– said demeter to persephone –
(to katya)

When a god dies
winter arrives in the world
and winter makes the fallow earth
the fecund altar
of cycles and circles.

While a god lives
walking amongst us
Arrayed in most delicious flesh
and sparkling jewels,
we revel in the Moment
and are bonded with the Present
and freed from all our Fears.

We must take the lessons of Springtime
fragrant with purple nectar
leaking lavender juices
swollen with secrets
and plant them in strange places
where they will keep us alive.

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Standing Rock is Important to Every Community

Why Standing Rock Is Important to Our Community

The Standing Rock protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline is taking place in North Dakota. Why is that important to Appleton, Wisconsin? There are three main reasons why this is important to us.

The first, has to do with why Energy Transfer Partners is trying to put the pipeline by Standing Rock. They were originally going to route the pipeline north of Bismarck, but people living there said no. They protected their resources, they said no and they were successful. But instead of saying “not in my backyard”, they could have said “don’t put this in anyone’s backyard”. Until recently, we didn’t have the advantage of technology like the internet and infrastructure like social media. When terrible things happened far away, we never learned about it until it was too late to get involved. Now we can be vigilant about everything happening anywhere, and we have a responsibility as human beings to reach out to each other and unite our voices – when we make someone else stronger, we make ourselves stronger. Corporations and governments have relied for centuries on the fact that those who would oppose them are isolated and lack resources, to the point that they take it for granted. Standing Rock is an historic event relevant to every city everywhere in the same way that the Arab Spring was an historic event for the human race.

The second, has to do with militarization of the police force. Any mobilization of militarized police is an assault on the freedom and liberty of every citizen in a democracy. This really doesn’t need much explanation. If we don’t take action against militarized police, then we are undermining the liberty and civil rights of ourselves and all people on American soil. Standing Rock is one of the most publicised instances of militarized police in our lifetime, and it is happening right now as we speak. We must do everything we can to prevent this militarization of those who are supposed to “protect and serve”, otherwise these authoritarian tactics will become normalized and taken for granted, and it will become even more difficult to fight the oppression and abuses of government and corporate collusion.

The third reason, is that water protection is relevant to every community, and especially to a community like Appleton with the resources and privilege we enjoy. One of the committees I serve on as a council member in the city of Appleton is the Utilities Committee, and I couldn’t even begin to describe how proud we are of our water quality, and how much we invest in managing our water as a precious resource. We sit on a river, we draw our water from Lake Winnebago, and our water and wastewater treatment plants are some of the best in the country, maybe even the world. How much do we take this for granted? Do we even know how many pipelines already cut through our land and threaten our lakes and rivers? Snaking through Wisconsin, we have pipelines operated by Enbridge Pipeline Inc, Magellan Pipeline Co, Koch Refining Co, Westshore Pipeline Co, and Mid-America Pipeline Co, with terminals in Superior, Eau Claire, Wausau, Green Bay, Waupun, Milwaukee, Madison, and Janesville, and that was all just as of 2012. If the Dakota Access Pipeline is successfully constructed, it will lead to more pipelines, and the struggle is already at our own front door.

To recognise the relevance of Standing Rock to our community, most fundamentally we have to embrace a perspective that acknowledges and encompasses the connectivity of all our systems, social and physical, and remember that what affects one location, affects us all in many ways both visible and invisible, both obvious and counter-intuitive. It’s easy to understand that we all have essential human rights. Having a right to life, gives us a right to water, because water is life. It’s harder to understand that we live in a time when governments have failed us, corporations have abused us, and the only actual guarantee of our right to life, is the action we take personally and collectively to protect each other and our resources, in order to defend the right to life for future generations.

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The Spirit of Dionysus

David Bowie, image from “The Rolling Stone” magazine

In 1993, David Bowie said in an interview, “We shouldn’t be afraid to experiment. Experimentation is about pushing the parameters of our knowledge. It is the spirit of Dionysus, the energy that makes us what we are.”

Those words guided me through adolescence and have continued to guide me throughout my life. David Bowie is more than a role model or a muse or a teacher. He is Dionysus.

We are all Dionysus. We are all struggling little creatures trying the best we can to be the energy that makes us what we are. David Bowie has inspired us, given us strength and courage, and shown us how to make experimental art out of every aspect of ourselves, even our own death.

When our role model dies, it’s our turn to become a role model for the next round of kids. Let’s push the parameters of our knowledge by reading, and encouraging others to read, all of David Bowie’s 100 favourite books. And, of course, let’s keep sharing his music forever.


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wanna know a secret?

i am always thinking of things i want to write about when i don’t have time to write. then when i do have time, those things seem mundane and boring and not worth writing about.

heqat on the bed

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swedish ivy

my sister gave me some swedish ivy cuttings some years ago. the story goes something like this: while she was studying oriental medicine in Saint Paul Minnesota, she and her room mate got some cuttings from a friend who got some from someone who got some from someone etc, with the original cuttings procured from an enormous swedish ivy plant in the White House in Washington DC that has been thriving there since the Nixon administration. apparently there’s some sort of tradition for people to propagate the plant after working as an intern in its vicinity. my ivy tends to bloom in the winter. these pictures were taken in february 2015. i continue the tradition by giving cuttings to anyone who wants them.

swedish ivy blooming swedish ivy blooming

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kittens and creativity

heqat in the art studioheqat sits on a trunk in my art studio. all the cats like to perch around me while i’m working.

