Friday, June 29, 2007

On the beauty of the Pacific Northwest

I can't really explain the ways I have come to love it here, other than to say that it's gorgeous here and so open.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Decisions, decisions

Up until now, I have always been really bad at making decisions. I get a quick blast of a thought about what I want, and then later on I get other ideas that contradict that. Fears? I don't know...not wanting to be wrong? I guess fear of making a mistake can be paralyzing. Wanting to do more than one thing at once? Is that a fear? Not wanting to work at something -- is that also a fear? Maybe of putting a lot into something and failing? Fear of failure is a big one for me that I have to get over. Also though, I am convinced that living in three or four places at once will be possible some day, I just have to figure out the trick to bending time and space enough to be able to do it. Ha ha!

I do love living here in a lot of ways -- partly because I am here. Partly because the trees are all so green all year. The air smells so clean. There are so many parks. The library is great. People are very friendly and helpful. Puget Sound is so smooth. Riding a ferry on it is so different from any other ferry I've been on, because the ride is smoother than being on a car. Lake Washington turns a certain shade of blue on a sunny day. It's so very deep. Almost primeval. There are so many farms. And farmer's markets. There are a ton of natural foods stores. And supplements store. Traffic is not as bad as it was in California. My wonderful Aunt Janet lives a few hours' drive away, and she is a grower of fruit. My Uncle Walt lives in Seattle (though we don't see him much). My friend Becka and her wonderful daughter who is C's best friend. My friend Faye whose sons are fun and who always has great food to eat. The playgroups. The Seattle Center. Our apartment complex, which has suddenly become full of families with kids of all ages. Even our Ferberizing neighbors seem to be getting better after I tacked a La Leche League magazine to their door. The malls with the play areas. The homeschooling groups. The museum of Flight. The Children's museums. The beaches in Seattle that we've been to, particularly Discovery Park. The South 47 Farm. Minea Farm. The Berke Museum. The Sammammish River.

What I miss about California: San Francisco. San Rafael. My friends. Alameda. BART. The La Leche League Leaders who made me feel so welcome there (the ones here never did). The warm September/October Indian summers. The beaches. The dunes. The grazing cows at Pt Reyes National Seashore. The campus at UC Berkeley. The Castro District. The Mission. Berkeley. Orinda. Redwood Regional Park. The art museums. The J Church. The N Judah. Coffee shops everywhere. The Palace of the Legion of Honor museum. Golden Gate Park.

What I miss about Tennessee: my friend Stacy and her wonderful family. My brother Charlie. Being relatively near my other brother Stan. The warm spring weather. The Appalachian mountains. The local festivals. The creeks. The memories I have (although many involve leaving to go on trips, to places like The Blue Ridge Parkway, The Outer Banks, Washington, DC). The slower pace of life.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Messages of Love for autistic children

This is a short excerpt from a message of love from Amris:

Do you know that the writer was autistic? In a time when this illness was not so widespread, she experienced it, she lived it. A forerunner of the ones of tomorrow, she was. And today, is her tomorrow. Today, these children are everywhere.

These children are so much more sensitive on every level. And they all carry gifts as grand, or greater than the one you witnessed unfolding in the writer. The difficulty that you have is watching in this time before the unfolding. In doing the daily work of reminding this little one that he is perfect, just as he is.

See: Messages of Love

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What's up on Planet Earth


Living off the land

Cool site: Link

The Maya National Council of Elders of Guatemala asked us to pray for our world on May 22

I just found out about this, a bit too late:

Date: May 11, 2007


Don Alejandro Oxlaj, Guatemala de la Asuncion

Don Alejandro is charged as the primary keeper of the teachings, visions and prophecies of the Mayan people. He is head of the National Mayan Council of Elders of Guatemala, Day Keeper of the Mayan Calendar, a 13th generation Quiche Mayan High Priest and a Grand Elder of the Continental Council of Elders and Spiritual Guides of the Americas. He is also an international lecturer on Mayan Culture.

