Ah no real blogging for over a year. And what a time it has been. So where do we start?
In the summer of 2008 it being my 25th year after moving from Berkeley to Corvallis, I decided to come to terms with what I still feel was a forced move from somewhere I really loved. So I went back to say farewell or investigate whether I wanted to move back and how? It was quite a pleasant journey on the train; it even basically got there in time (which it doesn’t always due to that the freight trains get priority—wish there would be some legislation to require coordination). It was a most pleasant visit. I stayed at a couple of friend’s houses in Richmond. One friend’s house was just two blocks away from where I first lived in the Bay Area as a little girl when my dad was getting his Masters at UC Berkeley. This is the house where I swear I flew, where Mr. Martinucci lived and grew the most amazing carnations, and where the train went by every day and I’d say, “muckatboose” most likely meaning, “Look at the caboose.” Now the BART goes on those tracks across the street in a gorgeous curve and there’s a sweet park and bike lane.
My friends from Berkeley landfill days treated me to a good couple of lunches, Dan Knapp of Urban Ore even had a huge feast of Mexican food for all of the workers to fete me and we reminisced about the great view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the landfill and the politics and the personal of what happened between all the players.
I enjoyed taking my soprano sax, Charlie Louise, out to the now Cesar Chavez Park that I helped create as a Berkeley Landfill worker. I sure enjoy seeing my friend, Knox posting pictures of his loved ones playing at and visiting the park. And it was great to realize that even in some small way I helped create Urban Ore. And that sometimes it’s the small things we do that are just the right stitch to put in the fabric of the greater life on this planet. I still don’t think I’ve completely come to terms with my loss of Berkeley, but I have come to terms more with Corvallis. I still pine for 1940 Cedar or a house that more reflects me than the Pi in the Sky Ranch—but for the time being it is what it is.
So what has happened in my life since the Agony Letter? A lot has happened and not much to agonize over any more, even though there many struggles. You’ve seen a few pictures but not much discussion.
I got employed at a wonderful place in March of 2008. The Unitarian Universalists in town agreed to hire me as their Office Administrator—I love the job. The Fellowship is only two and a half miles from my house, the closest place in town for me to be employed. This has become much more important that I would have thought when I took the job. Even though part of the reason I was excited about the job was because I could walk to work. The worst day there is still better than my best day anywhere else. And I can maybe count a handful of difficult days and a couple of long weeks—none bad, just challenging. Mainly it’s electric driven technology (computers, copy machines, and the danged internet connection that usually has to be reset at least once a week, taking at least 45 minutes in the process—that elicit pouts and frowns). And even after being there almost two years I’m still finding out parts of my job that my two hour training didn’t quite encompass. I am looking forward to documenting the job so that the next person or even I will know what, when, and how things are done. And it’s a gorgeous view out my window of a very sweet neighborhood, trees, and flowers.
As some know, Michael had been having a lot of hip pain (since June of 2005), we finally found out that he needed hip replacement surgery; he had that in April of 2008. But in the meantime things were quite stressful as was mentioned in the Agony Letter. He was not a happy camper and it was a huge strain on our relationship. Thank All The Deities (TATD) that it’s over now. He is finally getting back to his old hoppy self and is even starting to head out on hikes on the weekends. Of course along the way he had pneumonia, and a heart attack, pneumonia in June and the attack in October of that year--Ugh what a hard year. Killed a few plants by neglect, (the latter can happen all so quickly, a couple of weeks of neglect and the poor green things are gone) all the chickens got predated, and the housework basically fell apart. Of course there are places in this house that haven’t been touched in 30 years, we’re working on that but it’s still too slow a process for this Virgo lass—ah alas.
I have to say that my stint at Oregon PeaceWorks (OPW), from January 2003 to May 2005, had a great impact on my life and health. I met many wonderful people throughout the Northwest and have gained an appreciation of many communities and their own particular styles. Which actually gave me a greater appreciation for Corvallis and definitely for driving and walking and being downtown in Corvallis as opposed to Salem.
But the two hours of daily driving in my ’79 VW van, Doppio, over the course of two and a half years basically left my right elbow in constant pain, which has still not quite subsided. It’s better, at least I can tuck in a sheet and I’m down to three ibuprofens in the evening, instead of all day long. And the constant meetings and struggles of the way those kinds of meetings go, left me with a need to back away from most things “political”. It was kind of a mini PTSD, I felt that I just wanted to yell “shut up” in the meetings—so I put myself on a good long time out. For which I broke that fast a bit in November of 2007 see More of the Healing Heart.
