31 December 2008

1st sentence of the month Meme 2008
This idea comes via Angela Magara via Donald Engstrom from Copper Stewart. Interesting perspective!

January 08
I’m back in CA student teaching EAT.

February 08
It's cold and partly cloudy in the Bitterroot Valley tonight.

March 08
Here we go! Early tomorrow morning we climb into the truck and start heading east.

April 08
Wow. I am in Italy in a stone house on a hill facing a valley of steep cliffs and ancient terraced herb and tree gardens.

May 08
Today it is a bit cloudy and cool, windy even. The house has been a bustle of activity in preparations for the wedding Saturday of the two people who live here.

June 08
I read this in today’s Guardian:
Polar bear shot dead after 200-mile swim
This is a perfect example of human stupidity. This beautiful creature’s life wasn’t worth the effort of saving. I weep for the polar bear, and I weep for us.

July 08
Watching the modern film Beowulf and reading some of it again gives rise to these thoughts.

The story symbolizes the death of the old, the dragon, and the rise of the modern patriarchal mechanized world, but not without a cost to that new world, for it is born out of violence and the gradual disconnection from the spirits of Earth and the rise of monotheism.

August 08
Chloe and I are settled in at a friend's in Den Dolder, near Utrecht. The train ride from Italy was quite an adventure in small ways, and exhausting.

September 08
I am focusing in this entry on events in Minneapolis where people gathering to protest the criminal actions of the Republican controlled/manipulated government at the Republican National Convention. Houses are being raided, people are being detained and otherwise hassled and intimidated by the police.

October 08
It rained last night here in the Bitterroot valley, western Montana. It's a beautiful sunny morning, Lasky is asleep on the floor. We arrived here on Monday after 6 days of driving.

November 08
It's election day...finally! I voted at the local High School at around 10:30 AM. The place was packed. There were no parking spaces left in the huge parking lot, I had to park on the grass. This is a small town and yet there had to be 200 people in the gym with me, along with dozens of local folks serving as election officials. I voted, then drove 5 miles to someone's house to do a massage.

December 08
We have a home, Chloe the cat, Lasky the dog, and me! I've been spending most of my time during the last three weeks fixing up an old log cabin behind my friend's house in Hamilton, Montana. It's coming along just fine! I've been told we can stay as long as we want. The rent is low, the view's are great, and the cabin itself is really cool.

24 December 2008

The cabin is toasty warm. Granted it is in the mid twenties outside, but today I did a big chunk of insulating. I've strayed somewhat from the true permaculture path by using bubble foil; bubble pack with foil on both sides. It is, however, made from recycled materials, which is cool. I covered the west gable end and one bay of the roof, and discovered that by cutting this stuff into strips it makes great chinking material. I filled all the gaps I could find. The kitchen is still cooler than the other parts of the cabin but it's comfy. The staple gun is my friend.

I had a great visit with my nephew who left this morning. I work tomorrow in the group home, which I am looking forward to. I have 2 cords of wood outside; red fir, split but needing more splitting for my stove. That's cool. I broke my axe handle so I got a new one which is a pleasure to use.

My body hurts in a lot of places, some of which is just muscle soreness from work and some is the old injuries making themselves known. I plan to take it easy for a bit, now that I can be warm and have money for food.

17 December 2008

I realized when I was a teenager that a big part of my life was and would be as a witness. People came to me with their problems to talk, and I found it challenging. I wanted to be heard too. It came to me, though, that this role of witness was a sacred calling and so I embraced it. The witness not only listens but he observes and notices what's happening inside and out, and sees the web connecting it all.
Sitting in the cabin (it is warmer today, single digits, so in here it's quite comfy) watching and tending the fire, the animals, my body, gives rise to much reflection. As much as I have strong emotional ties to many people and situations, I also observe myself observing more than participating. Granted, most of those people and situations are geographically removed, but even so...I am witnessing.

16 December 2008

Heading into the bottom of the year, Solstice is in less than a week. Here in my cave-like bedroom in the cabin, with the fire burning and temperatures in the single digits above and below zero F, I have time to contemplate. I have my distractions which are also pleasures; music, food, internet, and of course the critters to care for and be with. Distractions, though, are in a way intended to change the now, which of course one can never do, because the now is always exactly what it is. Everyone is having their moment, their now, in some way. They are all different but aggregated that is humanity, that is the experience of the human morphogenetic field.
The contradiction of humanity; the timelessness of the moment, and the fragility of the body which can only live within a very narrow set of parameters. It's a wondrous experience. If this is all there is, it's amazing. And if this is one of many forms we move through, it is also amazing. I don't think it matters much to know, and we can't be truly certain until we cross through the final veil of this life, but to feel the enormity of the mystery, of possibilities, is inspiring.

15 December 2008

It is COLD here right now. Last night was around -20 F. The cabin is not tight, so keeping the fire going and huddling in my bed were the order of the night. Chloe cat stays warm under the covers and Lasky likes the cold.
I have been on a weird 1980's music kick, downloading old pop songs. I am also very drawn to music on German and Italian right now. Traveling in Europe was so good for me, challenges and joys. The fact that I can listen to music in languages other than english and even understand a word or a phrase here and there is comforting somehow.
So, staying warm...3 to 4 months of this are tolerable. Heck, I'm from Vermont! I will be doing additional insulating this week, getting more wood, blah blah and will be fine. I can always grab the critters and go into the house 150 feet away which has central heating. I like being the long haired smokey smelling guy in the cabin...and laugh at being in this neighborhood living as if it were 100 years ago.
I find that, being so occupied with my own physical survival, I rarely read news or anything political. After the obsessive election experience this is a relief. I wonder how long it will last?

10 December 2008

Everything's progressing. I got a cord of wood day before yesterday and spent much of yesterday splitting wood with a maul. I am sore today! There is super cold weather coming so tomorrow will be all about chinking the cabin.
I have noticed, now that I am employed and living somewhere, I am poorer than I was when i was homeless and unemployed. That's screwy eh? No wonder people in this country are doing so badly. The system (this is not news to me or you by the way, just a rant) is designed to keep the poor poor. Tomorrow I go apply for food stamps.

06 December 2008

We have a home, Chloe the cat, Lasky the dog, and me! I've been spending most of my time during the last three weeks fixing up an old log cabin behind my friend's house in Hamilton, Montana. It's coming along just fine! I've been told we can stay as long as we want. The rent is low, the view's are great, and the cabin itself is really cool.

27 November 2008

I just recorded my Thanksgiving episode for "Stories from the Road." I hope you'll take a listen!

25 November 2008

It's been almost two weeks since I posted an entry here. In that time I've been working my ass off rehabbing a log cabin behind the house I am presently staying in. By rehabbing I mean cleaning out literally decades worth of crap; hundreds of boxes, 400 sq. feet of straw and sawdust on the second floor as insulation, and just a lot of other stuff. I also hired a carpenter to put in windows, build stairs to the second floor, and build a wall between the living space and the car port.

Tomorrow I will pressure wash the interior, and then shop-vac it. This weekend the woodstove will be installed (fingers crossed!) and then I can move in. It will take some work to get it tight enough to hold heat, but it's definitely within reach. I am looking forward to being in the space. The cabin is over 100 years old, pretty funky, but with all we've done so far and a good cleaning, it's going to be a very sweet space.

Today I had a very nasty experience with the credit union in Vermont where I used to bank. Long story short, they tried to screw me out of $2500. I am so sick of financial institutions who act like they are doing the customer a favor by allowing us to access our own money, and who gouge the customer with fees every chance they get. I am so sick of being lied to, and having procedure and policy used as an excuse for dishonesty and theft. At this point, if all the banks fail, I will say "good riddance." I swear, in this country people seem to value money over life, over human connection, over just about everything!

I've made a point of simplifying my life significantly in the last 4 years, but I still deal with these financial institutions. I see them as parasites, sucking energy, in the form of money, out of people's pockets. Luckily I am savvy enough to make a stink and stop them from screwing me 99% of the time but there are plenty of people out there who are not savvy in those ways, who are being ripped off by their bank or credit union. It's really disgusting.

I'm watching Obama appoint his cabinet, as we all are. I'm disappointed in some of his choices, especially Hilary Clinton for Secretary of State. Hilary is anything but a peacemaker, which is what we need. It's also disappointing though not surprising to see how many Democratic machine players are being selected. It would be nice to get some really new players in the game, people who are not beholden and whose integrity has not yet been gnawed away by Washington politics. Ah well, as I said, disappointing but not surprising.

12 November 2008

Possessions...interesting concept. When I left Italy I boxed up most of my stuff and my kind friends there agreed to mail it to me in the states. This was mainly because I (finally!) realized that schlepping 80 pounds of stuff was doing a number on my injured spine.

The boxes were sent in mid-September and one of them arrived today! Hooray! My stuff!

I got rid of most of my material belongings in 2005 before hitting the road. It felt great to lighten the load,and to give things to people which they would enjoy. This period of waiting for my stuff has given me cause to further reflect on this issue of ownership. I miss my warm clothes, my jeans, my hiking boots, my drum! Now that one box has arrived it seems very likely that the other box will also arrive, but the length of time in shipping allowed me to confront the possible loss of my stuff, and I didn't like it. I didn't freak out. It is, after all, only stuff, but it's nice stuff that I cannot afford to replace.

