Sunday, August 30, 2009

Jump Off Rock

While taking a break from trying to wrap your head around the Steiner quote in the last post you can enjoy these photos taken yesterday near Jump Off Rock in Laurel Park... Who is not amazed at the seemingly endless variety of plant forms? I remain fascinated. I was happy to see these puff-ball mushrooms, which Tom activated by pinching each gently (too difficult to photograph the floating spores!) There's also something here in the mustard family, a wild hydrangea, and a city of tiny mushrooms on a log, with a luxurious carpet of moss.

I WISH I had brought my camera on the walk I took today with Leisa & Polly to collect Elderberries (for homemade wine)--we spotted a splash of color in the forest, turned out to be the most incredible collection of day-glo orange toadstool shaped mushrooms growing out of the roots of a fallen tree. It looked like a 'fungal' cliff dwelling--there must have been at least 400 of these 5 to 6 inch guys clinging on, layered in willy-nilly rows... Wow.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

the important point is not that on the one hand we preach to the sensuous gratification of our souls, and on the other conduct ourselves according to the inevitable demands of the life-routine that has developed through the last three or four centuries. And few people are particularly inclined to go into this fundamental problem of the present time. Why is this? It is because this dualism between the external life and our so-called spiritual strivings has really invaded life, and it has become very strong in the last three or four centuries. Most people today when speaking of the spirit mean something entirely abstract, foreign to the world, not something which has the power to lay hold of daily life.
Rudolf Steiner

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Velvet UFO & The Alphabet Pig

I had requests today at the sewing machine for bean bag dolls--Luke chose a bat (which became this velvet UFO) and Cian wanted a pig. The only pink fabric I had was this vintage reproduction alphabet, and he chose the nose, ear ribbons, and eyes.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Berry picking at Black Balsam

I'm always elated to hike off the Parkway, and be that much closer to heaven. Berries!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Why aren't birds electrocuted on wires?

There have been so many flowers on this blog--I guess they have been showy enough to demand attention lately...but every morning on the way to the boys' school I notice these birds, just off Glover Street, hanging out. Ten minutes before I took this shot there must have been 50 birds having an early morning conversation on the wires. So, just how do they escape death??

Expert answer from the Space Science and Technology Dept:"Being electrocuted involves a current passing through you. For a bird to be electrocuted it would need to touch two wires at different voltages, or one wire and the grounded structure of the pylon, at the same time. If they did this there would be a current flow and the bird would be likely to be electrocuted. However this is very unlikely to happen and electricity authorities also give considerable thought to the design of their pylons to minimise the chance of birds being electrocuted."

Monday, August 10, 2009

There was going to be a poem about these flowers, but it never got written--I think they're enough by themselves anyway. (I took this photo about a month ago--flowers from the garden...)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Facts about Flowers #4

(for Tom)

This specimen, spotted
by eyes trained
to key out various varieties
along waysides, power-line corridors
and ditches dancing with the life
of summertime flowering:
a rara avis of bee balm
even Alan Weakley's interest is piqued

Facts about Flowers #3

(for Katie)

I saw a flower open tonight
a moonflower
teaser of bats and night insects

Petals of palest lavender
and white welcomed
the deepening dusk
on the quietest hinges

This silent click in the whorl
of its trumpeting spirals
offers an odd far-away scent,
lunar and absent,
as if absorbing and reflecting
every little last remnant of light.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Strange Loop

Within a window within

a window shimmers a view

shot headlong to a dizzy infinity

Somewhere inside this mirrored resonance

pictures spill out—

tunneled doppelgangers of spitting

images and greenish reflections

It’s almost too much

to take in with just two eyes

A funnel of double echo

location, a treasure map revealing

nothing, a key hidden so well

it will most likely be forgotten

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cooperation among Cooperatives in action!

From the Organic Press (Hendersonville Community Coop):

One of the highlights of my summer was being in Pittsburgh PA from June 11th to the 13th to attend CCMA, the annual meeting and educational forum for the food cooperative community. It was my and fellow HCC board member Tony Womack’s great privilege to represent our co-op, along with General Manager Damian Tody.

Over 300 co-op board members, general managers, and staff attended from around 84 food cooperatives from across the country. Of these, there were quite a few start-up co-ops represented (which was inspiring for me to see)—all gaining knowledge and support for their future stores, in the spirit of “cooperation among cooperatives.”

