This blog contains 1000 posts. Posting to Blogger with such a large archive has become unwieldy. Also, your blogista, who is sewing a kesa, is not writing much at present. She has ceased adding new posts. Still-active links are here.

Friday, August 31, 2007

This train don't carry no gamblers

I've begun packing my things for the epic journey to the in-laws. Sunny (frying, actually) Southern California. Wait, you say -- your Peak Oil geekiness means no planes. Well, sure. So we're taking the Coast Starlight.

I should mention that while my in-laws are great fun, and I love them and they love me, I'm new to them again after thirty years; in fact Beloved's dad has not seen me in person since I was someone else. So I'm panicking. New dress, new shoes, new hair, last-minute gifts chosen with care. I even tried an online test to be sure I'm still the kind of person they would like: "Should Your Guy Bring You Home To Meet Mom?" Results are good so far:

Yes, He Should Bring You Home To Mom!

You're classy, well-mannered, and you have great social skills. And you're definitely sure to impress your guy's parents. If he doesn't bring you home to meet mom, he's crazy!

Beloved is, of course, not my "guy" but it was the best I could do. We have had a few go-arounds about all this. We both claim Mrs. as our title, and neither of us wants to be "husband" and while we both kind of like to be "wife" neither likes to call the other that to other people. So "partner" does get used sometimes, but "spouse" is increasingly popular.

I tell her she makes a great husband but her response to that is to tell me to get lost...

This staying married while redesigning one of the spouses to be someone she should, fifty years ago, have somehow had the option to be, does have its moments -- we like the cute little lesbian "brides" we got for the 30th anniversary cake that neither of has yet had the time to bake, for example -- but there's no denying that it's confusing to us. So why wouldn't it be, to relatives? There are some moments to be lived through yet.

So I'm agonizing over the little gifts, and the what-to-wear, because, you see, family matters.

On that I agree with Dr. Dobson.


The Climate Emergency Fast

From the U.S. Climate Emergency Council (

1,000 People in all 50 States to Fast on Sept. 4th to End Global Warming

Religious, Student, Climate Leaders to Convene on Capitol Hill, Call on Congress to Pass Meaningful Climate Legislation

On the first day of Congress's fall session, national religious, student, and climate leaders will join together on Capitol Hill to explain why they and a thousand other people from every state in the nation are fasting on this day, and why some will not be eating for weeks.

The Climate Emergency Fast is the first-ever national action of this kind. It was initiated and is being coordinated by the U.S. Climate Emergency Council (

Fasters are calling upon the U.S. Congress to pass strong climate legislation this fall which would include a moratorium on any new coal plants, a freeze and major reductions of carbon emissions, and a $25 billion down payment in fiscal year 2008 for conservation, efficiency and renewables.

Those fasting around the country include author and activist Bill McKibben, Rev. Bob Edgar, former General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners, Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen, Episcopal Bishop of Maine, Rabbi Warren Stone, Environmental Chair of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Brent Blackwelder, President of Friends of the Earth, Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, Van Jones of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Mike Tidwell of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Ilyse Hogue of MoveOn.

WHAT: Participants will explain why they and a thousand others around the USA and in at least fourteen other countries around the world are not eating on the first day the U.S. Congress returns from its summer recess, and why some intend to fast for weeks.

WHERE: Lower Senate Park, U.S. Capitol grounds, corner of Louisiana Ave. and D St. NW

WHEN: Tuesday, September 4th, 1:00 p.m.

Rev. Bob Edgar, Former General Secretary of the National Council of Churches
Ibrahim Ramey, Director, Human and Civil Rights Division, Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation
Rabbi Warren Stone, Environmental Chair, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Jim Lyons, Vice President for Policy & Communications, Oxfam America
Jessy Tolkan, Co-coordinator of Energy Action
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Founder of the Hip Hop Caucus
Jean Stokan, Policy Director of Pax Christi, USA
Ted Glick, Coordinator, U.S. Climate Emergency Council


Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Picture is Worth ... What's For Supper?

