Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our Meadow

Sweet Northern Sister from Cordova sent this recently.

"yes, i have truly gone digital.
i -
have started -
a -

i still can't type without looking at the keyboard, but i have my very own piece of the cyberpie, and that's what counts.
to any and all interested,

clickity here

i welcome any tips re: it doesn't work, pictures don't load, you misspelled neccesary, even with spell-check? etc, but if you don't like my writing or subjects in general, keep it to yourself. start your own damn blog. nyah.

hope you're all having a delightful christmas, or whatever jewish, muslim, pagan and/or heathen holiday you celebrate in december. at the very least, happy winter!


Go Girl! We LOVE YOU!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Magnet Leaf Writings/ random hand full fridge poetry For The Dark Eyed Gypsy Twin, sister Merry Lea

Languid recall
takes our moment.
Thousands may love mean, ugly,
red tongue drooling.
The girl of mad language who's
still delirious after a sordid
delicate, juice shake,
lies beneath
her gorgeous and elaborate garden

True diamond,
pink mist of my woman cry
and you speak of a need
to sleep. This could produce a
repulsive blue
Have no will like my
getting his
moan on.

Take a moment's recall
of our languid
You may do,
"she's a mean girl",
and thousands of tongues
trudge skin
colored language.

These want what
frantic produces.

Could Pink Diamond Road drunk,
puppy up us away?


Meadow's Blog clickity here
Go Girl!

Friday, December 12, 2008

2008 THE LAST FULL MOON <<>> my, what a decade...

At this moment, as another spiral pass, in this cosmic spiral arm is marked, incrementally tick-tocking, by our people/style measurement of time, I'm sitting quietly.

That's at THIS moment.

But..., I've got a formal invitation to dance! That fella called. He's asked me to join him tonight; yup, he wants to see me dance again.

Well, yea though a sizeable length of the North American continent lies between us, I told him I'd be out; thrumming my heels against the hard baked, back yard, urban desert soil.

I'll take up this invitation, in spite of the helicopter night patrol beaming it's protective intrusiveness. I'll flap my wings and suck down LOW to the ground, pumping my goods for us, for us all, until the Raven there, in our snow drenched peaks, and the Mockingbird here within the chain linked green, call: LAST DANCE.

Hey, this girl has a moonlight date, with the one she's always dreamed of. To bad he's out of kissing range.

Well, that's as it is. There's always dream time. And hey, that's not like I'm waiting by the phone.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Remembering John Lennon, Remembering Mark L. Revenaugh /big weather boys

Today,through this offering, in combined honor of brothers John Lennon, and Mark Revenaugh, each stolen from life too soon by twisted forces of a saddened humanity gone hay wire, I give tribute.

And to be melded to my deepest love, the landscape of home and my beloved Alaskan family; two footed, four, and non footed, I'm offering my best wishes and please know I'm there with my metaphysical snow shovel.

I now share with you a snapshot of the incoming weather that my honey man sent this AM, December 9,2008.

YADDAH! Here it comes!!!

Hello Adrian,
I guess that a big one is supposed to hit tonight. They are calling for 3 ft or so for the next 20 hrs. Town was 'a twitter' today and hunkering down for this. Large winds too ......anyway I have attached a picture of it as of 4:30 pm. Hope it turns out for you to see. It's a beauty!

Love you gal,

J. B.

Friday, December 5, 2008

encspsulated truth

Quietly practicing ones craft, while leading from the center position, one can't help but recognize great need in the world. Sometimes silence is the surest response.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Redemptive Value: The Society of Crow

Recently, a wide spread effort from many places around the globe, caught my attention. Out the front window of my Mother's 1930's bungalow, I've been able to watch the steady parade of pickers who are trash gleaning in the Oleander area of down town Bakersfield, Ca.,

I was newly arrived from a place where the "Spring Cleanup" is generally conducted by the Boy Scout Troop, the Friends of the Library, the Takshanuk Water Shed Council, and various other service groups. There, there is a ferociously friendly competition for prizes to honor those with the most trash gathered, complete with the celebration dinner and a front page newspaper spread. It ain't Woebegon, but it's close.

So, early this summer I went to see what the BARC collection point at Magoo's Pizza on Brundage lane was about. It's one of several dozen recycling drop off centers in Kern County that are commercially owned and buy back harvested trash via the CVR, (Calif. Refund Value) incentive program.

The parking lot swarmed with folks from far away and all over. Some were new comers from distant lands. Many were from here, most from Kern County's streets and shelters. All arrive with tremendous loads gleaned from every imaginable source. Mine was a medium sized load, what my brother's bike could carry.

Pedal powered or push/pull carts, fashioned from infant strollers, grocery carts, bicycle trailers, and myriad other forms of wheeled device, are cleverly modified to double as an object to serve as home base, and /or work vehicle.

Cash returns are handed out as half a dozen employees shuffle overflowing, ever filling, 75 gallon plastic trash cans. Those are then emptied, two people to a can, into huMungus nylon fibered bags and commercially sized dumpsters. Glass, plastic bottles and containers, all shapes, colors and sizes, plus aluminum drink cans galore, each with it's own redemptive value, flow like rivers to the sea of solid waste.

While resting in the shade of 103 degree day, a gangling middle-aged fellow laughed and shook his head at current gas prices which were pushing past $4.00 per gallon.
As he straddled his well worn bike he said he felt proud that his morning earnings would feed him for the next few days with a smaller carbon footprint for his efforts.

I was glad to add that a tiny tributary had been diverted from the over burdened waste stream and would now be recycled thanks to his efforts. How's it go again? The "three R's"?

Reduce/ Reuse.....then ,IF there's still more left over, Recycle.

His mornings gleanings were hard to come by, miserably hot in the doing, but a highly honorable effort. I wonder what he's doing for Thanksgiving?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm off to work with wood today, cut up portions of "dead" yet standing trees (in my book, living via the decomposing process), being moved toward the next incarnation via our involvement.

Splitting, stacking, bending, breathing the woodsy scent keeps me well, twice warmed and humbled by the awesome structure of the once mighty giant moving onto another level.

In an attitude of appreciation, the maul severs cleanly.

In a lesser frame of mind, the work seems almost to pick a fight and often wins.

Call me crazy.
I have lived a rather monastic lifestyle for many years in the heart of wild open country. Away from modern culture but always a student, I've learned to watch and listen to the landscape, a grand teacher.

The mirroring, echoing, synchronous delights that give a snapshot of the moment, informs our senses, and indeed winks occasionally in a pre-cognizant manner, is, and has always been available. Sadly, our two legged, upright "thin-slicing" species is rather rusty and cut off from the source. As moderns we experience the planet and all of it's systems predominantly as backdrop.

Too preoccupied with human business generally to work through personal growth, it's often left avoided until a crisis or a long steady decline demands attention be paid.

Working with Hospice clients, being open to how others have experienced their lives and prepare for death, is a privilege I recommend for everyone.

We can learn so much about life from each others stories and observations. Today, elders are left holding vast experiential knowledge with limited ways to pass it on. Once again, we cut ourselves off at the roots.

The evolution of soul is a timeless pursuit. But what else do we really have time for?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Taking A Wednesday Posistion

Days are short. It's the end of October in the middle portion of the Northern Hemisphere, election year '08. The fall of change has been hard on this nation used to so much, hungry beyond satisfaction.

A fevered ring echos throughout the land. Many people feel it from within pressing out and certainly from beyond pressing in. A sort of frenzied desperation effecting every level of their lives causing them to behave in ways less than how they would if things were different.

When I step outside my door this dark, wet morning, a silenced hush is weighing more heavily than even the mighty hemlock and spruce can bear. Darkness has swallowed all visible detail but for the faint tracing of tree forms. Tremendous drops of snowy tonnage crash from the trees as a one or two degree rise cause the deep accumulation to slip from the branches above.

