Tuesday, October 30, 2012

ran's in spokane

the weather was pretty nice the day i arrived in spokane. ran showed me around his front and back yards, pointing out all the plants he is trying to establish in the beginnings of a food forest. the goumi plants are off to a great start, and the apple tree in the front looks happy. i felt so jazzed to be at ran's place and asked if there were any projects i could help with. we made a pile of juniper branches into smaller pieces and then tidied up his garage. he has collected lots of leaves and has some in garbage bags that he intends to crush and use as cover material in the bucket toilet if he ever runs out of sawdust. i was so happy to see this toilet when i walked into the bathroom. so sensible and simple. i saw he was peeing in jars and asked if there was one i could use. helped me feel right at home!

ran offered me some thick chicken soup that was like a thin gravy actually, thickened with rue. it was so good! ran has very similar eating habits to mine, and i kept discovering more familiar items. kombucha, kefir, pastured butter, quinoa, dried seaweed... what next?

to arrive at the vipassana meditation course on time i had decided to give myself two days of travel. the route i decided to try would be through yakima, from there taking highway 12, which passes near to the meditation center. so i looked for hosts last minute on warmshowers.org and couchsurfing.org. the morning of the 29th, when i was to set out. i finally got someone on the phone who would let me stay with them in yakima! the road there would be an adventure, and i didn't know if it would work out... but i was up for it!

ran rode with me to the freeway onramp. we were able to take the bike trail most of the way! it is a nice one! we stopped in at the main market on the way so i could look it over. main market is spokane's fantastic food cooperative! i try to visit all the food coops, which seem to be almost everywhere i travel... i got a washington grown apple and some other supplies. this is one of the most comfortable and well-stocked coops i have been to. i appreciated their use of signage, highlighting local products.

the weather was great that day and i was happy to be outdoors, even if it was near an interstate onramp. the hours passed and i tried as i always do to project good vibes and show a smile to the motorists. any one of them could be the one to pick me up! i try not to descriminate, but i can't help it. certain vehicles or traits of the driver will attract or repel me. some people look like old friends and i wonder why they don't pick me up.
after a few hours at the browne st onramp without even one person stopping for me i headed down to the maple street onramp, where the word on the street was, 'they aren't letting people fly signs.' it was not important to me so i went to try my luck there.
four cops passed me during the time i was there and none of them even slowed. one of the gave me a friendly wave. but still i had no luck catching a ride, and as the afternoon passed into early evening i knew i'd be spending another night in spokane.

another wonderful evening with ran and housemate troy! i got to make a fire in their fireplace. thanks guys for the friendly hospitality!

no luck the next day after another three hours at the maple street onramp. one guy did stop for me. he was only going a little ways, to the airforce base, so i declined. he let me use his cell phone to check on a craigslist possibility. i told him where i was headed and he said, 'can't be late to a meditation course...' or something like that. i said that i was trying to meditate and send out good vibes while on the roadside... "i must have picked up some of those vibes, because i don't usually stop." he said. that boosted my spirits.
when the rain came, then came a little harder, i decided to go back to ran's a second time. i stopped by the coop on the way back and got some groceries: red chard, broccoli, apple, rolled oats, and pastured eggs! almost went for the raw goat milk, but wimped out, forgetting that i was told never to worry about having enough money on this trip. when i told ran he was like, 'OH YEAH, raw goat milk...mmmmm' and i knew i should have gone for it. i had imagined hot chocolate and pouring some in my oatmeal...
i worked with ran a little bit on preparing the wood for building a sturdy kitchen table that he can attach his country living grain mill to. ran baked some bread, i made greens, and we collaborated on a hearty lentil soup! you can see in the pictures that the soup is garnished with a leaf of malva, or mallow, one of the most common garden weeds. another fine meal... and ran busted out his cod liver oil to share! this guy knows what's up!
i got another fire going and we enjoyed the evening in this cozy little home while the rain showered off and on outside.

when i checked my e-mail i found a message from the meditation center in response to the one i had sent about being late. in it there was a suggestion to contact a guy coming from montana who could probably give me a ride! so i called him and set that up. amazing how this worked out! why didn't i just ask for the help of the center in the first place? i had thought of it but it seemed unlikely that someone would be coming from this far east. always ask!

missoula to spokane

again i waited many hours before a ride picked me up. the cold was biting, but at about five degrees warmer it was not nearly as hard to withstand as the cold in bozeman. the greater discomfort was the aching of my feet, lower back, and shoulders from standing, holding my arm out, and holding a sign so long.
this time i got all the way to spokane from missoula with a nice man in a big truck with a covered bed. he was a born again christian and we talked quite a bit about spiritual topics. he also told me many stories from his life and i told him a few from mine. amazing guy who i felt i was 'supposed to meet'. he drove me all the way to the doorstep of my friend's house.

