Archived Posts from this Category

NaPoWriMo Second Post

Posted by on 02 Apr 2017 | Tagged as: citizenship, climate, education, environment, NaPoWriMo

in school
we were taught
to say but not to follow
the golden rule

we learned
clear speech and calculations
invented histories
concise writing and
we yearned

for connection
between textbooks
our lives in boxes
but always looking
outward, forward, ahead

the land
sea, air, forests
dying slowly or quickly
taking a stand

for justice
for meaning in a life
once started
should be lived
with care

we studied not
the golden rule
but the laws of supply
and demand
of grasp and take

the land
sea, air, forests
dying slowly or quickly
taking a stand

in school
we were taught
to say but not to follow
the golden rule

[for more poetry, check out the NaPoWriMo website with links to thousands of participants! This link opens a new tab in your brower.]

In charge of change (another delayed post)

Posted by on 21 Feb 2016 | Tagged as: children, citizenship, climate, economy, editorial, environment, hope, Making a Difference, musings, politics, Politics and War, Uncategorized

The orginal post was almost finished in January 2009. Here is the original, and how I would finish it now:

It seems to me that a lot of the time people expect government to step in and do clean-up, not matter what the troubles, whether big or small. And it seems to me that, sometimes, government just isn’t equipped to do things especially quickly, or in small doses that might be effective before things reach a crisis state.

Now, I believe we are facing a crisis. And I don’t believe that the crisis is “not as bad as” the one we faced in the Great Depression; or the Cold War; or any of a number of Capital-Letter Events this nation and the world have faced. I believe this crisis is unique and will have far-reaching, long-ranging effects. I don’t know that there is anything particularly special or noteworthy about the crisis other than:

  • millions of people around the world are losing their jobs with little hope or prospect of finding a new one with similar (presumably livable) conditions soon.
  • the climate is changing and there are other conditions making agriculture difficult over large areas, causing crop failure and famine for millions of people, with the predictable political upheaval and conflict.
  • posturing and saber-rattling by military and para-military forces around the world, not unlike that before world war one, and world war two, the cold war… and every war and conflict.

It isn’t any one particular scruffy-looking person on a street corner that indicates homelessness is increasing. It isn’t any one particular “For Sale” sign on a street the indicates the failure of banks. It isn’t any one bank failure that indicates economic melt-down.

It isn’t any one particular event that indicates wide-spread disaster, no more than any one particular monsoon or melting glacier doesn’t indicate global warming is occuring (I hope that I don’t need to explain that global warming is happening?).

The signs of increasing homelessness were my first clue that the economy was in bad shape — and getting worse. Naively, I thought government was keeping tabs on things and would somehow have things in place to avert total disaster. Just as I, naively, expected the military to be able to effect winning campaigns.

Of course, I thought the military would have sufficient support from the bureaucrats who ordered them into battle. And I supposed that the regulatory commissions in charge of finances had the resources and rules in hand to avert the kind of disaster that followed the greedy policies prior to the Wall Street crash of 1929.

Naive. Yes. Perhaps wishful thinking as well — wanting to not have to be responsible or reactive to things not immediately under my control. Going about my own business, doing what I was supposed to do. Noticing of course that there were more people on street corners, that food banks were running low, that more houses were for sale for longer… and I noticed these things before they were on the news. Did I stick my head in the sand? Did I expect too much of my elected government? Did I fail to meet my own obligations?

Like a peasant who expected the liege lord to be sure that enough of the tithes and rents and fees were put aside in case of disaster; I have found instead that those relief supplies were long-since consumed by the departing denizens of the manor-house as they hosted others of similar means. Regardless of the origin of the crisis, the peasant children starve, people die. Though good intentions may now take hold, the new lord lacks the resources to contribute in any meaningful way to alleviate the suffering.

The government finds itself in a similar situation today. Though we have a new president, administration, and the legislative branch is also updated, there is little that remains for them to do.

So what are WE, whether peasants or higher-ranking vassals, going to do?

We can choose to //

I suspect that when I finish a post in mid-sentence that I was called away for kid-duty.

