There must justice for all or there is justice for no one.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Each time we look upon the poor, on the farm workers who harvest the coffee, the sugarcane, or the cotton, or the farmer who joins the caravan of workers looking to earn their savings for the year…remember there is the face of Christ.

The face of Christ is among the sacks and baskets of the farm worker; the face of Christ is among those who are tortured and mistreated in the prisons; the face of Christ is dying of hunger in the children who have nothing to eat; the face of Christ is in the poor who ask the church for their voices to be heard. How can the church deny this request when it is Christ who is telling us to speak for Him?

Oscar Romero, archbishop of San Salvador martyred in 1980.

I see that Newt is trying to wrap himself in the mantle of Saint Ronnie. Let's remember some of the costs of our war on communism. In El Salvador alone, more than seventy thousand people were killed from the late seventies until some kind of peace accord was reached in the early nineties. Over seventy thousand in a country with just over five million population. The victims included farmers, women, children, priests, nuns and an archbishop.

I’d love to get the chance to read this in the presence of our God fearing Republican candidates and ask them what they were doing to fulfill Romero’s words.

This is the third Sunday of Advent. As my reading leads me past the Quakers and into Liberation theology I find the Christmas ads painfully jarring.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Thomas Merton was very vocal, in print, in his opposition to the Viet Nam War in the years before his death. As vocal as a monk under a vow of silence could be, anyway. He believed that ending the draft would reduce the temptation to get involved in more Viet Nams.

I wonder what he'd make of our all "volunteer" military. If we don't have enough personnel in uniform to do the job; we outsource it. Usually at a much higher cost than we'd pay if we had military personnel to do the jobs.

Reminds me of the paintings of the flagellants who crisscrossed Europe after the plague years in the fourteenth century. Back and forth, back and forth led by skeletal figures offering some sort of redemption.

What redemption will we find as our voluntary wars wind down? We can be free or we can be safe. Sometimes both, but never for very long.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Our Advent wreath.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


It may be almost December, but the beautiful fuschia by the steps is still blooming. We haven't had a frost worth it's name yet. (knock on solid oak.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011



Whose garden was this, it must have been lovely.
Did it have flowers?
I've seen pictures of flowers.
And I'd love to have smelled one.

Whose river was this, you say it ran freely.
Blue was its color.
And I've seen blue in some pictures.
And I'd love to have been there.

Tell me again I need to know.
The forest had trees, the meadows were green.
The oceans were blue and birds really flew.
Can you swear that it's true.

Whose grey sky was this?
Or was it a blue one?
You say there were breezes.
I've heard records of breezes.
And I'd love to have felt one.

Tell me again I need to know.
The forest had trees, the meadows were green.
The oceans were blue and birds really flew.
Can you swear that it's true.

Whose garden was this, it must have been lovely.
Did it have flowers?
I've seen pictures of flowers.
And I'd love to have smelled one.

Tell me again I need to know.
Tell me again I need to know.
Tell me again I need to know.
Tell me again I need to know.

Words and music by Tom Paxton. Covered by John Denver about 1970

I don’t really know what to make of these lyrics. But listening John Denver sing this song is enough to break your heart.

Is this a nightmare of now or the far future? God/dess knows we have enough nightmares in our own time. The dates suggest the song is pre EPA era. And here we have a concerted effort to gut the EPA. Supposedly this will create jobs. I’ve even run across comments that take the stand that given a choice between jobs and the environment, the environment comes dead last. And you can’t get through to them. If we destroy the environment the jobs aren’t going to matter very much.

So, what is the world in this song? Is it the remains a jungle in Viet Nam after Agent Orange was dropped on it? The remains of an equatorial rainforest? The spreading of the Sahara? The wrecked neighborhoods in the Bronx and Brooklyn?

Or is this a nightmare out of the finale of Soylant Green or the novel Stand on Zanzibar? A future when flowers, trees, blue skies, free flowing rivers, unspoiled oceans, and even birds are remembered in pictures and folk tale? Something your doddering great grandparents tell stories about? “I’ve seen pictures of flowers. And I’d loved to have smelled one.”

