Category Archives: life

The Grandfather of Stupid Human Beliefs

I have an A list of stupid human beliefs.

Denying the existence of human-engineered climate change.  Making a woman’s personal choice a political issue. Hate crimes. Opposition to any form of weapons control. Believing the Tea Party. Releasing sequestered carbon, using untold energy, spending megabucks and endangering lives so we can pull  non-renewable oil from the earth while ignoring free abundant energy that streams from the sky and blows in the wind. Transporting GMO food grown by megabusiness around the globe instead of supporting small and local. Overfishing. Continue reading

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FFB not BFF

That would be Friggen Facebook, not Best Friends Forever.

But I agree with the bazillion fb users out there, of which I am a mere 1, that there ARE a lot of good uses for fb. Case in point: Amazing  true story of Jacob Boehm, 22-year old Stanford music student who wandered off while traveling alone in Malaysia. Family & friends panicked when they lost all contact for six days. His parents in California created a fb page asking if anybody had seen him. Within 24 hours he was found on a remote jungle hike where there was no cell phone reception. If you were to map what happened, the connections criss-crossed the globe as fast as only cyberspace can carry. The Borg side of fb!

NOT included in good uses is the amount of time I waste cruising through fb stuff. I know I’m not alone, but OK, that’s personal time-wasting choice. What tops my list of WTH?Why-didn’t-you-use-your-brain-before-posting? are the unintended consequences of re-posting.

First I’ll say it’s already a peeve of mine when otherwise really nice people ask me to ‘post this as your status.’ What if I don’t want to re-post it — for reasons legit or other? At a minimum I am not a nice person. More likely I obviously don’t give a shit about kids with cancer, the environment, or the latest tragedy somewhere. Likely I should rot in hell for my unadulterated shortsighted selfish behavior. Do I judge too harshly? Perhaps a tad.

But consider this, if I like apost  and want to re-post it I will — all on my own. Maybe it reminds me of the chain e-letters and their antecedents via snail mail that openly threaten life, limb and one’s first born. But fb is more insidious. It carries behind it the weight of unspoken but public humiliation. Seriously, what kind of person ARE YOU???

Anyway, that’s not what tops my list either. It’s this.

Let’s say you happen to be an ecologist, democrat, foreigner, or welfare recipient. Someone posts something so odious, so utterly heinous, so downright stupid, selfish or mean-spirited that your ‘oh no you don’t’ juices start cascading in waterfalls. Sooooo you re-post it to let loose your wrath, intelligent counter-position or righteous outrage. Fine — except for the unintended consequence.  If it’s an outrage for you it’s likely to be contraversial enough that some folks, bless their evil little hearts, will feel just as strongly for as you do against.

Re-posting it will make their day. Effectively this is giving plenty o’ free advertising to a position you never even wanted to know existed. Usually with a picture included to be even more attention-getting. This might even help it go viral when all you really wanted to do was squeeze its greedy little neck and drown it somewhere it wouldn’t be found for thousands of years.

So what to do with that righteous anger? Honest, there is a better way. Educate the world — even via FFB — about your position. Get up on that cyber stage and grandstand your beliefs. Forget the anti’s. Put out your for’s. Ignore the con’s. Explain the pro’s.

Who knows? Maybe someone will get angry enough to re-post it.

 

 

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Carpe Diem Right Now!

Life has a way of showing us up sometimes. I mean, we want to think we’re in control at least a little bit and some of the time. Then suddenly we are reaching out to things that are simply beyond our grasp, and all we can do is watch — like old people getting senile, not eating, wanting to die and not dying. Like family members doing that. Like my favorite elder doing that.

And here’s the real kicker. She now exemplifies everything she never, ever was.

My aunt was a childhood hero of mine because she was so damn stubbornly independent. She grabbed life and shook it until it gave her what she wanted. No matter her mother died way too early, leaving her motherless at 12 and that her father put her in an orphanage some months later. He was known around town as  ‘Cauliflower Joe’ from his favorite scam of taking his carriage around, hawking beautiful cauliflowers with only the top ones good. He was a short con artist with no room in his life for a daughter.

It didn’t bother her though. She said she preferred the orphanage. But even today, she talks lovingly of her mother and seems to miss her, though she’s been dead for longer than most people get to be alive. 81 years ago. My aunt is 93 now.

