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

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Glow of Hope

 It's been a wet week and I'm grateful for it. We head up to the snow today but I wanted to catch up here first. The spring is bursting out despite the cool temperatures.. turkeys and pheasants gobble and toot their presence and the starlings are in the canopy... already massing for the fruit they know will emerge eventually from the hard kernels that now form at the base of where the flowers once were. The road flooded last night  and more rain is still pushing's so good to be back in that flow again. Everyone watches the weather now for rainfall amounts as the water wars intensify. (This photo of a turkey hen is along the Diamond Match border taken from the car--there were a dozen more turkeys inside the fence)
 A little bit of good news from the international scene. There was a sold out benefit last week for a village in Pakistan. It was my second fashion show in the weekend! The first was celebrating Karen Laslo's birthday with friends and going to the Shalom Free Clinic's Thrift store fashion show. I must say though that the style, colors, fabrics of these Pakistani inspired clothes were really beautiful... art, culture, fantasy... I loved everything but the torturous shoes the models clomped in...heels like that should be as avoided as drone strikes. The dancing is so energetic and lively...I love this culture!
 Then yesterday I took the liberty, as a retired person, to go to the casino. (So many older folks at those machines!) I went to see for myself what a home foreclosure auction looked like. It was worth doing both to appreciate the normalization of the sleeze factor plus to make some contacts. One was with a very distressed renter who can't afford to move-- I hadn't thought before of the plight of renters in this mess. Chico Occupy consented to becoming a Foreclosure Prevention Zone and now we need to decide how to help make good on that.
 The most delightful man came to Chico yesterday! Keith McHenry, co-founder of Food Not Bombs. We had a very soggy meal with him out on the city plaza and then met back at the Chico Peace and Justice to hear the evolution of Food Not Bombs over the last 30 years since they have been feeding people. It was funny, it was inspiring and at the end, talking about this present era, it was also a bit intense. The main thing is that we are on the right path and in good company.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


 An amazing friend who I knew from a job years ago had the misfortune to have her husband die and to have a bout of illness herself. I arranged to go over to her house and help her water her (two greenhouses) orchids. The job was easy (just a portion of one greenhouse to do) and I was delighted with the beauty all around me. I'll share some of it here. Still, I can't help but wonder how she will manage... the plants are magical but have absolute need for the right conditions.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Iraq Anniversary and a Birthday

 We went out to Ann's on the Vina Plains for a birthday celebration of Leslie today. The weather was wild and the spring wildflowers were glorying in the standing water.
 At home the world was drippy, growing fast and rejoicing in the spring time fervor of bloom.
I insert a stale and deadening note below-- it wasn't my war but I can't fail to mark it.. we tried to stop it.. we watched the shock and awe in horror and I won't be a stooge to revisionism now so here goes..
Another exit wound... the chill dark night of rebuke.. the soldiers get the honor it is said they deserve
America complains of gas prices
How about another deployment kids? You failed to bring down the gas prices...

Cities rot in razor wire and violence, kids have lost years, women have shrieked out their losses and men are used up or in the ground. Wherever war blooms life dies, humanity withers and fear takes out headlines. The lights go out, the museums are emptied, the animals are slaughtered, the fields are emptied, blood grows on pavements, bombs blister in garbage, children waste in bandages, mothers' sons are eaten for their own lunch. The craven calls out to the craven, the sane cling to what sustains them. Everyone swoons in the heat, the cold, the misery of their role. Nobody wins. Eventually it ends and the soldiers go home to something they don't feel part of and the vanquished or survivors or half-dead begin to rebuild. It's nothing to be proud of. Too much death, waste, cost and carnage for the word 'honor” to be applied for. Sorrow and regret. Shared responsibility and grief.
NEVER HONOR WAR. Honor Vets only when it is clear you do not honor “their war.”

 That's a poem I just wrote. Our Peace and Justice Center is doing a vigil to honor vets tonight on the anniversary of the US attack on Iraq (2003.) This was my response and I had no other friendly terrain but my fields of flowers to post it. It's tough to have an unpopular viewpoint so I sequester it here among the beauty of this day. Here's Les and Bob walking up for our Riparia meeting this evening. How lovely a place of peace is.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Occupy Monsanto

 Our Occupy Chico delegation made it down the valley to Davis to demonstrate at Monsanto. Yesterday a bigger crowd spent the day in the rain but did shut it down. Today it was just a group of about 50 of us in Assembly with speakers and working out demands but lots of connections were made and strength taken from our shared purpose. The young woman below expresses it pretty well...

