De-cluttering and Repurposing

Part of the appeal of selling Providence, beyond the opportunity to practice relaxing my clinging muscles, was the fact that all our stuff would be in one place. Which seemed like an excellent idea at the time. The reality? We now know, clearly and unequivocally, that we have too much stuff.

On the brighter side, we have gotten rid of a lot of stuff.

DE-CLUTTERING 101.

The issue I have with Marie Kondo? She has a shopping disorder. How can one consistently get rid of four large garbage bags of clothing? And do it again three months later? Carl and I have the opposite problem. We still have T-shirts we have worn for twenty years. We like the holes and stains. Why would we get rid of a perfectly good work shirt? We need to keep it. How dare we let it go?

Enter The Organizer of All Organizers: Susan P.

We hired her to help us de-clutter and organize the chaos we created in May when we staged the Providence house, and again in late August and early September, when we did the final haul, ending up with an overwhelming amount of stuff at Darwin’s View. We needed help. At least, I did. I don’t work in clutter. I shut down . . . then note that Carl is quite cheerful when surrounded by piles of papers. He can even pay bills without twitching! Not I!

We both knew this about the other but working with Susan P. opened our eyes to a deeper understanding. Until that week with her–actually, it was only three days but it felt like a week and i’s a small miracle we survived to tell about it–Carl had been relatively unfazed by my comments about his stuff cluttering the basement and garage. Admittedly, over the years, he had gotten a bit defensive about it but who wouldn’t be, if someone–me–keeps nudging and commenting about all that junk that Carl defined as items that could be significant, and possibily useful, at some future time. And he never mentioned how much it bothered him, my tendancy to start a project and not finish it because I was so enamoured with the next project. Susan P. put us and our kitchen under a glaring light and penetrating microscope.

We hired her on only for the kitchen and the basement pantry. Carl and I figured it would take a day, not three. But day one, we got through six feet of the  kitchen counter. Even Susan commented how slowly things were going. But every object had to be scrutinized and debated by us. Example: Susan would pick up a rubber band.

“Can we agree to throw this out?”

“No,” Carl would say and remove the rubber band from her grasp. He would shove it into his pocket. She would frown.

“Carl, take that out of your pocket. It’s fine to keep it.  (Sic) We only need to find a place to store it.”

That would result in a conversation that would lead to the guest room/home office room where all our recycling had collected. Carl planned to make a recycling center but it hadn’t quite made it to fruition. He had a drawing done. And a partial cupboard built. And lots of stuff to recycle. But nothing had a place and everything in its place. It meant for an overwhelming amount of eye clutter. I had entirely given up on anything to do with recyling. We kept the office door shut. Susan P. opened it, winced, found a plastic container to put the rubber band into. She picked up a salt shaker.

“You have three salt shakers that I can see. Have you anymore?” We shook our head. Miraculously, we agreed to get rid of one. But she countered by saying it might be nice to have it outside on the deck. We pointed out it would blow away the next time the wind picked up. We agreed to disagree and watched as she placed the salt shaker outside on the deck, both Carl and I muttering we’d bring it in that night. Spatulas and knives. Carl offered to make a drawer to contain the spatulas. And another for the knives. At which point, Susan P. commented on how everything was a potential new project for Carl. That maybe we needed to settle for less than perfection. Meantime, she created a “Carl’s future project paper bag.

Etcetera. By the end of the day, our brains were fried, our bodies drained, our moods grumpy.

Day two, Susan P. noted that Carl, as did she herself, has hoarder tendancies. That we can’t save everything. That, at a certain point, we had to throw something out. Carl looked panicked and pained. To give him breathing room, she set her sights on me. I, apparently, am a compulsive starter of projects and my failure to finish them drives Carl . . . batty.

I denied such an insult. . . until Carl confirmed that it did bother him, all those piles of clothes to be sorted, cupboards emptied and left to tidy themselves, dirty dishes in the sink that I will get to but he gets to them first and it’s practically unfair, how he does all the dishes before I can do them!

We are both perfectionists. We just exhibit things differently.

Three days of hell and we didn’t make it to the pantry. We threw out stuff, gave away stuff, organized stuff. We still have too much stuff and on occasion miss what we gave away: the filter for the old lemon squeezer. The teapot that we finally found the sieve for. Gone. But we learned how to organize and set up systems and, at times, when still faced by too much, I think wistfully of Susan P. Sometimes it helps to have that objective third person to direct us toward simplification and elimination.

A Providence friend looked around our New Hampshire house this past weekend. She ambivalently noted that we had managed to fit in all our stuff.

She has no idea how much we let go of.

She has no idea what’s still in the garage.

REUSING & REPURPOSING

Carl and I were exhausted by the de-cluttering and organizing process. We wanted to get on with our new, New Hampshire-centered life. And what better way to do that then to address the chicken coop situation? Chicken Paradise is disheveled. The plastic that protects the runs is ripped apart. The chicken wire is recoiling from the wooden doors. The wood is warping. And there sits the glass Bus Stop Greenhouse in the middle of the field. One plus one equals two and as we watched the dust from Susan P.’s car settle back onto the drive, it was time to build the Bus Stop Chicken Coop.

