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There's a ghost in the machine. I'd forgotten.

I've been busy for the last couple years. School-- there's always something to do or to think about, something that should be done. I still have a couple things that should be done, in fact, on that front.

This was the first week of work and it's a learning curve. I'd managed to forget how much I liked learning; the knowledge of it was obliterated by the awfulness of huge classes; terribly planned timelines; arbitrary structure; and useless, required, and strictly measured outcomes. I couldn't remember how I'd come to start this whole path, couldn't recall the girl who liked learning so much she worked through a two-year diploma program just to gather the knowledge it offered.

Well, this week and for the easily forseeable future I'll be learning a lot. It's a whole mix of things from physically driving gravel roads and seeing precisely through a forestry prism to the liminal skills of pacing and awareness through to complexities like achieving the correct sampling error for lowest man-hours when double-sampling across multiple blocks where some are pretty far from the road and others are more heterogenous. I was a little nervous about it, but I think I can learn it, and I'm enjoying learning it. My current boss is an exceptional teacher, I know pretty well how I learn, and it's so nice to be figuring out a thing in the world rather than accepting an expert's word on something without any ability to fiddle with it myself.

That's not what this post is about.

I put an offer on a house today. I was originally going to put an offer on a different house, but the expenses of weird incidentals on that house was very high (heat, but also housing insurance and internet and property taxes and basically all the little things that *could* add up) and I got nervous about my budget so instead I went for one that is significantly more modest, on a nice 7 acre chunk. I will grow out of this house if I don't add on or put in lots of outbuildings, but for now that's okay. I have some debt to pay off and I'll be able to do that expediently this way, and if something goes sideways with my career and american politics (see also: softwood lumber) then I'm not as worried as I could be. I put in the one offer previously, for a lot that had a pretty run-down house but also a gorgeous gorgeous garden. This house is better, the garden will take more work. We'll see.

I feel much better about spending a little less right now.

That's not what this post is about.

Last weekend I was arriving here, this week I worked a lot, and this morning I ran around looking at homes and finalising my offer on the house. This morning I also went to look at a farm and talked for hours to the two women who ran it for twenty years: they retired into it and now are too old to keep it up. We spoke about orchards and brewing and bees and deep-mulch gardening and cows and fungus dyes and a ton of stuff and I loved their company and they offered me tea and seemed to enjoy mine. On the way to the realtor's place, driving, I waved to people in cars as they passed.

And now I'm done for a bit. I can feel myself slowing down. I can feel myself looking at things: the strawberry bed, the river. I feel like I'm becoming a person again, a being with *awareness* rather than merely an automaton doing all the things I'm supposed to do. Both partners keep talking about how happy I seem up here, even just this week. I suspect I haven't even begun to dip into the community here and how happy it makes me, and beyond that there's my life waiting, and how happy *that* makes me. And I may, soon, even be a person who's being happy, instead of a fleeting sensation on my way to doing the next thing.

I took time to email my mom.

I am lazily contemplating dinner.

I could wash my bedsheets or tidy up.

I could search the internet for more potential dogs or goats.

Or I could write, here, because I have the luxury of knowing what's going on in my life well enough to write about it. So here I am.

It's very good.

That's what this post is about.
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I'm alive. I can't even tell you. Here I am. I'm finally shedding my winter skin. I'm becoming human, I'm alive, there's a beating flashing core to my soul, the world pulls me into it, I can love things, I can want things, I'm alive. I'm remembering how to feel the kind of joy that I swear is visible in an aura around me, pouring out of my skin. I'm remembering who I am. This is who I am. I had almost forgotten there.

It's been a bad four months. School is bad. It's autodepression, flick the switch on with the first contact in the semester and then off again when it finishes. What does this to me? Sitting all day? Accepting someone else's absolute authority? Having no freedom to plan my time? Anyways, school is done for four months, and basically with my last exam I came alive, I came awake, I felt like I turned on a light and unfamiliar nothingness suddenly gave way to my very favourite room. I am my very favourite room. I love living here. So many years making myself, that partnership where all the bits of me shape each other until they fit, and it's for nothing when I'm in school, but it is Very Good in just living.

I was in a car accident that I could well have not walked away from in February. My car rolled; Taoshi was lost. I could have died there, and I would have died unhappy and not-me, but I didn't die. Thank goodness, thank every blessed thing, that I still have the chance to die properly, as myself, at some future date.

I don't want that date to be soon. Words are failing me. I'm sitting in bed listening to music for the first time in four months and it's filling the house, the air is vibrating with it, and my skin and the music are one continuous physical sensation, much as my... happiness, I suppose? is one single continuous piece with Devendra Banhart's voice. In the room next door to me my rabbits -- Mella with whom I have developed a close relationship since we lost Taoshi, and the two babies I need to bond her to named Juniper and Odin -- and they actively enjoy my presence, they are happier when we engage, and they are mine for their lives and I love them very much. When I think a little further outwards I can see, in my mind's eye, the beginnings of my garden. We've started tomatoes (stupice, cherokee chocolate, green zebra, sungold, Siberian, San Marzano, black plum, and silvery fir tree) and four kinds of peppers, and the two cold-weather lettuces (warm weather varieties to follow) and herbs (summer savory, thyme, thai basil and romano basil and sweet basil, curled and flat parsley, lovage that refuses to come up, sweet ciciley) and so many greens (including sorrel and good king henry and lamb's quarters and purslane and strawberry blite) and several kinds of melons and two zucchinis and three new kinds of scented geraniums and three kinds of carrots and chard and kale and ground cherries (two kinds!) and tomatillos and celeriac and and and and... It's still freezing out at night up here in Williams Lake (this was my first night in Williams Lake) and today the sky is bright and clear and beautiful and I will vacuum with the windows wide open and sing and alarm the rabbits with my noise and scandalize the neighbors.

