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Friday, December 21, 2012

The End of Desire

Well, the darkest day of the year is upon us and I am feeling it literally and figuratively. Noel and I have been struggling since we arrived in Vermont. There's a definitive difference between being a visitor here and making a year-round home here. Those of us who have been enchanted by the gentle, rocky folds and furrows of the Green Mountains are easily beckoned here, but living here in the winter isn't for the faint of heart. You have to be prepared- you need a job that's close to if not in your own home, you need a small, super heat efficient home, you need a ton of wood, solar panels help, and a car with good snows and all wheel drive. Oh, and did I mention that legally being able to work in the country would be a good way to prepare? Yeah.

We have some of those things, but definitely not all. I have to say that in the middle of the summer, laying on a warm rock next to a spring-fed pond, staring up at the stars, belly full of organic veggies, raw milk and honey, Vermont seemed like the perfect place to be- and it was. On the other side of the Winter Solstice, we're learning a huge lesson: be prepared- over prepared. Be self sufficient. Own your own land and home. Live close to it. Save like that proverbial squirrel. Take out pet insurance. Don't trust strangers- even innocuous elderly strangers who seem like they couldn't hurt a fly.

There's an undertone to that first paragraph- of regret, of lessons learned too late, of idealization-turned-realization. Let's just say we were schooled here in Vermont and tonight, the shift from the growing weight of the dark to the glowing light of the growing sun, we are moving onto our next phase. Yes, we're moving- again. To safe, dry, warm and welcoming pastures- complete with free healthcare and jobs for all: Ontario. We're heading back home. We're calling this time here a "recon mission" so that we don't feel like absolute failures. I know, I know. We're not failures. Things happen, life happens. We feel chewed up and spit out, but humbly wiser.

One of the reasons that we decided to move on was because we lost one of our housemates- a 67 year old woman who shall remain nameless (because I can't be sure that the name she gave was even her real one, although I think it is based on a Google search.) Let's call her "Debra Jones". We made friends with Debra while wwoofing at the retreat center we were slated to take over caretaking in northern VT. She had been aggressively emailing our friends, the current caretakers, in response to a help wanted ad for an assistant to the master gardener. I remember our friend Denise talking about this woman who wanted the job, an academe from New Hampshire who was "on sabbatical" from her disability law job at a New England college and wanted a simpler life. Apparently she was so aggressive about interviewing for the position that one day, she just showed up, with the remainder of her life in the back of her Honda CRV.

Debra got the job- due to no small effort on her part- and quickly unpacked her belongings into a tiny 300 square foot cottage. She and Noel quickly made friends and I followed soon after, once we had established that we were both sick of our highly political university jobs. She came across as an oenophile, world traveler, educated and quick witted woman at the end of her career looking for simplicity and quiet. We bonded over bottles of good Oregonian wine (where she supposedly has a house, vineyard and llama farm), stories of our travels throughout the world, philosophy, and eventually the weird drama that usually ensues at a retreat center where all sorts of folks stop through on their way to their next free ride.

Noel and I left for Ontario after a lovely 2 week stay feeling we had gained a friend. We kept in touch over the summer and shared our plans to move to Vermont. As the day grew closer for us to move, we spoke with Debra about her next steps after the gardening gig was over in the autumn. She said that she was most likely going to move on, but would like to stay near her mother, a Jewish woman born in France (exactly like our friend Denise's mother, conveniently) who was currently living in Montreal. We mentioned how it would be nice to share a living space with her since she and we had become close, and she concurred.

Do you see what I'm getting at here? "Supposedly", "Conveniently", "Apparently"- these are all  adverbs that foreshadow impending untruth. I won't bore you with the whole story, but let's just say that there was a woman living in our home that we realized we knew nothing about.

Ok, I'll bore you- just a little, for posterity.