She started her own business, went on the world’s longest railway trip — the trans Siberian Express, took trips to Korea, China, Europe, Mexico and others. She took a 3-month world cruise sans husband. They often took ‘separate vacations.’ When she was ready, she sold her business for a tidy sum and retired to Florida. She hated it there. She said It’s like an old people’s home, there’s no kids. So at age 69 she picked up, visited Costa Rica and a week later bought a house there. That was 24 years ago. It’s where she’ll die, probably in the pretty near future. She married and divorced five times, once to a mafioso who was stupid enough to try to go for her money. He lost. Let’s just say he lost big time, and leave it at that.

Avid bridge player, winner of tounaments. Avid theater goer, she turned part of her home into a small theater for the English-speaking community. Self-educated, voracious reader, she played a killer game of Trivia and Scrabble. When I visited her last time she had a thick book near her bed — NYT Sunday crosswords. Most of them done.

All her friends and most of her loved ones are gone. As is her hearing and her ability to get out of bed and take care of herself. Her time is over. And she is ready, very ready. In fact, as in her many years of active life, she’s kind of pushing the envelope.

It’s okay. She had a Life. She didn’t wait for anybody or anything. Within the law, she made her own laws. She reigned. She rocked.

I’ll miss her. I already do.

 

 

 

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Semana Pascua and beyond

Next time I want to invite friends I won’t tell them to come the week after Easter when all is calm. Two reasons: First off it’s not. Semana Santa, which is the week before Easter is crowded. But the following one, Semana Pascua, also has its own name. That should have clued me in that it too would be busy. In fact it’s also packed here at oceanside PV. Somehow it works out that the group that second week replaces the young, single Spring Breakers from DF Mexico and Guadalajara with families from the same areas whose younger kids are on spring break .

Apparently you feel that change big time if you live in the tourist zone (Emiliano Zapata aka to gringos and other tourists as the Zona Romantica). Which we don’t. We live in a Mexican neighborhood. Both weeks were crowded here, but there was no major difference for us. Well it was a bit noisier than usual but mostly it was different noises — more people laughing in the middle of the night and cars showing off. It outdid the regular noises of dogs, pick-up & delivery trucks and the stereo early calls of roosters. By Monday a.m. of the following week life had returned to normal, but not.

That brings me to the second reason I’d reschedule on the invitation thing: The weather is getting muggy, hot and hotter&muggier. When we moved here 1 June a year ago after close to a year in Suriname, a relentlessly hot and muggy tropical country, we thought we knew muggy. HA! and HA! By July we were hoping for a let-up. By August we were panting. By September we were really REALLY over and done with the damn humidity, sweat and mold. By mid October we were moldy. By beginning of November we thought we had moved to another part of the world. Or, pardon the pun, had a sea change.

So begins the cycle of perfect weather in paradise that lasts close to 6 months. But now I’m S.A.D.ding and I didn”t think I would. Some snow bird friends are gone NOTB (that would be north of the border). Some activities have stopped and places shut down, but that’s not it. In Seattle we take that Seasonal Affective Disorder stuff seriously. When you’re sunless for months on end it’s no surprise to feel the loss of all the goodies we get from Vita D and sunshine. But here in paradise? I expect it’s the transition. My body is arguing with me about going out between oh, say 11 and 5. It’s complaining when I try to sleep, and I’m astounded when I go on the terrace at midnight and it’s not much cooler than it was 5 hours earlier. So I figure I’ll just do what the animals do and learn to live with nature instead of arguing with it.

I’ll let my body and psyche adjust and jump into the ocean to cool down, go to the occasional afternoon movie, seek out air-conditioned coffee houses to work in, and snuggle into the major PV contraction known in other places as Summer.

 

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Once were citizens

Once we Americans were citizens first. Now we’re consumers. Some economists are petrified we might start saving just when they want us to spend so we can heal the economy. Like we’ve been doing for the last few decades. Even if they’re right it justs sounds ridiculous. Let’s keep doing what hasn’t worked? 

If a spending spree is not the way out of this mess, what else do we have? How’s about change. 

I’m amazed that on prime time some of the talking heads are asking us to live more consciously. Now that’s headline news! I heard a panelist actually ask the media to stop referring to us as consumers. We’re citizens first, she said. I like it. I prefer the word steward or Earth citizen, but I think we understand each other.  

We elected a president of change, now what about us? Are we willing to take it on?  I mean what if we weren’t the toughest kid on the block, or the richest anymore.  Then who are we, as individuals and as a nation? Are we willing to reconsider how we as individuals and as a nation tread on this earth and do different? 