And all is as it is this perfect morning.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Sweet Nothings Blush

Home. I find myself in a near state of vertigo as four legged Steve Mason and I walk through the upstream cloud layers. This drenched landscape, thickened with early winter, settled and muted watercolor rinse, holds me with vibrant familiarity. I'm walking through the outdoors version of a deeply cherished love affair, tremulous to the core with the buzz of germination.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cabaret Of the Stars

I'm hearing the last of summer. The crickets slow their symphonic blend and range for a cooler dance. Sliver of a maid high above, veils and twirls, pale with abstinence and sure knowledge of her lovers dive toward the abyss. Irridescent shot to the side pocket in the southern sky graces me far below with a wink. I double step my own complicated backyard jig drumming with heels to hard pack, breathing freely.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tidal Surge

A funny approach to participating in this election is to go out and talk to Raven.
I suppose, but my feathered pal has never steered me wrong.

Little things: asked how to word a cardboard campaign poster to hang in my mother's front window. How to state our support for Obama and Biden in the presidential race for the White House that rings on a different note. An idea that works with our need for accountability.
How about the pull of gravity between the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun. Original, renewable, reliable, predictable. Mix in the variability of weather and you've got a tremendous force.

Ride With The Tide. Not like floatsam and jetsam. Like Noah, or Starbuck, or Raven. Steady the course. Vigilance on deck. Mind the weather. Sound Captain. Able crew. Mind the tide for one hell of a ride. And remain clever enough to see beyond what's known. Plan past your own generation.

Raven rode out the flood, stole the sun, and figured out how to pester the man who sat on the tides and kept the world submerged. Raven hassled after him everyday, pestering, prodding, diligently, getting the old man off his duff until it became his new habit. Soon the very old dim one was able to move twice each day allowing the waters to rise and fall, providing more for all, sharing the wealth from the sea. Old Duff now felt it had been this way always. New habits learned. We all need them.

The gathering of energy that's accumulating throughout our nation, the COUNTER BALANCE to the greedy misuse of our resources and shaky presence in the world, stands a chance of coming into full play with this election. Even if you don't have money to contribute to the effort we can all share our hope for a healthier future with people who see things differently then we do. On the ferry, in the grocery store, at the post office, after school.

Every one's tired of the sinking ship, bailing rats, and eel infested waters.
We can turn this thing towards shore, make repairs, maybe even start a little subsistence garden market to employ the kids and grandparents.
The vote for Obama is continuing to gain momentum. Let's keep it moving.

For dessert, read a delightful telling of Raven's tale linked in the title/ Tidal Surge

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Alaskan Voices; A Palin Dissent posted for Columbus Day

The temperature has turned quite chilly. The national stage may be generating lots of energy but the chill is palpable. Maybe folks need to turn off their air conditioning for the season. Put on a sweater and stir up a little tea or cocoa for the neighbor who's hair turned greyer this month.
If it's feeling like life is beginning to slide downward, or has long been scraping your bottom, know you're alive and care to have things different. I'm of the mind that frustration, disappointment, indifference, anger, even despair are a healthy range of emotions. They produce a kind of dark heat, a low register setting. Keeps the muscles taught, the stomach tight and edge raw. They can also amp into a coldness that becomes lethal.

Early winter. Many Alaskans this time of year are cramming the last few pieces of fire wood into their sheds, packing the remaining jars for the pressure cooker, getting the kids back into a school routine and securing additional job sharing possibilities to cover costs. It's a major pain to be losing sleep over our lesser relative moving out onto the global platform.
The barracuda made landfall and is slithering in the grass out there.

But the human heart is a triple warmer, a primary engine that can't produce action in nuetral.
Our numbers are small. We don't weigh in much on the national scene. But a hearty cross section gathered in the Juneau capital Friday. Hearts are shifting toward speaking out.

It would be good to see other vocal Alaskans, hit the library computer, brave the internet and post your opinions while you still have a chance. Posted on this blog are some great websites wanting to know what rural and urban Alaska really feels. I'll be writing more for submissions as well and will be glad to pass on your thoughts. Drop me a line.
Read Nick Jans article in, posted late Thursday.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ootheca / Renewal 8/008

I've been waking so early, this day cranky, again. And this morning, last of morning glory blue, so sweet that birds laugh over my carefully hung laundry. Yard cat from the alley stays while I hang.

Autumn crawlers are thinking they've found a winter place to lodge but are now swept from the empty cupboards. Time for those to find other lodgings. This I decide.

I've made tickets home to the valley of snow. Peaks there are so invigorating, life always returns to right. Challenges deem workable.

I find her hovering around sleep, tired from too many years, the vanilla light has squeezed between roof tops, soaking her repose. My heart and mind take snapshots. Marking exquisite moments. And I'm lighting fires.

Heard your voice as you read an other's poem this radio morning. You forgot, for those few moments, all the other pressing things. So did I. We both crawled close to find the gentle undercurrent encoded in the lines, spring loaded for connection.

A Promise to myself. To go back to script, pocket and commit to memory. Add motion, lend my need to sing, down next to the river, resplendent in the the way that some poetry is.

Then, bring these days into the score. Ootheca in verse.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Away From the Dock: Drift From a Non-Hockey Mom

I've been firmly committed to Obama's run for the Presidency since early'06. That's when our 16 year old daughter chirped up to announce that she had found who she would vote for in her first presidential election. It was the sound of complete conviction that requires any parent to sit up and take notice. "Really!?, Honey, Who?!" That winter, every night on the way home, she and I navigated the snowy highway as we listened to The Audacity Of Hope,

We've always kept our isolated lifestyle informed about the larger world through our library cards and great FM reception of community public radio, available exclusively on those long drives home. The news comes at us in timely, semi-digestible portions. Hannah, our final edition and youngest voter, born in 1989, cut her baby teeth during her first trips to town, as we all listened and grieved over the Exxon Valdez, one of her home state's and our nations more pivotal environmental disasters. Her brother Micah had just celebrated his 19th birthday when we caught radio wind of 9/11/01; somewhat bookend events in my thoughts. He left almost immediately for CUNY, graduated, and is now working toward documentary film making in N.Y. City. .

The best exposure to change and cultural shifts has been through our questioning, adventurous kids as they've gotten older. I guess that's every parental generation's best effort toward the audicity of hope. Give them the best you have to offer, introduce them to the world, then stand back and learn.

All three kids were fully involved with the drama and debate teams of their tiny, rural Alaskan high school. Their outstanding coaches from Haines High, well educated community volunteers and teachers, pushed hard. The teams generally ruled in the SE regional tournaments and always gave 'em hell from one of Alaska's smallest schools at the state tournament in Anchorage every year. They are of the kids that go on to do outstanding things. What ever they choose to do they're open to a larger world and fully equipped to navigate wisely. As a parent, You learn to listen when they say they know who they'll vote for two years hence, and why, and stand a bit taller cause they're thinking and caring toward the mess each generation takes on.

I've been in the lower 48, away from home now for several months. I'm semi stranded (on bad days), isolated in the middle of the city with my grand, old shut-in, Elder Ma. During this fractious time, my considerably amped up exposure to national and world affairs has been given additional depth via her tried and true periodicals, her sizable well read personal library, 83 years experience from a life conscientiously lived, the Internet, and XM radio. Except for humoring me by listening to last nights POTUS coverage of the VP debate, she stay's away from the last two. Her daily digestible in take of news would fit right in to her Alaskan family's style. It's just that in her eyes, Haines, Ak. even in the best of times, is way too much like the depression era of her childhood in the U.P., Calumet, Mich. Scrappy, subsistence oriented, economically poor, labor class families that lived proudly and took responsibility for change in the world. After graduating, she did the same thing I did with Kern county: bee-lined out, barely glancing back.

Since the end of August there's been a growing, queasy pit in my center. I'm quite aware of the obvious reasons for forgetting how to find air. I'm way more than just a time zone away. I've always lived a conspicuously chartreuse/ eggplant and rust colored lifestyle. Gardens, raising goats for milk. meat and compost, (also fine family members) fishing, trading for moose, deer, and mt. goat, keeping old stuff functioning with conservative use and making repairs. Our way of living would register so green in these southern regions that most people just lock down and question our sanity or look at what we do as something from "six-pack Joe's" reality TV shows.