Attachment is attachment, even if it's to a small amount of stuff, or to an idea. Even attachment to the idea of non-attachment is an attachment.

I have a dear friend who stopped having contact with me this summer and never said why. I think it's because he felt more attached than he was comfortable with, and so in an effort to eschew attachment, he stopped being in contact with me. I have felt sad and frustrated by this, but accepting...everyone needs to do what they need to do. I do think, though, that being attached to the idea of not being attached is kind of a paradoxical set-up.

The election happened. The person I voted for in the presidential race won. I have had more than a week to notice my attachment to the intensity of feeling I had about the election. Now that it's over I can resume being attached to watching and commenting on the government. There is a new piece now though, which is the hope that the new administration will be more human, more caring, and more honest than what we've had for the last nearly 8 years. Attachment to hope.

The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism have touched me, taught me, inspired me. Now, however, I am seeing the irony and paradox inherent in the quest for non-attachment.

11 November 2008

Miriam Makeba died this past Sunday. She was a musician, an activist, a mother, a champion. She was Mama Afrika. You can listen to my tribute to Miriam Makeba from the "Stories from the Road" radio show on wbkm.org.

06 November 2008

I...we...are faced with an interesting dilemma. Already historical revisionists are beginning the rehabilitation of Bush's legacy. I see it in articles in various publications...columnists saying that Bush had a lot of bad luck, luck of the draw, etc. I say that's nonsense. Sure, there were things that happened which were beyond his control, but the choices he made (and which were made in his name) and the policies established under the Bush presidency ARE Bush's responsibility. Remember where the buck stops? That's supposed to be a metaphor for taking responsibility, but in this case it's been quite literal that Bush has allowed himself and enabled his friends to abscond with hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, from criminally negligent contract fulfillment in the war, to the disastrous bailout. In fact the list of bad choices, and the list of out and out corrupt deeds, is too long to even list here. Bush is a christofascist, seeking to impose his religion on others, while marrying government to corporations whose only motive is profit. Personally I would like to see Bush reviled by history. I'd really like to see him and other members of his administration prosecuted, some of them internationally.

The dilemma is that in the interest of accountability, it is too easy to be vindictive and hateful. "You become what you hate" seems to be a truism, so there is great risk in pursuing justice in this case because there IS so much anger. Of course we all have a right to feel angry, and that energy can be used in a constructive way, but it could easily energize vendetta, which is not what we need as a country or as a world.

The election did issue a mandate, and it did move the country in terms of racism, but it did not heal all the wounds and divisions that exist. There is still an ideological chasm between the so-called left and right. Within the Republican party there is still a will to enforce the christofascist agenda. Just because they lost this election doesn't mean they have given up, or will do so. It could mean just the opposite; an energized christofascist coalition of forces.

It behooves us to NOT polarize, and at the same time to be vigilant in watching and exposing those who would foist theocracy and even more extreme classism on this country.

It is also clear that the radical right is continuing their war against people who do not fit into the heterosexual mold. We saw a number of anti-gay initiatives approved at state levels by voters in this election. It's safe to hate and oppress queer people. After Prop 8 (the anti gay/lesbian constitutional amendment in California) passed in California, the very next day at a rally against Prop 8 a cop beat up someone at the rally. When an initiative legalizes discrimination, legalized scapegoating (a la the third reich) it grants tacit permission to violate the scapegoated class in other ways. We will see an increase in hate crimes against sexual minorities as a result of these initiatives. In fact there has been an increase in hate crimes against sexual minorities steadily throughout the Bush presidency, because his administration silently sanctions such hatred and oppression. Bush stands for violence, for domination, so the implied message to his followers is "It's ok to beat up and kill queers."

There is a lot of healing needed for our species.

05 November 2008

Congratulations world! Congratulations United States! Congratulations to Barack and Michelle Obama!

My anxiety dropped when I heard that Obama had won. Like many others I have hope. Obama's acceptance speech was so moving and sincere. I have never heard a president-elect mean what they say like Obama meant what he said last night.

May the tide of fascism now be turned! May the US now strive to be what we say we are and yet have not been.

I'm tired after working an overnight, so this is short...time for me to sleep...but I am very happy about Obama's election.

04 November 2008

It's election day...finally! I voted at the local High School at around 10:30 AM. The place was packed. There were no parking spaces left in the huge parking lot, I had to park on the grass. This is a small town and yet there had to be 200 people in the gym with me, along with dozens of local folks serving as election officials. I voted, then drove 5 miles to someone's house to do a massage.

Voting is a funny thing. I have voted in every national election since I was 18, 30 years ago. I have seen my vote count as one of the ten write-ins that elected Bernie sanders to his first term as mayor of Burlington, VT, so I know that voting can matter.

I have also seen the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections stolen, with nary a word in the corporate press about it.

Voting is funny because it is active participation in a system which I know can be corrupt, and more deeply it is participation in a binary system which is deeply flawed. Generally, in the US, whoever has the most money for PR tends to do best in the election. This is not always the case, but at the national level it definitely takes a fortune to campaign for office. Between corporate lobbyists and monied special interests, it's usually pretty difficult for the "little person" to make a difference, and yet Obama has raised over $600 million mostly in the form of small donations from individuals. This shows how hungry people are for the change Obama represents.

I am not naive enough to believe that Obama will or even can make all of the changes that I think are needed. He has corporate ties. He has said he will escalate the war in Afghanistan. He voted in favor of legislation that excused the Bush administration and some huge telecom companies from accountability for illegally wiretapping phones and reading email of Americans. He is in favor of building new nuclear power plants. These are positions which I disagree with 100%.

Obama is clearly an intelligent educated man. He appears to be educable and interested in learning; a far cry from the current occupant of the white house. He also speaks (intelligently!) as an advocate for the so-called middle class with regards to economics, health care, education, and food security.

Like McCain Obama has not mentioned the poor, the homeless, the utterly disenfranchised in the US. I tell myself he has done this for political reasons, but that he does care about all the people. I hope that's true.

Montana has traditionally been a heavily Republican state. Now, however, there are two democratic Senators and a Democratic Governor. The polls have determined that Montana could go either way in the presidential race. we shall see tonight!

If you haven't listened to my election episode on "Stories from the Road" you can go to the show's archive page and listen to the show and the accompanying musical selection. I think you may find it enjoyable and affirming.

28 October 2008

I'm All For An Auto Industry Bailout!

The solution is obvious. Auto makers get subsidized only if they agree to dedicate themselves to high efficiency vehicles. They've had designs and prototypes for decades which they have suppressed because of their partnership with oil companies...but this has to end. Now.

If any of the Big 3 will get right on the envirofriendly car, they get help. If they say no...let them fail, and let someone else step up to the plate, get the subsidy, and make the envirofriendly vehicles.

Seems like a no-brainer to me.

If you like this idea, share it...get some buzz going...maybe we can make it happen!

24 October 2008

Hard to believe I posted last 6 days ago. It's been a good week for me personally. Things are working out well for me here. I accepted a 20 hour a week as an on-call crisis stabilization worker, starting next week. I did an afternoon of chair massage today. It looks like I will be offering an Elements of Magic class, and also doing some one on one teaching of the craft. I'm also going to be doing some PR for a local musician. I have a diverse palate. I enjoy doing different kinds of things. It keeps me engaged, interested.

I continue to read about and discuss the current political...what to call it...bizarro world comic-like events. Here are a couple of things I've posted recently on the NYTimes site and the Washington Post site.
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If McCain "wins" it will be due to election rigging and voter suppression, both of which the GOP is extensively involved in.

1. It has been reported in West Virginia last week during early voting that election machines were switching votes from Obama to McCain. This also happened in Ohio in 2004.

2. The GOP continues to try (and in many cases succeed!) to disenfranchise especially minority (Democratic) voters across the country. They tried it here in Montana but were stopped by a Republican judge who was appalled at the GOP's blatant efforts to derail democracy in the 2008 presidential election.

If McCain wins through fraud, then a lot of people are going to be pissed off. We've had the last two elections stolen so that the corrupt idiot and his gang of criminals could occupy the White House. I think Americans have had enough.

If McCain wins, through fraud, and people are pissed off enough, some people may choose to take to the streets. Why wouldn't they??

When the election was rigged in Ukraine and people took to the streets, they were praised by the US press, by Bush even, as standing up for democracy. So if our election is stolen, again, why shouldn't we stand up for democracy, take to the streets, and refuse to accept the next criminal regime?

I do not advocate violence. I advocate liberation.

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The answer is a resounding "No!" (to more nuclear power) for a multitude of reasons. Safety is the first issue. There is no such thing as a safe nuclear power plant, there are only plants which haven't YET had an accident. Included in this issue is that of nuclear waste, which cannot be safely disposed of. Economics is second. They are NOT cheap, they always run way over estimated cost, and nuclear power is yet further centralization of power generation and further profiteering by large corporations at the expense of the people, and the earth. We need to decentralize. Each town or even each building can produce much of it's own electricity through wind, solar, hydrogen. And we have barely scratched the surface in terms of what we can do by being more energy efficient. Third reason...by turning our focus to renewable energy we will create more jobs than nuclear power ever could, both in terms of R&D and in terms of implementation.