Photo credit: David Liittschwager and Susan Middleton

What do you find inside dead seagulls? Civilization.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tears in all the right places

Beloved visiting the OSF Elizabethan stage in the 1970s

Last Son and I went to Ashland, where Beloved took me every summer in the mid-seventies, to have a look at a couple of Shakespeare plays and to walk around and gawk at all the rich Californians. The walk-around was all the horror show it promised to be, and we found ourselves spending more and more time in remote corners of Lithia Park in recovery from exposure to humanity. He's far more sensitive to this sort of thing than I, as he's dealing with a mild case of Asperger's, and sometimes I had to get up and walk, relying on him to stay with me, so that he could vent without terrorizing the objects of his dismay. It's a little like going for a walk with Dr. Swift, at his most misanthropic, through the heart of the madding crowd.

I suppose, if driving a huge SUV through hundreds of miles of scorched semi-arid country to buy bits of jewelry for two hundred dollars and sit down in sun-blasted open-air bistros to thirty-dollar plates is the kind of thing that you like, you will like the kind of thing that downtown Ashland is becoming.

Son appreciated the Green Show and The Tempest but had little liking for As You Like It. My views were in accord with his, though more muted, though for me there's relatively little harm that a company can do to AYLI, even when they try.

I had forgotten that there is a tendency for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to experiment wildly with the temporal settings of the plays in the Bowmer, as compared to their more conservative treatments on the outdoor Elizabethan stage. This AYLI was done up in Great Gatsby/Depression styles, complete with Charles the Wrestler spouting off in Brooklynese and the forest of Arden as a hobo jungle. The Shepherds were Oakies... this sort of thing can be hard to watch when lines about "What shall I do with my doublet and hose" must be declaimed by a character in overalls, complete with hammer-loop and screwdriver pocket.

To their credit, the players were full-on in both their comedy and pathos, none of the set pieces sounded at all trite, and the Rosalind (Miriam Laube), a very New-York-socialite Rosalind, reached and won over the audience and provoked tears in all the right places. Her relationship to Celia (Julie Oda) was also delightful. Son and I were in the second row, far left, so we often missed facial expressions in crucial scenes front and center on the thrust stage, which were to our right in the midst of most of the audience, yet I felt the blocking was well-directed and as fair as it could be to those of us on the periphery. Worth going to see? Yes, though perhaps not all by itself after such a harrowing drive...

The Green Show that opened for the Tempest was pleasing, though not at all what I would have expected from bygone days. We had been raised up, so to speak, on sackbuts, crumhorns, and peasant blouses, whereas this was sweat-glistening dancers in red and black Spandex. In keeping with the sense of aerial spirits from the play, though. The music was original compositions in a traditional Irish setting, with pennywhistles, drums, keyboard, fiddle, contralto and soprano. Very world-class.

I mentioned to Son that while the music was as good as its kind would be even in Ireland, the dancing was, while terrific, clearly not New York. To which he replied, "You forget, even New York is not the New York everyone hopes for. This is just fine."

When we got into the Allen Pavilion, I saw that the changes to the structure were unobtrusive even though there were now far more seats. Ours were in the last of the old rows, Q, behind which were the standing room only spaces. Far from the stage, yes, but with the acoustically enhanced balcony directly above us, the sound was improved from what I could remember.

This Tempest proved very spare, with minimalist attention to staging or costuming, and required much of its magic to come from within the actors, particularly Prospero (Derrick Lee Weeden), Miranda (Nell Geisslinger), Ariel (Nancy Rodriguez), and Caliban (Dan Donohue). They all delivered, and this was the best Prospero I had ever seen. The father-daughter relationship was strong and completely believable, and Prospero's conflicts in letting go -- of her, of Ariel, and of his mastery in his "arts" -- foregrounded beautifully. Shakespeare seems, through this interpretation, to be saying that that which renders us most human is a capacity for abjuring power over others.

The "entertainment" for Miranda and her Prince was one of those classic show-stoppers of the kind for which OSF is known. The backdrops of the inner stages were lit with a myriad of stars -- light-emitting diodes, I would guess -- and the ropes that had served earlier for rigging for the King's ship became climbing ropes for balletic spirits, softly lit from above, spinning slowly in unison while singing a capella. I caught myself with my mouth hanging open, and I'm sure I was not the only one.