I'm alive. I'm inhabiting my personality. I want to say it again and again and again because it is such a strong combination of relief and joy. When I was in school this semester I was actively afraid that I wouldn't be able to come back to myself, but here I am. What's the best gift you could ever be given? Double it, triple it. That's the feeling.

There's a bunch of great relationship stuff happening in my life right now. I start my summer job with a new company on Monday, and I'm terrified but very optimistic about that. My place in Vancouver will be there for me when I return in the fall so I won't need to house hunt. I have excellent friends and I got to see some of them before I left. I have a future that I can enjoy anticipating. I have so many blessings. But... everything is overshadowed by the simple fact that I can appreciate, notice, and think about these things. I'd lost that.

And here I am, even enjoying words again, enjoying the sensation of spinning pieces of myself out into the void. I have enough of myself to fill a page now.

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Emotional pain is icicles to the chest, full speed. It's almost cold enough to be numb, not quite, and invasive in a way that doesn't quite allow the lungs to function. It's a dull but sudden pressure, the weight of everything in the world squeezing but with no sharp edges to bring even the relief of brightness to pain.

My pain tonight is not my own. It's carried, remembered, empathized, siphoned ritualistically from those around me who hurt as if by taking their pain on I could lessen the feeling of it.

I suppose it never has worked that way, has it? Thirty two years and I'm still learning. I'll give their pain back to them, then, and tell you about my joy and my trepidation, because that's where my own life is right now. Not borrowed, but real.

I keep doing yoga. I am not moving yet. I do yoga nearly every day, and while it's not as heavy labour as bike commuting or proper landscaping it helps me a great deal. Every time it's a deliberate interaction with my body. Every time I leave seated better within myself.

It's not a linear workout progression -- are bodies ever linear? -- but it affords opportunities for practice, for improvement, for small goals within big ones. It works well for me. It demands that I listen to my body. That, too, works well for me. I always need practice listening to myself, to know what I want, what I need, what I do not want, what I must hold firmly at arm's length.

I also keep brewing. Yoga is a ritual that focuses me on the here-and-now, on what I need and can do in the moment. Brewing reminds me of my pagan ritual experiences in exactly the opposite direction: it's a set of actions planned and executed with intention for the future. I brew crazily, artsily, a backbone of research occasionally making up for my intense lack of experience. I brew like I always imagined I would paint or sing if I did those things: to capture a thought or a feeling or a mood and carry it forward to share with people. I don't expect it to be received in such a way, but it comes from that same creative place. Really what I do is more about process than the result. It's too early yet to know how my results will be.

I've brewed an apple mead that's thick and sweet like sunlight at the end of August when it just starts to go gold. I've brewed a juniper apple wine that's resinous and clean like sitting on the rock slope of a mountain where the air starts to thin and looking far down and below to the ocean. And now I've brewed a barleywine that is thick and dark and bitter like strong coffee with a little sugar, like the days right after solstice where you have to go through the darkness again to get out but viburnum and witch hazel promise that spring will come.

I have rose petals for a mead (this one following a recipe, I have had it and it's truthfully like this) that's fragrant and warm and sweet like the sleepy press of a bedmate's skin in the morning, the sensation of intimacy before any pressure from the day forces motion and thought.

So as you can see, I'm enjoying this.

I am enjoying friends, a little distant from them as my life settles into its rhythms. No one, or very few people, match me: I wake up in the morning, I go to bed in the evening, I am not awake in the late evening or the night. If my schedule is an insurmountable obstacle for someone in my life, they drift out of my life for awhile.

I am enjoying my lovers, leaning especially deeply into my connection to Dave to explore it as greedily as my life and his will allow and gently letting time with Tenay unfold as it wants to. My body stays hungry for touch most of the time, definitely also for sex, but my appetite is picky and my time and energy are limited. I'm not sure I remember a time when physical affection has been so scarce on the ground for me. It's an interesting feeling, and not as bad as the complications that can arise when I try to banish it by any means necessary. I am, therefore, practicing patience.

And I'm practicing impatience in my career, exploring my intention towards school and enjoying the uncertainty and trepidation that come with it. It will be good to have a challenge again, I think. I'm always best when I have my teeth sunk into something.

For now I need to shower, still, after yoga, and to eat. Be well, lovelies. Less of the pain to you, and more of the joy.


Oct. 14th, 2013 09:04 am
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Biology online says:




(1) (biology) A biological condition in which a competing variant is increasing in frequency relative to other competing variants in a population.

(2) A relative measure of reproductive success of an organism in passing its genes to the next generation.

(3) The relative ability of an individual (or population) to survive, reproduce and propagate genes in an environment.

(4) The state or quality of being fit, e.g. physically or mentally; being in shape, good health or well-being.

(5) The capability to perform a function.

(6) The ability of an organism to survive and reproduce in its environment.

This morning I woke after six hours' sleep and went for a run, my first outdoor run in years maybe? I ran over the bridge into Surrey, through exhaust that tasted like blood and rusty nails in my lungs and into an infinite ocean of pink-gold fog warmed with the imminent rise of the sun. I came back and did better than usual at pushups, pull-ups, and I remembered some yoga poses I'd thought forgotten. The rabbits were as energetic as I, tearing around and destroying their box condo with abandon and great joy.

