Archive for the ‘peace’ Category

Observations on Our Co-op

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

The Co-op (The People’s Food Co-op in Ann ARbor Michigan) is in a bit of a mess and confusion. Which is not anything new. I’ve been off the board for about 4 years, and have been mostly an observer. Although I do step in every once in a while to serve on a committee, as well as I’ve been called for advice and an historical perspective.
Previously, I was on the board for nine years and served three years as President. Not consecutive years. I also served as Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. I’ve been a decades long volunteer.
A few years ago we added up the time I had spent volunteering for the co-op and it was as if I had worked there full time for a year.
So I do have a few observations on the current state of the co-op. These issues are of course intertwined.

Here are a few opinions.

The board has been less than honest with the membership about the state of the co-op, and how much money we are losing. The board should be letting members know that we are in trouble. Not letting the membership know that we have been and continue to lose money is wrong, and also dangerous. It is the membership that can pull us out of this downturn, and the membership should be directly called on to be involved with saving the co-op. The silence and side stepping is bizarre. And may be the primary thing that brings the co-op to its termination.

The vote to unionize takes place tomorrow, Friday. I honestly don’t know if this would be a good or bad thing for the workers and for the co-op. And my opinion isn’t going to make any difference. What I can say is that there was a chance to do this with kindness. With dignity. With honesty and a great process. That hasn’t happened. There was no need to surprise the board with the news. And there was no need to make it personal, with direct personal attacks against the General Manager.
I worked for more focus on staff and having a great work environment as well as better wages and benefits. I’ve seen the progress in fits and starts. I also know that the staff having trouble with management has been a long term theme for our co-op. I believe the path to resolution includes a lot of listening, and a lot of kindness. A lot of the board supporting the GM and making sure they have the resources to work well with staff, and careful professional monitoring to make certain that happens. A union may help the co-op through a maturation process. It may also create an even more divisive atmosphere that will harm relationships and make financial recovery even more difficult.
We need to support the legal process required with a vote to unionize, and I ask everyone to be as kind, thoughtful, and aware as possible. That includes reviewing history and learning from previous mistakes as well as building on success.
I think unions are good things. They also change the culture of the workplace environment. Let’s see more kindness and compassion during and after this process. And I hope the vote is an informed vote balancing the staff needs with the stark financial reality that has been obfuscated unnecessarily.

The Co-op is once again without a permanent General Manager. This is a really painful place to be, and is hard on everyone. Thankfully there is policy and plans in place for this situation. And previously our staff have really pitched in to make things work in the interim. It is a total distraction for the board to go through a hiring process. Focus on long term plans, expansion, and pretty much everything else is set aside. It is essential for the board to get help during this time. I’m less and less confident of the board (not just this board but every board including when I was part of the board) having the skill to go through this process and to make good decisions – especially when a long term plan is still missing and without recent membership surveys and input. After my experience with the hiring process, I don’t think the board is qualified to be guiding this process. I believe the consultants from the co-op world, who have experience and expertise, should be heavily utilized at every step of the process. I also now believe the decision making should be shared by board, staff, and members. Without a clear direction and financial stability this is more important than ever.

A lot of people have been chewed up and spit out working for the Co-op. I’m sp very sad about this legacy.This just needs to stop. Moving forward, I would seriously ask the players to continually ask “how can this process be kinder?” “how can we benefit the most people?” “is there a kinder and more inclusive way to do this?” and “how can we empower the people involved and make sure everyone is informed?”

Those are the questions I would hope people will ask, the people who I am entrusting to make decisions that at this point will allow People’s Food Co-op to thrive or to die.

Being political – learning to listen

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

I invited an anti-abortion “rescue” activist to speak to a class I taught at Community High School. This was many years ago but it was a teaching experience I’ve never forgotten.

The small group of students in my “Political Organizing” class agreed it would be a unique chance to really listen to someone who had a viewpoint they strongly disagreed with. We agreed that the point would not be to debate or try to change anyone’s mind. It was a class comprised of liberal, pro-choice kids, and they truly wanted to understand how anyone could hold a position they found to be simply – but for many of us profoundly – wrong.

My brother David had a friend I had met a couple of times. David had told me this guy regularly went to protest at Planned Parenthood. He joined people from his church to try and “save” women from having abortions. I knew Bob casually, and enough about his political and protest activities to give him a wide berth – and certainly I did not want to discuss his actions with him. Until the class.

