A week at the Rez

May 31 – June 6 2014

Joined 6 people from Eagle Harbor Church to volunteer with construction work at Pine ridge reservation. They provided dorms and basic food. I took a supply of nuts and dried fruit for when I could not get gluten-free.

One of the 3 poorest counties in U.S. – third world conditions – huge unemployment, heavy alcoholism.

The week included several cultural components – readings every morning “Wisdom from the Elders”, four evening talks from elders, two tours Wounded Knee, a local radio station and a High School (planning a university in a few years). Perhaps the best was informal conversation with people when we delivered an outhouse (and dug a 6 foot hole to go under it) or installed a wheelchair ramp. Most interesting was the kids, who wanted to help. We helped one girl into the bottom of a hole so she could remove dirt from the bottom of it to make it deep enough.

There were many signs of despair, especially evidenced by the drunk adults we saw, but also signs of hope, especially the attitude of the the children. Re-Power has been coordinating this work there for many years and people on the rez recognized that we were there to help and were grateful for that.

The teams were well led and we had everything we needed when we got to a site. When I needed to rest after a little digging, no comment was made. Apart from our Bainbridge group, most of the volunteers were young and strong, and we all worked together harmoniously.

The Bainbridge group met the previous week to look at a film about Wounded Knee and we agreed to read Kent Nerburn’s book “Neither Wolf nor Dog” about an 80 yo Lakota man who tells the story of going to a boarding school (to take the Indian out of the man) and what it’s like to be a Native American today.

5 of us drove to South Dakota in a van. On the way there we dipped in to Yellowstone and on the way back we looked at the Crazy Horse monument.

I didn’t take a camera, but pics from the others are at http://1drv.ms/1hK0BlH


Off to Pine Ridge

Set alarm to 8. Up at 5, excited about trip. 5.15 short soak in hot tub. 5.30 cool off lying on bed. 6 up for breakfast, finish packing, quick look at email. 7.50 decided to walk to church slowly with baggage in an hour. Time for yoga/meditation now.


A walk in the forest

Yesterday Dave and i hiked near Staircase. Turned off highway at Hoodsport. It’s in the South East corner of the Olympic National Park. We took our time, chatting about various things, and stopping to look at a fallen giant (cedar 12 feet in diameter) and numerous wildflowers. Followed the river much of the way. Sampled raw fiddleferns. Lunched from a wonderful selection of food brought by Dave.


75 today

Instead of a big street party, i had a quiet day. Wandered around Farmers Market sampling the goodies and chatting to many people.

Enjoyed using my Grampa weeder in back yard. really saves my back. Have to check if I can get one in Melbourne area, otherwise I might have to pack this. Then used the electric mower given away by my neighbor when he went into a nursing home. Much quicker and less effortful than weedwhacker.

(East) Indian dinner with Barbara.

Tomorrow morning I will be one of 7 commissioned by Eagle Harbor Congregational Church to go to Pine Ridge reservation for a week of voluntary work (building accommodation for the poorest people in U.S.) and cultural exchange. Have breakfast with elders every morning, discussion every evening and a day tour (Wounded Knee?).  I’ve been reading Kent Nerburn’s “Neither Wolf nor Dog”. Stories of an 80 yo Lakota man which highlight the differences between the cultures. When Europeans offered to buy land, they had no concept of owning the land and that having a piece of paper gave a person the right to say what happens on that land. Very different attitude to possessions, time, freedom, honor. When white soldiers chased old men, women and children and killed them, this was seen by whites as not a massacre, but when Indian men ambushed the white soldiers to protect their families, this was seen as a massacre.

Cannot use Internet on the Rez. Back on June 9.


A pause before a busy 3 weeks

Today is (relatively) free. Plan is aerobic class and yoga at gym, walk to library and ATM with Barbara, pottering around back yard with my friend Erik, a young farmer who Barbara is paying to maintain it, and meeting with Peace and Social Concerns Committee of my Quaker group.

Then I go into two public meetings I’m helping to organize, two visits to seattle for acupuncture, oh! another day off – spending my birthday with Barbara, dinner date with her in Seattle that night, Eagle Harbor church commissioning us for visit to Pine ridge reservation, short trip to Port Townsend including all day hike with my old mate Dave, another day of errands (psychiatrist, therapist, acupuncturist – perhaps the last will be most useful) in seattle, and off to Pine Ridge. No electronics there. Will that be a relief or a frustration? I suspect the former.

From June 9 putting energy into PR for public meeting with Olaf which we hope will set up a Tree Preservation society on Bainbridge. After that, giving away stuff and responsibilities, saying goodbye and preparing for my new life. Here’s a para i wrote on FB an hour ago.

I’m down to 20 or 30 books, most of which i don’t open at all. When i move to australia in 3 months I may take 2 or 3. Most of the books i read are borrowed from a library anyway. Once I take the time to learn how to download books from my “local” library in australia (is it restricted by geography?), I’ll have access to more than I’d care to read.

Yesterday at Quaker Meeting I resigned as co-clerk and representative to Inter Faith Council, and was pleased to see a responsible person take on those positions, with backup plans. I feel good about sustainability of the Monthly Meeting.

Now to knee exercises, the re-beginning of a home yoga practice and meditation…


Riding the whirlwind May 17 2014

A week or so ago i talked about feeling like i was in a whirlwind – at it’s mercy, being drawn hither and yon. Well, now I feel two things – that I’m “going with the flow” and, to some extent, in control i.e. I’m mainly enjoying the ride allowing it to take me where it will, but in small ways moving myself to a position more to my liking.

