by Carrie Newcomer and Parker Palmer
Praise be that this thin mark, this sound,
Can form the Word that takes on flesh,
To enter where no flesh can go,
To fill each other's emptiness.
To the Words and How They Live Between Us,
And To Us and How We Live Between the Words.
And in between the sound of words,
I hear your silent, sounding soul
Where One abides in solitude
Who keeps us one when speech shall go.
To the Words and How They Live Between Us,
And To Us and How We Live Between the Words!
A Dirty Mind
over on WordPress. Mostly about the life of the mind and the life of the soil, and where/how they connect. More specifically on animals, aspects of nature and how they affect and inform our theology, wild foods, farming, body/soul monism. If it sounds like your cup of tea, please come over and check it out! And let me know what you think! :)
It is so much better to have the flu when Tua's home on staycation than it is when he's at work. We get to chat, he brings me juice and Saltines, and just having him in the house removes the awful loneliness that often comes with being incapacitated. I was totally out of it yesterday, but today I was on the mend, ate some crackers, watched 5 episodes of 30 Rock in bed on my laptop, took a long and relaxing bath. Just had real food for dinner and feel much better.
That is all. :)
We were really lucky here in North Tunbridge: Although the rains were intense, there was almost no wind to speak of, and the winds were what I was really afraid of. A massive locust tree once fell on Tua's house in a windstorm, and if it were not for the strength of post-and-beam architecture, Tua and his mother could easily have been killed, because of where they were standing when the tree fell. Every summer, we get at least one really bad thunderstorm, complete with twisters, so Irene was kind of a letdown in that department.
Then there was the power situation. I dread losing power only because our well relies on an electric pump; no power, no water. Otherwise I can live without electricity quite happily, for the most part. And the power goes out in rural Vermont at the drop of a hat. So we filled 5-gallon buckets, bottles, Ball jars, even the bathtub, with water before the storm. But though we lost power twice, even the longer period was slightly less than 24-hours long.
It was the sheer amount of water that did the state in. Some places got as much as 11 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. Route 110, the state highway 1/2 a mile from our house, was covered in water and debris; at one point, 110 was closed from South Royalton, where it begins, to Barre, about a 35-minute drive north from here. It was only when the power came back on that we heard what had happened in nearby towns.
Because of Vermont's geography, and the low population density, 90% of our roads are unpaved, and those are mainly in the hills. The well-traveled main roads, which are paved, lie in the valleys. Vermont gets a lot of rain, and in the past century, the amount of rainfall in N.E. North America has risen by 67%. All that rain and snow have to go somewhere: Every little hill has its little streams, often gathering to run down beside the main dirt road down the hill. They gather in the valleys to make up Vermont's many small rivers, which in turn run beside the paved state roads.
Because of Vermont's history of deforestation (85-90% deforested in the 19th century) and overgrazing by massive numbers of merino sheep, a breed unsuited to the ecosystem, Vermont has terrible soil quality and high levels of erosion, despite its reforestation efforts. Mudslides are pretty common, and some areas show bare bedrock. So when those streams and rivers crested, they swamped almost every road in the state, undermining their foundations, creating sinkholes, and in some cases washing the road away entirely.
Thirteen towns were totally isolated - no way in or out. A number of smaller communities, and even some individual homes, were also isolated. The town my church is in is Bethel, one of the hard-hit; an area near the town of Rochester (called Bethel Lympus) was cut off, as were Rochester and Stockbridge, meaning half our church members were sort of MIA. One priest, who has a Blackberry for her job, was able to tell us she was okay, but with the phones out we were in the dark about the other members. Finally, phone service was restored and we heard from the remaining members. Our other locally-ordained priest, from Rochester, we have not laid eyes on yet, but at least he's safe (and living in what must be one of the closest-knit, most communitarian towns in the country - google Rochester Vermont Irene).
