Dieselgate

Just saw the film, The Lady in the Van. In the film Maggie Smith is interacted with primarily by a person who lives a split life, one as a writer and one as a liver. Whenever I’m thinking about writing something I split like that fellow although never so elegantly that we stand at the window and look down our glasses in quite such an erudite and frustrated way.

In my case I think of a topic and I start to make my case. I don’t write in my mind full time so don’t have that maddening extra self. The case in point today is about my day which has turned out fine in every way despite the topic burden… I even lucked into being with my friend Caroline at the movie.

So, today’s installment is mainly about my capitulation in the matter of Dieselgate. You may or may not know that Michael and I looped the US on veggie oil in 2007 and 2008 for roughly 10 months but we ran our truck on veggie oil well before that and up until a week before he died. B Same VV ProcessMy 2006 VW Golf was bought as a veggie car (special heaters, lines and a second tank,) but Michael had to take the two tank system off because I had problems with stalling. I have continued to run it on bio-diesel (most recently solely Thanks to Springboard Biodiesel http://www.springboardbiodiesel.com/ a quarter mile from my home,) and I’m committed to using waste grease to run my vehicles- zero carbon. (At least until I am so old I can make do on a solar car.) Michael bought the Suzuki to convert it to a diesel engine even though it ran rough when he bought it… That vehicle has eluded all mechanical fathoming, no one can figure out how to get it to smog. (Eventually I’ll sneak over the state line and sell it, I guess, but it’s the vehicle I really want—four wheel drive, high clearance and long enough to sleep in… but alas, old, high miles, relatively poor MPG and GAS compared with the VW…) In my mind’s eye I pictured that I was going to get a Jetta, Passat or Toureg wagon that I could camp in (realizing the clearance issue would be a huge limitation on the first two and the affordability would limit me with the really impractically too-big Toureg.) Then the emissions scandal hit. Volkswagon completely outdid itself in criminality—85,000 vehicles running 40 times the allowed nitrous oxide levels! You could say breath-taking and mean it! So, buying and running any of those vehicles would be wrong (my Golf isn’t reliable but at least it was not in the recall years,) and Volkswagon still hasn’t come up with its recall plan, nor how it will be paid for. The car I want is being dumped on Craig’s List all over the country but I can’t buy one and just sit on it and hope for the best.

The whole idea was to go visit Orien after our protest at Creech Air Force Base after Easter then go back up to Utah for Michael’s birthday… to be in red-rock country. IMG_6580(No, there are no other affordable diesels and I don’t want a truck. I don’t want a hybrid… that’s still gas.) So I’ll be in a carpool to Creech in a hybrid and come home after the action. I’m becoming resigned that every strong longing I have doesn’t have to be satisfied.

I did let myself leap into a few lesser indulgences today though. There was nothing at all on my calendar so I did my usual thing at home but also planted clover and alyssum in the mist, before the big expected rain dump this weekend. IMG_9750 I also took myself to breakfast after yoga (one little thought I’ll mention, I got a News and Review and actually thought, “I’ll read one in the restaurant and bring one home for Michael“ before I could catch myself.)

Lastly, this rain that is coming will be a blizzard in the mountains. A big part of me strains to be up there but without at least the Suzuki (still with the mechanic,) it’s not safe nor practical. Dr.+King+weekend+037 I pull to do the things I want and fret ahead of the days with nothing scheduled but still today was a treat, perhaps because I made it one at some expense, but it was beautiful and enjoyable after working Monday and Tuesday this week and some intense things going on in our world and locally. I can’t deflect the silence, make myself be particularly social, nor always get what I want, but I can enjoy all the little things that flesh out a perfect day like today.

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Panorama of Heartaches

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This is the last night of Safe Space. I feel guilty about it although I have no added responsibility to have it be any different than it is. 50 homeless people go back out into the uncertainty of street life after winter shelter ends. So what? It hurts is what. I care about many of these people as individuals. I get their quirks and snatches of their stories. They show up inside my heart like friends do even if I’m not sure we are friends. It hurts me to think of them suffering or in danger. It angers me that we have nothing more to offer. It seems we have built something.. maybe it is paternalistic and not always so smooth sailing but it has worked. Now, back to square one.. Nameless, faceless homeless. It just is not right!!!!