First we had to move it.

With that process checked off our To Do list, Carl spent the next week, on and off, drawing a plan for the coop that he would build inside the bus stop. Talk about wind protection! But every day, he pecked and poked, and every day, the situation felt wrong. His heart rebelled because he did not want to build a coop, only to have us determine, as we have too often in the past, that it’s not quite right. He knows how we are! He has built a battalion of coops: The Providence Hut. The Hurricane Sandy Emergency Coop. The Hay Chalet. The Chicken Palace. The Nursery. Chicken Paradise. The Road Chick Quonset Hut Coop. And various tweaks in between because every year we have to re-winterize the coop and its runs. That requires determining whether to protect the runs with ninety hay bales or wrap them with plastic. And always, it takes a full day to implement. Sometimes two. And so the very idea of spending yet more money and more time building a chicken coop? Carl didn’t like acting the part of Sisyphus.

He came up to my office and presented his dilemma. I joined him outside in the Bus Stop. The sun shone in through the thick glass. The wood foundation he had built and now sat on, proved the durabilty of anything we determined he would build. We went around in the circles we had circled before. Coop size. With or without doors. Predator proofing.

And maybe we should just keep the chickens where they are because they were getting a bit insistent about where our boundaries and theirs might meet, and what if we don’t like having the chickens quite so close to the house next spring? But then we remembered the uptick in drafts in the current coop. The distance of that coop from the house and the upcoming winter. Given the fifty inches of rain in Texas and the hurricanes down south, were we in for a brutally ice-y and snowy winter and shoveling the chickens out? Much easier if they are five feet away. Near is good in winter. And so back into the bus stop we went, contemplating all the wood and insulation we would have to buy, the radiant heat tubing for the floors. (Kidding!)

And then ba-da-bing! Lightning struck. I looked at the nearly defeated Carl and reminded him: REUSE! RECYCLE! REPURPOSE! Carl’s resistance to Susan P.’s lessons rose up refreshed and refurbished. Rather that buy new stuff, use the old! We would bring over the quonset hut and attach it to the bus stop. Somehow. Carl would figure it out. And what about the Providence Hut, I asked! The girls love it. It’s in the hut that the young pullets have been laying their little eggies (as we found out when we went to move it. Seven precious, wee eggs.) And maybe, just maybe, we could somehow use the old generator cover.

Carl’s mood dramatically improved, his sense of purpose returned. We dragged all the above over to the bus stop and soon enough the girls came over to join us. They hopped into the Hut as we shoved it around. Jumped into the Quonset Hut, clucking and cooing. Eventually . . . they approved. They really approved. They like this idea so much, we can hardly keep them out of the coops for long enough to reconstruct them into their new home.

It was that easy.

Would we could do the same for the sixty-three million homeless people in the world. Or is it one hundred million?

We are the fortunate ones. So are our chickens. But is gratitude enough? There must be something more to balance the grotesque evil with the gracious beauty of every day.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SH*T IN THE SHOWER

En route to Providence this past April—a mere six months ago—my cell phone rang. Carl, as ever, chauffeured and so I answered the call. It was our house sitter extraordinaire Katie. She has house sat for us, first at our East side home, and then our Park side home, on and off, for years. She apologized for being the bearer of bad news.

“I took a bath in your bathroom this morning and when I drained the tub, the toilet began to gurgle and . . . stuff started coming up into your shower.”

Stuff being a euphemism for shit.

For the record, when I think of a toilet backing up into the shower, I don’t think “oh, the perfect opportunity to begin our humanure project.” Surprisingly, Carl didn’t think that either, if only because the back-up happened at our home in the city of Providence, not in the country at Darwin’s View. No, I looked over at Carl and he at me and we agreed. The universe was trying to tell us something.

I called Roto-Rooter. As we rocketed along Route 146, heading to Providence now for an entirely different purpose than a few minutes before, Carl sang along with the Roto-Rooter’s theme song (Roto-Rooter, that’s the name, Away go troubles, down the drain) while I contemplated what it might be the universe was telling us. A few hours later, the Roto-Rooter guy pushed us over the edge to the answer: it would cost us thousands of dollars to repair the sewer pipes out to the street. They might be able to get to the job that weekend, given it was kind of an emergency. We shouldn’t use the water until then.

Adding salt to the wound, the Roto-Rooter guy’s boss sniffed at us through the phone.

“I told them they should replace those lines five years ago.”

Carl and I looked at each other. Neither remembered calling Roto-Rooter five years ago. I asked for the exact date, please. As it turned out, it was seven years ago, and—most tellingly—three days before we bought our “let’s face it. the house isn’t in Providence, it’s in Cranston” house.

I called the young couple then staying at the house to tell them about the back up and the water use restriction. Then Carl and I debated which realty company to call.

I am not bitter. It has been time to sell that house for a while. We became official residents of New Hampshire in 2016, in time for the November elections. And have spent less and less time in our Cranston/Providence home in the last couple of years. With the sewer issue, the balance tipped. It was time. We affirmed our decision to each other time and again. It made all the sense in the world.

