Friday, December 26, 2008

Miss Diamond Lil


Today was one of the saddest days of my life. My dearest friend, Lily, my sweet corgi passed to the next bardo. I am too emotional to be able to reflect fully on what she meant to me. I am fascinated by what animals can teach us, how they can work with us, and how they can heal our hearts. Soon I will post more on these thoughts, but for now an obituary of sorts.

Sunrise's Diamond Lily

Lily was an amazingly wise and loving animal. Throughout her many years, she played piano (see the video); worked with autistic children in both Olympia and Santa Cruz; herded chickens, ducks, sheep, cattle and small children; lived at twelve different homes with over a dozen other critters of various species; spent most of a summer on a sailboat just to make me happy; did a five month road trip zigzagging across the Rockies and camping under the stars; stayed in a upscale Lake Tahoe hotel; spent a weekend in the Santa Cruz Slammer; was a hot spring swimmer; had a great sense of humor and feigned vicious attack on the code words "politician" or "get dick;" competed in agility trials and won one; loved ice cream and popping balloons; placed third in a talent show competing with mostly Evergreen students; treated cats with utmost respect; cuddled with a hamster; enjoyed kayaking and swimming; never let a vacuum cleaner do the job she knew she could do better; nearly died of mushroom poisoning and tripped for days; survived an attack by a German shepherd; and most importantly was a wonderful companion who saw me through some very dark and rough times with loyalty and affection. Lily was quite a celebrity in Olympia; she even had many friends whom I didn't know. People would stop in the street to say hello to Lily. She met lots folks through her various caregivers and dog sitters, and once you met Lily, you never forgot her.

Miss Lil looked great, and was having fun playing in the snow and taking long walks to Boston Harbor Marina with her guardians Suzanne and Sebastian right up to and including yesterday morning. Then, Christmas night she suffered three seizures and wound up in an emergency room. We do not know what triggered the seizures, but for a dog her age and without a history of epilepsy, it was likely a tumor or blood clotting problem. The decision to let her go without suffering was painful, though not difficult. Today at around 1pm she was euthanized in my arms, quietly and without struggle. She will be missed by all who knew her. She truly was a little character and a bright light.




Well loved. Well lived.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sema



The Mevleviye, one of the most well known of the Sufi orders, was founded in 1273 by Rumi's followers after his death, particularly by his successor Hüsamettin Çelebi who decided to build a mausoleum for Mevlâna, and then Mevlâna's son, Sultan Veled Celebi (or Çelebi, Chelebi) (the word "Çelebi" means " fully initiated"). He was an accomplished Sufi mystic with great organizing talents. His personal efforts were continued by his successor Ulu Arif Çelebi.

The Mevlevi, or "The Whirling Dervishes", believe in performing their dhikr in the form of a "dance" and music ceremony called the sema.

The Sema represents a mystical journey of man's spiritual ascent through mind and love to "Perfect." Turning towards the truth, the follower grows through love, deserts his ego, finds the truth and arrives at the "Perfect." He then returns from this spiritual journey as a man who has reached maturity and a greater perfection, so as to love and to be of service to the whole of creation.

For a nice description of what "turning" is all about watch this video.



No Sema But Much Snow

I had a planned to go to Seattle tonight for the Mevlevi Sema Ceremony, part of the 735th annual commemoration of the passing of Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi on Dec. 17, 1273. Due to a snowstorm and treacherous road conditions, I will not be able to attend. We currently have six inches or so here on Camano.

A little something snowy from the vault:

SNOWSTORM

I’ll be a snowstorm for you

falling gently upon your face
in my tiniest voice I am calling
I’ll be a snowstorm for you
I am a billion icy moments
each one perfectly distinct
strung together
and woven into
a blanket of
blissful oppression
I’ll be a snowstorm for you
coating your every desire
in my supreme nothingness
I’ll be a snowstorm for you
I’ll enfold you in my crystal arms
and carry you delicately
in my flurried falling

bury you beneath my slow weight
in my tiniest voice I am calling
I’ll be a snowstorm for you tonight
feel me drifting deep

silently gathering at your feet
I’ll be a snowstorm falling hard and heavy
smother you in my blizzard embrace
leaving no trace
of the life we slept through
before I touched you


c. sky myers
November 1999

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Solstice


Winter Solstice is nearly here (December 21), and for those of us who are not so into the religious holidays, solstice is a great excuse to celebrate the passing year and the promise of more light. Being the longest night of the year, solstice also symbolizes mystery and the descent into darkness. With the sun at its lowest point, it is a reminder that we must first pass through the darkest night to find the light again. This has been a long difficult year for many, and my heartfelt wishes go out to all who have struggled, lost loved ones, and suffered illnesses.

As many of you know, I am currently underemployed (along with what is it? 14% of the population?) even while working all the time on various projects. My newest nickel generator (Steve's term) is a cafe press store. I will be putting all sorts of cards and prints out there for sale, including my art, photography, poetry etc...

Thanks for looking, reading, and simply for giving me the time of day. I am always delighted when I get a note from somebody letting me know they have read my blog. I know how busy our lives can be, and I truly appreciate your attention.

Please pay a visit to my store and be sure to check back later. The image at the top of the blog is my first store item. I took this photograph at Cornet Bay, Washington during a glowing, misty sunset. Steve has a cafe press store too. See his cool stuff here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Victory Gardens

"The way we spend our days is, of course, the way we spend our lives." --Annie Dillard


Afternoons have been exceptionally beautiful here on Camano Island, with sunshine filtering through the fall colors one minute and misty rains the next. A few days ago a warm breeze blew through, so I took a long walk and found myself contemplating Ms. Dillard's quote in relation to my own life. How do I want to spend my life? This is a tough question, because although for the past couple of years I have been learning to sail and provision a boat in preparation for long distance voyaging, right now, I am on land and my daily existence is anything but adventurous. I struggle to balance forward gazing and all its planning with the day to day tasks of land life. How to be here fully, but remain rootless?

When I returned from my walk, I did a little bit of cleanup in the yard, mainly to recover some chard and herbs into which a lot of lemon balm and grass had encroached. As I cleared a little patch of dirt in the middle of a large piece of land, bordered with blackberry brambles, the wisteria from hell, and over run by all devouring local deer, I deeply sensed the futility of my effort. In respect to affecting anything in a lasting way, my work is of no consequence whatsoever. Yet I also know that I desire a life in which I grow at least some of my food. I love growing things, plus politically, ecologically and economically it makes good sense. I have been in a rather contemplative mood since election night, and everything seems to be more meaningful these days. So, I rescued the little chard plants and made room for some garlic!