bozeman to missoula

got a ride after about five hours to missoula. tried to catch another ride from there, but the light ran out. talked to a guy smoking on his porch and asked about a place to stay. he suggested checking out the poverello center or trying to meet people at a bar. he gave me five bucks for a drink!
i ended up staying at the poverello center. i met some really nice people! one woman with a fantastic vibe said she had walked about 7000 miles this year! there were thirty people sleeping in the room where i took a top bunk. i forgot to get my earplugs out of one of the bags stored in an office and had a somewhat restless night.
each day the folks staying at this center are required to do a chore. i was pleased with this arrangement. there were so many hands in the morning that it was hard to find something for me to do. i was given a staircase to sweep.

bozeman snowman

found this image on a cool website whe i searched 'bozeman snowman'.

snow was falling the morning after i arrived in bozeman. so peaceful and quiet, i watched it out the big window from the cozy living room. after a leizurely breakfast i rode to the community food coop with ross, the other couchsurfer staying with our bozeman hosts. by the time we got to the store it had stopped snowing, and by the time we got back to the house it was starting to clear up a bit.
that afternoon we went for a walk in a little wetland area nearby. our host, kristina, showed us little places and things she liked about this place, like a spot where the sun illuminates the golden leaves of a stand of trees just right in the late afternoon. this was a special time of communing with each other and nature. we cooked a meal together in the evening and all sat together at the round table.
after dinner ross entertained us with his guitar and singing. i played a few songs too and worked on patching my trusty wool pants.

the next day the fog rolled in again. we hiked up into it in the afternoon, slowly making our way up to the 'M' on the hillside. this was our second experience of communion with creation. we got into a good discussion of spirituality on the way down. kristina says she is atheist, but lives as if she knows god.
the third couchsurfer, kia, was at the house when we returned. she was a perfectly complementary addition to our little group. we were four around the table again that evening, as she took the place of kristina's father. so nice to share meals! i sang the blessing song "for the golden corn...".

on this second day there was an important event i'd like to note. kristina's father had a talk with me about his needs regarding the couchsurfing arrangement. his needs differ a little from kristina's and they were trying to make it work for both of them. i had only planned with them on staying one night, but kristina had invited both ross and i to stay a little longer. her father felt it would work better for him if couchsurfers could stick to the plan that was laid out before arrival. in this case he would be okay with letting us stay through friday night if we needed that. we talked about other things too. anyway it was just important to me that he brought this up in such an open way and we were able to acknowledge each other's needs. this is the kind of work that needs to go on if humanity is going to get through hard times together!

on wednesday all us kids went for a hike in the snow up to palisades falls, a short drive outside of bozeman. this kind of community activity was becoming a strong theme of my bozeman visit! in the car we listened to modest mouse on the way up, and i was in nostalgic heaven, singing along and smiling. on the way down we spun out and went off the road! it was a gentle crash though and we got right back on the road, just a little shaken up.

ross made a satisfying breakfast of egg/qionoa wraps for kia and i on thursday morning. they both took off after breakfast. i ended up staying another night. it was nice to have some more solitary time and the chance to interact with kristina one-on-one.

Friday, October 26, 2012

minneapolis to bozeman

a ride came along on craigslist that ended up working out perfectly. this guy was coming through minneapolis and going to bozeman on monday. Hoop Rider had been unsure where he might stop between minneapolis and spokane, but his intuition had guided him to look into bozeman. searching 'permaculture bozeman' showed him there was some going on there. one of the people he contacted on couchsurfing.org accepted Hoop almost immediately. when the ride came through craigslist, with room on the bike rack, it seemed meant to be.

so early this monday morning Hoop filled the remaining space in the car and the long trip began. this time he departed without the hula hoop he had been carrying since maine. he had leaned it against the front fence by the sidewalk upon arrival at this third host's place. since he was running late to a workshop that morning, and distraction of an excited dog, the hoop remained there. it was not remembered until the next morning, when Hoop went to meet a friend for breakfast. the hoop was gone, apparently found by someone who thought they could use it. it could have been a child who wanted to play with it. he hoped so.

the countryside was beautiful to view along the way to bozeman, especially after passing into montana. Hoop and the driver, a younger man passionate about the outdoors who has worked as a carpenter and white-water rafting guide, got along well and chatted off and on throughout the trip. Hoop worked on making the arm bands to match the rainbow headband he had made in chicago. he meditated in the car, which he found more challenging than in a still, quiet space. they ate in the car, Hoop sharing some food he'd brought so the driver would not have to eat crappy road food.
Hoops new friend in the driver's seat said he would like to start growing more of his food and have some chickens. he went on to explain that an older man he knows had bought some property in montana and was thinking he would try to get some young folks out there to grow food. this is another example of a new kind of partnership between property owners and young farmers! this is always exciting news to Hoop Rider.

when the trusty car rolled into bozeman it was foggy and very cold. arriving at the house of the couchsurfing host, Hoop relaxed into the joyful embrace of new old friends. there was already another couchsurfer there, who had arrived the day before. Hoop had a good feeling about these two, a kind of familiar, comforting vibe.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

the things i find through people

the night i arrived there was a pumpkin carving at one of my host's friend's house. we didn't get over there in time for carving, but went anyway and had some tea. it was a nice bicycle ride too. i really love riding at night! one of the people i met there told me about a singing event that would take place on sunday called 'singing in the light'. it is one of many community sings that take place in minneapolis it turns out. i was excited, but wasn't sure i'd stick around 'til then.
my host and her friend told me about sisters camelot, where there was opportunity to volunteer during the week.