Don Alejandro gives us this timely message: a call to action, a call to come together and be as one. Don Alejandro Hill be performing a Sacred Maya FIRE Ceremony in Guatemala , and be joining the thousands of others around the planet during the Break through Celebration.

“Brothers and Sisters of all colors, holding hands around the planet on May 22nd 2007, let us reflect on this, let us meditate in our own way, in our own language, according to our own culture or religion, because we have only one Sun to shine upon us equally, one air that we breath and gives us life, one water that we drink and becomes blood in our veins and all live on Mother Earth. She feeds us, she holds us. Brothers and Sisters of all colors, together united in meditation to make conscience to the men in power, governors, politicians, business people: no more war, no more contaminating bombs, no more death. Together we can make a difference.”

Dear Brothers Joseph and Carl (Giove and Calleman):

In the name of the Heart of the Heavens and the Heart of the Earth, greetings to you. In the name of the Maya National Council of Elders, Spiritual Guides of Guatemala, we address the following to you for your great magnetic connections at the global level:

The Spirit of the Maya Nation and the Spirit of Mother Earth make us look for ties of friendship with all peoples of the world. The Maya Prophecy tells us “ …We will meet for we are one like the fingers of the hand”. We all are children of the Earth, we are flowers of the garden of our Creator coming in different colors, in different shapes, in different sizes, with different aromas; speaking different languages, and each one worshiping and meditating in their own way to the same Creator who has different names according to their own culture.

We hope this communiqué reaches all institutions, in private sectors as well as governmental ones; landowners, scientists, and all people in general. Brothers and sisters, there has been over 500 years of extermination in the face of the earth, extermination of humans, extermination of our brother animals and ancient trees, every day at a faster speed. The elders from the National Council of Elders and Spiritual Guides of Guatemala are keepers of mystical and millenary knowledge. Like the birds, tirelessly in their flight, they live to see the prophecies fulfilled. We want to make all people and governments in the world conscientious, and have them analyze and reflect at the situation of the planet in the present time. Let us start by remembering that the Americas were a paradise 500 years ago. Virgin forests, cities of beautiful animals, cities to an innumerable variety of colorful birds, flying in freedom; they provided food for everyone. The waters were abundant and pure; and the people, they lived in their own traditions, guarding their cultures and conserving the beauty of Mother Earth. Our ancestors lived to be over 100 years old, free from contagion and illnesses. They were respectful and obedient to the laws of our Creator.

Let us talk now about our present times. We enjoy new advances in technology, inventions that make everyday life easier for us, we all use them, but the negative side is that we are finishing up our forests, and contributing to the contamination of the planet, the rivers are drying out, the waters are being contaminated. Our crops are affected by plagues as well as plagues killing our animals. We are threatened by contagious illnesses, incurable illnesses unknown in the past. Very harmful are the use of chemicals, the insecticides, transgenic seeds, etc. And most of all, these days, the nuclear testing: nuclear bombs and a great deal of war weapons, and the war in itself sterilizing or killing the planet Earth and affecting all living beings. Many people are homeless, children begging in the streets, others are involved in prostitution. Predators are on the rise. Dead people appearing daily in the streets, kidnappings, extortion, shootings in the schools, parents killing children, children killing children, parents raping their own kids. All this is a direct result of the contamination. There is no respect; no respect for life. The authorities sell themselves. The justice can be bought or sold.

Now lets speak about the future. We, the traditional Mayan elders, and all indigenous peoples in the world, meditate on the future. We don’t think only for today, the present, we think for tomorrow, for our children, grand children and future generations. We see a dark shadow approaching, a shadow that will cause a lot of harm. It is the great contamination. All this is due to man’s creation. We are digging our own graves. Wars are being transported to other countries; they reason in their speeches it is on behalf of freedom, but the result is more slavery. They speak that it will bring new development, but the result is more hunger for the underdeveloped countries. If we continue like this, the time will come when there are no more soldiers to form battalions. The Maya National Council of Elders of Guatemala ask all nations of the world – their governors and the governed ones – to put a stop to the contamination; and to the big and small enterprises, to find alternatives. We don’t want any more wars, no more death, no more nuclear testing, no more chemicals, because the warming up of the planet is unbearable to Mother Earth. If we don’t change, sooner or later, she will strike back with millions of lives lost.

