Veggie Voyagers

Couple travelled 30 states and 3 Canadian provinces between 7/07 and 5/08 running their 1987 Ford truck on straight veggie oil. The blog continues with a focus on the natural world and energy politics from a personal perspective

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Dignity and Land

 The lone tree sitter at Oscar Grant Park in Downtown Oakland expresses that which resonates with me the strongest. Let that lone wolf look for his mate. Leave the wolves and the mustangs alone! Get the garbage out of the water and leave the water in the aquifers for recharge of surface waters. Stop destroying the forests, the wetlands, the public spaces... plant non-GMO gardens and make room for all creatures to share in the bounty. Public Lands like this little park can house the homeless. The existing housing stock could better house the homeless.
I drove Orien to the BART and picked up 200$ worth of biodiesel...enough to run us 1600 miles plus attended this rally called by Egyptian women to stop the violence of the military against civilians, especially women.  (202-224-3121 Cut Military Aid To Egypt -- I want to say cut all Military...)

 It was a gray day, only about 50 people were there and the park was soggy and deserted except for some residual Occupy/homeless and an Interfaith tent. The media was there so the police weren't. They'd arrested a number of people at the site earlier in the day. It was hard to listen to the stories of rape, beatings and incarceration by the small cadre of Egyptian women, knowing that military is financed by the U.S.
 It's been about a year since Tahrir Square began. Since the Arab Spring erupted and inflamed the world with hope, since Wikileaks pried open the lies of empire and enraged the Middle East. Finally in October Occupy sprang up against the caste system in the U.S. and the criminality of the 1% who robbed the country blind. All of us were forced to face the issues of homelessness and the brutality of the homeland security armed police forces.
For me there is still huge hope. Like these hopes hanging from this tree in Chico. I'm becoming like a smooth stone and I'm becoming like a mind, caught in a tangled tattered sky. One minute the one, the next the other. I lean toward the suckers on this cut tree, the tree that Park Commissioner Mark Herrera chained himself to. We can rebuild from our own deep roots in community, from our own skills and from our own vision of a world where the earth and the people are respected.
In Harmony with all that is best for each of you, for me and for our planet in 2012. Occupy Namaste'.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day at Beale

 As you can see we were out at Beale at dawn this fine Boxing Day. (The day the British Empire 1% would give a boxed gift to their servants, a swell day I bet.) Here in the U.S. it was a quiet day after Christmas at the base. There were five of us and only a few more of the military coming in and out of the gate. We had our usual discussion on free speech rights with the county policeman called by the base guards. (Quoting Toby, more or less, "if you fought for our freedom don't you think you should give us the right to exercise it?")
 I got my artistic Bradley Manning sheet up for a non-viewing and the cows were very impressed by Toby's heartfelt support of Bradley Manning. Toby had a ridiculous jerking, singing, lighting up elf hat (probably made by bemused but disadvantaged Chinese people,) that she activated for the sleepy service personnel--quite an early morning apparition!
 Our little group of five included sign-maker of the fantastic Peace Panel Project, Charles Withuhn, Pat and Toby from the Bay Area and Shirley from Grass Valley. I liked the sign Shirley made. She interspersed names of American war casualties with those of Pakistanis. It was a huge relief to hear there has been a moratorium on drone strikes in Pakistan for the last six weeks-- CNN said something to the effect that the U.S. is trying to figure out who better to target. (Not the right message for we civilians of the world family.) Firedog Lake said some new regs have gone into effect so drone pilots can only (joy stick) fly 3 drones at once instead of 4 (!) I'm not sure that makes me feel even a little bit better either.
We moved our vigil into Marysville after warming up a bit and Charles put his wonderful panels out Burma Shave like down the main Hwy 70 entrance to town (interspersed with a non-English-speaking pizza sign advertizing gentleman.) This afternoon Toby and Pat will be joined by Caroline and Peter out at the base gate with our messages that Drones create Enemies and that the More Drones there are the Less Secure we are. Slowly people are starting to join us. We need to stop this technology in 2012.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

 Orien is 31! It's been a flurry these last few days since she came home. Yesterday was her birthday. Before we met up in the morning I had some time to remember my mom who died 6 years ago, also on Christmas Eve, then after yoga Orien and I went out to breakfast and to the Farmers Market before going our separate ways. I spent a little time at the Peace Vigil and then went to Food Not Bombs in the afternoon. In the evening we went out to dinner and then to the Trausch-Johnsons' for a gift exchange and birthday cake.
Bob just got back from Belize and all his family was there. It was a good gathering
... followed by another good gathering at our house in the morning for waffles followed by the Bird Tree. We've been doing the bird tree since Orien was little-- filling up orange rinds with seed and throwing popcorn into the branches-- as close as we ever get to snow here in the valley.
 I'm really proud of my "made in Chico" dear daughter who is now an attorney and looking relaxed and easy going. These wonderful moments, like at Christmas time, I really treasure. I hope you have been lucky enough to be with those you love or to find satisfaction in what you have been doing. Peace in our World.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