The National Guard, VTrans, some burly dudes from the maine Dept. of Transportation, and local road crews are working their asses off to rebuild and shore up roads, though there are some questions as to how snowplow-worthy they'll prove this winter. And there's still the issue of potable water; tests have shown that town water supplies are free of sewage, but haven't tested for benzen, gasoline, and other flammable and/or cancer-causing compounds. Farmers are screwed: Any crops (even root crops) touched by floodwaters are assumed contaminated and can't be consumed or sold. Dairy farmers can't sell their milk when the milk trucks can't make it to the dairies, so a lot of milk had to be dumped. And who knows how many cows and chickens drowned? Local dairy farmers told one of their number to loose his cows so they can try to survive the flooding. He didn't - said he didn't want the trouble of collecting the cows after the flood. So most of them drowned, chained in their barns. Bastard. I have no sympathy for him. Many other farmers did free their animals, though - we got to see that cows can swim! - and then helped each other round their animals up when the waters receded.
All in all, I have learned never to envy bottomland: In my book, it's not worth the easy ploughing, the milder winds, the earlier springs and later winters that come with farming in the valleys. And I am desperately concerned about the future of farming in light of global climate change. The conditions different parts of our country have faced this year would make for famine conditions were it not for our ability to import food. And on the downward slope of peak oil, we can't depend on that forever.
stands for all things,
even those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as St. Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking
and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.
In the last six months, I have finished my dissertation and thus put a cap on my nine years in seminary. I have fruitlessly applied for jobs both within and outside of my field. Some of those jobs were actually nixed, with no one hired at all, because of the economy and lack of returns on endowments or lack of tuition-paying students. And with the admin. assistant jobs, nobody will hire a PhD. We're just not perceived as team players (for good reason).
Ergo, new job plans were needed. Enter C., a friend of Tua's parents, who is a free-lance indexer (she writes the back-of-the-book indexes after carefully reading the manuscript). It's right up my alley, personality-wise and skill-wise. I'm now a member of the American Society of Indexers, am getting high-speed internet access in the next two weeks, then I start emailing scores of letters to publishers. I can't tell you how glad I am to be doing work where my degree is a help, not a hindrance.
For graduation, I was given an author-inscribed copy of Doc, by Mary Doria Russell, money, and a 40-gallon water-heater. I have been taking baths several times a week, revelling in the fact that Tua no longer has to carry 20 gallons of hot water over from the house to the barn. Although it was fun to joke about my "slave boy" drawing a bath for me. Especially to sort of stuffy people.
In other news, my favorite pet chicken, Redneck, was killed and partially eaten by loose dogs last week. I was angry and sad like you would not believe. Still am, really. But Tua wrote this short story about our girls that has pretty much redeemed the situation. It's like a chicken (and duck) version of Watership Down. He pulled out the main characteristics of our hens and elaborated on them, creating a story of the founding of an independent coop. It's a sweet, funny, wonderful little story, and I love it. It's a worthy tribute to a sweet, funny, wonderful hen.
Tua and I are now heading out on a dessert-before-dinner date, to get creemees at Sandy's.
by Marge Piercy
Long ago on a night of danger and vigil
a friend said, Why are you happy?
He explained (we lay together
on a hard cold floor) what prison
meant because he had done
time, and I talked of the death
of friends. Why are you happy
then, he asked, close to
I said, I like my life. If I
have to give it back, if they
take it from me, let me only
not feel I wasted any, let me
not feel I forgot to love anyone
I meant to love, that I forgot
to give what I held in my hands,
that I forgot to do some little
piece of the work that wanted
to come through.
Sun and moonshine, starshine,
the muted grey light off the waters
of the bay at night, the white
light of the fog stealing in,
the first spears of the morning,
how beautiful touching a face
I love. We all lose
everything. We lose
ourselves. We are lost.
Only what we manage to do
lasts, what love sculpts from us;
but what I count, my rubies, my
children, are those moments
wide open when I know clearly
who I am, who you are, what we
do, a marigold, an oakleaf, a meteor,
with all my senses hungry and filled
at once like a pitcher with light.
- I'm in . . .:Dartmouth Library
- I'm feeling . . .:calm
- I'm hearing . . .:Azure Ray - Drawing Down the Moon