Friday, November 27, 2009

Dunnage, shoring up the corners, something from the ECO-nomy of Wee

Lake District, UK .
.. a bit of soul-filling dunnage

My dear man Pete is a good one for using and often, making up uncommon words. Not long ago sometime between loading up the truck Bernadette for our trek to Bend, Oregon and arriving here in Everett, Wa ... I heard Pete use the word 'dunnage'. I'd head him use the word once before when a huddle of men were working to get our wheelie house out from her building place of origin. The vardo was holding fast her place of origin, the ground was soft, the rain's abundant. All manner of equipment was being used to inch VardoForTwo around the house and up the driveway onto the street. It was dunnage and perseverance that coupled and made that first move possible.

What is dunnage?

Instead of a photo (of which I have none) .... imagine two blocks of wood stacked one on the other. Like the letter "T" except flip the "T" upside down, and add a thin slab across the top, making it almost an "I" .That is what the dunnage looks like shoring up the four corners of our wee wheeled house.

Wiki defines dunnage as: a term for off-cut or spare pieces of scrap wood. "Dunnage" is a common word throughout many trades in New Zealand, Australia, The Americas, and Britain such as welding, carpentry, building construction, etc. ...

This is precisely what Pete uses to shore up the changeable nature of our land ark home, VardoForTwo. Situated as we are now on the graveled flat overlooking the Everett boat harbor, the vardo is subject to the gusts of winds common to the area. Scraps of a stout hunk of wood and a smaller chunk of wood are the dunnage Pete is using to balance off the four corners creating a temporary and satisfactory sense of stability. A bit of a shame that once again my old laptop cannot allow me downloading of photos ... Still the look is something like a fairy's version of four pilings stacked under the framework of the trailer. The wind moves the whole home much like a ship would rock.

We celebrated our Thanksgiving dinner inside our land ark of a home last night. Enjoying the turkey dinner and watch an old favorite movie on a tiny tv that once belonged to our friend Sigrid. The movie, "Miss Potter" the tale of Beatrix Potter creator of tales about creatures dressed in Victorian ware and benefactress of thousands of Lake District country side preserved for future generations. Like dunnage, the simple distraction and inspiration from a writer of tales shores up our lives. The tv and dvd player are both gifts passed to us from benefactresses who reside on the other shore. The connection does not elude me, we benefit from these things are acknowledge them. Yes, like dunnage.

From time to time other forms of dunnage make their way to our lives and onto our blog through links to our side-bar = over there to the right. In the recent while I have added these links of dunnage as they do shore me up with inspiration and sometimes stir my blood more than a little.

Kauai Eclectic

Joan Conrow's Kauai Eclectic has long been a favorite read for Pete. Conrow is a Kauai-island journalist and author of a blog of musings and tellings about the real-life of an island occupied. Her writing is both personal and infused with the in-depth investigative reporting that is her journalist history. This is one of the links of dunnage that stirs the blood more than a little; we read it because it connects us with what is going on back home. Gypsy-like though our life may be there is a connection to 'aina that remains constant.

Real Change News

Here's another of the dunnage that connects me to the reality of The Planet. Homelessness. We have been on the road, been the invisible and know how likely it is we or any one can be without a place to be sheltered, safe and comforted. What Real Change News does here in the Pacific Northwest is far from charitable work in my opinion. Over the years that Pete and I have been in the Pacific Northwest I have come to appreciate the worthiness of the activism and support the vendors who sell this hard-hitting view of homelessness in the weekly 'FREE' paper. Each vendor purchases his/her stash of papers and works a specific corner-store front-location selling the paper.

The Gypsy's Travel Journal

Our friend JT offered this blog site as a place to explore and I do find inspiration and dunnage for my spirit here. Blog author Gypsy Woman melds visual with words ... some words she borrows and other times the words are her own. The visuals are fascinating ones near always, and the quotations stirring in a myriad of ways. I like her invitation found on her sidebar. A snip of it reads:

we are all gypsies of a sort, are we not, wandering through this life, through past lives and into our next lives, wandering, wondering, experiencing, loving, feeling, thinking, imagining ...

The sun is paying us a short visit. I turn my face into the sunshine and soak up the light into my eyes ... hoping to store it up like dunnage for the days when light is scant. Pete is setting up the corners for our Porch Pods to come. The ECO-nomy of Wee grows and we are glad we know to appreciate every inch of it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

thank god, i know some things ...