Our Creator created us here over the face of the earth to worship him, to love and respect each other. We all are equal, we are flowers of the earth, in different sizes, of different colors, with different songs, with different smell, but all looking at our Creator, honoring him with different dances, different music, different ceremonies. We all plead to him,
we are his children, he is the creator of all that exist, all that we see and all which is beyond our senses. He has given us our life with an intelligence to do well. Brothers and Sisters of all colors, holding hands around the planet on May 22nd 2007, let us reflect on this, let us meditate in our own way, in our own language, according to our own culture or religion, because we have only one Sun to shine upon us equally, one air that we breath and gives us life, one water that we drink and becomes blood in our veins and all live on Mother Earth. She feeds us, she holds us. Brothers and Sisters of all colors, together united in meditation to make conscience to the men in power, governors, politicians, business people: no more war, no more contaminating bombs, no more death. Together we can make a difference.

May 22nd 2007 is 5 Ajpu, the Day of Grand Father Sun, he shines upon all of us equally, he doesn’t know discrimination, he doesn’t get lost on his path, he doesn’t get ahead or behind of himself. He gives us warmth, he gives us life. One Sun, one Air, one Water, One Mother Earth. May 22nd 2007 day of Grand Father Sun, Grand Mother Moon.

The Maya Prophecy says: “Arise, all arise, not one nor two groups be left behind, together we will see once again the place from where we have come from”

Alejandro Cirilo Perez Oxlaj/ Wandering Wolf
Grand Elder of the National Council of Elders Mayas,
Xincas and Garifunas of Guatemala

Friday, June 22, 2007


So, Scott Noelle talks about letting in unconditionality. Being unconditional not just with your kids but with yourself. I think that's an admirable goal, but it just sounds like so much an out-there concept. He says:
Unconditionality is a state of mind in which you are willing to allow well-being into your experience... NO MATTER WHAT

This definition implies that the experience of well-being is always available to you — that you can have more well-being simply by letting it in. There are many people in this world — perhaps you know some of them — whose lives seem to prove this point. They have a high level of well-being despite poverty, disabilities, an abusive childhood, or other circumstances about which most people would feel quite unwell. But it’s not that well-being is somehow more available to them, it’s that they are more skilled at achieving the state of unconditionality that lets it in.

Unconditionality is selfish in the best sense of the word, because your own well-being becomes your top priority. You give to your child only what you can give happily, and that sets in motion a pattern of giving that continually increases your well-being instead of feeling like a drain. This leads to more generosity, not less.

Hm, something to think about. Sure sounds cool.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Camping, just mama and son

Two weeks ago, C and I went camping together, just the two of us. I had worried that it would be too hard with just me and a four year old boy, but really it wasn't too bad. His main motivation was that I had said that he could have marshmallows when he was four and we went camping -- last fall! He has an amazing memory for such things. Anyway, we found a close by state park with a campground, Kanaskat-Palmer State Park.

Since it was the middle of the week and before Memorial Day weekend, there were plenty of spots, so we didn't need a reservation (otherwise we would have had to reserve it a year in advance or something). All we had to do was get everything we needed to bring packed into the car and go. Which would be a much bigger job than I had realized. As you will come to see as I relate the crazy tale.

On Tuesday evening (or was it Monday?), we went to the local big box store, Fred Meyer, and bought a tend. We needed a new tent, because our old one, a Target brand tent, had lost a "shock cord" -- the elastic cord that holds the pieces of pole together. Who invented this style of tent pole must have known that this would happen, particularly if you have to camp in a damp environment a lot and don't have a chance to take the tent home and put it up in your yard to dry out on a sunny day after you come back from your trip - which we can't do being that we live in an apartment.

