Lovely, Dark, and Deep

May 6, 2022

Spring is progressing more slowly and tentatively this year. Trees are starting to bud but no leaves yet. I saw a few Broad-Winged Hawks the other day.

I’ve been out hiking most days this week. You have to take advantage of the sunny days when they occur, because you can always count on rainy days to stay at home and write.

Still no luck on the housing situation. No luck on the job hunt. No luck on the search for an agent. I’m becoming very tense. Probably it’s the lunar eclipse. I tend to feel eclipse energy early. I don’t know whether it’s sensitivity from my four planets in Pisces or the Aries inclination to be first.

I have completed my series on Huwawa, and it will be on Return to Mago next week. I will post a link.

Happy Beltane

April 29, 2022

Winter and spring are still tussling where I live. A heavy snow last week caused an electricity outage, and I did not have internet access for a week. More snow is predicted today.

This Beltane coincides not only with a new moon, but a solar eclipse.

I have been hard at work finishing my four-part essay on the Mesopotamian giant Huwawa. It will be up in a few weeks.

I’ve been feeling antsy this week, like it’s time for a road trip. Believe it or not, I’m feeling pulled toward a city.

Peeper Patrol

April 15, 2022

I had been wondering where the Spring Peepers were – those tiny frogs with a sometimes deafening chorus that emerge about this time of year. Then one day this week they were all out in force. The clip below doesn’t sound nearly loud or full enough.

Audio from Paul Smith’s College VIC

Prowling the marshes, I ran across this beauty. I’m guessing these are frog eggs, possibly Spring Peepers.

Puddles in fields and at the edge of marshes are important to amphibian reproduction. Since these puddles will dry up as the season progresses, they are not frequented by fish who would eat the eggs. The young hatchlings have a chance to develop in the water and are ready to survive on land as the puddles disappear.

Salamanders are out again. Here are Northern Two-Lined Salamanders mating.

Inexorable Spring, Internet Outage Edition

April 8, 2022

There was still ice this week on Clements Pond, which surprised me. Otherwise, the trail was clear – one of the few that aren’t muddy. About a mile-and-a-half through hardwood forest to the pond. I saw a Northern Harrier (Marsh Hawk). I think this might be one of the first arrivals of the migrating spring hawks. They like open fields and wetlands. The Rough Legged Hawks are long gone, migrating back north. Yesterday on my drive to Lake Champlain I saw a pair of Osprey, sitting on an electric pole. No doubt planning a nest.

We’ve had a bout of electricity outages the past few weeks. Most of them have been short-lived, but they’ve caused longer interruptions in internet service. It’s good for me to be reminded how much I depend on the internet, since I’m still looking for a place to live and much of the area does not have internet service.

I notice that the pictures I’ve taken the past month look bleak. By next month there will be more color in the landscape. When I first moved to the North Country I hated the spring, because the weather is so topsy turvy and it’s muddy on the trails. Now I enjoy spring. Part of it is breaking free of the long hard cold winters, but it’s also the movement that I enjoy – something that doesn’t show up well in a photograph. The water begins moving, there are little animals scurrying around. Birds are returning. There’s a sense of things about to happen.

At Roaring Brook

April 1, 2022

Cold and snow made a reappearance this week. I realized that I have, subconsciously, been taking credit for the spring. I was feeling like “we” were making progress on all this snow melting. All I did for the spring was live to see it, though I admit that’s not an insignificant achievement, especially these past few years.

I’ve been enjoying getting out and about just the same.

Punked Again

March 25, 2022

When I was working in residential substance abuse treatment, I sometimes got outwitted by my patients, though I tried to stay one step ahead of them. Despite my best efforts, occasionally a resident would obtain something – a communication, an object, a privilege – that was contrary to his recovery or to the rights and needs of others. I didn’t get stressed about this, though I marveled at the dudgeon some of my co-workers would get into in these situations. I would chuckle to myself and say: Well, an addict got the better of me; not the first time and probably not the last.