Our Grand Ave encampment is reminding me of the progress I'm making living with MCS. Pete and I lived at this address in Everett two years ago when both our health and our spirits were stretched to a fine thread. With little to believe in and hope at its lowest we had the love and support of two friends who helped us through. Between times mawaina the harsh reality of what it can be like living with a chronic illness whose only cure is to live without exposure to toxic chemicals, and toxic attitudes (external and internal). It's been a slog, and the stuff of nightmares or fairy tales. We have traveled many more thousands of miles since that two year stay on Grand Ave, and have made progress since those debilitated times. Living with this chronic illness demands being aware nearly all the time; that can be an exhausting job. Thing is though, in a very meaningful way exhausting or not it's my job, and my life and by the gods I'm finding the joy in really knowing how to do this job ... a bit, a moment, an experience, a day at a time. Rather than focus only on the woe of it all, there are real successes to this nearly invisibly journey of victories.

Pete is out shopping for a few things for Thanksgiving. Our friends are going to another friend's for Thanksgiving. I bought a free range turkey the other day thinking maybe we'd gather for the celebration even while I knew I couldn't sit, and eat with my friends or be in the house without a mask. Well, we, Pete and I, will be the gathered and there are gifts to celebrate anyway. The basement kitchenette we've set up is plenty enough to season and stuff our turkey. There's an oven in the house that Pete can turn on (it's gas) and then vacate while our turkey dinner cooks. He tolerates being inside a lot better than I, so who knows, there's always a ball game on for Thanksgiving and he has been known to watch them games. I'll putter in the vardo during the cooking, and maybe go for a walk with my mask and scarf. The progress is ... we know what we can do and know what we can't.

Here are a few of those small and real improvements, and sequential learnings that have come over the past two years. These are in a random sort of stream that is like one of my favorite ways of praying.

When I am having a particularly low-down day or night and have little energy to recall a prayer I can say/chant, I am usually able to say the alphabet. A, B, C, D, ..... and end by thinking "God, you put them together you know what I'm saying better than I can at the moment." Then, I start over until I fall asleep.
  • i know being inside a house is like being in a store (even the best of non-stinky stores is a 30-45 minute experience) ... short doses of house time works.
  • i know it's best for me to braid my hair and tuck it under my hat/cap when I'm out of the vardo (house smells-store smells-neighborhood smells collect in my hair and then ... {the sequential learning}i have a choice to wear my mask to sleep until my hair off-gasses or wash it with baking soda.)
  • i know my twitchy nose is telling me something (i still need to learn the distinction between a full-on red light twitch and a milder alert)
  • heart palpitations are an indicator that something's put me over the top. The year and a half of working with my NAET practitioner has taught me that my thyroid and heart are intimately connected. When my heart starts to flutter or race it may be my thyroid (and my heart, too) that needs attending.
  • i can be in the vardo with a book Pete's reading now (i just need to be on the other side of the futon or have Pete read from the floor)
  • NAET treatments i do for myself help boost my body-mind's ability to reach equilibrium (my muscle-testing confidence and objectivity is much improved over the past two years)
  • living with other people who are not fragrance or chemical free doesn't mean I can't love them. (this is a daily experience in setting workable boundaries, tolerance, forgiveness and letting go)
  • i know what worked yesterday might not work today (like the Tropical Traditions Unscented bar soap that has been my toothpaste, shampoo, bath soap for two years is now making me itch) ... there's a hot shower with a shower head filter and that's big~
  • i know i can wash my clothes and me/my hair with lemon juice or baking soda
  • i know writing is one of my best forms of healing
  • i find comfort through connection with others learning to live a new quality of life with chronic illness (see our sidebar for links to those connections)
  • i know when i am worn from the everyday dance of avoidance i must find ways to comfort myself. I found this article on Planet Thrive written by Susun Weed, Master Herbalist, about dealing with the anxiety that comes from living with chronic conditions, and especially like the description of "unfreezing" ... I do this one often.
Unfreeze yourself: Curl up in a fetal position (on your side with knees drawn up), breathe deeply, and hum. You may want to rock back and forth. Concentrate on what feelings want to emerge. Do not be surprised if grief is what you are really feeling. (Click on the link above to read the entire article)

  • i know the value of love and ancient ways and give thanks for ti leaves my son has brought from Manoa to clear the way ... and pray for the righteousness of the gathering in spite of harvest during an 'ole moon.
Small changes, real changes, creating a new set of normals. Sending blessings and gratitudes. Happy Thanksgiving Day.
Mokihana and Pete

Sunday, November 22, 2009

'OLE Days and Nights of the Moon: Sunday through Wednesday

'Ole Ku Kahi, 'Ole Ku Lua
'Ole Ku Kolu, 'Ole Pau

(Seventh to tenth nights)

This is an unproductive time, for `ole means 'nothing', 'without', 'unproductive'. The tides are dangerous and high. The sea is rough and fishing is poor. Some recommend that planting be minimal until `ole pau which ends this unproductive period.

Pete and I observe the cycles of Mahina the Moon, and practice taking time during the 'Ole nights and days to review, restore, repair our gear(which includes our evolving way of life and our own bodies-minds and spirits). Learning to live in harmony is a remembered skill, not something present day society does naturally. From the wheeled home we have built, these 'ole days give us a break, allow reflection on our choices. No new posts until Thursday.