In this blog I talk about meeting Cynthia McKinney, we in Corvallis did finally get a brief meeting with Cynthia a couple of days later on her way back up to Portland. I sat across the table from her at The Sunnyside Café where she looked us/me in the eye and said, “Tell then the good news.” The good news that there is/was an alternative to vote for other than the two-party duopoly, that there is a message of hope, and that there are people who really care about us/the planet, and more. Sadly we see that one party really exCHANGEs nothing. We still have Gitmo, we are still in Iraq and Afghanistan and now since the election we are bombing Pakistan, the banks have been bailed out and not held accountable; payday loan sharks are resurfacing with 79.9% interest/$500 dollar limit “credit cards”, there is no real healthcare proposal, and the Supreme Court just last month (January 2010) gave corporations full personhood with their ruling on campaign finance restrictions—welcome back to feudalism and let’s not even talk about foreclosures and the credit mess in which most of us find ourselves experiencing. No it didn’t get better fast enough and no I won’t be able to repay it—that’s my next challenge. But I’m not getting too all freaked out about it, even though once in awhile I have a huge pout day or weekend and lose a few winks of sleep.
Anyway after that meeting, Cynthia and I exchanged chats on the Gmail and she even read the aforementioned blog and perhaps the earlier one Weekend Serenade for a Broken Heart and Celebration of Such, where I discuss the hugest broken heart I ever had. Off and on I’ve continued to send her brief messages when I noticed she was on line. And I was deeply happy to see her pop back up on-line after being released from Israeli jail on July 7, 2009 after her mission to Gaza. For more about the mission and the imprisonment see this article for the rest if you are interested please Google it.
Circularity—Just Keeps Spinning Into My Life
So dear reader, I find that life is very circular many times. My cousin, Marla, is the one who really got me into this. When my dear Uncle Bill died and I was coming to stay at her house for the memorial service in late September of 2007, she said that they had wireless and I could bring my computer. Well, I didn’t have computer that had that functionality, I had no laptop. But before the trip I managed to acquire one off of Craigslist.
Then my temp job at OSU’s Student Involvement ended and since I had the technology and wanted to keep up with friends that I’d met there so I started a MySpace and FaceBook page. I’d been blogging before but hadn’t ventured out to being much more of a social networking butterfly than that. MySpace was the first that I really used. Meeting other folks who loved sax, jazz, Donovan, etc.; keeping up with some family, favorite bands, and others who just happened to be interesting. I even developed a crush on a MySpace friend. And when that crush asked his MySpace friends to follow him on Twitter, I did.
And through the Twitter circles, of Jim Page, I found Vernon in August of 2008. See I’d already met him earlier that year in February with Michele during a planning meeting for a CodePink event, but thought he was a bike “fascist” (now I say zealot) and I told him that I’d like to see him “ride up my hill.” What a line!
I mean it wasn’t the first time some single white male had given me a raft about having/owning/driving a car. Andrew Geller was elated when my previous VW Van, Brekex, burnt down in a bizarre fire. It’s just that my experience biking had not always been that pleasant or voluntary. One year when Russell and I were particularly poor, here in Corvallis, I had nothing but a bike and I rode it with three kids on it and a basket for laundry or groceries. I was a strange sight to see indeed; one child, Zeke, on a handlebar child seat (between the handlebars and the saddle), Harvest on the back child seat over the back wheel, and Max strapped to me in a Snuggly baby carrier on my front, with the carrying basket for groceries or laundry in front of the handlebars over the front wheel. I mean I thought of doing a magazine called Peasant Woman Monthly. So let’s say, when we finally got and could afford a car I was quite happy. Maybe if we’d had the money to have those fancy bike trailers, the experience might have been different. And let me mention this was a green three speed—maybe a Raleigh, I don’t recall. After that expeirence I just wanted to put all that poverty behind me.
Anyway, when I “met” Vernon again on Twitter on August 21, 2008, he was, “Looking for a home for my rather large drum set.”My ears perked up and I thought maybe he has some soul, etc. Plus he was part of the tribe/family and new in town. One had to be gracious. So I invited him to come up and see if my basement living room would work. It took a while as our schedules continued to not mesh but on September 30, 2008 he finally rode up to the house to scope out the basement. He did some clapping and decided the acoustics were good enough. I’d been lying on the ottoman upstairs as I’d come down with a particularly bad backache. So after the acoustic test and a bit of discussion on the couch downstairs we went in my Sewing Sanctuary to look up something on the web, I really don’t recall what. And that’s when he started to rub the spot between my wings that had been so disabling. It felt to me like the deities had all decided to visit at once. They were all saying, “Hello, I’m here.” And being one who has read a lot about hosting strangers/deities, I decided there might be something here.
Oh but before that, since I knew he was a drummer, I invited him to come check out our little summer jazz band that was meeting in the Central Park Gazebo. He was late to this meeting as he was helping Michele and Reese out with their car that had gotten somehow stuck in Lebanon, OR. But he did carry my soprano case back to my car and we had a bit of chat about things. Come to find out he had been the next door neighbor to Derek Parrott (my heartbreaker mentioned above) in Langley on Whidbey Island. He was also friends with our (Derek and my) mutual friend Timothy Hull. (TimOH).
See the Langley connection is extremely important. When I went to Derek’s Aloha party (aloha to Langley for Kauai) in June of 2006, I noticed that many of the men in the room were hitting on me, and I made connections with others that I think are still there. I’d had this revelation that I’d fished out all the eligible lads in Corvallis and it was time to try a new village, and I think the lads who were being friendly at that party had also come to the same conclusion about Langley. So here was this lad who had also come from this village and we were meeting in mine. Plus, I could ask those mutual friends about him, and I did!