The arguments in favor of nuclear power are short sighted and based in an economic model which disrespects life, commodifying life and reducing everything to it's monetary value. Life is sacred. It is immoral to commodify life. A society which is powered by immorality, where can that lead? Look around and we see it. Divisiveness, politicians who steal elections and lie, corporate control of government, a military industrial complex run completely amok, and the list goes on.

We as a nation need to invest in renewable energy or we will make ourselves extinct.

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Sarah Palin...well I've never met her so I am not going to make a personal assessment, but from what I've seen of her on TV, and what I've read both about her and quoting her, she seems to me like a spokesmodel. She's Vanna White. I would be thrilled to see her on a game show. I bet she'd be great at it too! She's sparkly and kind of cute in her affectations. But a heartbeat away from the presidency? Noooo, not a good idea.

17 October 2008

I just read piece by Kathleen Parker at the Washington Post. Click to see it.

I wrote her a response:

Kathleen, to what do you attribute blind adherence to ideology when reality blatantly proves the ideology is a flawed abstraction? It's a real question, I am interested to know your thoughts.

It can't be stupidity, one cannot generalize such a characteristic to as large a group as the current neo-con Republicans.

I can't generalize mindless greed or spiritual bankruptcy to such a large group either, and yet I don't know how else to explain to myself what I've seen happening in this country especially the last 8 years. I know the military industrial complex took a larger role under LBJ, and has been expanding itself ever since, with the aid of government, all bent on security and profit. I know that the foundation for this corporate takeover has been in the works for decades.

I have a pretty well informed world-view for an American. I've traveled, I've spent chunks of time in other countries, and I've traveled extensively in North America. I see that most people are kind and want to be kind, even when they don't have much. I saw people in New Orleans in 2005-2006 show such compassion and wisdom as I had never seen before. I have also seen people be mean, I have to say mostly I have seen police be mean in crowd situations, and I have seen a lot of mean spiritedness on the blogs coming from the right. For the most part my impression of humanity is that humans are prone to a foolish shortsightedness, but they mean well most of the time...except for those "in power" who, for the most part, enrich their friends, themselves of course, and carry out ideological agendas that always include cruelty; killing people and Earth in business transactions, truly psychopathic behavior. Here's a link to a paper I wrote on the topic. http://www.healingmagic.org/articles/narcissism.pdf

Anyway, what do you really think is going on in this country? Maybe that can be your next column.

16 October 2008

Have you ever heard of or tried Kombucha? I have a friend who told me about it, he's into many things fungal. It's a mushroom that grows in liquid. You drink the liquid and it's a super pro-biotic tasty drink.

OK drinking mushroom culture sounded kind of disgusting to me, so I didn't try it for a long time after my friend told me about it. When I was in Vermont this last time I was thirsty and went to the big overpriced natural food store which used to be a co-op, and I wanted something in glass because I am avoiding eating and drinking out of plastic, so I got a raspberry kombucha. It was pink and carbonated and tasted like any other good pro-biotic drink, and was really good. It wasn't sweet. Afterwards, the next day, I had the best morning shit. Sorry, but these things do matter and we never talk about them.

When I was preparing to drive west I wanted a half gallon glass bottle for water since I am not into buying water. I couldn't find one. I ended up buying a half gallon of kombucha in a glass bottle thinking I would drink it and use the bottle. Instead I have been drinking it, and refilling it and feeding it. I refill it with green tea with fresh ginger brewed with it, and feed it with agave syrup or brown sugar, let it sit out for a couple of days and it gets cookin'! If you've never tried it, do. It's good to read up on it by clicking in the link above before doing anything.

13 October 2008

Today I feel ill at ease. We are over the edge and sliding. What's happening behind the scenes is insidious. It's happening and hasn't been unveiled yet. So much hangs in the balance.

Now more than anytime in my life it is time to keep the connections strong, to energize the web of relationships and awareness we each are part of, ultimately it's one web...life!

Today I put up massage posters, watched an episode of "Heroes," wept, played guitar, danced, drummed, and now I'm writing this. I also did a tarot reading for myself. Johnny Clegg on the stereo, from his most recent album. There's a ton of energy moving through me right now; feeling, thought, and just life force.

11 October 2008

Morning in western Montana. It's cold and blustery, cloudy, snowing in the mountains a few miles away. My morning routine these days is to get up, have a cuppa joe, and tune into a few news sites online. I like to add my comments to articles in the Washington Post online and NYTimes online, though both of those newspapers have demonstrated that they are controlled by the right, one can participate in the online discussion by commenting on articles. The NYTimes screens posts before publishing them, and if one is too strident they won't print your comment, but the WaPo is instant publication.

It is fascinating to read what others have to say. Easily 95% of the posts are anti status quo (McCain) and pro change (Obama). The buy-in to polarization is easily 99%. Rarely do I see a post that is not ideological.

I like adding my $.02 to the discussions. I have become less and less vitriolic, but sometimes I do express my outrage, and if it's an article about Bush I feel fine expressing utter disgust. It's a fun pastime, and I do learn from reading some of the posts.

It is easy to hide behind one's computer and post whatever. There are folks out there posting vile hate-filled missives; people who would probably be afraid to spew their hate face to face but feel safe doing it online.

I found a massage table and a massage chair at a really low price this week and spent my last dollars on them. Tools of the trade! I did two tarot readings yesterday at the one really funky cool store in town, for the two women who run respectively the clothing/consignment part of the store and the metaphysical books and supplies part of the store. That was really fun and useful to the two women. They invited me to work out of their store anytime doing readings and massage. That's exciting! I also have an interview this coming week with the local mental health agency for a very part-time on-call crisis worker position. I also made contact with an agency in Missoula that does outpatient work with youth and families, and I think I will do some consulting work with them. Also exciting to me. I'm in the process of renewing my counselor's license in Vermont, and will be able to use that to obtain a license here in Montana. I can see that I will have all the work I want here, and I'm really excited to have such low overhead so I can charge a reasonable amount for my time and services, and be accessible to people who don't have much money.

The last 4 years have been very important in my life. The murder of my mother incited a riot in my mind, in my soul, in my life, so that I am much more congruous, more in line with my own ethics. Thank you Mom! Today I wish I could call her and tell her what I'm doing, and hear about what she's doing.

Seems to me that a lot of folks are waiting with bated breath to see what will happen next with the economy, the election, with the environmental crisis that's upon us. I say...don't sit around with bated breath, do something! At the very least talk about stuff with acquaintances, friends and family. At the most, do something radical like reducing your overhead, reducing your carbon footprint, refusing to buy into the lies being promulgated by the US corporate government. This is no time to be passive. We each have gifts, talents, skills, perceptions...if we use them, even if we go down, we go down with some integrity...and maybe, just maybe, using our abilities may save us from going down.

Now, I am not one who believes that humans are the crown of creation, and I do see that while we do not have to be, we have been and are a blight on this beautiful Earth. However, we can be part of the solutions, each of us, but we have to choose that. The status quo is to keep consuming ourselves to death, but we have a choice, each of us every day. Our species needs a 12 step program!

08 October 2008

Watching the debate I saw a number of things:

1. McCain is physically very rigid. He can barely move his head. I know he has a terrible set of injuries to his arms from his time as a POW but beyond that he holds himself very rigidly. I have been a body oriented psychotherapist for over 25 years. McCain's body language suggests a rigid character and a lack of connection with his emotions.

Obama moves with confidence, he is not rigid, and his body language suggests someone who is grounded, who is connected with his emotions as well as with his thoughts.

2. McCain has obviously had botox treatment on his face. Botox paralyzes the small muscles of the face, creating a rigid mask. Human beings, as we age, change. Our faces change to reflect what has happened to us, our experiences, and our character. Botox creates essentially a mask which hides the true face of the person. What would McCain look like without Botox? What would his face show about his character if it weren't chemically altered by Botox? What is he hiding?

Obama’s face is expressive. He shows who he is with his face, he is not wearing a mask.

3. McCain used a lot of platitudes and attacks, but rarely said anything specific. His responses to the questions lacked substance. He focused on broad ideological responses, but didn't answer the questions.

Obama also didn’t answer the questions directly. He did describe a coordinated set of responses to curent situations, and made connections between the economy, education, and security, and he was less vague than McCain.

I came away from the debate thinking...McCain is an old man who, naturally, cannot see a future because his life is coming to an end. He is not forward thinking because his natural life span is about to end. Obama is younger, and has a future in front of him. He is in the middle of his life span, so he naturally envisions a future.

I would rather have an emotionally connected forward thinking president than a sick old president. I would rather have a president who sees the connections between the many aspects of our country than one who sees things as a top-down power structure pyramid.

“Flexibility is kin of life. Rigidity is kin of death.” -Lao Tzu

03 October 2008

It rained last night here in the Bitterroot valley, western Montana. It's a beautiful sunny morning, Lasky is asleep on the floor. We arrived here on Monday after 6 days of driving. The week has been about relaxing, settling in, and last night watching the VP debate with a bunch of folks. That was a lot of fun, and the debate was...wel it's hard to know what to say. I did post this on a Washington Post discussion...

"I felt like I was watching a kind of charming Barbie Doll last night. She kept flirting with the audience with her winks and her wide eyed exclamations. She clearly disassociated a number of times, and babbled meaningless response to questions she couldn't answer. She changed the subject a number of times, and responded to questions with answers that stayed on the surface, demonstrating a shallow understanding of the issues, at best.