More about the Hawaiian Moon Calendar = go to our sidebar and find two of our favorite Mahina links.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Astrological Mid-wifery

Astrology has become a trusted mid-wife to the late births and labor pains of this old dear. Recently I have heard or seen this sign over and over again "Aging is not for wimps." Yowza! The challenges and births Pete and I have faced and experienced in our years together started when neither of us was young. Our partnership began later and here we are in Everett refueling ourselves, shoring up the four corners of our aging journey. It helps me to get a big picture on the now. I began using for free horoscopes/charts to complement the blog world astrology communities. The link below will get you there is you're interested in a free chart or a brief report. I appreciate the services.

Here's part of what I read this morning to give me a boost to the moodling I've been feeling. This Neptune Mars opposition coincides with the time period when we left O'ahu for Seattle to build VardoForTwo, and the now. It's been a nearly two year cycle of swimming against the currents. Landing in Everett is a bit of resting up. In the company of old friends again, like those who offered the Ledge to us for the summer, we pace ourselves for the next good flowing tide.
Neptune opposition Mars: Dubious opportunities End of March 2008 until mid January 2010

During this time, be careful not to get yourself involved, wittingly or unwittingly, in any kind of bogus enterprise. This influence can mean "deceitful actions," and it may involve you in such acts either as the victim or as the perpetrator of some swindle. To avoid becoming a victim, you should scrutinize with great care all seeming "opportunities" that come up now and stay away altogether from any speculative or high-risk ventures. With regard to the second danger, you should avoid perpetrating any kind of swindle, not only because it is unethical, but because you are not likely to succeed. Schemes do not usually work out as anticipated during this time. You should not plan to launch new activities during this period. Because your energy level is low, you can't put the necessary energy into a new project to make it work out as you want. This influence can produce a crisis of self-confidence, resulting either from personal defeats by others or from a totally unpredictable and irrational spell of depression. Consequently you will find it hard to continue with projects that require great exertion. It would be best to avoid starting any new projects at this time, and you should try to maneuver yourself into a position in which you don't have to do anything critical. But above all, don't take these feelings of defeat too seriously; you are just going through a period of low energy. There is no reason to contemplate giving up, because very soon you will be back to your old level of competence. The only permanent effect of this influence is that you may learn to have a more realistic understanding of your limitations and to be more conservative with your energies.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Blessings for a Swedish Mother

Our friend Sigrid passed from her physical body this morning. We have known her for nearly forty years, known her as mother to our friend Lois, and during the years while she lived as integral part of this three people-multiple doggies family we have come to know Sigie as a constant. Sigrid lived life on this earth for 89 years during the depression of the thirties, the second world war and the social changes of the 50's and 60's to the present. She experienced the world changing and through it all she maintained her essential nature and kept her focus on her family: her husband Wes and her daughters Diane and Lois. To compare us, my family -- my Hawaiian-Chinese mother, my Filipino father and the network of our predispositions and personalities with that of our friend Lois and her Swedish momma and US Army Lt. Colonel father, we are as different as could be imagined. Through the decades of our friendship the differences have grown less and less important as the soul and nature of our friendship grew in strength.

Lois, Doug, and I stood in the bright light of the Grand Ave kitchen just after Lois received the call from the hospital telling her that Sigrid had passed. Pete sat at the breakfast bar with a cup of coffee. I had my mask on, hair tucked under my floppy cotton hat and a scarf wrapped around my neck. "I won't hug you, I've got hairspray in my hair," Lois said. I knew that. Instead we held hands and stroked and patted the comfort one to the other and all sorrow seemed to exchange itself. "I think of Helen, too." Lois and my mom (Helen) share the Pisces sun and are both an example of service in ways only those who know them can understand.

Throughout the two weeks since Sigrid has been in the hospital, my own thoughts about end of life circled around the experiences of my own parents passing. I was here in the Northwest when both Ma and Dad passed. Lois had such a different relationship with her mother; the two women and Doug spent the past seventeen years together and caring for Sigrid has been Lois' primary commitment. In the last two weeks Lois was there with her mom in that critical care room just as she had been for the rest of those seventeen years. Available and fully present she was there to honor her mother. "And, I'd do it again," Lois said, and I know she would. Without doubt that is the lesson I have learned living here with our friends again. From the teeny wheeled home outside the front windows of the big Grand Ave home, I see what service to LIFE is about, and witnessed a living example of "Honor thy mother." Pete and I have watched, listened and been privy to a lesson of commitment that is the uncommon value of kind-spirit and fulfillment of promises. This tribute is to mothers and to the daughters who commit to them throughout a lifetime.

