Seven Months and …

My life is simple but over-whelming to me. I tried to put gas in the Suzuki this morning (since my biodiesel car is still not running after it’s long run around the deserts,) but could not find the lever for the little door.  I’m getting rid of the hot tub and offered it for free on Craig’s List only to get over 20 calls and emails… causing me to retreat in panic until a friend stepped forward to say he’d like to have it.  One thing I do feel good about is getting Selkie groomed prior to her vet appointment today… we have 12 acres of foxtails and she popped up with two abscesses in her front feet in 24 hours even though I check her daily.

Time is pulling away from my ability to write about it… to pull out the chunks that were important to me.

I wanted to mention more about my home coming without sounding too whiny, a little whiny is entirely appropriate, I think. I’d had a rat in the house when I left. I handed the problem over to my land partners with a very strong admonition– if you don’t have time or don’t want to solve the problem please hire someone. The short of the long is that I came home to stench, droppings… an uninhabitable mess so I stayed in my tent out front for four days, hired friends to help me and eventually regained a semblance of home. (I wrote about that last time.) The problem isn’t completely solved– I have to hire someone to go into the crawl space under the house to do more work but the short term worst of it is over for now thanks to Angela, Caroline, Zenon and Bob. We went round about this and about our barn repairs and I suppose that is more than I should inflict on blog readers… again the short form– things are much more expensive than we thought ahead about and now there is an element of being trapped by the need to finish what we started BUT I don’t want to be trapped by repayments for the rest of my life for a project I will probably use very little. It’s stressful, seems like an intractable problem and has caused strain among us. (I know M and I would be in argument about this too as we often did not see things the same way in regards to land matters.)

Yesterday I was still at the effect of my own bad mood about these two issues but the shift started with celebrating my fine friend Laurel’s birthday… She has quit producing the Peace and Justice show but on Friday we co-hosted and managed to raise 1120$ for our community radio station which felt like a wonderful anchoring victory for locally produced public affairs programming. I just love her intelligence and spunk.

Last night I tented at Beale with the other Occupy Beale folks. It was great to see Michael’s olive tree with gladiolas and geranium planted around it now. So sweet!

It was also sweet to be joined by Kathy Kelly and Brian Terrell from Voices for Creative Non-violence. Kathy was just released from three months in prison for drone protest and Bryan spent six months in prison last year for direct action. This was my third federal trespass charge since Michael’s death. (The 27th was month 7’s anniversary…) The reading of the names of the children killed by drones… a list that seemed to go on and on and on just had me sobbing this morning. The ONLY way to deal with this is by protesting the drone killings and putting the whole rotten, illegal and immoral US terrorism on trial. I have nothing to lose in any of this and can fill a jail cell as well as the next woman. Now is the only time that matters… if we wait and let this technology wash over all the countries and corporations of the world the genie won’t fit back into the bottle and really I foresee it as bad as the nuclear arms race.

(Sorry the photos seem to be out of control and out of sequence. Peace to you.)

16 proud federal trespassers stand in solidarity against militarism and drones

16 proud federal trespassers stand in solidarity against militarism and drones

We stand vulnerable on the military side of the line. We stand with the victims of war to end all wars.

We stand vulnerable on the military side of the line. We stand with the victims of war to end all wars.

Voices for Creative Non-violence works with Afghani youth. This is their much needed project.

Voices for Creative Non-violence works with Afghani youth. This is their much needed project.

In Consoling Acknowledgement of All killed and harmed by War. I stand.

In Consoling Acknowledgement of All killed and harmed by War. I stand.

To see the End of Racism and Xenophobia

To see the End of Racism and Xenophobia

The panel pieces represent some of the hundreds of children murdered by drone strikes. We BLOCK the base to raise awareness of these preventable  tragedies.

The panel pieces represent some of the hundreds of children murdered by drone strikes. We BLOCK the base to raise awareness of these preventable tragedies.

Thanks Occupy Beale for planting and keeping this little memorial happy.

Thanks Occupy Beale for planting and keeping this little memorial happy.

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Thanks Patricia Moak!

Thanks Patricia Moak!

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Home, Rats and John Muir

IMG_6675IMG_6689IMG_6690IMG_6688I got home to a big stack of mail that included this timely note from President Obama… he must suffer some pretty serious writer’s cramp sometimes. I don’t know what to do with this thing… it just made me feel like M’s mom should be alive so I could send it to her for Mother’s Day.

