|Posted by anne on July 15, 2013 at 12:15 AM||comments (0)|
For anyone who doesn't know, the Oregon Country Faire is a beautiful celebration of creatively excellent folks in the heart of Oregon's beautiful summertime. The music there is unparalleled in quality...and quantity. Everyone is costumed, if it's just glitter and a hippie skirt, and there is debauchery everywhere for the making... craftspeople have their wares for sale, art seems like a way of life. There is a certain cliquishness in the folks that put on the country faire, but that's a minor thing.
I mean, look at this face! This is a lovely stranger who showed me some yoga moves while we sat at main kitchen.
I enjoyed two evenings and a day at the pre-faire, loving up the humans pulling it together and connecting with beautiful friends I haven't seen in a long time, enjoying some pleasurable playtime with other earthy spirits, dancing for the practicing musicians and cheering their excellence. I even got an opportunity to do a little hands on healing as a volunteer, which I LOVE, but it's not my party and crowds are not my favorite, so I set off on Thursday morning singing a song about exiting the faire and rode 20 miles to Eugene. Here is what I saw on that ride:
Seeing a river that looks so opaque from agriculture? logging? makes me alarmed and sad. As I was pondering the state of this river, a bright eyed young man pulled his car to the side of the road and got out with a fishing pole. Stunned, I stammered, "You catch a lot of fish in this river? What kind?" The would-be fisherman replied, "This is my first time here, but bass and catfish love the lower oxygenation." He smiled and made his way for the little path to the side of the bridge we were standing on.
This message keeps coming toward me on this journey: the earth is resilient The earth renews. If protecting the earth is not necessary...if the earth regenerates even under dire pressure, what is the problem with straining this regenerative quality with pressure of over-consumption and consumer culture? I suppose it is also true that those types of strategies are not nice for the human spirit either. The way of life that is putting pressure on ecosystems does not enhance the soul, it does not cause people to thrive. Instead, it intensifies inequity and casts many into untouchable class where they cannot even access enough food ( 1 out of 6 Americans has trouble getting enough food yet Congress just passed an agriculture bill that cuts food stamps totally out of the budget). Many times I have marveled at the structure of cities and how unfriendly they are to people. Park benches with extra 'arms' so nobody can lie down enhance laws that make it a crime to sit or lie in public places. Locked public bathrooms nobody can use, and downtowns where no restrooms are available are common in places like Ashland, Santa Cruz and other places where poor people are undesireable and seen as vermin. Western society, as it now stands, is structured to accumulate wealth to the top of the pyramid and it does that very well at the expense of a lot of things that matter: healthy communities, opportunities for everyone to reach their full potential, facilitation of healthy connections, opportunities for beauty and creativity. I supppse these are the things that radicals have to build and create, and some of these are instituted into our society as fixtures of awesomeness, such as the Oregon Country Faire. .
|Posted by anne on July 13, 2013 at 10:05 PM||comments (0)|
It's my birthday and suddenly I don't feel like being alone. I become excited to see my Eugene friends and I ride off with strength, setting off on the gentle incline beside the north fork of the Suislaw River. Striding on the bike, sliding through the air, bright late morning eases slowly into very warm noontime. Up and up I climb, taking a few breaks but mostly treading steadily toward the top. Reeling past bit by bit at about 3.7 miles per hour up the hill, past Mapleton the grade increases. I start wilting, and become demoralized a bit when I reach the top of the hill, where there is a very narrow tunnel. Logging trucks have been riding the white line all day, and after they pass me several of them move all the way in my lane. It feels very dangerous and I imagine that it is intentional, though I'm not sure. After one particular logging truck whizzes by me in the tunnel, blasting my hair straight up, I dismount my bike and, in panicked tears, walk my bike quickly through the tunnel.
I stop every once and a while and lay down on the earth. In Walton, I devour a protein energy bar and immediately come across Morning Glory Farms, with great green hills rising up in the back. I purchase a large container of organic strawberries and order a ‘farm’ smoothie: apple juice with frozen bananas, strawberries and blueberries. I meander around the parking lot eating my berries as my phone charges. Jokingly, I talk about the trucks that are trying to kill me. It feels as though the drivers are trying to point out that the road is theirs. We discuss how that tunnel could really be a one laner with a stoplight and be a little more safe. Oh if the world was made for the bicyclist! it would be very different.