The standing ovation for this production was richly deserved.

At the Tudor Guild, Son bought a Renaissance hat for Daughter and a "claymore" letter-opener for her young man.

For Beloved, I bought a refrigerator magnet with this quotation (Sonnets 119):



Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Throwing underhand

So Beloved's chickens are starting to provide eggs -- brown eggs, which means the ones laying are all Barred Rocks, who are a bit older than the Araucanas -- and her garden looks like a rain forest laced with purple beans, green tomatoes, yellow zukes, green zukes, cucumbers, and the like. The corn, sunflowers, and Jerusalem artichoke are just -- really, really tall, and the summer kale is scary. The ears of corn have loosed their tresses to the winds. Garter snakes zip about underfoot, and green tree frogs sing from small ponds in the throats of sunflower leaves.

There have been several days of cool weather with rain -- the summer high is well west of where it usually is, roasting Japan but allowing Alaskan air to mix southwards into our valley all summer. Hence the greenness of the tomatoes.

None of this seems to be a problem for the apple trees, or even the old pear, which have been building larger fruit than usual all summer. Beloved is making applesauce and plum sauce, and freezing blackberries, and what she can't use is being chopped and tossed into the poultry yard, where it is appreciated by all. Even those who don't care so much for fruit will stand near it to snap at the flies that come by.

I would love to be more a part of all this but work has been absorbing most of my attention of late, and I come home drained of all but enough strength to roam about the kitchen seeking what I may devour and then slouching off to bed, where I'm reading several pages of Mott's life of Thomas Merton before lights-out.

I've been over most of the twenty hours or so of footage gathered during transition and I think it will make a good 52 minute video, but when? If I had energy I'd want to clean my room first, and I'm not even doing that. But I have scanned a dozen introductory photos at 600 dpi and run them as a slide show with the "overture," David Helfand's "Song to Lakota," and the effect is electric. This is worth doing, it's just a question of finding enough life left over from making ends meet to pull it together.


Over the weekend, I spent three days with PFLAG -- two at the State Council Retreat and one at the Chapter's annual picnic. There were a few new faces to greet and several sad goodbyes, along with the feeling, like listening to favorite music, of being with long-established and trusted friends.

I had brought along a couple of gloves and softballs to the picnic (bats, too, but this is not a participatory-sports crowd). One member of our chapter, whose name, whenever anyone calls it out, is a shock to me, as it was my old name, offered to play catch a bit. He's a southpaw who has always, like my dad, had to play right-handed due to the dearth of left-hander's gloves, yet has a strong throwing arm for all that. We stood about fifty, then sixty, then seventy feet apart. On my first throw, I put a steaming waist-high strike into his glove, thrown overhand. This seemed to puzzle us both for a moment, and then I consciously threw underhand for the rest of the session.

Girls who are serious about softball are taught to throw overhand, so it wasn't that odd, but it occurred to me that overhand involves falling forward with the ball, in order to get extra leverage on the throw from gravity.

I think that the step forward that goes with this is like the way men walk -- throwing themselves forward with each step and catching the fall with the extended leg, whereas the walk I've had to learn, to avoid getting stares, is more like rotating the hip around a semicircle and sort of planting the foot that's been rotated forward, without tilting the axis (my spine) very much at all.

This is why a woman bringing water from the well in a jar of water balanced on her head appears graceful to the eye.

So I threw underhand, retraining and to some extent restraining my body, while my friend threw to me overhand or underhand as he wished, with the easy, unreflective athleticism that is part of a man's assumed prerogative. But to compensate for this slight, though noticeable (to me) inequity, I allowed myself a certain competitive intensity in going after the grounders and fly balls, and earned his praise. He seemed surprised that I was as good as I am -- not because I'm fifty-eight, he's just not used, I think, to women that have played in boys' and mens' baseball leagues.