I count this friendship and the reality of their challenges, changes, and the grandness of their hearts as blessings. Just after we showed up in our vardo, still road-worn but ready to share the evening meal. The round dinner table was filled to capacity. Two terriers parked beneath the glass table scouting for a dropped nibble. Conversation was easy, funny and loud. Out of the blue a Southern drawl amplified and added to the conversation about farmers in Eastern Washington. "Why is it always the turnip truck, why not the beet truck?" Between bites of carrot, a toothy grin filled her face. I laughed and pointed at her. "Sigrid! You crack me up." She was a constant: ducks-in-a-row, do the right thing kind of gal who rarely missed what was happening (unless she wanted to miss it) and could show up with a bit of humor or commentary that accounted for the Southern Belle's unexpected wit. I heard she made the best sardine sandwiches and took the time to remove those tiny bones from their little bodies before serving. Who would do such a thing? One Swedish mother.

A few days ago while Pete and I raked and pruned the limbs from the flowering cherry tree in the front yard, I saved out four limbs and wove a simple wreath. It was a ritual of simply recalling the times when all our limbs were supple. I handed that wreath to Lois tonight. "It's a Sigie wreath,"I said. Lois was already back into her routine of unloading the dishwasher and emptying the clean laundry. Simple routines to keep a household going are things her mom would appreciate. I'm sure one Swedish mother shines on her with pride knowing she had indeed raised a daughter of undeniable quality.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


It feels like being in the middle, but who can tell for sure.

My mood is a brew of stewing and moping. Never mind those moods like the weather moves on and then there's something else.

We weathered the winds that came early in the morning just after my birthday. The strapping was stout and held us fast. Pete slept through the gusts. I remained on gale watch, chanting prayers without worry beads I just called on 'em all and finally slept around daybreak.

Pete is sawing up old fir boards for the decking that will be the foundation for our 'Porch Pods' (the mini rooms that will become our cooking area/JOTS apartment and privy/closet). There's a break between the November storms and the energy of the ozone-rich air is nice to be in. The last of the willow leaves sprinkled the front yard and gave me a good bit of old-fashioned raking exercise. A good metal rack and my well-washed and de-stinked winter ware kept me good and warm until the simple back and forth movement stirred the juices within. JOTS is happy to be re-positioned in her carrier aka JOTS Apartment on the Porch. Though she loves the insideness of the basement, she like us, gets restless for the wildness of open air.

Moods of darkness do come. If we wander too far from the tether of our now, the journey seems too long, too far, too much. It's an illusion, I know. Yet as human as I am, I get caught in that too, too and I am moodled. The leaves are beautifully piled beneath the willow with her arched limbs it looks to be an umbie lost it's cover. Like me when I get moodled. And then I think of the young woman I saw the other day with a smile that just went on for the ever. For what ever reason she wore that smile in the middle of the day and lit me good, I see her plain.

I am breathing easier today, moodled or not.
I am warm, loved and part of it all.
Raking leaves and a crock pot cooking with chicken and black eyed peas makes me smile. It's not Hollywood, it's Everett and we're living here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Moon, New Year

It's my birthday. I've had a cup of birthday brew with a spoonful of "Naked Coconut" Coconut Bliss to begin the day, a beautiful hot shower, a fresh lemon shampoo and toast with sunflower butter. The tropical storm that has drenched my isles of Birth (the Hawaiian Isles) with up to 17 inches of rain on the island of Kauai, is coming this way. Pete has lashed down the porch of the vardo with heavy strapping and drove stakes in the ground to secure our wee home as best he can. A few prayers to the gods will top off our preparation and then we're off on a car ride to pick up a re-fill of glutathione to support my dear lungs and immune system.

When I stepped from the little bathroom with my hair wrapped in my towel turban I found a plain brown envelope tucked beside my coffee cup. Inside a photo of my favorite pirate of the screens stood boldly on a birthday card for me. The card read:

PIRATES tell an ancient Legend of such immeasurable age, that it makes the seas themselves seem Y O u N g. In the story, YOUR NAME comes up quite a bit. Happy BirTHdaY.
iT was my vardo partner Pete, of course.
My keyboard partner has joined me to complete the birthday post. She's purring in for the perfect position (a new one facing me and looking me up and down).
My birthday comes with a new moon this year and a new moon is always filled the potency of possibilities. With a kitty in my lap, coconut bliss in my belly, my home battened down against the storm and a partner who loves me I would say this birthday is off to a very, very good start.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Normal

JOTS is calmly stretched across my lap with her front paws pushed gently on the inside of my left elbow. She watches as I press the keys on L's keyboard. This is a big and important new normal for the kitty and me: she is inside a house (the basement) and that is a step from being wild and always on the outside looking in. Daisy one of the resident terriers is scratching at the door wanting in ... it's not to happen right now. Kitty in the basement means terriers stay upstairs. What a landmark ocassion for our feline pal, the warmth and inclusion of a settled time within walls!