I also took on some bigger jobs that will be beneficial next spring. I took some old cardboard boxes discarded from Steve's "Kentucky Estate" liquidation, and laid them out in the back yard to create the foundation for an herb bed and path. Then I began the marathon of hauling and spreading wood mulch. The idea is that next spring, I'll pile the mulch in heaps, plant herbs and lay down a stone (or ??) pathway. Sure the back yard is not the best gardening site (the front yard is a huge, ever sunny meadow!) but for some reason, I just had to do the back yard.


As I labored, I recalled, as a child, hearing Grandma speak of Victory Gardens of WWII which I did not have any appreciation for at the time.Today such an endeavor is even more urgent, not only to help feed ourselves but also to reduce use of fuel and all that goes along with it, and most importantly, to bring us together in our communities.

Here are a couple of factoids about the Victory Gardens of the 1940's:
  • The US Department of Agriculture estimates that more than 20 million victory gardens were planted.
  • Nearly 60% of the population was actively involved with growing food at some scale.
  • Fruit and vegetables harvested in these home and community plots was estimated to be 9-10 million tons equaling all commercial production of fresh vegetables at the time.
Can you imagine an effort of that scale today! Wow! Think of how ridiculous it is that you buy an apple from the store that has been dieseled around and stored for weeks, while the guy two driveways down is cleaning up rotting apples from his yard. How absurd and disconnected our lives have become! I believe the best antidote for absurdity is putting one's hands in the dirt. So, consider growing at least one thing in a window pot, or till up a little square (or spiral) for spring, or start organizing for a huge community garden project. Whatever you do will help both yourself, your community and the nation, even if only a little.

Growing our own food is hugely ambitious, probably too ambitious for many of us, but growing something is possible. If you are already doing it, then my hat is off to you. You know who you are--Camano friends, Oly friends, Arkansas friends, Orcas friends, Oregon friends, Cali friends, NY friends, and unmet friends. And for the rest of you, just plant a bulb of garlic or get some basil going in a window. It will feel good. You'll be thankful you did it.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Life as Myth

What if we lived every day of our lives as though we were creating myth?

(creative energy 2005 oil on wood)

More and more I am aware that we are existing in two simultaneous realms. I am living my life on the biological level, but at the same time I am creating in another world: the world of ideas, where symbols incubate, myths are born, memes root and grow, and a human lifespan is but a sentence in the epic story of humanity. Yet it is a sentence. Our lives do play a part in the whole of human experience.

With our very human trait of moral choice, with Conscience intact we make decisions every moment of every day that build into the overall story of our life. What do our actions add up to? Would we act differently if we were to stop and recognize the symbolic power of our actions? Myth and symbol are extremely powerful forces in our lives whether we are aware of it or not.

Look at the the incredible story of President Elect Barack Obama as an example. There is his actual presidency, what he will and will not accomplish, which will reveal itself through time. Yet, very clearly a symbolic power was in full force during this man's rise to the US presidency. He made history. His story is clearly mythic. Barack Obama's contribution will be the last sentence of a chapter. It is the much needed resolve in a long sad song. The framing of a very specific painting of America.

And at the same time, he will usher in the next era of American politics, like Lincoln and FDR. Obama will, on the symbolic level, be the fulcrum between the collapse of a conservative ideology and the birth of the next version of America. Exactly what that will look like remains to be seen. How it will be done is still up in the air. Will this be the era of green energy development, environmental sensitivity, humanist policies? Will science once again have a place at the table? Will we raise new generation of stronger, healthier, smarter Americans? We can only hope.

Obama was able to capture the nation's top prize on a platform held together by just two words: Hope and Change. The youth and disenfranchised embraced and supported him, projecting their own struggle into those two words, and then stood up, not for him so much, as for themselves. We are a nation conditioned to respond to brands, and this was a brand many were starving for: Hope and Change. And then there was the show of feeling and compassion as seen in the image of our chosen leader with those tears on his face. This was symbolic and touched something very deep for many.

But, I'll put politics aside now and return to my point, which is the recognition of the power that each life has in the mythic realm. Each life contributes to the pool of human experience, and to the story we collectively tell to describe that experience. I sometimes look back at my life and see how much I have sleepwalked through. I have not often shaped my part in the myth with conscious contribution. But occasionally I get a glimpse. Because even when we have not fully awakened to this understanding, an outside event can occur that bisects both realities and for a an instant we see through ourselves and feel the larger unfolding story. The world mirrors our story back to us and says "You are a part of the whole."

I want to endeavor to live my life consciously aware of my personal myth. And I do not want just any old tired myth, I want an empowering, adventurous one that reveals the buoyancy and grace of the human spirit. One full of challenge and surprise. I want a life filled with love, laughter, music, art, the sea, and plenty exotic fruits to be sure. We all face difficulties and tragedy in life, that is a given it seems, but how we respond to life's events and how our story ends, is our decision. We do not choose our start, but we can choose our ending. The choices we make today will lead us to that ending.

So as I move into what could be a rather dismal winter in this rainy, gray northwest corner of the USA, I am going to do my best to keep a part of myself tuned to the larger story that is unfolding. To see my actions, even if very small, as symbolic and meaningful. Thanks Obama for waking me, us, up.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Apples, Horses, Chickens, and Democrats

Tonight I am dehydrating bags of apples. Tomorrow I'll bake pies. It is time; the apples still hanging on the last late tree are crisp and ripe. I know from my one and only dehydrating experience that they should first be peeled. So I am procrastinating the long and tedious task that awaits me. I suppose I should use it as an opportunity for meditation. I'll get myself into a quiet place and then peel and core and slice. Peel and core and slice. Peel and core and slice with a heartful of love and the knowledge that someday, in some far off place, I'll eat my porridge, thankful for the little bit of home that sweetens it. This is intention. I can transcend today and reach out to tomorrow in the act of peeling and slicing apples. My grandma knew this, and I suspect grandmothers everywhere do.

The only other tree still fruiting has mealy, drab little bitty apples that aren't good to eat. Those we reserve for sweet Lola the gray mare down the lane. She runs to greet us when she sees us, knowing we are the new apple dispensers in the neighborhood. Like most horses, her scent is divine to me. Like perfume. Even her warm breath, vaporous in the cool afternoon, smells good to me. She nuzzles my palms the way only velvety horse lips can. Fall is magic. Horses are magic.