I felt red flags pop up from time to time during wine-soaked conversations in which she would slip up and tell a story two, sometimes three different ways. First her mother lived in California and played a round of golf every day, then she lived in Montreal and wintered in Hawaii. She had three PhD's and later it was five. She was a Francophone but that quickly developed into speaking five languages fluently, including Cantonese. At the beginning of our friendship she had a "partner" and was a graduate of Berkley, then she was married to a Senegalese Thoracic surgeon who she met while attending Yale. Then her story shifted and she didn't meet her husband until much later in life while living in Oregon.

She moved in to our apartment and left the very next day to visit a friend in an ashram, saying she'd be back three days later with the rent money she still owed us. Seven days later we wondered where she was and became worried. Finally she sent a cryptic email that simply said "Sorry for not being in touch sooner- death in the family. Be back soon." Apparently, her Senegalese Thoracic Surgeon of a husband was working in the Sudan for Medecins Sans Frontieres and was killed while transporting a patient. Something didn't sit right in me with this. How could we ask a grieving woman for rent money? It was too convenient.

She told us so many stories that it was hard to remember them all, and we chalked our hesitancy to believe her on our own bad memories, or maybe we hadn't listened to her closely enough, or maybe it was the wine...

Almost a month had gone by, no rent to speak of and Noel and I feeling the fear of impropriety of asking a grieving woman for rent money wane. She became a recluse, a shadow of her former self, haunting our home like a spectre, rarely coming down from her room aside from getting the occasional item from the fridge. Her money was "tied up in Paris" where she and her husband shared an apartment. She said that until she could get to France to collect his remains and unfreeze their bank accounts she wouldn't have any cash. That was the last straw. The Google search ensued. I found nothing with a PhD after her name but did confirm that she worked for a college in New Hampshire, not as the high-level Director she said she was, but as the last wrung on the org structure of her department (no shame in that, but also not the truth.) No husband, no one by his name working for Medecins Sans Frontieres, no llama farm. Nothing. I found very little else about her, and still couldn't be totally sure that her name was "Debra Jones" until I added the word "Oregon" to the Google search. That's when the final nail in her coffin was hammered home for me. An obituary. Her mother- complete with a photo of a woman who looked exactly like her but 30 years older. She was neither alive nor in Montreal, nor was she Jewish. Not only had she not been born in France, her obituary proudly stated that she had never even stepped foot out of Oregon.

There were a period of days where Noel and I were dumbfounded and to be honest, a little afraid. There was a person living in our home, rent free, who we realized that not only did we know nothing about, but who had been actively and very creatively lying to us. What could she be capable of? Was she going to steal from us? Hurt us or our animals? Kill us in our sleep? When the mystery of someone's intentions becomes a blank slate, anything is possible. We finally confronted her- in the early morning. I think she must have known, I feel like she listened in on a phone conversation I had with our common friend Denise, because that morning she got up at 4am and chanted for about 2 hours. Very loudly. She lied through the whole thing. It was like peeling off layers of lies. She would come clean about certain things but play dumb on others. She absolutely denied that her mother lived in Oregon, that she had just visited her in Montreal that weekend, but when it came down to it, she relinquished her false grip on reality and admitted that she had dug herself deep into a hole of lies with many people and was simply a 67 year old woman who "still can't get her shit together."

She left about a month ago. We continued to struggle- with the stress of a job that is completely not right for me, with the sadness and stress of Penelope's health crisis, with the loss our our sweet DaphneCat and the additional loss of a great deal of money due to a technical glitch. All roads were pointing home to Ontario, but we tried like hell to figure it out. I found another job, but it was far away from where we lived and couldn't find housing. I lost my job here in Waitsfield. Time is ticking away for Noel as a Canadian visitor and the funds we saved to apply for his green card were long gone, spent on vet bills. I've never been so broke in my life.