When I called him up to see if he might meet my class I was very candid about why we wanted to have him as a guest. And that every student had identified as pro-choice. That this was an exercise in being open to viewpoints we opposed, issues we had already come to a conclusion about. But that the students were sincere in wanting to hear a viewpoint they had not yet encountered first hand.

The class was great in giving Bob attention as he explained why he did this protesting, and his motivations and experience. They asked questions, they challenged him rather gently on women’s rights concerns, and they talked a lot with him about his deep passion and convictions concerning life and his very deeply held religious beliefs.

In the end, no one changed their minds. But something even more important happened. The students expressed some surprise at how deeply Bob felt about the issue, how articulate and well thought out his ideas and beliefs were. They did not expect that. And they gained some insight into why he was doing work that they had dismissed previously as mostly misguided and hateful.

There was a connection, there was greater respect, there was kindness, there was learning. And there was the budding practice of sitting down and learning to listen to a perceived enemy.

I believe it was one of the best classes I’ve ever taught. And this skill is desperately relevant today.

on being safe

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

One of the obvious cautions in internet dating is being safe. Truthfully, wondering about the potential lunatic, the person who might hurt you or your stuff, who might be a nut requiring a restraining order further down the line. Yes, they are out there, no question about it. And there are basic precautions to take.

Google is a friend to on line daters, being bold enough to ask for full names, addresses, phone and more before a first date. Any guy dating a woman who is offended by that isn’t putting himself in her position. Sure there are women who will go nuts on you, but the greater risk in this culture is still male on female violence or problems.

I consider myself, at 50, still pretty new to dating. I’ve never done this dating someone new nearly every weekend thing before. Previous relationships were pretty much see a guy who I was interested in or who was interested in me, go out a few times, and we were in relationship for the next few months or years.

Worked for me, sort of.

So I’ve been doing all the safety things and had my antennae up for lunatics and crazy guys and guys who I didn’t think I’d match, and a huge range of concerns and checklists. And yes, I have found many. Only a few actually slipped through the cracks, and nothing serious or dangerous. Just a bit bewildering and disappointing.

But truthfully, I am now encountering that whole area of guys who are actually attracted to me. I guess I was carrying a lot of weight, and attitude, and was able to avoid that for, oh, a couple of decades. Now, I get a lot of compliments, a lot of suggestive e-mail, and a lot of invitations.

Some of it it — if you give him even a little encouragement it gets creepy and gross really fast. So it has been hard to know what to do. For about 40 years I’ve been dealing with that crap. A construction worker nods to you, you nod back in a friendly way, next thing you know he is rating your tits. Loudly. With gestures and suggestions. I’ve encountered that sh– since I was a ten year old girl. Yeah, 10. That’s what happens when you develop early, and fully.

It is a similar world on line. What are some men thinking? Is that really working for you, really?

So I have been entirely focused on am I safe. Is this guy stable and sane. Am I going to a safe place, am I taking the right precautions. It is a given, it has to be done. I do google checks, I leave info with friends or family about who I’m going out with, when and other details. I often have my dog with me, who I know would defend me to the death — and short of that she gives really perceptive cues about what is going on and any danger she perceives. And her record so far? Perfection. I have never felt more safe than I have since having large, intelligent, protective dogs around.

But here is what I figured out this last week. I have been missing a whole other part. Being safe and feeling safe are two different things. And feeling safe with a man is a really important part of what I have to look for in a relationship. And I haven’t been.

And by ignoring that basic need, I’ve gotten into some confusing and awkward situations that I shouldn’t have. I was safe, no one was going to be killed or hurt, there was no danger. But exposing too much of myself emotionally and physically and having too much intimacy before I feel safe is not OK. It isn’t honoring me. And it is stirring up some very old and very important feelings.

And those feelings go back to my first real relationship, my first boyfriend. I had dated him for many months, and one night he lost it and sexually assaulted me. And the ramifications of that linger on. Even when I don’t want them to, even when I say I’m over it, even with 35 years gone since that night in May of 1974. In an apartment building on Packard, next to the old Co-op. Where I had trouble shopping the whole time it was there.

Yeah – many tangles, many lingering threads and reactions.

I am a survivor of sexual assault, like so many women. Mine was easier than most. He even came back and apologized 4 years later, and took full responsibility for what happened, although at the time he told me it was all my fault and I believed him.

