hill below our neighborhood. It was a thicket of gamble oak. Each of us had our own little fort, a small clearing in the oakbrush. They were all connected by game trails. We played there every summer day from when I was 3 'til I was 7.
When we got older we often took family vacations and always to some natural wonder. Somewhere along the way, each of my parents had a sense in them of the beauty and appreciation of Nature. And they put it in us.
Being from Salt Lake City we would often go camping in the Uintahs. I remember seeing moose, and elk come busting through a large meadow as we ate our fire roasted corn on the cob at the picnic table. How grand to see wild animals. We'd hike to a secluded little, secret lake that my mother adored and along the way my brother and I would be in the boggy ponds and trickling creeks, up to our armpits catching polywogs.
My father and I continued to venture to those mountains even as I became a young adult out on my own. One time I left him to fish at one of his favorite lakes and I went on a mountainside excursion. I remember making the acquaintance of a set of three curious pine martens. As I walked a trail that threaded thick conifers I heard a scurry. I stopped, and looked around. All three of them, stacked one on top of the other in the crotch of a tree, just watching me, and making little creature comfort noises. I'd never seen a marten before.
We went to Jackson, the Tetons, and Yellowstone every few years. It was only five hours away. Not far to go for such grandeur. I remember the exhilaration every time of turning that bend in the road after leaving the town, on first site of the Tetons. What incredible mountains! And maybe there was something in the way my folks ooh'd and awe'd that made my brother and I think this was not ordinary but special.
Our parents took us on hikes in the local Wasatch range. It was literally in the back yard. We pinic'd often in one of the Cottonwood canyons. And as a teenager we played in the foothills and secondary canyons there.
In my 20's I lived and worked at Alta. Summer and winter. I became intimate with all the surrounding peaks, lakes and secret little meadows. During the interims we would go to the deserts, both west and south. The mountain people, these were, and continue to be my peeps.
Now I live near the Bison Range in the Mission Valley of Montana. I can see bison and elk in the wildlife preserve, from the window. Deer are lawn ornaments, coyotes carrol nightly, and chase voles in the pasture in the mornings. We comment on how most people don't get to see bald eagles and blue herons every day, and these glorious mountains, Wow!
Take your babies to Nature.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Bee Sting

Worked out in the lavender field all day. Pleasant enough work, a slight breeze, full sun, and being sprayed by water that was headed to my plantlings. Gratifying work of the last two days. I know how to do it, I use parts on hand - reconfiguring,  'Macgivering' (remember the show?) Results are obvious. Peace in the heart, comfort knowing they will all get just what they need. Harvest will be on in a week or so, always delightful. The English variety is ready. After finishing up all work, I set to cutting a few bouquets. I have gone and forgot my glove, and should have listened to my intuition. This is dangerous, it said.
I have sawed thru my forefinger a number of times with the serrated japanese grass knife, so now always wear a glove. But today, it was a blessed honey bee. Not the knife...Honey bees have been so spare this year it was a heartbreak to find her stinger lodged in the first digit, middle finger of my left hand. Sorry, sweet, little bee.
Shit, I think to myself. I jump on the long board. My lavender oil is in the truck. It's a 700 foot long driveway that the lavender flanks. The long board saves me a lot of time. I race all the way to the winery. They are an hour from hosting their weekly wine tasting. After dripping lavender oil on the sting, I search for english plantain I know is in every lawn-she's a poison extractor - chew it up, apply as poultice. I go inside after feeling very itchy all of a sudden, and some swelling of my face. I tell the hostess, 'I am suffering a reaction to a bee sting, and I need to get in a cold water bath.' I throw my clothes off and note red welts and hives. All the crooks, knees, elbows, hips...the lower half of my face feels like its going to blow out my upper lip. The inside of my ears itch?! Weird. It was intuition that said get in the cold bath. I listened this time. I have no anti-histamine, neither does the farm. Why am I having a reaction? I refuse to believe, as all else, that now I am allergic. No, not an option.
After 20 minutes laying supine in the icy bath, I know I have to move, the room will fill up soon. I don't want anybody to see my swollen face. There is a lot of heat in my body.
I drive down canyon, stop to check out a landscape design job (my other hat,) and then walk the dog in the adjacent park. I'm having a little trouble with wheezing breath. I get in the creek with the dog, submerge my feet and hands up past my wrists. Once downtown I remember I must pick up a check for the last landscape job. Then, no question, I must deposit it, stop the hemorrhaging. Then I go to the store to by some medicine. The clerk has to help me, I can't concentrate, forgot my reading glasses, can't see the print.
It took only a half hour for the medicine to kick in. Wow! I don't ever take anything but Bayer aspirin. I felt loopy as hell.
Later, I have a conversation with a yogini friend. After explaining my symptoms, and then where I got stung, she offers up the meridians of Chinese medicine. The middle finger goes to all the lymph nodes (crooks), and direct relationship to the heart. Yogini says that the point I was stung is  the explanation for the adverse affect. All last week, and especially yesterday, my peri-menopause bestowed on me the sort of heart palpitations you can feel in your throat like running from real danger. Well, it doesn't seem to be bothering me today...
All evening, looking at my swollen finger, feeling how hot it is, all I can do is wonder at the mighty power of one small bee...