A friend, an old colleague really, from my previous position at McMaster, called the other night and offered me a job managing a new traditional healing center she's opening on the Rez up on Six Nations. Not only did she offer me a job, she offered me a pet-friendly home with all utilities and rent paid for. It may not be Vermont, but we'll take it! So, we're heading back to Ontario, to our community, to regroup and save. Noel is going back to school there and I'll probably join him in the fall. If there's one thing I've learned about being Native- we take care of each other. My mother and grandparents always made room at our dinner table, or in our basement, for someone in need. No questions asked, no stories told. I felt horrible about Debra, knowing that she needed a safe place to stay warm. She ultimately made the choice to leave, not us. The weight of her lies was too heavy - it thickened the air to the point where no one in our house could breathe. I'm not blaming her for our departure- I feel that was already written in the stars for us- but I do take a huge lesson from this experience. Unfortunately, it's one of trust and not meting it out without care and consideration.

I think I needed to get through this dark part of our story to feel the light that's coming today. The Debra thing is and will always be a mystery to us and I kind of like it that way. We can make up our own story about her. If you've read this far, I thank you for listening and not judging. If I know you, I appreciate your compassion and support. If I don't know you I thank you just the same. This experience, this time here in the Green Mountains, it's been magical and beautiful and a lesson that everything is a little weirder in Vermont. People can be themselves here more than other places- which is why so many crazies as well as real, authentic folks like us feel called here. We're taking that home with us- that authenticity. We'll find raw milk and organic veggies and sustainable building techniques in Ontario- it might not be as easy to find as here, but it's there if we want it. It's everywhere- we just need to create it. What I've learned is that if we want our world to feel more whole, more green, more conscious, then we need to become more whole, more green and more conscious. Like the wisdom that I've shared so many other times from the Charge of the Goddess: "... you who seek to know Me, know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without. For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and I am That which is attained at the end of desire."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Strange Waters

Strange Waters

I've seen a high cairn kissed by holy wind
Seen a mirror pool cut by golden fins
Seen alleys where they hide the truth of cities
The mad whose blessing you must accept without pity  

I've stood in airports guarded glass and chrome
Walked rifled roads and landmined loam
Seen a forest in flames right down to the road
Burned in love till I've seen my heart explode

You've been leading me Beside strange waters

Across the concrete fields of man
Sun ray like a camera pans
Some will run and some will stand
Everything is bullshit but the open hand

You've been leading me Beside strange waters
Streams of beautiful lights in the night
But where is my pastureland in these dark valleys?

If I loose my grip, will I take flight?

You've been leading me Beside strange waters
Streams of beautiful lights in the night
But where is my pastureland in these dark valleys?

If I loose my grip, will I take flight?

Bruce Cockburn

I'm not sure why I'm posting a blog based on this song. I guess it's because it's both musically and lyrically SO evocative; brooding and yet somehow hopeful.
I think that's me lately: brooding and yet somehow hopeful.

We have dealt with so much since coming here and it has really tested me at times.
  • The move was punctuated by the fervently unhappy sound of felines and hills that threatened to stall our vehicle.
  • We lost one of our family members, our sweet Daphne cat, to the uncaring Highway 100.
  • Our big dog Penelope ended up being worse off than we thought and needed to have her leg removed to stop the cancer. I'm so glad she is well now.
  • We've had such tight times with money.
  • I've wrestled with my sense of identity and purpose and self-worth.
  • We are having to deal with a housemate that has a largely fictitious sense of reality. We are striving to make her come back and remove all her things.
  • We have sought and sought for places that allow people with pets to rent.
I was talking to Stephanie last night and wondering if this is what pioneers feel like?

Bruce recounts all the things he's seen and asks where his pastureland is, amidst the dark valleys. He wonders if he should loosen his grip, will he take flight? Will he be swept away?

I guess I wonder the same thing at times.

I recall a picture I saw online somewhere. Here, let me share it:

...well, I DO believe that.