The windows and doors are all open, with sunlight pooling in my house -- it comes so far across the rooms in fall with the sun low like this -- and illuminating the dust on the windows.

I cleaned a lot yesterday, and it felt good. I don't feel the necessity now.

I feel like I am performing my functions. I am surviving and propagating my self in my environment. I am in relatively good health. My periods of well-being are increasing in frequency relative to the periods of numbness. Sadness and joy are both periods of well-being in this case, or at least they are _being_.

Hello, my life. I'd missed you. Welcome home.
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By now our immense destructiveness has made clear that the actual value of some things exceeds human ability to calculate or measure, and therefore must be considered absolute. For the destruction of these things there is never, under any circumstances, any justification. Their absolute value is recognized by the mortal need of those who do not have them, and by affection. Land, to people who do not have it and who are thus without the means of life, is absolutely valuable.

-Wendell Berry

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.


May. 23rd, 2011 02:46 pm
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Also got:
friend gooseberry

Plato lettuce
magenta spreen
domestic purslane
edible chrysanthemum

tomatoes based on what the garden center had:
green zebra
mr stripey
cherokee purple
sweet million

Evidently I'll need to hit the farmer's market for stupice and black plum.

This is on top of yesterday's blueberry bush haul, which involves:
top hat
hardy blue

...So, I have some planting to do. Got my veggie marrow and basil in the ground, not my fancy basils yet. Also showed some restraint and didn't buy either wasabi (I need horseradish though, anyone have any they can split for me?) or citronella scented geranium but need to return for the citronella geranium because it smelled amazing.

Theoretically I grow food, but man does a nice scent turn my head.
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So I've decided to do my garden as if I'm not moving away from this place ever.

Yeah, it's a pretty big thing, right? Don't worry about it.

I got out today and potted up some kale for mom, started to thin my seedlings and distribute them, and generally got my hands in my own dirt (mmmm). I've got apple trees blooming, mint bounding along, no real semblance of a plan out there, and some empty rubbermaid totes that could happily be filled and planted. I'd also like to make a pallet bed and a couple upside-down tomatoes since I have room.

This leaves me with the always-expensive spring shopping list.

I need more beds (always more planting space, right?) which might be remedied by this.

If I get more planting space I'll need more soil, I can order bales from my boss.

I'll need tomato starts for the buckets, maybe nasturtiums for the top (I'll start those seeds and my basil today), and herbs for the pallet wall (!!). I have some thyme starts, I'd like to see what tarragon, creeping rosemary, more thyme, oregano, etc do with the space. Also maybe some more floral things. I could put in heliotrope too.

I should get some lettuce and maybe a couple root veggies going. Carrots would fit in the deep rubbermaids, beets, etc. Parsnips are good, I'd love to grow some salsify but it's too late to get seeds.

I'd like to grow cilantro, chard, and mustard greens as well. Wouldn't hurt to toss some potatoes at the bottom of those for a fall harvest, I've already got sunchokes layered under my kale and kale in with mint and apple trees and parsley in with some of those. I need more oregano because I use it All The Time.

Did I mention I've had an extraordinary parsley germination year? 100% within a couple of weeks. That never happens. I'm not sure what to do with the stuff.

Plus it never hurts to add some blueberries, I would kill for a nice gooseberry plant or two, and I'm always fond of evergreen huckleberries (which I always leave behind when I move).

That keeps us pretty conventional, I think. I'd best get this done soon because though it's been cold the season won't wait.
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Well, it's morning and I'm still feeling a little broken, if less so. I'm supposed to be working today, but I can swap it with tomorrow if I want to. I may do that and spend today trying to reassemble myself.

I've been meaning to write a riff on a phrase Michael sent me, "work as worship", and perhaps this is the time.


wor·ship (wûrshp)
a. The reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object.
b. The ceremonies, prayers, or other religious forms by which this love is expressed.
2. Ardent devotion; adoration.
3. often Worship Chiefly British Used as a form of address for magistrates, mayors, and certain other dignitaries: Your Worship.
v. wor·shiped or wor·shipped, wor·ship·ing or wor·ship·ping, wor·ships
1. To honor and love as a deity.
2. To regard with ardent or adoring esteem or devotion. See Synonyms at revere1.
1. To participate in religious rites of worship.
2. To perform an act of worship.
[Middle English worshipe, worthiness, honor, from Old English weorthscipe : weorth, worth; see worth1 + -scipe, -ship.]
worship·er, worship·per n.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Let's start with this: I'm pretty deeply agnostic. I can't summon up the hubris to transform my mystical/spiritual/numinous feelings and impulses from personal to universal absolute. There are too many conflicting voices on the subject of religion for me to feel comfortable privileging the expertise of any one group. I don't even understand enough about psychology and social construction to know how a more workable society would have to be put together, and given my little knowledge of the complex systems involved in ecology I don't much trust anyone who claims to have the answers to that, either.

So in terms of Absolute Truth, assuming there is such a thing (I'm doubtful most of the time) I have no answers.

I do have a flourishing system of top-of-the-mind beliefs, actions, and rituals though. I have a lot of numinous impulse, I am prone to mystic states, and I like to love and cherish things. It definitely improves my life to run with that, to think it through a little bit, and to introduce casual beliefs and practices into my daily life. I believe these things much like I believe the best way to get to downtown is to catch the #99 and then the Skytrain: it totally works well right now, might change at any time, it really depends on where precisely I'm going, and everything is subject to service disruption.