There are two more things bothering me. One is another helplessness thing… the situation in Syria. Everyone but the Syrians themselves are bad guys to me. One segment of the Left supports Russia and Assad against the US, the mainstream media supports the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia… I think they all have so much blood on their hands they are slippery and stained with it. One hundred years ago it was the Armenians.. millions. Now I don’t know if this is ethnic cleansing or just plain proxy wars but the suffering is so vast my mind shorts out at the scope of it.  I am restless and trying to pull against the weight of the suffering but it is getting me down even as I realize it is not my own and perhaps I can’t do much about it. What are we supposed to do though? What about our moral responsibility to control our own nation state?

Oh yes, we Beale “trespassers” have warrants to be back in court again on March 8th, International Women’s Day. Oh yes, I’ll be back on the phone on Monday about Syria and back at Beale demonstrating against the drones which are a big part of the inhumanity.

Today I went to a Celebration of Life for Fran Farley. I saw him in winter when he was at Farmer’s Market with a walker. He seemed as personable as ever but definitely fragile. He died in December. I don’t know from what. At 92 you don’t really need a reason. Today I hugged his wife Juanita and she was just bones. She said, “I keep remembering what you said and now I know.” What the hell did I say? The power of words to move from person to person even as they leave the mouth of the speaker forever… That poor woman. 62 years of marriage. All I could write to her in the card I sent was something stupid like don’t forget to breathe… nothing means anything anymore. What is automatic is foreign. What meant something is flat and devoid of meaning. It is such a stark and odd landscape. Fran stands out in his livingness. In his goodness. Poor Juanita to be left behind in his wake. I assume it is good to have three kids and seven grand-kids. I hope so.

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I know I’ve written a lot today about things I express that I can’t stand or that pain me emotionally. Yet here I am. If I tune in to myself the tension and sorrow are all in my head and chest. I had a beautiful day. The day was beautiful and I was in it and one with it. It started off early at Safe Space loving on those people, then Selkie and I walked with one of the other volunteers in Upper Park, then I went to our satisfying Farmers market cornucopia then home to do planting of succulent and iris transplants and calla lily bulbs. I took this gorgeous blossom photo at sunset. Soon I’ll leave for a Cuba Benefit. I think I write out of emotional pain but have to remind myself that that is not all I am or all I feel. Somewhere in me there is balance and I just need to find and maintain it as all these things come to their own conclusions, I know that looking back on all the other awful things that I lived through and railed against in the past. My suffering is only the world banging around in my rather vacated mind. I can let go, fight, or both. The words are just something it helps me to say/write, so Thank you, don’t worry about me on top of other burdens you might carry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reset

Reset

I’m at Mill Creek in a little cabin with faucets running (to prevent broken pipes.) There is no TV or wifi or frills but it was nice to know I didn’t have to return to Chico tonight and that the people here knew and cared about Michael. What is ironic is that Northstate Rendering, our competitor for veggie oil now picks up their oil. This little loop, between here, the restaurant in Mineral and Child’s Meadows was our most reliable source of veggie oil. (There is a new resort up here, sucking what life there was from the Child’s Meadow business. It’s right across the street and the parking lot is packed. I’m sure the renderers could smell them from Chico. I will never, ever go there.)

Speaking of my never, evers: I am bored with my clothes. I haven’t bought anything new since the Bangladesh fire, three years ago. Since then it’s been thrift stores for me and at size 18 there is little that fits and looks nice. I was putting wrist bands on people as they came into the KZFR concert the other night (part of my volunteer responsibilities,) and noticed how tiny the wrists were of the women. (I never notice that when I’m doing exams which is strange… some part of my body image thinks I am the same size as other women… I’m not.) My big Nordic wrists are more like the men. Actually, that whole Nina Gerber and Chris Brown concert was part of why I needed a reset. I was bored to the basement of my being despite their lovely personalities and excellent musicianship. During the break I didn’t move. People were visiting, talking and laughing and I felt like Kafka. It was like watching aliens from an alienation bubble with a clock that was not moving on the wall.

On the other hand, Safe Space (our local temporary winter shelter run by volunteers,) never ceases to keep me interested. The guests are so variable. Some have such dignity with the crammed conditions and being thrown in with the more unstable. Others are just such characters, others so flawed and broken, others such obvious users and movers—the high and helpful. Some just weigh on me with worry about them. However they got in the fix they are in they seem so blameless in the midst of being at the effect of the disability they now suffer. I will really miss Safe Space when it ends with February. I think quite a few of us have made it the center of our social existences.

