Tuesday, December 30, 2008

old men dream dreams

Surviving the up and coming social/economic meltdown is just one aspect of the survival I'm speaking of as the Way of Survival is far more reaching in scope. This Way is not merely a quick dive into a foxhole, but a life style. So if I seem to be meandering around a bit, bear with me cause, although I paint with a broad stroke I am still on the same canvas.

Old Men Dream Dreams

It seems I do more of it in the winter, but regardless, as I get older I spend a lot of time day dreaming. I usually wake up about 5 am, make coffee and, being retired and having no place to go, sit in my chair in the dark drinking my coffee and dreaming about the past. A rather pleasant time, I might add.

Now I have been to a lot of places and done a lot of things, but the things and places have become mere backdrops, places to hold the faces and memories of the many people I have known and the friends I have made while I did things over the last 66 years that I have lived on this planet.

As I begin to think on a place and time the faces are soon to follow. These faces pop into my mind like a worn out jack-in-the-box. Crank the handle a bit and wallah up pops Joey Sirgo or Gunner Thompson, or Tommy One Nut, or Pissball Pete. . . . . or. (It's amazing how many of these guys have slang names and how often that's the only one I can remember.)

Then the fun begins as I sit and reminisce with these guys over all the exciting times we had together . . . and a few of the sad ones. Seems the good and the funny always float to the top first though. I have to dig a bit to get to the bad, so as I hate shoveling I mostly leave that part alone.

To all the girls I've loved before. I remember your eyes, the lift of your breasts and the swing of your hips, but little else cause my Band of Brothers meant far more to me than trying to figure you out ever did. You guys have a place in my heart, but the respectable amongst you live in a special 'other' room. This room is filled with bar girls, casual one night stands, and short time hookers.

The old boys club door is locked to the finer female. No equality here. You wouldn't like it anyways in there cause the room stinks with old cigar smoke, cordite and bull shit and the floor is littered with trampled peanut shells, dried blood and dog hair. A place only one of my old friends could love.

I always figured when I got old I would be sitting in the park with the rest of the old goats, like they did when I was a kid. Maybe the old project crowd still do that, I don't know because I lost contact with them at 15 when I had to move.

Today I live a life of seclusion. I spend my days reading, or goofing on my computer or driving my wife crazy, but rarely if ever do I spend time with friends, cause although spread out over half the world, they are not here.

Once I was in a Portland City jail cell with the walls covered in graffiti. I found an empty spot and wrote my own little tale of woe, “I've been alone since birth, I'll remain alone till death, then I'll have a friend”. Kind of a downer, but how else would you feel being stuck in a 6x6 cell with a guy coming down off heroin?

I do hope that quickly thought verse will prove itself to be true though cause I'm getting closer to D day each time I go to sleep at night and it would be really cool to wake up on the other side and see a large table of my friends gathered around it to greet me. (and my favorite dogs lying under it)

Jesus and God would have to wait for a while then cause first thing I want to do is drink some Maddog wine and hang out with the guys again for a season . . . or two.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Since time began God’s been around in one form or another. Depending on when, where, and what age you were born in, you would have received from your elders an entirely different picture of Him . . . Who is He anyway? This entity with the many names and personalities, this multi-faceted Father of the Universe, this Creator declaring His love, yet demanding our worship or else.

In our time, religious warfare has ravaged the planet. People of differing philosophies are killing one another to prove the point that they are the ‘chosen’ of the God of love and peace . . . What gives?

Say you were born in the US to Baptist Christian parents. Now, there were others in your town such as the Catholics, Protestants, Pentecostals, etc. etc. who were also Christians, but they only had part of the truth, your parents taught you that the Baptists had it all. They were the ‘chosen’, above the rest of the ‘chosen’, who were chosen above the others because they held at least one truth in common, Jesus the Christ. All the others who didn’t acknowledge Jesus as Lord, weren’t even in the running to be considered ‘chosen’.

Pretty confusing to a kid, but after a few years of brainwashing, you took your place in the church, accepted “it’s” version of the bible to be God’s holy word, learned your preachers denominational interpretation and thanked God for choosing you from amongst the billions of earthlings to reveal His truth to. . . . Is there something wrong here?

