October 2008

“… it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” – Thomas Jefferson

Gray Jay - Rocky Mountain National Park

Gray Jay - Rocky Mountain National Park

I’m not sure what I believe. I’m certainly not confident that what I believe now, I will believe in the future. The world, the universe, and people are too changeable and we are always learning new truths. My husband Scott and I talk about religion and spirituality pretty often. You do that when you experience a heavy dose of your own mortality. When I ask Scott whether he believes in God, he has the most brilliant answer, “I believe in good.” One little, round vowel changes everything. He isn’t saying he doesn’t believe in God. Just that he believes in good. I think he’s on to something.

I do know that I love PBS. Recently we watched a program that explained how life on our planet likely came from space debris that contained left handed amino acids (yeah, I know, whatever that means. I’m not going to try to explain it. Just rent the video). Lots of science to back up the theory. That’s kind of huge don’t you think? Certainly puts the notion of God creating the planet in jeopardy. Heck, it even puts Darwin’s theories of evolution in jeopardy. Fascinating stuff. So, what I believe today is different than what I thought yesterday. I bet we’re going to learn more stuff besides this.

Some things, however, remain the same. I believe that my life exists. I am not dreaming. And I’m not going to wake up as a cockroach. And I happen to exist on the planet Earth in an amazing time of prosperity for some and scientific and technological advances that could bring prosperity to even more. I believe that I’m a very fortunate woman. I believe that our universe is fascinating and powerful and generous. I think there is enough of everything for, well, everything to have enough. I believe that we are connected in some system that we don’t understand. Plants and animals and rocks and stars all impact our lives and vice versa. It’s in our power to repair our environmental and social damage. But we do have to make the effort.

I’m incredibly grateful for this life. I give thanks to the plants and animals that grow and give themselves to us, the sun that shines, the water that quenches and people who love and so on. I guess I am a naturalist.  But I try not to stop with thanks. I believe in symbiotic relationships, karma and the cycle of life. I give everything I can of myself, knowing it is, well, good. We water and fertilize our gardens, lawn, trees and shrubs.  We recycle, compost, conserve and generally try to protect our natural habitat. We feed the birds and squirrels who live in and around our home. We donate money and especially time to charities and causes we care about. We are involved in our community and our neighborhood.

We don’t go to church. We don’t pray to an entity outside of our selves, our universe or cosmos. If god exists, super. If god doesn’t exist, that’s okay too. For me, being allowed to experience this life is gift enough. I certainly don’t want to ruin life for others, no matter how small or far away or different, so I try to be good. I don’t need more than that. Some do. I think worshiping, meditating, being thankful, whatever you want to call it, with a group of people can be a powerful experience. But for me, when the belief becomes more important than the meditation, when you believe that you are right and others are wrong, suddenly religion becomes sour. Organized religion is a slippery slope. Just like cultural pride can become nationalism, idolatry can become zealotry.

I am not against god or Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims or any other religion. I am for good. I believe in good.  That is enough for me.


Today my husband and I created a new tradition.  In Colorado we can participate in the great American voting ritual at our leisure.  We can opt to mull over the issues in the privacy of our own home and use mail-in ballots, take advantage of short lines and pleasant volunteers at early voting centers two weeks prior to election day, or we can wait in lines with the other procrastinators on election day.  We have tried the latter options.  I am too paranoid to trust my ballot to our imperfect mail-in ballot process.  We live in Fort Collins in Larimer County.  I voted at our County Government Center in downtown Fort Collins on Friday.  But today, we drove to beautiful Estes Park (also in Larimer County), Scott voted and then we tramped up to Bierstadt Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park to celebrate our civic participation.  We worked over the weekend so that we could enjoy the solitude of RMNP on a Monday morning.  We didn’t see a single person during our four mile hike.  Our car was the only car in the Park and Ride Lot.

I am a registered Democrat. But walking in the woods at 10,000 feet, in the shadow of Long’s Peak, and the majesty of the Front Range, I can understand being a Republican – a Teddy Roosevelt Republican, that is. Thank goodness he had the political will and foresight to create the national park system and introduce love of natural beauty and conservation to our country. Sure, he did some things that don’t make a lot of sense one hundred years later.  But none of us are perfect.

For me, I can think of no better way to keep the big picture in the fore, remember why I love being an American, strive to be a better, giving citizen, protect our little planet and relish the one life I’m lucky enough to have than to vote in Estes Park, Colorado.

Colorado Elm Fall 2008

I love the colors of autumn.  This year our Elm tree is particularly spectacular.  It inspired me to create a yellow dish – Quinoa stuffed Acorn Squash.  Of course the squash, onions and yellow carrots I used are from Monroe Organic Farms.  

Here’s what you need:

1 Acorn Squash
Maple Syrup
Olive Oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped carrots
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp Tumeric
Salt and Pepper
Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
1 cup Quinoa, rinsed
1 and 1/2 cups stock – vegetable or chicken (just don’t use water if you can help it!)
1/4 cup golden raisins

Here’s what you do:

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Preheat oven to 450.  Split squash from stem to butt and remove seeds (this sounds like a surgery I don’t want to have).  Drizzle 1 Tbs of syrup over cut side of squash.  Sprinkle salt and pepper over it as well. Place squash on baking pan and cook in oven while you prepare the stuffing.  Heat 1Tbs of olive oil over medium heat.  Saute onions, carrots and garlic until very soft and slightly browned.  Add tumeric and pepper.  Add quinoa and stock.  Bring to boil and then cover and simmer until liquid is soaked up and evaporated.  Add raisins and check flavors.  Add salt and pepper if needed.

Take squash out of the oven and spoon stuffing into the squash cavities.  Drizzle a little more syrup over the top and put back in the oven for 1/2 hour or until squash is soft and cooked through.