This was my and Tony’s first opportunity to attend a CCMA (Consumer Cooperative Management Association) conference, and we both feel the experience was nothing short of astounding. A quote on a tee shirt that got Tony’s attention: “Cooperate Like You Mean It!”

Coincidentally, we were in Steel City during the Pittsburgh Penguins’ win of the 2009 Stanley Cup—so emotions were charged, and there was good energy around the city.

“Everything, from experiencing the excellent ‘green’ Westin Hotel and Conference facility to the closing dinner banquet and entertainment atop the roof of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, inspired and stirred my personal passions for the food cooperative movement,” Tony says. “I saw an entire forest of food coop ‘trees’ where before I had only seem one ‘tree,’ our HCC coop. Our tree, among the forest, is so much stronger and more resilient than I previously understood.”

The 53rd annual conference (yes! this has been happening since the 1950’s!) was organized by the brilliant, hilarious Ann Hoyt, Professor of Consumer Science at the University of Wisconsin. Hoyt also serves as director of the University’s Center for Cooperatives—from which we absorbed some recent research data.

The theme By Art and Design: Thriving in Trying Times, along with quotations from Pittsburgh native son Andy Warhol, were used to illustrate some key points at the conference, like finding opportunities for success during a prolonged recession, and inspiring action.

When we weren’t getting to know other cooperators over a meal or listening to a speaker, Tony, Damian, and I were ensconced in a workshop of our choice. Tony thought one of the funniest things he heard a presenter say: “When I was asked to speak here today, I thought I would be speaking to about 40 weed smoking hippies.”

Of course, we were a far more diverse group than that. And workshop topics had a strong relevance to today’s issues. For example, Tony attended a workshop about how the cooperative business model could play a role in dealing with health care reform.

He enjoyed learning about the current administration’s relationship with cooperatives, and how we could leverage this to achieve significant progress in creating a cooperative economy.

Tony also enjoyed learning creative ways to enhance the connection between the Board and you, the co-op owners. He hopes to craft an effective Owner Linkage plan to communicate more effectively with HCC owners.

“While the workshops and speakers were informative and inspiring, I found that just talking to other food coop board members, general managers, and staff over lunch or dinner was so intriguing,” Tony says. “While all food coops are organized pretty much the same, significant differences exist among them in their approach to governance, their relationship to their members and to their respective communities.”

Tony really saw this in action in an exhibit of various co-ops’ ‘Ends’ (mission statements.) He says the beliefs and values that drive each co-op differed, but all wanted to make a positive and sustainable difference in their communities.

In a smorgasbord style-panel discussion of “Sustainability Successes” I learned about the myriad ways co-ops are stepping more lightly on the Earth, both within and outside store facilities. A representative from recent San Diego start-up People’s Organic Foods Market in Ocean Beach talked about ‘solar paint’ (material that has energy-absorbing cells), adopting a zero-waste initiative, lobbying for bike lanes to their co-op, etc—all with the intention to Reduce, Reuse, and Repair.

I learned more about the ingenious and successful food shed program La Montanita Natural Food Coop in Albuquerque has undertaken in the last few years—a shining (and soon-to-be profitable) example of how a co-op can strengthen local food systems. Other co-op representatives shared about programs as diverse as helping to establish easements for local farms through the support of co-op ownership, to spearheading full-spectrum plastics recycling in their area.

I indulged in Ann Hoyt’s workshops on the history of cooperative businesses, and especially enjoyed “Cooperatives During the Depression.” (I felt like I was in college again!) I got to brainstorm about Member Participation with Julie Cross, Board member from Davis Food Co-op in Davis CA, while we walked along one of Pittsburgh rivers, during a workshop led by Marilyn Scholl, of Cooperative Development Services (CDS.)

Finally, in a panel discussion on Building Local Food Systems, I jotted down ideas while hearing a representative from Organic Valley speak, as well as folks doing what they can to foster local food networks from their respective co-op stores.

In all, it was a lot to take in, but we hope to use what we learned this year to make our co-op even stronger, and increase community, one step at a time.

a true collaboration

Ben and Anna helped me make this print yesterday off a block I carved recently. To make the block, I copied a drawing Luke did in school earlier this year of a wonderfully crowded bat-filled forest. (thanks guys!)

my inspiration!

Maggie and I (and sometimes Beth, in Seattle) have been sending a book--that we fill with collages--back and forth to each other. Here's a couple of recent ones from Maggie. Let me know what you think! (Amazing, no?)