Goddess, may it never come to that.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Twenty five years ago...........yesterday. We don't do a really great job of putting birthdays on the calendar every year. Sister number two was nine months gone plus a week or two. She finally started doing her thing. Emmanuel hospital in Portland has really nice brithing suites by the way. Anyhow, it was off and on. She suggested rather forcefully at one point that mom and I didn't have to stick around all the time. Translation: get the hell out of here. I want to yell. We took a walk around the block a few times. We hung out in the waiting room until the new dad burst through the door with "it's a boy; I gotta tell mom!!!!!!!!!!!!). That cute little baby is now 6' 3". He's a great young man. Still plays the drums at his church during the off season for tax prep. He gives great hugs.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


My oldest nephew is getting married this summer. We have to work to build a better world for them to raise their family in.

Just received a copy of Raj Patel’s Stuffed & Starved (more on that later). I’m on page 93 and I’ve only bounced it off the wall twice. Anyway the book led me to his blog which led me the website of a network of groups searching for alternatives to pesticide and herbicide uses.

Myth #1: Pesticides are necessary to the feed the world

Reality: The most comprehensive analysis of world agriculture to date tells us that what can feed the world — what feeds most of the world now, in fact — is smaller-scale agriculture that does not rely on pesticides.

In 2009 one quarter of US grain crops went to ethanol distilleries. That 107 million tons of grain was enough to feed at least three hundred million people for a year. Livestock consumes nearly half the soybeans and almost two thirds of the corn produced in this country. When you factor in the water, fertilizer and transportation costs to get fodder crops to the feedlots the system operates at a significant loss. A loss in that far more calories go into producing a calorie of beef than if we just ate the food ourselves.

Most home gardeners know that it’s a good idea to move your plants around if you can and that certain plants seem to be made to grow next to each other. Tomatoes and basil are excellent companion plants. On the other hand pesticide and herbicide use encourages monocropping and discourages rotating crops. After a few years planting corn or soy season after season you might as well hang a sign that says “Eat at Joe’s” because every pest in the county is going to be heading your way. As of 2008 some experts estimate that crop losses in corn crops have increased from 3.5% to 12% even though uses of pesticides, including organophosphates, have increased nearly 1,000% since the end of WWII. We aren’t quite at the point where the bugs can be found laughing hysterically as the poison is applied to the slowly dying land, but we’re getting closer and closer.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I'm posting this entry over here too. It impacts not only my spirtual search but the ability of our families to survive and prosper.

While some of you were watching John Muir, we were watching a rerun on the National Geographic channel on the conspiracies surrounding 9/11. Actually I think the Muir program came on later in our area. We had the Roadshow at eight and then a program from OPB on Oregon Oystermen. Anyway, back to the conspiracy theories. The program was interesting. I was aware of the various “theories” floating around but was not aware of just how impervious the truthers are to any attempts to prove that they just might be a couple of stubbies short of a six pack. Along with the birthers, deniers (climate change), and worders (Biblical literalists).

At least until I ran across this. It might have been The Parish blog or researching something I read on Greg’s blog. There are at least two ways people organize information. There’s the “give me a chance to study the facts and I’ll adjust my world view to fit them.” This world view gave us scientists like Galileo, experimental science and the Enlightenment.

“Everybody” just knew that if you dropped a one pound ball and a two pound ball from the same height the two pound ball would fall twice as fast. So Galileo took two balls up to the top of that tower in Pisa, probably yelled the Italian version of “look out below” and dropped them. Which was followed by “?????????” when both balls hit the ground at the same time. Which was probably followed by sending an increasingly tired assistant down to retrieve the balls so he could do it again. Which led to the knowledge that falling objects accelerate at the same speed no matter how heavy they are as long as wind resistance is the same. A one pound feather might not drop as fast as a one pound ball of lead because the shape is different.