I was talking with a trusted guide the other day, getting her the latest chapter in our life from the vardo. Somehow the notion of 'normal' came up and in the string of conversation her comment went something like this: "We have to let go of normal with this illness." Yes, if I compare our lives with others the possibility of being like them will fall short. The energy of expecting that normal to be mine just wastes precious joy in the reality of my life as it is. Ah, if I could post a picture of this moment it would save attempting to describe it.

JOTS has moved not an inch, a post grows and the activity of our friends engaged in their business happens. The warmth of her calm breathing and gentle energy soothes both of us. She's helping inspire my calm and that is a norm of great value. Cat energy, animal energy. We did tame her a year ago and are responsible for her for the ever. What a small price to pay, ha.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

November Time

You don't have to live on a farm very long before you come to terms with
life and death, with the Novembers when you kill the lambs from last spring and
start the lambs for next spring. It's not that you become hard or unfeeling;
rather you become accepting. You know that birth and death are not separable and
that deaths are necessary for the balance of the farm, so that the ratios of
rams and ewes and sheep and pastures will be right, and so there will be
beautiful meat to feed people. On a farm every stage of the cycle -- breeding,
birth, growth, maturity, death -- has beauty and dignity.

The fall isn't the exciting high of spring when the lambs are born and
the daffodils bloom. It's the time of preparation for spring. The dead-looking
daffodil bulbs go into the ground, and the ram goes in with the ewes. The fall
is the time to remember that all nature turns death into new life. The garden
takes last year's cornstalks and fallen leaves and sheep manure and turns them
into next year's tomatoes and broccoli. The sheep are out in the barnyard right
now turning last year's hay into next year's wool and lambs. And who knows what
tasks and achievements, joys and sorrows, our customers will produce out of the
energy from that lamb meat?

It was Gandhi who pointed out that in spite of all the death in the
world, life is what persists.

Donella Meadows, "A time of death, A time of life"

We pulled into Everett two weeks ago tomorrow. The long drive wore us out, and arriving at our old friends' urban home was a welcome destination. So much happens in fourteen days. The crash of trains coupling outside is one reminder that we are no longer on the Ledge in the Olympics, nor in the juniper lined field with the Rescue Ponies "Fancy" and "Dusty." We are in Everett and the voice and cycle of nature unlit and alive is different here in a city. Our internal clocks and my ability to hear NATURE in her unaltered state are shaken. The lights, sounds of industry and the adulterated air are tough on NATURE. All three of us ... JOTS, Pete and I would love to be where nights are dark, stars the brightest lights and air oxygen-rich from the breathing of tall trees. We know the benefit of life with fresh air and recognize the way NATURE can write her story through a mortal life.

Yet it was our decision to pack ourselves and our wheeled home and come to this spot. What is fashioning us now is the follow-up to this decision: the discipline. I was out driving the old Snohomish River Road yesterday, seeking cleaner air and a croissant from the Snohomish Bakery. Scanning the radio dial a snip of a voice was lecturing his captive audience. He sounded a preacher, though I never listened long enough to know who he was. Instead I heard him describe the process of moving from deciding to the next step of discipline. Without the discipline any decision is dreaming. No goal is ever reached without discipline. Now, I am a proud and professed 'dreamer' and for good or ill I invest in the value of dreams. Still the radio preacher had given me something yesterday on my way to a croissant.

Here in Everett, Pete and I are in the process of the discipline. November in the vardo presents us with nature in her cycle of life giving and taking. Fall is set, winter approaches and NATURE moves through a city just as it does on a farm or on the Ledge out on the Olympic Peninsula. Birthing a tiny chemically safe haven for us in the form of VardoForTwo is a very new creature ... a kind of hybrid life that is not yet fully formed. We huddle into the curved roof space at night and enjoy the safety and celebrate our hard work of dreaming it up and with discipline we have a home mostly ready for all-seasons. Winter approaches and we know 'mostly ready' is not enough. November is my birth month, I have a 62nd birthday coming up on Monday. So this season of fall has been a time of reassessment and accounting for a good long time.

When we lived on the Ledge those seven months NATURE was present all the time. It was my greatest gift. I watched the power of her character and saw how quickly her life-giving turned to death. Things, critters, animals lived and died and human intervention was a dillusional activity. Any who moved were feeding on other things that moved. Life and death were visible and we were part of it, too. We learned to be primal and prepared or a 'bliss ninny' and food for the critters.

Life and death comes to all that live and here in the city at this place, the reality of life in its final stages is here for one of our long-time friends. We didn't know this was a November of endings for our old friend. She has aged as we have aged; she is just decades ahead of us. Illness and age or accident and destiny are part the unavoidable season of Fall for us humans. Feelings of sadness and loss accompany Fall and perhaps if I were a farmer or shepard the acceptance of death would be gently. Maybe.

