Monday, December 20, 2010


Courtesy of NPR - photograph by Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Image
Walking home, a young man, who lives on my street, told me that Constantinople fell on a winter solstice lunar eclipse, among many other significant events.
I wonder what will happen tonight.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

new technology, a little joke from my little iphone

After two months enjoying!!! my new iphone, I was working at my regular desk top computer, looking at a page on the web.
The screen display font was too small, so I reached over to the screen and with the spreading fingers motion, tried to enlarge the item I was viewing.  I was startled that nothing happened, then burst out laughing at the transfer of expectation to the (now old) computer technology.

sleep cycles and ancestry

My sleep cycle has once again changed with a new decade of life.

When I wake in the middle of the night (usually at the 4-hour sleep cycle end), I actually enjoy my time -- either watch Jon Stewart  -- recorded at 11, when I'm almost always asleep or about to fall asleep, or I read, or I get on the computer  -- now my iphone -- for a half hour or so. 

If I'm really sleepy, I'll warm some milk, maybe add some kahlua (yum) and take it back to bed with me.  My cats are very patient with my new habits.  When I go back to sleep, whether it is after a few minutes, or a half hour, or sometimes after a whole hour, I usually have another deep sleep for the (needed) period of time...  I can't remember when it was last necessary to use an alarm clock -- if I need to wake up particularly early, I let my brain be aware of that (or drink a little bit extra the night before -- native american alarm clock style).   It's me new older-woman schedule.  I also consider it my naval schedule -- Ship's schedules had sailors sleeping 4 hours, awake 4 hours, sleep 4 hours, alternating watches. When I was little, my ambition was to go into the navy and sail around the world, before I found out women couldn't do that -- then when I turned 18 they could, but by that time.....Vietnam, and so many other callings to me.

Many sea captains, sailors' wives, lighthouse keepers, ship-makers in my ancestry.  I honor them with my new sleep habits.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

summer storm

The rain wakes me, I, now refreshed from my first four hours of sleep.  Laying in my bed, the window wide open, listening listening loving the sound of the rain. It comes straight down; I am protected from its full force by the long overhang of my small home's roof.  Yet the wind brings refreshing sprinkles onto my face. The gray cat is the one to share my excitement of this delicious weather. She remains on the inside window ledge, protected but close to the outside.  I am at camp again, a child, in the woods, the sound of the heavy rain on the trees. A crack and the boom of the thunder telling me the lightening is likely close within my neighborhood.  

I think of the creatures of my backyard, who do live in the outside, who find their overhangs to protect them, in the ground or among the bushes, or under some other protection, burrowed away until the storm will pass.  And perhaps getting wet, but shaking off the rain with their protective coats.  They know when to scurry under and then when to emerge.  And they, too, perhaps, can return to sleep refreshed.  It is the black & white cat, who actually spent a feral kittenhood in the wild and knows, she is the one to find her place hidden away, perhaps under the most protected bed, perhaps in another corner; I never see her during these storms.

The intense weather passes.  It is quiet again, darkness all around. The water has refreshed us with its gifts of life and growth and sustenance.  The electricity of the storm powerful, astounding.  I am left grateful and content.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

prayers for the planetary waters with the grandmothers on may 18, 2010

We are Water Babies.
Do not to forget to say thank you every day for the water you drink,
the water you bathe in.
Without our Mother water we would not survive.

Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim, Takelma Siletz, Oregon

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

reconnecting with earth 6 bringing it down to earth

What are are next steps?  What are my next steps?  I will continue searching and implementing steps, even if small, each day.

From Genius of Nature by Janine Benyus, author of Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature:

On the spider web:
A spider makes silk (they make six kinds, and I'm talking about drag-line silk that frames the web) that is five times stronger, ounce for ounce, than steel.  It's resilient and tough -- a true miracle fiber.  Even more incredible, a spider uses flies and crickets as raw material and creates the fiber at body temperature (a life-friendly temperature), because the manufacturing plant is the spider's body.  Furthermore, the fiber is biodegradable, so the spider can eat the web to make more web."

About the prairie:
The original pre-Columbian prairie was composed of 99.9 per cent perennial plants, hundreds of species in four categories: cool season grasses, warm season grasses, legumes, and composites.  They held the soil, so not only didn't it bleed away, it was actually enriched over the years, and because the prairie was a mixture of species, it resisted pest attacks....Couldn't we redesign our agriculture in the prairie's image in this part of the world, and then look at other parts of the world and see what grows there naturally and follow that wisdom?

She cautions about our footfall.   She writes, We in the United States take up about thirty acres of bioproductive land and sea per capita right now, and there are only five acres per person available globally.