I grew up as a Protestant, but never thought much of it. My only remembrance of church was how I hated to get dressed up on Sunday and go. Jesus was just a sissy looking guy with long brown hair who got himself hung on a cross for some reason I couldn’t quite understand.

It was much later in life, after the army, after the free love ‘hippie’ days, that I began to give any serious thought to God. I had a bad experience on drugs one night with a Ouigi Board that scared me enough to seek some spiritual help. I asked an old guy in the neighborhood about God and he sent me down the street to the Pentecostal Church. This was where my religious adventure began. Born again, Spirit filled, tongue talking, Hell and damnation preaching, loud praising, song singing, Pentecostalism.

Years later, living a secluded life on a Christian communal farm, I began to wonder. I began to get an uneasy feeling about the whole thing and I left. I stopped listening to what people had to tell me about God and decided to risk Hellfire and Damnation and get to know Him on my own. No bible, no Jesus, no nothing.

It was time to lay aside fear of backsliding, fear of leaving the Church, and fear of everything else having to do with the Christian faith. I began to read other philosophies, especially Buddhism, Easter Indian, and American Indian thought.

At first I found it difficult to deliver myself from years of religious conditioning, but as time went by, it became easier. I began to peek into forbidden areas, and began to make choices. I thought about Jesus, about the necessity for salvation, and about sin, and Hell, and death . . . and I thought about God, the creator of it all.

Jesus was a difficult hurdle to jump. Today he still has a role to play in my life, but not as a savior. Although I no longer worship him, I honor him, and give him great respect. His recorded life is an example of what life expects of me, and his sacrifices are deeply appreciated. He was a teacher who revealed through his nature, what I could become if I chose to follow his lead. If he was the Savior of the world, just believing in him didn’t seem to make much sense.

I can believe my math teacher is the greatest teacher on earth, but if I fail to learn what he has to teach, what does that make me? . . . a worshiper. If I absorb all that he has, in essence absorb him, I take him with me as I go into the world to become a teacher in my own right. He will always be the Master and I his student, but as I build upon his foundation, it will no longer be necessary to sit at his feet. I will have taken on a mission of my own.

All religions seem to have a fuzzy image of God, He’s called a trinity in Christian philosophy. He’s the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Kind of confusing. Other sects and religions have other names for Him, but none really pins Him down. He is the great I AM . . . and He doesn’t fit well into anybody’s pre-conceived box.

I needed a deeper understanding of Him than what religious teaching had for me, so I took a walk in the woods. . . and there I met Him face to face.

Simply put, in my opinion everything that lives, either animal, vegetable, or mineral is a part of God. He’s you, He’s me, the dog, the fly, and the leaf in the tree. We are surrounded by, engulfed in, His omnipotence. We are Him, His breath is what keeps us upright, the flesh He created is but a vehicle to contain His presence.

We are drops of water originating from the same wave. We appear for but a moment, make a flash in the sun and re-enter. We are nothing . . . and yet we are everything.

We, as the highest evolution of His person, have the power to choose, thereby becoming creators in our own right. As far as I know, we are the only life form having the ability to choose and to create according to our whim. We create our tomorrows by the thoughts we think and the actions we take today, both individually and collectively.

God didn’t create this chaos we live in, we did. Instead of ignoring negativity, we have embraced it, and made a place for it. By doing so, we have created a world of dualism. Positivity/Negativity battling for dominion, and it seems the latter is in the lead. It will continue to grow, nothings going to stop it until, we as a whole, stop struggling to be amongst the ‘chosen’ and get down to the business of being our brothers keeper.

I’ve often wondered why we were given this ability and can only figure that God/Life is also evolving. That nothing is stagnate, but forever growing, even God. Where are we going? I don’t have a clue, but I’m convinced the teachings of Christ, as well as others, are paths leading us to the next step in our evolution.

Today I see God everywhere, but especially when I’m alone walking in the woods out of the earshot of men and their constant jabbering.

Walk softly upon the Earth and you will hear His still, small voice floating upon the breeze. Listen to what He has to say concerning the joy of simply being a part of it all as well as to the futility involved in claiming ownership to any of it.


Friday, December 19, 2008


I would say that the most favorite past time I have is reading. I love to read. I love to go to book stores and libraries to browse. And now with the advent of the internet, especially the blog craze and Google's open book project, I am in a proverbial reader's hog heaven.

