Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Midweek Musings ~ "They reach out in their mystic language For us to read between the lines."

The post's title is borrowed from a lovely song written by Neil Diamond titled, appropriately enough, "Signs" - first two verses:

Signs that burn like shooting stars
That pass across the nighttime skies,
They reach out in their mystic language
For us to read between the lines.
Some are born who would defy them,
Others still who would deny them, signs.

Signs like moments hung suspended,
Echoes just beneath the heart
Speak in voices half remembered
And half forgotten play their part.
Signs that come as we lay sleeping
Left behind for our keeping, signs.

On the topic of signs, astrology-wise, below are a trio of my own answers, offered on Quora's astrology section. The first, from a few days ago:

What in the world happened to the Age of Aquarius? It was dawning in the '60s and then just disappeared?

My answer:

The Broadway musical “Hair” has a lot to answer for! It was a song from that show that got hippies and some astrologers over-excited about the Age of Aquarius.

When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
Age of Aquarius

Not correct astrologically, but it does rhyme!

I like a theory put forward in a book and website, “Signs of the Times” by Robert Fitzgerald. The author divides the lengths of time between astrological ages into slices, more accessible bite-sized chunks called Eras and Phases.

At present, according to Mr Fitzgerald, we are in transit through the Age of Pisces. By this author's calculation the Aquarius Era of the Pisces Age ran from 1800 to 1980 - which could well account for some astrologers' insistence that we were already in the Age of Aquarius.

Then, dividing time into even smaller slices, 1950 to 1965 becomes the Aquarius Phase of the Aquarius Era of the Age of Pisces....that slice includes the psychedelic 60s - thought to be quite Aquarian, so with a double dose of Aquarius: phase and era, it was.... with a background of Pisces dreaminess.

1965 to 1980 = Pisces Phase, Aquarius Era, Age of Pisces.

From 1980 to 2160 is the Pisces Era of the Age of Pisces and we are presently in the Gemini Phase - 2010 to 2025 of the Pisces Era of the Age of Pisces.

The Cancer Phase will be 2025 to 2040.

For a brief rundown on what this means, and comparisons with similar eras and phases throughout history, do take a look at the website and/or the book.

This one, from a few months ago, still occasionally gathers an 'upvote' or two (in Facebook language, foreign to me, I guess that 'upvotes' translate as 'likes'):

If each zodiac sign were a person and they all lived together in a house, what would each sign be doing?

Aries is telling the others to “hurry up, let’s do SOMETHING - I’m bored!”

Taurus is enjoying preparing a future meal.

Gemini, of course, is chatting, at some length, on the phone.

Cancer? Planning the next family get-together, feeling a bit teary when hearing that a dear relative will not be able to attend..

Leo is sorting through the wardrobe, deciding which outfit will make the best impression.

Virgo is checking accounts and complaining that the rest of ’em have been over-spending again.

Libra is attempting to calm down Aries and Scorpio who have gotten themselves into a heated argument about going out adventuring…Aries can’t wait, Scorpio wont go and won’t lend the car.

Scorpio - See Libra.

Sagittarius is reading some tome on philosophy, but on hearing the Aries and Scorpio scuffle loudly declares an intention to go adventuring, and that Aries is welcome to “come along”.

Capricorn is avidly checking how stocks and shares are performing , grimacing at the raised voices.

Aquarius is on the way out - to join a protest group, after preparing a large sign for use during The March for Equality - seeing this, Libra follows and they leave together.

Pisces? Who knows what Pisces is ever up to? Pisces, right now, is sitting by the window, gazing out, dreamily humming a tune, sipping a glass of wine, deciding whether to send the poems just written to that gorgeous individual met last evening.

Thirdly, I was asked to answer by questioner "Imran":

How can our zodiac signs tell us about our personality so exactly while astrology is considered to be pseudoscience?

If you are using “our zodiac signs” as another way of saying “our Sun signs”, then it is far from accurate to say that these will “tell us about our personality so exactly”. Sun signs will tell about one facet of personality only, and that facet could well be modified by the rest of the full natal chart’s content.