Before this adventure, I knew that it was going to be an adventure and it's been that for sure.
I have to remember that adventures are by their very nature, often frightening things. The adventurer sets off after something and along the way is caused to suffer at times and break open. How else can the caterpillar emerge as the butterfly if it doesn't undergo this transformation?

I find myself wrung out and feeling spent at times and know only that if I don't keep treading water and/or swimming, then I will surely sink.
I will have none of that.

Sometimes I feel like I need to hold on tight to something...anything, to try and retain my sense of security at the uncertain times.
This reminds me of how fruitless it is to be grasping. Buddhists speak of not grasping, trying to hold onto ANYTHING because EVERYTHING is impermanent.

So, I see now why I gravitate toward this song right now. I am amazed and in awe of all the things I have seen and experienced thus far in my life; all the things that have led me to where I am right now.
I see myself grasping and trying to hold on in this flurry of circumstances and I ask myself, if I loose my grip, will I take flight?

Isn't that what I want...to emerge from my constraining chrysalis, spread my wings, loose my grip and take flight?

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I want to share this amazing music with you guys. I met Miranda Rondeau when she performed a beautiful song for us on her 18" snared frame drum as a part of the opening ceremony of the Gaia Festival, a labor of love that my dear friend Kris and I partnered on back in 2007 & 2008. Miranda is a gentle, quiet and compassionate woman who transforms into a sumptuous, grounded, flowing and powerfully decisive Goddess when she picks up her frame drum and finds her voice. I remember sharing our stories of how we found the frame drum that weekend in California. We both were inspired by the same woman, Layne Redmond, to begin learning and working with the frame drum. Miranda had taken one of Layne's workshops some years earlier and I took Layne's "Bee Priestess Frame Drum Training" at the Kripalu Institute- and both of our worlds were opened. Miranda, of course, has excelled from a student to a teacher. I'm still learning. Enjoy.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Life: It Gets in the Way.

Life has been moving faster than I can keep up with lately. I'm being pulled, pushed, scrunched and squished into making decisions and just plan "dealing" with stuff because of massive deadlines and emergent issues. As of my last post, we had lost our housing with no viable alternative with an exit date in our current place of November 1st; and had just dealt with the immediate and necessary amputation of our dog's leg to save her life.

Fast forward a week. If you could see my life fast forwarded in Guy-Ritchie-esque mode right now, you would see something like this: chop! ouch! tears... scary haunted house! ooooh nice house but too expensive... batten down hatches for Hurricane Sandy... tears... oh, that was a big bust (for us)... asshole landlord didn't like cats... tears... housemates now an option! perfect house! infection... crazy dreams... tears... TODAY.

So, basically, we found a house, lost the house, found another (really haunted) house, decided we'd rather live in our car than have to live in that house, found another house that was the perfect fit, but when we went to put a deposit down on the house the landlord acted like a total dick and professed his absolute loathing hatred of cats (we have 3) so we were back to square one. All this with ONE day to go.

Luckily, a wonderful woman reached out and extended the offer to rent a lovely condo unit in a community called Prickly Mountain. It's a community full of crazy houses designed by crazier people. Perfect. It's expensive, so we're sharing it with two friends. I'm sure that at some point I'll share more on the experience, but so far we've all gotten along and have discussed boundaries and responsibilities. It wasn't something I envisioned, sharing a home with people I don't feel comfortable walking around naked in front of, but hey- at least it's not haunted!

Penelope is bouncing back pretty quickly. She went from being depressed and not eating to jumping up when she hears food being dished out and wants to sit smack dab in our laps again. She has a surface infection that hopefully will go away with antibiotics and frequent ice packs, but other than that our grrrl's life expectancy has increased from 3 painful months to possible multiple pain-free years.

I keep meaning to write more about my experience of living here in the Mad River Valley, but life keeps getting in the way. Maybe that's what I need to write about. Maybe the name of this blog should be "Life: It Gets in the Way." It's not that I didn't realize that being a tourist in a place is very different from living in that area, but a part of me thought I'd have more time to actually enjoy the amazingly beautiful land and community we're surrounded by. I do have some photos and experiences that I will share more on as things settle down. I don't want this blog to serve as a venting tool only.