Then we have the other group. They are the poster children for “my mind is made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts.” Except that they aren’t confused; confronted with what the rest of us call facts, they simply refuse delivery. The 9/11 program took up each objection. Scientists or engineers used computer models or designed experiments to test their objections as best they could, presented the information and were hit with “it couldn’t have happened that way.” They don’t really know how the towers came down, except that it was a huge government conspiracy and they aren’t changing their minds any time soon. In spite of the fact that any of their scenarios would have required so much time to set up and so many people to pull it off that somebody, somewhere would have set up shop in a country without extradition treaties with the US, written a book, made a fortune, bought a house with a state of art security system and hired a very competant crew of body guards.

We see the same attitude the birthers. It doesn’t matter how many people examine the information the state of Hawaii has released and swear on a stack of Bibles that the president was born in Hawaii, they won’t believe it. Ok. They’re several degrees off plumb. It’s distracting and/or infuriating but they aren’t really hurting anyone else….at the moment.

But, those other two groups. Hey, I’m somewhat open minded. Maybe all of the climate change we’re seeing isn’t caused by human intervention. Sure is funny how the CO2 levels started spiking around the time the Industrial Revolution started though. And how industrial level livestock operations give off more green house gasses than our cars. Think that just might be hint that you can't treat steers like widgets? Yes, CO2 levels were much higher in the past. Say about 250 million years ago when Siberia literally erupted and kept erupting for millennia. Before it was over most life on the planet was extinct. The atmosphere was full of CO2 and sulfur dioxide. The seas warmed, currents that brought cold, oxygen rich water to the surface collapsed and the oceans nearly suffocated. The earth survived, cleansed itself and life recovered. Uh, guys, the earth will survive. We, most or all of us cantankerous humans, might not.

Then there are the Worders, the folks that believe that the Bible must be taken literally. And that those who don’t agree with this and their interpretation are wrong. Not just wrong but heretics and apostates. I wouldn’t mind that so much except that some of these folks put environmentalists, even Bible believing environmentalists, and their attempts to clean up our messes on their lists of heresies and apostasies. As best as I can understand their beliefs, the Second Coming is just around the corner. The earth will be renewed. Jesus will take care of it. At this point words fail me. Frankly I didn’t stick around, I got the heck out of Dodge as quickly as possible. This mindset may also underlie the whole "Jesus died for my sins, I'm saved, that's all I need to focus on." The hell with everything He taught.

Yes, the Deniers have freedom of speech, and the Worders can claim freedom of religion. But, in the famous words of Mark Twain “your freedom to take a swing at me ends where my nose begins.” Your right to your opinions and beliefs ends when it endangers the lives and safety of others. Don’t expect us to sit by in silence.

P.S. Just realized I left out the whole Intelligent Design crew. Heck, lump them in with the Worders. They pretty much overlap. Ran across a copy of a page of coloring book put out by these (fill in with description of your choice, nuts springs to mind) with Jesus riding a velociraptor complete with saddle and bridle. Again, words fail me. Unfortunately I may have some relatives that fall into this camp.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


School gardens’ aren’t a new idea. Upscale programs, Montessori and Waldorf for example, have been using gardens for hands on learning experience for years. But, until the last decade or two, gardens at public schools were less common especially in the big city schools or schools in lower income districts.

The path to the garden at Martin Luther King Middle School starts in Berkley’s Chez Panisse restaurant. Co-founder Alice Waters helped pioneer the use of fresh, local, in season ingredients nearly forty years ago. Chez Paniise models its menu on the small French eateries whose offerings reflect what is available at the local markets where the chefs shop every day.

Then add in the principal of a local middle school. He was less than happy about a story in the local paper that quoted Ms. Winter’s remarks about the appearance of the grounds around the school. In 1993 Martin Luther King Middle School had nearly one thousand students from widely divergent economic and ethnic backgrounds. The school’s cafeteria had been closed because it was too small to handle the increased enrollment. The student’s could buy microwaved or package items at a location in the parking lot. And the school was nearly surrounded by blacktop.