If you are using “our zodiac signs” in a general way - that is “all 12 zodiac signs”, then the unique mix of planetary positions in the signs, in a person’s natal chart , when interpreted by a competent astrologer, will tell many things about a personality - but still not everything. Outside influences, background, education, experience, location also have input to any person’s character/personality.

People can define astrology in whatever way they see fit. Because some define it as pseudoscience, does not mean that they are correct, it means they do not have the insight needed to see further than what appears on the surface. It is for each individual to define astrology, as they perceive it, after having the courtesy of studying the basics of astrology, experimenting with it, before validating or demeaning it.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

As a Cockney Bingo-caller Might Say of my Weekend Birthday: "There you go matey!""

I can't find much to make it sound nicer - I could say quatre-vingts, or ottanta, or ochenta, or achtzig. I could even say, echoing another bing-caller "Ghandi's breakfast" [translation: "ate nought" or looking down from above on Mahatma Gandhi sitting cross-legged in front of a plate.] TSK!

However it's termed, nothing will change the fact that I shall arrive at the big
Eight-Oh, birthday-wise, on Sunday 27th. I'll arrive not particularly bloody, other than bloody-minded, and not particularly unbowed except for the joint and muscle pains brought on by a pesky medication which will have to be given the old heave-ho.

So, in honour of all the above considerations, I'm giving myself a long weekend off-blog to mark the...erm...event.

“I see birthdays as a reward for having shown up 365 in a row. It's like getting a badge for attendance.”
― Gina Barreca. "If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?": Questions and Thoughts for Loud, Smart Women in Turbulent Times.

“Don't celebrate how old you are, celebrate the years you survived.”
― Touaxia Vang.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Arty Farty Friday ~ Burns Night

Robert ("Rabbie") Burns born in Scotland on 25 January 1759 - 260 years ago today. Burns wasn't a painter but he qualifies for the "arty farty" banner for his poetry and quirky style.

Most people will recognise a few of Burns' poems: Auld Lang Syne (a New Year favourite when put to music); My Love is Like a Red Red Rose, for instance.

Others need a wee bit of translation - To a Mouse is one of these. The poem is available at Wikipedia with "a modern translation".
The original last two verses go like this

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men,
Gang aft a-gley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy.

Still thou are blest, compared wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

I like this summary explanation of the poem from Schmoop

The speaker is plowing a field and accidentally turns up a mouse's nest. The mouse is shivering and terrified. The man stops his work to try to comfort the mouse.

He tells her to relax. He didn't mean to break into her nest. But then the speaker starts thinking more about it—the mouse is, after all, pretty justified in being freaked out. Mice should be scared of humans. We set traps for them, we set cats after them, and we plow up their winter nests. The speaker apologizes on behalf of all humankind. He says that the mouse might steal little bits of food from human farms, but who cares? That one little mouse doesn't eat much. And now her little winter house is all in a ruin. He imagines the mouse planning ahead carefully for the winter—she worked so hard to make her nice little nest, and then, BOOM. The plow goes right over it.

But hey, says the speaker—that's life. Whether you're a mouse or a man, your plans—however well-laid—often get messed up. And after all, the mouse has it easy, compared to a human. Mice live in the present moment, while humans look to the past with the regret and to the future with fear. Lucky mouse.
Also notable:
John Steinbeck took the title of his 1937 novel Of Mice and Men from a line contained in the penultimate stanza: "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley" (often paraphrased in English as "The best-laid plans of mice and men / Go oft awry").

In Douglas Adams's Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series, mice are the physical protrusions into our dimension of a race of hyperintelligent pan-dimensional beings who commissioned construction of the Earth to find the Question to the Ultimate Answer of Life, the Universe, and Everything. When their plans go wrong they lament that "the best laid plans of mice" don't always work out.