Not that he doesn't know my backstory. He does! And asks interested questions from time to time. But I find he is a bit oblivious toward that story. And so he pays me the generous compliment of a certain gentlemanly sexism. It seems I'm not inclined to mess with that... I'm finding it all rather sweet, for now.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Day job milestone reached

Final record of Oregonian entered in Oregon Newspapers Index at University of Oregon Libraries

The final record was entered at 11:45 A.M. Wednesday, August 8th.

The Oregon Newspapers Index provides a home for electronic Oregon newspaper indexes.

The Oregon Daily Emerald. Eugene (Or.).
University of Oregon campus newspaper, 1900-1979. 102,000+ records.
About this index.

The Portland Oregonian. Portland (Or.).
December 1850 - 1987. 845,000+ records. Data correction will continue.
About this index.

The Register-Guard. Eugene (Or.).
1963 - 2004. 30,000+ records.
About this index.

Total searchable index records 977,000+

The Project maintains a list of paper-based and electronic indexes around the state of Oregon.

More than 100 faculty, staff, student workers, and volunteers have worked on the Oregon Newspapers Index to date.

Here is an inventory of index card drawers and bound volumes being converted.

There is an online discussion group for stakeholders of this indexing project.

The University of Oregon Libraries holds the microfilmed newspapers here indexed as well as for over 1,000 other titles.

The Oregon Newspapers Index has been supported in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered through the Oregon State Library, by the University of Oregon Libraries, and by several anonymous donors.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Amory Lovins: How to Face Today's Greatest Energy Challenges

Or see original article at Grist. You don't have to agree with climate scientists, non-blue-dog Democrats, or treehuggers (such as me) to agree with Lovins that one can get 100% off oil and do so profitably. But I'm betting our kids and the Iraqi people would both be pleased with us for having a go...

Q. After all you've done to shift the energy debate, why do supply-side questions still dominate the discussion in Congress?

A. Congress is a creature of constituencies, and the money and power of the constituencies are almost all on the supply side. There is not a powerful and organized constituency for efficient use, and there's a very strong political (but not economic) constituency against distributed power, particularly renewables. So I would not pay too much attention to what Congress is doing. I'm not saying it doesn't matter, but ultimately economic fundamentals govern what will happen -- things that don't make sense, that don't make money, cannot attract investment capital.

We see this now in the electricity business. A sixth of the world's electricity and a third of the world's new electricity comes from micropower -- that is, combined heat and power (also called cogeneration) and distributed renewables. Micropower provides anywhere from a sixth to over half of all electricity in most of the industrial countries. This is not a minor activity anymore; it's well over $100 billion a year in assets. And it's essentially all private risk capital.

So in 2005, micropower added 11 times as much capacity and four times as much output as nuclear worldwide, and not a single new nuclear project on the planet is funded by private risk capital. What does this tell you? [more]
Caveat: I've heard some very smart people worry about Amory's apparently too rosy view of what can be done with switchgrass, a worry voiced by one of the commenters at Grist. But on conservation, he has a sterling track record and can back op nearly all of what he says with proofs drawn from solutions saving real organizations real money all around the globe. Original meaning of "conservative" -- to conserve.

Another commentator is puzzled byt Amory's apparent disdain for governmental approaches to the issue. The commons is so important that many of us spend practically our entire activist lives defending it, forgetting that we have hardly even a fraction of the resources that those who would privatize it can throw at that particular battle.

In our frustration, we end up demonizing them, and it's a mistake. Decent people can be brought to serve vicious interests by simply allowing themselves to be co-opted by their taking a short-sighted view of their own (and their descendants') best interests. And this is multipled across a population of billions, at best trying terribly earnestly to do the right things for themselves and their children, whatever those "right" things might be, or at worst believing that their own apathy does little or no harm to themselves.

I see both these tendencies exemplified in things I do daily.