I'm sure the republicans see this as a win, which shows how shallow THEIR engagement is with the issues...all ideology, no real meaning."


I'm glad to be here. It is so beautiful and low key.

I sent out some resum├ęs, made some calls, initiated the process of getting licensed in Montana as a counselor, and my friend who I a staying with, and I, have been working on a plan to create a Community Health Worker program for this area. I'm very excited about it. We have a lot of good ideas. She has lived here for decades and knows the lay of the land.

Now I'm needing to attract money. I have about $200, and the next scheduled cash in comes at the end of November. I really want a 2 cup espresso maker...one of those two compartment thingies...if anyone has an extra one, also looking for a massage table. drop me a line!

27 September 2008

Traveling with my dog and cat friends again! They are so great. We are at a campground in Wisconsin about 100 miles east of the Mississippi River. There is no one else camping, so Chloe and Lasky are free to do as they please. They roam a little, snooze a lot. Last night Lasky did her job, sleeping by me, keeping watch. She never needed to be told to do that, she just does it. When we are in a building she sleeps by the door. Chloe was in the car with her food and her litter box but she chose to come out and sleep in my sleeping bag...nice bit of extra heat too! I slept well, had breakfast, taking our time, we are heading out, planning on Badlands National Park tonight.

Yesterday we started in central Pennsylvania. I figure I drove 800 or so miles in about 15 hours. I was pretty tired, had only slept a few hours the night before, but it was a nice drive, beautiful weather, relatively peaceful. Some folks really do like to tailgate, but no other really whacky driving.

Today we cross the Mississippi River which always marks, for me, being "in the west." It's also so beautiful and clean up north, and I am aware of what happens to this living river as it travels through the southern part of North America, where it is used for shipping but also as a toilet for industrial and other human waste disposal. By the time it reaches the Gulf of Mexico at New Orleans it's so polluted you could probably die from drinking a cupful. Sad. And yet it is still a living river at it's mouth to the sea.

OK, onward!

P.S. New episodes of my "Stories from the Road" are available on the WBKM archive page.

21 September 2008

It's hard to know what to say, as I watch the american fascists in their boldest move yet, forcing the taxpayers into out and out slavery to the corporations.

Bush is bankrupting the country, as he bankrupted every other business he's run. The people must not let him and his cronies get away with this. They should be held accountable for the fortune of taxpayers money they have squandered and absconded. Bush came into office with a surplus! Look at us now.

I urge you to stand up and help impeach George W. Bush by contacting your representatives relentlessly, talking with your friends about what's going on. Bush is clearly a criminal. We all know it. Some of us are afraid to face it, some face it but are scared to speak out, some are speaking out. This our time! The people of the world are behind us and it is our responsibility to bring this criminal administration to justice. The cowardice of the american people, in this hour, will cost the world dearly.

The Bush/Cheney government through massive chicanery, illegal war (and war profiteering) etc. etc. has sucked bazillions of dollars out of the pockets of americans and into the pockets of a few CEOs and politicians. Now the Fed, a privately owned for-profit bank, is going to loan a ton of that money back to us, charging interest of course. And few are talking about it honestly in the media or in the halls of power. This is all a well engineered rip-off. How are the personal fortunes of the Bushes, Clintons, Cheneys, Rumsfelds, McCains, etc etc? ALL GROWING at our expense.

At what point will americans get it that they have allowed themselves to be utterly scammed, and hold the thieves accountable? I know, I know, most people are too busy watching TV and believing what they are told to be as outraged as they have a right to be. But it's time to rally. There are people in every town and city, in the hinterlands and even in the halls of power who see what's going on and are horrified. If everyone just speaks out, it will be a step.

A more effective step is to stop earning enough to pay taxes. That situation is being forced on millions of people who have financial obligations but you know what? Fuck your financial obligations. If you are foreclosed on, stay in the house and invite other potentially homeless people to live there with you. Plant a garden. Live free. There aren't enough police, soldiers, and mercenaries to throw all the people out who are being foreclosed on in this country. Let the banks fail. Fuck'em. Fuck the shareholders and profiteers, Fuck the CEOs with their golden parachutes woven from YOUR blood, sweat and tears. Fuck them. Really.

Check these out:

Top 25 Censored Stories for 2009

19 September 2008

I wrote a letter yesterday to the president of the APA, Alan E. Kazdin, PhD using the APA website http://apa.org/about/president/ask.html

I encourage others to do the same. Here is the letter I wrote:

Dear Dr. Kazdin:

I have been a clinical mental health counselor since 1985. I have extensive experience in the field as a psychotherapist. I tell you this just as a way of introducing myself to you as a person with appropriate background to make the following statements.

It seems to me that any health care worker who aids torturers knowingly in any way is going against the creed to "...at least do no harm."

I am glad to see that the APA membership rejected torture and aiding torturers, but I am concerned about the very high percentage of the membership who voted to continue to aid in torture. What kind of practitioners are these? What are their values, ethics, and what kind of therapists are they? I daresay these people should not be allowed to practice since their vote demonstrates a shocking lack of ethics, in my opinion.

I am emailing you to ask if the APA is going to issue a statement about what the role of psychological practitioners should be, and how it is incompatible with the values and ethics of the profession to aid in torture. I also would like to know if those who have been aiding the torturers will be held accountable.

I write this to you because I am concerned that there are so many APA members out there who may be causing harm to their clients. A person who supports the use of torture may be doing any number of unethical things in their work.

This is a short note, but I would be glad to have a lengthier discussion with you at some point if you are interested.

Thank you for your time.

17 September 2008

It's Day 2 of our permaculture event in Keene, NH. Yesterday we had a session on the ethics and principles of Permaculture, then started on a sheet mulching project by moving the pile of scrap wood away from the area where a garden will go. Today we put down the cardboard and a layer of compost. It looks great! We are taking our lunch break now, and will then proceed to moving some lilac babies to start a new hedge, and sheet mulching another area. Tonight we're watching a film about Habitat for Humanity and a "blitzbuild" that happened near here in 2007.

12 September 2008

The last week has included lots of visits with friends, making preparations to head west, even some time to relax in beautiful Vermont, where it is raining right now.

In discussions with friends the themes have been consistent; love and the amazingness of life, dismay (an understatement really) at the bizarre circus of American politics, recognition that this country and many others are currently being run by psychopaths, concern for Earth.

Here in North America, in the USA, there is a need for awakening, for awareness, for people to pay attention. What's happening is that the fear level keeps being ramped up by the government which has manipulated the economy so that most people in the US do not have financial security. The quality of food continues to be degraded because the government places profit above life in it's priorities and the food supply is controlled by corporate profiteers. Degraded food of course means a less healthy population and poorer neurological development for kids, so kids are children are literally being bred to be less intelligent. Less intelligence means less critical thinking, less questioning of the government, more "rah rah" militaristic culture, thus Sarah Palin for President (because McCain won't last 6 months if put in office).

There are so many things to write about, and I have to get myself together to leave the house shortly for more visiting.

05 September 2008

A quick note to my friends in the US. New federal regulation. If you have more than 6 transactions a month from your savings account you will be charged a fee for each subsequent transaction.

My credit union charged me $21 for my 7th transfer of funds ($50!!) from my savings to my checking. This is a new way for the feds to rip us off and control the flow of resources i.e. money so watch out!

My dear 7 yr old nephew is doing well after being diagnosed with a small glioma on the top of his brainstem. Thanks to the many people who have been and are sending love and energy! Looks like they will wait to see what the tumor does...these often resolve themselves when occurring in children.

Most of my friends, maybe all, have been released from jail in Minneapolis. Injured people are receiving health care, the gestapo appears to have backed off for the time being as the Republican National Hypocrisy Convention has come to a close. I do know that there are 6 people being held on conspiracy charges. The feds need to prove that their use of force was justified so they will scapegoat some activist kids and jail them for years. Living with fascism.

I continue to think about and discuss with friends and acquaintances the reality of living in a world run by psychopaths. This needs to change, as a matter of the survival of Earth, not just humanity.

04 September 2008

This has been a very intense 48 hours. I have been tracking friends in Minneapolis, some of whom have been brutalized, beaten, tasered, illegally detained, had their vehicle impounded illegally (a "regrettable misunderstanding" the Minneapolis City Attorney says) and on and on. I have a friend in crisis in Florida, and found out yesterday that my 7 year old nephew was just diagnosed with a brain tumor.

My antenna are up. I am back on Turtle Island, came back saying "I am ready to work" and it is in front of me now, to do what I can to help in these situations.

Coming from Europe, being here in the US, even in Vermont, there is a feeling of "the shit is just starting to hit the fan" and some people see it. Some folks are still hiding from their terror behind nationalism, religion, greed, consumerism etc. but there is a gradual shift in the direction of realization.

There is also the rapidly increasing militarization and lockdown occurring in "civilian" amerika. What happened in Minneapolis this week is the most blatant fascist behavior I have seen in a while. I personally know dozens of people who are in Minneapolis; peaceful creative resourceful loving people who have emailed me with accounts of multiple illegal acts on the part of the police, including the feds. There will be lawsuits, the taxpayers of Minneapolis will end up footing the bill for the violence of the government agents, and amerika goes on.

It is not surprising or a new thing that the more a government represses, the more radicalized the populace gradually becomes, until that repressive regime falls.