Earlier that day, I had given my card to the biker in the next spot, Joe, kinda plump, but earnest and cute. I was talking like that to him to, on a pretty good rant about it. “ I think they don’t notice the society is built on death. Everyone’s joined in already they don’t even realize it’s happening. They meet each other in the evening to watch a UFC fight. People gouging each other’s eyes out and smashing their face. They watch this for fun… this continues inside all of our culture so it barely registers when people are violent in indirect and more subtle ways than striking someone. Cars are dangerous, and to angle them at a bicyclist to induce fear is violent."
I struggle the next few hours of the afternoon with the heat which has hit around 90 while cycling the 40 miles to Noti. I probably should have jumped in on of the many little streams like Chickahominy, (funny name, huh?) and in the future I will do so, however I have gotten in an urge to conquer the miles. In Noti, I come across this awful tree graveyard (lumbermill?), where the humans have turned the forest into a pile of giant toothpicks. I feel dehydrated, weak, unable to continue and I shamelessly ask a patron of the little gas station if he knows anyone with a truck that could take me the last 20 miles to Eugene. On the first try I score, and this human has a guarded conversation with me while ascertaining if I'm crazy (dehydration and exhaustion could be mistaken for severe mental problems! or not, and luckily decides I am not. He says, "I'm going to Eugene, but first I'm going to stop by the country faire"....
|Posted by anne on July 13, 2013 at 8:10 PM||comments (0)|
As a traveler I am suspended in a special place that more situationally fixed persons cannot occupy. If the energy between myself and others is not feeling right, the first question I ask myself is: Is it time for me to keep moving? Not usually in our lives can we exit on situations when they become difficult, but since traveling is the constant in this adventure, moving alone is always a fantastic option.
So this is the option I chose when 'the Western Flyer' begain railing to me with a face contorted with rage about how it felt to be discriminated against because of his whiteness and his 'older-ness'. While I empathize with the latter, I have an alternate critique of the former that would not be allowed in the conversation. It was not the anger that caused me to want to go my own way, but it was the being used as a verbal punching bag as a strategy to alleviate difficult emotions which I rejected outright. Ken has been sober for 9 years and still carries some of the strategies of the alcoholic, and unfortunately describes himself as 'mentally 9 years old.' I empathize with his situation, but have a difficult time feeling excited to try to negotiate emotionally charged problems with a 9 year old who is completely unable to do so.
So while it was flattering to have a funny, interesting man following me around doing my bike maintenance, I am also plenty capable to do that myself, and in the interest of carrying on in a healing flow, Ken and I parted company in Newport at South Beach.
I had sent myself a little package in Newport so I went to pick it up in the morning, then flew like the wind on my way to the Florence area, nearly 50 miles away. Ken and another of the friends we have made on the road were converging there for the evening and to avoid a confrontation or an impossible conversation I sailed right by, biting my lip. The next closest camping with hot showers is Honeyman just south of Florence, another 17 miles. By the time I had completed 50 miles to Florence I felt pretty exhausted. I sat at a "Bar & Grille" and chatted with friends by social media, attempting to garner some sort of empathy for my physical prostration before pulling it together and getting on the road for the 5 further miles to Honeyman Park. Tall trees enveloped me as I pulled into the place and I continued to feel elated by the solitude, although I'd already begun talking out loud to myself: "you can do it. there you go. it's okay, you're almost there." This journey has been the most physically difficult thing I have ever done.
When I tell the park rangers at the toll booth I've biked from Newport that day, the young woman gasps and asks, "How is that?" I tell her, "It sucks! Oh wait, did I say that out loud? Hee hee." I am elated by the experience, really. The tortuous road snaking up to and past Cape Perpetua is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful sights I have seen (hold on for pictures in a moment) but the winds there blast gusts that make my bike skip to the middle of the cars' lane. I pry my white knuckles off the handlebar and relax a little. I tell the park rangers in the booth, "did you know that you can go into an RV rental place with no experience driving except for your Volkswagen Jetta and rent a giant RV and drive it away??? That sure needs to change. It's frightening!" I had another joke for them, but my brain is giving me the white noise of exhaustion and I forget what it is.