We and other nations know how to use religion, land, oil, water, and culture as justifications for war. Can we regroup and breathe out life force instead of fire power? Can we turn technology, science and construction green?  Can we listen to the rhythms of the Earth and learn its dance?

We’re in a time of Big questions, and even if we don’t come up with the Big answers, we have a moral imperative to keep asking. There has been a sleepiness in our collective soul and our national conscience that is struggling into awareness.  If we cut our hand, our bodies leap into healing mode the moment we are wounded. Life seeks healing. Our national invincibility cloak is in tatters. Let that be a good thing, and let the healing begin.  

As we heal ourselves we will also heal our planet. That is how we create the collective moment that transforms ‘yes we can’ into a universal yes! so strong and so broad it rebuilds ghettoes and shanty towns and favelas, it draws lines around our rainforests and coral reefs and holds them safe, it criss-crosses borders with ideas and support, with cures and care.  And you?  “You may say I’m a dreamer, but…”  Let me cut you off right there. Yes I am a dreamer. What else has ever changed the world?

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Don’t you wish Gaia were Gay?

 

A candid Gaia shot

A candid Gaia head shot

Not in the sexual sense. Sexually I think we can assume Gaia is AC/DC. I mean it in the older definition, as in happy, carefree. Wouldn’t that be great? Instead, according to anyone who’s breathing, She’s depressed and moody, and we’re in trouble.

I’m working on a book about the rainforest and healing herbs (yay!) and one part is about the Gaia Theory. It used to was the Gaia Hypothesis but it has enough validity now to be called a theory. James Lovelock who originated the hypothesis that our planet is alive, was not a hippie, New Ager, or a stoner.

Actually while I’m sure of the first two, I have no proof of the third.  But I really don’t think so since he was a NASA researcher at the time, hired to develop experiments for detecting life on Mars.  He pissed off his employer pretty seriously because they NASA was really looking for a reason to land a rover on Mars.  But Lovelock was convinced there was no life on Mars because it was in a state of ‘dead equilibrium.’  What a cool term. We’re forever trying to get our lives in balance, and what does he say. Too much balance and you’re dead. Maybe we should relax a little. Anyway…

Being inquisitive, he delved into the opposite — Earth, home, imbalance.  He was intrigued by the fact that unlike the other planets in our solar system, the atmosphere of our tiny blue marble was in a state ‘far from equilibrium.’  So maybe it’s okay that we get freaked out since that’s how our atmosphere lives.  It was not easily explained. Especially because the atmosphere not only remained constant and supported life, but was in an ‘unlikely’ imbalance. One quick example. Since life started on Earth, the energy provided by the Sun has increased by 25% to 30%. That’s quite a bit, and in spite of it, our surface temperature has remained remarkably constant.

Lovelock posited that a complex process was keeping our planet in this unlikely state of life-supporting imbalance. He called it by the really boring name of ‘Earth Feedback Hypothesis’ until his friend and fellow villager William Golding (Lord of the Flies) suggested Gaia, from the Greek Earth Goddess.

As to the Theory, while it gathered scientific dust for a while, in the past few decades the scientific community sat us and took notice. Since then there have been global meetings on it and lots of tests and research. It has fared well. The ‘weak’ Theory is supported by virtually the entire scientific community and is directly related to human impacts on our biosphere. The conclusion is that we are putting a severe strain on Gaia’s ability to counter our (thoughtless, shortsighted, stupid and prideful) behavior.

Lovelock turns 90 this year and has lived long enough to witness some of his worst fears begin to materialize. In 2006 he published a book called “The Revenge of Gaia: Why the earth is fighting back – and how we can still save humanity.” He has made dire predictions of late. Not for the planet, which would do very well without us thank you very much, but for us and the many plant and animal species we would take down with us.  

Seems like he’s still pissing off some people, which is no big deal. But we are pissing off Gaia, and that is a Very Big Deal indeed.


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7, 610,918 and counting

That’s the historic difference between Obama’s 64 million votes and McCain’s! Or try  365. These are numbers your children and theirs will learn about in school. The drama of President-Elect Barack Obama’s historic win has moved our country and the world. I know I’m not supposed to be talking politics here, but I did mention a while ago that I had devolved into a nail-biting news junkie glued to the election. Come to find out I was oh so not alone in that. A bunch of you were too, and wasn’t it all worth it? 