Ever with my priorities straight and to celebrate the arrival at Darwin’s View of my mother for a three week visit, we adopted six chicks on April 8th. With their grating peeppeeppeeps emitting from the cardboard box next to the wood stove, we avoided any sign of change. A couple of day trips to Providence to interview realtors, yet we postponed packing until after my mother’s departure. Thus, it wasn’t until the first three weeks of May that we packed up all our stuff and more stuff. We toted it up to New Hampshire where the just finished addition to the house began to bulge even as we staged the Cranston/Providence house. Down to its simplest, sleekest form, it was just a house now, not a home. Right?

The Open House was May 21st, initiating the usual bumps and hiccups of house sales.

The closing was September 6th. The buyers’ lawyer took a minute to comment on how she had had to research the property boundaries, given the house was sited in both Providence and Cranston. And so she had seen the website with all the pretty pictures of our beautiful house. She loved it. She went on and on about how unique it is, what great work we did renovating it, how fabulous. . ..

I interrupted her. “Excuse me,” I said. “I am deeply ambivalent about selling this house? I would suggest you stop talking right now. I haven’t signed anything yet.”

Nervous giggles all around. The sale proceeded. Our realtor, perhaps to lighten things up, commented on how happy her son is with all the records we had given away. All Carl’s and my LPs. Mine that I haven’t listened to since Carl and I got married because we hadn’t set up the stereo system, relying on CDs instead. I didn’t tell her sh! Nor did I say, I want them back. They are a part of me and I have been out of touch with that me. Give them back. Instead, I signed the papers where I was supposed to sign. I was letting go. It wasn’t my fault if the house and the records were stuck to me in a Buster Keaton’s handkerchief kind of way.

I always swore I wouldn’t move to New Hampshire from Providence. I didn’t. I moved from Cranston, from our in-between the beach and the mountain house. Buying, renovating and moving into that house began the transition from Rhode Island to New Hampshire and ba-da-bing. When shit comes up in your shower, the universe is telling you something.

Did I misinterpret it? Was it telling us to move back?

Absolutely not. We have moved forward, and are, in typical us fashion, readying ourselves for the next project, whatever that might be.

 

Daily Planners

Last December, while in New York City visiting my mother, I spent nearly an hour at Staples choosing my daily planner calendar book for the coming year. It was and always is a daunting task. So many choices. Hardcover or paperback, compact or desktop? Daily, weekly, monthly? Dates and hours printed or free form? Page texture? Color? With or without lines?

None of the myriad choices quite worked. Eventually, I bought a calendar that was visually perfect inside but hardcovered. Heavy. Carrying that bulky albatross in my purse, I determined to keep looking and ended up at a stationary store where, after half an hour, I bought another daily planner that had a soft cover, and was a calming blue. The interior though—peach-colored and thin-lined—grated on my nerves. Back at my mother’s apartment, I prowled the internet, tick, tick, tick, late into the night, verifying that the nice blue cover was faux, not real, leather, but the peach color? Awful. Irritating. I would have to take the time to return both planners the next day and still, hadn’t found the just right one. So much wasted time . . . the obsessive quality of my search . . . the disturbance of my reality and routine. But I couldn’t go forward or commit to anything until I had chosen. I needed to be able to write things down.

That thought caused a skip in my brain and a suspicion that my obsession was not about choosing my next year’s daily planner. It was about the election and my deepest hope that sense would return and the electoral college would not, in fact, allow for a hate-filled, sociopathic, megolomaniac fascist to take office. Why were women not marching on the capital on December 19th, when the electoral college met? January 21 seemed so day late and a dollar short.

Dollars brought to mind money. I turned to my journal and scribbled on about money in politics, money as power. HRC and how she might be establishment but Republicans had spent decades and untold millions of (tax payer) dollars trying to find her guilty of something but hadn’t managed to put her behind bars which to my mind meant she wasn’t guilty of anything they, themselves, hadn’t done. I wondered at all that hate spewed—and wasn’t it just fear? Fear of women. Fear of change. Climate change.

My obsession wasn’t about politics but climate change! Cherry trees blooming in New York City in December and the upcoming year, 2017, was slated by climatologists as when climate change would really start to kick in. And nothing to be done because it should have been done years ago. We knew years ago it was coming and did not act. Denial and our own comforts and busy days kept us blind as baby mice. Helpless. It seemed so inevitable and terrifying. Profoundly, mortally terrifying. Trapped.

Ever deeper, closer to the point. It wasn’t about climate change, either. It was my mother, her illness. Parkinson’s disease. A hideous disease. In parallel with the election of the 45th president, it causes extreme discomfort, and promises the imprisonment of the soul. When I visit my mother, I see, first hand, her sweet, generous soul . . . and the poisonous hallucinations that scare her. The man who keeps showing up, sometimes with female cohorts. They are oppressive. My mother anticipates their coming, and fears their consequence. When not fighting them off, she experiences the frustration of not being able to do for herself. And the anger and helplessness against life’s unfairness. Her future is grim.