 Many of the speakers were sobering but there was also a sweetness and trustfulness in the crowd. Occupy is our vehicle and we will organize our way out of the corporate stranglehold despite near over-whelming obstacles. The young were chalking things like "I remember real food" and vegan burritos were passed around. Lovers, families, groups with special interests, like those organizing for GMO labeling or against clear cutting, were all in the fold.
 Our most moving speaker was an elder from the Farm Worker Movement, a contemporary of Cesar Chavez who told the story of how the Mexican government is also capitulating to Monsanto, making it hard for family farmers to live sustainably since they no longer control their seed (once the GMO pollen drifts to their field Monsanto can say they have to pay since it is now the GMO seed.) The prominent sign below says, Without Corn There is No Peace. Someone has pasted a contaminated sign on the Monsanto sign in front of the building--you can't read it but ironically their logo is Food, Health, Hope--- the opposite of what they provide in every measure.
 I have been celebrating St. Patrick's Day with Celtic music alone with a few shots of Bailey's for silent company. Michael is off skiing in the blizzards and powder that mark his idea of a very good time. I look upon myself through the looking glass of the Monsanto building, with the No Guns on the Premises sign skirting me. This work, this camaraderie, this sacred trust to protect the future... spiraling back to my long-struggling Irish roots. The road rises before us with the wind at our backs... Join us. Eco-Occupy!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Occupy- Stop Foreclosure Fraud!

Today Occupy Chico was part of a state-wide Action called Occupy The Crime Scene. It is an effort by Occupy groups to get audits and investigations of fraudulent mortgage practices being perpetrated by the banks on hundreds of thousands of California homeowners. There will be coverage on and info is available from Occupy Petaluma-Foreclosure Crisis who alerted us about the complexity of this.

 A homeowner can go to their county recorder's office and look up their deed of trust on this machine. If on page 1 it shows the letters MERS you probably have fraud going. Ask for an audit and investigation..the folks at Occupy Petaluma can help you. In the case of this long and complex mortgage situation on this home we couldn't find that but we did in another case of a foreclosed homeowner.
Butte Co. D.A. Mike Ramsey was very obliging and willing to help. Now we have to stay with it so we can actually bring together the prosecutorial offering and the victims.
 Let's prosecute white collar criminals, keep people in their homes and restore money to our cities.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Day light savings evening

 Michael says, "Haven't you already taken that picture before?" The answer is no, not with this light, this particular attraction of growth and color. These two fields above and below have the few remaining peach trees from the old orchard between them.
 And this lovely specialty salad plant (name?) of Bruce's is like purple lace.
 I took these photos after yoga and my second late afternoon time at the movies getting signatures on the Clear-Cutting petition at The Lorax. There has to be an easier way to stop the rape of the forests--
In beauty the spring vetch did pose before the shining creek. No thought but growth and green.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Occupied Days

 The day was mostly human centered but we did go for a walk in the morning and found another bushtit nest. The bees were buzzing in the rosemary and the birds were singing with abandon... you can always tell when rain is coming by the uptick in their chorus.
 We had a Regional General Assembly and a good circle of people it was--I was cooking for Food Not Bombs so was a little late for introductions but know there were Nevada City, Marysville, Red Bluff, Redding, Quincy and Taylorsville represented. We will now have increased connectivity and strength as a Regional Occupy.

The top photo is of the Red Bluff folks and the second one is of women from Nevada City. It was great to be together at Food Not Bombs but we didn't have that organized well enough. It would have been fun to march together through town rather than just meet and scatter. I wish I'd gotten to talk to more of them. I was in scatter mode myself-- went to the Peace Endeavor Vigil for awhile then had to go out to the Cinemark theater to get petitions signed against Clear Cutting at the Lorax movie. There's more activism in the pipeline, more radio and thankfully, more rain.