01 September 2008

I am focusing in this entry on events in Minneapolis where people gathering to protest the criminal actions of the Republican controlled/manipulated government at the Republican National Convention. Houses are being raided, people are being detained and otherwise hassled and intimidated by the police.

I am posting some links here. Please look at them.

Crackdown begins: Food Not Bombs house among Saturday raids
Massive Police Raids on Suspected Protestors in Minneapolis
NATIONAL SECURITY PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE/NSPD 51
NATIONAL SECURITY PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE/NSPD 51 explained on Wikipedia
Police State RNC: A Nun and Eight Others Swept into Unmarked Van by Cops in Minnesota
Permaculture Education Bus Seized by Twin Cities Police at RNC
Federal Government Involved In Raids On Protesters

On another note, here is a link to a live webcam in New Orleans for those of us watching closely.

25 August 2008

Tomorrow Chloe the cat and I will fly back to North America, to Vermont. It's hard to believe. Partly because the whole air travel thing is always surreal...both the experience and the fact of going so quickly from one place to another. It's also just amazing that 5 months has come and gone, my life continues to bring new awarenesses and surprises. Going back to NA I feel like a new chapter is starting, and I'm actually excited about it. I have ideas of things I'd like to do, projects, work, as well as getting to see many people I love.

Yesterday was the four year anniversary of the day my mother was attacked in her home, tomorrow it will be four years since her death. That's an interesting day to fly! Four years isn't so long, but it's a chunk of time. I find myself considering how the catalytic events of this week in 2004 has led me to this point, to a very different life than I was living. I wonder if and if so how my responses to the world, to my life and experiences, will change as that four years stretches into 5, 10, 15...

I have constructed a page to hold the archived episodes of my radio show "Stories from the Road" on wbkm.org. You can find a link to the archive on the right hand side of this page, or at wbkm.org. Enjoy!

18 August 2008

Wow it's been two weeks since I blogged. Time flies. Still in Den Dolder. The last two weeks have been relaxing, some socializing, continuing my internal planning process. I gave a permaculture talk to 5 people in Amsterdam on Saturday night. That was fun and exciting, as they are all people who are interested in learning and in awareness.

Last summer I was interviewed by a guy named Luc Sala who has his own television station in Amsterdam where he runs whatever he likes, including his many interviews. You can seem them at http://www.mindlift.tv

My interview can be seen here. It's a 500 mb file, it's about 45 minutes long and it's an mpg file so you'll need Quicktime to play it. If you're on a Mac you already have Quicktime, but if you are running any other OS you'll need to install it if you haven't already.

04 August 2008

Chloe and I are settled in at a friend's in Den Dolder, near Utrecht. The train ride from Italy was quite an adventure in small ways, and exhausting. It took a few days to really bounce back. Also I find that I sleep heavily here in Holland, not so much in the places south like Israel and Italy.

We're all set to get the veterinary certificate so the cat can re-enter the US, will be doing some visiting this week and some ritual and permie talk stuff on the weekend.

It's sunny, windy, 18C, a nice typical Dutch summer day.

27 July 2008

It's been quite a week since I last blogged. I made my plans to depart from this beautiful place, which happens tomorrow when I head back to the Netherlands where I will be housesitting and rabbit sitting for friends, and visiting with friends, and offering a permaculture talk. Towards the end of August I will go back to North America with Chloe the cat, who is currently sensing impending change and complaining, as she may wonder if she is being left.

I had what I can only call a visitation from my mother yesterday morning. It occurred while my body was asleep, but it did not have the quality of a dream. It was palpable. She gave me the best hug and a smile and said "Life is for living." I said "Sometimes I'm afraid to live" and she responded with a smile and said something to the effect of "Those little dramas are not important." I woke up smiling and have been smiling since.

My plan is to be in the northeast for a few week, do some visiting, possibly offer a permaculture event in New Hampshire, and then head back to Montana with Chloe and Lasky.

I've been watching old movies; Vertigo, North by Northwest, Bell Book and Candle, Lifeboat, Rear Window...lots of fun.

I continue to read various news and information sources online and it really is interesting. There seems to be a trend of growing awareness, and at the same time plenty of "same old same old." As always, time will tell.

20 July 2008

I've been going a bit stir crazy here by myself for the last few weeks. Again I am reminded that even I need other people! The woman whose house this is, "S," came back yesterday...she works in Milan during the week and is here on weekends. Her husband is working abroad currently. Besides the fact that I like her and we have great conversations, interacting with another person, one with whom I share language, immediately lifts my spirits. I feel much more sane. I guess my hermit days really are over!

This semester I am teaching two sections of Psychology of Gender at BVU and I'm having a great time with both of them. The students are engaged and enthusiastic about the material. It's a lot of fun and very gratifying for me as a teacher.

In conversations with S we've been discussing some of the fascinating quirks and contradictions and blind spots in humans. I am continually fascinated by the tendency of many humans to fear the unknown to the extent that they shut themselves off from difference, while others embrace the challenges of exploring the unknown. Why is it that some people believe they need the solidity of fixed beliefs, while others are more open to ambiguity and uncertainty? there are numerous psychological explanations, and infinite variables in how individuals are imprinted that lead them to be as they are, us to be as we are, but it still raises my curiosity.

I've decided to offer the online Healing Magic class for free, donations accepted, starting September 8.

18 July 2008

I just found this very interesting thing at CommonDreams.org. It is a link to the Grassroots Network Alliance page which allows you to easily send a survey to any and all present public office holders and candidates for public office in your city, state, and nationally in the US. Click on it, check out the survey, and it is likely that, like me, you would like to know how your public servants and those who wish to serve will represent you. I think this has great potential!

17 July 2008

This past week has been challenging for me. I am here in the 700 year old stone house in the mountain village. I feel isolated because I don't know people here and I don't speak the language, and I haven't felt motivated to change either of those things. There are 2 buses a day to town, but I haven't felt like going. My back and legs are mostly OK, with the occasional muscle spasm in my low back or a hip, and I just don't want to be somewhere in pain unable to move well waiting hours for a bus. That is my own self imposed limitation. I really have grown weary of travel and adventure, and am enjoying "staying put." I'd like to be staying put with friends around though. My own social weirdness exists...really loving many people and enjoying them, and at the same time craving and enjoying solitude to the point of having too much of it right now...anyway, you get the picture.

I know that "wherever I go there I am" and so I bring my own mental processes with me. I tend to engage in dilemma thinking, what should I do, which of the infinite options is the right one? Should I stay in Europe or move to Israel because they are not the US (a place that seems increasingly fucked politically) or should I go home, because North America really is home. I booked a ticket back to the US, so unless something changes that's what I'll do.

I keep reading various websites with news, commentary etc. and the degree of political decrepitude that dominates the US government is appalling, no longer surprising, very disappointing. Really I think Washington DC should be walled off. Let the politicians eat each other alive, and let us be done with them. What an amazingly corrupt group. There are so many morally spiritually underdeveloped people who are drawn to power and who are unfit for power. I don't even need to name names here.

Human drama...thousands of years of it and still the wheel turns and we are on it. Aren't we tired of this yet??

P.S. It's quite a bundle of realities we've got going here ain't it?

11 July 2008

I want to be on the North Amerian continent. I love the land there. It is home.

I have only been on 4 continents in my life, and as much as ilove and feel kinship and history in Europe and Israel, and I was only in Afria once briefly as a child, I feel a sense of home on Turtle Island, so that’s where I’m going.

I saw this great article, “Urban farming takes root in Detroit”...check it out.

06 July 2008

Here is a sample of what I have read about in the last week. At the bottom is a section of visions from other sources.

• Stabbings in London occurring so frequently that now teachers, nurses, and other frontline workers will all be provided with kevlar vests.
• Increase in the amount of rats, wasps, squirrels, in British towns.
• Less auto traffic in the US.
• A batch of teenage pregnancies in Massachusetts. School administrator fabricates a “pregnancy pact” to explain away lack of access to birth control.
• Election violence and fraud in Africa.
• Food riots in Africa.
• Natural disasters in China and the United States.
• Ongoing war in Iraq.
• Tensions mounting between the US and Israel on the one side and Iran on the other.
• US and UK “leaders” ignore constituents disagreement with war and torture policies.
• Arctic ice almost gone.
• Polar bears losing habitat. When one escapes south to Iceland it is shot.
• Overwhelming evidence of corruption and law breaking points directly to the US chief executive, US Congress turns a blind eye while citizens cry out for justice.
• Drought in Spain.
• Drought in California.
• Drought in Georgia.
• Drought in Australia.
• Fires in California. Big Sur burns.
• Hostages freed in Central America.
• Torture survivors sue UK government.
• US maintains concentration camp at Guantamo Bay despite numerous SCOTUS and lower court rulings that it is operating illegaly.
• US maintains prison ships on the move.
• US maintains prison camps in eastern Europe.
• US moving forward on installation of missile silos in Eastern Europe.
• Olymbics about to begin in China. The Free Tibet movement has established their cause as part of the theme of these games.
• US government officials helped shape oild deals with US companies, friends of the president no less, for Iraqi oil.
• Local developers in Maryland received sweetheart deals on public lands from their friend, a county executive.
• Rainbow Family members arrested by Forest Service. A Crowd of Rainbows surrounds the arresting officers. Officers use teargas and rubber bullets.
• Psychologists at the VA are told by superiors not to diagnosis Iraq war veterans with PTSD or PTSS because treatment is too costly.
• In Texas deliberate measures are taken to inter a “white” woman receiving a public burial in the “white” section of the local cemetary.
• A french company announces the compressed air car for sale in the US in 2010.
• Notorious racist Senator Jesse Helms died.
• Presidential candidate Barack Obama positions himself further to the right by backpeddling on Iraq war pullout and by supporting new FISA bill which effectively increases surveillance on Americans and excuses illegal surveillance conducted by the White House and prominent telecommunications companies.
• The Kinneret Sea, also called the Sea of Gallilee, Israel’s source of water, is drying up.
• Denver Archdiocese pays out over $5 million ro survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of catholic priests.
• US uses interrogation and torture techniques learned from Chinese military handbook.
• A 15th Century scuplture. poorly secured above a door at the Metropolitan Museum in NY, fell and shattered.
• The Pentagon, regular producer of quantities of toxic chemical waste, refuses to clean up their toxic waste.
• A young woman “supermodel” jumped off her apartment balcony and killed herself.
• The SCOTUS reduced to a negligible amount the punitive damages assessed against Exxon and awarded to Alaskans as a result of the drunken crash of the Exxon Valdez which resulted in an historic oil spill, massive pollution, loss of wildlife, and long term environmental damage. Damages were reduced to less that 5% of one current quarter’s profits.
• Evidence points to US officials involved with black market sales of nuclear weapons. 6 US warheads “accidentally” lost track of and moved from one location to another, eventually recovered. Story buried.