Starting to plan the next 3 months. The next 3 weeks are pretty much programmed. Public meetings I’m helping to organize, medical appointments, trip to Port Townsend and later Pine Ridge reservation, two acupuncture appointments a week (when I’m in town). Then a trip to Port Townsend, Seattle or one from my wish list below, plus a public meeting with Olaf to hopefully set up a Tree Preservation Society on Bainbridge.

Wish list

1. Trips to port townsend, maybe a 3 or 4 day backpacking trip

2. Staying in a share house in seattle

3. Short visit to yellowstone

4. Tour of hot springs – Esalen, Harbin, Eugene, maybe Breitenbush or others i have not visited

5. Alternative? Amtrak trip to Eugene and santa cruz

6. perhaps a “cruise” on public ferry to Alaska

7. Sort trip to orcas island, maybe other islands in Salish sea

8. Canoe journey?

Anybody interested in joining me on 3… ?



posted this elsewhere, and now I’m reposting here:-
I’m (mostly) doing fine emotionally. but I am very busy. Organizing two public events this month and another next month. Going to Pine ridge reservation for a week of helping to build cabins and native american culture. I’ll be away 2 weeks because I’m traveling in a van with 4 people from a church nearby. Then I’m making a few trips to Port Townsend to hike with my buddy Dave Berrian before he heads off to Portugal in July. Just resigned as co-clerk at our Quaker group and told Hospice i won’t take any more patients. same with Islander residents association. I’ll keep playing chess with one young man from there, until i leave.


Party cancelled, and life goes on…

I decided last night to cancel my party on 24th.  I want to thank those of my friends who had more empathy for Barbara than i had, and were willing to tell me.

Went to Ground Zero today. We set up a tent opposite the State troopers with tea and cookies. Invited them over to celebrate Mother’s Day, but nobody came. So 8 of us, in pairs, took trays over to them. Got a $56 traffic ticket for “pedestrian on roadway illegally”. Some went back on the road and they were handcuffed and taken to Port Orchard Police Station. released about an hour later.


The dust settles, and rises again…

Still feels like i have a million things to do, yet i keep on taking on more.

Looking forward to a trip to Pine Ridge reservation. Leave on the 29th, back on the night of june 8. Travelling with a group from Eagle harbor congregational church by van. We are doing a week’s volunteer work. they want us to build huts etc. knowing that most of us have no experience doing that. We also have a daily talk with the elders, a day tour etc.


Last Thu I was sitting in the InterFaith Council next to the pastor of the church. When she said she was going to pine ridge, i said that I’ve been wanting to contact elders in Suquamish, and she invited me along. that was a week ago.


Slowly getting things done. Getting rid of stuff. thinking about my birthday party. I may have some competitions, where people cooperate to get something done and i give them one of my books. I’m planning to leave all my books here, including those on chess and hypnotherapy. I may take a yoga book.

My good friend dave is going away in July and won’t be back till Sep, after i’ve gone. Will have to plan trips to port Townsend in June and early July. We were planning a backpack trip across the Olympic Mountains, taking a few weeks. Then he decided to go to a family wedding in portugal and we put it off till next summer…

Made a new friend, a self-described tree doc. Probably properly called an arboreal pathologist. Well recognized in the area as an expert on saving trees. I met him when i went on an Arbor Day walk he led. He regaled us with stories of the historical trees he had saved, as well as describing and naming the trees we passed on our walk through downtown Bainbridge. I met him on Monday in a cafe and we tore ourselves away after talking for over two hours. We are both passionate about trees. We have each added an item to our bucket lists: a trip together to Sri lanka. he doesn’t know this yet, but I’ve also added a trip to Rhodesia where he spent many years. when i started thinking about Sri lanka with him, my first thought was the botanical gardens in Peradeniya, near Kandy.


A week later

On Sat we visited our acupuncturist. I met Jordan when I was visiting Senators’ offices about Fukushima. At the first session I asked for “general balance”. Sure enough, I felt more integrated when I left CommuniChi. The next day I noticed that my right hand was different. 15 years ago I had surgery on the back of my neck to decompress a nerve, to correct weakness in my right arm. After physical therapy I was left unable to straighten my two smallest fingers. After one acupuncture session I could! Barbara was so impressed that she joined me on my second visit.

After the session we decided to take a bicycle/pedestrian trail to the International District, about 4 miles from where we were on 31st St. It was raining lightly and Jordan had made a map for us. Soon it was raining heavily and we were soaked through our flimsy rain coats. We disagreed on which way to go and parted, agreeing to meet at the Uwajiyama restaurants. By the time I got to the International District I had trouble finding the store, decided that Barbara would go straight home, and didn’t want to stand at a bus stop because I would get cold (from my wet clothes). So I walked to the ferry and just caught one. Barbara arrived home some time later. She had gone to Uwajiyama and (surprisingly to me) wasn’t too mad that I was not there.

For me the moral of the story is that we separated, took different paths, went through difficulties, and both finished up warm and dry. I hope that’s a metaphor for the rest of our lives!

Last night she cooked us a seafood soup. She doesn’t complain any more about my refusing to eat other meat, gluten, etc. Mostly we cook separately now. Anyway i was sitting in the living room and finding it difficult to move, so she waited on me. Does that sound like a couple who decided a week ago to separate?