June 2013




When we pass each other with blank gazes on the street, punctuated by furtive steals of a passing look, our entire existential state as social beings is revealed to us—namely, that we are each, or both, encapsulated in solitude because we are pulled outward and toward each other by the desire for mutual recognition (the furtive glances toward each other that we each experience as compulsory), and at the same time feel compelled to deny this desire and look away, “keep our distance,” because of the immanent anxiety that the other will not reciprocate this desire for mutual recognition. This denial of our core need and desire as social beings for essential authentic reciprocity, for love in its deepest sense of essential affirmation and sight, is actually what creates…massive material injustice; …it is our social alienation taken as a collective totality that creates and reproduces the worldwide socioeconomic system.

Were the populations of the world not infected with this legacy of fear of nonrecognition and humiliation by the {other,} we would really without great difficulty solve the material problems that generate so much unnecessary suffering and pain.


Peter Gabel
Based on his forthcoming book,
Another Way of Seeing. Essays on Transforming Law, Politics and Culture


Family visiting recently
dubbed the amazing growth
in the high tunnel
“Jurassic Garden.”
Swiss chard grew to five feet,
its leaves the size of a bed pillow,
its trunk three-inches thick.
Ann let it grow that big
because we fed the greens
to the rabbits, guineas and chickens.
She has pulled up the chard now
and fed the last of it to those who dine
in the barn.
squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers,
eggplant, herbs
have taken off
under the protection of the spring winds,
the scorching sun
and with the steady dripping of
captured rain water.
The tender, flavorful vegetables
are now nurturing
those of us who dine
at a table.


With a crunch and a splash,
we bite into thin-walled
bell peppers.
We pop tomatoes
as soon as we pick them—
and in an instant
the long-awaited,
quintessential taste
of summer
overtakes us.
The wind carries the sublime fragrance
of basil
and, picked and chopped,
we shower it on
squash, eggplant, potatoes
for roasting.
There is a merging,
a coming together—
vegetable and human—
that is,

About 8:30 last night,
the temperature had dropped
a couple of degrees—
to 95—
but, with the earth about to
hide the sun,
and the little breeze
less warm,
the air felt cooler than that.
I had ignored the red wiggler worms
for too long.
About three weeks ago,
I had made a new bed for them
and put two batches
in the screen-bottomed boxes
atop the bin
so the worms could wiggle their way
into their new home.
It was time to check them
and, I knew,
add water.
One batch of worms had all moved
into the fresh bedding below.
The other batch
is still happy enough to stay
in the upper box.
I emptied the fresh castings
from one box into a bucket
and poured them on the asparagus bed.
Then I filled that screened box
with a new batch of worms and their castings
from the old bed
and watered both those in the new bed
and those still remaining in the old bed.

DSCN0196Worm Bin

By then
I was covered in rich soil
up to my elbows,
and dripping in sweat.
Our friend Tom had come recently
and set up the solar shower for the summer
and this was the moment
to see if it was working.

I opened the faucet,
attached to the hose
attached to the water tank
attached to the solar panel,
then turned on the shower head—
and hot water flowed.
I added some cold water
and stood in the pasture
west of the barn
and watched the sky turn pink
as water from somewhere
deep in the earth,
warmed by the sun,
washed me of the worm castings
and summer sweat
and, at least momentarily,
any desire to experience summer in the north.
Then came another desire:
May I always find contentment
in the simple,


Visiting other parts
of our planet home,
engaging with other parts
of this living organism
is a privilege
and there are always
Reflecting then
on a train ride from Kansas
to California,
a week in Los Angeles
and five days in Portland, Oregon…
Most important to me,
at this time,
are two things:
coming to know that
we are all
part of one living organism
living out of that understanding
so that we can let go
our fear of other
and live in such a way
that all life on the planet
can thrive.
I saw instances
where that is happening
and where it is not.
This will always be the case.

I am grateful for everyone
who rode the train,
showed kindness and respect to one another
and for stories shared.
It seems obvious
that one thing we could do in this country
to make life on the planet healthier
is rebuild our rail system.
Doing so would provide jobs,
decrease carbon in the atmosphere,
give us the opportunity to engage
with one another as we travel,
slow us down.