One of the practices that works for me is thinking of each strand in the ecological web as sacred, and by this I mean each person and thing within it. Assuming creation through any deliberate or semi-deliberate means, these things were put here by God/s' own hand and as such are sort of a holy gift, and thus the relationships between them are a form of worship. Your relationship with yourself is a form of worship. You can neglect that aspect, as you might go to church to flirt or out of duty, but then you're ignoring something potentially nourishing for your soul.

Assuming no deliberate or semi-deliberate creation, let's talk about blind evolution for a moment. Let's talk about iteration, about steps continuously taken in spite of testing and challenge and caprice. Let's talk about perseverance towards a goal, about reaching and striving, about gloriously winning out in the face of all opposition but never being able to rest on your accolades. Let's talk about the way knees wear twin dishes into a prayer rug after so many many years. Now let's talk about what worship is, about what makes something holy.

...perhaps let's not talk much more about it, though. These are both backwards justifications I can come up with for this innate sense that everything is precious. Every. Thing. A leaf, a hand, every leaf, every hand, every voice has meaning and has its own keys to God/s or transcendence or joy or whatever it is you're gunning for. I'll gloss over this because, although I could argue the point, I have no desire to do so. I understand this to be a personal belief.

It does mean that one of my religious goals, for lack of a better term, is to treat everything with worship. There's no way for this not to improve my life; suddenly I am surrounded by sacred mysteries to explore and holy things to reverence. To get back to the quote which triggered this, my own life is worthy of worship, and one of the ways I worship myself is through the sometimes onerous, repetitive, or challenging task of working. This is serious worship, not a Sunday picnic but days full of challenge and ritual in service of something holy.

To take it a little further, I often feel that things created by people, while useful perhaps as simplified metaphors, are not not as worthy of a life's service, and certainly are not worthy of notice to the exclusion of the rest of the world. Time spent in study of people, plants, social systems, ecological webs, even geological systems or physics: that's worship. Time spent engaging in movies, TV, video games, and even books without using it to tie into and reference the rest of the world, perhaps even as a way of ignoring the world around you?

That's idolatrous.
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Don't fix my smile; life is long enough. We will put this flesh into the ground again.

You can start at 2:18 if you like.

It's "Generator 2nd Floor" on the Freelance Whales album.

Here if you like, but as always it's not about the video.

Sometimes-- fairly often, really-- a word, a phrase, a line of poetry or a snippet of music will come down and obliterate my mind. This isn't to be confused with the pieces that sit there and merely repeat, echoing in the background. No, what I'm talking about right now is when I actually lose my words, lose anything that might be described as a thought process.

It often happens when I'm dancing, or when it comes it makes me what to dance. My body is, after all, the only thing left.



Nov. 20th, 2010 08:50 am
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I found this the other day. I wrote it when I was happy and feeling loved.

This morning I am happy and feeling loved.

It snowed last night; it was a snow-globe, a deep thick fall of big white chunks. Walking home in the night silence at 1am the snow would cover my sweater in a second so thick I couldn't see the patterns on it, just a white pile of snow when I looked down at myself. At one point a car turned into the street I was walking down and it must have been a hybrid because the white world retained its silence, the car creeping and I walking and the snow falling and falling and falling.

I didn't used to like snow, but it makes Angus so happy and excited that I can't help but think of him standing in the white smiling in through windows with the light spilling out into the night and now I get excited too-- like Christmas, I imagine. The Writer likes it too, and so really I haven's much choice.

I was talking, last night, about using trite metaphors in conversation-- especially metaphors with which you have no direct experience. I don't really get excited at Christmastime, or I don't get presents and I make family dinner so it's not really a thing, and it's silly to use something I don't know anything about to explain the snow-feeling which I'm familiar with.

I was feeling such a thirst for conversation recently and now the heavens have opened and granted me a wealth of it: I met a conversational partner online (thank goodness for skype), [ profile] dark_sphere hauled me out to talk last night, the Writer was feeling especially talkative, and tonight I have even more conversational plans. Life is very sweet to me.

I've been catching up on calories too. I was out in the cold for hours yesterday, occasionally snowed on, with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as breakfast and lunch. As a consequence when I got home I double-dinnered and it was good.

Now I'm curled up in the bedroom in a deeply-blanketted bed with a boy, waiting for cornbread to come out of the oven and waiting for 9am so [ profile] chimera_fancies posts a second batch of shiny things and I can maybe get dibs on one. And... this is only the first day of the weekend. I have some super nice, super comfy plans.

The last two consecutive days I had off school and not out of town were Oct 16 and 17th. This is really nice.
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One of my most interesting personality traits is my ability to get really fucking high from just being around or doing stuff I like. I know this can happen to nearly everyone, but it's an actual factor in my life quite a bit. School is doing this to me a lot lately. Now, I do pay literally with money and emotionally with stress, but at least once a week something will happen with school that makes me want to do it forever.

This week, so far, there have been two things. One of them is homework.

I may or may not have mentioned that 30% of my total grade in Ecology is tied up in a plant collection. We've been collecting plants on every walk, pressing them when we get back (sometimes after class rather than during, thus my long Fridays) and biding our time. For the assignment we mount the specimens (I'm using photograph album sheets with the clear plastic cover) along with enough other things to make identification certain, so if I need a cone or an illustration of a flower or overall plant shape I'll grab one or draw one and put that in. Then we give the information-- elevation and location and type of site collected, family name, that sort of thing. An index, a summary of family characteristics at the end, and that's that.