At home in the Chilkat Valley, our homesteady choices smell somewhat like the very old guard. As undeclared, in many circles, we conjure distrust and present the challenge of either being from the Other Side and therefore some how suspect, or flat out wrong. It's assumed political cross dressing or guilt by association. Keeping a fairly low profile while volunteering across all boarders works best for me. I get to do for everyone and maybe, over time with a foundation of trust, influence a bit by proxy.
These are Cherokee Eastern Band skills attributed to my mother's paternal ancestors. The ones who stayed put in their Blue Ridge/ Smokey Mountain homes of 2000 years. Thousands of those horn schwaggled, militarily forced to march, Principal People on the Trail of Tears, and renegades, such as Tsali and his family, paid the ultimate price demanded by that era's white Mavericks. Our people went underground.

Having come of age just as an entire generation of promising US leadership was gunned down or shipped off for an older wrong war, I practiced political defiance as a teen here in Kern county. We were bold, resilient and generally a stones throw away either chucking or receiving. We mostly stood our ground and took chances on people. There were a lot of broken windows and family victims of early urban warfare in our demographically changing neighborhood.
I know, I know. I know. There I go again. Always backward looking.

Of late, my internal pressure cooker keeps registering dangerously in the red. There's been so much said about Alaska this month. Exposure directly attributable to another Alaskan girl away from home. In the span of a few short weeks, all things I detest most about my home's state politics, snowballed gregariously across the national landscape. Everything I abhor about our nation's politics and greedy aspects of Main Street and Wall Street American culture came barrelling out, with the 44 year old cheer leading mascot from my 35 year old adopted homefront. It's felt like the nightmare where I was the perpetrator of a barbarically, inhumane act upon another who turns out to be myself. Disturbing to a point of well blended agitation, recognize this: with the same 'ol, same 'ol, we are all being offered a wilderness smoothie laced with environmental and cultural anthrax.

But'cha know, this morning, I'm feeling somewhat better following last nights VP debate. Now, knowing that the governor's sheep clothing is falling away, I'm left pondering: if she appears more capable of holding her own, not such a backwoods bimbo, and having consciously chosen the glamorous seduction on board this hurricane, am I now released from my obligatory old school Alaskan survival code: "always try to help your neighbor out even if you can't stand the sight of each other?" Are the days of proverbial mixed potlucks for Sarah and I over?
Of course, if I run across she and the kids stranded along the highway, I'll do all I can to help. Or if Todd's boat or airplane goes down and I'm near by; in a heartbeat. And I'll leave my number if her kids ever need safe harbor, or a babysitter for the teen parents, one who'll listen to their young adult baggage and might offer a different perspective on life.

But politically speaking, from here forward, in this nation of nations, I'm hollering with a resounding Yop! No More! The Unaccountability and Creepy Deception Stops Here. Now.
With This Election, We Demand A Fresh Start.
I think that'll fit on a home grown yard sign, and I know how to replace a broken window or two if needed.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Out Going Tide

There's a certain melancholy that's comforting. While trying to maintain the high that comes with outrage and palpable national disappointment over our current state of affairs, a certain sadness that packs a blow to the bottom of my heart winds its way up to my throat.
Little things.
Yesterday, grabbing the mail and bringing in this week's New Yorker to Mama's bedside. For the first time in months she "'aint too inclined".
In her TV-less household of forty years, she's always had a certain pride in remaining informed via what hits the mailbox on the front porch weekly and being involved with people from all walks. That and a lifelong reading habit fed by bottomless interest in nearly every human exploit of the last 16 - 18,000 years. Well informed.
Adamantly put, she's done her piece; a lifetime of fire for people everywhere and a planet struggling. I'm just having a hard time letting her go. I keep wanting to stir the ash, look for embers. Connect her to the history making drama of now.
Accutely aware of another great one slipping away, I dredge through our shared history needing to bolster my commitment to a dignified passing. Be at peace with her being at peace.
There among the pages of a 40th anniversary special of Time magazine, my coming of age story is plastered consicely from cover to cover. The book has been sitting around the living room for months, a contribution from little brother. He'd been researching the cultural tempo and mood that was so much a part of our household in his pre- five years.
Inside, I found the necessary grease to release the knot that's made breathing raw for me lately. Page after page of international coverage from the front and center, nightly fodder that we scarfed back then, around the kitchen table the first year of Mom's step out from under a collapsed marriage.
Last night while I listened to the first two thirds of the presidential debate from Mississippi, I read, and was graphically reminded of the year we moved to Bakersfield, 1968. An odd marriage of present pride and shame for our country clamors back down the decades landing splat on that pivotal year.
My focus is interrupted, two thirds of the way through, with a phone call from home. My Merrick, former high school debater, along with her older brother and younger sister, shares a sweet update from home. She reports on her days: hand crafting a subsistance lifestyle in SE Ak. Firewood, smoked fish, poetry and berries for the winter. Her day job with special needs young people, increasing in hours. Plans for this fall's adult puppetry performance: her's, a retelling of Demeter and Persephone's dance, above as below. Travel plans for this year's pocket fluff funded globe trot, down below our most southern borders; to learn more and be with older cultures.
She notices the angry edge in my voice as I relate some of this week's news that she has missed. Her forest shanty, living remotely with out power. My heart feels looser and the sting behind my eyes is nearly gone by the time we hang up.
After her call, I help Ma to the wheelchair and the kitchen table. I toy with following the missed parts of the debate, quietly on the decade old laptop. I continue to read the Time capsule while waiting for sluggish downloads. The "Showdown in The Windy City" cranks up the personal nostalgia, rarely indulged, to a recognizable pulse as I momentarily relive those weeks. The DNC; Chicago's mayor Richard Daley. My adolecent political icons: King, Kennedy newly assasinated, Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden, Arthur Miller, Paul Newman... Thursa Revenaugh, arguing with her 79 year old mother over why the nation was coming apart at the seams and, "Yes!", her near 16 year old would indeed follow her own drummer and march, black arm band and all. My much younger sisters, quietly busy with crayons, glitter and popcicle stick homework at the end of the kitchen table. Little brother, aged four, daily hiding the newspapers so Mom and Gram won't fight.
In one of the obits for old Paul Saturday morning, he was remembered saying that after a certain age, the memory starts slipping and you just can no longer give the performance you were once capable of and it's okay to be done. I report this to Ma while bringing in the morning paper and helping her to get dry, breakfast, and a cup of coffee.
I told her I thought I'd go out and watch the morning come on from the backyard. She asks if the old Turkey Buzzards were passing over yet and I said no, probably not until late afternoon.
Under the morning shadows, I sit and watch the much smaller societies, busy in the grass and leaves of the Old Pecan, our axis mundi. Garrison's choices for the last two Writer's Almanac: Sept.26, "May Day" by Phillis Levine and Sept.27 "Smoke & Ash" by David Budbill; beautiful works, link up, gently with my moment.
Then, here they come. Low, direct, feathered squadrons. I stand, spread my wings in salute to their timeless personalities and loosen my grip on hanging tough. The dozens sketch swirling black paisley updrafts as I twirl beneath the bottomless, blue eyed sky.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Weather's Coming Up... and the winds began to blow

Yet another moment of silence.
Oh John and Sarah! May your fragile, leaking raft, continue to drift off shore, far from rescue and further drilling. May all who care for the planet and care for us all, build a gale force wind. Send their crumbling craft out onto the darkest of seas.
Long after struggling for their very existance, in the blackest of bottomless pea soups, teeming with every way of life and form of being, may they be cast ashore on some distant, desolate island, to be kept together safe and unharmed, away from dragging the globe ever closer toward head on catastrophe.

Hey! You two! Is that Uncle Don swimmimg out there? What's he hollering? Something about ear kissing? Hey! A household of three!

"More than $400 million of the money was earmarked for two separate "bridges to nowhere." One, nearly as long as the Golden Gate, would serve an island community of only fifty people. The second, a monument to waste known as "Don Young's Way," would connect Anchorage to a patch of scarcely habitable marshland.