In the case of this post, perhaps it was also related to the hip issues I was having that year, or the class I was taking.

I would now alter the term “global warming” to the more accurate, and less-likely to be misinterpreted climate change. The rest pretty well represents my thinking, and, sadly, how prescient I was.

We are seeing the effects of governments’ lack of action in a world-wide, drawn-out recession that seems to stall each time some progress is made. Strange weather patterns of drought, extra precipitation, heat, cold, and winds are becoming more common. Low-lying nations are ravaged by combinations of higher tides and more violent storms. As I finish this post in February 2016 (seven years later), Fiji is recovering from a direct hit from a Category 5 cyclone. The overall U.S. Economy has recovered from the deep economic woes of the past decade, but by creating lower-wage and part-time jobs that keep the poor in their place and benefit the rich and powerful. Those of us who have been “middle class” are less and less likely to have extra for things like savings accounts, visiting relatives who live at a distance…

Politicians, this being a presidential election year, refer frequently to helping the “middle class” which increasingly, by their metrics, includes families who are barely scraping by. And families earning a quarter million dollars a year. They rarely talk about working class people, or those who live in poverty while working more than full-time hours at multiple jobs.

Finally teaching, I see the effects of twenty-plus years of misguided political directives on my students. In the failed refusal to support young families by means other than the barest minimums; by failures to fully fund education (Washington state legislators, I am pointing this finger at you); by ignoring overseas hostilities and human rights violations until the issues turn into full-fledged war; and by an increasing disregard for the realities of life on our planet, in part because of irrational fears over science (or is it self-serving economics that makes these politicians work to protect fuel sources that damage the planet and fail to promote measures that heal?).

I am angry about this. My sons, now grown into fine young adults, are starting out in a world that reeks of protectionism, isolationism, racism, and secularism. The founders of our nation would be shocked to see the petty tyrants mow fighting for supremacy in our land. They would be, I think, appalled at the careless disregard for human life, for dignity, and for giving all people a fair shot at pursuing happiness.

So here we are, seven years on from the original post, and I am still wondering if the people of the United States have the fortitude to do what is necessary to take back our nation. Do we have the wisdom to make changes in our personal lives in spending/purchasing, work/career, civic duties?

I purchased a used hybrid car to make my commute of over 30 miles each way to save on gasoline even though it is a big chunk of my take-home pay. We recycle, even though hauling it to the curb twice a month is inconvenient (our driveway is longer than most yards!). We eat mostly locally grown, mostly organic foods that are expensive, but have a lighter footprint for fuel and carbon production. My peculiar allergies mean we purchase many things that come from a great distance but, where we can, we do choose local! We vote…

What can you do? What will you do?

{edited several times for typos due to composing on an ipad… ]

Today in the Garden

Posted by on 14 Jun 2015 | Tagged as: environment, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, seasons, Uncategorized

Today we were in the garden. Until about 1:30 in the afternoon, we worked slowly and steadily.

And it is starting to show!

One of the planters by the front door is now blooming nicely.

Not sure what types of rock flowers (succulents of some sort) these are, but I love the daisy-like blooms.

Not sure what types of rock flowers (succulents of some sort) these are, but I love the daisy-like blooms.

Tom and Grant built a lovely bench for me out of the reclaimed cement blocks that used to prop up our old house. There are more of these blocks — look for future installations!

The bench, partially completed, showing how they stacked the

The bench, partially completed, showing how they stacked the

I pruned back the St. John’s Wort a little bit, after Tom spent some time yesterday clearing the weeds from around it so I could see what needed shaping. I got a little too close in a couple places and it touched my face and skin, so I will be uncomfortable. At least I know what causes the rash, and so I am not as worried as the first time I reacted to it. Still, it looks a lot nicer than before and since we are actually living here again it will be easier to keep it shaped and manageable.

I started to pull some of the weeds from between the pavers in the front patio. It’s a constant, thankless job, but necessary. I cleared about 30 assorted aster-relatives, dock, and forget-me-nots. And noticed got distracted by the lovely pattern the table makes on the pavers when the sun shines…

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Passages: Billy Frank, Jr.