At the Burns Birthplace Museum in Scotland, there stands a piece of arty fartyness in tribute to the "Mouse" poem:

Fast-forward two and a quarter centuries: Alloway, Scotland in 2010. The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum was under construction, almost completed. Its caretaker, the National Trust for Scotland, had launched a competition to find an artist who could create a public work of art, to celebrate the poet, that would be situated on the walkway of the new museum. The contemporary Scottish sculptor Kenny Hunter received the commission; he had already established his name around the globe with large works of animals and people and skeletons that have been labeled ‘anti-monuments.’ The artist has noted his sculptures “look as if they have just popped out of a machine or a Kellogg’s cornflake packet—yet they are monumentalised and subversive.” For the winning work Hunter chose to pay homage to none other than Burns’s mouse, a seven-foot bronze that he titled Monument to a Mouse. In an interview, he said, shortly after hearing his proposal had been selected “my cat deposited a dead field mouse outside my door just before bedtime. It’s a common thing for cats to do of course, but the mouse was in just the right pose and unusually for my cat she had left it perfectly intact. So I put it in the freezer and took it to the studio in the morning to begin work on the model. It helped tremendously in developing the form that my monumental mouse would take.”

I've always enjoyed reading another of Burns' poems:
A Man's A Man For A' That.
Last verse:

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a' that,)
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an' a' that.
For a' that, an' a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That Man to Man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that.

Being translated:

Then let us pray that come it may
(As come it will for a' that)
That Sense and Worth over all the earth
Shall take the prize and all that!
For all that, and all that,
It is coming yet for all that,
That man to man the world over
Shall brothers be for all that.

I fear that the prediction in those final lines will still, even in 2019, be a long time coming. But ten out of ten to Rabbie Burns for his optimism!

Finally, recalling Robert Burns' wise, but unlikely to be granted, plea...:

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

No Walls - Heresy or Freedom of Thought?

An astrolger, years ago, name escapes me, once pointed out that "there are no walls in space". We can't argue with that, though I wouldn't argue against Donald Trump demanding one be built at some future point in time! Graham Greene once said, or wrote, "Heresy is another word for freedom of thought." I'm about to commit the heresy of freedom of thought - on one facet of astrology.

Traditional astrology does build theoretical walls in space - both types of astrology are guilty of this. Sidereal astrology, based on the constellations, widely used in India and the East; and tropical astrology, based on the seasons - the system with which we in the west are familiar. In astrologese these theoretical walls are known as 'cusps' - the divisions between the 12 zodiac signs, Aries to Pisces.

When comparing tropical and sidereal versions of a natal chart, I've found that often both can provide a reasonably accurate interpretation, yet there are around 23 degrees difference between the two zodiac systems.

What if, in both versions of the zodiac, the division into 12 signs, passed to us by ancient astrologers is just too detailed and precise to fit real-life, living breathing mortals in the 21st century? Astrologers tend to look on the system handed down to them in much the same way as Americans look on the Constitution : sacred. Perhaps, after the passing of centuries, both could benefit from some updating and adjustment? Ain't gonna happen, of course, in either case, but it's interesting to surmise.

All widely used astrological systems are based on 12 traditional sign divisions: Aries through Pisces, apart from Uranian astrology and Harmonics, both of which ignore signs completely and concentrate only on planets. I've found that there's proof enough that zodiac signs have value, but I do get the feeling that there is much more "wiggle room" between them than is, traditionally, assumed. Most astrologers, even my favourite astrologers, have declared that the cusps are definite borderlines; one is born on one side of these, or on t'other - no wiggle room allowed, no 'bleeding over' of characteristics, no blending.

I've always thought that astrology has to be based upon natural phenomena, but phenomena as yet not understood. People who look on astrology as a mathematical phenomenon, or in the realm of the spiritual or metaphysical, or those who adhere firmly to the system of the ancients, would not find my view tolerable, this I understand and respect. We don't know any answers about astrological methods for sure - we just don't! If some astrologers were to accept that much and remain a tad more open-minded, it would be helpful.

A "blending in" phase between each cusp would result in a more complex system for sure, but one which would follow the rules of nature more nearly. Nature doesn't move, abruptly, from one situation or stage to another, it does so gradually. Even in the case of what seem to us to be abrupt events: earthquakes, hurricanes and such, the causal factors have gradually built up over a period of time, sometimes centuries, sometimes days, but never instantly, as in on/off.