So that simple yet permanent trauma shows up again in a new form now. Feeling safe.

And it is a puzzling thing. With some men it is immediate. Yes. My inner sense and my outer logic agree and are at peace. And I’m a more animated, happy, friendly, less needy and less talkative person. (Less talkative is good, just ask anyone….) I can enjoy the other person, be myself, tease, laugh, it is very sweet for me.

And others there is that immediate no, or not knowing. And I was trying to get to know this one guy by phone, but his voice sounds very much like that first boyfriend. And I feel less safe. I once went on a blind date with a guy who smelled like him. It has only happened once, out of all the people I hug and am near. his sense of humor was a little similar as well. I couldn’t stand to be around him. He really didn’t understand or appreciate my reasons for saying no to another date. I can’t say blame him – “you smell like someone who assaulted me”. Not what a guy can easily hear and understand.

It is at heart a very deep intuitive thing. A whole other story that goes on next to the other one – am I safe – is the story of do I feel safe. And until I do you can’t take me into your arms, kiss me deeply, or even hold hands without some bit of tension and concern.

I really want to feel safe. And when I do, it is a wonderful feeling. With a friend, certainly, and with a lover even more so. And nothing less that that full feeling is acceptable in an intimate relationship.

It may take time, it may take adventures, it may take something totally unexpected. Yeah, over 1,000 words later and I’m explaining something that couldn’t be simpler. But that is sort of the whole point in writing this. It is simple, when that sense of safety hasn’t been so devastatingly destroyed by someone you loved and trusted.

And when it comes in the form of sexual assault, which is harder to talk about, harder to work out, harder to be frank about, when the details are too embarrassing to easily share, it has that deeper longer impact. Sexual assault is a different sort of violation that has tentacles reaching into some unexpected places. How can soldiers come back from war and explain to civilians what it is like, when it so far away and incomprehensible to someone who has never experienced anything close it it? How can a survivor of sexual assault easily overcome someone forcing themselves into your body, showing violence in the most intimate of acts and places in your being? If you havne’t been there, it may seem like not such a big deal. Trust me, it is.

We all have stories that are hard to tell.

But I am a story teller. And telling mine helps the healing, helps me to feel normal. It helps the healing that I welcome. And, I’ve told a lot of stories that have helped other people learn more about themselves as well. Maybe this will be one.

____________
Since I’ve renewed contact with a number of people who knew me then, who are now reading my blog, this may be a new bit of info for them. And you are wondering was it…?
I’m not naming names in a public place, but rest assured his initials were NOT P.L. And if you want more detailed info, contact me privately, and I don’t think you will be at all surprised by the rest of the story. If you were paying attention, you probably have already put it together. And that’s Ok.

Community

Monday, June 1st, 2009

I was part of two gatherings today. And they couldn’t have been more dissimilar. The first was a quiet somber affair, commencing at 8:15 a.m. There was only one person I knew, and there were a couple hundred people there. Jury Duty. No one was talking, people sat in chairs facing front, and tried to put distance between themselves and resisted sitting side by side. The long narrow room was hot and still. It became even hotter when coffee and sugary snacks were brought in.

People didn’t want to be noticed, acknowledged, called on. But we were. And I eventually was part of a group of 60 marched down to the court room. Once there it was an inspiring speech about the democratic process and the duty to serve. But many of us had to stand, it was so crowded, and we remained still and somber.

The seating process asked us to recall our own past horrors and possible connections to this trial, a murder with rape and larceny. Questions of our experience with knowing someone who was murdered, raped, assaulted, asking us to consider and then listen to others stories. Were we fit for this trial which promised to be brutal and difficult?

I had my turn in the jury box, and was immediately asked to leave. Was it because of my own sexual asault? People close to me? I’ll never know. Because I called the police last week? Perhaps. Because of the questions about knowing someone with DNA knowledge, mentioning my brother and his work with the 9-11 identification of victims.

I left feeling shaken, emotional, connected to those memories and stories, and questioning myself and if I should have ignored the real questions I had – could I be impartial and not moved by those stories and my own experiences? I thought I was that sort of person. And I had doubted myself. I told the truth.

After a long nap, I went to the memorial service for Ken King. There was traffic, so m early start got me there only a few minutes before the scheduled time. I arrived to a hall full of people I knew. Almost 400 smiling faces, so many were familiar, I walked into dozens of hugs and waves of hello and recognition. People who had read my article about Ken, and had lovely things to say about it. Old friends from decades past even. People I had lost touch with, people I had seen just yesterday.