Posted by on 05 May 2014 | Tagged as: environment, passages, Uncategorized

It took many decades and incredible strength and determination to restore the treaty rights of native peoples in the Pacific Northwest so they can fish and hunt in their peoples’ “usual and accustomed” locations. Billy Frank, Jr. is one of the many who fought long and hard and took great personal risks to stand up for what is right.

He is not the only person who fought and suffered on behalf of the tribes, but he was a vivid reminder of all those who have come before and inspiration to all those who will come after. It was always less, it seemed to me, about him than it was about the future.

I honor his memory, and hope that my own life will transmit some of the values he taught: courage, honesty, and hope.

His passing marks the end of one era, and the beginning of a new one. I hope all the peoples of the Salish Sea can work together and live together as faithful and passionate stewards for future generations.


Posted by on 21 Sep 2013 | Tagged as: children, environment, Family Matters, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, house building, parenting, seasons, Uncategorized

Yesterday, it was raining rather hard by the time we got to the house in the evening. So, no pictures to accompany this post But…

There is progress. The wooden forms that used to hold the concrete in place are removed. Jeff, the concrete man, has scored the concrete (expansion joints to prevent random cracks as the material flexes through temperature changes), and put a sign up: Please do not walk on cement.

The fennel plant is finishing its bloom cycle for the year and the seeds are almost ready to harvest. I use fennel seed to make home-made sausage and other things, and sometimes just to nibble on. So although this can be a highly invasive plant, for me only one plant has survived over about 8 years and has never propagated as far as I know. I didn’t walk in our garden-garden yesterday (I was wearing my school clothes), but the orchard looks amazing. The Asian pear with the soft-ball sized fruit is finally (two years later) sending up a new leader, so I will prune back lower branches this autumn once the leaves are down.

Matthew is now up at Western Washington University, a college junior living in the dorms for the first time. It will be a good learning experience for him. We are hoping he will be able to focus on his studies. Next quarter, hopefully, my income will be enough to help supplement his financial aid. He is (I think) looking for work-study, and hopefully isn’t rejecting the kinds of tasks I did in college because the “don’t pay enough.” I wonder, when did I manage to teach my children that no job (earning absolutely nothing) is preferable to a job with low wages (earning something and building a reference for an even better job)?

Grant is looking forward to starting his college classes on Monday. I hope he has everything ready… I wish in so many ways that I were able to drop him off for his first day, but I know he’ll be fine. He’s a great kid. He needs to apply for jobs, but there is a job fair this coming week at the mall near our home, and perhaps he will find something there.

We’ll see. It is the time of the autumnal equinox, and the weather is definitely autumnal. We should get a nice big rainstorm over the next couple of days, and I will start thinking about apple pie filling and hot mulled cider and other delicacies. The wheel of the year is turning, and the six months since the fire are behind us. A few more months, a couple more seasons, and we should again be home on the land we have cultivated and loved for so long.

Today in my garden

Posted by on 13 Aug 2013 | Tagged as: environment, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, hope, house building, Uncategorized

A long time since I had a post like this.

The plants on the mound are hanging in there. Among the tall, dry grasses are signs of the secret garden waiting to emerge.

The rosa rugosa on the mound, bright vermillion blooms atop lanky, thorny limbs.

The rosa rugosa on the mound, bright vermillion blooms atop lanky, thorny limbs.

Somewhere in all this, a large fennel and my lovely pink rose that makes its own nosegays.

Somewhere in all this, a large fennel and my lovely pink rose that makes its own nosegays.

And further up the hill, behind my lovely chestnut, cedar and elderberries…

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Thirteen years…

Posted by on 20 Jun 2013 | Tagged as: environment, Family Matters, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, hope, housefire, parenting, social justice, Uncategorized

Almost fourteen years ago now, the house was placed in the yard (September 1999). I planted trees in front and on the sides the following Spring. Flower beds in front the year after that, if I remember correctly. And gradually the yard and the home took shape. A few years into the process, I started recording the changes here, in the A Garden View page under the About tab.

