21 April 2018

Flo In The Spring

By: Jon Katz

Flo In The Spring

Flo decided this weekend that it's Spring. So it's Spring. She comes by to get fed, but otherwise is dozing in sunlight somewhere, prowling the upper reaches of the barn, or hanging out on the front porch. She knows all the good spots.

During the bitter cold snaps, she and Minnie were happy to come inside and go into the basement, set up with pillows and kitty litter. She is very happy now, she often graces us with her presence on the back porch. Like many cats, she is a sun worshipper.

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Video: Goodnight Lulu, Goodnight Fanny. When Donkeys Get Hold Of Your Heart

By: Jon Katz

Goodnight Lulu, Goodnight Fanny

I've lived with donkeys for 15 years. They are masters of manipulation, they know how to get my attention and melt my heart. They whinny and bray and look pleadingly at me, and I almost always succumb, snow or ice, rain or full moon.

I was going out to close up the chickens when they started their soft braying and looked at me with those big brown eyes. I  went into the barn to get some alfalfa treats and they were waiting right at the gate for me, they know the drill. I can't really say no to them. This is our bedtime ritual, although they can manipulate me during the day too if they see me.

I decided to record this small moment of farm life tonight. Fate was eager to get in with the sheep (not this late) and Red was standing by. I gave Lulu and Fanny their treats and called  Red to the gate to push the sheep back, they were bunching up around the donkeys.

They move the second they see Red coming. They don't care if Fate is there or not.

I listened to the donkeys crunching on their treats, and pondered what happens when a donkey gets ahold of your heart. It isn't pretty. But it is endearing, and I guess I love this nighttime ritual. Come and see.

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The Willa Cather Portraits: Finding A Way To Talk About Love

By: Jon Katz

Talking About Love

As some of you have already surmised, the pictures people are starting to call "The Willa Cather Portraits," show Maria, but these photos are not really only about her. They are my way of talking about love in a world that no longer knows how to talk about love or wishes to.

What is it we talk about in our world? Money, power, fear, conflict. You can go a long way watching the news before you will find a story or conversation about love. As an older man, talking about love has always been uncomfortable for me, as it is for so many men.

All the more important to do it. I want to talk about love every day, but I rarely find the clarity or strength to do it. Apart from everything else, the world sees older men as having left love behind to worry about their health and retirement funds.

But what I've learned is that health is about love, and to be loveless is to be broken and incomplete. There are many ways to love – you can love animals, work, nature, people, family. I tried living a loveless life, it was a dark and barren place.

Being love is frightening, the stakes are high, the risks great. Ask any young man what will happen to him if he talks about love to his friends, his father, his brother, his classmates.

I am never easy talking about love.

Mary Oliver says that to live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it, and when the time coms to let it go, let it go.

You do not have to be good, she writes. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. "You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves."

There are many easier things to do in the world – hate, argue, judge – than love, but easier is not better for me. The best things in life are difficult. My Willa Cather Portraits, everyone of them, are love letters to Maria. And my own never-ending dialogue about love.

I think it is important that we speak about the sappy, cliched, sissified subject of love, the subject real men always run from. It is believe that the Duke never talked about the meaning of love, not once in the 178 movies he made. Do real men talk about love when they gather? Or do you have to stop being a real man to think about love?

Love for me is ACCEPTANCE. Loving the worst as well as the best of another human. And accepting it all.

Love is about TRUST. Secrets poison and corrode  love.

Love is about ANGER. Love is never perfect, intimacy brings contempt and frustration and fatigue. Argument is the Mr. Clean of love, it washes – flushes, if you will – the sludge and detritus out. Love without anger is a bomb waiting to explode.

Love is CONDITIONAL. Unconditional love is good for dogs, but not for me. To be loved, I must meet many conditions; I must be encouraging, faithful, considerate and I must listen.

LOVE is about COMPROMISE. I get things, I give things up. All the time. Rigidity is an enemy of love.

LOVE is about FAITH. And HOPE. Love is the song of our better angels, it is the antidote for hate and rage and cruelty. One day, our presidential debaters will talk about love. Love is the FAITH in another, a sacrament.

When it is over, I want people to say of me that I was a bride married to wonder. And I was the bridegroom, falling in love with the world.

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20 April 2018

Gods And Goddesses: Women’s Time

By: Jon Katz

Last Day Of Cold

We have declared this the last day of ice and cold, and I believe that is true. I am always stirred by scenes of Maria, the farm's Willa Cather Prairie Goddess, so great a presence on the farm. She seems to grow stronger and more powerful all the time, and the farm is a good place for that, it brings out the strengths and weaknesses of people.

I am mostly alone on this farm, I get around a lot, see a lot of people. But everywhere I got, people are talking about Women's Time, about women rising. We were shopping in our food co-op today, now run by four young women.

People were talking about how well women can get along with one another, how non-hierarchal they are, how disinterested they are in domination and argument. I know that lots of women do not always get along with one another, but what it happening is not a fantasy.

Something very important has been triggered by the awful politics of our time. The way men govern has failed, and spectacularly so. I am  hopeful about the fact that newborn baby can come into the United States Senate with his mother, I am excited to see that so many thousands of women are coming out of the shadows and running for office and talking about doing good and helping people.

Wow, I can sense it, feel it, touch it. My wife is a part of that, she is a passionate advocate for women without voice or power. She is always there for women who need support and encouragement, and there are so many.

It's exciting for me, sitting in my study, at my computer, singing my songs on my blog. She helps me to feel part of this great movement, we see signs of  it wherever we are go. Maria, in her life, is in the thick of it, her art has always spoken of voice and encouragement,  and especially of goddesses..

I support her whenever I can, and she supports me whenever she can.

These are not bad times to be alive, these are good times to be alive. I feel awakened, excited hopeful. I am too old and too male to be of much help or influence, but this gives me the greatest joy, empowerment and encouragement are also what I am about, in my own way and life. I know a of people now who need help and I am learning how to help them.

I'm not much of man, either, and that often makes me quite proud. We all contribute in our own way.

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Trees Are Sanctuaries

By: Jon Katz

"Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life."

– Herman Hesse

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