So Mother Nature. So democracy. No small wonder that I obsessed on which daily planner to choose. What to hold and carry with me through the year 2017, as day followed day, and how know what each would hold? How much risk and challenge. How much life. I needed to pick the exact, right one. The one that would help me to be organized, to accomplish, to act.

Trump has been as bad as and worse than I anticipated. To counter his vileness, I have withdrawn yet more into busy-ness. This year, we have marched for the most basic American principles; finished an addition that doubled the size of our perfectly sized, off-grid home; completed the install of a regeneration lap pool; puffed the proverbial pillows of our permaculture experiment, with its swales and hugelkultures and sugar maple grove. Most significantly, we have moved out of and sold our Providence house and now face the clutter of nearly three decades of accumulation. Human brains process four thousand words in one minute as opposed to the few we can articulate aloud. Sometimes all we can do is howl.

Or crow.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Mother Nature’s wrath is upon us. A whole lot of the feminine is whorling around and a daily planner? It’s just a distraction. I can plan and organize all day but, in the end, it’s just an attempt to control. In the end, I need to take life down to its essence. I hold out my hands and what is in them? Exactly what I most fear: stillness in the eye of the storm. Surrounded by winds beyond imagination and no way out but through, and soon, very soon, it will be time to choose again, a new daily planner.

Regeneration and Rejuvenation in Three Parts

PART I

Our lap pond no longer leaks. It hardly even evaporates. And I am determined to swim every day because this is not a four season pool and the season is fast coming to a close. The last two days, the water was 68 degrees and the air a bracing 47. Nippy. Almost too but still beareable. Delicious and there is a part of me that needs to be in that pool with the frogs and water bugs. When swimming between two mountains in that very cold water, I am filled with a sense of gratitude and convergence. As if all that has happened in my lifetime actually makes sense. That being here at Darwin’s View is exactly where I am meant to be. After these last seven years of bewilderment, that’s refreshing.

How get into the water? Once decided to do it (no, yes, no, yes, no, yes), I ask leave of the resident leopard frog. He dives off into the darkness, to safety. I step onto the first step to follow him, and the next, and the next. I can’t spend time considering the chill of the water. I know that if I hesitate for too long, my toes will be numb before I am fully submerged, and the swim will be a euphemism for a mere wetting. Splash! I’m in and fully awake, swimming from a pinked-by-the-sunrise Mount Monandock toward Pac Monadnock. Clouds rest on its shoulder like a blanket of snow. As I come up for breath, I note the plants of the pool’s stone bed regeneration system. Below me, water bugs do the breast stroke. Snails on the side of the pool. A dragonfly birthed from its cocoon. Skin chilling, I feel the shape of my body, where it ends and the water begins. My awareness of my feet, legs, torso is vivid. The water livens me. It heals me. It is me. Being. I am in the moment, for once, because the moment, this one in the pool, is absolutely perfect.

Only three laps. Four. Five. I could swim forever, and want to, but the cold sinks into my blood. My toes cramp. Unlike the frogs, I am not cold-blooded. Yet, even as I step out of the pool, I regret that sensation of breathless cold against my skin. That feeling of aliveness. Of I exist. Of I am. And I know the ununtterable importance of that beingness. Has anyone else felt it? It is without boundaries. It is the sensation of oneness. That we are all bound up in a whorl of energy that has no beginning or end.

PART II

An example of a lack of boundaries: Our free-range, a.k.a. feral, chickens. They have no discretion as proven by the peeps, who are now adolescents. They have taken over the handicapped-accessible walkway to the porch. It is dotted with their poo. Mo, in particular, likes to hang out there as the enclosure gives echo to his crow.

Yes, once again, we have hims. Mo and Muff. Mo is the top dude and chasing the older hens who are, needless to say, pissed that their peace and quiet is once again being broken by some upstart trying to mount them in adolescent fashion: no foreplay whatsoever. Mo is more concerned with his own needs than the hens’ which, if you are paying attention at all, you will note is pervasive in the world today. Too few are willing to take the time to consider the other side.

PART III

Balance. Life requires balance. In our demo-n-capitalist society, balance has been gerrymandered away. Energy, in the form of money, has been used to upend democracy, creating an unnatural chaos, a seemingly bottomless vortex of anger and hate that masks a deep and unexplored fear. Unbearable sadness. The pain of rejected love and lost connection. We will have to face that pain, if we are to heal it. It is very ugly. Evil. As terrifying as it is terrified. But here we are at a confluence of tides: hate meeting compassion. Words meet action. Words are so much easier. After all, here I am on my little hill taking a dip in my piece of heaven, a regenerative lap pond. Easy for me to say march in peace, be. I am white. I’ve never known poverty. My present moment isn’t dangerous.

Granted, one never knows. There is a gun club near us here. People practicing their aim on human forms.

Would Jesus do that?

Mohammud?

Buddha?