I sat next to someone I hadn’t connected with in a while, and I said “I never want to move away from Ann Arbor”. On my other side were some farmers who I have enjoyed getting to know over many years, just chance meetings and welcome conversation. The sensation of home and community was so immediately strong. After the introduction we were asked to think of memories of Ken, and people told those stories, and sang, and told jokes, and the room was a tapestry of emotion and connection and ways that we cared and knew each other so well. The intimacy of 400 people sitting in a sort of circle, all faced to the center of the room, being together to celebrate a great man, I felt enveloped and warm and just wonderful deep inside myself. Accepted and part of something so large, and so sweet.

And after, we were fed and the food was unique and a crazy quilt of its own of tastes and combinations. And it was filling so one plate was enough. And people just talked and hugged and shared stories and they were happy and it all felt so velvety rich and loving.

I could hardly leave. My pain and anxiety and sense of being wrong that I had had all day was not even a memory. I felt loving and wanted to just embrace the whole experience, the strangers and the friends who had all come together.

Many hours later I’m home. Calm, happy, sad and aware I cried during part of the service. Feeling the contrast, so ever so more grateful by contrast for this small part of the world I live in with the hundreds of friends and truly good people to be with.

It was a good tribute to an extraordinary man, who I have hoped to honor in my other small ways. The night seems a little surreal tonight, I can not seem to sleep, but my heart is full, that peace and welcome are still palpable. And so delightful to have dipped into that caldron of love and community and hope and the honoring of a man who contributed so much to the richness of our lives. People like him feed it. And nourish us all.

A deep sigh for the contrast. I’m so glad I could fall into the arms of my place, my community, and feel so loved and blessed. Taking nothing for granted…

Another Canoe Trip

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

Last Tuesday Gary and I were on the river before 9 AM, and we shared a celebratory Mango a bit after 8 PM when we took out very far down river.

The beginning was Island Lake Park, just below Kent Lake Dam. The river is immediately the Huron I’ve grown to love – long stretches of trees, grasses, bird sightings, quiet, and very few signs of human intervention. Transported by the river through wild areas and a view of SE Lower Michigan that is unique and that makes me breath a bit deeper just considering the features.

The paddling was easy, the landscape keeps changing and watching the water and the vegetation is more than enough entertainment. The silly conversations, long pauses between exchanges, pointing out sightings of birds or trees or turtles to each other, it all has a rhythm, it all just flows downstream.

I did see probably the largest turtle in a natural setting that I’ve ever seen. A huge snapper was settled in the sun, his/her? shell more than 18 inches across I guessed. This snapper slipped into the water as we approached, then came back out so that Gary could also appreciate how awesome he/she was. Later some sunning mud turtles were nearly as large. A great turtle sighting day. Not so with the birds. The usual companions – geese with fuzzy newborns, the Great Blue Heron flying down river with us, red winged blackbirds with their call that always puts me into a late spring time frame. A few swans, but not many others.

We stopped a number of times to stretch and eat and enjoy the river from the land. Lunch was quinoa salad, three kinds of bread (french, biscuits and past their prime muffins) with homemade butter, chocolate milk. We had found a picnic table in one of the metro parks. It seemed very private and secluded, and Gary commented that the only possible person that could come by on a Tuesday afternoon was the guy who mowed the grass – a circle of intervention in an otherwise pretty overgrown area of poison ivy, virginia creeper, dandelions, and other weeds.

We had finished lunch and were enjoying the quiet privacy when we heard the approaching mower. What bizarre timing. We just endured the loud intrusion and after two swipes at the grass, we were again in a quiet secluded place.

We were back on the water soon. At some point, the flooding and the downed trees became more and more of our focus. The river was blocked by dozens and dozens of trees. It was great practice for me to try and figure out if we could make it past, and where and how. We took a lot of detours into the flooded woods, zig zagging around live trees and back out to the river. But we also artfully found “V’s” and ways over limbs and logs and under branches.

There were also a number of bridges and branches that required laying full flat in the canoe to pass under. The water was high enough that there were just a few inches of clearance form the canoe to the bridge. I had to quickly scoot down flat and hope that Gary would tell me if I wasn’t down far enough. We made each one, but it was a little freaky to glide under some of those very old bridges just inches away from concrete and steel.