HORSES
Horses were a part of my childhood and one of the few appreciations I shared with my father. Lately, horses have been on my mind. I saw a post for a free horse while shopping at the Skagit Valley Coop in Mt. Vernon yesterday. The horse had been rescued after suffering a near fatal beating by some cruel ass. The rescuer had attempted to get animal control to take the horse, but they wouldn't for whatever reason. (?!) The kind and conscientious person ended up buying the horse to save its life. She even paid a vet to do emergency surgery, and is now offering the recovered horse to the right home. The horse, whose long sad face was pictured on the flyer with fresh stitches, no longer trusts men. The new owner must be a woman and have some riding experience. I thought. "Hey, that's me. I'm a woman. I've ridden. I'm the right home!" (For an animal lover this line of reasoning is automatic.) I've dreamed of living to see the day when we return to horses for transportation, and this would be my way to live by example. Now, that would be ultimately cool. Talk about retro! I'd just ride into town, tie her off and do a little shopping. Steve, synchronous in his own peculiar way, suggested lobbying the city council for hitching posts. "Somebody has to lead the way," I thought. Yeah, a horse. Why not? I thought about it with my left brain for a moment and reality hit. Our property is not fenced. That would be a big expensive project. Wait! I'm moving onto a boat. I can't adopt a horse for six months and then get rid of it. And surely I can't take a horse on Nomadness! It just isn't going to happen. Which brings me to chickens.


CHICKENS
Soon, Steve and I will be getting a small flock of young hens. We've been discussing the virtues fresh eggs and knowing where a little more of our food comes from. And of course, there's the soulful, beneficial stream of entertainment chickens provide as they scratch, cackle, strut and peck out their place in the universe. We've been browsing the net for coop plans, and walking the property to determine the best locale and how to keep them safe from predators. We both know there is a definite chance we will soon be gone indefinitely, and the hens will have to stay with whomever moves in, or be given away. Yet, I am so lonely for critters in my life, and Steve adores chickens. Who'd have guessed that? He claims he misses them. Plus chickens are a better investment than stocks or gold at this point. And my dog, Lily will thoroughly enjoy herding them around the yard. At fourteen, she deserves a few hens of her own.

As to the possibility of chickens on a boat... well, there is a tiny itsy bitsy sliver of possibility, right? I have always recognized my need to live with critters. Critters know their place. They are honest and true. They don't lie, or worry, or fret. Being with animals reminds me of who I am at a most essential level. In the mirroring eyes of my corgi or of a whale or a doe, I can see my animal self and also feel my humanity. I can distinguish my self.

DEMOCRATS
Yesterday I mailed in our ballots. I was adamant to get them in early and on paper. I hand carried them into the post office and made sure they were received by the one postal worker with a smile. When I left the post office, I passed the Democrats office, so I pulled in to pick up an Obama sticker. Better late than never, huh? (Besides it might bring some future generation a few bucks as a collectible someday. Now that's eBay thinking!) Anyway, I went in and volunteered to help on election day. Since I am not tied to a workday, I figure I can drive folks to the polls, or put out coffee for the voters, or do something useful. I guess I want to feel like I'm doing something to counterbalance my cynicism. Cynicism has been creeping into my heart lately, and try as I might, it seems to be taking root. Last night I actually lay awake for a couple of hours worrying about the election. The election! For those who don't know me--- I can usually sleep under almost any conditions. Heartbreak has kept me awake, but that's about it. For me to loose sleep over the idea of election fraud, is a HUGE sign that underneath my calm exterior something is boiling in my being. It is fear.

Fear is the enemy that lurks within. I don't remember who said this, but it smacks of truth. Fear is what they've been peddling to us for years. I don't like feeling manipulated. But then again, I don't want to look back and say, "I saw it coming but wouldn't admit it." So I admit it: I am afraid things could get much worse before they get better. I hope not, of course, but I see the signs. The writing is on the wall. But I choose to let this fear motivate me to dry apples and tend chickens while Steve puts a new watermaker on the boat. Besides, those apples and chickens and misty breathed horses are also my antidote.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dependency and the Rhythm of Land


We set out this summer with the intention of sailing whenever we could and learning the vessel's and our own idiosyncrasies. We had a wonderful time, and I wouldn't change a minute of it. Yet, somehow we only managed to sail a dozen times or so. Nomadness moves beautifully under sail, but more often than not we motored. Why? Mostly due to lack of wind, or late starts with few options for anchoring, thus pressure to get somewhere by such and such time. And the most frustrating of all: the winds weren't blowing in the right direction. How absurd! Beating our way for hours into the wind in narrow inland waters and still not being able to arrive before dark trumped our love of sailing.

But these are surface reasons; at the core of all this is something much deeper and much simpler. We were not sufficiently free from the rhythm of our land-based life. We decided where we wanted to go and then set out to get there. That's what one does on land, so that's what we did by and large. On the water, however, I think one needs a different approach. Deciding to set out wherever the wind can carry us safely in a day's voyage, would produce many more favorable sailing days. But this is a mindset that must develop over time and requires the willingness to slow down and let go of agendas. Essentially, when on the water, we change the rhythm and tempo of daily life.We're on our way...

Another thing that comes to mind in reflecting on the summer, is how much I don't know and how far from ready I truly am. Yes, I sailed a few times on my own (with Steve below of course) and I know how the plumbing works! I have internalized a lot of sequences for procedures that seemed confusing before (like the eight steps to take a shower), and I have a vague idea of what to do when the motor doesn't start. I know the basic functions of most of the electronics on board. And I know what every line in the cockpit does. But I still can't unfurl the main on my own. We haven't practiced man over board drills. We haven't practiced heaving to.
I still haven't been offshore. I don't know if I'll get seasick. We have accomplished a lot, but we have a long way to go next year. Gotta keep working those learning curves!

Steve has gotten clear on the priorities of the ship's systems and has tackled some huge new projects to ready the boat. I have become clear on the priority of developing my sailing and navigating skills. When I read about women who set out with their partners and know nothing about the operation of their boat, I find it not only sad, but very foolish. We have to rely on each other and trust each other's judgment. This trust can only be built gradually, brick by brick from solid decisions and successful actions, into a foundation that will allow us the freedom of letting go when we need to. We can rest in the knowledge that our partner can carry the load for awhile if we need him/her to. We have to be able to depend upon one another without becoming co-dependent.

Dependency. What a loaded word. It has almost become a dirty word in our culture, and even more so in some subcultures. Dependency is viewed as weakness while self reliance denotes strength. I believe we must depend on each other. Nobody can do everything.
Sure some can survive all alone on a boat or in the wilderness and that is commendable, but to thrive, our human souls need interaction and a community in which to grow.