"These two bridges are the most egregious example of government waste we've ever seen," says Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste. Even the conservative Heritage Foundation called one of Young's bridges a "national embarrassment." But the congressman refused to scrap the projects. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when Sen. John McCain proposed that Young redirect his prized pork money to help rebuild New Orleans, Young accused his detractors of "ignorance and stupidity." The victims of Katrina, he suggested, "can kiss my ear!"
From Rolling Stone article: The 10 Worst Congressmen by Tom Dickinson re posted Sept. 17

And as the weeks ensued, the breeze became a gust. From all sides people began to look around and at each other, as if a turning point was forming.

Here, afternoons and evenings, first 20, 40, 80 giant, prehistoic turkey buzzards kite and twirl; more each day. They are Raven clan I believe.
Else where, walls are crumbling. Nervous people, hedging on large concerns, whimpered at night about a shakey furure they helped create.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

You'd Be Welcome at 39 Old Scout

Lighting Out For The Territories
I'm thinking of heading north to escape the election. Maybe Alaska.
By Garrison Keillor

Sept. 17, 2008 | I saw two moose on a bike trail in Anchorage last week and did not kill either one of them, neither the cow nor her calf, though under the Bush doctrine I certainly had a right to, since the cow could have charged and pinned me to a tree and danced me to death. Should a man wait for the beast to attack and then have to make a difficult over-the-shoulder shot while running hard and loading his pants? Should he not simply level his Munchhausen-Weltschnauzer 480 and blow her brains out then and there, call in support and hold the perimeter? While I pondered whether to stay the course or cut and run, the mother and child lumbered into the woods. And anyway, like so many Democrats these days, I was out in public without a rifle in hand. So there you are.

Fall was in the air, the woods had turned golden and the tourist business was winding down, a few last busloads of retirees trundling over for a look at Mount Denali. In Wasilla, north of the Knik River, I saw no tour buses. The town is a series of strip malls and unless you're unfamiliar with tacos or fries, it doesn't offer much to the outsider. In a little compound near the library, they have preserved a pioneer home of 1936, but we have many 1936-era homes in Minnesota, as well as people born in that year and even before. As for the former mayor of Wasilla, you find a variety of opinions about her there, not many of which jibe with the Clean Government Gal you're seeing now, but you've heard all this before. (Michael Kinsley rang her bell in Time last week; if you're interested, look it up.)

What was exciting in Wasilla was a call from my Merrill Lynch broker assuring me that everything was OK and not to worry, which, like the Current Occupant's use of the term "short-term adjustment," gave me the jitters. Of course a Democrat like myself tends to suspect that lax regulation has enabled demented bankers to play fast and loose with the workers' retirement funds and escape from the crash with handsome rewards, but I never floated a bond issue for a hockey arena and financed it with a big hike in the sales tax, so what do I know about economics?

I am a liberal. I once stood drinking coffee in the stern of a fishing boat on an icy fjord out of Juneau, mists on the water, snowy peaks beyond, and the enormous black bulk of a whale rose up from the deep and glided silently alongside, which like a true liberal I stood staring at until it disappeared into the deep though it posed a clear danger to our boat. Rudy Giuliani would've dove in with a harpoon between his big incisors and driven it deep into the leviathan's viscera. I did not. There is the difference between us.

Another time I rode a snowmobile up the Iditarod Trail, and on my way back to the cabin, I cut across a frozen lake and hit thin ice and there was a splash and the rear of the machine sank a couple feet and I gunned the engine and wallowed my way out -- and the next morning, as the ski-plane took off from the lake, the pilot pointed at the dark patch where I had not drowned and said, "Watering hole. The moose keep that open all winter." So they are out there, looking for us. Need I point out that there are no moose on the South Side of Chicago? The skinny guy has never shot a moose and cleaned and butchered it and humped it out on his back. She has.

I love Alaska and think about going there for a couple months and escaping from this election. Find a cabin at the end of a long gravel road, haul in some books, salt and pepper, a sharp knife for field-dressing moose, and a Taser in case people rush the cabin and try to force me to watch the debates and hear Sen. McCain, an old deregulator, say he plans to "look into" the financial markets. The president of Merrill Lynch raised a half-million for McCain before the company was sold last week for half its assumed value. But why do I bring this up? Why? You've heard all this before. So have I. I'm lighting out for the territories.

(Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" can be heard Saturday nights on public radio stations across the country.)

© 2008 by Garrison Keillor. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Daily Snapshot: the exponent of the moment

If you get a rudimentry working knowledge of the I Ching or Book of Changes, you'll find it a very useful tool. Preferably the Wilhelm/ Baynes translation, all though others may be equally telling. The hexagrams are read from below (interior) the lower trigram, upward (exterior) the trigram above. Readings of the interior trigrams are also nicely translated in:

Wilhelm/ Baynes, 1950
Bollingen Series
Princeton University Press.
The title of this piece is linked to an informative site on this translation and the tradition on which it's based.

Today thinking of the poem listed under Monkey Trials below, I read from the I Ching # 24. Fu / Return, (The Turning Point)
(I wish I could share an artful rendering of the pictogram here).
Below: Chen The Arousing, Thunder
Above: K'un The Receptive, Earth
Read it as though looking through a holograpic image

Monkey Trials

via: JB

The Monkey is reaching
For the moon in the water.
Until death
overtakes him He'll never give up.
If he'd let go the branch and
disappear in the deep pool,
The whole
world would shine
With dazzling pureness.
Hakuin (1685-1768)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bunions, The Subtle Song, and Politics

There's an odd fray inside and out. Attitudes roll in overlapping waves.
Sound snags of other peoples wash. Little twists of damp, tumbled
tissue wads clinging, fused to every pillow case, shirt sleeve, terried cloth,
mitered corner, seam of wore- torn sheet.

Your faded mother, pink and grey seersucker
slacks washed a thousand times, hung out again in the continuous summer
heat close to the chainlink wall, wooded home of morning glory, virgin blue
Green wilt in the crunch brown landscape

That neighbor and his man, you've heard
their ostrasized angry hush, clipping,
ripping, virgin blue.Their exorbitantly nurtured abundance,
exotic plants, coddled through late middle years.

Rameis has a son, who hip hopped loudly all sullen yellow morning.
I, cranky with the world swing shut never closed windows,
close out his delight, mornings beyond authority other than his own.
Freedom from school, home alone, grinding metal with abandon.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Muck Review From Rural SE Alaska

This information came to me 9/11/08 via: Nancy Berland of Lynn Canal Conservation. It's been posted as an information source to Grist, Salon, and Gather Press who may opt to utilize. It was also sent to the DNC. What the heck.
Takshunuk Water Shed Council is linked to the title of this posting.
Nancy writes:
"Given the recent national interest in Alaska and Alaska projects like the Bridge to Nowhere, it's important for Alaskans to help the public understand issues we work on and care about, in the midst of all the political spin.
There have been many stories on Governor Palin's canceling the Gravina Bridge, but the state's ongoing efforts to build the Juneau Road have received little national attention."
For each of us she adds:
"Please consider writing a letter to the editor of your hometown newspaper (email addresses can be found by a simple Google search) about the Road to Nowhere, post something on existing blogs, or create your own!"

Background information:
The 2005 federal transportation bill (named after Don Young's wife) had $467 million in Alaska earmarks for the Juneau Road, and the Knik Arm and Gravina Bridges . Congress later removed the earmarks but Alaska got to keep all the money to spend on any transportation projects it prioritized. The governor did not return any money. The Juneau Road is a prioritized project and the only thing currently preventing construction is the lawsuit filed by LCC and other conservation groups.

In September of 2007 Palin cancelled the Gravina Bridge because it was $329 million short of being fully funded. She said "it's clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge." She also stated that "much of the public's attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here." (Anchorage Daily News, 9/21/07) This is very different from her saying "no thanks" to federal earmarks.

Some points you may want to make about the Road to Nowhere:
* The road will cost taxpayers lots of money
The latest cost estimate is $374 million, and 90% will be funded by federal transportation dollars. Governor Palin could have canceled
the project at any time during her two years as governor, but has chosen not to.

* The road truly would go Nowhere
The road would dead-end at a mud flat with no human inhabitants. By contrast, the Gravina Bridge would connect Ketchikan to Gravina
Island's 50 residents. Instead of a Juneau Road, by a 79% to 11% margin, Alaskans prefer the state spend transportation dollars on
maintenance and upgrades.