What's important to realize is that short-sightedness is the norm. Humans were not designed to appreciate complex, invisible, or long-term threats to their well-being. Good science well applied is hard to come by even in times when corporations and governments appreciate and nurture good science. And these are not such times. Amory is right; don't wait for government; invest in sound business practice over entrenched business practice; much of the rest will follow.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Hours of amusement

The geese, ducks and chickens grow on apace. The first and rather skimping plum crop has been gathered and savored. Conditions are rather dry, so those plums which fell before we could get to them were found and commandeered immediately by ants. The rush to get at the plum juice was a bit of a risk for the ants, some of whom were trampled and drowned in the cracks on each dropped plum. We gather these separately, along with the bruised fallen apples, and toss them into the poultry yard, where they seem to afford hours of amusement, along with the thinned lettuce and such.

There should be free-range eggs in about three weeks. With this many birds there will need to be extra refrigeration for eggs, and Daughter has left her mini-fridge with us for the purpose.

Beloved's lush vegetable garden surpasses any we have ever had, showing her dad's wisdom in providing to us a homestead-sized compost tumbler, among the many things that have gone well. There are cucumber beetles and aphids, but almost everything looks healthy -- perhaps too much so. All the plants seem to be much more interested in foliage than fruiting. Shortage of bees? It would hardly seem there is too much nitrogen, as we don't apply commercial fertilizers.

Patty-pan squash is coming in, and is a big hit with us this year. Beloved slices these thin, radially, so that the result resembles slices of pear, and stir-fries them with her purple kale in a sauté of home-raised onions and garlic.

There are green and yellow zukes and straightneck summer squash as well, and great expanses of winter squash and pumpkin vines, though I don't see much besides the greenery at present. The brassicas mostly succumbed to the early hot spell but eggplant and peppers have recovered, and there will be crops. All the various beans look good, and the corn is spectacular, despite aphids in the silk. We will make a batch of very dilute soapy water and harass them a bit.

The cordwood is coming, and Beloved and I are stacking together when not doing other things. A delivered cord of firewood necessarily blocks the driveway and stacking cannot really be put off. A friend wanted me, or us if I could manage that, to come to a barbecue in town, and I had to say we were spoken for, which is true; we are more place-bound than most of our friends because of the high level of personal labor that goes into what we could call rural intentionality.

In rural intentionality, you do for yourself many of the things that, in convenience-oriented Western society, are handled by "labor-saving" (and often much more carbon-intensive) appliances. We hand-wash our dishes, sweep, use hand tools almost exclusively in our farm carpentering and maintenance projects, gather seeds, plant seeds in flats in the potting shed, "pot-on" our seedlings, transplant wild trees, hang clothes in the sun when we can -- all of which uses up precious time that could otherwise be spent sitting in front of a television.

And we like it better.

The downside will be that we don't see as much of people we like as maybe we'd like to do. However! Some of these will not want to "come over and help pull weeds." Some will think they'd like to do that but find out, in the process, that it's not really their thing. A few do find that this is a way they like to visit, yet we often discover we're a bit distracted and withdrawn while they're here; the fact is, we're something like hermits. We each want heaps of alone time, either working on our chores or having down time, or we want time together, as when stacking the wood. There has been so little of that, the doing of chores actually together, and we've really noticed of late that we're getting on in years.

I put on my gloves and take a chair down to the woodshed and begin laying a course of logs, perhaps sitting in the chair to avoid back strain. Then Beloved arrives with her own gloves and chair, and maybe a couple of glasses of homegrown mint tea, at about the time the row has reached knee height. She puts the tea and the chair in the shade and begins handing me the Douglas fir "sticks" -- each weighing five to fifteen pounds -- two at a time, which I place in the stack, with a rhythm which I once described to an acquaintance as "like playing Tetris." When we reach the ceiling of the woodshed and have tucked in the last bits on the top of the row, at about seven feet, we back out of the woodshed and the pile, remove our gloves, sit down side by side and drink the tea, murmuring over the profound work of art before us.

"Nice stack."


"Looks better than last year's."


"I love this stuff."

"Me too."

"We're only going to get to do this maybe twenty more times, though."

"If we're lucky."



Back in the house, later, the phone rings. It's my mom.

"Whatcha been doing?"

"Stacking wood."

"Oh, you poor things. Why don't you put in some gas, already?"


Related Posts with Thumbnails