My wife thinks I spend entirely too much time on the internet (and let's me know it in many, sometimes not so subtle, ways) but, man, I ain't hanging out in the porno rooms, I am reading. Everything under the sun, everything you can possibly imagine, you can find something about it on the web. This internet will be the one thing I will truly miss when/if the power goes out in this land.

I have just about ten books I am reading at any given time. How can I possibly be expected to have time for mowing the lawn . . . or going to Wallmart . . . or to take out the trash when I barely have time to cook up another pot of coffee?

I am too busy hanging with a guy who has just come back from Afghanistan after shedding blood for the first time.

I am too busy following the gal in a burka as she fights for her freedom to learn how to write.

I am too busy following Robert Service from bar to bar as he writes his rhymes of wit during Alaska's gold rush heyday . . .

I am too busy empathizing with the old Indian as he relates his experience fighting the white horde as it moved, like a plague, across his land killing his people and stealing it from him.

This thing the ignorant amongst us has put out about a bookworm being a skinny wimp wearing huge glasses and hiding in a corner is all pure bullshit also. Mess with me when I'm reading a good book and I may (depending on what I'm reading, of course) just flat ass, knock you out . . . before I continue my adventure.

They, the ignorant, are the wimps. These knuckle dragger's of society who spend their boring days with Jerry Springer. Who sheepishly follow every so called leader as they prod their sex crazed asses over a cliff because they are too dumb and too lazy to think for themselves.

HEY! WAKE UP! . . . If you have a perfectly functioning brain you should be ashamed of yourselves!

That, our own laziness, is the core rot in this country and the main cause thats bringing us to our knees. There is no excuse for the massive amount of ignorance in this country given the vast store house of knowledge at our disposal.

I would advise anybody who is serious about not going nuts when the power goes off to bring into their hooch a boatload of books cause there will be a whole lot of free time to use up. And as we all know you can only do sex for so long . . . and it won't take much time at all to cook and eat our meager rations.

Books, more than guns and ammo will save the day for you. Now is the time to start hoarding. Go to the Goodwill, or the library book sale, or half.com, or Amazon etc. All these places you can buy very cheaply the books that perhaps will help you find your way out of this very expensive mess we find ourselves in.

Read . . . just do it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jumping Mouse by Hyemeyohsts Storm


The Story of Jumping Mouse is a traditional Native American legend.

As with many Native American stories, the story of Jumping Mouse is filled both with deep analogy and the belief that man and nature reflect each other.

A key to understanding the parable inherent in the story is a basic understanding of the Medicine Wheel.

As can be seen from a drawing of a Medicine Wheel, each pole of the circle has a distinctive color, animal, and trait. Thus the North is the place of wisdom whose medicine animal is the Buffalo and whose color is white etc.

The Native American belief is that each person is born into a particular beginning place on the wheel, which gives one the 'first way of seeing things', which will remain the easiest way throughout that person's life.

The belief exists, however, that any person who sees from only one of these directions will remain only a 'partial person'. Thus, a person who possesses the Gift of the North will be wise, but will also be cold and unfeeling.

The person who lives only in the East will have the clear, farsighted vision of the eagle, but will feel 'above life' and never believe that he can be touched by anything.

Someone who dwells only in the West (introspection) will go over the same thought again and again, but will lack the wisdom to make decisions.

A person with the gift of the south (Mouse) will be too near-sighted to see anything but what is right in front of them.

The essential belief is that people can learn how to see from 2 or 3 of these 4 great directions, but only by seeking understanding in all of them can a person become truly full and whole.

The Story of Jumping Mouse incorporates the lesson of the Medicine Wheel into a simple parable of one mouse's curiosity and journey to know more of the world.

Though the animal symbols are slightly different, Jumping Mouse's quest takes him through each pole of the medicine wheel through his encounters with Magic Frog (Innocence, South), Old Mouse (introspection, black), Buffalo (Wisdom, white), and Eagle (enlightenment, gold) (Raccoon and Wolf are also met during the tale).

Through each encounter, Jumping Mouse learns to 'give up' a way of seeing things and is rewarded by a greater and greater awareness of himself and the world.

The Story of Jumping Mouse by Hyemeyohsts Storm

Native American Lore

Once there was a Mouse.