I get my tent set up in the semi-communal hiker-biker campground and take a shower. Before I rest I try out my comedy on Joe from the east coast, my neighbor in the campground. "They are named things like Sightseer and Adventurer, and they drive these giant RVs into the campground, they open the sides (sound effects like an RV opening) and they sit there and eat dinner amongst their belongings and pets. In the morning, they close the sides (sound effects like an RV closing) and they drive off. What sights did they see?? What adventure (besides driving a gargantuan vehicle)? I meet Joe's buddies who are traveling together from Canada to Mexico. They have a schedule and are talking about how many more days before they're ready to do 100 miles a day. They're close now at 70 miles. I pipe in unbidden: "Don't forget to stop and taste the Salmonberries!" and go on to describe where to find these and what they look like on their request. We laugh about the different strategies and I feel much more like a bike wanderer compared to these very focused and driven individuals.
I am in the tent before dusk and sleep until 7:30, about 10 hours. I have been debating whether to head for Eugene where I have several loved ones and family, and since they don't seem to be amenable to heading out for a beach day, I decide to ride the 60 miles to Eugene.....
|Posted by anne on July 6, 2013 at 12:05 PM||comments (0)|
Cape Lookout is the stopping point between these two days ride and is really extraordinary. It's the fourth of July and the camp is swarming with all kinds of people including a pack of Boy Scouts teeming with pre-adolescent hormones. They seem to be imitating pterodactyl babies, squawking and running through the campsites flapping their arms.
I spend some of the day walking through the car camp singing my song about Freedom. Sung in an off key lounge-style. "Freedom to pay more taxes than Exxon! Free to watch 100 species a day go extinct! Free to melt off the polar ice caps. etc. Are you free? Are you free?" Ha! I tire of it pretty quickly but feel happy about it nonetheless, occupying my own little fringe of society that I create myself. It's mostly for amusement, but also, like my bike mechanic, Ken, says: If you have ahold of the rope on a ship if you pull on it long enough it will start to move." It has become a refrain when the conversation comes back to the terrible state of the world etc. He says, "You have to keep pulling that rope." He's a brilliant guy who, like me, fell through a hundred cracks in his life and kept insisting that he would not be a slave and he would live life on his own terms. It's delicious to come across such wonderful, bright folks doing their own thing, and doing it very well.
Ken has done this trip 40 times or more. He says he called himself the Western Flyer until he met a guy claiming to have been calling himself that since a few years before Ken had started these trips, so he says , "I'm the Western Flyer 2". His zen approach to hills is helping us all who are still in a western state of mind. Instead of straining to mount the hill, I've come to plod along, be present in the movement of my leg and enjoy the slowness to look at the beautiful nature all around me. An alternate route took us through the Van Duzer (?) forest filled with native Sitka spruce and red alder. A flicker of orange and I exclaim, "Salmonberries!!" When we stop, we find them to be everywhere, and giant sized, perfectly ripe. The hillside nearby is worn and jagged by the prints of the heavy elk, which must use the area as a byway. We spend some time eating the wildcrafted juicy berries and then continue up into the forest and then down again, flying with the help of gravity. The alternate route is almost completely free of cars and we enjoy riding side by side instead of single file.
Ken gets almost giddy for a while after the Salmonberries. I point out how giggly Salmonberries make him, and he giggles some more! He's been a very pleasant and helpful companion, and makes this trip seem totally safe and doable! He lets me set the pace and then calls out encouragement from time to time, "Put it in a low gear and keep going! You're doing GREAT." He once said in camp with a few other hiker bikers in a conversation, "I've been doing this a long time but I'm trying something new. I'm following Anne Marie as her bike mechanic." I laughed and said, "You just like looking at my butt, fella, and for right now, I'm gonna let you." Haha. But he's said the same thing a few more times with seriousness. What a sweet gesture of supportiveness. Having wildly and fiercely independent guy dedicate himself to my adventure is just mind blowing. The universe moves when you embrace your heart's desire, I think, and makes way for you to be safe and supported.
|Posted by anne on July 1, 2013 at 9:25 PM||comments (0)|
Wow those hills are killer! Here is the view after several hills, however. When you've earned it with sweat it looks a bit sweeter methinks.