It took me three hours to put the ninety plants on the photograph paper, not adding any info or anything like that. It was like Christmas but better: I was unwrapping both beautiful things and presents of memories of each location of each plant I'd picked. I got to remember every moment of those wonderful classes: that little bridge on Cypress had a mossy rill where the oak fern and goldenthread mingled and they looked so similar; this was the redcedar branch I picked to hold next to yellow cedar and compare the actual look of the scales for the first time; that was the stink currant we weren't supposed to do but someone asked what it was and he told us, and I loved the smell so much I held it to my nose for the next half-hour.

Now I wake up and I'm still high from it. I have two photograph albums packed to the gills with this incredible diversity of vegetation all from around here, all that I know. I really need to find something portable that I can take with me so that when I find a piece of a plant I don't know I can slip it between pieces of paper and into some sort of minimalist press, take it home, and continue this. I don't ever want to stop this thing. I used to do it when I was little, and when I was travelling I did the same: there are sketches of plants and pressed leaves in many of my old books.

Somewhere since I've started school I've realised that botany isn't a lost art or a dead science; people still do it. I always wanted to. I can.

I need to go to work now. I have a crazy busy day-- this week is all super long days and working through the weekend, next week is all midterms and finals. I'm floaty, though. So happy.
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You know what I fucking love? I love taking tests. I'm gonna talk about that for a bit.

The first math quiz of the year, which was the first quiz of the year, I was nervous. I really wasn't sure of my grasp of the material (after the teacher explains something in that class I'm always less sure of my ability to do it, and it was his test) and when I looked at the first page I blanked. My brain shut down. I turned it over, started working on the first thing I saw that I knew how to do (somehow turning the page over helped) and then by the time I got back to the first page again I was good to go.

I'm not great at math. I don't take enough time to fully understand what's going on, so I figure out a 'good enough' strategy and run with it. I'm also absolutely impatient and not even close to being careful. Usually what happens on math quizzes is I come out at 70% or so-- all the steps right, answers half wrong because of carelessness. I don't mind that because it's an accurate representation of the work I've put in. I like getting the immediate feedback, not just the 'can I do this' feedback from homework, but the 'am I performing up to standard' that tests give me. They draw a line and say 'you should be here, are you?' and I know where I stand. Unlike every fucking other thing in life there is clarity here. I understand now especially how hard it must be to go from such a structured authoritarian setting to the real world, where people don't necessarily get rewarded for doing things well or correctly and where they can often shape the criteria they're performing under to fit their own abilities and needs. It's not a matter of finding the right way to do a thing, or the way a prof likes it, it's a matter of muddling along-- and so it's nice, even just in a few minutes of testing, to have the ground solidify.

Today was the Ecology final exam, which wrapped up the string of plant ID quizzes. Now the final exam was a work of art. The quizzes had got harder with each one, and the final plant ID test had a couple of trick questions in it-- like one plant put in twice, and a plant that we didn't have to know in there (it was juniper, and after making a guess I was unhappy with off the list I wrote in brackets 'it looks like juniper but we don't have juniper on our list!). Now I'm good at this stuff and things like the doubled-up sedge or the juniper really make me poke at that and look at just how good I am: do I know it? Do I know it out of context? Do I know it when context is actively against me? Flexing my knowledge and testing my certainty in that way is a joy. I also like knowing I can't game the system as easily as I sometimes might because the test is just not gameable-- the juniper was not 'the one remaining conifer on the list' and the sedge was not 'the third grassy-looking thing in the trio of grasses, sedges, and rushes that we were supposed to learn'.

Speaking of not being able to game the system, the written knowledge portion of the Ecology exam was a joy and a delight. In scope it covered, no lie, anything that may have been handed out or mentioned at any time over the course of the whole class, even if mentioned in passing, even if never referenced again-- and we got a lot of paper in that class. We were given misleading multiple choice questions. We were given maps with distributions and told to name the tree. We were given matching questions where, if we got the question wrong, we got negative marks. I worked hard to do that test, maybe only 30% of it was easy for me, and I had no idea I knew so much. I also had no idea there was so much to be known. I think it's the first time in my life I've been confronted by an assessment where instead of being snippy at myself about the bits I got wrong, I felt proud to have done as well as I had-- and there's no way I turned in a perfect test, and maybe only a 50-50 chance I got an A.

This is a fun environment to be in. So many years of self-directed workshops and research, so many years of work without ringing bells or even a clear goal at the end, and now school is a very different experience-- no longer a slog, but a special kind of surreal playtime as goal-oriented as a video game.

Let's see how long this excitement lasts. I can't do school forever... I think.


Sep. 27th, 2010 08:17 am
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From Blossoms

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

Li-Young Lee
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Today was all about my bike. I headed to work on it, nervously-- I'm always nervous for the first few months of road riding (if you're all endorphined up, you may well type 'nervous for the first few' as merely 'new' and not notice for a moment or two because things move really /fast/). Riding a bike in traffic is dangerous, I haven't done it much at all in almost a year. It's even more dangerous when you're going downtown only an hour before rush hour, they've changed the bike baths and routine, and you don't know exactly which way you're going.

There was a little bit of annoying, but in general everything was fantastic. And when I say that, I mean really fantastic. I got to work and worked through my half-day, leaving the bike in a hotel in which I work because I'm terrified of it getting stolen, then I met up with Brendan and Paul and we went for lunch and then Paul and I took off on our bike adventure.