The principal wrote Ms. Waters a note. She asked him to lunch. She brought up the idea of a school garden. She explained that working with the garden in math, science and English classes. Alice was approaching step ten in the plans while the principal was still trying to figure out how to get rid of the blacktop on top of the acre or so plot of land proposed for the garden.

Within five years of breaking ground the students had worked nearly two hundred tons of organic fertilizer into the garden plot. When Frances Lappe visited the garden in the late nineties she found rows of artichokes, potatoes, tomatillos and kale. As much as possible all the work is scaled to middle schoolers skills. Adults may supervise basic construction, planting and sign painting but the kids do as much as is safe for them to do. The garden recently added a 6,000 gallon tank for rainfall harvesting. One inch of rain yields about 200 gallons of water. At approximately 25 inches of rain annually in the Bay area they can collect just about enough water to fill that tank every year.

The school originally used the renovated cafeteria as a cross between kitchen and class room. In 2001 the class room was moved to a renovated bungalow next to the garden. The students still prepare what they’ve grown and share the results. Approximately on third of the students prepare and share what they’ve grown each week. They sit down at tables with tablecloths, flowers from and garden and share the food they’ve grown and prepared.

Each ninety minute garden class is followed the next day with work on their journals and lessons on ecology, pesticides, composting or growing earthworms. The student’s learn something that too many of us have forgotten or prefer to ignore, where their food comes from. In that little oasis they become aware of the cycle of worm to soil to harvest and back again.

Link to the Edible Schoolyard website.

Information from Hope’s Edge by Francis Lappe and from the school’s website.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


I'm double posting this one. Degradation of an ecosystem not only damages our spiritual health but the health and safety of our families. All our families, whether they live on that river or not.

A few years ago I invested in the 1990’s Cousteau River Journeys DVD’s. Four of the episodes followed the Danube from headwaters to the Black Sea, with emphasis on the environmental degradation along the river in the former Soviet states. Chemical plants that dumped untreated waste into the river. The dangers of aging nuclear plants that weren’t that well built in the first place. Run off from contaminated ground water along with gas leakage into the atmosphere. Local economies based on fishing and farming were stressed out by the pollution.

The diversion of the river into man made channels to improve navigation, while destroying local economies based on the wetlands and marshes.

So, where is the soul of a river? Is it just the river? Or does the river and its soul stretch beyond the channel and the meandering blue line on a map. The river is the ocean that gives up its moisture to the rains and snows. The river is winter ice and summer sun. The river is snow, rain and hail. The river is the animals that depend on it for water and forage, the trees that shade the banks and shelter the birds.

The river is the disappearing marshes and the migratory birds that nest in the reeds. The canals are the river and so are the drying wetlands that used to hold back the floods. The dams we build are the river and so are the fish blocked from their native spawning grounds. The river is the disappearing fish and the villagers and fishermen who depend on them for their livelihood. The river is the untreated chemical waste that leaches into ground water. It’s the sewage from overburdened, aging city systems. The river is the rain falling through air contaminated with radiation from nuclear plants that couldn’t be built to withstand every possible risk.

The last episode ends with a group of children including one of Cousteau’s grandchildren flying kites along the river bank to remind us that they will have to live in the world we are we creating.

(Words fail me sometimes. I have the vision in my mind but can’t find the words to express what I see)

Friday, April 8, 2011


This is an adaptation of a Celtic prayer I found in the book KNITTING INTO THE MYSTERY.

May the blessing of light be on you, light without and light within and light inside the darkness within.

May the blessed sunlight shine upon you and warm your heart ‘til it glows, like a great peat fire, so that strangers may come and warm themselves and that friends may come.

And may the light shine out of the eyes of you, like a candle set in the windows of a house, bidding the wanderer to come in out of the storm.