Monday, July 1, 2013

Women who came before

I have to laugh, and maniacally, to keep from cryin'. I laugh, wondering what the hell my neighbors must think of me...something like; what is that crazy bitch up to now...
I had 55 ton of gravel delivered; it was part of some grant funding that I was awarded. Unfortunately the delivery driver wouldn't take it over my ditch bridge, and I don't blame him. It's kind of a funky bridge, thanks to the last contractor that was here. He sawed off the edges real close, making it a little slim for most big rigs.
Anyway, so this gravel pile, which will be used to mulch my impending lavender plantation is only about 2 football fields away, down one hill, across a swale and up another hill from where I had envisioned it being put. Had it been put there, I could have been more than happy wheel barrowing it, bit by bit, down hill to cover my 8 rows which are 100 feet long each, even if it took me all summer. But now, this conundrum of getting it - over there...
My 1940 Ford 9N tractor is a fine machine. I dragged an ancient one bottom plow thru 100 year old alfalfa to create this hill that will be blanketed in mature lavender plants. I mow pathways all about the place for the dog and I to walk about. The only problem with it is, it has no bucket-no front end loader. Which up until now, has not been a problem. I made an old fashioned stone boat from the hood of a derelict small pickup I have on site. With the tow bar attaching it to the tractor arms, I can load it with heavy things and drag it to Hell's half acre. But to put the gravel on it, 10 scoops at a time is not efficient. I really want to see this project through to completion. So I got the clever idea to hitch up the little box trailer that belongs to the riding lawn mower my wasband left in his wake. I bought one new tire, the other held air. I waited for the day and her heat wave to subside. It was 92 degrees; too hot for shoveling gravel.
I put the tire on, I hitch it up, drive it over my funky bridge. I back it up, turning the tractor's steering wheel the opposite way, and nudge the trailer right into the pile. I throw about 50 shovel fulls into it. And I wonder if she'll hold. Throw the shovel on, put her in gear, take it real easy cuz she looks a little squirrely. I get half way across the bridge and the arm of the trailer bends like aluminum foil. I'd really like to get the full trailer at least off the bridge. The contractors are coming first thing in the morning to install the new solar panel which will move water thru irrigation tubing (all part of the grant funding) and this is the only way across to the job site. But the arm of the trailer disintegrates before my eyes. The box full of gravel, sits back, ass end on the bridge, slapping its knee and is having a good laugh. The arm of it is now a stretched out, worthless gum wrapper and the bottom lip of the trailer's end gate is wedged down into the boards of the bridge. Stop pulling, I tell myself. Don't rip apart the bridge with your stubbornness. I stand there a good long while, wishing I would have listened to that little voice that wondered if she'd hold. Hello, ding bat, that was your intuition calling. Pay Attention!
This is when the laughing starts. The neighbors have been watching this all unfold from their couches, in their cozy homes, their bellies full from dinner, watching the alpen glow from the set sun. How can I be so clever and stupid all at once? I know I have less than an hour before I can't see what I'm doing for the dark. And I must make this go away so the contractors, first thing, can get to work.
I retrieve the wheel barrow. Put 10 of the 50 scoops in; wheel it the 2 football fields, not to the top of the rows, but the bottom. I dump it and spread it out. It adheres nicely to the landscape fabric I laid this spring. I like the choice of material, think it will work out fine. Just need to get it here. The 40 remaining scoops I wheelbarrow right back over to the pile, 10 scoops at a time. I can hear the neighbors turning off their TV sets; this is much more entertaining.
I grab an ice cold beer, I light a cigarette-something I only do if the day has been uncommonly difficult and walk the dog across the neighbors back 40 to the fence where there are horses.  The red tail screams at me for invading her territory at this lovely hour. We turn, head back. Think to write it all down, cuz I'm sure I'll be over it tomorrow. Hell, I'm already over it. I decide, while on the walk, that, as determined as I am to do this project, I simply am ill equipped. Either hire somebody. I refuse to let this place kill me. Hell, it ain't gonna kill me. I'm tougher than that. Think of the women homesteaders who made their way across the plains. They lived in tar paper shacks, with sod roofs. They burned cow patties for warmth in sub-zero winters because there wasn't a tree insight. They waited weeks for a neighbor man to deliver water from miles away because that was the nearest source. Sod was busted, rhubarb and lilacs, and vegetable gardens were planted! Food was put up, babies were raised, and they proved up on their land. Those babies are our parents, they are us...without those women, they who survived things way more difficult than any little trailer breaking, any pile of gravel needing to be moved or sod busted, or water carried...Well, we wouldn't be here.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I've been thinking about stigmata. The Christians call it the 'wounds of Christ'.
Lately, a week before my period, my right palm itches. I have forever attributed this to there being a check in the mail. But the money has failed to show up these last couple times, and this itch is different.
This itch, when I scratch it, feels as tho I were scraping raw nerves. It hurts to scratch it so I don't. But it mystifies me.
I was raised catholic. Padre Pio even came to the cathedral in my hometown once.
Some of the ideals of that religion impressed upon me, from a young age; like the one I find missing in the godless youth being raised today, that there is something bigger, more important, more omnipotent than myself. As an adult, I have had to incorporate that ideal into my own belief system.
I was always a skeptic. Even at a young age decided, unlike my mother, or my holy, devout grandmother, that I could not be one of the sheeple. (Thank you, Lori Grannis) I had too much common sense to just give my life up for faith in the Lard, as my pappy used to say.
Just this morning I thought; what if stigmata is just a medical condition? What if it is a hormonal thing? Im in my 50th year...What if it is a nerve thing, I'm a farmer, work hard with my physical body...What if it is some chemical reaction of my make-up and the soil, or the plants. Maybe it is an accumulated thing, or a deficient one...What if it is NOT an empathetic devotion thing? What if St. Francis, the first person to be documented with the symptoms, truly was just an earth worshipping, pagan, animal loving farmer, who one day came up with these symptoms and the holy see nabbed him, threw him in a monastery and made him their poster child for the proof of the crucifixion. To solidify a cleverly crafted tale that was in dire need of substantial evidence. "You stay put, in this holy prison, and say what we tell ya, or we'll kill all of your sweet little pets, and torch your fields and poison your bees!"
What if it is just like every single other hoax the catholic church (and all religion) has pulled? Like building their great cathedrals on top of the pagan and animist sites, like placing all their religious holidays right next to all the pagan celebrations, like renaming all the idols into saints?
What if stigmata is just a rare medical condition. What if the story somehow got spun backwards and christ didn't really get 'nailed' to a cross, but this condition just added to the fantastic tale? It's happened before. Countless times...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day 2013