C enjoyed the little pull-out description of all the tents they had to offer. He kept insisting we get a tent right then and there; I wanted to ponder things a bit more, given how short-lived our last tent was (less than two years). Anyway, we ended up getting a four-person Coleman brand tent (I wasn't so sure about the store brand). Bill showed up at the store around then, having walked there from work on his way home (thank goodness for cell phones), so he helped carry the tent to the checkout.

Then, the next morning, C was still very determined to go camping right that minute (I wasn't so sure at that point, although the idea of just packing up and going did seem kind of cool). I realized we also needed some more fuel for our camp stove, and maybe also a propane lantern. So we went to Target and got their cheapest propane lantern along with some fuel for it and the stove (they had their own brand of propane, two canisters connected together, which was cool, almost like an omen telling me yes, buy a propane lantern, not one of those battery ones).

We have a tiny battery powered lantern, and about a dozen flashlights, you see (C loves flashlights and went through a period where he had to buy one every time he saw one), so we really didn't *need* a propane lantern, but somehow, it just doesn't seem like camping without one.

At that point, it was probably around noon or so, and I was hoping to leave soon. But somehow, between going shopping, cooking, packing, the afternoon just passed. We had had to go back to Fred Meyer for some ice for the cooler and some snacks, and by the time we got home, Bill was coming home from work! He gets home early compared with a lot of my friends' husbands, but still it was nearly 5 pm! I had hoped to leave by 2 pm at the latest, but I am notoriously slow anyway, and with all the last-minute things to do it just got past me. So we had a big snack to tide us over, finished packing the car, and left around 5:30. PM. On a weekday. Boy, did I not look forward to a drive to a new place through rush hour traffic!

I hadn't even known how bad it would get. It took us over half an hour just to get through Issaquah. Lots of people live down there, or further south, and go that way on their way home from work. It was quite warm, and we were sitting in traffic with all kinds of people on their way home to their overpriced condos and McMansions in Issaquah. Not to mention all the people on their way to places like Maple Valley and Black Diamond, which are slightly more affordable, if you consider affordable anything under half a million dollars.

I was pretty mad at the traffic, but also at myself for taking so long to get ready to go on our first camping trip of the year, which also happened to be our first camping trip without Daddy ever. He couldn't have taken the time off on such short notice, but also it was something I'd wanted to try, just to see if we could do it so that maybe we could do longer trips later on.

We finally got through Issaquah, passing over a dozen paragliders on the way -- apparently there is a big site there they use for that -- and began to get into the semi-rural area. I say semi-rural because this area is known for trying to preserve the rural qualities while still allowing some, very exclusive, development. So you will pass an old, broken down farmhouse with rusting assorted farm equipment in front of it, then a sign for a gated community or some such right next to it. It's very odd.

By limiting development, the housing that is built is kept very expensive, yet it is intermixed with very trashy looking old places from before Microsoft and all its money and before the population started to expand outwards. Kind of surreal. Like, if you happened to have been a farmer type twenty or thirty years ago, and fell asleep, and woke up now, you'd think someone had played a joke on you by randomly turning half your neighbors' farms into subdivisions filled with these weird super shiny SUVs and houses almost as big as their lots.

Anyway, we drove through a bunch of this, until we got to an old run-down country store on a corner. My directions, which were printed out from one of those online websites, said to turn left on a particular road, but I couldn't see a street sign. I pulled into the parking lot of the store, noting a Sheriff's car parked next to it. Before I could get out, a woman holding a paper walked out of the store.