Anyway, prior to the backrub, I was very leery about Mr. Huffman, but when he was message number 555 on my Gmail at the same time I was number 888 on Knox’s Flapping Myspace and we were Tweeting at the time, I mentioned it. That’s when Vernon let me know about his interest in five against eight time. I have always been a fan of the number five, being born in 1955 (as were Vernon and Cynthia McKinney). So it was a very nice karma to step into. Anyway, that was just a week shy of us “getting together”. I’d been emailing and Gmail chatting with him for a week and when he said that he was “eager for physical affection” what a way to phrase it! I mean woo me with words and some correctly placed commas (I’ve learned more about that particular punctuation from reading Vernon’s words than all my English teachers and Peter Bergel , PeaceWorker editor and my former boss at OPW, combined).
So after a certain amount of electronic exchange where I told him to go slow (adagio), I said to myself, “Yaney, he’s not in Oakland, and he’s not in Portland, he’s only ten minutes away. What’s your problem?” So after telling him to go slow, just minutes after, I went to his place, Veggie House, and decided to really check him out. But by no means was anything settled. Would I “get together” with him or wouldn’t I? It was an explore.
So I showed up at the Veggie House door, and Vernon answered it. He gave me a tour of the house, an old sorority house. And we ended up at a calendar in the kitchen, which had a picture of some peasants in Honduras who had put rocks in the road to block a water pipeline from being constructed. I mentioned that the terrain looked a lot like where I was born, Bishop, CA, he said it looked a lot like his hometown of Big Timber, MT. Then he went on to ask about California, I showed him where Bishop was on the map in the dining room of Veggie House, and he mentioned that his parents had been in California during WWII as pilots and he asked where Victorville was? Victorville!? The town I had lived in from kindergarten through high school. He had connections there?! Well that just settled it—it was enough circularity, more than enough. I decided we should “be together” and we went up to his room. And me droogies, it was like coming home.
Of course, after that night I did finally ask TimOH and Derek what they thought about him. I’d previously asked a friend, Margi, what she thought about him. Her reaction was negative, Derek’s and TimOH’s weren’t. Sometimes you ask friends because you know if they don’t like something, you will. My experience in the last near year and a half has borne this out.
But What Does This Have To Do With The Bike Ride?
Well I have to admit that I never would have thought about bicycling across country until Michele did. And my immediate thought when she told me she was, was “Dang Michele if you do this, I’m going to have to some time!” Here’s my posting about her and Vernon’s ride across the country: More on Peace. I was quite unpleased that she took off. First of all, it was a hard re-introduction to Corvallis after OPW. I was thrilled to have someone who had been a friend of mine during that time in Salem in Corvallis. She’d just had her twins and my granddaughter, Jazmyn, was still in town and I thought it’d be cool for all of us to hang out. But that was not to be.
Michele left with the twins on this strange bike ride. Ouch. And I really didn’t know much about it. I was so upset that I refused to attend the kick-off ceremonies or any fundraisers associated with it. So I never met Vernon then. And I admit that after they got back I thought he was the one who stole her away. Well in reality, she just asked him for advice and his advice was to take him with her. So I guess it was Michele or both of them in collusion.
Well they went on the bike ride and finally Michele was back! But in the process Vernon had fallen in love with her and thought that he was welcome to live with her, etc. Well those plans didn’t quite transpire as Michele had met Reese in the meantime. So Vernon arrived in Corvallis, had his heart broken, was homeless for a bit, and finally ended up at Veggie House with that rather large drum set. And it is an impressive one; six tom toms, two base drums, timbales, etc., and more cowbell. And it’s in my basement, nicely accessorized with him as drummer as he moved into Michael's and my house on New Year’s of 2009. Now I live with two men—yikes!
So back to the bike ride Bike4Peace 2010. As you already know I’d been Gmail chatting with Cynthia McKinney off and on, and when I realized that I was going to go on the next cross country bike ride with Vernon (it will be his third, my first). I invited Cynthia and she said yes! We all will be turning 55 in 2010, Cynthia on March 17, me on 9/11, Vernon on Christmas Eve. I don’t know what all that has to do with it. But part of what I love about being with Vernon is that he is my age, but more than that, is that I feel the high country in him and I am certainly interested in exploring that high country—Carson and Monarch Passes. We will all be pushing more physical boundaries than we really know, and we will succeed. We intend to engage those we meet in discussion about how to save the planet and ourselves, how to reclaim our government, how to arrive at healthcare for all, and how to transition out of the oil economy. Plus now we might be engaging in discussions about the corporate control of our lives and government. Please join us on the road, in spirit, or in contribution to support the ride and riders.
Yaney LA MacIver
SweetheartoftheValley, Pi in the Sky Ranch, Dimple Hill, Corvallis, Oregon Sunday, February 14, 2010—Happy Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year of the Tiger.