In the coming times, communities of folks will need to band together and not only for practical reasons. We need each other to make us laugh, to open our minds, to teach us new skills, to nurse us, to challenge us, to introduce new ideas, and to sing new songs that raise our spirits in the darkest times. To be able to depend upon one another is a gift. To be of aide, assistance, and to give support to one another creates an opportunity to exercise our own highest and best selves. If we all go it alone, how will we ever develop greater kindness, generosity, charity, tolerance, and love for humanity?

What does all this have to do with sailing and flotillas and drama and art? Everything. It is all related. How we live, what we do, why we do it, and who we share it with, all determine the quality of life we seek. Whether it be at sea in flotillas, or on land in communities, whether through art, science, or even geek expressionism, we have to chase the big questions. We are symbolic as well as practical. Our journeys are mythic.

I have been reading a lot of great blogs lately that discuss sufficiency, self reliance, and simplicity, but I want to make sure that in the process of saving ourselves, we don't cut ourselves off from sharing the joy of life, the glee of kindness, and the bliss of love. We really do need each other.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Here

Funny how a change of scene can bring one back to something familiar with new eyes, fresh respect, and a deeper gratitude.

I am back home in the Camano forest where owl stutters his lonesome welcome and, in every corner, spiders have built long term complexes for raising their young. I am here, where the earth smells of mushrooms and cedar, here in the mud, knee high grasses, and thorny blackberry tangles still bearing for all they're worth. Here, I find so much that can nourish and support me.

I see a touch of irony in my desire to take to sea, where there can only be what one needs for a short term. On the water I concern myself with tasks of the day, or of the hour. I think of the day's meal, where to park for the night, which way the wind blows, how much water remains, and will we be safe tonight. But desire is desire and must not be denied. On the water life is fluid. Here it solidifies. I think of the longer term; I put food by, stock up on stuff, and stack up wood. I watch barrels fill with rain, and forage what's left in the orchard. I plan to make spirits, and gather good friends round me. Here, I listen to the calling of the great horned hunter of the night and feel at home. Owl has been near most nights since we returned, and once, he perched himself just outside the lab for a more direct encounter. I think he is letting us know "the plan is good."




Saturday, October 11, 2008

Times Like These

We've landed back at Camano Island; Nomadness is safely berthed across Saratoga Passage at Oak Harbor. I'll soon post a piece in reflection about our shakedown cruise. At the moment I want to point to a really good blog post I read this morning by Jerome (Jay) Fitzgerald, the seasteading guy, which offers some excellent advice for us all about how to proceed in this economically disasterous time. He points to small things we can all do, which taken together, can add up to have an impact. I believe that focusing on what we can do, rather than being overwhelmed by the enormity of what we cannot do, is crucial in times like these.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dramanautical Urges

Steve is eager to get to Anacortes today to have the boat hauled out for some work that includes rust repair around the anchor locker and stern steps, bottom cleaning and paint, and a big tunnel through the bow with an electric motor in it (aka bow thruster). His mind races around on all the winter projects he wants to complete before we go "full time" next year. I, on the other hand, am growing accustomed to this life. I can easily imagine going on with this for another couple of weeks, or a month, maybe a year... Especially now that the Little Cod (little god) is in and oh, soooo cozy! Once we remodel the settee into "the nest" (more on that later) and get the mandatory pillows, artwork, and girly touches, Nomadness is going to be a regular love den in spite her supreme high geekery. Afterall we do plan to live on her for extended voyaging.

With the coming of fall, my pace has slowed and my eagerness to go go go, north north north, has finally calmed. I am meditating more regularly again and creative thoughts float up more frequently. (Hmmm...correlation?) Snippets of scenes on the "stage" of a boat play across my mind: amplified sounds of rigging creaking in the dark, a spotlit acrobat swinging from the top of the mast whispering almost inaudibly to a rapt audience about the plight of the seas,
flutes and drums beckoning across a quiet anchorage conjuring a skiff in a gush of bubbles from the bottom of the bay... some mythic sea story is seeking a mind through which it can come into being. Again.

Fall has always been a fruitful time of year for my imagination. Perhaps this stems from those childhood days when autumn signaled the return to school. My siblings and friends mourned the end of wild, dusty summer, while I secretly celebrated the first sign of autumn and the promise of new things to learn and new friends. If I can kindle my imagination now, it may burn through winter and yield some roughly forged story for the future dramanautical productions. The key is not that I need, nor even want, to create a "something" for some future group to execute, but rather that I get in touch with the source of my creativity and exercise it. My muse has been drowsing for a bit too long (a little seasick perhaps); it is time she awaken and blossom again.

For the past week here on Orcas Island, while lazing in bed, or rowing the dinghy round Fawn island, or sitting amongst the work clutter of half finished projects, or while gazing into a fire in the midst of dinner party chatter, the questions of the role of art in my life and in society at large have been haunting me.

Artist, writer, and teacher, Suzi Gablik in dialogue with James Hillman:
Hillman: Now suppose the question doesn’t become what art should do, but rather how do we find that which art should serve? Art is already in service, so we could perhaps change that to which it is in service?

Gablik: So the question is what could art better serve than the things it has been serving, like bourgeois capitalism, throughout our lifetimes?

I am tangled up in this notion of art in service to something. Many artists proclaim that art is for art. Period. Art as aesthetic. As ornament. Decoration. Something to brighten up the den. While I strongly agree we need more beauty in the urban world of waste and decay, and that art should be beautiful (as in the eye of the beholder), I also want art to have be socially relevant at some level. Is it our responsibility as artists to bring light to this dark world, or to reflect back the darkness? Should we represent the way things are or conjure other possibilities? In the past decades discussion of art seems rarely to center on beauty, and when it does it often points toward the impulse to deconstruct beauty. Life is often ugly in our day and age, but we humans need beauty in all its forms, visual, rhythmic, and aural. The earth is fantastically beautiful. To see beauty is to witness the divine.

Again Gablik:
What we have lost is the ability to feel the divine in all things. Institutionalized religion in our lifetimes has once again become a war-making tool. How, then, do we get past our embarrassment about God? Everything in modern society has progressed except our spiritual understanding. We have yet to learn, for instance, that we can't survive without beauty, and that the loss of it is killing us.
If you are a sailor (as I hope many of you are) then you already appreciate visual beauty and the beauty of motion/rhythm. For what is more beautiful than a boat under sail on the rhythmic sea under a vibrant ever-changing sky?