Now first, Brendan and Paul are good friends, and both have something I recognise as a sense of humour-- not entirely a common occurrence. Brendan is also an urban planner, and as such shares as certain awareness of cities and the planting thereof as I do-- he's more likely to be aware of architectural details and history, but he can also appreciate poor plant placement &c. He's one of the very few people I can "geek out over street trees" with, to use his term, and we also share a similar level of cynicism about urban systems and sustainability. Paul is Paul, has done a fair amount of environmental planning work in his life, has some environmental background, is mostly about the people side of the equation but is absolutely someone I can talk to as an equal about this sort of thing, and I respect his greater knowledge in some areas (as in I ask questions and expect good answers).

So lunch was great. And biking was great even though my tyres were pretty damn flat going around the park-- with that and the headwind it felt like uphill most of the way. When I finally had air in them again it was like flying-- that was after going around the park, when we stopped for creampuffs (we each ate 4, if Paul incites me to be a hooligan I'll damn well incite him to be a hedonist) and to start a wonderful discussion on evolution. Paul made an argument for some pretty extreme mass extinctions in the world of Avatar, and we kind of took it through snowball earth hypothesis and through the largest organism in the world (populus sp vs fungus) from there while we biked around Yaletown and up home.

I have to admit, keeping up with Paul on the bike took some doing. I absolutely had more speed on the flats than he did, but I'm still working on getting the new gear shift system on my bike down (if you shift the wrong way when you're going uphill, sometimes you just gotta get off and walk up the hill like an idiot), my tyres were pretty bad, and-- Paul spent a lot of the last year biking in Nepal, so any time we were in traffic he was at an advantage. I hate riding on sidewalks, switching at will from pedestrian to vehicle traffic and back (well, I love it, but I don't like to do it, on the principle that it pisses people off) but he was the supreme master of that kind of element. It was a joy to watch him and a terror to follow.

All told I was on the bike for maybe three hours or a little more today. I feel great. Now, I love biking-- I absolutely adore the feeling, like flying, like a fish in water. There's something about the way the world feels on wheels, and especially the way the weight and heft of my new bike sits between my thighs so that I steer with little shifts of weight without even thinking about it, so the bike just goes where I want it to, that is kind of transcendent. I feel neither like I'm being carried nor like I'm one with the bike, but instead there's a synergy of two organisms. Together me and the bike are more than the sum of our parts. And it's fun, it's a game the bike and I play together to go fast and play with precision of placement and just everything --I love biking, but afterwards is just as wonderful. When my body is well-used, when I push it and it listens, just living in my flesh feels like the part of a song where the choir suddenly soars out of a hush of background hubbub. Right now every bit of my body is singing to me.

Yeah, there are endorphins going on. Obviously I'm having a very good afternoon for many reasons. In addition to the mental glow, though, I just love the way my body feels.

In conclusion, I like biking and intend to keep doing it. Today was both a gift (you know who you are) and an awakened memory. I am reassured that no, I'm not just dicking around with this, I love it, and I can do it a bunch-- and I will. And now, I will go play Home by the Magnetic Zeroes over and over, and perhaps scrape some of this sweat off me.
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Oh morning, here you are, and while you're slow (you're always slow when there's no sun) you're not so bad. You brought me this poem, which is beautiful, and the reminder that August is the time to plant for winter harvest. Which winter veggies will I grow this year? Regardless, here is the poem. I love it. "blessed with the broad thumb of sheer stupidity and doused unknowing in such certainty..."

Sometimes Gladness

Sometimes gladness crooks me like an arm
Adoro te or some more crazy hymn
scrambling like a monkey up a rope
to bang for hours in my soul’s swung bell
that I was born and blessed with the broad thumb
of sheer stupidity and doused unknowing
in such certainty I only need
to run my tongue across my lips to taste
the salt of that immersion
Down the aisle
come all my years, none altogether miserable, none
without the saving grace of some mistake that bent me
in the sly human shape I recognise
- day-labourer slouching in at the ninth hour
to pick up a quick penny Oh ordinary
holiness of people shining out

against the blurred reredos of their dreams!

I never knew a friend who did not leave me
the richer for the knowing, pour them on
- I wait for the friends I’ve yet to meet who crowd
like seasons, apt, amenable, beyond
the familiar ambiguity of the hill.

Along each vein like air-bubbles children run
and when the heart bursts suddenly or descends
in swooning spiral to the lonesome ground
and the grasses with their dry blank commentary
are all the cushion one can choose
who knows but what some last
galvanic impulse will upraise the arm
or squeeze the throat to whisper while it can:
‘There is nothing in life as beautiful as life…’?

by Bruce Dawe
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Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety---

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light---
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

~Mary Oliver


May. 2nd, 2010 11:02 am
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TS Eliot put a few words next to each other which keep sticking in my head. He was writing to his wife when he said, 'to whom do I owe this leaping delight' but that phrase stuck with me, and it rings through my head on days like these over and over.

Leaping delight is what I feel. My shoulder muscles are tired-- they've done very unusual things lately, from unusual directions. The tops of my shoulders were especially stiff and exhausted last night, and I slept lots. This morning carrying a bag a block takes those shoulder muscles past wooden feeling into that thin tight metallic feeling of intense exhaustion, and I am aware of muscles I don't normally notice. I am really sad that it's over-- I want to hook those balls up again and feel them pulling against my flesh in that crazy predictable dance with momentum and gravity.

I'm in my center. I like it here, I like being here, and here I am.

Gonna heal astoundingly fast, piercing wounds, even 11gauge, are tiny. Not sick anymore, and will stay that way if I sleep tonight. Couple hours' work and couple hours' snuggling on the agenda today, so it shouldn't be too hard.