The house was seriously impacted by rat parties while I was gone. My friend Caroline spent four hours here today vacumming and helping me with a lot of cleaning.. I feel much better for the efforts. I did less than her because my neck and shoulders are still hurting from my car slam in Salt Lake but it isn’t something serious… just slows me down.

Today she and I were going to go to the Board of Supervisors meeting to stand for a proposed fracking waste disposal ban (which passed!) but decided the best earth day friendly,  John Muir loving thing to do would be not to drive half an hour to a meeting we were not really needed at. Last night we celebrated her belated birthday with dinner and the Citizenfour movie about Edward Snowden who is another heroic figure.  Today I also spent some time calling our representatives asking them to review the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement which would basically give corporations equal standing with nations–behind closed doors there is a big push to make this just an up/down vote. Things are alarming now in a non-stop frantic kind of way but I haven’t reengaged in that way yet and hope not to. I got plenty of beauty here at home out of the corner of my eye today.  I’m grateful than I am not completely dulled out or grossed out by rat clean up duties to miss the beauty around me. Plus Emily gave me a bunch of strawberries and lettuce from her gorgeous garden… I feel like I won a prize.

Tomorrow my old friend Angela arrives. We are going under the house to try to find where the rats are getting in. We’ll seal it and put more poison under the house—sorry sister creatures.  She will want me to move my woodpile and get rid of my open compost pile. Michael’s shed with our camping gear must be a target too… it’s full of their poop and I don’t want everything ruined. Right now I can’t imagine a bunch of lifting but I trust her. She is a step-aside-watch-me-do-the-impossible kind of woman so by tomorrow night or the next night this problem will be solved and I will be able to reinhabit my home, our home, and just pull my life up around me as snuggly as I want. IMG_6678IMG_6683

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Salt Lake to Home

IMG_6663I visited my old high school friend Lisa in Salt Lake for two nights and we had a really relaxed time. I didn’t really dread the trip across Nevada nor did I look forward to it… it was early spring in Salt Lake and I was happy just being there. SAMSUNG

Before leaving Lisa and her daughter Laura and I went to breakfast then I went in search of the I-80 freeway.

SAMSUNGAt that point I had a fender bender with a very nice man named Jesus. He whipped around me on the right as I was turning right and tore off my bumper. He felt terrible about it and took me to a friend of a friend’s and that man, deep into what appeared to be a thriving automotive underground, fixed the car admirably so I didn’t have to worry about loosing the bumper in a cross-wind.

Leaving town I took a photo of Tooele Valley, just 25 miles out from Salt Lake where a huge depleted uranium repository is planned… where the half life will be 4.5 million years. So short sighted and sad.

IMG_6672The journey turned out to be very long and somewhat difficult. I remembered all the places we had had truck problems the year before… In Winnemucca, Elko, Reno, Rye Patch Reservoir… all the car part stores, all the long waits… my poor exhausted husband, absolutely steadfast about fixing his truck. No way I could convince him to just walk away from it.

I had my own small vehicle problem. The Volkswagen (with its Jiffy Lube quickie fix) would not start when I got to Wendover (on the Utah/Nevada border,) where I stopped to nap, have a coffee and walk Selkie. When the tow truck guys got there one of the guys was able to start it and I went on but then every time I stopped I’d have to go under the hood to get the linkage to work by tweaking it just so.

I got home about 7pm… the valley is hot and the grasses are drying out… it’s already fox tail time. My house smells of dead rats so I have set up my tent in the front yard. I stayed at a Motel 6 in Elko last night and drove a very long way today… I can’t take on the house til morning.

I conclude with some of the panel inside Horseshoe Canyon that Warren shot ….these mysterious beings are kin to the Moki Mother who seems so near and yet so very far away. I wish I could Thank Everyone who made this six week journey so special and amazing. pictographs Horseshoepictographs Horseshoe 2

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Headed Home

SAMSUNGMoki mom amphitheaterWe completed what I set out to do and I’m filled with gratitude to life, to my brother, for little Selkie, for this grand planet, for my dear Michael and to Life itself.  Warren just drove off and there is snow over the high country so I feel the urge to be moving on myself… not to be writing right now.