We know that Ghandhi didn’t shoot guns, and I have wondered: in real life, as opposed to fiction, does good win over evil? Compassion and love over hate. There does seem to be a shift going on. We are in the midst of a nightmare but look how many people now are involved and active  against intolerance and hate who would not have been otherwise. The question being, will it be enough? Like so many totalitarian regimes, our current head of government doesn’t listen. Doesn’t care. He rolls forward unheeding, like an army tank over living beings. Individuals sacrifice for something bigger than any one person. Life snuffed. Is there still hope?

Rather like the eclipse. It was only a partial eclipse at Darwin’s View. Even so, it was unsettling to watch. Through the welder glasses that friends of ours brought, the sun was green. Had I been a youth, I would have announced, “It’s not the moon that is made of blue cheese but the sun!”

A bite in the sun, getting bigger and bigger, and mini eclipses scattered on the ground through the dappled light of trees.

We know the science of it, the physics, but what of its magic? The energy of so many people coming together to watch the power of Mother Nature. The moon calmly, steadily, inevitably covering the sun. Only for two hours. And then the sun came back . . . perhaps changed. I like to think so. I like to think that maybe the patriarchal norms that have ruled this society shifted, influenced by the moon’s energy and all the women who have been galvanized by the current situation. I like to think that maybe, just maybe, instead of destruction, we will begin to rebuild, using our humanity, not our greed and fear, as the foundation. I have to believe this because the alternative is as dark as if the sun had not come back.

Last week the eclipse.  Next week, a full moon. The tides rise. Especially in Texas.

The Stoner Dudes and Solar Eclipse

I’d like to introduce the Stone Dudes, Mo and Muff. Like their sisters—Squeaky, Sparrow, Black-Gold and Gold-Black—they were supposed to be girls. Enter reality.

The old hens—Ping, CooLots, Chickadee, Brownie and Apricot—look askance at the adolescents. Do these gawky, skitterish dudes really think . . . anything?

Before I get too far into the chicken kerfuffles up here at Darwin’s View, I’d like to say this: Welcome back! To me, too. I haven’t been here in a while. And recognize, too, that I have attempted to reset this blog a few times in the last three years. Today, though, is different. Today is special. On so many levels.

The Personal: As of yesterday, Carl and I are entirely moved out of Providence. The sale of the house there is pending . . . and all our stuff is here. Bulging at the seams. We have doubles of everything, and back ups of more. Our near future looks to be full of culling and letting go inside the house even as we weed and clear and plant outside. There will be no more looking back to Providence. We will focus on here, with intention!

We can hope, right?

The Societal: Interesting times, in a Chinese curse way, aren’t these? Having been an East European History major in college, I always thought it was odd that Russian touted itself as the communist thang under the pseudonym “The Soviet Union” when it made so much more sense for the United State of American, the true (sic) capitalist society to step up to the plate. After all, we had the real middle class, a working class that could be downtrodden and destroyed by the rich. And here we are! We’re a bit late to the game but we have our .01% of the rich having more wealth than the rest of the population combined, and pushing and clawing for more. Education has been removed in favor of fake news and social media that with a snap of a button can be shut down, thereby creating chaos which is what revolutions thrive on. Something is brewing out there.

The question being, will it be a revolution for, of and by the People, or a take-over by the oligarchy that currently runs things, known at this blog site as Demo-n-capitalist Bastards?

The World: To harken back to those naive days when I claimed to be at war against climate change, here we are! Admit it or not, climate change is happening. We humans destroyed the old world, decimating countless species, poisoning the skies and waters . . . but no need to go down that path. Let’s look on the bright side: we now live in the Anthropocene age, where nature is no longer part of the picture. These are human created times. Everything around us has been touched by us. Humans have infected—for lack of a better word—the world and to go forward in our existence on this planet, we now must figure out a way to survive as a species in this new world.

Does it matter if we don’t?

The Universe: Oh, sigh. Couldn’t it, we, be better? Couldn’t we, as a species, shift to a new way of being? One not based on destruction? Thinking of the billions of beavers killed for a hat, I wonder if there isn’t a way to co-exist with those little bastard groundhogs who eat our gardens, and wild horses who persist on eating the grasses reserved by us for our cattle. Is it necessary to kill off all the natural environment?

Of course! We have to feed ourselves. But it seems we aren’t doing a very good job of that. Millions of people are in the process of losing their homes as the oceans rise. Others as their soils turn to dust.

I know. It isn’t economic to save everyone. It might be an idea to educate them, though. A dirty little secret: If we educated women, in particular, they’d have fewer babies. In one generation, we could half the population. Which is currently burgeoning to unsustainable levels. And if we gave the poorer populations food and not bullets, there’s be less cause for war. If we cooperated and recognized that without each other, without nature’s web to sustain us . . .

It sounds touchy feely, doesn’t it? New agey to talk about cooperation and compassion and love, thereby ignoring the existence of hate and racism and greed.

But why not? We have to start somewhere. We are in the midst of a crisis that the opioid crisis manifests. We have a civil war fomenting in our selves and on all levels of self.  How heal? When?

