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.

10 May 2008

It was a beautiful sunny warm day. The wedding was really wonderful. This old Italian stone castle house was filled with flowers and the cherries on the trees are almost ripe. The peaches and almonds and apricots and figs have a ways to go. Roses are blooming, and lavender. The people were decked out, friends and family from the south of Italy, the UK, the US, came to celebrate. The ceremony was sweet and real and beautiful. I officiated in Italian and English, which went well, and was fun and exciting. Afterwards there was antipasto and wine at a the B&B in the village, and then a 10 course meal down the hill in the valley at the ristorante of the mayor, that was just amazing. By the end of the meal, after all the good-byes, I came back to the house and crashed.

After napping for a few hours I woke up and checked my email to find that the IRS has decided that they are taxing me on dividends for the year 2006, and the tax is more than the dividends! My only course is to appeal it in tax court. I realize as I write this that there is a kind of taboo against discussing tax issues openly. I am pretty pissed off about this. How the IRS can tax me $1010 on $270 of dividend income is beyond me. I have provided them with the information which verifies this, but they don't accept it so I have to deal with this bullshit. Of course they have nearly doubled the amount with interest and penalties. I made $7000 in 2006, and less in 2007. It’s annoying, and rocks my equanimity, but it’s also a good exercise in perspective, balance, and trust.

Tonight, after everyone went to bed, I was sitting outside under the waxing gibbous moon and wondering...what happens next? The world is turning and the human wars are escalating. Environmental change is escalating and will reach some kind of crisis point in the relatively near future. Perhaps if humans make some drastic changes we may stave some of the worst, but perhaps not. With that awareness, afer eating one of the most extraordinary meals of my life, I sat under the moon and wondered, what do I do next? I can be here until mid September. There are workshops, classes and possibly other teaching opportunities in front of me. The US is not an appealing place. Where shall I go? How shall I live? Not new questions for me, or for this blog, but they presented themselves strongly again tonight.

I realized something. By letting go of a lot of material and human attachments a few years ago, traveling and web spinning from community to community, I have made many attachments with people. There are so many people I love, and who love me, all over the place, which means I am always not with some of the people I really love, including Lasky. I am most of the time with people I love who love me,which is the greatest, but I don't have a primary family or even a primary community like most people do. It's a sticky web in some ways, it both connects and , as I travel and makes web connections, the web becomes a way of measuring distance too.

I no longer think in the way I used to about finding the safe place to be when the shit hits the fan. I am thinking more in terms of...if things happen that make it that I have to stay where I am, wherever that is at any given time, how will I make that work? What resources are around me right now that I can use for survival? What can I offer to make myself valuable, worth keeing around and feeding etc.? It's very different in different places of course. In Tel Aviv the resources are very different, and would be I think harder to access, than in the Italian Alps. The Bitterroot Vallley in Montana offers a whole different set of resources and challenges than the ranch in Sonoma Cty. California. What I can offer seems to be differen tin different places too. Some of the skills and talents I have are needed more in some places, and others in other places, so as I travel I am always needing to notice and adjust myself accordingly. It's an interesting exercise.

07 May 2008

It's sunny and warm today. I planted a vegetable garden. It feels so good to dig and plant, and I am aware that physically I have very little stamina right now. Some of it is that I haven't eaten much meat lately, and also I feel that I am still recovering from the heat exhaustion I experienced in Israel.

There are two more workshops scheduled for me to teach. Here are links to the websites:

Urban Witchcamp
Urban Permaculture

Both feel timely and significant. Luckily they are both in July so I have some time to rest up before heading into the intense schedule of two 3-day workshops.

05 May 2008

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. This is a 500+ year old stone house, with a tower room, that the couple marrying have worked on for the last 10 years cutting windows through the stone and reinforcing them with concrete, making tile floors and putting in plumbing, electricity, telephone, wood stove and fireplace; it’s a beautiful place but not opulent. It is simple and rustic. I know the woman because her mother has been a friend for a long time and I have been around as the bride was growing up, and we are friends. Now she is in her mid 30’s. I am only getting to know the man in the couple. He is from Genoa but moved to this village because of family connecions, bought this little castle, and has been fixing it up. Outside there are many kinds of fruit trees, grapes, terraces...it’s quite a wonderful place. The wedding will be here on saturday morning. I’m performing the ceremony.

Today we have been selecting music. It’s great to have a music library. It’s a very pleasureable task to select music for a lovely event celebrating love.

I have been reading the news and see things developing, food crisis, more disaster, riots, more and more blatant corruption and greed driven violence as the corporate government monster is also moving towards it’s demise; it struggles and will continue to do so ever more intensely as the crisis builds. This is going to get ugly. It fills me with a sense of dread to read what I just wrote. I am a pretty positive person and I take great joy in living and I am not blind or in denial. The avalanche is just starting and a lot of people are going to be burried before the mountain stops collapsing. Sadness doesn’t even begin to describe what I feel about what’s coming. Horror is more like it. I know that many wonderful things are and will continue to happen, and I am all for it, but I see what I see.

Now, notice that this is exactly what the news is designed to make me feel. The news that is covered and the way it is covered is designed to make me feel that I am about to go under, that all is despair and woe and that I have no power, that I am not free.

Horse hockey! It’s just time to plant food, grow soil, save seed, and share! The more people do that the easier it will be to transition away from the multinational global economics of food distribution and get back to people and Earth, which, by the way, used to work. It still does ina lot of places! If everyone would plant something, and also buy locally grown food, there would be a huge shift in the economic base away from the ruling elite and towards local people involved with local Earth.