Where was I? (DRIP< DRIP etc) Riparia is beautiful and every day I feel restless. What am I supposed to be doing? I am doing a lot but still not organizing my stuff, getting rid of M’s stuff nor facing all that Power of Attorney paperwork that a responsible adult needs to complete. I putter outside and enjoy whatever pruning, weeding, mulching, transplanting I’m doing but just do that a chunk daily so there will always be a ready supply of dirt work to grace every day. I love the late winter and the quince, pussy willow, grass explosion. I see beauty and am taken by the light on things with the same old awe but nothing keeps me satisfied. I hate the evenings when I try to find things to watch on TV or the Roku because I’m too tired to do other things but it’s too early for bed.

Today we went up to Wilson Lake, Selk and I. It’s about a three mile ski in. About 5 snow mobiles were in play on the road while we did our long way up into the lake and back out (their whining and stink a great unfortunate sacrilege.) Michael and I had skied into that lake and camped along it about half a dozen times. I have indelible memories of a heavy smoke visit, ethereal mists, moonrises, geese calling, traversing the iced over lake behind him when I didn’t think it was safe. The lake that is mostly meadow and wandering rivulets. Today I sat for a long time and just watched the play of pure light and shadow on the snow before skiing back the entire meadow before getting back on the road that parallels it. On the way down the meadow I called out the OOO OOO that we used to call between us when we had gotten separated and wanted to find each other… my strong solo voice came back off the hillside facing. The reset I needed though happened between two creeks… it stopped me and played me back into aliveness again. Simple harmonics of the joyful play of life without meaning or marking time.

Tomorrow I’ll snowshoe down to the Mill Creek trail and see what goes there. I’ll miss a meditation in the morning for lack of phone signal but will continue that connectedness that found me today that has me at such peace now. . (As it turned out I left my cell phone down there and can’t access any of my Wilson Lake photos… so here is one Selfie of Selkie from upper Bidwell park last week.)

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Extinction

I’ve put off blogging til my last night here in Mt. Shasta. I was just watching coverage from the east coast blizzard and realized I was starting to get a little loggy from the beer I sat down with when Selkie and I came back from the library. Must write. Must write….

Beautiful little Sisson meadow owned by the Siskiyou Land Trust is right across the street from where I’m staying. (The photo is shot from the driveway.) Walking up to the library this afternoon was such a sweet little journey.

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Earlier in the day we went up the lower Sand Flat trail for maybe a mile. I’ve just finished the Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. You can guess what that is about and how dire it is but the audio book was fascinating and on the long slog through deep sticky snow with unwaxed skis I thought about the curiosity in Homo Sapiens that would bring an old widow woman over a hundred miles from home to come out during a Travel Advisory to ski off by herself on an unknown trail. Kolbert theorizes that the Neanderthals, had they prevailed, might never have created art, pushed to develop new and better tools, nor exterminated species as we humans have throughout time. Now with species extinction happening on the scale of one every 100 minutes we are just watching our own demise despite the efforts to keep endangered species alive with extraordinary measures and to slow climate change. That drive of ours, that curiosity, will always push us forward into what is already set in motion– a human caused great extinction event to rival any that came before. I’m fairly numb to it even though I worship the creatures I live beside.

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Last night I went to see the Revenant (what does that mean, the Revenant?) It was filmed in some of the places Michael and I have been in the rainforests of B.C. and in Kanansakis County, Alberta. The story was brutal and really unbelievable (no Dorothy, you might survive a bear attack but you won’t survive staying in frigid water for more than a few minutes and without gloves in freezing conditions you will have no hope of saving your fingers…) What connects to what I was just writing is that the crew and horses were airlifted to 8000 feet for one scene, a bomb was set off to cause a picturesque avalanche and when there wasn’t enough snow the whole kitten-caboodle film shoot went to Tierra del Fuego. Such are we capable of to make a basic bloody revenge movie.