Today there will be a solar eclipse. The moon will shade the sun, giving it a well deserved break. Being the sun–and oh so masculine–must be fraught. I will be watching our chickens for their reaction. And the cats, too. Where we live it will only be a partial eclipse but I’m still holding to the possibility that maybe  this brief, mid-day dusk will herald a dawning.

It will. For me, anyway. Have you noted? I haven’t given up yet. I am back, again, and again hitting the reset button in hopes of starting, for me if no one else, a new age of beingness, compassion and creation. I believe that, however vile humans might appear to be, yet we have an even greater capacity to love. So long as we try. Again and again. We cannot give up. If we do, it would cost us our humanity.

I’m gonna be like this Stoner Dude. Mo has been practicing his crow for a couple of weeks now. He’s getting better. Granted, he’ll never be Big Red. Just as the world will never be what it once was, with Dodo birds and Giant Sloths. But it might be something else. Something quite beautiful, if intangible: a world in which humans are their better selves, entirely conscious, aware of the great beauty around them, and caring for it, tending it, being.

My Goals for the End of April, in Preparation for May

GOALS:

On Saturday, today, attend the People’s Climate Mobilization March in Keene, thereby combining relative Climate Action with errands, thereby lowering carbon footprint by not driving to Concord or Boston, thereby alleviating sense of “Is this enough?” with reality of daily life.

Print out “No Ban. No Walls. No Raid.” signs to be put up at our house in Providence.

Spread POV (peas, oats, vetch) seed.

Stir and spread BD preps.

Host Apple tree grafting party with Ben Watson at Darwin’s View.

Jump start blog.

And clean up basement in anticipation of the extreme organizing because here is my May goal: Sell our house in Providence.

Yes, we are putting our Providence house on the market, hopefully by May 12th.

OMG. However do that?

Breathe.

Go step by step.

Rememember this: loss happens. Letting go. Change. Every minute of the day, there is change. Today. Now. It is a beautiful day here at Darwin’s View. The clouds this morning looked like glowing, puffy gray pillows. Mist on the hills. Tom Turkeys gobbling. Barn swallows swooping. Chickens cackling. The trees are as amazing in spring as in the fall with their variety of greens. Carl’s peach trees are covered with buds. (Not bugs!) The clouds are now a haze that allows the sun to warm the backs of the browsing turkeys.

May 1: Drive to Providence to put up “No Ban. No Walls. No Raid.” signs. Meet with real estate agents and staging consultant. Greet the 15 yard dumpster. Remind Carl to go to his 2PM dentist appointment. Prepare to pack.

May 1-4: Rip out our raised beds. Pluck the iris out of the ground. Roll sod. Mulch.

Pack. Preferably not everything. There is no room for everything at Darwin’s View.

Contemplate the consequences of my choices. Badabing! Done.

But first a march and rally to keep the bigger picture in mind: that we must each, individually, act now, in however big or small a way, to change our habits for the good of the environment. Each and every one of our choices matter. How we get from point A to B. What we eat. How we relate to one another: with compassion or hate.

The words “trump” and “nasty” have been forever ruined for me.

By May 12: Assist Carl in building Chicken Coop 10 for the chicks that are supposed to be pullets but one of the buff polish chicks has a head top that looks remarkably like a mohawk, not a muffin top. His sister (I hope) has more of a muffin top than a mohawk. Thus their names, tentatively, Muff and Moe. And all of these chicks, frankly, have “stand up and look at me” attitudes a la cockerels.

That would just be bad luck to pick six sexed chicks and have them all be boys.

Two trips to NYC.

. . . and move out of Providence.

Even if I move, it exists in my heart. And I imagine what it must be like for refugees. How awful to be forced to leave home, lives in danger. Hunger, thirst, fear. Great fear opposing their longing for home. The unfamiliarity of here. The necessity of enduring, living, loving.

Loving is so much better than hating, giving so much more fulfilling than clinging.

But this is just a rough list. No times to deepen or truly think. It’s time to rally, to march.

There is a Storm Coming. No. It’s Here.

Ever since moving up here to Darwin’s View four years ago, I have been in a holding pattern.

. . . Holding pattern might not be the right term. Holding pattern implies stillness, a lack a change, not the hyper-activity, both outside and in, that has occurred. The pattern I speak of could be considered, dare I say it? an evolution. Writing a book in which I am the main character, riding a familial roller coaster that takes me away, even as I seek to root. ADD and OCD. Hot sweats and cold sweats. WtF moments. From Bernie to HRC to Orange Julius in the White House, this day is as pivotal for me as that, five years ago, when I stood in a grocery store debating, for a crazy length of time, which might be the happiest eggs to buy. That interior dialogue determined me to buy six chicks because I would have the happiest of eggs. Thus, here I am at Darwin’s View.

Life is not so simple. That rendition of reality ignores a number of other factors but it gets me here, living off-grid, dipping into permaculture, and distracted by the activity of building an addition to our perfectly-sized house.