* The road will be used by very few people
Only 380 vehicles per day are expected to use the road once it opens. That's an average of only 15 vehicles per hour.

* The road would only be open part of the time
The 50 mile road would pass through 36 active avalanche zones and 112 other hazards including rock and landslide areas. It is predicted to be
closed 34 days each winter due to avalanches and an undetermined number of days the rest of the year due to massive rock and landslides. You
can mention or link to "Steep, Not Cheap", on YouTube.

Thank you. Every bit of public education helps. And please feel free to forward this email.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sweet Breath From The North! Welcome AL!

A Nation Is Only As Wise (and Intelligent) As It's People
Stir up a cold, hearty wind from the North.

Norm Coleman, the Republican incumbent from Minnesota, finishing up his first term in Congress, said before Congress adjourns he'd like to see an energy bill that allows more offshore drilling.

His Democratic opponent, Al Franken, also held a press conference, where he proposed a $5,000-per-student tax credit for families that want to send their kids to college. Franken said ensuring wide access to a college education is key to maintaining a strong middle class in the U.S.
COME ON DEMS! more soon

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Fall, a work in progress

There are certain indignities that accompany getting older. Things that turn the whole damned process into an odd array of misery. You've been doing just fine, maybe a little drifty, or odd on occasion. But, you're entitled, you're an old lady! Extended naps come at the oddest times of day. Dreams kinda mingle with the good book you've been rereading for the umpteenth time.

Glad you've annotated them all. Volumes worth over the years! Kinda adds to the entertainment. Although, you've got to admit, you keep surprizing yourself. You no longer necessarily agree with some of your oldest views. Feels like they've changed over night. Wish now you'd been more objective. Who knows which kid will inherit this partiular tryst.
It's January in southern San Jaquin Califonia. Every year when the desert winds blow, it gets cold in this quaint 1930's bungalow. Particularly this winter. Just stays kind of chilly. You want to keep the heat turned down to an affordable level plus they say it might help to reduce green house emmisions. You haven't given up caring about everything. Maybe the new gas wall furnace isn't so great. It was the cheaper installation. But it's only had one, mild winter on it, in Kern county!
Oh, Hells Bells! You grew up in U.P. Michigan in the 20's and 30's for crying out loud! Pull on an extra layer! Including the red polar fleece hat you splurged on from Eddie Bauer last year. Hey, Whoopie wore one to bed. Besides, you never planned on a Carribean cruise. This is a tired woman's retirement. Pamper yourself and stay tucked in.

Mornings still start pretty early. Reveille sounds around 5:30 or 6:00. Of course, when it's time to move the bones these days, the motivational force is usually the damned bedding requirements. Either you can avoid having to change it all, so you get up quick, take care of business, and feel like you've been given the day off. Or, things are wet, so you strip it all, dump it into the rollator, roll it out to nuke a cup of Joe, read the morning paper and start the laundry.
Your little blue caddilac with the basket, hand brakes, and seat (for when you gotta sit), is most often your choice. You still use the pretty cane as well. The one your New York son in law got the last trip back to see the eastern portion of your tribe. Mic, Mark, Melody, Pete and their kids. When was that? Two, three years ago?

Oh. Mustn't forget to plug in the cell phone. Even just looking at the time throughout the night seems to wear down the batteries. Let's see. Where's the plug. Ok. What?! How'd it get to be 4:30 already? AM or PM ? This time of year it's rather hard to tell. PM. Handy little device. Not so many teeny, weenie buttons. And it plays a forty's bit when you turn it on to check the time. I've got good kids. It's still brand new. Not entirely sure how to scroll for the numbers that Matthew programmed in. Better read the manual again. A gift from Mickey. May be a replacement for the alarm system that I neglect to carry the device for. You'd think I'd know better. If I wear the button for that one around my neck though, it swings back and forth in front of me while I'm using the walker. It makes it terribly hard to focus. I still pay for the system monthly and it's been serviced recently. I've needed to use it only once, a few years ago, when I fell and couldn't get back up. At least I know it works! One just learns to go very, very carefully.

This evening I don't think I need the rollator. I feel pretty good; grab the cane. If I get moving there's still enough outside light to get a Healthy Choice into the microwave with out toddling about to turn on a bunch of lights. Phone's plugged in right?. Ok. Here we go.

Thank God for Healthy Choice. They're a well balanced meal, tasty, and just the right portion. And you don't have to cook! Or wash dishes! Standing at the counter, trying to cook is not only for the birds but hard to do. This way I can slide the finished meal right out of the microwave along the counter to my roost near the "Oh My God" stack: a few carefully selected, annual donation requests from various shameless beggars (tee hee, I'm bad!); lot's of New Yorkers; equally large stack of National Geo's; Time, and mail order catalogs (I've been known to indulge; Harry and David's is great for Christmas time, although I'm afraid people might have been offended; expecting more. This is the first year I didn't send Christmas cards. Feel bad about that. And I got so many nice ones).

Today, I got The Chilkat Valley News, my favorite, next to the New Yorker. Reminds me of the little newspaper we owned in Sandy, Oregon back in the fifties. Not bad writing; fairly innocuous reporting, which you have to have in a town of 1800 or so people. Covers every thing in town from the the police report and Duly Noted, to borough government and all of the community events especially the schools and library events. I get to read good things about my grandkids from Alaska. Not quite as much any more now that they're out of school. But it's still entertaining. Adrian says I know more about the people in her community than she does.

So what day is it? Sylvia from A Caring Touch comes on Thursdays for the grocery order. Is that tommorrow? Well, even if it isn't I'd better take inventory when I pull out tonight's menu selection. Try to stay a week ahead. That is a lot of Country Herb Chicken. Lean Cusine's Salmon w/ Basil is not too bad either. Nor the Turkey Tettrazini, though that's really more lunch sized. They're kinda spendy but this is what your savings are for. What the hell! You're done traveling to all parts of the continent to see the kids and grandkids who aren't here in Bakersfield. Got the house in pretty good repair. Gave up driving a couple of years ago; global warming and the damned SUV's.

Not a bad retirement from the Kern County Welfare Dept. Good health insurance that you haven't had to use much yet. It'll be there if you do. An adequate monthly income plus social security and you've nickled away enough that if you outlive your plan, god forbid, an assisted living facility won't strap the kids.
Twenty one years as a social worker. Thank God you loved people! It got rough towards the end with Ronnie Baby in the White House, the so and so. As governor he made our jobs nearly impossible. I get mad all over again just thinking about it. But hey, it allowed me to raise the five remaining kids and pay for this house, on my own. Their father said this would be an exercise in futility. Wrong thing to say!
We sure as hell weren't rich by any means. I remember the look on Adrian's face when I told her we'd probably be better off financially if I stayed home and collected welfare. I was angry. Quite frankly, I would have gone crazy! I had a college education and I loved my job and the people I was helping. Poor mothers with out educations or handicapped in other ways; unable to get their lives in order. I passed up supervisior positions several times so I could stay out in the field.
Later, it was helping to open the new Jamison Center for the kids who needed protective services. Of course my own children were latch key kids, risky business. But we were resourceful. We survived.

Ooh! It's kinda dark. I'll switch on the lamp when I get over there to zap dinner. You should of brought the rollator from the bedroom. The left leg just doesn't respond the way it used too after that TIA a couple of years ago. I was demonstrating at the Kern County museum how the Yokats wove their baskets when it happened. There were about eighty, fourth and fifth graders and I know I scarred them for life by becoming a puddle on the floor in front of them. Scared every body. Damnedest thing. I couldn't get up! By the afternoon it had worn off but that was kinda it for the top volunteer of the previous six years. Not only frightening but embarrassing! Oh Well.

Talk about scarry. Let's see now. If I hold on to the counter with one hand... and reach way up to the freezer... and tug really hard. Dammit! Ok. Pull Thursa! Humpff. Well... Ok then. Ooo... two hands, reach. Now: this- damn- - thing-- will-- not--- bu...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Keep it moving. Move on...