He was a Busy Mouse, Searching Everywhere, Touching his Whiskers to the Grass, and Looking. He was Busy as all Mice are, Busy with Mice things. But Once in a while he would Hear an odd Sound. He would Lift his Head, Squinting hard to See, his Whiskers Wiggling in the Air, and he would Wonder. One Day he Scurried up to a fellow Mouse and asked him, "Do you Hear a Roaring in your Ears, my Brother?"

"No, no," answered the Other Mouse, not Lifting his Busy Nose from the Ground. "I Hear Nothing. I am Busy now. Talk to me Later."

He asked Another Mouse the same Question and the Mouse Looked at him Strangely. "Are you Foolish in your Head? What Sound?" he asked and Slipped into a Hole in a Fallen Cottonwood Tree.

The little Mouse shrugged his Whiskers and Busied himself again, Determined to Forget the Whole Matter. But there was that Roaring again. It was faint, very faint, but it was there! One Day, he Decided to investigate the Sound just a little. Leaving the Other Busy Mice, he Scurried a little Way away and Listened again. There It was! He was Listening hard when suddenly, Someone said Hello.

Hello little Brother," the Voice said, and Mouse almost Jumped right Out of his Skin. He Arched his Back and Tail and was about to Run.

"Hello," again said the Voice. "It is I, Brother Raccoon." And sure enough, It was! "What are you Doing Here all by yourself, little Brother?" asked the Raccoon. The Mouse blushed, and put his Nose almost to the Ground. "I Hear a Roaring in my Ears and I am Investigating it," he answered timidly.

"A Roaring in your Ears?" replied the Raccoon as he Sat Down with him. "What you Hear, little Brother , is the River."

"The River?" Mouse asked curiously. "What is a River?"

"Walk with me and I will Show you the River," Raccoon said.

Little Mouse was terribly Afraid, but he was Determined to Find Out Once and for All about the Roaring. "I can Return to my Work," he thought, "after this thing is Settled, and possibly this thing may Aid me in All my Busy Examining and Collecting. And my Brothers All said it was Nothing. I will Show them. I will Ask Raccoon to Return with me and I will have Proof."

"All right Raccoon, my Brother," said Mouse. "Lead on to the River. I will Walk with you."

Little Mouse Walked with Raccoon. His little Heart was Pounding in his Breast. The Raccoon was Taking him upon Strange Paths and little Mouse Smelled the Scent of many things that had Gone by his Way. Many times he became so Frightened he almost Turned Back. Finally, they Came to the River! It was Huge and Breathtaking, Deep and Clear in Places, and Murky in Others. Little Mouse was unable to See Across it because it was so Great. It Roared, Sang, Cried, and Thundered on its Course. Little Mouse Saw Great and Little Pieces of the World Carried Along on its Surface.

"It is Powerful!" little Mouse said, Fumbling for Words.

It is a Great thing," answered the Raccoon, "But here, let me Introduce you to a Friend."

In a Smoother, Shallower Place was a Lily Pad, Bright and Green. Sitting upon it was a Frog, almost as Green as the Pad it sat on. The Frog's White Belly stood out Clearly.

"Hello, little Brother," said the Frog.

"Welcome to the River."

"I must Leave you Now," cut in Raccoon, "but do not Fear, little Brother, for Frog will Care for you Now." And Raccoon Left, Looking along the River Bank for Food that he might Wash and Eat.

Little Mouse Approached the Water and Looked into it. He saw a Frightened Mouse Reflected there.

"Who are you?" little Mouse asked the Reflection. "Are you not Afraid of being that Far out into the Great River?"

"No, answered the Frog, "I am not Afraid. I have been Given the Gift from Birth to Live both Above and Within the River. When Winter Man Comes and Freezes this Medicine, I cannot be Seen. But all the while Thunderbird Flies, I am here. To Visit me, One must Come when the World is Green. I, my Brother, am the Keeper of the Water."

Amazing!" little Mouse said at last, again Fumbling for Words."

Would you like to have some Medicine Power?" Frog asked."

"Medicine Power? Me?" asked little Mouse. "Yes, yes! If it is Possible."

"Then Crouch as Low as you Can, and then Jump as High as you are Able! You will have your Medicine!" Frog said.

Little Mouse did as he was Instructed. He Crouched as Low as he Could and Jumped. And when he did, his Eyes Saw the Sacred Mountains.