Carl commented yesterday that our house is like U.S. politics, in renovation mode. I pointed out, grumpily, that that is what I have been attempting to write for the last four years: how our lives here are a microcosm of our nation. And that, at this rate, the world will end before my book does because on top of everything else, now we must work to save our democracy.

Must. As Paul Gilding wrote in his book The Great Disruption, this in no longer a case of what you want to do, but of what you have to do. 

Through my evolutionary process I have learned not to get overwhelmed by doing this: Go step by step. Don’t look too far ahead. Hydrate. Especially when sprouting seedlings.

And so, what am I doing in these interesting times? All the things that everyone says to do. In cyclical moods, I think these things only to keep us busy. The petitions. The donations. The phone calls. Do they really make a difference? At least I will have tried.

To repeat, in part what I said in my last post: I am calling my senators and representatives, at the state and national level, a minimum of once a week, preferably every day. Each day, a new concern and new outrage. When it gets too overwhelming and there are too many outrages? I focus on environmental issues because I still, in the background, have my war against climate change to fight and win.

I have printed out my Indivisible Guide and read . . . most of it.

I am going to go to my town hall and learn more about how local politics work by finding out how to submit a petition to support our first amendment rights. And will get that petition signed.

I have not yet but intend to read conservative, preferably sane and civilized, articles on the environment and/or daily events so as to attempt to understand the “other” side. Because we have to find common cause. It’s there. When I went door to door for Bernie, I met a lot of people who were waffling between Bernie and the too soon to be Orange Julius. We Americans are far more alike than we are different.

I am participating in marches. They might be feel good events but the numbers that are turning out is heartening. We are doing what “they” fear: We are sitting up and paying attention.

In response? They ignore us. They ignore We, the People.

Hm. That brings to mind the William Congreve quote, Hell Hath no Fury like that of a woman scorned.

Imagine the fury of three million and counting. And their spouses. And their children.

This week, the wall between the old house and the addition will come down. Isn’t that fitting? Tearing down a wall between the past and future is symbolic of this time. We plan to serve tequila and avocados because if Orange Julius builds his wall, those won’t be available to us anymore.

I would prefer to sit in my office and tap at my keyboard, read, pet the cats, hang out with the chickens. But if I am complacent, who can I blame if Orange Julius wins?

Nasty New Cocktail Recipe

Take 8 ounces of Flint water. (Swamp water or water found near fracking facilities can be used as substitute if Flint water is unavailable.) Add one rotten egg. Stir until thoroughly bruised.

Pour into a chilled martini glass.

Add orange peel.

Voila: An Orange Julius, for those who want to be a Caesar with an Orange Complexion.

This is a nasty drink. Disappointing to be sure. Don’t bother to buy one. It’s already been bought.

Alcoholic version: Putini, a vodka martini with orange slice. Or an Orange Russian. Both hard to look at but worse to drink.

Chase with this:

I don’t know. Is it poisonous? Kind of looks like it is. . ..

Silver-Lining Anyone?


Every day, the world breaks my heart. The destruction of the environment. The horrors of factory farms. The rending of our social fabric by alienation, disrespect and deceit. Every day, I fail to live up to my hopes. My war against climate change, declared so quixotically back in March of 2013, has come to naught. Ditto my quest to save democracy. If anything, both are worse off than when I began.

Maybe I aimed too high. As more than one person has told me, one person can’t change the world.

. . . An arguable point. Think Hitler. Think Mahatma Gandhi. Going forward, think Vandana Shiva and Bill Mollison. Going backwards, think Orange Julius.

Orange Juliu is assaulting our rights, insulting our citizens, spewing hate and greed, casting aspersions on truth and holding the flag of deception high and proud, all the while ignoring the no longer hypothetical warming of the planet.  Orange Julius and his diabolic appointees exude that gross ethos that has evolved in certain strata of America. Not that around Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness but around money. Moneymoneymoneymoneymoney gives meaning and purpose to life. And if you don’t have enough of it—and there is never enough—you will be crushed. Thus, those with it grasp, in terror, for more, and We, The People are in a “crossfire chicken wing”—one of the top ten best wrestling holds used to bring the enemy to its knees.

The enemy, apparently, is us.

The good news? Our infantilization is over.  Orange Julius has wiped the vernix from our eyes. It is now perfectly clear what We, The People are up against: Demo-n-Capitalism. Like  Orange Julius, it doesn’t care about right or wrong. It has the power and will do anything, anything at all, to keep it.

More good news: Had HRC won—which she did but who’s counting? And had she been the one inaugurated today, We, The People would have continued as we were. We would have popped some GMO’ed popcorn and settled in for another four years of Republican rabidity, searching for something, anything, that would stick against the Clintons that the Republicans were not, themselves, guilty of. We would have continued to watch the lowering baseline of our environment, our economy, our politics and our humanity. In short, we would have maintained the entirely unsustainable status quo.

Instead? We have a choice: Door number one, change and sacrifice in the name of a greater good, or door number two, wait for someone to save us, with that someone not being anywhere in sight.

Four years ago, in a baby step way and not really aware of the extent of the consequences, I chose a prototype to door number one. I moved to Darwin’s View. Here, I am looking deep, trying to find my heart’s purpose and how I might fulfill what potential is me.