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my greenhouse room

greenhouse room

my greenhouse room is dedicated to plants. it’s where i start my seeds before spring comes. it’s also where the fish tank is. i put a screen in the doorway instead of closing the door, so that the room can share its humidity with the rest of the house. i use the grow lights in the winter but not in the summer. all the plants that can’t handle the winter huddle together here and then get to go back outside when spring arrives.

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kombuchai make my own kombucha. it’s delicious and nutritious. actually, sometimes it tastes like pure vinegar. i leave it sit too long when i get too busy.

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more kitchen plants

kitchen cabinet plantsthe space above my kitchen cabinets is just big enough for plants. pictured here are some spider plants, swedish ivies, heirloom geraniums, and standard ivy. the cabinet artwork on the left and right are by Qiuniu, the star-chart next to the solar flare was painted by another friend.

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my oldest aloe

kitchen plantsthis is my kitchen table. the aloe in the red pot started out as a tiny little thing smaller than my hand in 2005. most of the aloes i have are its babies. as you can tell from the other aloes on the table though, some of them are pretty big babies!

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house plants in the bedroomhouse plants in my bedroom. picture taken earlier this winter. i try to fill my house with as many plants and books as possible. i also try to cover all the wall space with art and randomness. the plants seen here are all aloes and spider plants.

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Corexit In Bed

Corexit has his own little bed next to my pillows in the shelf of my bedside table. He has a nice window view, and in the winter the radiator keeps him nice and warm and draws his brothers to cuddle with him throughout the night. Originally he was developing a habit of sleeping on my face. I tried giving him a folded blanket next to my pillow but he still kept sleeping on my face. When I put his blanket onto the shelf of the bedside table, that revolutionized our mutual comfort.

corexit in his little bed corexit and his window corexit in his little bed

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spiderplant babies

every year when spring arrives i trim all the babies off my spider plants. then i root them and pot them and try to give as many away as possible. those that remain spend the summer outdoors, and in the fall i find somewhere to put them in my house. i want every room of my house to contain as many plants as possible. spider plants don’t need much attention and they’re great for air quality because of the surface area of their leaves.

spiderplant babies spiderplant babies

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up-cycled dish scrubber

part of being sustainable means washing your dishes with your cat!

bungalow and dish scrubberactually, i have never washed dishes with Bungalow. but i made that neat little red scrubby thing by folding up one of those mesh bags that clementines are sold in, and crocheting the edges with a scrap of yarn. i made it back in June and it’s holding up really well. one of my sustainability goals is to stop using mass-produced disposable products, and this dish scrubber was really easy to make. just make sure that the yarn goes through all the layers – that’s what makes it hold its shape and keeps it from coming apart during heavy scrubbing.

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van gogh loved sunflowers

Corexit and I love sunflowers too. I grow them in my garden and they bring joy to everyone. I tried sketching these and I was pretty satisfied with my attempt. There are lots of skills I’ve developed over the years that languish, and I try to make an effort to retain what I can. Sketching is one of those things – I never felt that I ever got really good at it, but I still feel the need to keep working at it anyway. Photography is much easier and much quicker, but I don’t want new technology to replace the traditional forms of art that I spent so much time learning as a child. Sorry, I’m not posting my sunflower sketch here. But it’s in my sketchbook, where it will hopefully be followed by many more.

corexit and sunflowers corexit and sunflowers sunflowers from my garden

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fruit trees

my fruit trees are so tall!

my fruit trees

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Corexit is 4 years old now

Corexit’s 4th birthday was last week on August 20th. I didn’t have the chance to do more than give him extra cuddles and some food-treats that he really loves, and I don’t think he realized that it was a special day. He and his litter-mates RonJon and 23 were born in my attic when the BP Horizon Oil Spill happened. Corexit is named after the toxic dispersant that was released into the Gulf of Mexico in response to the oil.

Corexit's birthday

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I Will Miss You, Dear Brother

He-Ping was born in China on December 7th, 1993. His name means “peace”. We brought him with us when we returned to America in 1996. It was difficult to bring a cat halfway around the world back then, and he knew he was special. He was proud, he was full of love, and he has been part of my life since I was eleven years old. He would have been 21 years old this December. He left this world peacefully last night.

Here’s a picture my sister took last year on his 20th birthday:

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the blackberries

i planted these blackberries three years ago. i’ve not gotten many berries from them, but this year they are huge and i’m hoping for a harvest. the flowers have filled in so much, it’s never looked like this before. also, my milkweed is exploding and i’ve seen a number of monarch butterflies this year.

blackberry corner

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beautiful food

home-made sushi with home-made spicy sauce and home-made tamago!

it's a work of art beautiful and nutritious

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