Little Mouse could hardly Believe his Eyes. But there they were! But then he Fell back to Earth, and he Landed in the River!

Little Mouse became Frightened and Scrambled back to the Bank. He was Wet and Frightened nearly to Death.

"You have Tricked me," little Mouse Screamed at the Frog!"

"Wait," said the Frog. "You are not Harmed. Do not let your Fear and Anger Blind you. What did you See?"

"I," Mouse stammered, "I Saw the Sacred Mountains!"

"And you have a New Name!" Frog said. "It is Jumping Mouse."

"Thank you. Thank you," Jumping Mouse said, and Thanked him again. "I want to Return to my People and Tell them of this thing that has Happened to me."

"Go. Go then," Frog said. "Return to your People. It is Easy to Find them. Keep the Sound of the Medicine River to the back of your Head. Go Opposite to the Sound and you will Find your Brother Mice."

Jumping Mouse Returned to the World of the Mice. But he Found Disappointment. No One would Listen to him. And because he was Wet, and had no Way of explaining it because there had been no Rain, many of the other Mice were Afraid of him. They believed he had been Spat from the Mouth of Another Animal that had Tried to Eat him. And they all Knew that if he had not been Food for the One who Wanted him, then he must also be Poison for them.

Jumping Mouse Lived again among his People, but he could not Forget his Vision of the Sacred Mountains.

The Memory Burned in the Mind and Heart of Jumping Mouse, and One Day he Went to the Edge of the Place of Mice and Looked out onto the Prairie. He looked up for Eagles. The Sky was Full of many Spots, each One an Eagle. But he was Determined to Go to the Sacred Mountains. He Gathered All of his Courage and Ran just as Fast as he Could onto the Prairie. His little Heart Pounded with Excitement and Fear.

He Ran until he Came to a stand of Sage. He was Resting and trying to Catch his Breath when he Saw an Old Mouse. The Patch of Sage Old Mouse Lived in was a Haven for Mice. Seeds and many things to be Busy with.

"Hello," said Old Mouse. "Welcome."

Jumping Mouse was Amazed. Such a Place and such a Mouse. "You are Truly a great Mouse." Jumping Mouse said with all the Respect that he could Find. "This is Truly a Wonderful Place. And the Eagles cannot See you here, either," Jumping Mouse said.

"Yes," said Old Mouse," and One can See All the Beings of the Prairie here: the Buffalo, Antelope, Rabbit, and Coyote. One can See them All from here and Know their Names."

"That is Marvelous," Jumping Mouse said. "Can you also See the River and the Great Mountains?"

"Yes and No," Old Mouse Said with Conviction. "I Know the Great River, But I am Afraid that the Great Mountains are only a Myth. Forget your Passion to See Them and Stay here with me. There is Everything you Want here, and it is a Good Place to Be."

"How can he Say such a thing?" Thought Jumping Mouse. "The Medicine of the Sacred Mountains is Nothing One can Forget."

"Thank you very much for the Meal you have Shared with me, Old Mouse, and also for sharing your Great Home," Jumping Mouse said. "But I must Seek the Mountains."

"You are a Foolish Mouse to Leave, there is Danger on the Prairie! Just Look up there!" Old Mouse said, with even more Conviction. "See all those Spots! They are Eagles, and they will Catch you!"

It was hard for Jumping Mouse to Leave, but he Gathered his Determination and Rand hard Again.

The Ground was Rough. But he Arched his Tail and Ran with All his Might. He could Feel the Shadows of the Spots upon his Back as he Ran. All those Spots! Finally he Ran into a Stand of Chokecherries. Jumping Mouse could hardly Believe his Eyes. It was Cool there and very Spacious. There was Water, Cherries, and Seeds to Eat, Grasses to Gather for Nests, Holes to be Explored and many, many Other Busy Things to do. And there were a great many things to Gather.

He was Investigating his New Domain when he Heard very Heavy Breathing. He Quickly Investigated the Sound and Discovered its Source. It was a Great Mound of Hair with Black Horns. It was a Great Buffalo. Jumping Mouse could hardly Believe the Greatness of the Being he Saw Lying there before him. He was so large that Jumping Mouse could have Crawled into One of his Great Horns. "Such a Magnificent Being," Thought Jumping Mouse, and he Crept Closer.