Friday, November 13, 2009

missing the old hunting ground

The day is just getting into gear here in Everett. Sounds from the friends upstairs tell us the dogs are going to be walked; a woman's voice at this time of the morning means someone new is upstairs (a sister is in town for a family need); revelry has sounded at the base. It is after 8 am.

Across the room Pete and JOTS are getting a chunk of quality stroking time. "She seems a little melancolic. Dreaming about the old hunting grounds are you?" Yup, there's not much for a wild young feline to do here in residential Everett. JOTS questions the sense of a place without a lot of big old Tall Ones (trees) or at least a field with tasty mousies. Her days and nights are spent mostly in the little carrier that is her home. Nestled on familiar towels, sweaters or shirts atop a string of old Christmas tree lights to warm there is that for our kitty. The coos and loving voiced conversation is what I hear. What I can't hear from this desk is the purring replies.

There is a wisdom to our kitty's acceptance of what is. Like I've said before, lucky us.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Attending to the path

It was a sunny Northwest day, and gratefully, the sense to use the clear skies and dry weather for our well-being showed up and we road the energy into town. We need to concentrate our energies and my resources on enclosing the porch of the vardo. The tiny space that is under-cover is the real space we can work with. Like all the construction for VardoForTwo, the process takes being aware and awake to the steps and materials. We have plenty of the white oak siding used throughout the wagon; and Pete will use it to enclose the porch for a two-pod space.

Our day was spent in the city, Seattle, hunting and successfully finding a very-well worn old porthole window for the min-kitchenette/JOTS apartment. Pete's got all the weathered fir for the flooring, we picked up the oak for studs and Habitat for Humanity had 12 tiles that will work well for a non-skid floor. With luck and resourcefulness there will be days for building the pods.

I am recovering from the gas poisioning ... nebulizing with Glutathione diluted with filtered water and opening up my lungs using the Lomi-lomi pressure point work I learned. I don't tolerate the steroid based inhalers for asthma. A lot of filtered water (drinking it) and the nebulizer loosens my lungs and allowed the exhalation. The vardo stays very toasty with the Radiant Electric Ceramic Heater and the Austin Air Jr. keeps the air as fresh as possible.

We attend to the parts of life we can do something about and then pray for help with implementation. There are no pictures from the vardo for the while ... so words will have to satisfy the visual needs. Wish us luck.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hope springs eternal ... and yet, can we really GO BACK?

Pete and I made an early morning scouting trip yesterday. An offer of a small cottage-home was more than we could pass up. A friend had an idea for us, and we felt that spark of hope light up. Almost without attachment (now, is that 'detachment'?) we were both up very early with potential. I climbed behind the wheel before first light and wound my way through the Everett streets headed for the freeway. Our thought was to get an early before the commuter-drive. It worked in that respect, though we were already part of a thick southward moving clot, the drive was without major sitting in traffic and in less than two hours we were in Olympia.

We found the address I'd written on the back of a reused paper and as promised it was an older single story home in a well-established neighborhood in Olympia, WA. Not part of the 'urban sprawl' the small gray sided home had a single garage and a narrow driveway. There is a part of me, and us that has been tested over and over again. Yes, there are many parts of us that have been tested that way over the years of being on the move. But ... this part is the one that hopes against all odds. This is the part that says, "This one might work."

The key tucked in its hiding place opened the side door which leads into the laundry room. I am not sure whether this belief is a hope that we will be able to return to the world we once called 'normal.' When we talked this morning, Pete was the first to say "We can't go back." The affects of being in the little cottage for perhaps two hours wiped us both clean out. Pete bagged up cleaning supplies from the laundry, bath and kitchen and stowed them in the garage. Though we hoped our friend's description that the housekeeper only uses things that are 'benign' ... a bottle of Palmolive dish soap and Irish Sping in the bathrooms is enough fragrance to send us into another level of being (not such a good place at all!)

We continued to hope. Maybe with the offenders cleared out ... Maybe, this little cottage could house us for the winter and be a parking space for the vardo. The house is heated with natural gas. That should have sent us out the door immediately, but we hoped anyway. The furnace is housed in the laundry room and not a separate furnance room outside; there is no basement. We are not ignorant of the ramifications of an unsafe living space. Still, something happens when you are long on the search and in the steep climb of learning to leave old ways and a way of life behind. Pete raised the temperature on the therostat and the old radiators (filled with water ... benign, yes) heated up. What was going wrong was the burning of natural gas and the emissions that include carbon monoxide. I knew this was a possibility and more than probable. We should have turned around as soon as we saw the furnace. We didn't.

I continued to putter and believe ... especially as one thing after another on our "Safe House Checklist" was answered positively.