I’ve also seen visions of another sort.

• The old world of dinosaurs, goblins, earth spirits in late stages of giving way to the modern mechanical patriarchal. The vision was of one world crumbling as another rises, and as this other one rises to it’s pinnacle and starts to collapse, rising from below remnants of the old world combining with parts of the new to create something new yet again. This has happened before, and it will happen again, and we are in it now.
• I’ve seen visions of US small towns getting old and crumbling, and in some of them groups of people who learn how to navigate climate changes and collapse in infrastructure, creating new thriving communities.

02 July 2008

Here is the link to an article I just finished writing.

Watching the modern film Beowulf and reading some of it again gives rise to these thoughts.

The story symbolizes the death of the old, the dragon, and yet the survival of the old world in the mother, and the rise of the modern patriarchal mechanized sterilized world, but not without a cost to that new world, for it is born out of violence and the gradual disconnection from the spirits of Earth and the rise of monotheism.

This made me think about Permaculture, and some of the language I have used about "return to sustainability" and other such references to bringing back elements of the past. I see, now, more clearly that the work is to integrate the modern with the ancient, not to return to anything, and not to leave everything behind.

I'm sure this is not a unique idea, but it feels like an "aha!" to me. Working with an underlying principle of bringing together the truly ancient and more recent with the skills of the present we should be able to create something that really works!

29 June 2008

It's hot and sunny here in southern Liguria. It's been hot and sunny for a little over a week. It's very bright and hot during the day, and then an hour or so before the sun sets behind the western mountains, the moisture collects in the air and changes the colors of the light, and there is a cool breeze blowing this moist air. It's lovely.

I just had company! A friend I met in New Orleans was here for a couple of days on his way back to Paris. Also my nephew was here just heading out on his open-ended solo journey. It was great to see the exchange between these two late 20's guys sharing questions, suggestions, experiences. i dropped my nephew off today. He stuck out his thumb, heading towards Rome.

I noticed, hanging out with those two, that I am not in my late 20's and don't feel up for any really physically challenging adventures. And I feel the loss of being that adaptable. I travelled around North America when I was in my late teens, but then spent the next 25 years mostly in one place. It's been nearly 3 and a half years since I set out on this journey. I love traveling, it's so exciting and fulfilling. I also like being in one place. It's an ongoing inner dialogue.

This vacation relax time here has been and continues to be really great. Life is slow. It gives me time to think.

19 June 2008

A friend recently asked on his blog some questions about kindness. I replied "Practicing kindness, for me, includes choosing to perceive relatedness, the sameness, of “myself” and “others.” When I practice this...on the street, the train platform, in a social setting, in a ritual setting, anywhere. Then I experience loving, which emanates outward from me, through me, and removes my own feelings of alienation. This molds my behavior into kindness, intending the wellbeing of everyone, everything, and behaving accordingly, making the effort not to cause or add to anyone’s suffering."

Some of the most effective teachers in my life have been animals, dogs and cats in my care. As I write this, Chloe the cat is sitting in my lap. She is 15+ years old. Chloe is a Siamese cat. She can be persnickety, has a loud voice when she wants to, and her face has a black mask. Sometimes to me she looks utterly alien. Other times all I see is the sweetness and trust she offers me. She is a dainty little creature, purring right now. She has snuggled with me almost every night of her life. She came to me when she was 9 months old, and except for 6 months in 2007 and occasional times when I was away, she has spent her nights cuddled up next to me. When we’ve been apart, I am told by the people who have cared for her, she is inconsolable. I’ve been good to her for the most part. There have been a few times when she complained loudly and pissed me off, or rather, her Siamese scream set my nerves on and over the edge, when I have been unkind to her. There have also been a few times when she woke me up by getting fur in my face and I reacted strongly, pushing or throwing her away physically. Despite these incidents, of which I am frankly ashamed, she is completely attached to me. When we are together, like now, I kiss and stroke her. I tell her how beautiful and amazing she is. I tell her that it is my job to make sure she has a good happy life. I have no idea what goes on in her brain, what she thinks and feels, how she thinks and feels. Sometimes I think she is just a little furry nervous system that eats and shits and sleeps. Sometimes I think she is an enlightened being. Whatever is true, she is one of my teachers because I respond to her and that provides me with opportunities to look at my responses, to learn about my own nature, to question my reactions, and to make adjustments within myself. Chloe is a creature of instinct. I’m sure she cogitates, but in ways that are inscrutable to me. I think she is neither kind or unkind, she just is. I am a creature of instinct and also of cogitation, and I can be kind, and unkind. I can consider my actions. I can choose.

Chloe is purring on my lap. I am stroking her as I type (no small feat!) and she occasionally gazes up at me with a look that conveys trust and comfort and belonging.

Recently I read a report about the medical effects of torture inflicted by US personnel on detainees at the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp. I also read an interview with a whistleblower about the black market in nuclear weapons technology which the US government is involvement in. This kind of information brings up a lot of sadness in me, and makes me wonder, for the umpteenmillionth time, how can people treat each other so? I have heard arguments about protecting state security and I understand that people can fear for their safety, but this goes beyond that. This goes to questions about those who choose profit over life. This goes to questions about how humans can see other humans as alien, as not deserving respect, as “less” than human.

In a recent blog entry I discussed the phenomenon of belief. Human beings live on and through this mental function we call belief. We form beliefs from our experiences, and then we see subsequent experiences through the lens of those beliefs. Religion, political ideology, relational patterns and social behavior, are all governed by the beliefs we hold onto. The psychologists and doctors who aid the torturers, the religious zealots who decapitate other human beings, the politicians making deals for weapons, the religious zealots who passionately oppose equal rights for sexual “minorities”; these are just a few examples of behaviors dictated by beliefs.

It seems to me that any belief which suggests or directs one to harm another is a belief in need of adjustment. How can it be morally right to cause harm to anyone or anything?

I used to be a vegetarian, even vegan at times. I felt disgust with the consumption of animals for food, the enslaving and slaughtering of other life forms. I still do. When I reached my 40’s and my spinal injuries (which I received in my late teens) began to assert themselves more severely, my wonderful chiropractor in Vermont told me that I had to eat meat or things would just get worse. I resisted, but finally relented because being in constant pain was unbearable. What happened was that the episodes of spinal pain and restricted mobility began to be less, so I have continued to eat the flesh of animals. I still have these episodes, and deep down I still find flesh eating to be basically revolting, but I suppress my revulsion and eat meat because I believe that my presence in the world as a functional person who is not in constant pain, has value. I thank the creatures I eat in my mind before I eat them, and I go out of my way to eat meat that was raised ecologically, where the animal had a life. I can’t always find meat raised thus, and I do eat commercially grown meat when I feel the need for the protein. I still feel that it is essentially unkind to the animals for me to eat meat, and yet it is a kindness to myself to eat things which strengthen my body.

I believe there is value, for each of us, in examining our own attitudes and behaviors relative to kindness.

18 June 2008

Blessings on this solstice full moon!

We are entering the solstice, that time of balance, when day and night are of equal length for a few days. May we each find and feel that balance within ourselves, and manifest it around us.

May our choices be guided by wisdom and clear vision as we face our world with open minds, open hearts, aware of spirit, and with gratitude to all the creatures and life forms, for the pleasures and the pains, the ease and the challenges, the learning which comes easily and that which is more difficult.

May awareness of the awesome beauty of Earth fill us, even if just for a moment, or for a lifetime, or many lifetimes.

May our compassion be stirred and spread like compost, enriching, promoting growth, and remind us of the fecundity of life.

May truth be evident to us, different truths for different people, for truth is found when honesty is present. May we be honest with ourselves and with each other.