Another impression: The woods and the ocean have such a nice sound: quietness. The wind rustles through the branches, the ocean sounds like divine respiration: regular, comforting...like the mother's heartbeat. While biking the coast route these sounds are punctuated by 18 wheelers screaming past, or unpredictable motorhomes pulling SUVs driven by elderly... It's a strange juxtaposition, which makes the difference between the two stand out in stark contrast.
|Posted by anne on July 1, 2013 at 11:05 AM||comments (0)|
I am an anarchist. That means I think that we all should associate with each other without coercion. (also: direct action (in your life and externally in the world to help make it what you want), personal responsibility, non-hierarchical collaboration etc). That ethic is valuable to me in my personal relationships. I reject obligatory giving. I try to make as much space as possible for people to say no or do whatever they want. It’s a good ethos and there are a lot of philosophies around the idea that people can figure out their own lives. I still make and keep commitments and in fact, the level of ‘buy in’ on voluntary associations is high. Imagine the difference between the revolutionary anti-monarchs fighting the hired Hessians for an idea of why anarchist associations can be even stronger than those based on a paycheck. Think about it: when you are dedicated to something from your heart and soul the commitment is much stronger than if you are dedicated to it because someone else cares about it and has tried to compel you to care. Also, look it up: it's the anarchists that defeat the fascists.
I hosted a fundraiser for Cascadia Forest Defenders in Portland, Oregon and invited all my friends. My initial thought was to get my friends together, but the fundraiser part seemed natural: I love CFD! And my friends were much more likely to show up at a party if it was for a good cause.
I lived in Portland for about 8 months 9 years ago. The house was populated with young, media savvy activists, musicians and filmmakers. I loved it! I was about 10 years older than these lovelies and I felt like the den mother. At least one house member saw things that way too… most of these creative, dynamic housemates participated in a music project they called Jesus Burger. Melodic, ambient noise which always made me freak out in dance and move around, writhing around waving my arms and making earnest funny faces. <3
I got to see my friend AM, who said she’s always wanted to be a parent. She looked so lovely. Her eyes were as clear as the sea and they had that same endless quality. Her son was strapped to her front and seemed alert and a little weirded out by all the commotion… while mom exuded a peaceful, calm, centered, entirely love focused countenance. S, the son, looking little and vulnerable protected by this amazing energy that his mom was generating. Actually, there were a lot of mammas there but S the only baby in attendance. Now he knows something the other little babies don’t. The children now 0-2 have a pretty wonderful cohort in PDX, that feels very hopeful!
Some hope and people willing to do something! The future of the treesits! The ladies from the trees talked about the loggers who think they’re badass, and basically about their ewok village near Roseburg. They talked about the trees in the sale are the 100 to 150 year old, but the ones that come down for the roads are 400+ years old. They were articulate, intelligent, and conveyed a sense of possible success, while inviting people to join them. That’s what they said they needed. If you have time, check them out. Google Cascadia Forest Defenders or I think there is a link on the link page for them...
Then Tape Deli came on.
Plays the cassette tape four track/drum machine/ home made oscillator noise box. His web is
Jake Anderson- Plays the Language Master (AND HOW!)
His web is archive.org/details/ActivityUniversalAssociates
Jason looked beautiful, radiant, young, intelligent (and is an old friend) The offering was brilliant. Humorous, sincere, and very interesting musically. Melodic, with a great sense of timing, enthusiastic, and totally unique. This band was amazing and I cannot say enough about it. Across from his ironing board covered with an array of synthesizers and other equipment I don’t understand is his bandmate, Jake. On his little table he has a ‘califone’, one of those tools a speech pathologist might have used in the 80s. It has a couple of buttons and through it he slides paper cards with magnetic stripes on them. Apparently the tool is used to teach kids how the language is supposed to sound. In it’s original usage it would say, “the ball is red” and then the student could press a different button on the contraption and say, “the ball is red” and it would record it and play it back so the student can compare the way the two sound.
Jake has used these cards to sample all kinds of sounds--Some words, but also ambient sounds, some recognizable and some not. Incredible and awesome, he used these to ‘scratch’ a whole bunch of rhythms inside the words. Everyone went wild at the end of each song. They really loved it. It was wonderful.
Next up: The Everything All at Once Forever Ensemble. What a trip: four strings lull you into a relaxed brain state with their harmonizing until samples of the roar of traffic, or small explosions of static or other sounds from the environment shock and bring your dreamy mindstate into a focused in the present feeling. Or like ballet dancing that ends in a faceplant on asphalt. I love how this integrates the beauty of these instruments along with the disruptive energy that comes along with the modern world. I've never heard people cheer like that for a string quartet!