Using a zodiac of 12 signs, any blending-in phase couldn't account for the 23 degrees of difference between tropical and sidereal systems. While keeping in mind that any theoretical walls in space could have some slight degree of flexibility, I've often thought that natal positions of Mercury and Venus ought to be given more prominence in basic astrological interpretation, and not just labelled as "communication style ", and regarding "art and love".

Sun/Moon/ascendant positions are seen by many as the key trio. While not arguing about that trio's importance, I'd add Mercury and Venus. Mercury can never be more than the space of one sign from the Sun's position; Venus never more than the breadth of 2 signs. These two factors very often bring into a personality 'flavours' of signs adjacent to the Sun sign in a natal chart. It's possible that this might account for the fact that, sometimes, both sidereal and tropical astrology can seem to fit a personality - even discounting the ticklish question of cusps and blending-in periods.

I'm in a picky, prickly mood today, one of those moods when, though my belief that there is validity in some parts of astrology still holds, I do not believe everything the text books and teachers propose as being inarguable. Heresy? Dunno - but I don't "expect the Spanish Inquisition". :)

Monday, January 21, 2019

Music Monday ~ Champions

For the next few weeks an America's Got Talent spin-off (or sequel) of the original show - with the words "The Champions" added to the title, will be airing. Each week, past winners or runners-up of AGT proper, along with winners from "......Got Talent" in other countries (for example, Spain, Russia) will compete to discover who is "Champion of Champions". Voting isn't being done by viewers this time, but by panels of "super-fans" in each of the USA's 50 states - a similar system, I guess, to the voting system of the dreaded, and occasionally hilarious, annual Eurovison Song Contest.

I've always been a fan of talent shows, mainly singing shows, but we've also watched AGT fairly regularly through the years. A few singers or musicians are always included in these shows. My husband has tagged along, watched beside me stuff he never would've watched before we met. I have to say, though, my fandom has been wearing very thin in relation to The Voice recently - so much so that this year we didn't even watch the finale. It remains to be seen whether American Idol will meet with the same fate when it returns later this year.

Anyway - back to AGT the Champions.

Last week a singer new to America, Cristina Ramos, appeared; she was winner of Spain's Got Talent. She sang a great version of "Bohemian Rhapsody", and was one of two contestants voted through to the final.

In the previous week's show we saw, again, Susan Boyle. It has been some 9 years since Susan Boyle first came to the notice of people on this side of the Atlantic - and of most on t'other side too. America's Got Talent, in 2009, was her vehicle, her vocal talent was the power driving her. In The Champions episode she was awarded a "Golden Buzzer" by Mel B, one of the judges, for her rendition of "Wild Horses", so will automatically proceed to the final.

Here it is. If you'd prefer to miss the intros, skip to around the 2 minute spot.

I'd recommend also listening to her album version of the song, linked at the first link below, from 2009.


My first ever post about Susan is at:

A later one is here:

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Saturday & Sundry Thoughts ~Would-be Presidential Ladies: Tulsi Gabbard, Elizabeth Warren & Kirsten Gillibrand

It's early days to be blogging about the USA's presidential election in November 2020, nevertheless I've been interested to read recently of three potential candidates from the Democrats - three ladies who appear to be preparing to throw their hats into the ring, hoping to be part of what's likely to be a crowded platform of candidates. These are: Tulsi Gabbard, who supported my guy, Bernie Sanders strongly in 2016; Elizabeth Warren, who should've supported Bernie in 2016 but didn't; and Kirsten Gillibrand who is an unknown quantity to me, so far. I shall take a quick look at the natal charts of the three ladies, not to interpret their personalities, but to decide, from coming planetary transits, which of them is most likely to experience massive change in the next couple of years.

I suspect that the time is ripe, now, for a female president - perhaps one of these ladies?

Transits of the outer planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, along with Jupiter and Saturn are those I'm looking at in relation to these charts. If any of these planets will be making close contact or aspect to natal planets of one of these ladies, then she'll be the one to watch.

These charts are all set for 12 noon, as no birth times are available, so house positions, rising signs and exact Moon positions will not be accurate as shown.