Beauty heals, so I want art that soothes both the artist and the audience. Art that acts on our souls. Not mind numbing entertainment, but spirit raising and awe inspiring. Art as a call to action and to kindness. Art that offers something different and serves something greater. We are all hurting, and we are hurting each other and our environment. Art must stop being "more stuff for sale" that will eventually fill another landfill. It must become a salve for the diseased cultures so many of us are living in. Art can be useful and promising. Art can be a guidepost for the lost, and a seed for the fertile.

How? It is easy to theorize such an art, but how can we produce such art. Gurdjieff referred to Objective Art, art that transcends the personal experience and communicates truth. This is a tall order, for sure. I can't say how to do this but I suspect that ultimately we must live an artful life to produce this art. The experience of living intentionally together-- doing our best, learning, giving to and caring for one another and the environment -- is the raw material, the very food, for the metaphoric excretions we call art. I want to be with folks who turn life into myth and travel a life path paved with choices. Sharing our words, images, and songs with the communities we encounter, will do that magic thing that makes Art a necessity: it will transport experience from one mind to another, from one heart to another, and in the process plant seed for a new way of being. I'm not talking about high brow art; I'm wishing for art that serves something other than ego, capitalism, and individual self. Art that cleans up after itself, and leaves the world a little better.

Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe my ideals are ridiculously out of this world. Maybe I am lost in a fantasy. Or maybe I am on the right track. How? I don't know. For starters I'll write about it, sit with it, and send out this electronic beacon.

Wish oil on wood 2005



Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sufficiency

We have begun our journey back to Camano and the end of our summer adventure. At the moment we're in Deer Harbor in the thick of the long-awaited wood stove installation. We'll be here the rest of the week with the boat torn apart while the last sunny sailing days of summer slip away. And then more hole drilling awaits us in Anacortes next week. Gosh, drilling holes in your boat causes tension. Luckily, our landlubber friends, Mariah and David, generously entertained us with vittles and hot tubbing while ashore last night. If we're fortunate we might even relieve some tension with a musical frolic before the week is through.

Meanwhile Andrew of Navigator Stove Works and Jeff work away at a relatively complex stove installation.

(Figuring out exactly where to put the deck iron.)

They're an efficient team working out both the math and the functionality of how, where and why to safely build a heavy burning object into the middle of a cabin that will someday roll on the high seas. Add Steve's abundant brain power to the mix and my own random injections, and we've had some lively discussion and come up with some brilliant solutions. It may be a big old mess, but it has been fun. So far. And we inch, inch, ever toward sufficiency.

What is sufficient? What is simply survival? What is luxury? Many layers of meaning unfold from these words for me. I've been thinking about this idea of sufficiency. A lot. I recognize that Nomadness isn't yet ready to provide what we need to be truly independent and self-sufficient. With the financial collapse of our monstrous top-heavy capitalist system sending many, if not most, Americans into a frenzy to shore up their lives, my first associations with sufficiency relate to material wealth. I can honestly say that I am thankful I have very little to lose in this regard. I'm with the gulls on this one.

(At least the critters can still expresses an opinion outside the "free speech zone.")

Seriously, though, the degree to which people have life skills and the ability to be self sufficient will determine who gets hit hardest and who rolls with the punches. During the Great Depression, the general population may have been better prepared to deal with hardships. People still knew how to grow food, make stuff, and they weren't afraid to offer or ask their neighbors for a helping hand. Maybe I romanticize it. Maybe. But I do know that stuff (things, tools, clothing, etc) was made to last back then. I wonder what will happen in five or ten years when everything breaks, the dumps overflow with appliances, China has cut us off due to our debts, and very few know how to make what they need. What will be of value then?

So what does self sufficiency really mean? Having food, water, a connection to the world, and a place to be?
Let's consider the most basic of these first. Water. Just how much water do we need? Do you know how much water you use? I do. On Nomadness the two of us currently use about fifty gallons of fresh water per week for washing, drinking and cooking. We could use half that if we set our minds to it and used more salt water. Fortunately, have a water maker back at the lab, resting at the top of the list of "stuff to install." Can we make water at a rate that will suffice? Where does survival become sufficiency become comfort? It gets blurry.

And food? Could we catch, grow or harvest what we need? How much do we need? Probably a lot less than we currently think. (And contrary to popular thinking there is enough food to go around. The concept of scarcity is a lie that suppresses the basic human impulse to care for one another.) Before we embark on the "big journey" next year I'll study how and what to fish for, and develop a small system for growing food hydroponically aboard. At present, I can say I know almost nothing about these things. I buy stuff at the store, google up a recipe or just throw something together. (To our credit, we did manage to catch and eat some crab this season. It was thrilling. I think I ignited a deep-seated bloodlust. Here is the proof.
)

In regards to human connection, what do we truly need? Daily net connections? Phone? Post office? TV, iPods, and radios? Could we survive with weekly connections? Monthly? Could would live without these things entirely? Survive, yes. Would it be sufficient? That's a different question altogether, isn't it? So why not make our own music and stories to share? Somewhere inside me the need for connection intersects my need to create.

And what about electricity? How will we provide enough power for our cameras, radios, computers, lights, navigation equipment, and other necessities? Solar and wind harvesting certainly. I look forward to learning from Steve about how these work. He's planning a whole new power management system to give us an abundance of free electrons without relying on diesel.
He'll be stripping solar panels from previous projects and, with help from a welder friend, installing them on the stern arch on Nomadness.

Sufficiency is hugely complex. And to complicate it all, we have differing of opinions on what is necessary. For the most part, I defer; my needs are quite simple really.
Once survival is addressed, I seek human interaction and creativity, documentation of our existence in this moment in history. Those big universal questions rear up. What is important in life? Why are we here? What will I leave behind when I have turned to ash? For me, I suspect it has to with love, the creative force of the universe. Certainly there is more to our collective existence than the depletion of earth's resources and the invention of more thingy-ma-jiggers. Certainly there is value and purpose in myth-making and kindness.

So here lies the true heart of the matter. The crux is this: sufficiency resides in knowing that one can take care oneself. Not only financially, or physically, but in psychological and spiritual well being, which requires that one's Being is well. Am I self sufficient emotionally? Is my heart independent? Do I need others to validate my sense of purpose in this world?
These questions touch on the role of solitude in boat life. Attending to the self in the sweet quiet communion with the waves, the wind and all that floats above and beyond may be the most nourishing food of all. Maybe all we really need is the sense that we are safe and fed, that our lover sleeps quietly below dreaming of turtles, while the sails fill and colorful flags luff in the autumn wind. Maybe that will suffice for this lifetime.