"Hello, my Brother," said the Buffalo. "Thank you for Visiting me."

"Hello Great Being," said Jumping Mouse. "Why are you Lying here?"

"I am Sick and I am Dying" the Buffalo said.

"And my Medicine has Told me that only the Eye of a Mouse can Heal me. But little Brother, there is no such Thing as a Mouse."

Jumping Mouse was Shocked. "One of my Eyes!" he Thought. "One of my Tiny Eyes." He Scurried back into the Stand of Chokecherries. But the breathing came Harder and Slower.

"He will Die." Thought Jumping Mouse. "If I do not Give him my Eye. He is too Great a Being to Let Die."

He Went Back to where the Buffalo Lay and Spoke. "I am a Mouse." he said with a Shaky Voice. "And you, my Brother, are a Great Being. I cannot Let you Die. I have Two Eyes, so you may have One of them."

The minute he Said it, Jumping Mouse's Eye Flew Out of his Head and the Buffalo was Made Whole. The Buffalo jumped to his Feet, Shaking Jumping Mouse's Whole World.

"Thank you, my little Brother," said the Buffalo. "I Know of your Quest for the Sacred Mountains and of your Visit tot he River. You have Given me Life so that I may Give-Away to the People. I will be your Brother Forever. Run under my Belly and I will Take you right to the Foot of the Sacred Mountains, and you need not Fear the Spots. The Eagles cannot See you while you Run under Me. All they will See will be the Back of a Buffalo. I am of the Prairie and I will Fall on you if I Try to Go up the Mountains."

Little Mouse Ran under the Buffalo, Secure and Hidden from the Spots, but with only One Eye it was Frightening. The Buffalo's Great Hooves Shook the Whole World each time he took a Step. finally the Came to a Place and Buffalo Stopped.

"This is Where I must Leave you, little Brother," said the Buffalo.

"Thank you very much," said Jumping Mouse. "But you Know, it was very Frightening Running under you with only One Eye. I was Constantly in Fear of your Great Earth-Shaking Hooves."

"Your Fear was for Nothing," said Buffalo, "For my Way of Walking is the Sun Dance Way, and I Always Know where my Hooves will Fall. I now must Return to the Prairie, my Brother, You can Always Find me there."

Jumping Mouse Immediately Began to Investigate his New Surroundings. There were even more things here than in the Other Places, Busier things, and Abundance of Seeds and Other things Mice Like. In his Investigation of these things, Suddenly he Ran upon a Gray Wolf who was Sitting there doing absolutely Nothing.

"Hello, Brother Wolf," Jumping Mouse said.

The Wolf's Ears Came Alert and his Eyes Shone. "Wolf! Wolf! Yes, that is what I am, I am a Wolf!" But then his mind Dimmed again and it was not long before he Sat Quietly again, completely without Memory as to who he was. Each time Jumping Mouse Reminded him who he was, he became Excited with the News, but soon would Forget again.

"Such a Great Being," thought Jumping Mouse, "but he has no Memory."

Jumping Mouse Went to the Center of his New Place and was Quiet. He Listened for a very long time to the Beating of his Heart. Then Suddenly he Made up his Mind. He Scurried back to where the Wolf Sat and he Spoke.

"Brother Wolf," Jumping Mouse said. ....

"Wolf! Wolf," said the Wolf ....

"Please Brother Wolf," said Jumping Mouse, "Please Listen to me. I Know what will Heal you. It is One of my Eyes. And I Want to Give it to you. You are a Greater Being than I. I am only a Mouse. Please Take it."

When Jumping Mouse Stopped Speaking his Eye Flew out of his Head and the Wolf was made Whole.

Tears Fell down the Cheeks of the Wolf, but his little Brother could not See them, for Now he was Blind.

"You are a Great Brother," said the Wolf, "for Now I have my Memory. But Now you are Blind. I am the Guide into the Sacred Mountains. I will Take you there. There is a Great Medicine Lake there. The most Beautiful Lake in the World. All the World is reflected there. The People, the Lodges of the People, and All the Beings of the Prairies and Skies."

"Please Take me there," Jumping Mouse said. The Wolf Guided him through the Pines to the Medicine Lake. Jumping Mouse Drank the Water from the Lake. The Wolf Described the Beauty to him.