Warren and Imy shoesI want to rest my weary shoes somewhere and buy some new ones in Salt Lake. Safe journey to my wonderful, wonderful brother… I’ll post photos of our time together another time. So great to bookmark the critical part of the day with lots more slot canyon hikes yesterday. Good Bye to this wonderful wild Utah land.

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Michael’s 68th… never to be

Canyonlands 110Death Hollow on EasterApril 15th.

I have been absolutely dreading tomorrow. Now I must face it. Tomorrow is another day that looms large for me. It’s the day we would have celebrated his birthday but now he has ceased to grow old, ceased to stay even three months ahead of me. It’s the day for burying bony dust as the winds here in central Utah bluster and dust sweeps everywhere and the temperature plumets.

Warren and I have had such good days. We hiked three slot canyons, hiked down into the very deep Horseshoe Canyon, wandered down to Hite and up to Mt. Ellen and round to the Notom Rd and the Burr Trail to the top of the Waterpocket Fold. I know he’s starting to think about work… all the work he’s falling behind on. We  have slogged in hot sun and deep sand, laughed and feasted and swapped photos of incredible views and funny photos of each other. It’s been a wonderful  time with my dear brother but tomorrow is the day… the reason he came out here.

I don’t know what to do or how to do it. I feel teary and lost when I’m by myself… I don’t think it matters and yet it matters too much. I want to claim sacred space… so elements, atoms, molecules or soul… becoming life again or dispersed to the universe will have acknowledgement and deepest love and appreciation even if no conscious being exists to receive. I don’t feel I do it only for me. I love Michael into deepest space and time even as we are separated, maybe forever.  The stillness of the canyons has been good for me… there’s nothing beyond the sensing in the moment and I think in silence I will have to create and listen to whatever is needed that is available to me.

me in Wild Horseme pigtails Capitol Reef

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The arrival and then?

IMG_6520Leaving Katie’s was like leaving a nest… safe and warm and completely comfortable. We started the day off with her car not starting and her cell phone getting broken, then after I dropped her off at work my car stalled out at the Jiffy Lube where I took it for an oil change. (Somehow car routine maintenance had fallen by the by after Michael died because I just never considered it after all the years our cars had magically not needed it… because he’d been doing it the whole time.)

It turned out that, at least, was a good thing because if it had done that later in the journey I would have had a difficult time. In the Navajo Nation it’s hard enough to find a place to pull off the two lane road much less to find a mechanic. They fixed the car while I met all kinds of interesting people in the Jiffy Lube waiting room.IMG_6534IMG_0014

I was filled with nostalgia when I finally pulled into Mexican Hat where it had been coming on Halloween 18 months ago when we ate at a Navajo run restaurant there a couple of times. It was getting late but I hadn’t eaten since breakfast so I stopped before heading to another much memorialized place– Sand Island, where we camped in preparation for our 10 day trip down the San Juan. Such Good Times!!!San Juan 049

I hastily put up the tent in the campground and by the time I’d finished the constellations of Orion (Orien) and her dog and the eye of Taurus and the dipper and North Star and really bright planet were all dancing in the sky to owl calls and geese disturbances. My spirit had been pretty riled up with the task at hand but I felt at peace being back in this stunning country.

At the Slick-Rock Grill in Hanksville after a chilly night in the tent out back in the RV park I’d enjoyed breakfast with some country music and the slick clean dryness of my body after a hot shower.

To get there I devoured the miles between me and the Moki Mother… licking up the beauty, stopping only at the Hite Overlook where the Colorado looked impossibly small and shrinking at a time it should be bounding with snow-melt.IMG_6577IMG_9889

I had a sense of something when I got to the Hog Springs Picnic area… filled with young fit outdoor adventurers. Many trails now crisscross down the stream to her.. the stream itself a trickle. I approached with a fresh sage bundle and a huge lump in my throat. The shape of her landscape, which I thought I had indelibly stored in my memory, had shifted a lot…there was nowhere that would be a good place to bury Michael’s ashes..the ground was littered with fallen shards of the amphitheater and the sandy earth was barren since no rain ever reaches the shelf under the pictograph. I sat with her for a long time experiencing stillness and the view out from this relative eternity. It was very discouraging to look at the Moki Mother. She had been defaced. Defaced by having a face added… eyes gouged into the rock and a little pucker mouth. It did not feel safe there anymore…she had been discovered by a ruthless and fickle element of my civilization. I did find a small copse of oaks, fresh green leaves sheltering me as I looked back to her outline and down to the creek and the road and across to the vast red rock and blue sky above. I sheltered there like a rabbit until I heard voices then slid down the hill to meet the new-comers on the trail.IMG_6581