The one thing this week that has really touched me and made me realize that we're all in this together- that we are not alone- is the amazing generosity of the friends, family and friends of friends and family who have given to Penny's vet bills fund. I didn't expect such an outpouring of heartfelt generosity from people! Someone I don't even know gave a huge gift! And some friends that I absolutely know have no money gave what they felt they could afford. That touched me more than I can articulate in a blog post right now. If I could give a huge hug to each one of you that's contributed, re-posted on your Facebook pages, forwarded emails, called, stopped by the house, I would. Maybe one day. But for now, you'll have to take my virtual love.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Eye of the Storm

So, it's been a crazy week. I've been trying to find the time to stay sane during the tsunami of changes that have occurred since I last posted. I'm absolutely exhausted, but feel the need to vent- and share- what has been pulling me away from finding the time to not only blog, but eat, shower, hell, even just laugh.

We moved here last month on a wing and a prayer- sold most of our stuff, I quit my cushy job in academia, left a country that offers free health care to stay in Vermont and get an education in Sustainable living. Noel planned on going to Yestermorrow Design Build School and I planned on learning by proxy.

Well, you know what They say about "best laid plans" and all...

We landed at a sweet little apartment in Hancock, VT. Tiny, but sufficient for our needs. Then our dog Penelope started limping. She had a little strange limp in Ontario but it went away after the vet gave her some meds and all our plans went back on schedule. We made a 2 day journey with a U-haul, fleabag motel stopover in bumblef%$# nowhere, and got here relatively unscathed. Then the limp came back. We went to a wonderful vet here in VT- Vermont Integrative Veterinary Associates (VIVA) who combine Holistic and Western medicine. They concurred with the previous vet's findings that Penny had a ligament injury that would need a LONG time to heal. They suggested- almost insisted- that we find a place on a first floor since Penny hadn't been able to use her leg to help her up the stairs. So, we started searching for a place.

Do you know how hard it is to rent an apartment or house with 2 dogs, 4 cats, 2 guinea pigs and a snake? Of course you don't, because you're probably not bat shit crazy like we are.

We eventually found a place that seemed like it would work out for us- nothing special, but closer to my job and in a woodsy area. Hands were shaken, promises were made, money and dates were discussed. Notice was given to our current landlords who rented our apartment out immediately to some local folks.

When Noel went to meet our new landlord, he was met with a less-than-lovely surprise. Apparently, he was less than comfortable with the idea of cats and had a change of heart. "Too many cats.." he said as he shook his head. But... we gave notice! We're supposed to be out November 1st! No matter- he didn't care. Noel sent me an IM to let me know the bad news and went off to the vet to have Penny's leg X-ray done.

Three hours later, he came to get me from work and broke the news- she has Osteosarcoma. The hunch I had about her leg not healing right was more than a hunch. She has the C-word. (cancer) I whisper it- this word has impacted my life and taken too many of my loved ones from me in the past 3 years. First my mother, so unexpectedly and heartbreakingly in April of 2009. My dad followed her almost 2 months to the day- in June 2009. Our cat Butter, too. Noel has his own cancer dealings, too- his dad in 2008. Hell, we ALL have someone we know who has either battled, fought and survived or someone who valiantly fell. It's a constant fear for everyone, and a reality for too many people.

This week has been one of the most challenging weeks I've had since my parents passed away. The idea that we have less than a week to find shelter, well, that was enough. When Noel took Penny in for her lung x-ray today (to find out if the cancer had spread to her lungs) the challenge-ometer registered Tidal Wave proportions, at least for what I'm used to. They recommended immediate amputation. Not "let's get this scheduled for sometime next week" or even "we should do this in the next few days"... TODAY. To save her life, this sweet, dopy, gorgeous dog that wakes me up every morning with a kiss, we have to cut off her LEG- TODAY. We only had a few moments to let it sink in. What was I going to do? How can we even come up with the money? The vet was so kind- he is letting us pay over 4 months. It's still an unmanageable debt for us, but at least we have 4 months to come up with a way to raise the money. Freelance work, extra job, selling bath salts, maybe male stripping- it would all be worth saving our sweet grrrl.