I must Leave you here," said Wolf, "For I must Return so that I may Guide Others, but I will Remain with you as long as you Like."

Thank you, my Brother," said Jumping Mouse. "But although I am Frightened to be Alone, I Know you must Go so that you may Show Others the Way to this Place."

Jumping Mouse Sat there Trembling in Fear. It was no use Running, for he was Blind, but he Knew an Eagle would Find him Here. He Felt a Shadow on his Back and Heard the Sound that Eagles Make. He Braced himself for the Shock. And the Eagle Hit! Jumping Mouse went to Sleep.

Then he Woke Up. The surprise of being Alive was Great, but Now he could See!

Everything was Blurry, but the Colors were beautiful.

"I can See! I can See!" said Jumping Mouse over again and again.

A Blurry Shape Came toward Jumping Mouse. Jumping Mouse Squinted hard but the Shape Remained a Blur.

"Hello, Brother," a Voice said. "Do you Want some Medicine?"

"Some Medicine for me?" asked Jumping Mouse. "Yes! Yes!"

"Then Crouch down as Low as you Can," the Voice said, "and Jump as High as you Can."

Jumping Mouse did as he was Instructed. He Crouched as Low as he Could and Jumped! The Wind Caught him and Carried him Higher."

"Do not be Afraid," the Voice called to him. "Hang on to the Wind and Trust!"

Jumping Mouse did. He Closed his Eyes and Hung on to the Wind and it Carried Higher and Higher. Jumping Mouse Opened his Eyes and they were Clear, and the Higher he Went the Clearer they Became. Jumping Mouse Saw his Old Friend upon a Lily Pad on the Beautiful Medicine Lake. It was the Frog.

"You have a New Name," Called the Frog. "You are Eagle!"

(The END, or Perhaps a new Beginning)

Friday, December 5, 2008

What Is the Future of Suburbia?

“The suburbs have three destinies, none of them exclusive: as materials salvage, as slums, and as ruins.”

There are many ways of describing the fiasco of suburbia, but these days I refer to it as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world.

I say this because American suburbia requires an infinite supply of cheap energy in order to function and we have now entered a permanent global energy crisis that will change the whole equation of daily life. Having poured a half-century of our national wealth into a living arrangement with no future — and linked our very identity with it — we have provoked a powerful psychology of previous investment that will make it difficult for us to let go, change our behavior, and make other arrangements.

Compounding the problem is the fact that we ditched our manufacturing economy for a suburban sprawl building economy (a.k.a. “the housing bubble”), meaning we came to base our economy on building even more stuff with no future.

This is a hell of a problem, since it is at once economic, socio-political, and circumstantial.
Here’s what I think will happen: First, we are in great danger of mounting a futile campaign to sustain the unsustainable, that is, of defending suburbia at all costs.

In fact, it is already underway. One symptom of this is that the only subject under discussion about our energy predicament is how can we keep running all our cars by other means. Even the leading environmentalists talk of little else. We don’t get it. The Happy Motoring era is over. No combination of “alt” fuels — solar, wind, nuclear, tar sands, oil-shale, offshore drilling, used French-fry oil — will allow us to keep running the interstate highway system, Wal-Marts, and Walt Disney World.

The automobile will be a diminishing presence in our lives, whether we like it or not. Further proof of our obdurate cluelessness in these matters is the absence of any public discussion about restoring the passenger railroad system — even as the airline industry is also visibly dying. The campaign to sustain suburbia and all its entitlements will result in a tragic squandering of our dwindling resources and capital.

The suburbs have three destinies, none of them exclusive: as materials salvage, as slums, and as ruins. In any case, the suburbs will lose value dramatically, both in terms of usefulness and financial investment. Most of the fabric of suburbia will not be “fixed” or retrofitted, in particular the residential subdivisions. They were built badly in the wrong places. We will have to return to traditional modes of inhabiting the landscape — villages, towns, and cities, composed of walkable neighborhoods and business districts — and the successful ones will have to exist in relation to a productive agricultural hinterland, because petro-agriculture (as represented by the infamous 3000-mile Caesar salad) is also now coming to an end. Fortunately, we have many under-activated small towns and small cities in favorable locations near waterways.