May the shadow, that which is hidden like the dark side of the moon, be acknowledged and honored even when it eludes our eyes. May we look upon the shadow even when it is a challenge to do so; let us not be guided into denial by fear of the unknown, but instead be willing to face the unknown even if we fear it.

May our love, which is infinite and irrational, steer us always in the direction of generosity, for we each have much to give, even when we don't know it. Even if sometimes we don't feel confident that we have gifts to give, may we find friends to remind us, family to appreciate us, and may we return that friendship and familial love in kind.

May the world be changed by our willingness to change ourselves, to grow and learn and be always in the process of discovery.

May our actions be motivated by love and ripple out, touching others, who touch others, who touch others...always rippling out and through the circle of existence. May our oneness with the cosmos be felt as real, and manifest in our beings, reminding and allowing us to be our truest selves.

Some years ago in the ruins of a flooded city I received a gift. It is this prayer, this teaching, this reminder:

Listen more than you speak
Hear what is really being said
Transform the behaviors that don't work
Let your feelings flow in balance
Remember where you come from
Remember what you're made of.

Blessed be.

P.S. Addendum posted 19 June - a friend wrote and reminded me that equinox is when the day and night are of equal length...duh...how funny of me. For some reason this solstice, when the day is at it's longest and the night at it's shortest, brought up all this stuff about balance, so I went with it. What does it mean? I'm not sure...that I am forgetful, that inspiration is irrational, that I am working on balance in my own life...all that and more I'm sure.

16 June 2008

I just watched a film called “The Lives of Others” on the recommendation of a friend. Watch it. You’ll be glad you did. It’s not easy, but it’s important, valuable, inspiring.

11 June 2008

The sun is hot, it’s beautiful here. I just saw an amazing insect...a large black bee with irridescent blue wings. I’ve never seen anything like it before. Wow!

I’ve spent the last few days on my back, taking ibuprofin. Coming to terms with the reality, that for the rest of my life this spinal issue will be present, is a challenge for my mind. It’s hard to accept. The periods of respite are so great. It’s easier for me to feel creative and motivated when my body feels good and I am mobile. Accessing that creativity and motivation when I am in pain and can’t move easily is another story.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced Articles of Impeachment against George W. Bush yesterday in the US House of Representatives. This is a moment that could become a groundswell if ameicans will build the momentum. If you haven’t yet, please write to your congressional reps and your local newspapers and tv stations, and insist that they get behind Kucinich and cover the story. It is not too late! See more on this at CommonDreams.org

06 June 2008

My radio show "Stories from the Road" has been moved an hour earlier to Sundays 7 PM Eastern time at http://wbkm.org I hope you'll listen in!

05 June 2008

I read this in today’s Guardian:

Polar bear shot dead after 200-mile swim

This is a perfect example of human stupidity. This beautiful creature’s life wasn’t worth the effort of saving. I weep for the polar bear, and I weep for us.

31 May 2008

Today I feel hopeful. My personal world is good. My spine feels a lot better, which makes all the difference in my outlook. Pain and impaired mobility can really drag me down.

Barcelona Spain is out of water. A ship with 5 million gallons of water was brought to the city this week, and there is a fine of 5 million euros for watering flowers. Australia, China, Israel, all in water crisis. Los Angeles is going to start rationing water.

“Theft” of used cooking grease from the fast-food poison food oulets is increasing as people now know how to use this substance for fueling vehicles. At least those outlets are producing something useful!

It’s all happening. The many gradual changes are mounting. The wave is building momentum.

I have spent my adult life consciously preparing for these changes. That doesn’t mean I am prepared, but the feeling of waiting for the shit to hit the fan is being replaced by awareness of the shit actually hitting the fan...from the frying pan to the fire? Yet, it’s a relief not to just be waiting.

It must seem odd for those bits of information to follow a statement about feeling hopeful, but it makes total sense to me. The state of waiting challenges my sense of ability to respond, but as the waiting ends and the situation becomes clearer, I find myself more easily mobilized to act. The experience of my spine and mobility alongside these thoughts about waiting and acting “fits” to me. I wonder how many other people have a similar experience, or even a similar feeling.

Yesterday the server was down for one of my email accounts. I couldn’t get a number of US websites to load, like the New York Times and CNN. I wondered, has the government closed down the US internet? Has there been a bombing? Neither of those things had happened, but it was an interesting moment. These things are very possible, and how will I respond? How will people be affected?

I don’t mean to be a doomsayer. In fact I do not feel impending doom. I do feel change in the wind. The corporate governments are scrambling to retain control, and gradually it is slipping away from them, and as it does they become more desperate and oppressive. Humans, however, cannot control nature, and we are part of nature. As situations become increasingly dire, the mass of humanity will become less and less malleable by the manipulators. Even Katy Couric, corporate whore, said this week that she felt pressured by the government to promote the war. Scott McClellan, former Bush spokesliar has come out with his mea culpa book “exposing” the dishonesty of the Bush cabal. Rats deserting a sinking ship? It’s a pity the rats didn’t speak up sooner but hey, I’m sure they were caught up in fear-based self preservation, and status seeking, and belief.

It is increasingly clear that it is up to each of us to choose how we will be part of solutions. I imagine and hope that even people who have been duped and complicit are beginning to see beyond their beliefs and fears. There are seriously dark clouds coming...they are closer than the horizon, and the storm they bring will uproot and scour, and isn’t that nature’s way? I don’t mean to sound so biblical, being such a pagan and all, but a good metaphor is hard to resist.

I teach this class online, Healing Magic. The gist of the material is to stimulate awareness, a sense of being part of the web of life and thus able to act in support of life. I know this blog reaches a relatively small number of people, many of whom I know personally, and know to be actively involved in supporting life and solutions and all that good stuff. I visualize Earth and the people I know here who are doing this work each in their own way; maybe a few hundred that I personally know. And they all know more people doing the same thing in their unique ways, and they know more, and on and on. Today I choose to be aware of the millions, maybe billions, who do see, who do want change, who do what they can, or at least what they think they can, and that adds up to a lot of people doing a lot of amazing things within themselves, their families, their communities. I’m cheering us on! We can do it, we can do more than we even know we are capable of, and it matters.

Chloe the cat is curled up on the bed, sleeping, comfortable, her person nearby, her belly full.

29 May 2008

I believe in magic. The fog on the mountains, the rain, friends and family and lovers; the snail on the leaf, the birth of a new life, the death of a loved one or even one I didn’t know who touched my life...

...even the pain in my body. I believe in magic. I call it...existence. Some say there is a creator who is separate from what we call creation. Some say that creation and creator are one. I call it a mystery, and that is also magic.

I’m listening to a song called “Apple of my eye” written and sung by Rosalie Sorrels. I went to school briefly with one of her sons when she and her family lived in Vermont in 1975-76. Here is someone who is still out there making music, who has lived a life with joy and pain. This is a voice worth listening to.

This week marks the passing if Utah Phillips. He was a true bard, an activist, someone who spoke truth to power, who put his life into action. His presence will remain in his music and the memories so many people have of him. I met him once or twice when he and Rosalie did benefits for our little free school in Vermont.

27 May 2008

I’m happy to report that I am much better today. Yay! I can stand, sit, walk, and all with much less pain. Halleluja!

It is intermittently warm & sunny, and thunder & lightening here today.

It is looking like the Urban Witchcamp in Amsterdam is not going to happen. I’m disappointed, but so it goes. I still hope for enough enrollment for the Urban Permaculture workshop. It is such topical material, and yet I imagine that rising fear levels and shrinking economic resources make people more likely to stay home and spend less.

I am revisiting my plans for the 4th quarter of 2008. I may be returning to the US as originally planned in mid-September. I’ll be looking for a diesel pickup truck, so if you hear or know of one, please keep me in mind.

Something that confounds me is the experience of offering something of value and having it not be well received, like these workshops. I know I am not a person to attend lots of events, and so that is part of it for other people as well, but I am fascinated by the experience of having the workshops be well attended in some places, and not so in others.

I am open to possibilities and curious to see what happens over the next three months, and how that all will effect my trajectory.

26 May 2008

A friend emailed me today, referring to yesterday's post and said "...wonder what it is you're supposed to be learning.."

Today, with ibuprofin and a back brace, extra sleep and basically no activity, I am feeling better. My lumbar spine still hurts, and my mobility is affected, but I feel better. I am able to work online, communicate with my project co-workers in Holland via email, do some promotion via email, and just be. The weather is intermittently sunny and cloudy.

So what I am learning, again, is to make the best of what’s in front of me and trust the flow, even when it is uncomfortable, uncertain, and scary.

25 May 2008

It is still raining here, and the forecast sees no end in sight. Yesterday my back started to act up and today I can't stand up straight, moving in bed is very difficult..shades of last summer...shit. I have to get out of this cold wet weather system...it is supposed to be hot and sunny! My whole outlook and energy are affected by this.

22 May 2008

It's still cool and rainy in prealpine Italy. The mountaintops are often shrouded in clouds, it rains daily, and there is that wet melancholy feeling. I am ready for a warm sunny day!

These periods between jobs when I am usually in a quiet place are necessary for me, and yet I always feel like I am shirking. Funny thing.

I'm reading a book called “Mountains Beyond Mountains” by Tracy Kidder. I highly recommend it! It's about a man named Paul Farmer, a doctor, medical anthropologist and what I would call a medical activist. The book, and Farmer, are fascinating, inspiring, wrenching, and well worth reading.