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During the day yesterday Selk and I went (yes, drove on gas,) up to the Old Ski Bowl that is a couple of miles by ski above Bunny Flats (parking lot at about 7,000 ft) and about a 600 ft gain in elevation. Michael and I used to scoot that pretty easily and then ski around on the bowl for some runs (him in what I would call the most relaxed and satisfied and at home way while I made huge long shallow passes and kick turns to decrease my speed to slightly faster than walking, tense and always intimidated by the slightest dip.) In September I released some of his ashes on the far lip of the bowl. Yesterday it was enough for me to look at that ridge, eat my peanut butter sandwich and turn back… I felt like getting there had been a supreme effort and I wasn’t going any further than having the bowl in my mind’s eye and my real eye. Everything was in gray scale and the only sound was the occasional stinking snowmobile. I haven’t seen the outline of the peak of Mt. Shasta since I came because of the weather. (But refer to the last post here for a shot of Michael and Sasha on a snowmobile out on the bowl not so many years ago. By my Veggie Voyagers posting I can see our last time together alive on Shasta was April 3, 2013… just before that huge surgery to try to remove the cancer…) M and Lassen 2-27-13 019

I must say something more important. Every once in a while I would stop and just allow stillness to inhabit my breath, my body and the empty expanse that unites what is sentient in me with the great empty stillness spirit of the mountain. In those moments were reams, expanses, eons… the reason for life and the kindred of death. That is why I am drawn there and why I mourn a bit leaving tomorrow.

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The Edge of the Year

Orien left Chico with Keith this afternoon to visit friends in Sacramento and S.F. as they head back to Phoenix. IMG_9465I’ve gorged on left overs and now have to determine if I want to work on upcoming radio marathons (4 hours on Thursday the 31st and an hour and a half on Friday, the first,) or write here since so much family time has passed over the Holidays since I’ve written anything.

I have been busy. Cathy Webster and I tabled at the Climate Change rally after the Paris talks.IMG_9198 Chico 350 estimated a thousand people came to the rally but it is a buzz to me. Cathy and I did a Pledge to help people who wanted a focus—

Take the Pledge —I ____________________________    solemnly pledge to take a stand against Violence and to help Build a Culture of active Nonviolence.

I will strive to:

Practice nonviolence toward myself. Practice nonviolence toward all others. Practice nonviolence by joining the global movement to Abolish war, End poverty, Stop the destruction of the Earth and Foster a just and peaceful world for all.

In support of this—I will:

***Join at least one local peace or environmental group as an active member, such as:

Butte Environmental Council

Chico Peace and Justice Center

Chico 350

Frack Free Butte County

Chico Housing Action Team

***Take Non-violence Training in order to become knowledgeable and grounded in the tactics of Nonviolence:

Alternatives to Violence

Non-violent Communication

Read books on the power of Nonviolence

(Care of the Chico Peace and Justice Center www.chico-peace.org 893-9078)

*** Look for opportunities to Mainstream Nonviolence in our homes and communities and actively seek to Connect the Dots between Poverty, Militarism and Climate Change.

Campaign Nonviolence is taking a stand against war, poverty, environmental destruction and the epidemic of violence. Campaign Nonviolence is a long-term movement to mainstream nonviolence and to foster a culture of peace free from war, poverty, environmental destruction and the epidemic of violence. www.campaignnonviolence.org

 

That was on Saturday the 12th then our monthly Occupy Beale protest was on Monday. Our theme, besides the brutality and illegality of the global drone assassination program, was on the exemption of the massive military from any climate savings fossil fuel reductions. This small group was arrested Monday afternoon in solidarity with those in Paris who protested by drawing a red line against further polluters. IMG_9213Then we were arrested in the freezing dawn Tuesday. My sign reads War is Environmental Disaster.IMG_9268IMG_9271

Soon after the 15 of us were arrested, about 9 of us got Notices to Appear for Sept. Beale arrests. IMG_9293The little grip of stress about that tightened when Orien got home and started quizzing me on what I was going to do and getting an attorney. I hadn’t even thought about it yet but Arraignment is on Jan. 12th when we will be delivering a Real State of the Union address at the Federal Court House in Sacramento along with our pleas.

There were some nice rains and beautiful Solstice calm before the inevitable outbreak of Christmas and Orien birthday scurry. IMG_9363How I love it that she and Keith were here! We didn’t do anything overly amazing but just their nearness filled my heart and my days. We did the Bird Tree tradition on Christmas IMG_9402and went up to the snow.

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It is 10 years since mom died on Christmas Eve day and Orien also turned 35 on Christmas Eve, which is pretty smack dab adult. Michael is embedded and enshrined in my heart like a precious stone I realize, always there. Today the young woman of the couple who bought the cab over of our Veggie Voyager wrote about their adventures and I was gratified… folks after our own hearts.