Creating open endedness in which time for healing from a catastrophic event is something we moderns are learning to stand in support of. The after math of disasters from around the globe, in the opening decade of our brand new millineum, have given us exposure to millions of stories. Events that change everything that was familiar. The stories that help us to be better, stonger, kinder, more resourceful.
The harvest from our Mother's vast sphere of influence, over eight decades, has been a life time devotion to healthy independence. An original humanist; teach others how to utilize their talents and resources toward living well and how to share the benifits of what they've learned. That goes along with Live and Let Live; code for "hands off!".
Learning to recieve help and the generosity of others may be her last sharp learning curve. And remembering once again how to share her life. Class 'aint over till the bell rings.
After Mom's injury and the subsequent gathering of her far-flung off spring, I decided my time was probably most available for helping her out. Kids are raised, husband newly retired, carreer homestead, stable.
Not having been away from Alaska for more than a couple of weeks in over thirty five years, it's been one hell of a season to plop in.
I'm brand new to the 21st century informational and entertainment advances but I'm finding my way around. Sister Mic has provided the household with a vintage iBook, browsing the Internet with Safari and an XM radio.
The house is always wide open to combat the heat. I stay close and kinda quiet; most of Mom's time is in bed reading and sleeping, but this externally imposed hiatus from my own life has given me an uninterupted crash course environment in which to learn all manner of things. About the world and myself. The last few weeks I've been on a trip with out leaving the farm.
By Sat. Sept.6, I was worn thin; Alaska's underbelly had gotten further washed ashore. It's a good thing. Exposure. But one wants to be with their own kind during times like these. Like when the lesser relatives have gone and done something terribly foolish (such as thinking they're worthy of accepting a nomination for the vice presidency of the United States) and immediately everybody finds out what the distant family member is really made of and shame is brought onto the entire house. There's hope for the compassionate of heart who are left with the aftermath of such a disaster. I'm rowing towards that little island.
By the weekend my boat was dragging bottom.
So I got up Saturday and decided it was time to soothe my parched sense of humor. Starting with Michael Feldman's brand of sweet, smart, sarcasam, backed by a grand installment of This American Life with Ira Glass and solidarity was reinstalled.
While waiting for Garrison Keillor's hoped for soul salve, I discovered the motherlode: From The Desk Of G.K.
Reading all afternoon via this kitchen wizard machine, and listening to all of the recorded and live performances of Sept.6 was a grand slam. Beautiful resources; seriously valuable additions to my Alaskan'08 Wilderness Survival Kit. But I sure miss home.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Backyard View; as above, so below

The lower basin has begun to cool. An hour before dusk the mercury swoops toward lower registers. Block after block of over watered lawns lay blanketed beneath condensed vapor. Infant tule fog. Come morning, the desert sun, an over ripe tomato, lingers over coffee. Quietly rising mid-day, our pensive blue cresent, breaking from the work week schedule, scans the news. Holding a bruin's belly promise, she'll gain girth steadily. I watch from below, apprehensively plotting a grand mother's winter garden.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Weather's shifting. May the winds begin to blow.

A moment of silence. Oh John and Sarah! May your raft drift off shore far from rescue and further drilling. May all who care for the planet and care for us all, make a mighty wind to set adrift their crumbling craft.
May they land on some distant unknown island, to be kept together safely, away from further dragging the globe toward head on catastrophe.

And as the weeks esued, the breeze did began to stir. From all sides people began to look around themselves as if a turning point was forming.
Here, afternoons and evenings, first 20, 40, 80 giant prehistoic turkey buzzards kite and twirl; more each day. They are Raven clan I believe.
Else where, walls are crumbling. Nervous people, hedging on large concerns, whimper nights about a shakey furure they helped create.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Like Frogs In A Pot. It's Getting Warmer: A laundry list

Traditionally, the Tlingit Indians of S.E. Alaska packed for hundreds of miles annually to trade with the people from the interior. They paddled and sailed the water ways to harvest from forested islands, mammoth rivers, and the saw toothed mountains. Giant dug out canoes transported generations of villagers for potlatch up and down the sea coast. This industrious, highly successful, mobile, BUSY society opened the gateway, allowing contemporary culture it's toe hold into Southeast Alaska and the Chilkat Valley.
Today, in the communities of Klukwan and Haines, there is a growing number of those who walk, share rides, hitchhike, boat or use bicycles for transportation and to better their health. Even though the extra mile in scrappy weather is often hard to come by, there is growing momentum to do so. Especially at today's fuel prices.
There, many practice the three R's faithfully. Generally under crazy climatic conditions. Crazier of late. Pack it in, pack it out is reaching a whole different level of commitment as our extended winters continue into summer.
Up the highway, near the US/Can border where we live, thirty three feet of snow in one season recently accumulated. The berms grew so high they deserved geographic designation.
Snow management is a sizable task even for us minimalists. The winter of '06 -'07, I was determined to clear our parking area with a push scoop. My husband was away that winter and I wanted to see if it could be done without killing myself. I'd practiced for several winters on a few big dumps and knew it was possible.
We live, most of a mile in all directions, from our nearest and oldest friends. They are each old-school generous, and mechanically well endowed. I'm certain they thought I'd cracked. I really did appreciate their periodic widening of the area. In Alaska we help each other out. It's the code. So is self reliance.
I stuck with it and after a record breaking year, toward the middle of May, the gravel in the parking lot finally emerged. My daughter and I felt defiantly stronger and more capable; olympiads. Thanks in part to one hell of a winter, and a scoop and shovel.
Last winter, my husband went back to the snow blower. Unlike myself, he can keep our vintage Honda blower running. He's a damned good mechanic and being a newly retired teacher I think the effort helps as classroom replacement.
Is all this ummmpff and carbon use crucial? Kinda. For 27 years, we've walked in to the house on snowshoe packed trails. Age old wisdom: go over the snow. As rural Alaskans, we embrace impracticality with a certain relish. In truth, clearing the parking lot allows Joanie to deliver the mail six days a week. It also gives us the choice to drive 39 miles to town. Don't forget to haul the recycling and put a big piece of hemlock on the fire. Bank the stove down tight. We'll be gone awhile.
Alaskans annually run enough small gas engines that I'm sure we compete with the commercial mow, blow and go gardeners, so abundant here in S.Calif. Although we value well built, smaller sized homes and under utilize heating fuel and electricity, most use outboards, chain saws, generators, water pumps, and rototillers for our subsistence lifestyles. Lot's of aging boomer and neo - homesteaders heat with wood. For some, this requires Bob Cats, log splitters, pickups, and cargo snow machines, plus state timber sales or roadside cutting.
Public utilities offer electricity from giant diesel generators that are subsidized by hydro produced power. Again, adding to our sticky carbon footprint. Not to mention the cost. Though not as prevalent now as a few short years ago, there are some who still generate their own electricity or do without. I suspect many more will return to trickle charged solar or wind power systems and incorporate new innovations. Or do with out. Reflected snowlight is awesome.
Our busy roads system includes the Alaskan Marine Highway a system we dearly love when we aren't rabid about awkward scheduling.
Charter and commercial fishing boats and airplanes, Alaska Airlines, tugboats and barges for food, mail, and cargo; all of this bumps against a blooming tourist industry much of which is based on copious amounts of fossil fuel consumption. We are an incredibly busy species where ever we are. In Alaska, gratefully, for now, there are fewer of us.
Being in S.Cal these last few months, I'm startled to find how brand new the conversation around carbon calories and global climate change is.
Bako is a typical motor city. Generally one person per rig, most often several rigs per family. BUSY! Similar to Anchorage, Bakersfield is a smaller city, by today's standards. Desert country. Hotter than hell and gritty through open windows most which remain closed to accommodate A.C. in vehicles, workplace, shopping areas, schools and homes.
This summer has been one of the coldest on record in Alaska. Younger Dryas brewing? And we're here to witness it. Cool indeed!
In Kern, back in April, an unmeasurable amount of rain fell. That's been it. It's now late August.
Flying in from the north this month, I was dazzled by the highly baked surrounding region, vast and lovely in it's brutal dryness. Ravaged, tawny scrub-lands give way to industrialized agriculture, factory animal farms, and giant oilfields; razor fencing at the entrance of the Emerald City. Inside, the irrigated green oasis supports an astonishing array of imports and transplants. Every species imaginable. Predominantly upright and two-legged.
This morning screeching flocks of wild parrots follow their leader from block to block. Up from distant climates, they've naturalized and multiply, yeast like, in the oldest downtown park.
It's 8 AM and 93 degrees. I sit, watching the morning parade from my mother's stoop.
The neighborhood push pedal sno-cone fella just intersected with the third gift UPS or Fed-X delivery this week. Let's see what she got today. A fruit of the month box from Harry and David.
...The enclosed note says unseasonable weather in the growing region has damaged much of their Royal Velvet Plum crop. Instead they've sent us Exotic Honey Mangos. Look yummy. But what about those locally grown sno-cones? And, where's the snow come from?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Croneish Wisdom