And may the blessing of the rain be on you – the soft, sweet rain.

May it fall upon your spirit so that the seedlings of light in you shadow may spring up, and shed their sweetness on the air.

And may the blessing of the great rains be on you, that they beat upon your spirit and wash it fair and clean, and leave there many a shining pool, and sometimes a star.

And may the blessing for the earth be on you – the great round earth who carries all; the great round earth whose suffering has already become radiant.

May you ever have a kindly greeting for people you pass as you are going along the roads.

And now may the Lord bless you, and bless you kindly, your kin and all creatures.

Blessed be

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I think the Green Woman is going to keep spiraling but this is where she’s going to explore family history. I started this blog as a place to work out my spiritual spiral. In many ways that hasn’t changed. We run heavily to dissenters and Quakers in my family. I’m not sure how comfortable my Puritan ancestors would feel about my semi pagan explorations. I suspect at least a few of the Quakers would at least sympathize with my search for the Inner Light.

So, what have I discovered so far? First a big thanks to all the other curious folks who have done so much heavy lifting. We live on the west coast, and almost no one in the family tree has, as far as I can discover, also made the trip. I’ve also discovered that success is as much luck as persistence. Mom was going through old pictures from my grandma Heaton’s collection. She was pretty good at labeling pictures; her handwriting really sucked though. And one shot was labeled as pa’s mother with the lady’s name. That’s where the fun began. It turns out that grandma didn’t spell great great grandma Tabitha’s last name correctly. Or a lot of people on the Ancestry website didn’t spell her name right. Take your pick.

Here’s where the luck starts to come in. In 1900 Tabitha Jane (Riley) Smith was living in the household of her son William and my grandmother Audrey was already born. So I had three generations to work from and her entry tells me what state she was born in; Ohio. Then I could play with other census records. You go back a little further and find a record for Louis (Lewis) C Smith, his wife Tabitha Jane and their children including William.

Both Lewis and Tabitha appear in the 1860 federal census entry for a William Riley. Lewis is listed as a farm worker aged 19 born in Indiana. Tabitha was all of 14. And that’s it for Great great grandpa Smith; I hit the brick wall. He wasn’t born for the 1840 census. And his family probably wasn’t the only one missed for the 1850 count.

Federal census records have some significant gaps. One of the largest is that the wife’s maiden name is not listed. Yippee, great grandma is named Hortense. Hortense who? They didn’t put her maiden name on the tombstone she shares with great grandpa John. Census records did list their birth state as Ohio. Family records show that John was born in Meigs county. When another tree uploaded information about a Hortense Robinson who married a John Heaton, both from Meigs County, I crossed my fingers and went for it.

John may be a common name but Hortense isn’t. She’s the only one I’ve come across so far. And the family had a habit of using a wife’s surname as a middle name for a child or grandchild. Susannah Fenn married Phineas Robinson, Their son Fenn married Lidia Crane. Eli Crane Robinson had a daughter named Hortense who had, among other children, Walter Crane Heaton. And Walter, known in the family as Uncle Joe (can’t imagine why) was grandpa Ernie’s big brother. Might not stand up in a court of law, but it looks pretty good to these eyes.

And we do go back. The lines I can trace got here early; mid seventeenth century if not sooner. I want to explore where and why? Why uproot your family, pack them aboard a hundred feet or so of wooden ship, spend nine weeks or so crossing the North Atlantic risking shipwreck, disease and bad food to fetch up in a wilderness?

I’m going to double post this entry on Walking With Hope. After that I’ll probably just note who I’m writing about. I’m being a little selfish here. I see that there are folks checking out that blog from many different places. Who knows I might get lucky and some will recognize a family name. I could use some company on the roller coaster.

Cross posted in Walking With Hope.

Monday, January 24, 2011


God who made the world, protect you this night. Christ who redeemed the world, give you peace this night. The spirit who sustains the world, be with you this night.


From Celtic Daily Prayer