Between now and early November 2020
Uranus will traverse the last few degrees of Aries and up to 8 degrees of Taurus
Neptune: between 14 and 20 degrees of Pisces
Pluto: between 20 and 24 degrees of Capricorn
Saturn: between 11 and 27 Capricorn
Jupiter: between 11 Sagittarius and 22 Capricorn

Tulsi Gabbard, U.S. Representative for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district since 2013.

Elizabeth Warren, academic and senior United States Senator, Massachusetts, since 2013.

Kirsten Gillibrand, attorney and politician, junior United States Senator from New York since January 2009


No doubt at all in my mind - Elizabeth Warren has the best chance of major change happening after November 2020. Look to her natal Jupiter at 0 Aquarius. Saturn, planet which most signifies profession, public position, law, will be exactly conjunct her natal Jupiter by mid-December 2020, just after the election, and will be close enough, on the date of the election, to be considered conjunct. That signifies, at the very least, some big change in her professional public life; if not the presidency, then at least a move to a more significant position in government.

Time isn't yet ripe for Tulsi Gabbard or Kirsten Gillibrand. Ms Gabbard is probably too left-wing, at this time, for main-stream Democrats, and media characters under control of "big money" (all of 'em), who will put her down in any way they can, or alternatively ignore her completely between now and 2020, as they did in respect of Bernie Sanders candidacy in 2015/16. Main stream Democrats will wish to keep their ties to big money sources, and those sources will look on any truly leftist positions, as set out by Bernie Sanders and his followers, including Ms Gabbard, as an anathema to be opposed at every opportunity.

Elizabeth Warren is definitely the most likely of this trio to do well in the election - if she does choose to run, and that is due to much more than her astrology. She did not support Bernie Sanders in 2016, she supported Hillary Clinton - for which I do not forgive her, but that is a fact main-stream Democrats will have noted. Senator Warren knows the way to the presidency much better than I do, of course - or for that matter, better even than Bernie, whose main aims, always, has been to try to improve things for "we the people" in any way he can.

As weeks and months pass, we'll be seeing more presidential hopefuls throwing their hats into the ring - on both sides. I'll repeat this exercise later on, with a different cast of characters.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Arty Farty Friday ~ Bits & Pieces

Book Lover Arranges Her Huge Library of Novels Into Imaginative Scenes

piece by Emma Taggart, arty fartiness by Elizabeth Sagan.
All book lovers will know that a great story can spark your imagination and transport you to another world. However, rather than keep each fictional story in the confines of their pages, self-described “bookstagrammer” Elizabeth Sagan pays homage to her love of literature by arranging her huge collection into imaginative book art displays.

Question at Quora some months ago:
Norman Rockwell had paintings about the First Amendment. Is there any artwork about the Second?

A reminder of Norman Rockwell's painting "Freedom of Speech"

And this was Frank Langben's jocular answer to the question:

Your pictures on the theme of 'inspiration'

"Each week, we publish a gallery of readers' pictures on a set theme."

A couple of my own, silly, captions for artwork by Modigliani and Mucha respectively:

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Midweek Meander Around the Issue of 'Othering'.

I experienced some synchronicity a few days ago. Synchronicity was once explained by Carl Jung as being “meaningful coincidence”. A Quora friend had recommended to a questioner a very good piece by John Powell, from The Guardian:

Us vs them: the sinister techniques of ‘Othering’ – and how to avoid them.

I decided to read the piece. 'Othering' wasn't part of my everyday vocabulary. Snips from the piece will follow in a mo. Synchronicity occurred that same day when, towards the end of a slow trek, evening by evening, through a streamed sci-fi series (Amazon Prime), Electric Dreams, based on short stories by Philip K. Dick, we reached an episode titled "Kill All Others". There's a review of the episode HERE.

My nutshell synopsis: Philbert Noyce is a quality-control factory worker of the future, one of three in a vast factory powered by robots which needs just 3 humans when it once needed 3,000. Noyce is a decent guy, dislikes the hate speech being offered up by the single presidential candidate on offer - it appears there is in place a one-party political system. What we, in 2019 might consider to be hate speech is always capped by a catch phrase, also used frequently on billboards :
"Kill All Others".
'Others' were anyone who dared not to toe the line in respect of government edicts and approved opinions. No critical thinking allowed!