Friday, March 9, 2012

 Yesterday was a fine day. International Women's Day may be a time to lament about all that is not going right for women but I've found that in Chico it usually falls on a beautiful spring day and women want to celebrate our sisterhood through connection and good feelings.
 Occupy Chico planned this event to coincide with suggestions of Women Occupy ( The theme was Bust up the Banks and some of the Code Pink women in the Bay Area got roughly arrested for showing up topless or in pink bras but in Chico we leafleted and vigiled in our usual rowdy way with the messages-- Break up into smaller, safer banks, pay the required 35% corporate income tax,  make a moratorium on foreclosures and invest in small businesses.
 Nellie MacKay and her band had been at KZFR prior to their concert at Laxson Auditorium and when they heard about our action they wanted to come out, even though they had a long way to go that day to get to Santa Cruz. Nellie sang a song called Topeka about a harried mom talking to her man on the phone. Funny, and just right on for the conditions of so many women--reminding how important reproductive choice is to each and every woman.
 As the Bank of America protest disbanded these good Occupy men were across the street protesting at a Rush Limbaugh sponsor's. I went in to talk to the guy and we went round a round with his libertarian stuff about not wanting to pay for birth control and my bringing it back to the issue of hate speech. After my cranky self had been there awhile he said, "OK, I'll let my wife decide." You gotta wonder about politics in America but I'm grateful for my little place on the planet.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

500 Postings!

 This is a milestone of some sort. I started blogging in Corvallis in July, 2007 and so that's almost 5 years of our lives recorded here along with some of the most beautiful country anywhere. I'm amazed that the task held me to it this long but I think, after watching Green Fire! tonight, a film about the life of Aldo Leopold I understand the need to demonstrate land ethics to those who might not be as lucky as I am. For instance, the photo above I took late this afternoon. In the soft patterning of color and jumble of form it stimulates a feeling almost like adoration for Riparia and it's plants, seasons, continuity...
 Same with this photo from Comanche Creek (upstream a short distance from Riparia) taken yesterday during a creek clean up. I have loving eyes for this environment and the creek responds with its beauty (not that I didn't get a blackberry snag or two plucking for plastic bags though.)
 Yesterday afternoon I was very pleased that Michael had over 40 people attend his talk on How to Run a Diesel Vehicle on Used Cooking Oil. It caused me to appreciate him all over again. He picked up that knowledge from scratch and initiated and accomplished our Veggie Voyagers saga (see 2007-mid-2008 here if you don't know what I'm talking about.) All with his own initiative and determination.
 And this Lady Gaga is Ed McLaughlin, founder of Chico Velo, who broke his neck biking in Dec. 2007 while we were looping the U.S. and were in Texas. Every year now his friends put on the Tour de Ed, "Honoring Ed McLaughlin, who knows every day is part of the big Stage Race of Life. Ride to Work. To school. To the store. It's what Ed would do."
We did the sissy loop around lower Bidwell Park but still got the teeshirt. How wonderful it is to be able to ride a bicycle and have lived healthy on this incredible planet for 500 postings on the blogosphere!

Friday, March 2, 2012

 In the ways of the world I don't do so well. The world itself is amazing and chuck full of stimulating, alarming and incredible things. I wanted to show the contrast between what is happening in nature here in the valley vs our day in the Sierra yesterday during the March 1st snowstorm. For once I didn't have the camera with me (because the wind and whipping abrasive snow made it hard to do anything.) The photo I did get and wanted to share would NOT upload-- it was just one of those amazing things-- the corridor of Hwy 20 just like a narrow white corridor between ghostly drooping giants. This little tunnel cave was something I discovered while walking on the road after getting us turned around and far from where we started --very slick and disconcerting road but it was neat to see this little cave with a set of tracks going in... definitely not human.
 On the way home, where Hwy 20 goes over the Yuba River there was this last gasp of the storm rainbow. I was so glad for this rain in a very dry provided a very good dumping of snow.
 Still, I worry for fruit set because we had such high winds just after this photo with our house in the background was taken. I kind of can't help worrying-- we went to the Sustainability Conference at Chico State today and a lot of environmental issues are rumbling around in my head. Tomorrow though Michael is presenting on running a diesel vehicle on SVO (straight veggie oil.) I'll enjoy that.