C, being conscious of delays to getting his marshmallow fix, said, "ask her what the street name is," and I, ever obliging, leaned my head out and, when she greeted me with that ever so Seattle friendliness, asked. Sure enough, she knew the name of the street, even telling me to take the left fork at the Y. When I seemed hesitant, she asked me where I was going, and when I told her, she gave me directions all the way there. She said "I know that's how to get there because my delivery route takes me there -- wouldn't have known last year how to get there."

I can relate to that -- I know most of the Bay Area based on my bread delivery routes that I had many years ago. Chris asked me what she delivered, but I was at a loss. She had a paper, so I said "maybe newspapers" and he said "but then why was she buying a paper?" I had no idea.

Anyway, we made our way there, and found a spot to camp at. I had brought cash, but not the right amount. You were supposed to pay by putting money in an envelope and putting it in a box, but you had to have exact change, and the price had gone up from the published $15.00 (which I had) to an awkward $19.00.

How many people just put in a twenty and left it at that? I'm sure they count on that happening. I am ever so conscious of paying no more than the right amount, so we drive back to the entrance, where I'd seen a light on in the little hut there, although the blinds were drawn. We went in, and asked the ranger for change. He seemed a bit confused about what to do, as if nobody ever asked that of him. He thought about it for a minute, then said, "let me see what I can do."

He didn't actually have change for a twenty, but he did have a single one dollar bill, along with a twenty. So I said, "why don't I just pay you and you can give me the dollar as change?" This seemed to be quite a revelation for him. Again, I don't think many people try to get change from him. In order for me to pay him, he need to put it into the computer. It took him a while to figure out how to do it without logging back into some special area of the computer. He said he'd just logged out and didn't want to log back in again. Anyway, eventually he figured it out and we were out of there.

We went back to our site, and I started dinner, which consisted of some frozen stir-fry veggies and hot dogs. Remember, I had very little time to plan, and we aren't really eating much in the way of processed foods, so couldn't just buy a bunch of canned stuff (I really don't like most canned stuff anyway). I used the camp stove we brought. I discovered I'd forgotten to pack any sort of oil or butter, so the stir fry had to be cooked in water (tap water, no less, since I hadn't brought bottled). Not exactly a gourmet meal, but it had to do. Oh, and lots of miniature marshmallows for C. Lots. He had no interest in trying to toast them, which was fine since we had no wood for a fire anyway (the ranger didn't sell any, and our trunk had been too full to bring any from home).

As we were getting ready to set up the tent, a man came into our camping spot to ask for matches. I was a bit creeped out by having a strange man approach me in the middle of a nearly deserted campground, but he seemed ok. I found my large box of strike-anywhere matches, and began to get it out. He said, "are they..." and I finished the sentence, "yes, they're strike anywhere," so he just said, "great, I'll just take a few then." And smiled. I was glad to have my wedding ring and engagement ring on (which I was to lose later, see the post about Bainbridge Island). I hoped he'd assume my husband was just in the bathroom or something. But I figured if my mom could take us kids camping for weeks every summer without any incident, we were fine.

So, we set up the tent (which I didn't really like -- it didn't really sit right on the ground -- I much prefer our old Target brand tent over this new Coleman tent), and then I filled the air mattress. At this point it was getting dark, so we started up our new propane lantern. I didn't read the instructions first, so I just tied on the mantles and then tried to light it.

I didn't realize you were supposed to burn them first before starting it up, so the combination of the mantles doing their first burn along with a generous amount of propane nearly singed my eyebrows off. I quickly turned off the fuel. At this point, I decided to read the instructions. Why did I think that growing up with one would make me a natural at this? Anyway, we got it started, and found it very bright. It was also a perfect magnet for mosquitoes, apparently. We sprayed each other with some all natural DEET-free mosquito repellent (which smells nasty, by the way -- eucalyptus mint does not combine well in a bug spray).

We went to bed, after I'd gotten the all-important air mattress inflated (I have a battery operated pump, which works way better than blowing it up with your mouth). It was freezing cold. The two of us snuggled into one sleeping bag was quite a snug fit. Also, it turned out the air mattress had a slow leak in it. So, between the air mattress losing its air, the cold air, and being tightly packed into a sleeping bag with a four year old, I got very little sleep. I woke up with a nasty sore throat. I a was also very tired.