It is not that the earth cannot sustain the population, it is that greed and imbalanced production geared to a small minority steals from the remaining, both human and non-human.
The Earth Charter [see] 
The Earth Charter is a declaration of fundamental ethical principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society in the 21st century. It seeks to inspire in all people a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the whole human family, the greater community of life, and future generations. It is a vision of hope and a call to action. The Earth Charter is a product of a decade-long, worldwide, cross cultural dialogue on common goals and shared values.
The Earth Charter is centrally concerned with the transition to sustainable ways of living and sustainable human development. Ecological integrity is one major theme. However, the Earth Charter recognizes that the goals of ecological protection, the eradication of poverty, equitable economic development, respect for human rights, democracy, and peace are interdependent and indivisible. It provides, therefore, a new, inclusive, integrated ethical framework to guide the transition to a sustainable future.
  With appreciation to the Northwest Earth Institute for compiling the discussion course
See for more information of call 503-227-2807

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

reconnecting with earth 5 ecopsychology

canopy above us ~ a world we seldom see

In attempting to understand human foolish misbehaviour in terms of the environment, John Seed (Australian director of the Rainforest Information Center and co-creator of the Council of All Beings) explores the philosophy of deep ecology. He writes:   
     The fundamental problem is anthropocentrism or human centredness.  We are obsessed with our self-importance...we blindly destroy the future for 10 million species so as to fill the world with humanity for a few generations more.
     In deep ecology, the world is seen not as a pyramid with humans on top, but as a web.  We humans are but one strand in that web and as we destroy other strands, we destroy ourselves.

Bill Plotkin (described as a wilderness guide, ecotherapist and depth psychologist) further emphasizes that children need nature, to explore freely in their own way the natural world: unsupervised play with peers in field and forest, with mud and stones and sticks, observing animals, birds, flowers, wind, snow, stars in order to grow into healthy, vibrant, creative human beings, fully belong to the world into which they were born and from which they were born. He emphasizes that this need, nature immersion, not only helps prevent modern maladies including depression, hyperactivity/attention deficit disorder, obesity, but that it is an essential dimension of human development to ensure creativity and rootedness in the earth community.
We can teach ourselves to be more aware
of our
own mutual dependence.
As every living being wants happiness instead of pain,
we share a common basic feeling.
We can develop right action to help the earth and each other
based on a better motivation.
When we are motivated by wisdom and compassion,
the results of our acti
ons benefit everyone,
not just our individual selves or some immediate

Words from the Dalai Lama

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

reconnecting with earth 4 the universe story

Brian Swimme, founder of the Center for the Story of the Universe (what a name, yes?!), and author of The Universe is a Green Dragon, speaks of compassion as being a genetic mutation, allowing humans with a compassionate bond to better survive.  First, the care or compassionate bond between mother and child evolved, then between siblings, then between kin groups.

He relates this compassion to gravitational attraction, which was essential to the beginning of the universe, the formation of the stars.  This comprehensive compassion that pervades the universe is now beginning to surface within the consciousness of humanity.  To extend this awareness, he recommends simply, to pay attention.  He likes to use the phrase "the power of gawking," and references Chief Seattle who said, "if the animals were not here, we would die of loneliness."

Upon seeing the first deaths from the current Gulf oil tragedy, the giant turtles being tenderly inserted into small black body bags, the size of the turtles, how I ache for us all with this great loss.

reconnecting with earth 3 nature & spirit

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

reconnecting with earth 2 shifting paradigms

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, 
he finds it attached to the rest of the world.
John Muir                         
The titles of the articles we have been directed to read are in themselves wonderful phrases for contemplation:
               Thinking Like a Mountain
                  The Web of Life
                      Deep Ecology and Lifestyle
                         The Gaia Hypothesis
                            Seeing the Whole at the Center

From the Mother Earth News article (May/June 1986):
              ....over the millennia the earth has somehow regulated its own temperature.  When life began on our planet four billion years ago the sun was 30 percent cooler than it is today.  Yet, from then until now, the temperature of the earth's surface has remained with the critical life-supporting range of 15 degrees to 30 degrees Celsius.  The level of CO2 has dropped a hundred fold in those four billion years, reducing the "greenhouse" heating holding effect of the atmosphere even while the sun was radiating more heat.  The result?
The earth has kept itself at a constant temperature ... just as our bodies do.

I find this astounding, and shows how the interaction of systems produces amazing results.  