I've been echoing through the halls of our ancestors to the present moment, now pinging toward the generations yet to come with cautioary tales. Croneish time traveler tricks. Goes something like this:
In remembering both my biological grandmothers and other fine elders I've had close involvement with, each who remained physically active up through their later years, most had signifigant loss of balance toward the end of their lives (as have many mid-life friends). Many became recliner, bed, or wheelchair bound from the initial fear of falling and the resulting inactivity or injury.
For my mother this year, a near decade of dealing with a general loss of balance resulted in a broken hip and eighteen hours plus on the kitchen floor. Akin to having birthed six kids including a set of twins but at 82!. Coupled with fear and the resulting inertia there has been several months of being wheelchair and bed bound and terrific head scratching (could it be vascular dementia i.e. stoke damage from TIA's resulting in Ataxia? ya ditty, ya ditty, ya ditty ya...gratefully, each ruled out). Once the anesthesia cloud finally began to lift and healing gained a toehold, good old confidence building at home and some outpatient OT are beginning to make tiny incremental gains. Mostly, by helping her to gently stretch her hamstrings and build a growing awareness of her center of gravity via her pelvic tilt and use of core strength.
She's frail but healthy; no meds, a life history of good diet and work related activity, and an uber- keen use of her mind for eighty two years. If we can get past this hurdle she may just pass her 89 year old mother. Down the hall and to the present.
Here's my pitch: trying to stay fit while housebound, i.e. caring for Ma. I'm using the Strongwomen program introduced to me last year via the Wisewoman program of SEARHC, our regional health consortium. I witnessed and experienced astounding results having already been fairly fit. A dear friend, having suffered a balance related broken leg claims she healed quickly and never felt better while useing this simple regemen twice weekly (love you Margaret!).
So, with the Strong women reps (wonderfully described on their site) coupled with a yoga ball and related exercises, I'm intending to return to my Alaskan lifestyle able to pick up where I left off. In peak Crone form. Oh yeah, fellas can be Crones too. Old Cronie? Codger? Guys, make it happen in your chosen fashion and let me know. We all be elders in training.
I've done a little cutting here from the Strong Women Web site and added links under Keepin The Gears Greased. Aw go on, check it out.
" Miriam E. Nelson, PhD, is one of the Tufts University scientists who developed this remarkably successful exercise program. Her research created news worldwide when the results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Now Dr. Nelson has written Strong Women Stay Young, to translate her laboratory findings into a safe, simple and effective program that any woman can follow at home.
"My study followed 40 postmenopausal women for a year. All were healthy, but sedentary; none was taking hormones. Half the volunteers - the control group - simply maintained their usual lifestyle. The others came to the Tufts University laboratories twice a week and lifted weights.
Most women begin to lose bone and muscle mass at about age 40; in part because of this, they start to slow down. And that's exactly what happened to the women who didn't exercise. One sedentary year later, their muscles and bones had aged, and they were even less active than before.
The women who lifted weights changed too - but in the opposite direction. After one year of strength training, their bodies were 15 to 20 years more youthful.
They became stronger - often even stronger than when they were younger. (Ade will attest to this)
Without drugs, they regained bone, helping to prevent osteoporosis.
Their balance and flexibility improved.
They were leaner and trimmer, though eating as much as ever.
The women were so energized, they became 27 percent more active.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Lil- as in air Lili- as in spirit

Ma and I perch at the kitchen table, near the open windows. She is dozing and reading, both lifelong disciplines. A heat powered breeze passes through the wind chimes which hang from the ancient, elegant pecan tree out back. The wisp enters the large airy room, then twirls through the blades of a little table top fan nearby and exits, conditioned air. Conditioned to many seasons of entering my mother's home. Since she finished raising her six kids and a carreer as a welfare social worker, she's lived exactly as she pleases. Even the over heated air, bold enough to enter, knows the law here: live and let live. Outside, spawned by triple digit dog days, the heat lays itself heavily upon the old, downtown neighborhood; drowsy, dopey, and surprisingly quiet, in a cityish sort of way.
I sit nearby. I'm attempting to ignore the screaming impulses that rage with in me. "Get up, move about, work your body, and soul, outside preferably, on every imaginable project requiring large motor skills and endurance. Now!"
This has been my daily discipline of thirty plus years.
When I'm home, I use spontanious outbursts of dance and scat-style-jazz-chant to refuel my tired muscles. This allows me to go on working somewhat endlessly, exploring and tending to a large piece of wild land, home, and family way up north where the air is always cool and moist if not frigid and possessed.
My husband and youngest adult daughter, like her grandma, have always been able to inhale extensive hunks of each day, sitting, chapter after quiet chapter. Like my mother, I dearly loved reading aloud while homeschooling our three kids. My own private reading is now better absorbed this way, but I've learned this is generally suited best for places beyond chairs, windows and doors and the quiet spaces of others.
When I was kid, to sit quietly and focus on purely intellectual activity alway's seemed an art better suited to other family members. The really smart ones. Those who's specialized talents started showing up in very early childhood. They happened also to be the ones who learned not to bug Ma on her days off. Seemed as though they were able to sit while actively engaged with their individual interest and barely notice the heat or their appetites or the yen to move. Satisfied by small bowls of dried cereal and artfully cut fruit, they taught themselves to stay put for hours. And damned if they didn't become shining independent stars academically, artistically, with business savvy and success.
My children are similarly wired. Our twenty by twenty foot cabin required octopus like management skills from me to assure their elementary level skills were piqued and their academic and artistic hungers equally triggered. I absolutely loved every step of the way but secretly their mamma still lived daily for recess, primarily so she could get out and play.
Like my mother, I have, for several years now been able to live exactly as it suits me. Wild distant explores on snow shoes all winter give way to hip waders up river in the spring. Gardening, fishing, and packing with goats, sheep and dog in the high country follows in the summer and fall. A book and art supplies always come with. I've even learned to weave while my flock pauses to graze on something particularly yummy. Granted, with all my reading aloud they are becoming a particularly bright and talented bunch. They are born dancing and singing.
I am at present temporarily disengaged from my own lusty pleasures as I care for my housebound elder mom. Far from the catabolic winds and mountain breezes, I am once again up against tackling the art of sitting, quietly, while productively engaged.
The last hour while focused on learning to edit these words on a machine I barely understand, the breeze has lost intrest in entering our open windows. A slow salty trickle is winding it's way down my achy spine. Mama, in her wheelchair, chin on her chest, I think may be dreaming of tap dancing with Fred Astaire. Her lips suck and puff little wisps of wild, unconditioned, warm air while the pages of her book flutter gently.
OOOh, hoala! Up comes a strong West wind.The fig tree next door is twirling ecstatically. Hey! Come in my love. Welcome. Please, do come in.

Friday, August 15, 2008

POEM BY: Brother Matthew

Oleander Haiku

The morning’s silence,
broken by birds.
Dogs barking.

Breakfast in bed.
Coffee’s not drunk.
Newspaper’s read.

Warmth shines through,
Stained glass curtains.
Fans on high.

Mother to six,
watches her world.
Sidewalk parade.

Pages in books,
second time read.
To clarify.

Her child is here,
helping her day.

Afternoon Sol,
heat of the day.
Nap time.