Off to work in the rain now. Be well.

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your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

oh greatpoets, I love you so much

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I have been given such precious things in the last week. My life is composed of nothing but stories, and I do not want to lose these stories. These are my guides when next I travel through darkness. These are the seeds of my rebirth.

The other night I was lying in bed with him and he was touching my tattoo. He asked if there was a story behind it. I told him there was, and I paused-- it is an awkward story to tell. After a little bit I told it to him, and as I did the poet's curve of his fingers stayed tracing those lines, and even afterwards he did not move his hand. Sometimes when my defenses are assaulted I can hear things shattering, but this time it was as easy and uneventful as tearing wet kleenex. I said, "when I tell that to you and you keep touching it, I feel loved."

He didn't pull his hand back. He smiled.


The other night I was walking down Broadway with him after an evening of catching up. I had learned that he had been a permaculturalist, but shelved it to pursue other interests-- I'm not sure you *can* shelve being a real permaculturalist, but I will admit to the possibility. He is always very correct, very proper in his speech patterns-- a British private school accent would not be out of place on him. "...I really really like you," he ended, "and love is just really really liking someone, right?"

"You're squirming!" I accused him, "verbally squirming!"

He looked off to one side as we walked, and he was smiling.


There are roots, as well:

The other night I was lying on his bed with him and he turned away, curling into a fetal position as he cried. I reached out my hand for him and he turned into me, letting me hold him, letting me pet his face as if I had always been there. His cheekbones felt just like they had four years ago.

The next day we spent the day together and we were children and co-conspirators, poking and writing notes and making faces at each other all day. When I peed he held my stuff. We split a second helping of lunch. We shared the ride partway home. When I got off the bus and looked back at him, already busy with his phone, he was smiling.


My life has always been a cycle, a pattern of death and of rebirth. It's slowed some lately, and as anyone who lives around here knows, we didn't really have a winter this year. Spring started after fall and it's gone on and on and on. You know why it's a really bad aphid year outside? It's because there was no snow to kill them off (and because last year it was cold enough to wreak havoc with predators, but that doesn't forward my metaphor).

My life is so full right now. It's past brimming over; there is so much light and love in my life that it has burst through my skin, and it's blinding me and choking my breath. I don't know what to do with it; I don't eat much, I don't sleep much, and I can't settle. The veil feels thin and sometimes I feel I might start crying any moment, or my chest might burst open, or I might ascend or transcend or whatever it is that people do when holiness devours your soul.

And in the midst of this (very gentle) storm, I am a person still. I go to work and push my bucket around, I tend the plants, and I think about how nearly everyone I loved has come as an invader, because left to my own devices I wall up so tight that I forget that other people even exist as anything other than cyphers to react to when there's no other choice. I think about how long it's been since anyone's walked along that field just inside the walls, I picture the new footprints in rich brown soil there, with the spring light slanting low-angled to cast shadows in the heelprints. I imagine a sculpture made from pencils as bones and gears as joints: a pair of hands formed into a heart shape and within them a real heart beating. I picture myself as that field and warm rain falling and getting swallowed up without pause. I think of the thousand hiding places of idealism and it breaks my heart.

It's time for the cycle again. It's time to walk back out of the sunshine, to traverse the dusty dark places in my soul, to surrender what I have that is so much more than what I can carry easily, and time to leave myself free to take what comes. Things always do come. Joy always does come. Love always does come. So does grief, so does darkness: these come to all of us. This is being human.

And this weekend I'm going somewhere that facilitates this cycle. I'm going somewhere where I can ride all the way down. I expect to cry all weekend and come back renewed, although who can know anything about the future?

And when I come back, my life will be waiting. I can do nothing but come back eagerly.

I have been given nothing but gifts.
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Excuse me for spewing love songs all over the internet, but this is what's playing in the background right now and it needs to be here. I'll cut it a bit for ya.

Well you've done done me and you bet I felt it
I tried to be chill but you're so hot that I melted
I fell right through the cracks
and now I'm trying to get back
Before the cool done run out
I'll be giving it my bestest
Nothing's going to stop me but divine intervention
I reckon its again my turn to win some or learn some
Read more... )
No I won't hesitate no more, no more
This cannot wait I'm sure
There's no need to complicate
Our time is short
This is our fate, I'm yours, I'm yours

Basically right now my life feels like dancing in warm rain. I am enjoying it so much, and even learning to relax a little bit about that. I have done cool things, spent more time than I believed imaginable with cool people new and old, learned so much interesting stuff, gathered and accepted so many opportunities, been presented with so many workable challenges... If I had ever been in the habit of being optimistic about the future I'd say my dreams are come true, but to be honest I'd never have thought to aim so high. And don't get me wrong, I am high right now, I'm riding very little sleep and a spring surge and hormones and the trailing edge of this chaos wave. Don't worry, I'm a pro. When it all goes over I'll try not to breathe too much water.

I want to tell you about all the highlights that have happened lately, but I need you to realise I haven't been sleeping. Normally this isn't possible for me. I self-destruct. Lately I haven't been able to settle, and even when I go to sleep at 4am I wake up at 6 and pop out of bed, so a lot has been happening.