So, as I type this a Tripawd doggie lays next to me, sleepily and painfully getting used to the missing leg that once caused her so much pain. A friend suggested I start a crowdfunding campaign, which I've done and shared all over. I have to say, this has made me really appreciate community, and made me so grateful for what I DO have. I have a loving and amazing partner in life, I have loving and amazing family, awesome friends, a job that I appreciate more than I can tell you. But do you know what I really appreciate more than anything right now? That big old tongue waking me up in the morning...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Just a little bit...

This isn't going to be a long blog entry.

I don't feel like I have a lot to say today.  I guess I should be finishing dishes and putting away clothes and entertaining animals and such things.

I am. I will again soon, I am just taking a small break.

Today I feel kind of vulnerable and a little bit lonely.
I don't have a lot of daily routine these days and I know that that's a lot of why I feel this way.
I don't expect anybody to 'make things all better for me' or anything like that. I know I need to find more productive and more fulfilling ways to use my time.

I'm a bit bored and a bit blue feeling today.

I want to be perfectly clear that I'm not writing this to garner sympathy and I'm not feeling sorry for myself per se.

My wife is a busy woman and a very hard worker. I love her dearly. She is a source of comfort for me lately. She is necessarily gone all day and it's a long day.

Our living situation is not yet finalised. It should be soon.

These things make me feel uncertain and lonely sometimes; there's a fair feeling of uncertainty in me lately and I just happened to remember that I'm part of a blog wherein I can record my thoughts and feelings and know I need no approval-I'll not be judged. For that, I am grateful.

Thank you self, for taking the time to record my thoughts and feelings. Thank you reader(s?) for reading my words.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Passing Through the Iris of the World

That's what I'm listening to right now as I sit and type this after a long couple of weeks. "The Iris of the World" by Bruce Cockburn. My husband Noel introduced me to Bruce Cockburn, who I had never really heard of, aside from being the dude from the 80's that made the Bare Naked Ladies famous. Noel has introduced me to more interesting music in the past three years than anyone I've thus far had the pleasure to know. He isn't loyal to any specific genre or era, rather, he sees beauty and skilled craftsmanship in things that, until now, I had only listened to with closed ears. (ie: I've never been a fan of classic rock and had completely written off Pink Floyd until watching the Dark Side of Oz with him.) He hears music for music and he's helped me listen to music like it's something that was just created yesterday.

Music shaped him. It shaped us separately and as a couple. It has worn a meandering and deeply-carved path through our lives as they've continued to entwine over the years. When we lived apart, in 2 different countries, during the hot, passionate, longing, newly-formed-star of our relationship, Noel would send me lyrics. I knew that he was trying to say something that he couldn't articulate any other way. I gratefully received those words and felt this thread in my core pulling me into loving him. To being in love with him.

His musical taste was (and still is) confusing and totally different than what I'm used to. We have some overlap with similar likes and dislikes, but his taste goes far and wide where mine is pretty linear and defined. I have a long-running and deep-seeded relationship with Jazz but also have a complex relationship with the indie hipster world of "new music." We're both percussionists, which connected us at first. When I first met him I totally misjudged him by his eccentric appearance and age and grouped him in with the Hipsters. Now that I know him I know that Slim Gaillard's "Chicken Rhythm" impresses him more than Pavement's "Shady Lane." One day he'd send me the lyrics to some mysterious, deep song and the next day it would be "Venus as a Boy"- such a playful and sexy song! My heart skipped a proverbial and literal beat. My knees went weak. My pulse raced. I would drive and drive and listen to Kurt Elling's homage to John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, "Dedicated to You", and let the sheer force of new love fill me, leaving no room for the pain and sadness that formed the undercurrent of my life during those first days.
I feel like I wasted a lot of my life trying to keep myself in this confined understanding of what the world is or should be. To listen through my judgement and stay open to an experience, that was something that came with growing up. I once worked with a guy who said that he never listened to music for emotional impetus. It seemed like such a foreign and grown-up thing to say. I never fully understood that. Now that I'm an adult I gather that he was most likely using the mask of postmodern detachment to protect himself from being hurt.