That experience of synchronicity persuaded me to start scribbling! Following are snips from the aforementioned piece, plus one other article available on line. These helped to clarify, for myself, various aspects of 'othering'. Perhaps any stray passer-by might find them of interest too.

From John Powell's piece, linked above:
Humans can only process a limited amount of change in a short period of time without experiencing anxiety. It’s a natural human reaction – but how we respond to that anxiety is social. When societies experience big and rapid change, a frequent response is for people to narrowly define who qualifies as a full member of society – a process I call “Othering”. An alternative response is seeing the change in demographics as positive, and regarding the apparent other as enhancing our life and who we are. This is what I refer to as “belonging and bridging”.

Othering is not about liking or disliking someone. It is based on the conscious or unconscious assumption that a certain identified group poses a threat to the favoured group. It is largely driven by politicians and the media, as opposed to personal contact. Overwhelmingly, people don’t “know” those that they are Othering.

So while today’s global anxiety has been precipitated by globalisation, technology and a changing economy, demographics play a crucial role in the process of Othering. The attributes of who gets defined as Other differ from place to place, and can be based upon race, religion, nationality or language. It is not these attributes themselves that are the problem, of course, but how they are made salient, and how they are manipulated.

I am therefore particularly concerned with how Othering shows up in today’s power structures: how it is used to divide and dehumanise groups, and capture and reshape government and institutions. For society’s leaders and culture play an oversized role in helping us make sense of change – and so greatly affect our responses to anxiety...........

People don’t just figure out on their own that collectively they need to be afraid of another group. Leadership plays a critical role. Often people who have been living with one another for years are made to feel suddenly that those differences have become threatening..

So how do we respond to our collective anxiety today? Either we “bridge”, reaching across to other groups and towards our inherent, shared humanity and connection, while recognising that we have differences; or we “break”, pulling away from other groups and making it easier to tell and believe false stories of “us vs them”, then supporting practices that dehumanise the “them”......

If we are to combat the rising tide of extremism across the globe, we must actively create bridges across difference, and resist strategic exploitation of our collective anxiety. For when we bridge, we not only open up to others, we also open up to change in ourselves – and actively participate in co-creating a society to which we can all belong.

The opposite of Othering is not “saming”, it is belonging. And belonging does not insist that we are all the same. It means we recognise and celebrate our differences, in a society where “we the people” includes all the people.

From: Otherness 101 - What is Othering?

This psychological tactic may have had its uses in our tribal past. Group cohesion was crucially important in the early days of human civilisation, and required strong demarcation between our allies and our enemies. To thrive, we needed to be part of a close-knit tribe who’d look out for us, in exchange for knowing that we’d help to look out for them in kind. People in your tribe, who live in the same community as you, are more likely to be closely related to you and consequently share your genes. As a result, there’s a powerful evolutionary drive to identify in some way with a tribe of people who are “like you”, and to feel a stronger connection and allegiance to them than to anyone else. Today, this tribe might not be a local and insular community you grew up with, but can be, for instance, fellow supporters of a sports team or political party.

But there’s no doubt that grouping people into certain stereotyped classes, who we then treat differently based on the classes we’ve sorted them into, is a deeply rooted aspect of human nature. Intergroup bias is a well established psychological trait.

Poem by ― Kamand Kojouri (Goodreads)

“They want us to be afraid.
They want us to be afraid of leaving our homes.
They want us to barricade our doors
and hide our children.
Their aim is to make us fear life itself!
They want us to hate.
They want us to hate 'the other'.
They want us to practice aggression
and perfect antagonism.
Their aim is to divide us all!
They want us to be inhuman.
They want us to throw out our kindness.
They want us to bury our love
and burn our hope.
Their aim is to take all our light!
They think their bricked walls
will separate us.
They think their damned bombs
will defeat us.
They are so ignorant they don’t understand
that my soul and your soul are old friends.

They are so ignorant they don’t understand
that when they cut you I bleed.
They are so ignorant they don’t understand
that we will never be afraid,
we will never hate
and we will never be silent
for life is ours!”