The first run of my 8 week class Healing Magic has concluded. Now I am preparing for the second run by doing some rewriting of the materials, making some additions to the reading list, adding a film list, stuff like that. It is scheduled to start June 2 but I think I am going to move that back to August or September. I haven't done much in terms of promotion yet.

I appreciate so much the comments that people have made on this blog. No matter what happens to humanity, all the journeys that we make in becoming more loving, more generous, concerned with more than just ourselves; this learning is a pure goodness in the universe, and it is a privilege to be part of that.

I was just out for a walk and ran into a couple who live in this village. They speak only Italian and I speak little Italian, so communicating has it's challenges, but they were picking roses and the woman gestured and with words telling me they were for a benediction for St. Rita as this is her feast day. I told her that my mother was named Rita and that it is her birthday tomorrow, she would be 80. Then the woman showed me some other roses, St. Rita's roses, some of the only pungent roses I have seen here. It was a very sweet moment, and particularly meaningful for me given some of the memories and grief I've been working with this week. Grazie St. Rita!

20 May 2008

Here's some hot news. "Stories from the road" told by yours truly will debut on wbkm.org June 1, 2008 at 8 PM Eastern Time (US). To listen go to http://wbkm.org and click on the flower. If you want to be sure you can listen I suggest going to http://wbkm.org ahead of time to make sure your settings all work. See you on the air on June 1!

19 May 2008

Last night I dreamt over and over (waking up, going back to sleep, to the dream) about my mother's murder. I wasn't dreaming of the actual event but of her being missing, finding out she'd been killed, and feeling powerless and enraged. Over and over. I woke up feeling sad and heavy.

I read, a couple of days ago, about a bomb, which came out of Gaza and killed a woman. I thought about how tragic that was, and all the other tragedies, the daily deaths in Gaza, all equally tragic. I wrote to a friend who lives in Israel, what will it take for people to learn? Her response, that we are learning and that love is the answer, rings true. I believe it.

What is belief? A mental construct of reality, a lens through which to perceive, a set of guidelines that we use to determine trajectory and behavior. Belief, as a human activity, is and has been the basis of our species' path for thousands of years, whether we call it religion or ideology. Now we are on the brink of self-destruction. Through our heedless actions we bring about the daily extinction of life forms on earth, climate change continues to accelerate, cultures clash and a minority ruling elite continue to amass resources at the expense of the non-elite majority.

I travel and teach love, joy, personal empowerment, connection with spirit and self, belongingness. I believe in all of it. I feel good when I teach it. I see others feel good when they work with these ways.

Here in this quiet valley, in this stone village which has stood for hundreds of years where people have been growing food, making olive oil and wine and cheese, where the church bells ring hourly and birds sing, flowers bloom, people are born, live, die; here in this place I find myself. Through the amazing technology of internet and wireless microwave transmission I read articles, peruse newspapers, dialogue with friends.

Somehow there is a space in the world that I fill. I touch some lives, and hopefully they are enriched by this touching, and they touch my life too. Sometimes the love and kindness blow my mind. Sometimes I encounter tightness and scarcity in others, and in myself. I do my best to work it through when I encounter it in myself, to get back to kindness and generosity. When I meet those walls in others I do my best to be compassionate, and to find ways to get/do what I need to when others are not sharing. Sometimes I do this better than other times.

I feel fear about the collective situation, and I feel fear about my personal situation sometimes. Rarely do I find myself immobilized. In my dream last night I felt immobilized, in a bed on the street in Burlington outside if the old Grand Union, people walking by, and I was invisible to them. I knew she'd been killed and I couldn't find her.

The government of Nevis covered up my mother's murder because they didn't want to damage the tourist trade. The government of Nevis, along with the US Consulate, the FBI and the Dade County Coroner, lied about what happened in order to protect their financial interests and political affiliations. How disgusting is that? And yet it is certainly no more heinous than the daily killing, through direct and structural violence, that occur in so many places on this beautiful planet; violence perpetrated by governments and their agencies, by corporate policies and practices, and ultimately by the complacency of regular people who, for whatever reasons, collude in order to maintain the familiar comfortable status quo.

Words like hope, despair, futility, possibility, all crowd my mind and make me wonder, as I face the sun and the infinite sky, about the great mysteries we humans have contemplated for millennia. What are we? Are we spirits in bodies? Are we just biomachines with nervous systems and built-in self-preservation mechanisms? How is it that we can feel and share so deeply and at the same time turn our backs on life itself in order to be comfortable? Are we evolving towards a more fully realized existence or is this a wheel spinning conundrum which we must pass through on our journey to whatever lies beyond the veil of this life?

17 May 2008

This post is in response to Shahar's comment from a few days ago.

I think probably everyone has different reasons for getting married. The couples I have married all seem to do it because they want to be married to each other. What that means to them, I cannot say.

I have never been married so it's ironic that I act as priest in wedding ceremonies. The weddings I have done have all been fun and sweet and my intention in doing them is to offer a kind of supportive energetic as the couple takes what is for them an important life step. My job is to priest the ritual as I would any ritual, bringing my best and making a space for the mystery to be experienced. I've been to weddings where people spent tons of money and ones where people spent very little. It is an interesting practice, marrying. I really am not sure why people do it. I do think, though, that if it is something two people want, to marry each other, analyzing it can be useful and can also be useless. If one wants something, does one have to understand it rationally 100%?

16 May 2008

I'm back in Italy after spending a few days in Marseille with a dear friend. It is cloudy and cool and rainy here. The cherries are ripe, and there are baby birds in a nest chirping in the grapevine outside the room where I am now staying. I haven't felt like I had a room that was “my” room in so long, I just realized as I was unpacking my altar items and a few little things how nice it feels to spread out in that way. I have pared down the amount of stuff from a house packed full to this little bit, and some stuff in storage.

This room is at the bottom of the house. It has a door and a half oval window on the south wall, through 30” of stone wall. The north of the room has a few stairs up into a hallway with two closets, and a new wooden door at the end leading out into what will be a bathroom and an exit to the north yard which is down the hill from the rest of the village. There is a new very comfortable single mattress, a red tile floor, white cemented walls and ceiling...the room is a big arch, so the walls curve up and meet at the peak. The south wall is not painted or plastered, it is exposed stone. The room is not quite 4 meters long (north <-> South) and 3.5 meters wide. The peak of the ceiling is around 3.5 meters. Outside the door are stone stairways, a perpendicular door on the east leading into another part of the house, and west the stairs go down to terraced ground where the wedding ceremony was held. This is where there are some of the cherry trees. Looking south one sees the mountains that are between us and the sea.

Marseille is a big city, not tall, built mostly out of limestone and concrete. It is a port and has been for centuries. This city has trafficked in slaves, guns, drugs, opium, and who knows what else. There are numerous big consulate buildings and residences. Many countries have a presence here. One can assume that there are still big deals being made here, and probably for the same things as hundreds of years ago.

This is a Mediterranean city with a pretty mild climate. My friend is looking to do a bunch of interesting permaculture type things, including a balcony garden. Like every city I have visited there is huge potential for energy and food production, potential, which is not being explored on any significant scale yet. And like every city there are people doing things quietly, on their own. These people will be more prepared for food shortages, blackouts, etc.

The Urban Permaculture workshop in the Netherlands is coming up in early July. It feels so timely to me, and yet I feel like I don't have the contacts to promote it as effectively as I'd like. If anyone reading this has contacts in Europe who you think may be interested in the workshop or linking it on a web page or posting it in a forum, please let me know or just send them the link to our site http://urban-permaculture.blogspot.com/

I have concluded that my body is reacting to the toxins I've been exposed to in New Orleans, and most recently in Israel. I got dosed twice times in Israel with toxic chemicals. Once in Haifa we happened to be there while there was a chemical leak, which we heard about later. When we were there, though, my body went into reaction; my eyes were burning, my throat was getting sore and swollen...and those things subsided when I left the city. The second time was in a car where there were three people wearing a lot of chemical soaps and scents, and we drove by a place where there are known toxic fumes due to some industrial plant. Both of those times I had strong physical responses to the chemicals. Lately what I experience is more bouts of low blood pressure, a feeling of weakness in my limbs though if I choose to go for a walk or open a jar I can do it, and heat sensitivity (due to heat exhaustion in Israel most likely). I feel a need for sleep and down time, and I have some in front of me now. Also clean food and good water! I feel like I am spending physical capital on doing things I believe in, but which take their toll.

I am watching the US politics, and world politics in general. It is so pathetic to see the US Congress continue to lamely give Bush & Co. what they demand, more money for war; to watch the election circus spin along merrily when the reality of rigged presidential elections in the US continues not to be investigated and corrected; to see the obscene profiteering by corporations while people pour their life force into working for the corporate masters, and have lives filled with meaningless stuff and stress. People have it within their power to free themselves, and most people don't know it. Many don't even see how enslaved they are. I do think that is changing. I think in the US more and more people are seeing the horror that the country has become, and most of those people feel powerless to change anything. Awareness, though, is a big step, and out of that can come new choices. Neccesity is the mother of invention, and as the US economy collapses, even those who had been wealthy will have to make some significant changes in their lives. I hope that brings out creativity and kindness in people. That's what I saw in New Orleans, in the ruin of the city people brought their creativity and kindness, and it mattered.