Finally, on election night for a few hours we could all forget blue and red states, we could forget blue, red or inde political party. In this fleeting, stunning moment of history we had a human party. Not only the millions of Americans who spontaneously filled the streets with years and decades of hopes and tears, but the millions around the world who, this time in a happy way, were “all American.” It seemed as though time stopped just long enough to allow the planet to become the Human Party of the United Globe of Earth. Transitory though it was, hope and hearts ruled the world for just a few hours.

I had to say that. It was too big, too beautiful to let pass. Does it relate to OnePlanet Herbs? Does it relate to the rain forests of the world? Well of course I’m going to say yes. I don’t even need a segue because I believe we now have a far better chance of saving the flora and fauna of the world. I believe we may now be able to save the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, we may be able to find alternative fuels and economies and create alternatives to the the slash-and-burn of rainforest destruction. 

That said, just like this election, the choice is always individual. Fueled by our personal mythologies and beliefs we will pick our presidents and medicines, lifestyles and policies, religions and causes. Yet some facts are not choices. They are simple truths: more than 20 percent of the oxygen we breathe comes from the Amazon Rainforest. For more than 80 percent of the world’s population herbs are the first line of medical care.  Most of our western pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest plants. 

While it is my hope that supporting rainforest preservation will transcend our individual mythologies, its survival matters beyond any individual belief system.  Whether our choice is pharmaceuticals or plants whether we’re living in the rainforest or in a distant city, we — and our children — still need oxygen to breathe, we still need medicines to heal, and we still want to find cures as yet out of reach.

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The Beginning of OnePlanet Herbs

It just occurs to me, so many months into my business — OnePlanet Herbs (www.OnePlanetHerbs.com) — that I never mentioned how it started. It came to me as a dream in the middle of the night. I had been struggling to put all the pieces of my interests, knowledge and  experience together into something I’d want to do forever. In waking time all I was getting was frustrated.

Then this idea hit. It brought together my love of plants, of herbs, of the rainforest, my years of trial and error and of study, my work in sustainability, and my business and writing experience.  I went to sleep wondering, jeeezzz, what next; woke up one complete person with a plan, a company-to-be, and ready to roll! I woke with images of baby boomers and younger  It brought together my love of plants, of herbs, of the rainforest, my years of trial and error and of study, and my business and writing experience. There I was, one complete person ready to roll.

When I woke I had images of baby boomers and other discovering brand new and powerful herbs. Of helping people cope with pain from sore joints and arthritis in a natural way. What became Leaping Lizard was a way to help my sister who I had watched swallow pills and suffer with arthritic pain for years. That was a very personal search for me.

And so many of my friends telling me they were tired and needed more energy — that became Sloth-No-More. Or totally stressed out and couldn’t sleep … yay for Mellow Monkey.

And so it went. After months of uncertainty, it just rolled itself out in front of me.  After months of uncertainty, it just rolled itself out in front of me. I felt so lucky. Then I remembered how much went into that moment and my buddy Joe’s favorite quote floated up: “The harder you work, the luckier you get!”

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Why is the smell of bread dough sexy?

Like other young couples wildly in lust, when my not-yet husband and I got together we made love anywhere and everywhere. I guess the worst of it was the time we couldn’t wait to get home from our bike ride along the Donau near Vienna and we both ended up filled with mosquito bites. Or perhaps it was that time on the tram. Oh well, that’s not the point. My point is that we baked bread. Hand grinder, pounding the dough and all that. It was Vienna 1979 and I’m not sure we ever managed to make a loaf without getting all over each other.

Here we are 28 years of marriage later, and again baking bread. This time with an electric grinder and a bread machine. Life is a lot easier. But that’s not my point either. What I want to say is it isn’t any different.  Sometimes I’ll put the machine on dough setting and then bake it in the oven so it doesn’t have that wierd boxey shape from the machine. Hey, that’s even when my husband isn’t around. It’s aesthetics. Really. 

But when he is around, all those years melt away. (Horrah! Not — repeat not — complaining.) Just a bit puzzled. Does anyone know what it is about the smell of bread dough that’s so effin sexy? You’d think it would conger up cozy family images, mom, dad, kids around a warm fire in December. Nope. Lust. Sex. Gobs of fun. I may not figure it out, but I’ll enjoy trying. And the bread tastes good too. If anyone has thoughts, I’m all ears… so to speak.

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