On the river the wind was gusty and not much of an issue. Further in our journey we crossed a few lakes, and it was more of a headwind. But even after so many hours of paddling we were still strong and made fast progress. The populated part of the river is interesting for a bit, but after a while it is hard not to get snarky about the over built houses, the overpowered boats, the over manicured lawns, and of course no one is around enjoying any of it.

I was fascinated by how the river changes and is wide and narrow, turns to a lake, then changes course. With no dams, this is all just formation, and the variety of ways that water can flow is just a mystery and a wonder for me. It is a part of what makes the Huron so wonderful. You literally can’t know what will be around the next bend or just a little further. It just kept surprising me.

Finally, after a number of trips on the Huron, the whole reading the signature of the water is beginning to make sense to me, and I’m kind of getting it. What seemed mysteriously brilliant to me a year ago – Gary’s ability to know which rocks we could go over, what had to be gone around – is something I’m beginning to see. What had scared me before — there are ripples! What’s hidden?! Will we crash?! — now I could anticipate what was under the water and know what the canoe could do. And as we went by, I got constant validation and feedback that I had seen this obstacle coming and there it was.

Of course Gary’s patience with my very basic questions, and teaching me more and more were essential in beginning to get it. I’m beginning to understand it, but even better I’m beginning to feel it.

Baseline lake eluded us for a very long time, we got a bit lost even taking a wrong turn into a channel at Gallagher Lake. I think that was the name. It had been a long day, we were both tired, and we paddled a really long time to finally reach the inlet for Baseline, the last large lake to paddle, and from there a quick trip to the takeout. We rested a bit, ate a bit, under a red bud tree which provided some color and a little sweet taste to the snacks. We had spent the whole day with no other boats or even many people to encounter.

The mower guy, 2-3 people fishing, a woman on shore who recognized me and ask me to identify a plant for her, a few home owners working on their lawns. In this chain of lakes, once it was past 5:00, the pleasure cruising began. Lots of large pontoon boats, motor boats, and once we got to Baseline a few windsurfers and kayaks. Only a couple were obnoxious. The one guy who sped up and into some peaceful swans as he passed us, we saw later fishing on the side of Portage Dam where is is clearly marked no fishing. So at least he was a consistent jerk.

No large or fast boat trouble on Baseline, and we made really good time getting across. After that, the river returned to how I best know it, and I relaxed for the final hour or so of river time. The few small rapids we found were easy with this much water, and the Hudson Mills rapids were fun – even more than last year – as we shot through them into a standing wave the poured a fair amount of water into the canoe. The sign on the bridge before them warns that they can cause drowning and death. So does that mean I’ve done death defying rapids? No, I didn’t think so.

I felt a strong sense of accomplishment as we passed the spot we had put in last year, our first canoe trip from the bridge above Hudson Mills to below Delhi. A long strange year, coming back to place with Gary I had only hoped I might return to with him, and certainly 6 months ago never imagined I would.

And completing that segment means I have just two lakes to travel, and I will have canoed the entire Huron. I can do that solo this summer, or with Gary as he has time.

The take out was a relief and also some sadness the long day was over. Gary sliced up the mango and just as we finished it Blanche met us in my truck for the journey back to Gary’s car.

I was grinning and happy, relaxed and excited still. Tired and wanting to run around to further work off the excitement of what I had just accomplished. I really loved the day. All of it. So glad I could experience the treasure of the river, with a wonderful man, and the perfect sun and nature. A lot of happiness, inspired by the Huron.

Ken King

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Rather than repeat myself here, it would be easiest just toread the tribute I wrote for him at The Ann Arbor Chronicle. I was hoping the Chronicle would write about his death, and Mary said they were swamped with other projects. Would I? A wonderful synchronicity of people places and timing then unfolded, and the article nearly wrote itself. Of course.

I hope this is just one of many tributes for this remarkable man who has really touched so many and made a wonderful difference in the world.

Postitive indicators

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

I’m back from a 2 1/2 hour walk in the woods. Sure makes my dog happy. It is more fun with another human added, but not everyone wants to tromp around in the woods in the ice and cold. I went through Bird hills to Barton Dam. By the dam, the water was still pouring through the spillways – all 10 were open – but not as intense as the other day when the water was also nearly as high as the sidewalk below the railroad bridge.