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I’m glad 2015 is going away. I know every day of good health is precious and I don’t want to rush a thing but I am glad to put distance from Michael’s death. I’m grateful that I survived the year and did as many wonderful things as I did. I look back with some awe at how I got myself out into the world and all the new good memories that were created. When I crack open 2016 I want to have an open heart and a willingness to be as healthy as I can and to do as many positive things as possible within balance of my own body and spirit. I hope your path will be clear of impediments too and filled with Peace.

This is a random photo of Michael and Sasha on an abandoned, broken down snowmobile on Shasta. So many happy snow memories with them! Shasta Lassen 066[1]

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A Quiet Winter Night Alone

Last night I went to hear a discussion at Chico State then took myself out for Indian food. It was a cold night and I have a sinusitis so I had a Chi tea which was delicious but kept me up all night. Today I hosted the Peace and Justice program on community radio (archived at http://www.kzfr.org) and that was a hurdle because getting out the word about why we must be actively engaged in saving our planet is so crucial. It is always a strain and I never know how it has gone. It is like cramming for a big test but relief usually doesn’t follow because the topics are usually so triggering (like climate change, drone assassination, water privatization.) Anyway, the evening was supposed to end at Safe Space where I was scheduled to be a monitor until 1am but someone else wanted the shift so I gratefully relinquished but now the space of this evening stretches in front of me. I’ve ruled out going out and I tried calling one friend who didn’t pick up. There isn’t even a fire laid… So, here I am in stillness holding awkwardly within the space of quiet. These winter nights are really long….

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The photo above is me, the old lady, with my only brother, Warren, saying goodbye.

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After my family left Keith came and he and Orien participated in a Chico Climate march last weekend after the Thanksgiving feasting. Then they left to go back to Phoenix. (Leaving me with lots of left overs which I have just now finally polished off. I’ve decided though– no more dairy or eggs after seeing the film Cowspiracy so a new chapter opens as the frig empties out.)

Michael sent from Eldon and Joan Buell

During all the hoopla of the visits a woman named Joan Buell got hold of me. Her husband had known Michael in Vietnam and she had amazing new revelations that I had never heard before. (And she sent me this picture.) She said that her husband Eldon, who is holding one of his grandbabies below and who has also died of Vietnam initiated illness, had said his best memories of Vietnam were with Michael. Everyone called him by a word that means “doctor” and Eldon had been a medic in a clinic where they even delivered babies. Joan said that the children of the men Michael served with survived because he cared and that Michael was a hero. Her information surprised me only because I had not heard about his friendships but I’m sure he did do everything in his power to protect those he bonded with. That was very much in his nature. I love this photo of Eldon and feel sorrow and connection with Joan. Her contact meant a lot to me but I didn’t have a lot of time to really feel the pull of it til everyone left.

Eldon Buell

I think idle thoughts of Michael all the time. He pops into my head with a little vignette of something we did or a way he would have responded in a situation. Despite staying busy I miss our old life at many a turn, especially when I know there is snow in the high country or I can’t get the car fixed well enough to smog. My heart is alternating like this thin bleached leaf and this split isolated rusted bronze hanging thing with the glory of life in the background.

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After the recent rain Selk and I went down to the creek to the exact place Michael and I went on our last walk together. The beauty of the fall changes took my real heart to a level that emotional pain infused with beauty often does… an ache of appreciation for all that remains that is pure and good and in the moment and season of how it should be.

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The things that are consistent for me are Selkie and the house. The house may look odd to you and I’m not sure about it either but it is wonderful having a fresh coat of paint and stain for whatever comes next and the sense of this space inside for the better or worse of my own existence.

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Thanksgiving

IMG_8641Never put off writing. The crisp presence of thoughts in the day time have slowed to groggy crawlings by late night. This will be quick.

My family- Warren and Carol, Danny, Priya and Ameerah, Kevin and Christine, came to visit for a few days this week. The time together held jam packed days orchestrated by Orien for full-on have fun memories that I will have to sort through or lose them.

Then Keith came and we all spent the day fussing with pies and cooking before having too much food for the number of guests. It was a lovely little gathering though. Sweet, sweet, sweet… crisp in my mind since I just came home.

I want to post photos but I am too tired. Tomorrow I work and I have to go to bed. There’s more, of course, but this is all I can do is shed gratitude this Thanksgiving night as fatigue shrinks me away from this chair and I reach my fingers one more time lovingly in your direction to type that I  wish you well. IMG_8942.JPG

 

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