The drive to Hanksville was far… the landscape changed from red rock to open range once I got past the Bullfrog turnoff. In Hanksville I checked at the motel… NO PETS so Selkie and I went to the RV park and I set my tent on soft mown grass. We had a cozy cold night. I had requested a dream to tell me what to do but in the swirl of dream space there was no message but I knew at morning that I will do a symbolic burial back at the Mother and return home with the ashes.

When Michael said he wanted his ashes to go there he was swimming in a sea of pain medication and it was a touch stone we both knew. It was not a lucid request. Every day I have been preparing but there is no real break in the order of this momentum… his ashes are a distraction… the trip’s purpose has been to take me through my paces and edge me closer to my own acceptance of what is and what will be to come.

Today my brother Warren came out from Florida to do what was supposed to be the definitive thing. He loves slot canyons so we hope to do some hiking. I can’t keep up with him, nor can Selkie, but we want to be together and have this special time. I’m so grateful to have him with me!IMG_6605

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The San Juan River

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the impermanence of Alfombras

IMG_6410 I will start the story with the best photo I got but the story I tell isn’t the history of Alfombras… I assume they go back to the Spanish but even that I don’t know. What I saw the other day was the creativity and devotion of a community to a tradition. Each Alfombra was different and folks stayed up all night making them and used huge amounts of resources to complete them.

IMG_6361Now-days many of the alfombras are made with brightly dyed sawdust and stencils. These are eye-popping and beautiful but can’t compare to the creativity and natural beauty of the ones I’ll show you below.

IMG_6366First I wanted to show how the alfombras begin from the steps of the Catholic Church to make the loop of the center of the community.

IMG_6378Also, I wanted to include the Virgin of Guadalupe with strawberries in her gown to show the brilliant use of fruit and vegetables better.

SAMSUNGI’m including a photo of Clara, the mother of Jeramias, who we stayed with. She is in her early 70s and is a quiet, frail-looking and unassuming person. Her role in the household is to stand at that sink, which would have been a pila only a few short years ago, and do the family dishes. I never saw her otherwise. Every woman’s life is different but the widow in every culture has a crap shoot of a life, especially if she lacks financial independence… just saying.

IMG_6394IMG_6402Here I wanted to show off some of the natural ingredient alfombras.

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And, to mention how nice it was to walk around looking at them with Miranda and Diane. There were a few other foreigners out wandering the procession route too but most of the gawkers and shutter bugs were Guatemalans. Notice how this young woman isn’t wearing a corte? That is the way of the future.

IMG_6444While I’m still here in my mind I want to mention that I learned about my Nahual on this trip… the special time of one’s birth. I am Ixmoc, pronounced Eesh-Mok’. I also learned more about Mayan rituals for the dead and have returned with candles in the colors necessary to create my own small ritual. I am extremely grateful to learn more about the ancient ways that help satisfy the need in me to find some sort of “procedure” regarding the internment of Michael’s ashes. IMG_6461

The suffering of Christ and his death and the reenactment through the stations of the cross were especially mournful that morning as the effigies of Christ grew nearer. These altar boys stop to look at the nails and hammer that were part of this alfombra… perhaps they think only of the logistics of crossing through and over the objects but they are a stark reminder of man’s cruelty to man for me. Way too much unnecessary suffering in this world… the stages of life when loved and nourished at every step are hard enough!

IMG_6474And my thoughts are always with the women, who carry the Mary statue behind the Christ statue throughout these processions, throughout time.

And so the destruction of the simple beautiful and endearing alfombras, unlike other carpets,  ground under the feet of the processioners and after that came an organized and hurried clean up crew. The lessons of impermanence keep rolling out their advisements as I more and more am forced to pay attention to the need to snap up beauty while I may for tomorrow the broom is coming. IMG_6484

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