Evening’s approach.
The calendar turns.
Fiery sunset.

Nighttime descends.
Lunar relief.
Crickets chirp.

Words read by lamp.
Midnight’s sweet hush.

Six children here,
in time of need.

Our turns are next.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Sister Melody's Art

Since very early childhood, Melody has had the focus necessary to move toward the outstanding artist she is today. Raised in a household with six children, our parents found ways to engage their children's interests generally with what was at hand. Gravitating toward what was in her mindseye, be it a miniature locomotive (her Papa,"see all that copper wire coil from the old radio your brother took apart? It'll make a beautiful locomotive."), or the after dinner bird nest from toothpicks and paper napkins. The marvel of shaping and reshaping the same colorless, lumps of clay into marvelous forms meshed with the steady input of being out of doors, pretending and adventuring with the tribe of siblings. Evenings were spent listening to Mama reading aloud while stitching, picking, snuggling and general nesting practices coupled with Melody drawing images from the day's events and her own responses and imaginings.
As the kids grew older and began to diversify, Melody was generally occupied with nurturing baby animals, family pets, or wild foundlings and drawing their portraits. Dubbed "the dreamy one" she honed her skills with sketch book, color and the ability to stay focused emerging as one of the most accomplished multi-medium artists of wildlife and fantasy.
I've included a link to her web sites under Art is.... Spend time browsing and learn about the special projects that she's engaged with these days.

Adjusting The Lens

Most mornings I wake up to sticky fibers of resistance woven together. On one of those endlessly stretchy patches outside of time I sink into a struggle with myself about my surroundings.
It's five AM in Bakersfield, Ca. The so called crush of humanity is still more akin to snowbanks in late May. There is activity. A steady thawing. In my struggle I confuse the flow of distant freeway noises with the sounds of the Klehini River tumbling out from under the glacier. The river, a wild, constant source of renewal adjacent to our homestead, freshens the entire valley with cool moisture flowing south east toward the salt water of the Inland Passage. Odd the similiarity in a semi doze. A freeway is certainly a mighty river after all.
Through perpetually open windows countering desert heat, the sound scape this morning is comprised of mostly the garbage truck. Its deep diesel, is raucously punctuated by the squeak of hydraulic brakes and mechanical arm, audible from blocks away. Rumble, air, squeal, squeak, air, rumble, air, squeak, rumble, squeal. First one side of the street, car length, by car length, until almost beyond the range of hearing then to return. Down the alley, cart by cart. Then up the other side of each and every street in this old grid style neighborhood. Mom's particular area takes about forty minutes before the truck sounds have been diminished.
By now the early yard and park guys are out trying to beat the heat. Lawn mowers and blowers add drones and screaming quite unlike any small engine noise I've known. Each yard's automated sprinklers add odd staccato: tic,tic,tic,tic,tic,tic, woooosh, and... tic,tic,tic,tic,tic,tic,woooosh. The grassy, watery smell is somewhat familiar. Thirsty hard baked clay made wet is wondrous.
Each household has now begun their daily routines. Their cars load up and pull away from the curb, merging with the larger tributary, picking up in volume moving toward highways and thoroughfares.
By this time, the desire for quiet and my struggle with location have each subsided. Instead, acceptance and affectionate family devotion have welled up. My body responds with the intentionally held image of flower strewn river flat, white capped peaks, and archtypal glacierial caves. My regular haunts and psychic shelter I'll return to often through out the day.
A deep stretch pushes out from my core and then the desire to fill my lungs. I hesitate on the intake. I know the prolific greenery of mature landscaping act as larger lungs. But it's kinda like being really, really hungry at a bus station and the chicken sandwich that you just spent the last of your change on, bird, bread, iceberg lettuce and all, look a little suspect.
Hey, Gotta eat. Gotta breathe. Right.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Slow Train

An all time favorite author of my mom, sister and now myself, Barbara Kingsolver, has a beautiful new book Animal, Vegtable, Miracle that is destined to become a pivotal piece for all who care about life on Earth. I can't thank my sister Mic enough for such a great gift. What a joy it is to find this growing movement taking on our planet's painful degradation with style, courage, humor and delicious valor. May there be many more efforts adding up to (key words here) small locavore societies thriving where ever people subsist. I've included a link that will take you to their wonderful and useful site.

Bedside Meanders

In a state of suspended animation, the passage of time would be imperceptable. As a kid watching old time- lapse photography scenes from 1950's-60's science films, I recall thinking that the speeded up version is the way contemporary people experience life. The growth of a plant, the passage of a season, our individual lives. Perception shaped by our sleep/ wake cycles and relative only to our eyeblink lifespans can't help but affect how our species does everything.
I spend a lot of time with mountains. Mountains, like arctic seal hunters of old understand deep time. Looking into outer space on a cold clear night or sitting near a dozing elder holds the same mindful expansiveness. Suspending animation, key to reaching the space between moments. The space where time is malleable. Where dream, memories, and the present moment meld and fold strata upon strata.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I'm interested in those who've found the scar from their open heart surgery, dubbed a chest zipper, to be a new source of tactile pleasure. My husband ended up with quite an extensive dragonfly shaped scar after a quintuple bypass that he is quite conscientous about. Course I think it's beautiful. And we've found it has some pretty sweet tickle attached to it. Win,Win,Win in our waneing years. Hope someday he finds it pretty.

Monday, June 23, 2008

It's been very hot in Bakersfield since I returned from our Alaskan's Take New York City last week. Bako has been charting in @ 100+ since Friday and peaked at 110 on Saturday. Tonight the crickets are pulsing 58 chirps per minute plus 40 equals 98 degrees at eleven o'clock. Smart little buggers. My mother, raised in U.P.Michigan, with an additional ten years in cool, abundantly moist Oregon and another ten as California heat intern in the Sacramento area swore her alligence to Kern county in 1968. Through great discipline she has honed her desert tortoise survival skills. I, on the other hand after 35 years of passionate commitment to Alaska am pressed daily to keep from being a messy puddle on her gold flecked linoleum floors.
Our overnight helper is here to keep post allowing me to explore this urban oasis. I've just returned from an evening stroll in the old neighborhood. Far more pleasant outdoors than in. Fun seeing everyones yard at night. In this quaint 30's era neighborhood each house and yard are so individual. Choices of garden lighting, mostly little solar path lamps are sparingly tucked in and around the mature landscaping lending an other world feel to the evening. Coupled with the all -prevasive chorus of crickets and the gentle pace dictated by the still raidaiting streets and sidewalks I'm mellowed and looking forward to a nights sleep. Me and the open windows and the electric fan. Mom's happily cruising with her stack of Ruth Rendall rereads. I'll talk of New York tommorrow.
P.S. Thanks to Sandy, You're the first to offer a response. Kinda thought my site was unavailable. Was feeling somewhat like I was hollering down a well. A useful exercise to tune your voice but exciting to know some one is reading what I've written. Glad your very large undertakings are feeling managable.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sitting out in the backyard of my Mother's 1930's bungelow in Bakersfield, Ca beneath a fabulous full moon, my wilderness ears grope for sounds familiar. The city is just winding down after an unseasonably early stretch of extremly hot weather. It's the middle of May and has been one hundred and three degrees for four days.
The teen mother of two little girls who live next door with her grand parents has hollered her way through the bedtime routine. Her 25year old downs syndrome/ autistic uncle has put his classic rock accompanied by erratic snare drum to rest for the night. The family's well behaved 8 month old Pyranee pup has marauaded about madly in the overflow from the ancient swamp cooler covering her abundant white coat in cool sticky mud. She grins at me through the chain link fence saying "Come on. We can have more adventure than this. " I don't want to tell her of the fun I generally have daily with my big beauty across the open river flats at home in Alaska. She's just invented a really good romp complete with climate control. What she doesn't know won't hurt her.
My hearing gropes madly about the neighborhood. Oddly it's not the crickets I hear. They're there chirping rhythmically. What my ears choose to drop in on is another chirping coming from a multitude of sources. Every rooftop houses a source of cooling the dwelling upon which it rests. Each makes it's own peculiar set of bumps, squeals and gurggles. This is what I zero in on.