But the spray from the dam had coated the nearby trees with really thick ice. As well as the path between the river and the pond. A few branches were breaking off as I went by. The sun suddenly poked out and lit up all those ice encrusted branches and it was a brilliant lovely sight, with the sound of the water as background music. It was windy and really cold up along the dam itself – Nala’s ears were being blown around and she was most unhappy. I agreed. I noted the very frozen pond – all the way to the dam – and headed back down.

While xmas is a weird time – not being a celebrant – and the mixed feelings because of sentiment and history New Years is a relatively just happy and reflective time. I went off and did some drumming, it has been too long. While I didn’t do it long (my thumb is sort of out of joint and a bit painful these days) I did it well. Very nice to connect with those friends again.

Drove back home enjoying the ride in teh new car, and went to the very local party with a warm from the oven blueberry crisp. A nice bunch of people to be with for the new year. And nice to not have to drive home but the quickest walk…

New Years Day my open house started really slowly (no one came until an hour after the starting time of 2 PM…) but there was then a continuous flow of people until 9 PM. So many people to enjoy and many new connections were made. Maybe about 30 people stopped over? Loved it. And there was food after, so we were all well fed. Which matters. I made another crisp with black raspberries, rhubarb, and blueberries. Picked the raspberries and rhubarb this summer. It is a delight to start using the stores of food. There is a serving left for later tonight or tomorrow.

And dating continues to be a pleasure. I have really enjoyed meeting a plethora of very nice men. With more to get to know as I go down the lists. I’m even enjoying what will surely be single dates. Because the men are interesting, intelligent, thoughtful, and friendly. A few weird e-mails and calls, but that is to be expected.

David has been working some, a huge change from where is was so very recently. You truly never know.

i am well aware of the larger global picture of more significantly negative indicators. Especially Israel and the US trying to defend these latest barbaric attacks as justified. It is mind boggling. The phrase that has stuck in my mind is “war is obsolete”. And yet we haven’t given it up. How stupid can you be?

The contrast is sobering indeed. Those of us blessed with health, life, and good friends should enjoy and also be aware. Nothing taken for granted.

On Feeling Air

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

On my walk yesterday there was a strong sensation of air. Confused air. The tep had been freezing the day before, then suddenly it was in the high 50s. The ground was holding moisture, but also cold and warmth. As I walked on the roads (the wood paths were very very wet with lot of ice patches still) I could feel the alternate warm breeze and then the cold wet tug. A pile of snow and slush was emanating a chill, but next to it the ground had soaked up some sun and warmth. It was the oddest sensation having all these very different temperatures and density of airs moving towards me as I walked. And of course it released amazing smells. Nala was jumping here and there, diving nose first into the snow, scrpaing up the mud as fast as she could and sniffing, it was dog delight of odors.

And t top it all, the drifting mist and fog was very beautiful.

Quiet Time

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Spent Xmas afternoon until last night at the cabin. I had planned to have a number of visitors, but when the ice came Friday that was impossible. I had also planned to take a long (half day) hike on my own with Nala. Also impossible. We could hardly get down the street it was so slippery, and the lake was devoid of the usual ice fishers so I guessed it was unsafe to walk on.

Lot of reading, considering, feeling, napping, and very little munching. Hey, I came home with half a cheesecake intact. So only 1/4 was eaten and it wasn’t just me.

I did get inspired to complete the order of chapters and format for the book (should that be in caps?). It just came to me as I spent a few hours feeding and watching the fire. Easy. It will be a lot of work to make it so, but I’m ready to do that over the next few days so I can pass it on to the next few readers.

I appreciated the two visitors I did have even more because of the time spent isolated. But came home feeling ancy. Needing to walk and move and be outside.

I had a lovely time waiting for my date to show up – it was warm, so I sat on the pontoon boat and listened to the ice melt. It was bubbling up as though rain was falling from below. The wind was picking up and sending sheets of water across the ice, but the boat wouldn’t rock as it was fixed solidly in the ice.

It was a lovely symphony of sound. I never knew how much sound was captured in ice – ready to be released! A lovely date followed, I’ll say no more about that.

Today after seeing clients I was still hungry for walking and outdoors. I drove to Barton Dam. Cars were lined up on Main street from Huron to M-14, but traffic going North was clear. It was a bit disturbing, and even more so as I saw the back up on Huron River Drive. I called David on the cell to see if he knew what might be up and had a bit of a panic when the call wouldn’t go through because the circuits were busy. That had never happened. I tried numerous times and finally called dad who actually checked to be sure all we well over the internet — and it seemed OK so some local glitch.