 Last night after the Occupy General Assembly I walked the Chico Labyrinth with my old friend Karen Stinson. We lit candles and addressed the four directions before and after the Labyrinth. It was cold and dark and thoroughly worth staying downtown late after a day of work to do.
This morning the new dawn of the rising light rose over a cold and frosted earth and I went out to wander my wonders with wet hair and appreciation for the visible manifestation. Calendula framed in ice crystals. Fennel seed heads drooping from umbel to dripping tethered fireworks display.
 Our brothers and sisters across the creek aren't up yet until the sun warms their tent.
 There is still color back in Max's orchard... the last brilliance of fall.
 And in the radiant stalks of Bruce's chard of pink, yellow, salmon and red.
In all this I rest in my not knowing. I surrender to the incredibility and the open heartedness of being this creature in this time. I wish you well in your practice of being and becoming before any expectations of Holiday cheeriness. It is enough to be and to be part of the changing of the seasons and to enjoy what good health and friendship as there is. Happy Solstice and the New Year.

Friday, December 16, 2011

 The Occupy ranks have thinned but the issues grow more urgent as the Defense Authorization Bill will pass voiding Constitutional protections for even American citizens. As we move forward I remind myself that none of this Occupy has been easy and to have patience. There's a part of me that is deeply discouraged and wants to run away but really there is nowhere to go. If the Keystone XL goes through this next week our poor planet will suffer even greater temperature changes. This is my community. This is where my life is. For now I will stand up here for for a sustainable future.
 Deepika and Javesh had a big party for his third birthday that was attended by many of their supporters and admirers. Javesh's dad Amit was killed by a drunk driver when he was in utero and then Javesh was premature with a serious heart defect. Now he is a sweet little guy with an incredibly strong mom. Her strength shows the human spirit at its best and most loving.
 Here at Riparia the most beautiful (green) parts of the land are Bruce's. Here he is with his indoor endive, fennel and lettuce.
 We had just a few hours of hiking this week up above Chico. This is below the disc golf course and in the folds of the rising canyons of oak and gray pine on the great swath of Tuscan mud flow which is hard to walk on for the rocks hidden in the pale grasses and burrs. It is a relief to be out there though wandering up and down and around in the ancient terrain.

One week til Christmas and I am in the least festive of moods. The mistletoe shown here feels like my heart rather tight and balled up. I await the solstice. The natural shift. The dark night of the soul where that flicker of light is cherished and revered. Life itself is the gift. If the glass is half full the alchemy is to live from that part which is still full. In the awe and gap of surrender I salute you as we pass through this together.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

 It's the best I could do without a tripod. We parked the VV back in the back of the property, between the GRUB field and Max's orchard. Even at 11pm the frost had made the ground shiny and crunchy. At 6am we were making big footed crisscrossings across the field. I was looking for a branch or trunk to stabilize the camera and Michael was just enjoying himself and staying warm. Sasha never really warmed to the idea of being out there. They're still out there, back asleep.

Every month the search for the full moon calls on me to wander around. Last night I cut through Emily's plantings and along Comanche Creek over the berm and alongside Elizabeth's studio out to Meyers and Ivy. I had to include this photo of a partially buried single use plastic bag. The local paper says we don't have a problem with them in Chico and that poor consumers shouldn't be burdened with another regulatory burden of having less access to them (or so I paraphrase.) For me they have been a burden and a pain as anyone who reads this blog knows. I can say here plainly that I hate the whining of the teabag folks who are so doctrinaire on their single minded crusade to keep themselves free of public policies that will benefit the earth.
 La luna llena. So beautiful. So generous.
This earth just floors me. After I came in to download the photos and post this the light did another brilliant flash, illuminating the tips of the trees and the dangling ivy with their pale pinkish leaves. Everything was consumed with brilliance and I just watched mesmerized and held back from pulling the memory card out of the lap top and rushing back outside. Just as quickly the scene muted with a soft layer of intermittent clouds so now everything seems flat, silent and peacefilled. 

 My hands are still stiff with the cold. After the still eclipsing moon set I wandered the frozen land. Caught these persimmons with a mantle of ice that showed up in the camera but not for my eyes.
 I walked out to Estes Rd and shot back toward the industrial zone that borders Riparia. The lobulated valley oak leaves grabbed the shot. So simple, so complex, so perfect.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

 I don't want to move on without a salute to the beauty of fall folliage. It's easy to start talking about getting away with the wander I did shooting multiple pictures of bolting dill umbels and leaf on brilliant leaf. Almost as soon as I shot this (11/28) the spectacle is over.