Now, the house is being removed. Where there was a home, there is now only memory.

Memory, and hope. Monday morning, bright and sunny, the house still stood, but not for long.

Just before it all started...

Just before it all started…

And in the middle of the day… the roof gone, the interior exposed, the bulk of our lives in tatters.

the power box remains standing, the view through what was our bedroom wall

the power box remains standing, the view through what was our bedroom wall

And toward the end, the excavator in what was Matthew’s room. The remains of our lives together were piled high in dump trucks.

even the floors were torn out, and the foundations

even the floors were torn out, and the foundations

In a few weeks, with luck, we will have begun the process of rebuilding for real. We will have approval from the county, and from the bank, for a home that has more than enough space. We will have space to gather, to linger, to grow old.

the house elevations, as planned

the house elevations, as planned

I have a garden still, and that will have to do for now. Do the children understand how important it is that we have space for them? Do they understand how hard it has been, to work for so long, only to start again?

They are about to begin their own lives, and in the beginning when everything is incremental and one is responsible only for oneself, it feels much simpler. The idea that beginning now means we will be well past middle age when all this is resolved seems horrible to them.

It’s not easy, but it’s possible. We have lived through difficult times, and even now, thinking about a new thirty year mortgage it’s daunting. But we have made it this far.

The anchor of “home” will give us what we need to go a little farther.

my garden, and my darling Tom -- all that I need to be happy

my garden, and my darling Tom — all that I need to be happy

Rainbows and pots of gold

Posted by on 17 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: climate, environment, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, hope, rain, seasons, Uncategorized, weather

We get rain here. A lot. And frequently. It is rarely torrential, thankfully, but it leaves us feeling soggy a good bit. Because our rain exists as a “state of being” for months at a time, rainbows are fairly uncommon most times of the year. When they do show up, they can be hard to see behind the trees and the hills.

Gold, on the other hand, is abundant this time of year. We have red-gold catkins on the alders, lingering tawny gold grasses from last year’s autumn, a greenish-gold hint of color on the ends of the maples and willows, and wherever humans have settled, mounds of yellow-gold that cascades across lawns and hills.

It’s daffodil season!

A quick run through the garden on Friday yielded an abundance of colorful – and golden – opportunities to see the season changing in the moment.
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March: in like a lamb… (for the Salish Sea)

Posted by on 03 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: climate, environment, Family Matters, fun, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, rain, science, seasons, Uncategorized, weather

Friday night when I got home I noticed a pair of daffodils almost blooming by the edge of the driveway. Yesterday, they were in bloom, and today they have been joined by some of the daffodils under the medlar.

There have been several years when our weather was contrary to the weather in other parts of the country, this one seems more extreme for some reason. We have had “spring like” weather for the last two months. Back in the middle and eastern sections of North America, it is cold, with 2 monster storms since November, and moderate storms filling in the gaps. The hardship of last summer’s drought is now being matched by the hardship of this winter’s blizzards and extreme cold.
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Three weeks in…

Posted by on 03 Feb 2013 | Tagged as: climate, education, Education Professional, environment, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, seasons, teaching, Uncategorized

I have just finished planning for the fourth week of my tenure in 7th grade. I had a series of very long, difficult days in the past two weeks. Conferences with parents and students who are at risk of not being able to go on to 8th grade. Learning a little bit more about how to reprimand students before sending them to the office. New students coming in, other students leaving (short-timer syndrome was rampant this week, NOT easy to deal with!). I am trying to leave the school no later than 4:30 or 5, but a couple of nights I was past 8 pm.

It’s the sort of thing new teachers do, planning. Working longer hours to refine and recraft. Thinking about what would work better, trying to find resources to make the learning stick quicker and last longer. Considering the best methods to reach various students. Trying something, and then trying something else. I am enjoying most of it, and realizing that I need to set limits. So on Friday, I left as soon as I had the classroom in order, all the materials that needed grading, filing and sorting in my bags to go home.

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