Another delightful reaction and example from nature:  In an experiment, damaging bacteria were introduced to a limited number of trees at the far end of a forest.  Almost immediately the trees at the opposite end of the forest, a significant distance from the affected trees, began producing antibodies against that threat.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

building a garden (of life)

 lambs ear intermingling with the gifted rose from my son's wedding celebration

My backyard is my world.  Now I am creating newly in my front yard.  The more I embrace this wonderful space around me, the more I can learn from it and be guided and enriched by it.  It provides me with animal life:  the squirrels fat and brown of this town in all seasons, always busy, always aware.  Coming to peek in my living room window at times.  Fearless even with the crows, the cats, the bark of the dogs.  The wonderful lumbering groundhogs -- there is a young one this year, scurrying fast.  The old one, like the squirrels will come up to the back step and peer inside, wondering about the glass separating us.  The raccoons visit, even nest, until I need to ask the animal man to come and capture him and clean out my eaves space -- the smell so strong he cannot breath well -- then needing the screen to prevent future nesting.  The rabbits, usually unseen; my surprise at the baby bunny nesting on the edge of the road, next to my mailbox.  The feral cats that leave their careful tracks in the snow beside the jumping tracks of the rabbit, enjoying the clear hospitality of the space under my parked car, free from the cold wet of the piled up snow from the night before.  The birds, of course, bringing change and joy and song.
echinecea plants from my new daughter transplanted last fall

 poking up through the grass

Now my emerging small garden, providing amazing memories from last year, with some plants intact, others expanding, others with unknown greens (weeds, they say) poking up -- my need is to clear the remaining packets of strong returning grass to make way this year for a new friend -- will it be beans or peas this year?  Slowly slowly adding to this small space.  I moved my carefully tended little trees last year, they seem to be thriving in the new location.  I must anticipate their size and needs because they will create shade in the future that will prevent the possibility of other, especially vegetable, crops.

transplanted peonies from my grandmother (lena) & tulips from the backyard

The others in the group talk about travelling long distances - to Yellowstone, to Alaska -- or forty acres of land up north -- or a farm land of grazing cows and goats -- or the massive Matthaei Bontanical Gardens.  But I am lucky with my land and my small homestead and the sun and trees that surround me and the moon that I can follow.  This small space is becoming more and more my teacher.

Transcending hesitation:
Understand my intention with my heart. Build on the clarity of that intention.
Create a plan to proceed.  Lists are good.
Follow that plan.
Seeing clearly, respond to the needs the garden itself presents to me.

wise words from Geri Larkin, Plant Seed, Pull Weed.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

reconnecting with earth 1 wild nature

The interconnectedness of everything, not just the living, but also the living parts of the past, on earth and above earth, seeing a miracle, said Loren Eiseley.

The badlands appear to be lifeless, but in fact hold all the particles of life: 
carbon black on the stone, iron in the clays, phosphorus from brain, calcium from bones and teeth still intact.
The rocks are full of life, and can speak to us, not at all inanimate.  They hold the history of the earth.  The birds fly over the land that the humans have, for the most part, abandoned.  It is all part of the whole, including the light from the moon illuminating all.

To bring awareness of wildness into my life, more consistently and deeply.
To be aware of the secret of seeing.
To allow the discipline of clearing the mind that will give room for the possibility of illumination.

Currently participating in a six-part discussion course, with appreciation to Jim Crowfoot, to fellow students, all themselves teachers, to Michigan Friends Center.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

the mark of a man

As a result of a recent dream, I have been remembering the first time my son showed me his deep and true adult character.

The dream, not written down and so soon forgotten, was nonetheless felt to be of significance.  The only portion that I have been able to retain was my son driving me on a fast road, he swerving in and out of traffic and various road situations with incredible driving skill, accuracy and speed.  The dream itself had other implications, and many specific details which were satisfying at the time, but forgotten by the next week.

But still, the dream prompted the remembrance:

My son had turned 21 that year.   I had been in a frightening car accident, had been sitting on the passenger side, sure that my life was to be over.  Happily, it was in an older Volvo, and yes, my Volvo saved my life, as the advertisement used to say.  A week later, I needed to drive a long distance home, maybe 10 hours of driving across national borders and high-speed roads.  I was wary of the car altogether and didn't anticipate taking this trip with any pleasure.  My son offered to drive me the distance, changing his plans to meet my needs.  On the road, I was very squirrelly, fearful of the traffic and the speeds and, most especially, of passing any trucks at all.  I needed my son to drive for me, and I needed to calm myself and re-learn how to be a passenger without startling or tensing.  It was a hard trip for me.  The highway speeds were difficult -- I had always been a good driver, and generally would flow with the faster traffic, managing with ease the five miles per hour (or greater) more than the standard top speed that was the normal pace of the middle and left lanes. 

Now, however, the slightest increase above the speed limit kept me tense, and attempting to pass a large truck that was going the lower truck speed limit completely unhinged me.