One other spectacle I wasn't going to miss was seeing Orien sworn in to the California state bar last Friday in S.F. Here is Lauren, who is also now an attorney and Suman, who is finishing up her own area of study as well as my own sweet child and proud me.
 After going to lunch we wandered back to the BART via the Occupy Encampment. Lively with human interaction and "stuff" it was in a hum with warm weather and high (both meanings) spirits. I'm sad to say that a police sweep last night dismantled the camp, kicked everyone out, destroyed private property, including the library. I was discouraged with some of our local process issues but not with the movement itself and am eager to see where we go from here in Chico as well as the entire country. Occupy Lives!
 We picked up bio-diesel at Bio-diesel Oasis in Berkeley and made it as far as the Delta. We camped in a gale of constant knock-you-over wind on Sherman Island among fisher-people of all nations for the night. Great place to have wind turbines though.

The next day we crossed the valley on Hwy. 12 and ended up spending a lot of time in Grinding Rock (Chaw' se) State Park. This was home to the Miwok people for the last 3000 years and is the largest grinding rock in North America with 1185 mortar cups, the only place you can see intentionally decorated petroglyphs among the bedrock mortars.

We wandered along learning about how the Miwok Nation had built their homes, their roundhouse, their playing field and about their foodsources, healing methods, basket plants, etc.
At some point I was visited by a very serious image of women bound together in great terror in the area where the viewing platform is now. That image has stayed with me and I have been plying it with spoonfuls of love and relaxation since it came to me. I have no doubt of the veracity of my vision. I did not go into the museum and learn about what the gold rush era whites did but I know it was another genocide.  An energetic blueprint of those horrified women is frozen over that tableau that should be one of industry and sisterhood and I am returning to it when I can to give what support I can to unfreezing the past and freeing those spirits.

 And at Caples Lake we saw a literal freezing event of great beauty. The wind in the high country had created beautiful shapes at the north end of the lake in the previous days.
 We went on to complete our loop to Reno. We stayed one very cold night at Lower Bear Lake and then swung up to Grover Hot Springs before cutting back down to the East side of the Sierra to Reno where we spend an illuminated night in the Peppermill parking lot before picking up the Veggie Voyagers book from Sundance Books (wonderful bookstore.. so sad not to be wanted by... small whines and whimpers but no major howls or growls. Unrequited Love... too bad and toughened up.) We picked up more bio-diesel from Simple Bio-fuels in downtown Vinton before lowering down the Feather River canyon to our valley in the glowing jewel of dusk.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

 Today started off very rocky for me. I was down again. Struggling with concerns about the Senate vote on the Defense Authorization Bill that would allow terrorism suspects anywhere to be detained indefinitely under military control and without right to trial. The other thing that sunk my spirit was the FDA ok for horses to be sold as meat in the U.S. It just seems like our country is becoming craven, shifting further and further from government by and for the people, founded in justice and shunning cruelty.
So, thanks to a nearby errand I walked the new labyrinth and it did me a world of good. I recognized almost immediately how I have a certain default for depressed mood when the news is bad, that I lack flexibility and judge easily. On the way back out of the labyrinth I forgave myself and felt lightened.
 Last weekend we had our first ski of the winter. There wasn't much snow but we picked up 24 gallons of veggie oil and got to check in on Einstein the goose at Child's Meadows. We did ski but it was less than perfect with people trying to drive their big trucks into the woods looking for Christmas trees, roaring their engines to avoid getting stuck.
The big event today was the CSUC student Occupy General Assembly. Riding my bike past the new parking structure I had to reflect how ironic it is that they are being forced to pay higher tuitions and to become indebted for projects like this that should never be built (aside from cost, the issue of climate change and the fact there is no need for this project.)
Everyone was attentive and focused through a long meeting about what to do about the fee increases. I heard the consensus to occupy but left before the place was determined. I went to an authors event at Lyon Books. The Veggie Voyagers book continues to not sell well. I've come to accept it.
My last act of the political day was to walk in the World AIDS Day candlelight walk, my thoughts on all those who have died, those living with HIV/AIDS and those at risk. When I was an HIV counselor we had plenty of money for testing. Now Stonewall Alliance has to fund raise for testing-- 12$ a test. More ridiculous priorities -- underfunding testing and feeding an epidemic.
Tomorrow my dear Orien is sworn in as an attorney and we will be in SF for that and then heading to Reno to pick up books that didn't sell on consignment... con sigh. Running on bio-diesel so I'm just going to enjoy getting un-occupied for a few days.