I am grateful for the city of Portland
and its people
who are profoundly appreciative of our natural home,
who have courageously committed deeply to living
lightly, sustainably,
and showing us
we can do this.

I am grateful for close contact
with people in Los Angeles.
Life in the city
is a stark contrast
to the isolation of the country life.
It is a tension
in my life—
for I love both
and neither is perfect.
This will always be the case.
I admire people who live in the city
and love it
and find ways to do it.
I am grateful to Will and Thais
for sharing their life
and their small Hollywood space
with me;
for Max and his Mother Dough Naples pizza
—the best I have ever eaten;
go to Mother Dough Pizza, if you can;
for reunions with long-time friends
and meeting new friends;
for the bloomings—
and the art
in L.A.;
for the beauty and power
of the ocean
and its delicious fruits.
Big learning for me:
there is no perfect place:
fully aware
where you are;
and wherever you are,
so that all





Four in the barn



In the indoor coop

We so enjoy our Guinea Fowl
For one thing,
they are beautiful.
Their bulbous bodies
are covered in polka dotted feathers;
their unfeathered heads
are colorful;
their short legs
move quickly
without their body moving much at all.
They are raucous,
males vocalizing loudly in one syllable;
females, two.
They feast on ticks, grasshoppers
and other insects.
And, unlike domesticated chicken breeds,
they are great parents.
Away from their native savannas,
these parents have a daunting task
successfully parenting their young ones
to autonomy.
After last year’s tragedy—
in one day, they lost all the baby keets—
mamma chose an in-the-barn nest
this year,
and hatched five little ones.
She would have hatched more
but we put some of the eggs
into an incubator,
where they hatched and are living
in an indoor coop.
(We hope mom and dad are successful this year
and next time we won’t have to rob the nest.)
It is a thrill to watch the five babes
in the barn
race alongside mamma and pappa
all around the barn.
At night, mamma finds a corner in the barn
and they nestle safely under her,
while pappa roosts close by.
But during the day,
we have to check on them:
the tiny ones have a propensity for exploring
and repeatedly find their way out of the barn,
underneath a wire gate.
Sometimes they get caught in the wire gate
and one suffered a damaged wing.
Yesterday, we found the damaged-wing-one
upside down in the dirt barn floor,
trying to right itself,
We set it on its feet
and it ran to pappa guinea,
who pecked at it several times.
Fearful that pappa thinks the little keet
doesn’t stand a chance of survival
with the broken wing,
we caught it—Pappa was not happy
about that!—
and took it to join those in the indoor coop.
Now there are four tiny keets
in the barn,
negotiating rabbits,
adult guineas
chicken hens and a rooster—
and that wire gate
(in spite of our efforts to secure it.)
Its not their native African savanna,
and dangers still exist,
but they are a week old now!

I want to say a little more
about Portland green.
At the hotel,
instead of gutters,
there are heavy chains
hanging from the rooftops.
The rain
drips down them
into a drainage system
that allows the water
to not run off
down the street.20130621_121647





Recycling bins—
which are everywhere—
not only collect
glass, aluminum,
paper, cardboard,
but also compost.
And trash is marked
a constant reminder
where trash ends up
sitting for a long, long time.


When I was at the airport
checking bags and getting my boarding passes,
I handed my travel papers to the ticket agent,
who, after handing me back boarding passes,
said, “I’ll recycle those papers for you.”


Befriending emptiness is mostly a tender thing, requiring such immediacy and vulnerability that my heart is rendered very delicate…Yet nowhere else am I more truly myself. In no other way does the woven tapestry of love and addiction spring into vibrant, colorful life…

Spaciousness is always a beginning, a possibility, a potential, a capacity for birth. Space exists not in order to be filled but to create. In space, to the extent we can bear the truth of the way things are, we find the ever-beginning presence of love. Take the time, then; make the space. Seek it wherever you can find it, do it however you can. The manner does not matter, and the experience you have there is of secondary importance. Seek the truth, not what is comfortable. Seek the real, not the easy.

—Gerald May, “Entering the EmptinessSimpler Living, Compassionate Life, ed. Michael Schut

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