What I love about Noel's love of music is that it has paved the way for my ears to open up to the present. He finds deep joy in music and loves listening to joyous music. It's a liberating feeling to allow one's self to experience joy! I grew up in the jaded Goth/Grunge days when the more demotivated and bored you were, the cooler you were. Joy isn't something I felt comfortable with. It seemed too sappy, too gluttonous, too naive. Siouxsie Sioux wasn't happy, and dammit, neither was I. As I've aged, grown wiser, gotten happier, I've let the joy start to seep into the cracks in my life. Music is a great vehicle for that. EnJOY!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

What's In A Handshake?

I can't vote here in the United States, although if I could, I'd think about voting for Emily Peyton.

Who is she? She's a gubernatorial candidate in Vermont.  Here is the link to her website:


Take a moment and have a look at it. Especially, notice the sparkles radiating from her right hand.
Pretty fancy, eh?

I met her on the weekend ever so briefly. She must have been out campaigning and showed up to talk to the innkeepers here. I got introduced to her.

Here is a woman who I heard on Vermont Public Radio (VPR). She has notions that I think might be considered radical by some, but by others they might seem like notions that are long overdue.
Particularly, she is very much about causing a resurgence in the use of industrial hemp as an alternative to oil. In fact, fossil oil was once the alternative to hemp and flax seed oils.

Here is a list of links that she has on her site and they include GMO labelling; global warming; Ford's hemp car.


I think that sometimes people propose ideas that others might find scary or think unusual just because these ideas don't conform to what many of us have become used to thinking. Her thoughts on hemp and cannabis probably scare those who are not informed at all about this plant's benefits. I think Vermont would be a place that could truly benefit from such thinking and could bear the torch and lead the way for others.

Well, I got to shake her hand. I extended my right arm and she extended her right arm (you know, the one with the sparkles emanating from it on her website) and our hands came together in a nice, conventional seeming handshake. That's where I thought it would end. The old ONE STAGE clasping of hands and a shake. Imagine my surprise when, as I went to conclude the handshake, she proceeded to  the SECOND AND THIRD stages of the 'cool' kind of handshake.

If you don't know this one, it doesn't necessarily mean you aren't cool. The complete shake goes like this:

1) begins with usual hand shake grip
2) both hands then sort of swing downward so that the fingers are now grasping the back of each others thumbs
3) then as the shake concludes, the fingers sort of slide along each others hands toward the fingertips as if to say, 'Yeah, you're cool man! I can dig it!'

Like I say, if you know this handshake, you'll recognise it immediately and appreciate it like I did.

I told Stephanie about our introduction and handshake and then actually did the handshake with her and Stephanie grinned and said she thought that was really cool.

I showed my neighbour and he said he wished that had happened to him.

I'm not really that political but I can see when someone wants to affect a change and has progressive ideas and I think this woman is someone like that. I can't vote here in the United States, although if I could, I'd think about voting for Emily Peyton.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Journey

Autumn in the Mad River Valley, Vermont.
This is my first post, the first of many posts, on this new blog. It's a work in progress I share with my husband Noel, a wonderful Canadian man, whose astute vibrancy and gentle spirit can't be contained by mere mortals (nor should it be)!!! We decided to put together something that could serve as a document of our lives and experiences as two people who are constantly surrendering, learning, growing, loving and, yes, eating! Come here if you want to read all about our lives, what we love, what fills our souls, what we're afraid of, what makes us happy, what brings tears of love and confusion to our eyes, our hopes, our dreams, our pasts and what we learned from them, all sorts of lists of what fills our minds, hearts and hands. There's no formula for this process, no concept or deliverable we need to fulfill. It's a creative outlet, a way to share a bit of our life.