Bubble Cats was next: some syncretism between punk rock, ska, trance, or something. Kind of indescribable, fun and unpredictable, musically superior. They were great, but loud and everyone left the room to mill outside and chat with each other. Although that can’t feel great to the band, they really were awesome and we all knew it.
Mingling with my friends later, I enjoyed being the common denominator to many of the folks, kind of like a hyperactive, young and beautiful version of the godfather (without the violence and coersion of course.) All joking aside, this event made me feel very connected to a lot of wonderful folks. Having had no children and no nuclear family of my own (no wife and kids) these kinds of connections mean a lot to me. My extended family is wonderful! (disclaimer: those people in my nuclear family: siblings, parent, cousin, aunties are also really important to me and are all beautiful and wonderful as well.)
Hooray! Protecting the forest vicariously...and what a fun adventure it would be to visit their action/ewok village near Myrtle Creek! Please visit it if you have a chance and see the last of the native forests before they're all gone. They'll touch your heart if you have one and maybe you'll be motivated to do something to help save them.
If I had invited all my friends to come over to a ‘biking the coast kick off party’ I would have been sitting alone with my snacks and maybe one or two friends. This way, I got to see all the beautiful people in Portland who inspire me because none of them can resist a good cause. *(I love you, if you’re reading this, my soulkin family…;).)
|Posted by anne on June 25, 2013 at 8:45 PM||comments (0)|
It feels like 100 miles, but it's only 36-8 per day. With breaks, I spent about 6-7 hours bicycling for the two days. Oregon's western Cascades are moist, green and fecund. The air is fresh and fragrant with growing things and pine. Of course, while biking one also gets large lungfuls of diesel smoke...
Instead of almost doubling the distance of my ride by taking the scenic river route, I simply used google maps with a biking layer to navigate my way. This worked marginally well. On the roads with very little shoulder, there was also very little traffic...all except one stretch of the 99E that was treacherous: no shoulder, with a little cliff to the side of the road and a small lane with a curve and giant semis grinding past. I lived, so that's fine...
Certainly this whole process is blissing me out. I love the feeling of freedom that comes with knowing I can bike 70 miles to a nearby city or state. I feel untethered from fossil fuel consumption a bit, although I don't kid myself: the consumption and utilization of fossil fuels is deeply entwined in every part of our lives, from my polyester fleece to the electric light and hotwater I'm using while resting between ride days.
Portland is beautiful, as I remember. Full of quirky and forward thinking folks, I'm absolutely sure the average IQ is much higher in Portland than other major cities, and interesting conversations are possible everywhere you go. A local decries the 'aloof hipster' trend in Portland, and we agree that the best response to unfriendlies is to ignore them and give our attention to the interesting people who are open and engaging.
Speaking of attention: being a traveler is a great way to be alive in the moment. One must stay attentive to what is going on around one when one is a visitor or simply passing through an area. The sensation of the wind on my skin, the reflection of the sun off the fluttering summer leaves, the deep purple of a giant plum tree, giant evergreens that seem to scrape the sky...these things stand out when you're passing by them. You notice your surroundings. It's a good reminder to be more attentive to life and its details as they go by.
The trucks blast me with warm air, acrid with exhaust. A few moments later a bus passes me. On its flat backside are the stenciled words: "powered by biodiesel". My cross face relaxes a little. We accept all the negative 'externalities' of the fossil fuel industry encroaching on our life support system: internal combustion burns Oxygen (which is my favorite fuel for breathing) and leaves a bunch of air pollution for me to filter with my lungs. Yet, humans are so accustomed to accepting a biocidal fossil fuel infrastructure that we barely notice how disgusting and idiotic it is.
As long as we accept this as appropriate, we will have wars for fossil fuels, oil spills, air pollution and whatever unpredictable outcomes of global climate change. Is there hope? It's not a question that folks who are working for change necessarily engage. Even if it we have already gone over the precipice of the critical mass for our atmosphere, what kind of humans would we be if we just stood by while the worst is done to our planet. Those of us alive today did not create this infrastructure or our addiction to it, but possibly we have the ability to change it.
See the links tab for more information about the movement to change our infrastructre to something less biocidal, ecocidal. What does a society look like whose main ethic includes protecting life? And further, how can we have life, liberty and the pursuit when our infrastructure is constantly creating harm/death for individuals, communities and ecosystems? Of course we can't.