This will be increasingly important as transport of goods by water regains importance.
We face an epochal demographic shift, but not the one that is commonly expected: from suburbs to big cities. Rather, we are in for a reversal of the 200-year-long trend of people moving from the farms and small towns to the big cities. People will be moving to the smaller towns and smaller cities because they are more appropriately scaled to the limited energy diet of the future. I believe our big cities will contract substantially — even if they densify back around their old cores and waterfronts. They are products, largely, of the 20th-century cheap energy fiesta and they will be starved in the decades ahead.

One popular current fantasy I hear often is that apartment towers are the “greenest” mode of human habitation. On the contrary, we will discover that the skyscraper is an obsolete building type, and that cities overburdened with them will suffer a huge liability — Manhattan and Chicago being the primary examples. Cities composed mostly of suburban-type fabric — Houston, Atlanta, Orlando, et al — will also depreciate sharply. The process of urban contraction is likely to be complicated by ethnic tensions and social disorder.

As petro-agriculture implodes, we’ll have to raise our food differently, closer to home, and at a finer and smaller scale. This new agricultural landscape will be inhabited differently, since farming will require more human attention. The places that are not able to grow enough food locally are not likely to make it. Phoenix and Las Vegas will be shadows of what they are now, if they exist at all.

These days, an awful lot of people — the production builders, the realtors — are waiting for the “bottom” in the real-estate industry with hopes that the suburban house-building orgy will resume. They are waiting in vain. The project of suburbia is over. We will build no more of it. Now we’re stuck with what’s there. Sometimes whole societies make unfortunate decisions or go down tragic pathways. Suburbia was ours.

James Kunstler, the author of The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the 21st Century,

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Beers and Deers

They're Back! My wife saw a bunch of them in the store today buying up their beer, getting ready for tomorrows opening day deer hunt.

Joy! Nothing like living in a very narrow valley surrounded by high hills in the center of a couple thousand acres of Ohio forest during hunting season. I won't use the the same old worn out cliche, “It was like a war zone” . . . but it will be.

Already my wife says she heard a round cutting the air as it zipped over her head the other day during the kiddy hunt. This is the pre-season hunt reserved for Bubba's kids. They get the woods for themselves for a couple days. You know in order to have a little quality time with pa killing and gutting deer.

Now before I take to my bunker and before you begin to think I'm a tree hugger pacifist (well, maybe I am) let me explain my position a bit.

I'm not really against hunting, per say. The county I live in is rather poor and we get hundreds of guys spending thousands of dollars every season for the pleasure of hunting in these hallowed hills. These guys are hunters. They do their thing, pack up their deer kill and go back home to the suburbs to eat and brag on it. These guys get a pass.

Nor am I against owning guns. I have a couple of them myself.

Here's what really pisses me off about the whole thing. Down at the end of the valley where the corn fields start the local yahoos like to sit in their trucks and scan the opposite hillside for deer. Once they see one they get out and try to shoot it. Usually just getting their fat asses out of the truck creates enough racket when the empty beer cans hit the hard pan, that the deer run over the ridge and disappear down the other side, but once in a while Bubba Beer Belly gets lucky.

Don't know how he gets up to the deer, but the carcass usually ends up not far from where he parked his truck. Last year there were three baby deer carcases in the two foot wide creek that follows the road. Christ, my German Shepard is bigger than those deer were.

They drive up the country road sitting in the back of pickups holding their weapons between their legs looking like they were in Beirut. They scan the hillside behind my cabin looking for a way to get up there. They see me, stop and ask.

Get back asshole! This is my turf!! . . . I think as I saunter down to the road, smile and answer politely that, “No, there is no hunting allowed clean up to the top of the hill.” (Can't you read the signs you illiterate son-of-a-bitch!) “Yes, I know, but I am sorry. Absolutely no hunting . . . See you guys. Be careful.” (Hope you shoot your fucking toes off!)

Now in case you think I am a nut case, off season I usually offer these same guys a beer if they happen to come around. They are just regular Joe's like I'm used to. Same as the guys I grew up with. But during deer season all bets are off, it's killing time and the more gunshots I hear the more protectionist and paranoid I become. I don't hunt four leggeds though, I love the beauty of the deer too much to slaughter him. Now those fat, beer basted, two leggeds? I'm keeping them in my sites for later when times get really tough.