I put a lot of my own time and effort into designing this, as I did with my other, now-defunct, blog. I take such pleasure in the design process, from the planning and visualization to the collaboration of my aesthetic with Noel's, to the final curseword-filled coding process. Anyone who reads this for more than a season will notice the constant shifts and changes of the visual structure of this site. It's a mirror for our lives, an amalgamation of both Noel's as well as my own visual "branding", so I want it to look like it! Never the same, never static, always changing, but with integrity and wholeness.

Sharing a blog with someone is a new experience. Noel has his voice and I have my voice. I'm sure it will take some time to get into the groove of writing for a public ear again, but we both thought it would be a great way to share all these amazing experiences we've been having with our friends, families and like-hearted people out there who might appreciate the journey we've been on and continue to walk together, hand in hand.

The name of the blog, "Deeper Into the World", comes from a poem by Mary Oliver (a poet introduced to me by my dear friend Kateri) entitled "The Journey." It speaks to the sometimes-uncomfortable catalyst from which growth and change occur, and that final ripping-off-of-the-bandaid of life, when you start living for the sake of living versus living for the sake of what others might think of or need from you. There was a moment for both of us when we finally knew that we needed to stop listening to everyone else and start listening within. We needed to stop treading water. I have craved to live a fully-authentic life (as much of a catch-phrase as that has become, it's still a valid need!) for most of my existence. I kept this poem in and around me for years, wondering who these people were who could fully live their lives, never dreaming that it could be me! Enjoy the poem, and enjoy sharing in our journey- delving deeper and deeper into the world.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save. 

- Mary Oliver

So, here I am-over here now.

For any readers who have never lived somewhere else other than where they were born and raised, these musings might seem odd to you or kind of abstract to understand.

Here I find myself in the US-of-A as of late and I'm discovering that being here is more of a change than I thought it would be. Let me explain. In so many ways, the USA and Canada are quite similar (both are primarily yet not exclusively anglophone nations; both drive on the right-hand side of the road). In other ways they are quite different (health care seems to jump quite often to the top of this list; proliferation of firearms-that sort of thing).

These things are quite easy to notice and are certainly valid, but aren't the sorts of things I'm talking about right now. I'm speaking of the feeling I get if I go for a short walk to the post office to mail something and find myself walking down a roadway that I only barely know and since only recently. I pass by houses that just seem to give off a different feeling than houses I am more used to seeing. I speak with people who sometimes just want to say hello to me and that's such a refreshing thing.

Verily, I could travel to other provinces in Canada and visit those places, and while there would still be a similar feeling of novelty in my surroundings, I'd still be in a place that was by and large, like many to most of the kinds of folks I've grown up knowing. What I love about being in this environment is that this is a subtle feeling. Let's see a show of hands for all of you who like and appreciate subtlety?

I firmly believe that on some great and fundamental level, that all humans are more or less the same-it's in our genetic diversity (which recent studies seem to suggest isn't actually all  that diverse anyhow). Culturally, we start to see the differences. These could be shocking and maybe difficult to accept in some case, or as in my case, very subtle.

Sometimes I think of myself with the label 'Canadian abroad' and that turns up the volume on the pleasure I get savoUring all these differences. Other times, it never even occurs to me to do this.

Every day is a joy and every day is filled with new things to appreciate and sometimes new hurdles over which to leap.


Did I say leap or leaf? Speaking of which, the leaves around here are just gorgeous right now and I'm so glad to be alive!!

Thanks for reading. I'll talk to you again.