One of those things was the Bridging the Gap Engineers Without Borders Conference which I went to on Saturday with CrazyChris. At the beginning of the day they gave us a sticky note, and they asked us to write on it what got us out of bed in the morning, and then during the course of the day stick it on the board. I wrote, "I live the world and I get to be a part of it!". Normally I'm not a fan of chirrupy engagement-building exercises (if I'm there, it's because I am engaged, I don't waste time and money on things I would only engage with because a man in a banana suit started a chant or something), but I was pretty solid on that one. Not only did I get to hear some amazing speakers say some incredible things-- no punches were pulled, there was little in the way of shock-rhetoric but also little sugar-coating --but I got to meet some cool people, get some great info, and spend some time with my birthday twin who's been mentally on vacation in the land of theatre and internet memes for the last couple of years. Chris and I were frothing at the mouth together, grabbing each other's legs, making muffled choking sounds, and otherwise engaging deeply with both each other and the content-- and I had missed that so much. He's the guy who started me down the urban part of my path, who's half-convinced me that big cities may be worthwhile and desireable enough that it's worth the administrative hell of keeping them around, who introduced me to ethical eating and also to basically all the people I'm friends with now, and who... well, he's just very special to me. I had missed him, and there he was, back with me for a whole day. I had missed eating with him. I had missed his high level of reaction. I had missed his engagement with the world around him-- so many people are so very ignorant or head-in-the-sand.

Also Hans Rosling compared Christopher Columbus to Hitler, showed a trade-deficit thingy of the world and commented, 'in the US, they always give the black man the crappy job', and otherwise blew my mind. Then there was the guy from Bangladesh, who was super hardcore. He gives us some figures: land area of Canada, land area of Bangladesh. Population of Canada, population of Bangladesh. Then he says: "30% of Bangladesh will be under water in 20 years." He talks about this for a bit, including things like climate refugees. At the end, during question period, some kid puts up his hand and says in effect: I don't want to accept refugees, that problem's pretty hards, so maybe in Canada we'll be doing enough of our part if we just buy new cellphones less often (note: the 'new cellphones less often' were his own worlds). Iqbal responds, and I swear I don't know how he did this, "Thank you for your question." Then he mentioned that his government was willing to do basically anything that would help, but was also focusing resources on poverty reduction and there was some question as to priorities there.

Oh, that does not do the conversation justice. Here's how it felt to me. Guy: we have little land and lots of people. You have lots of land. Soon our land will all be underwater. Kid: We could replace our cellphones less often in Canada, then we'd have done our part. Guy: Thank you for your question. My country will be underwater. The people actually need places to stand. We are willing to look at all assistance however. Chris and I: *stare in horror*

In addition to that, I've been reconnecting with other people. I looked up Bevan the other day and chatted with him for awhile. He's generally a little awkward, and I was pleasantly surprised that a lot of that had dissipated and we could just talk about cool stuff. I am also always thrilled when someone I haven't talked to in two years doesn't hold that against me.

Tillie too has been re-entering my life. There was an impact play workshop at her place (slapping, kicking, punching) to which I brought Angus, and afterwards she beat him up a little bit and I watched and it was all super shiny. We agree that family dinner will start again. It would not be family dinner without her.

I worked at the Pan overnight between a couple of those things (did I mention I have NOT been sleeping?) and remembered how cool my bosses are. It's comfy to talk casually with them during work, and that means so much. Also I got to be a plant ninja, which would be more fun if I was not half-dead with sleep dep but is always kinda cool.

What else has been happening? Cameos at social events, some settling in and coming to terms with the relationship stuff going on in my head including a very new and very shiny someone (his handwriting is so beautiful) and the surprising slam into familiarity of someone else, little bits of chatting with Angus and no fretting there. I notice that there is such a depth of love with my old friends, where the breadth might have been worn away with lack of contact the thing still feels so very powerfully anchoring-- while with new people the challenge of engaging and figuring them out is so very strong and stimulating. I may be coming to accept endings a tiny bit more, and not to let them angst the whole experience of everything ever in advance. Maybe. (see: song)

And on top of all of that the air today felt like soft blankets in a cradle-- not cold, very soft, very present, and it smelled so lovely.

What else could possibly go right? Well, Twitter is apparently a wonderful source for permaculture info-- as it should be, considering the distributed bottom-up nature of it. When I have a spare moment I poke around there and it's neat to see what's around. I've also found it to be a good outlet for my activist side. I guess the length and immediacy of it seems appropriate to comment on things that pass me by or that I notice in the gardening/food/ethics world where there's not time for an lj post or where a facebook status update feels... weird.

I've also custom-ordered a mask for the masquerade, and discovered and bought the proper skirt. My outfit will allow me to go barefoot if I like. Now I just need to bug andi_sunrider about the corset. This is fun. I adore costuming. Adore, adore, adore.

Did I mention that there's a permaculture community garden by my place? Of course I did. I mentioned the chestnut trees. There are also pecans or walnuts or something-- I'll need to actually stop and look for a proper ID on them. Did I mentioned I may have seen an apricot tree growing in a back alley today? How freakin' cool is that?

And now I'm looking forward to many things this upcoming while: sleeping a full night or three, sex, my natal mahoganies arriving, beating up a boy, reading more permaculture stuff while on the bus, spending a weekend cut off from media paganizing, peoplepeoplepeople of the very best sort, puzzling out more about my shiny thing, alcohol-ing the ass off the scale at that one account at work, deciding what to wear to the big hippie pagan festival, maybe being beaten up (face slapping ftw!), more time with my ratty babies, regular mealtimes, sleep, and did I mention sex and sleep? And people? And what about wearing my super comfy sweaters? And maybe even having time, or not having time, for more lj posts.

So much love. Be well. Thinking of you.


(Woah lj is acting weird and sorta-double-posting this)


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