Then again maybe we best get the water maker installed and the solar panels up. Oh, and a first draft of something down on paper. And learn another language, and celestial navigation. And let us not forget to love at every opportunity in even the smallest ways. Hang on, this is going to be a wild winter ride for sure.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Crabbing

One thing we've discovered on this shakedown cruise, is how ill-prepared we are to feed ourselves. We bought a great little Crab King coil away flexible crab ring that we throw over the side of the boat. If there be crabs in the waters, this thing will get 'em. Unlike the more professional pots you drop for hours or overnight in which the crab get caught, this is immediate gratification. We only left it down for a few minutes at a time. Buy one here for just $40 and be ready for next year. We used cockles and pork for bait, but I've heard they like chicken too. Isn't that weird? Crab like chicken. Poor chickens! Seems everything likes chicken.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Honor

(Click to enlarge)

That is our track! We've traveled for 66 days and 512 nautical miles, and reached our northernmost point of Telegraph Harbour, but the adventure continues. The seeds of the flotilla have been planted and left to gestate in a few individuals in our wake. Currently we are in Montague Harbour Provincial Marine Park on Galiano Island, waiting out some rainy weather and catching up on stuff.

After Reid Harbor, Stuart Island,
we had some business to take care of including securing unlimited data from Sprint while in Canada, (crucial to keeping our costs down and staying connected) and reducing our substantial liquor stores (silly us, stocking up on fruits and liquor on our way into Canada--Doh!) so we cruised back to San Juan Island for a full-service-yachtie-style stay in Roche Harbor. After a night on the hook, we indulged in a night at the marina, where there are cute young line handlers to catch your boat, 15, 30 or 50 amp power, delicious water, garbage bins at your slip, laundry, showers, ice cream, and even a post office on the dock! Once again we were just another midsized sailboat in big mess of fancy motor yachts... though in our hearts we're still Scotty's Great Dane!

The best part of Roche Harbor was the marvelous sculpture park just a short walk from the marina. Westcott Bay Sculpture Park boasts 115 pieces scattered over 19 acres of ponds, woods and meadows.

(Three Frogs and an Otter by Georgia Gerber. Photo by SKR)

The pieces range from conceptual to representational, from interactive to abstract, functional to found, and materials include marble, steel, bronze, granite, aluminum, glass, redwood, fabric... you name it, there is something for everyone. Many were truly breathtaking.

And best of all, like the Treasure Chest on Stuart where we purchased T-shirts and post cards, the Sculpture Park is on the honor system. You pay $5 at a self serve gate. They have a gate counter, and I suspect they've found that most people pay, and those who don't are welcome anyway. Art should be available to everyone whether
or not they have money and whether or not they value it enough to give up a few dollars. I love the honor system! I think if you give people the choice to do the right thing, they will if they are able. Or at least I like to believe people are honorable. Naive? Optimistic? A sucker? Maybe. I guess I'd rather be naive than cynical and pessimistic.

(That's me contemplating honor way off in the distance. Photo by SKR)

After Roche, we passed customs in Bedwell Harbour, but found Poet's Cove Marina a bit too chic (we'd had our fill at Roche) so we motored around to Port Browning for a night. Then it was on to the highly recommended town of Ganges on Salt Spring Island. We hit the famed Saturday Farmer's Market, watched a wonderful street performer from Ghana, and kayaked about. We started to land our kayaks on Goat Island to have a wee pee and a poke around, when a Park Ranger-type person pulled up in an official-looking inflatable and informed us that they weren't "encouraging people to land on the island." This has been our only brush with Canadian law enforcement. Much like the honor system, their approach offered us the opportunity for right action, which we promptly took.

We also met a delightful, creative couple in Ganges aboard the ferrocement ketch, English Rose. We all hit it off swimmingly and decided to buddy boat about a bit. We aimed our collective 54 tonnes out of Ganges Harbour and circled Portland Island without finding safe anchorage to accommodate both our vessels. Ultimately we ended up in Genoa Bay where we had a raft up, dinner, and fun on the spacious and comfortable English Rose.


From there we continued north to Telegraph Harbour which separates Thetis and Kuper Islands. The marina, which is supremely down-home and laid back was only slightly unprofessional. Larry and Nancy of Jacari Maru (whom we met in Cornet Bay a few weeks back) saved a slip for us. We spent the evening tale swapping and Irish Whiskey sipping.

We also met some young upstart technomads, Adam and Brittany on their 26' Coronado sailboat. Adam gave us a tip about shopping that's not in the guidebooks. He sent us to the tail end of the harbour near the boat ramp, up and across the street to a fruit and vegetable stand with fresh eggs, jams, honey, baked goods, and dairy products. The entire stand was on the honor system! Completely unattended. There were pictures and news clippings about the family that owns it and provides the goods. I loved this. We stocked up and saved ourselves a ferry ride to Chamainus where we had planned to get groceried up.

Later that evening we kayaked through what they call "The Cut" a narrow shoaling channel between the Thetis and Kuper that connect Telegraph Harbour to Clam Bay. The current dumped us out into the Bay where we paddled along Kuper's shore. It appeared mysteriously uninhabited, and though quite beautiful, somewhat dark. I felt an unsettled vibe.

Once back to our net connection, courtesy of the Thetis Marina, I did a touch of research and found that the island has a history of over a hundred years of cultural abuse to native children. Salish children from all over the region were taken from their families and deposited in the
Kuper Island Indian Residential School run by the Roman Catholic church. The claimed purpose of the "school" was to teach English and assimilate them into European culture. In essence they sought to destroy the language and culture of the people. This "school" evidently taught very little; as in other similar residential schools abuse and neglect were common. Like much of the European impact on the First Peoples, the history of Kuper Island was ugly and included the destruction of villages and the usual relocation of the people against their will.

Today
about 300 of the Penelakut Tribe now live on Kuper. The island is serviced by a ferry to Chemainus. The Hul' qumi' Num Treaty Group, represents a collection of six nations from the region, and over 6,200 members. Their work aims, among other things, to improve conditions and increase cooperation in the planning and management of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Their struggle echoes the struggle of indigenous peoples everywhere. From their website:
We have a vision of regaining control over our own destinies, allowing for strong, healthy communities for generations to come. Achieving this vision of reconciliation and a just resolution of our aboriginal title and rights within our territory will benefit the Hul'qumi'num people and indeed all Canadians. We stand firmly united in our conviction to negotiate a fair and honourable treaty — one that will enable our Hul'qumi'num communities to restore our historical prosperity and to ensure that our distinctive culture will flourish into the future.
And while it delights me to see so many instances of the honor system at work in these islands, it angers me to think about how dishonorable our ancestors have been with natives they encountered here. I never cease to be amazed at the grace resilience, and goodwill of native peoples I encounter.