― Kamand Kojouri (Goodreads)

I've highlighted two lines which I find particularly striking. We are, all of us as Carl Sagan wrote, made from stardust. We humans came from the self-same ancient batch of that stardust. Once we, as atoms and particles, nestled together on the shores of the universe. It is sad that we no longer choose to remember that, but strive constantly to divide ourselves, one from another.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Music Monday ~ Three Musical Birthdays

I notice that three singers whose voices I'm always glad to hear were born this day, 14 January: Billie Jo Spears, Jack Jones, and Allen Toussaint. They are all of my own generation, born in either 1937 or 1938. Ms Spears died in 2011 and Mr Toussaint in 2015. As far as I know, Jack Jones is still oing strong. I was born in 1939 - amazingly I am still here too, albeit creaking a little around the joints.

A favourite track from each:

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Saturday & Sundry Memories: Mysteries in S.W. USA.

Mention of UFO sightings in a bunch of predictions by a "time traveller", featured in my post dated 2 January 2019 set my mind back almost five years, to a post I wrote in February 2014. I enjoyed re-reading that post myself (inner narcissist coming out) so shall re-air it, lightly edited, for the weekend.

Back in 2014, we had recently watched an "indie" movie on DVD: The Wicksboro Incident. It's one of the genre often labelled "found footage", in documentary style though purely fictional. The film's theme: Wicksboro, a fictional small town in far south-western Texas, disappeared with its inhabitants sometime in the early 1950s. One survivor emerges from hiding decades later to tell his story to two amateur film-makers. His story involves ... aliens. 'Nuf said. A passing reader who stumbles across this blog at some future point might wish to see the movie, I will not spoil it by expanding further on the plot. The film, around 70 minutes long, starts slowly but builds. There's lots of shaky camera work, dark, almost blank screens with voices only, to reassure us that the DVD hasn't stuck in its groove (or whatever).

That film underlined, for me, how an area of south-western United States, New Mexico, part of southern Colorado, and south-western Texas seem to have developed mysterious connections to strange happenings, modern legends, the weird and the would-be wonderful. On our trips, over the years around these areas, we've visited a few locations of mysterious reputation. Roswell, New Mexico always comes to mind first.

We first visited Roswell, New Mexico in 2006, the UFO Museum and Research Center was then situated in the main street, in what appeared to be an old movie theater. A new center for the museum was under construction further down the road.

We read many of the numerous exhibits: newspaper articles, sworn affidavits and other printed material displayed around the walls. The main part of the museum deals, unsurprisingly, with the reported UFO crash near Roswell in 1947. There are, among many other things, reports and signed statements from witnesses who saw evidence of the crash and collected wreckage. Evidence of a request for "child size coffins". In several of the statements, witnesses reported seeing purple colored symbols, hieroglyphic-like, on a strip among the wreckage. There's a statement by a woman medical officer, detailed to take notes at an autopsy of bodies following the crash. She was later sent to England, and subsequently is said to have disappeared - or has not been heard from again.

Who can say how genuine any of the material is, after 60 years have passed? And yet, why would ordinary, everyday people have fabricated such a story, back in 1947 on a summer evening just before midnight, without reason? In those days there were few, if any TV programmes about extra-terrestrial phenomena to ignite the imagination. There were few sci-fi movies. What else but "a happening" could have sparked reports of such a bizarre occurrence as this? We discussed our feelings about the whole Roswell story later, after our museum visit, came to the conclusion that "something" did happen on that night in 1947. The "something" was covered up by lies from those in authority at the time. Lies from government downward are not unknown, even in current history, which fact inclined us to believe at least some of the stories told by witnesses.

On a 2005 trip to see Anasazi cave dwellings at Mesa Verde, Colorado we happened across a UFO Watchtower in the San Luis Valley, near Hooper. The site was run by a friendly lady who told us tales of strange sightings she and others had experienced. She also told us that some Native American tribes believe that their ancestors came from "the stars".

On a later trip, 2011, celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary, in the far north of New Mexico, we intended to see what we could find relating to some strange legends surrounding a tiny town called Dulce, on the border of Colorado and New Mexico, close to the Continental Divide, where altitude reaches 7 to 8 thousand ft at various points. Google search "Dulce, New Mexico" for numerous tales of varying incredibility about Dulce and what lies beneath Archuleta Mesa! We, unfortunately, decided to turn around and head home just before we reached Dulce, due to unexpected wintry weather, altitude (7,871ft), and a few uncomfortable health issues.