Each of us has that: potential, a heart’s purpose.

This Tory is a liberal, and proud to be. And I have never had my life, liberty and happiness threatened as deeply as it is today. I am not black nor brown. I am not poor. I speak English with an occasion dip into a rebel Rhode Island twang or a New Hampshire drawl. But, as are so many black, brown, poor, non-native speaking people living in this country, I am an American. I might not be proud of what my country has done in the name of progress and oil and money but I am proud of what this country might become—will become if We, The People look deep and find how we each might act out our life’s purpose, and help others to do the same.

The best news of all: Today, the inauguration of  Orange Julius, is a 9/11 moment. People all around the world are marching with us against misogyny, sexism, racism, zealotry, ignorance, and for the planet. We are not alone if we choose not to be. We are not alienated unless we opt not to see how connected we are to each other and to this beautiful planet. It has taken decades for us to get to this point of change. It’s a personal choice how we each will act. To march or not. To fight—literally or figuratively—or not. But this need not be a lonely work.

To save the world and its soils and water and sentient creatures, to save our democracy and the freedoms we hold dear, is actually very simple, if a challenge to implement. We have the tools to heal and the power to shift from greed, domination and consumerism to compassion, equality and sustainability. Think local. Think community. Think solar eclipse. The moon, feminine, covering, calming, nurturing the sun, masculine in the midst of a two year olds tantrum of mememememoney. The mother asking us to listen, not the father requiring us to submit.


My baby steps.

For the past week, I have been calling my senators and representatives, speaking of my outrage at  Orange Julius’s nominees. If nothing else, I now have a rapport with the folks who answer the phones. This will become a dialogue. I will learn from it.

This morning, I was disappointed in myself. I didn’t have the courage to go by myself to march anywhere. And then I spoke with a friend and tomorrow, she and her husband and Carl and I are going to Concord to march. And we will meet up with this friend’s friends and now, instead of judging my limitations, I am excited to be with people, meet people, maybe even volunteer to help.

And soon, I will plant seeds in soil, and Carl and I will begin to implement what we have been  preparing, in our ad hoc way, for four years. The way forward. I come back to Vandana Shiva and seeds, and to Bill Mollison and permaculture.

Is that my path?

I don’t know. But I do know this: Our democracy, our planet and we are in grave danger. Our government doesn’t care. Each day we each must choose and every one of those choices matter.

HOW YOU MIGHT SAVE THE WORLD!

IMG_4328It’s been too long. Like Nick, I’ve been in a box called Writer’s Block. But I just finished draft 5 of my next book, and now have time to restart my blog . . .  with this message, a tag on to my war against Anthropogenic Climate Disruption, previously referred to as Climate Change and Global Warming, all of which are currently present in this Primary Season.

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No, not our ducks. But someday. . . ?

Have you heard the joke about the guy who wanted to win the lottery? Every week, he’d pray to win. Not only that, but he explained to his god why he should win. It was not just for himself, after all, that he wanted the money. No! After he paid off his mortgage and paid off his kids’ college loan debts, he planned to start a life of philanthropy. He’d give away all the money he won so that others could have education, food and shelter, fresh water.

He prayed so hard. Purely. Selflessly. Weeks and months went by. He could hardly believe how fervently a person could pray and yet not get what he hoped for. Finally, he said as much to God. He said, “God, why won’t you let me win?”

A tremendous BANG! Flashes of lightening. And God’s fiery voice.

“I’d let you win but you have to buy a damned lottery ticket!”

A winning lottery is remarkably like voting. If you don’t buy the lottery ticket, or vote, the likelihood of things working out the way you hope is nonexistent. You’re leaving it to everyone else to take up the flag, to remember all the women, the blacks, the principled who suffered and fought for the right to vote in this country. They knew what life was like without that right. In fact, they knew it was worth dying for.

Republicans and the Righteous Right know this joke. They know that, in fact, their vote matters because when people vote, things can change. For the better or worse, depending on your beliefs. Thus they come out in droves, even through rain and snow, to exercise their right to vote.

Democrats seem to think like the guy in the joke. They think that good things will just happen. Things will work out.

Or why bother. My vote doesn’t signify.

Really?

I would suggest that if you think your vote doesn’t matter, you might try to make it matter. If you think the elections are rigged, get out and protest and/or call your representatives. And if you think it’s too late? Almost, but not quite.

This election has the potential to be a debacle (Drumpf), more of the same (Clinton) or a triumph (Sanders). I believe it will usher in the end of democracy—and thereby the world as we know it—or a new beginning.

IF we vote in the primaries. IF we vote in our Local and National elections. IF even after the elections, we stay involved at a local level and begin to pay attention and support the change we have voted for. Only then do we have a hope for a better, fairer world, and a chance against Anthropogenic Climate Disruption.

In short, Democrats, you have a choice: get out and vote. Or stay home, eat bonbons, and pray.

And if you want to hear why I support Sanders, not Hillary, drop me a line. I’m happy to discuss it.

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