I, for one, relish the small opportunities to be honorable. In return I wish to offer others this opportunity. Perhaps honoring and being honorable are key steps in the revolution of the heart that will begin to heal generations of wounds and the residual guilt associated with these dishonorable actions. We all know what is honorable and what is not. Those of us from fear dominated and untrusting cultures must make the effort to relearn to trust, and when given the chance, to practice what the Buddhists call "right action."

Midnight Oil said it well in the song, Beds Are Burning.

The time has come
To say fair's fair

To pay the rent

To pay our share

The time has come
A fact's a fact
It belongs to them
Let's give it back!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Horizontal and Vertical Travels

Our pace on Nomadness is not one of rushing from place to place, but rather the pace of introspection. We spend a day sailing (Friday Harbor to Stuart Island was idyllic) or motoring, and then anchor for a few days, puttering about in kayaks or hiking. I bake things. Steve does projects. We play our flutes. We enjoy where we are.

So, although we haven't gone far horizontally, we go deep vertically. Years ago, Sam Smiley, a former professor and writing mentor, spoke of analyzing films based on the horizontal and vertical axes. The horizontal axis being what happens, the action and events of a film. The vertical axis being the depth of character, feeling, and/or impact on the viewer in a film. Great films move along a horizontal axis but have enough depth to make us care about the characters, perhaps identify with their dilemmas and maybe even impact our lives, or deepen our understanding. I grasped this concept and immediately began applying it to my life in general.

On Stuart Island we walked to the light house to watch boats pass as they struggled in the rips off Turn Point. This is the schooner Martha under full sail. Martha is a historic schooner offering youth training programs and more. What a sight she was! Later she anchored in Reid Harbor with us where we got a close look.


We listened in on the whale watch captains on the radio. They try to keep the frequency a secret, but with a hammy geek on board and several radios, we figured it out by receiving on one radio while transmitting tests on another until we hit it. The orcas were evidently near, though precisely where, was difficult to discern from the captains use of code words. So though we didn't catch a glimpse, it was exciting to eavesdrop on the chatter about J2, the lone unidentified male and the group of females feeding and frolicking in the nearby waters. Eventually, we are bound to see or hear them. Steve has a hydrophone on board. We are ready!

On the way back from Turn Point we bought touristy but quaint T-shirts from the honor system treasure chest the islanders set up to raise money for the school kids. You take what you want and mail in payment later. I only wish everyplace was as trusting and open as this. Here I am at the tiny little library.


So, Nomadness travels both the horizontal axis and the vertical axis making a track both across the map and deepening our character with experience. In fact, I've had to reassess my prejudice against powerboaters (formerly considered inconsiderate and wasteful) as we continue to meet interesting, conscientious folks on powerboats like Larry and Nancy on the trawler, Jacari Maru whom we hope to rendez-vous with in the Gulf Islands. They were a wealth of friendly knowledge and gave us lots of advice on the best spots to anchor in the Gulfs, where to get free wifi access, good grocery stores, farmers markets etc. It is always useful to see my own prejudices dissolve leaving greater tolerance in its track.

Speaking of tracks, if you'd like to follow our progress (on the horizotal plane) check out our APRS track. Well be heading into Canada soon, and once we do, postings will be limited since we will get "roaming" charges. (Shouldn't roaming be free and encouraged for all? )Heck we're already seeing roaming charges, and we're still in the USA! But with amateur radio nuts everywhere our little tracker signal should get bounced out into the net for you to see.

As for the vertical plane... well, there is no tracker that can follow us into those realms. We'll just have to see where this journey will lead.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Time (San Juan Islands)


time
this time
tick tock
my heart
like water on a rock
hush rush rush
into the unknown
my blood
flowing home
with the moon
water rises
I fall
to sleep
for another thousand years
turn to stone
grind in the wind
and wash away again
to the sea
another day
the sun rises
and all of us
(the stuff of stars)
recognize light
when we see it
tick tock tick tock
water on rock...


(My dear friend Polydora posted a lovely (un)poem about time on her blog. This bit came after a day of hiking and paddling Stuart Island, marveling at the geology and rock formations, taking impressions. Then, I read her poem while at anchor in Roche Harbor, and excreted this.)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

poem for a sailor



tonight
half moon over friday harbor

a love that's full and by
sweet peachcake kisses
beneath a milky sky
a close hauled heart
has no need of charts
to navigate home
come morning
we will sail again

wing and wing
or on a reach
or scudding
cross the border

land a foreign
inner beach

treasures await us
both to starboard
and to port
come crazy sailor
cast off your mooring lines
come come
hoist your heart on high
wrap yourself in rum
and foggy red red wine
strip yourself of worries
come if you dare
come if you care
come let's make lore

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Relationships

I witnessed this young couple and recognized myself in their behavior. Sometimes I can see unfavorable qualities in others that I do not want to acknowledge in myself. I offer this short video for the enlightenment of your own nature.



Sunday, August 31, 2008

Conjuring Dramanauts

"...question your self with a guileless heart again and again... and the truth will unfold that knowledge to you... and you will cross the ocean of ignorance on a raft of knowledge."
the Bhagavad Gita


I have been contemplating of the gypsy life, the nomadic life, the life of wandering, exploring, discovering. The function of journey is mythic in both the personal realm and in the collective. Yet taking a journey differs from the nomadic lifestyle. The first may be seen as a rite of passage, through which one passes and returns, often changed. It embodies transition. The other journey, as lifestyle, is another matter altogether. It is a path. A Way. We orient our existence differently; the transit through this world becomes more of a spiral than an orbit. Everything is new, and although we come round to what appears to be the same, we are now in a very different space and our perspective has changed dramatically. We see what was once familiar, anew; and the new is welcomed as an old friend into our lives.

I don't want to be a foreigner anywhere. I wish to be more like a bird or a whale without boundaries -- at home beneath any sky, in any water-- for in truth it is one big sky and one big water. Of course, I recognize the reality of nations and their corresponding laws, still I wish to learn to embody the essence of living without these boundaries. And I am trying to actualize this.