One particular little village on Highway 64, Dulce, was going to fascinate yours truly because of stories of UFOs, aliens and a massive 7-layered underground government facility said to be nearby - under a huge mesa. There are also stories/legends of a UFO crash near Aztec village in this area. Again, there's a ton of information, comment from locals and researchers online. Some, if even half-true would be hair-raising. It involves bio-tech experiments (which I can believe), mutilated cattle found regularly around the area (documented), alien cooperation following a firefight between government troops and aliens or "grays" (which I can't believe).

I'd guess that there really is, or was, some kind of underground facility in this area dating from 1950s through 1970s. The fear of nuclear war was fierce then.
The US government, paranoia-filled as usual, could easily have decided to experiment, attempting to plan for all eventualities: mutations, radiation effects, etc. etc. Where better than this wilderness area with plentiful natural underground caverns, easily extended and modified, for use without much chance of discovery? That part of the stories isn't hard to believe, given the atmosphere of those times.

We didn't reach Dulce though. We stayed overnight in Chama, a village 25 miles to the east. The temperature was frigid up there in the mountains, some of what we'd assumed was remnants of the winter's snow remained in the fields and forests over the highest parts of the route.

Neither of us slept a wink that night though. The altitude was probably getting to us both. My husband, restless, decided to get up and play on the laptop. I experienced a severe attack of allergic sneezing which brought on a sharp sinus headache and it simply wouldn't let up. In addition I had developed a troublesome sore on my ankle. We both wondered aloud whether to carry on west or head back to Oklahoma next morning. When we looked outside at about 7 AM we decided at once! Snow had coated the car, and it was still snowing. Probably not at all a surprising find to the locals but a bit disconcerting to southerners like us, spoiled by an unusually warm spring. I hadn't packed any warm clothes. We had to layer up with what we had. It was Sunday, no shops were open to buy warmer clothing - there were no shops around anyway! I'd also managed, somehow, to get myself multi-bitten by an insect (goodness knows what insect would be around in those temps!) I still have 3 itchy bites on my left earlobe, several down the left side of my neck and a cluster of bites on my chest. And they ain't love bites!! We headed home on Sunday morning.

A trip to the Big Bend area of southern Texas in 2012 threw up yet another oddity. In the village of Marfa stories of "the Marfa lights" or "ghost lights" are common. Stange lights, with no logical explanation, have frequently been observed near U.S. Route 67 on Mitchell Flat east of the village. These have gained fame due to some observers having theorised a connection to paranormal phenomena....UFOs, ghostly apparitions etc.
A half-hour drive west of Alpine found us in Marfa, a tiny town made famous by some mysterious lights which appear, intermittently, in the vicinity - Wikipedia explains.

Interestingly the fictional Wicksboro Incident, mentioned at the top of this post, took place in the same general area as Marfa - possibly chosen by its creators because of "the lights"?

I shall remain among the "don't knows" on the topics of UFOs, ghosts, and strange goings-on in general - until I actually experience something to fully convince me otherwise. The experience mentioned below was getting there, it did bring goose bumps. It was an incident unrelated to UFOs and aliens, but still strange. In Santa Fe, New Mexico some years ago, celebrating either my birthday or my husband's.
We had wandered into a hotel lobby thinking it to be the entrance to an arcade of stores. We noticed a bar, still early evening quiet, decided to have a birthday drink there. I considered taking the seat near the wall at the end of the old copper lined bar, but decided it looked rather dark.
I pulled out the next stool along, then felt guilty for leaving a single stool empty, in case a couple might want seats later on - but still, it somehow didn't feel right to move to the end stool. Later in the evening, when some live entertainment was about to begin, it was announced that a beloved regular in this bar, a lady well known in Santa Fe (local singer or musician) had died of cancer a couple of days ago. The seat at the end of the bar had been her usual place to sit. The barman brought her usual drink and placed it there, in her memory. The hairs on the back of my neck began to prickle !