The next morning, we had turkey bacon and eggs for breakfast, again cooked without any butter or oil. They stuck, of course. We brushed our teeth with the water from the spigot (which looked kind of orange in the water container -- yikes), deflated the already mostly deflated air mattress, and took down the tent. C really wanted to go home at this point. He had eaten almost the entire bag of marshmallows at that point, and I think he was tired of them.

I really wanted to at least look at the local river (I think it was the green river), so we drove down there. There wasn't a lot to see at first, because the banks of the river were well covered with trees. But then we hiked down to the water, and it was beautiful. The water was clear and cold and it was so quiet. All you could hear was the sound of rushing water. It's a big whitewater rafting river, and they have signs giving the ratings of the rapids. We were at the point where beginners were supposed to get out, because it becomes a Class IV river after that (only experts can handle that). We walked down to the edge and put our fingers in the water. It was freezing. It is melted glacier water, so you'd expect such, but wow, was it cold.

Then, we headed home. We drove back through Issaquah, stopping to eat lunch there. We lost C's jacket there, I think, because I haven't seen it since. Why do I lose so many things, anyway?

Anyway, we had a good trip for a first shot early in the season. It felt good to be outside. Next time, though, I'm bringing a new air mattress and a bigger sleeping bag!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Our Trip to Bainbridge Island

We took the ferry to Bainbridge Island on Memorial day, and then rented canoes and paddled around the marina there. It was pretty cool. I hadn't paddled a canoe since I was a kid, yet I could still do it pretty well. We saw sea life, and got to peek into places that were homes of the leisure set. Lots of cool boats, including old tugboats, too. It was very relaxing, and serene.

The only bad thing was that I lost my wedding ring and diamond engagement ring. I am now ring-less! My hand feels kind of naked without them. We haven't gotten around to shopping for a replacement -- we kind of decided that I should probably just get a wedding band, since the engagement ring was so darned expensive, and since most diamonds are used to fund war (blood diamonds). Besides, diamonds are overrated. Their prices are kept inflated artificially by a cartel, a lot like oil. If I had the coloring, I'd wear 18 carat gold like the Indian women I've known, but it washes out my pinkness.

Visualize World Peace -- how would it look?

You know the bumper sticker, "Visualize World Peace"? My mom probably had it on her car, at least at some point. Anyway, what do you think it would look like? What would a world without war be like? Where would we be spending our time, energy, and money? Would countries use just the United Nations (expanded greatly, to deal with the increased use), or would there be smaller bodies around the world for conflict resolution? What would the groups that are currently at war with another do with their time? How would they relate to one another?

What would our government look like if it weren't constantly fighting wars around the world? Where would the money be going instead? Would we be coming up with alternatives to fossil fuels? Inventing new ways to communicate? Open up your imagination and set up some expectations to demand of our government. We have to start somewhere, and it makes sense to me that we should be solving our problems, like health issues (increasing allergies and developmental disabilities, illnesses like AIDS), energy sources, food sources, and clean air and water.

The next Manhattan Project should be about creating a better world.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The President is just one step from being a dictator

So, in case you haven't heard (and even if you do watch the news on TV which I don't do you probably won't have), there is a new law in effect that gives the Unites States President, who is currently George W, essentially dictatorial powers. You can read about it here if you want. It's a presidential "directive" (something that didn't even exist until recently) , which is basically a law that the US president can create without the approval of congress or the Supreme Court (whatever happened to checks and balances?). The directive states that if there is a catastrophic emergency, which could be one of many things, the president of the United States, along with a separately selected group that he chooses (and is not elected) the power to take over and run the country.

Does this make sense? I don't think so. What can a person do to work on having it revoked? Can only the president revoke it? Can we impeach him if this is in effect?