Enter Nomadness, boundary defiant and sea worthy. On a sailboat every bridge looks like a disaster, but we continue on with faith, gliding forward into the future. We come to recognize that what appeared to be an obstacle was but an illusion manufactured from our limited perspective. Every sailor knows this feeling, we have the facts, yes we can go forth, and yet we tremble slightly each and every time before what appears impossible.


My partner, Steve Roberts, who is expert at actualizing the impossible, has written about his "epic bike trip" in Computing Across America. He saw the journey as an opportunity to merge all his passions into one lifestyle. What a great idea! We should all do it, right? Easier said than done for sure. The first step in this direction is the presence of mind and sincerity of heart to honestly ask and the answer the question: What are my passions?

In contemplation of this, I realize I have only a few. I love travel, sharing information (learning and teaching), experiencing nature, and art and beauty (especially the performing arts). So how can these possibly work into a cohesive lifestyle? After brainstorming with Steve one blissful winter eve, we came up with this: We'll travel about on boats, learning about the places and people we meet, sharing stories, information, skills and technologies while gathering like minded individuals into a flotilla. A strong element in the new vision is the idea that we can create an intentional community on the water. Steve recently wrote of:

"... a self-sufficient technomadic community that has reached a critical mass of skills and tools, and is thus able to respond to changing world situations (or pure whim) by relocating on a global scale."

I would only add to this the vital need for expression. I want to invite and inspire creative artistic expression. I want to "make something" of the experiences we share. What this "something" becomes, will be determined entirely by the individuals who people this community. This doesn't mean one has to have an artist's resume to contribute; we are all creative whether we have honored and acted on it in the past or not. What is important is the willingness to express oneself, to bare the truth, and to bear witness. To take the impressions of a nomadic life and excrete something potent, beautiful and inspiring.

I envision a gypsy-spirited flotilla of information junkies, sailors, songsters, survivalists, geeks and goofballs putting our heads together to make something new. I want a community that travels and creates together, pooling skills and moving toward self sufficiency and the seasteading lifestyle. We have an opportunity to create something that both expresses and demonstrates the freedom of nomadism. We can do more than write or perform about freedom and adventure; we can live it. We can experience it. With experience comes knowledge and understanding, the raft upon which we will cross oceans of ignorance and fear both within ourselves and in our world.

So... while this year is our "shakedown" cruise, time to learn the boat and how to get along on it, next year we can start making the connections to the folks who will fill out our Technomadic Flotilla of Dramanauts.
Need some more inspiration? Here are some other folks who found a way to merge art and boating in one way or another. I am sure there are many more too!

Miss Rockaway Armada a crazy bunch artists with a similar dream who floated down the Mississippi creating art and theatre along the way.

Caravan Stage large scale theatrical production from an amazing vessel.

1000 Days at Sea
this project isn't exactly a community, but a couple merging, life, art, sailing and spirit. Some inspired blogging too!

And my favorite, a group that sprang from the hearts and minds of the most wonderful, Poppa Neutrino and Captain Betsy. The Floating Neutrinos.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Transformation and Home

Transitions. Or is it transformation? Can changing one's life circumstances change one's very Being? Or vice versa? I do know that the information I have acquired about sailing over the past few years is crystallizing into understanding that only experience brings. And is that not transformation?

(Cloud over Camano Island)

At one time, for a period between 1991 ad 1998, I actually felt I lived somewhere. I had a relationship to a tiny square of land, a structure (house), and its many contents. My relationship to the world was grounded in my relationship to a house, a garden and, of course, a lover. I believed in "home." When that ended, I began shuffling places, people, interests, lovers and jobs, reinventing myself with every new arrangement of my many "selves." Always chasing some ethereal notion of "home."

I started out life in the desert, on an Indian reservation, where everybody knows exactly where home is, and most don't fall too far from the tree. Yet I have always fantasized the gypsy life. I wanted to wander, travel, see places, meet strangers, and learn for myself the size of this huge small world. I now live with a man who identifies as a nomad; a man who has lived significant portions of his life as wanderer and is preparing for another nomadic adventure. Having uprooted and moved from my job, my friends and my family several times, this round is nothing new. And yet everything is new!

While Steve figures out what he needs to keep, what to sell, what to give away, what to store, what to recycle, and what to do with the remainder of his mountains of stuff, I am able to support his efforts without having my own entanglements to ensnare and slow us down. While he makes his transitions, I am anchorless. Drifting. And perhaps even approaching that deep, beautiful place in the heart where one is unattached yet fully engaged. For Steve it is an attractive feature. For me, it is something that I have worked years preparing for... that fateful moment in which opportunity breezes up, and I bravely let go and step aboard my future. Transforming indeed.

How does it feel? No job security?
No safety net? Am I afraid? Yes, I am afraid, but perhaps that is why I am doing it. I always sail straight toward my fears and right on through them to the freedom on the other side. Isn't that what freedom is? Not living our lives reacting to fear, but instead responding to love?

Perhaps the old cliche is true about home and heart. You know the one.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Help! House Angel Wanted

No, no we are not in trouble, but we do need some help. Our wonderful friend, house angel, and blog queen dearie, Polydora, must return to her Arkansas life at the end of the month. We had another friend lined up to stay at the house for September, but that arrangement has fallen through. So we are seeking somebody to look after the homestead for a few (3-5) weeks, feed Java the Cat, collect mail, and watch the forest grow. Lots of perks. Dates are flexible. If you are interested or know of somebody, please comment and leave your email. I will not publish the comment, so it will be private. Thanks for keeping us afloat.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Poem for Port Hadlock


last night the masts danced for the moon
tried holding her for a moment
then let her go to the wind
but she always came round
to tickle nomadness again

this morning mist woke the bay
with a soft wet kiss
teasing the little boats
who bob between light and night
she held back the sun
with her thick foggy tongue
and licked the sleep from our eyes

(Port Hadlock)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Otter play

Found this playful young otter on the docks at Port Ludlow. He is well known there by the staff who clean up after him at least once a day and have tagged him with an appropriate nickname.

Two summers ago at Port Hadlock I had the good fortune of seeing sixteen sea otters. A very rare sight. The sea otter was hunted to extinction in Washington nearly a hundred years ago for their fur which was "all the rage," as they say. Later,
in the 1970’s, conservationists reintroduced sea otters from Alaskan populations. They have reclaimed these shorelines and are surely thankful for the clean water here.

This little fellow is more likely the common river otter which seem to enjoy the salt water shallows.

I haven't really mastered the video thing yet, but thought I'd give it a go. I hope to do more video work as we travel about, but there is quite a learning curve to overcome.