My coco butter, coconut oil, honey, tahini, and almond butter are all still solid, frozen. Well, okay, maybe not frozen, but not yet easy to pry from their jars. It's the 22nd of April, a week away from Beltane and it was 15 degrees here at the cabin the other night. Record cold. I drove to the town in a full blown, sideways blizzard the entire way.
We are all complaining now. Tired of wearing layers of clothing, tired of down jackets and wool socks and closed toed shoes, tired of shivering and cold extremities.
I want to play outside. I want to be sun kissed.
Daily I recite ancient Egyptian prayers to the Sun. Hail unto thee RA! Hathor, Tum, and Kephra! Beseeching the golden orb to grace us with warmth...
I listen to those who claim they won't curse the frigid temps and late snows. "We need the precip", they say with a shrug. But I don't give much credence to their words. It is my observation that winter hangs on a month later and fire season burns well into September. I had a big bonfire on Winter Solstice and could not help but wonder at the disturbingly balmy conditions of the day. This, used not to be the case. January is really the only hard month in these parts anymore. Well, and April, when you're wishin' like hell Ol' Man Winter'd just pack his bags and git gone!
Migrating birds are starving to death on their routes thru the midwest because they follow internal clocks that are aeons ancient. They don't understand why the climate has changed. We are fuckin' up this beautiful, blue swirled marble at breakneck speed.
Recently I saw the movie Oblivion. It left me thinking on many; we all live here, all Earthlings. We humans share this place, it is home, for us, all of us. Yet we are determined to fight, kill, name in the name of something as ridulous and out dated as religion, or politics. WTF? Our planet is valuable, it has fresh water and a generally lovely atmosphere. We are capable of living here in an unobtrusive manner, copacetic with the natural rhythms of Gaia, not leaving a footprint, if but a tiny one...our moon (which, in the movie had been blown apart, - disturbed me greatly to see her like that - in turn causing the earth's tectonic plates into upheaval, new mountain ranges swallowing up cities like New York,) works in concort with her. It's all connected, 'we are stardust, we are golden, snared in the devil's garden, and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden...the whole planet is a garden! Lilith knew it...
I recently learned that Costa Rica has no military and that they spend all the money that would support a military on educating their people. Wow! Can you imagine if the good ol' U.S. of A spent our huge military gabillion/trillion dollar defecit on our education the advances we could make? Oh HELL, we are so innately irresponsible and juvenile we'd probably develop technology enough to blow up our own moon...Never mind!
Anyway, every day is Earth Day.
Thanks for listening.
Writing from my tiny, off grid cabin, somewhere 'neath jagged peaks in Montana...
Peace out!