1. Does it have a laundry?

  • A washer and dryer YES

  • Is it electric (vs. natural gas) ELECTRIC

  • Is there first-level tell-tale signs of fragrances (laundry products; soap/dryer sheets) NO

2. Is there mold present? Well, yes Olympia is a rain bucket. But no old mold smells filled the house.

4. Does it have a bath tub for long soaks? YES



Outside and the environs

1. Neighbors adjacent WONDERFUL AND FRIENDLY NEIGHBOR NEXT DOOR! SHE WAS SCENTFREE AND INFORMED (she has a sister who lives with MCS)


Pete and I walked through the old single story home, both hoping this was a possibility. We considered how the vardo would park; we would sleep in it with a sweet old house where we might even be able to have 'people over' and socialize. The Fantasy of hope is powerful. Within the hour my lungs were burning and my ears irritated. I said nothing yet. Maintaining the hope, I rode back while Pete maneuvered the mid-day traffic. We made a stop at our favorite International District store, found two perfectly ripe persimmons and the last package of Ahi (Tuna) tips for a tasty lunch.

The little cottage will not work for a place to live. We are exposed and no longer in denial/masked with hope. The natural gas exposure has triggered lung problems and asthma for me. I used the nebulizer with compounded glutithione liquid to ease the inframmation and bring the phelm up. Today I need to rest, recoup and accept facts: Going back is not the direction forward. Our tiny home of wheels is less than a year old. We have lived in her since April and have so much more to learn about simplification. I remember my friend Leslie from the Oko Box writting about how long it takes to learn to do things simple. It's the truth. Old habits do hold fast, even when you know it's a futile habit.

From an article "Natural Gas is Unhealthy"

The founder and director of the Environmental Health Center in Dallas, Tex.,
William J. Rea, MD, states that, "Of 47,000 patients, the most important sources
of indoor air pollution responsible for generating illness were the gas cook
stoves, hot water heaters, and furnaces." (Chemical Sensitivity: Sources of
Total Body Load, 1994).Gerald Ross, MD, former president of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, writes, "Traditionally, natural gas is a pollutant chemical that can worsen both classical allergy and chemical
sensitivity-[patients with complex allergies and sensitivities] will have only
limited success with their treatment programs if they are living in a home that
has natural gas or if they are in an area where there is natural gas
transportation or leakage."

Can any one relate ?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Artful Dodging

Charles Dickens' ARTFUL DODGER

"He was a snub-nosed, flat-browed, common-faced boy enough; and as dirty a
juvenile as one would wish to see; but he had about him all the airs and manners
of a man. He was short of his age: with rather bow-legs, and little, sharp, ugly
eyes. His hat was stuck on the top of his head so lightly, that it threatened to
fall off every moment--and would have done so, very often, if the wearer had not
had a knack of every now and then giving his head a sudden twitch, which brought
it back to its old place again. He wore a man's coat, which reached nearly to
his heels. He had turned the cuffs back, half-way up his arm, to get his hands
out of the sleeves: apparently with the ultimated view of thrusting them into
the pockets of his corduroy trousers; for there he kept them. He was,
altogether, as roystering and swaggering a young gentleman as ever stood four
feet six, or something less, in the bluchers."

My pal and I were having a chat and catch-up yesterday morning. I heard through the grapevine that she had fallen this weekend and couldn't get up. Pete and I worry about her being out there alone, so the news was alarming. I listened to her recount the episode. She was able to get herself back to the house, with no small effort, watched each step of the way by her trusted Jane E. The phone is in the house, and once there she called for help.

"We worry about you S. When is your helper gonna start?"

"In a week or two she'll start coming regular. Three afternoons for a couple hours."

"That is good news."

"Ra told me about your fall, and boy was I glad to hear she is just 8 minutes away!"

"She's an angel."

"She seems to be. I thanked her for the generous offer she left on my cellphone. Maybe during a season when folks aren't burning wood that riverside meadow will be a great option for the Vardo folks plus one."

"Oh yeh, the wood smoke. Got it!"

"How's the city?"

" I'm making adjustments."

"You mean your mask."

"Between the mask and my artful dodging I try to keep ahead or away from the pollution and the chemicals people use on themselves and in their houses."

My friend is well-read. She's read many, many books in her life and now she is living a life that includes the plots from all those books and more. She laughed at the Artful Dodger reference and relished Dickens' mastery for characterization. I looked around at the tiny and colorful interior of the vardo as we chatted. Extraordinary and ordinary. I imagined the scuffed elbows on my friend's body and knew the determined set of her jaw as she pulled herself back home. I noted the size and reasons for my present home. To me, the artful dodging that takes place in an ordinary 24/7 is no less a craft than that of the wiley street boy of Dickens' England. Thousands of Artful Dodgers navigate the streets, cities, corriders pathways and neighbors of Earth today. While we travel the roads and highways more and more of us stand with signs of a once-more crumbling society. Some are more artful than others at navigating the streets. Many more of us will get more practice at Artful Dodging. I read each (or try to) sign held up by folks on street corners. There are variations on the theme, but mainly people are in trouble and they're doing what they can. I'm beyond judging any of them. "Seniors. No Family. Homeless." That could be my sign. I found a couple dollars, rolled down my window and handed the money to the man. He thanked me and passed blessing my way. I returned the blessing.