But I’m not so philosophical about an incident that happened to me in a non-therapeutic setting. I realized yesterday that I had been badly punked by a narcissistic-sociopathic person a few months ago, and it has taken all this time for me to tumble to it. And then it was so obvious I was dumbstruck. The problem is that, not being a narcissistic-sociopath myself, I sometimes don’t recognize the behavior. It doesn’t occur to me that another woman is capable of such extreme harmful lying aiming to destroy another who has never harmed her, when there is no tangible benefit to her for doing so. I recognized the pathology in this woman long ago, but I still am challenged in recognizing her moves. I think one of the reasons I underestimated her is that she is so incompetent in so many areas. Yet narcissistic-sociopaths can be highly efficient in manipulation – or perhaps good people are challenged in recognizing the moves. I should have known.

One trap I’m not falling into is wondering why she did it. You learn quickly, as a cognitive-behavioral therapist, that “why” is not a useful question. “What” is always more important than “why.” I haven’t done anything to harm this woman, who is bent on destroying my life, and the screwy head-scratching reasons she gives for her behavior might even be the truth.

A film by John Waters, called Serial Mom, I find comforting in these situations. It’s a spoof on true-crime exposes, about a middle-aged female serial killer, that has a deceptively simple lesson: it doesn’t matter why. There is a reason she does what she does, but it’s not going to make sense to any sane person. The sociopathic justification might even be as ridiculous as punishing someone for wearing white shoes after labor day. It doesn’t matter why.

So recognize what evil people are capable of, but don’t bother asking yourself “why they do it”: when dealing with a narcissistic-sociopath, logic only gets in your way.

Hanging In and Hanging On

March 18, 2022

Still looking for another home, in between late winter hiking. The Ravens, Black-Capped Chickadees, and Red Squirrels are actively scolding me on the trail as they begin courting and nesting. This is taken from John’s Brook today. Sugaring is in full swing, as the winter melt begins.

The Wisdom of Worn-Out Tapes

March 4, 2022

For everything that is evil and harmful to you has its existence only in the mind.

I’ve been listening to Meditations by Marcus Aurelius in preparation for my move, as I dump the cassette tapes I’ve accumulated over the years, acknowledging that they have reached the end of their shelf life.

Marcus Aurelius. Musee Saint-Raymond. Artist unknown.

Think about how many years you have been putting things off, and how often the gods have given you extra periods of grace.

I was kind of “meh” about this tape when I first heard it, because I was going through a phase of rejecting a lot of New Age rules for living I’d acquired over the years, and I recognized a kernal of New Age philosophy in Marcus Aurelius. That was a revelation.

Marcus Aurelius was a guy who spent his life perpetually trying to talk himself out of a bad mood. He kept a diary of thoughts not for posterity but for his own reflection. He lived in the second century and subscribed to the Stoic brand of philosophy, which emphasized moral character. Also, he was an emperor of Rome.

Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.

The New Age emerged in the nineteenth century in the experimental mysticism of the western New York state region known as the Burned Over District. It was “burned over” because there was so much religious fever. Joseph Smith (founder of the Mormon sect) got his vision here, the Masons were huge, African Americans were reclaiming their folkloric roots, and the Christian Science that inspired twentieth century New Age guru Louise Hay was born.

While the New Age is rightly criticized as a tool for privileged people to justify the material inequalities of the world, it started out as the polar opposite of this. Religious leaders believed the working class pessimism and resignation endemic in Europe was beginning to infect America. They wanted ordinary people to take more control over their lives.

The mind can transform any obstacle into something new, creative, and purposeful to help us on our way.

Certainly blaming all your problems on fate or other people is not going to get you anywhere. Given a choice between denial of oppression and the competitive victimhood of the Identity Age, I’ll take the New Age. Fortunately, with maturity comes discernment, and if even the Freudians can admit that “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” the rest of us can admit that, no matter how “spiritual” we tell ourselves we are, sometimes life is just darn hard.

For I seek the truth, and no man was ever injured by the truth.

Which brings me back to Marcus Aurelius. I’m enjoying what he has to say this time around. I think his philosophy rings true or false, depending on where or how it is applied. Also, it goes down better in small doses. If the dude had just let go and allowed himself to feel sad or afraid or angry for a day, maybe he wouldn’t have had to write all that stuff down.