My good and gentle son, fierce looking with his well-configured punk style and tall, strong body, certainly at 21 years of age  was used to highway speeds and a young man's confidence.  Yet, with his mother beside him, he drove for all those highway hours at exactly the speed limit, driving in the slower right-hand lane, letting the trucks pass us by.  He did not once make fun of my jumpiness nor of my active right leg attacking a ghostly brake pedal from time to time.  He comforted me, asked me about my fears, encouraged me to relax, and, above all, allowed my needs to govern the long drive home.  When we became stuck behind a really slow truck, he talked me through accepting moving to the center and left lanes to make the pass around, pointing out that it was actually safer to get ahead of a large truck, rather than to be behind one if there were to be an accident ahead.  

I felt moved not only by the care that this adult young man was now showing his mother, but also by the great generosity which marked his entire manner during this trip.  I knew then the man that he had become, and the character that would be part of the rest of his life.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

on the death of a childhood friend

She was an extraordinarily accomplished academic writer and teacher, renowned internationally. We had been out of touch for a decade, and I discovered that for the last eight years she was enduring a debilitating disease, leading her to be unable to talk, although she kept her mental capacity to her death, even completing two major books during this period of time.

I remembered her most vividly from third grade on and especially in jr. high school. We danced together -- both of us tall and awkward beside the third best friend of our dancing trio, the one who was lithe and lovely o
n her feet and became a professional dancer. But all of us enjoyed each others' company, spending wonderful four-person sleep-overs on mattresses on the floor, jumping on and off beds, making up stories, giggling and giggling.

In jr. high, more serious, she and I shared many confidences, stories about our crushes, of course ... it was 7th grade ... Also participating in our young peoples church group, performing or singing in the church and learning
about civil rights and the war protest movement from our politically active group leaders, our eyes being opened in our very white, very conservative Boston suburb town.

In adulthood, we met perhaps three times when our paths were able to cross; sharing where our lives had taken us and also sharing new perspectives on our lives as children, hidden secrets now more easily explored in our conversations. Her academic achievements were quite extraordinary, but we shared a childhood friendship that needed no intellectual parsing. From the tributes to her written by her colleagues and students, I believe she approached her academic discussions in a similar way -- honest and open, with great respect and caring for others, interested in direct exchange with great humility on her part and focused and kind interest in the other.

An impact of learning of her passing has been the sharing of this information among a group of additional childhood friends. One other of this group is missing and greatly missed. Those of us here have a renewed commitment to keep in touch, to support and nourish each other, even if from a distance.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Just two days later, a very different mood and very different feelings. Contentment with my life, my day, my evening, the blessings I have been given. The loneliness dissipated, gone where? Odd to have such a change -- come about from the gift of sleep perhaps?

When I am tired, how comforting and renewing is sleep. Fresh sheets, newly made bed, fluffed pillows and quilt, a book beside me. Looking out the window to the beauty of the quiet night, the moon still beckoning and spreading soft light across the backyard. Lovely and reassuring.

Now I recall with comfort the many other gifts I have received. My cozy home, my good friends I can reach out to (including the new and enjoyable virtual friendship circles and circles), always always my children, and now their children. My nieces and their (brand new!) children, expanding (real) circles of loving relationships.

Any my enjoyments: many books, many movies, television at my convenience, music and music and changing moods that music can generate, the radio shows, the lovely surrounding wood (inside and outside my home), delectable food, planning for (possible) gardens with changes of weather. The changes of weather themselves. The blessing of living where there is rich, lasting, encompassing heat, then the beauty of impermanence as the trees change color and shed their loveliness, the many shades of white, snow, ice, sky in winter, the color of cold, and to anticipate the multiplicity of spring changes...

So then to be alive is to be content. And I embrace the gift of contentment in my life.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


How do I describe my feelings. Perhaps by writing I can understand. Perhaps I think I can erase this lonesomeness, this sadness. This is not being alone, with which I am well acquainted, and normally a condition which allows me quiet and contentment. No, instead, this is missing so much: missing touch, missing companionship, missing friendship, missing intimacy physical and emotional, missing another, wanting to be outside of my self, wanting to be away from my sadness.

I walk from room to room. I know to move to work to accept to ignore to hide to cover to pretend to distract. I especially know to distract. I also know my blessings, my family, my past happinesses, my friends, my abilities, my accomplishments, my children. And yet and yet and yet, this sadness appears, feeling so apart. Knowing I could likely reach out and I would receive much more, but somehow paralyzed. What is the fear. What is the sense of lack, the inability. What impels me not to seek what I want and need.

This loneliness. It tears at me, my eyes tear. I listen as my heart is beating, wanting, waiting, but not seeking.