From the comfort of our friends' basement and computer, I lay the words to the plot of this life. In an odd way Pete, Jots and I are living in a boarding house with characters as bold and real as any Dickens' novel. None of us revenile, our lives are rich with themes similar, familiar. We are old people, and among us we have aging parents older and more frail than ourselves. Willing hearts have opened to us, and there is space for a wheeled wagon. The grace comes from sharing only who we are and what we are, now. God does have a scene of humor it's no wonder ... she must have one to keep loving us when we forget to love one another exactly as we are.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


The three nights of 'ole begin Saturday, November 7th and continue through Monday. We use these times of the moon cycle to reflect, review and rest.

A hui hou,
Mokihana and Pete

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Old women passing tips along

An old friend, old woman, crow woman left us this link to another Gypsy who journals a life that might be worth exploring ... I will go there for inspiration and exploration... old women, young women, re-born woman, re-born man, travellers.

Thank you JT.

I am an old woman

Angel From Montgomery

Bonnie Raitt

I am an old woman

named after my mother

an old man is another

child who's grown old

If dreams were thunder

lightning was desire

this old house would've

burned downa long time ago


Make me an angel

That flies from montgomery

Make me a poster

Of an old rodeo

Just give me one thing

That i can hold on to

To believe in this livin'

Is just a hard way to go

When i was a young girl

I had me a cowboy

It wasn't much to look at

It was a free ramblin' man

There was a long time

No matter how i tried

The years they just rolled by

Like a broken down dance


There's flies in the kitchen

I can hear them there buzzin'

And i ain't done nothing since i woke up today

But how the hell can a person

Go on to work in the morning

To come home in the evening

And have nothing to say

Bonnie Raitt has been singing to my soul since we were much younger woman. I think about this song a lot as I am driving behind the dandelion colored wagon or sitting atop the futon inside the vardo. I am that old woman now, and if you know what those lyrics are really about then I suspect you are living a life that is filling up to over-flowing.

I am back in a town where I used to drive the streets as a very young woman, things including the streets have changed a bit or a barrell like the old street that led to the Lowell-district and the Snohomish River Road. When I lived not far from where Pete and I are now encamped, I knew the streets and could get around with the internal map locked in. But, I am an old woman now with a brain and body that are not only aged but affected by the rearranging toxics of a chemicalized world. My brain and my immune system have lost some of their flexibility plus the streets have been changed. Take that to the stock pot and you get a whole different sort of soup, I gotta tell you.

Our first night's sleep in the new parking spot around the back of our friends' home overlooks the Port of Everett, the Weyerhauser mill and the Naval Base. The train tracks run below us and big bright lights remain lit all night. To say we are in another whirl while being on Planet Earth you would have to know all the other whirls we have been in the years since multiple chemical sensitivities have made their marks upon us. We slept rough and I covered up some of the windows to minimize the glaze of the city's need to be lit. Today Pete and I hunted down pairs of ear plugs to wear (inside and outside the vardo). Quiet nights of dark sky sleep on The Ledge were sauves of healing and we never took those hours for granted, appreciating every one of them, every night. Sleep does not store up in the body or mind, I think a being needs sleep regularly to heal. That is in the perfectly balanced world we would have that birthright.

This old woman and old man will be testing their ability to adjust without wearing down the reserves we have accumulated during those seven months on The Ledge. How much does a 700 miles of hard driving and moving about tap away at that reserve? With luck and old people wisdom I pray that Angel from Montgomery soothes us as we make our way to through this return to Everett where city living is filled with challenges..."just give me one thing that i can hold on to ... to believe in this livin is just a hard way to go ..."
Photo Credit:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Back to Everett

We are in Everett, Washington ... old mill town and home to long time friends, friends who have housed us many times. The adjustments are happening; it was a twelve hour drive (through some beautiful central Oregon country), and now the fragrances and environmental realities of a city make their presence known. I'm recouping and looking forward to a lot less brain fog and weakness.

Bernadette and Pete made the trek without incident. The report from Pete includes lots of thumbs up from the passers-by as they marveled at the wee home. I followed with Scout and Jots (who was very vocal for most of the four hundred mile trip ... "Are we there yet!!") Driving in the nighttime hours was stressful and what a culture shock to go from country field to freeway. YIKES!

We are parked temporarily in the driveway, where once we parked the Scout two or was that three years ago. We have some work to do on VardoForTwo ... enclosing the porch for a kitchen and a closet. We've measured up the dimensions and have a small refrigerator to add to the mix of necessary comforts. Shoring up those cracks in our foundation it will take both of us a bit more time.

Thanks to all the well wishes and many, many thanks to our Tribe.