AT&T wireless was down most of teh day I’m told.

I suppose I transposed the woods and walking a dog and being back in the woods the morning of 9-11. It could happen once, it could happen again. And Israel is doing some very scary crazy stuff right now. Very frightening.

The dam was in full open mode — all ten spillways were open and pouring water. I could hear it from a distance and wondered again if I was safe. Where is all this fear coming from? I tested my intuitive response, and felt OK. So I walked up to it and it was impressive and exhilarating. The ferocious flow of water, just licking the cement of the sidewalk under the railroad bridge. I’d never seen it that high. It wasn’t until I came back that I realized what was so odd – no ducks! They always are hanging out just after the dam. Hmmmm. Now those sorts of things are sort of ominous and get me out of balance. Nature has just switched on me.

The pond above the dam looked pretty normal and not even that high. The water running along the hill of the dam was very high – the little causeways I think they are called that let the water seep through the built up earth rather than pressing into it. All very active and lots of moving water all along that pathway.

The portage dock above the dam was still there. They usually take it out. I get a little sad thinking of that canoe trip and how happy I was, but over it quickly. But then realizing I’ve returned to Barton Dam on the anniversary of the day I met Gary. It was one year ago today. A lot sure can happen in a year. But this is my walk, my park, my favorite place, it isn’t marred by memories or regrets. A little extra charge perhaps on the bridge where he began the evasions that collapsed everything. But it didn’t even truly start there. It was already happening. That was just the location of most damaging lie.

And Nala gets so happy on the bridges. The energy really belongs to her. Last year it was so icy I fell a couple times and it was very hard to walk. Today just a bit of ice was left to melt. Stand on a bridge, watching the water flow – a metaphor, a way to peace. It is all water under the bridge. Truly.

I got back to the car with one happy dog. I made her day even more fabulous by stopping by our favorite hardware store for a few things. She was in heaven to see her favorite hardware guys. Who have treats. Life is simple. Be with friends. Continue to trust. Spend time alone and with great people.

And watch the water go under the bridges. So today it was a torrent. That’s OK. We were always safe.

stress

Friday, October 10th, 2008

I expect many people to be a bit testier and even angry the next few weeks. The countdown to this critical election is a bit of overload. I think that was part of my self righteous rant in my last post. It has just gotten to a pretty awful state of craziness, surreal events, and some people sticking to what Obama supporters find an incredibly bad idea – supporting a ticket that includes Palin, let alone McCain.

As I encounter McCain supporters the knot in my stomach increases, and sudden wakefulness in the night looms larger.

It i shard to wrap my thoughts around Obama not winning.

It is also hard to wrap my thoughts around an event one week before election day, my brother undergoing open heart surgery. It has been postponed for almost a year so he could get stronger, which he is marginally. One more event that we won’t know the outcome until we know the outcome. Those are stressful sorts of events. But I do know one outcome from this sort of surgery – 6 weeks of very painful, slow, hard rehab and recovery under the best of circumstances.

The last year has been a sort of torture, this brings it to another level.

Stress can be managed. Exercise is primary. I need to keep walking, bicycling, canoeing, and working at home. Eating is also important – more fruits and veggies, don’t give in to the comfort of a bag of chips, and ask friends for help as eating food prepared by other people nourishes in a way my own food can’t. Talk – the idle chat seems to make things worse, when feelings are put aside and it is just noise. For me I need to limit the conversation and make it real when it does happen. Humor – nothing better than trading jokes, stories, watching funny movies. Time to re-watch some Monty Python, The Princess Bride, and a whole lot of other fun DVDs. Any other ideas for movies that de-stress? Keeping busy – less procrastination, more engulfing projects, no trouble there. I have plenty! They are more fun with a friend, even if the friend is just hanging out watching. Hope. There are many things to be hopeful for, many exciting events in the near future. Planning and thinking and being decrease stress. Writing helps, playing music helps, singing works. And finally, being out in nature. On the water, especially (too late in the year to be in the water). I just need to remember to go to the woods or the lake or the river. Hey, with that list it sounds easy!

It will be November soon enough. The surgery will be over, the election decided, and somewhere in there I get a new fun car to drive. Look to the future, and unexpected things can emerge and evolve.

I just hope the American public develops great wisdom and intelligence in the next few weeks. That’s what I’ll pray for.