laurel, who hosted me in milwaukee, lived in minneapolis before and had some suggestions for what i might get involved in while there. on tuesday it almost worked out to join in an apple harvest with fruits of the city. the location was too far outside the city and i didn't want to ride all that way. the carpool didn't come together.
i spent some time on the community computer at cafe southside, where my host was working, and later went back to help out in the adjacent community garden, 'paradise garden'. i collected some leaves from the alley. some had already been bagged up. i made a pile and put some in a compost bin, picking trash out. i wasn't sure what to do with the two bins full of stemmy plant material... thought i better wait to speak with someone. when i saw a man who looked like he was working around the property i asked him if he was involved in the garden. he was the owner of the property and gave me a contact. he told me his realtor had recommended that the space be turned into a community garden to increase the value of the development.
the main coordinator of this garden showed up eventually and i was able to work with her on cutting up the materials to help them get started decomposing in the bins. there is just too much air space when it is all stem! it would be best to mix such materials into a pile of other, finer materials like food scraps, wood shavings, leaves, and manure. they could allowed to dry out and begin to decompose in a rough pile and then be used during the growing season, when a lot more green materials are available.
this woman was a good christian and we talked a little about jesus. i told her briefly about my experience with the twelve tribes and what i had been learning. i still don't feel totally comfortable discussing or explaining what i feel about these things. she asked if i have a bible. i didn't so she gave me her little pocket bible. this is the second bible i have been given on this trip. the last one i left in eugene. this one was of a much more manageable travel-size. so i accepted it. this kind woman also asked if there was anything in particular she could pray about for me. i told her that i wanted to be able to understand god's will in my life so that i could do his work. so if she could pray for that...
we had not made much of a dent in the pile when we both had to get going. i was off to the sharing circle event i'd been looking forward to. i was a small and powerful experience including guided meditation, dancing, and song(led by me). this was definitely a place i was destined to arrive. the woman who led facilitated gave me $5 when we were on our way out of the building. i had just been thinking how i could have asked for donations for the trip... i didn't even have to say anything!

wednesday i helped out at a garden connected to sister's camelot. these generous folks grow a lot of their herbs there, but not much of their food otherwise. i helped turn and tuck in some compost. we disturbed some very comfortable rodents who had made homes in dry pockets. this can be avoided by keeping a pile evenly mixed and moist. but then, why do we not want them around? do they do more harm than good? regardless, it is a sign of a dysfunctional compost.
the next day i went and helped out at the kitchen bus of sister's camelot and then went over to bare bones headquarters, another group laurel had told me i should check out. soon after arriving there i was helping paper mache a ghostly figure. i told the artist that it reminded me of butoh. he said he does butoh and was very happy to meet someone who was interested in it and knows folks in the seattle community. he offered to give me a place to stay if i needed it.
heard from a woman working on another project at bare bones about a community just a little east of the tri-cities called anathath. it would have been great to visit them, but i decided to keep moving forward towards washington. almost home!
at the end of the day there i ran into a very old friend named rosie from washinngton. we had known each other briefly in my teens. it was so great to be reunited! such a surprise!
i went back for just a couple hours the next day to help out a little more with crafting and meal prep.

the second person i stayed with, in NE minneapolis, is currently attending one spirit interfaith seminary school. i'd never heard of such schools before! unity among religions! finding the commonalities and cultivating acceptance for all traditions.
the daily quote on the day i looked at the site was from barbara hubbard, who is in the video on this recent post.

"In order to fulfill your higher purpose, you have to find others to join with you. You’re not going to be a conscious activist all by yourself. Instead of finding someone and joining your genes together to make a baby, you start joining your genius with that of others to bring something new into the world. … There’s an intense flash of joy that accompanies what I call the ‘fusion of genius.’ So, instead of your work being a sacrifice, it becomes a fulfillment."

then i did a google search for interspirituality. very important work i feel.

at the sharing circle on tuesday i had been told about a workshop that would be led by kaia svein. this is who i had found the sharing circle through and i really wanted to meet her. also the workshop sounded like something i should be part of... "Deepening the Practice of Inter-being with Other Peoples & Species"
so that saturday morning i got up early, packed my stuff, and moved to another host's place. she'd decided to join me to the workshop and drove us there, which was a relief since i was running late, as usual.
the workshop was wonderful. i cried during a guided meditation in which kaia read a poem about endangered species. i shared the song by joules graves, we are healing ourselves. and we learned the dandelion dance!
in the evening my kind host drove us to the bare bones performance! it had heart like cirque de soleil, but was not quite as spectacular or long of a show. i really enjoyed it anyway and loved that it was done in a park, among the trees! the live music was a really great aspect of it, and one of the coolest puppet techniques was these inflatable beasts! they rose out of big eggs and took their shapes like fat animal spirits (octopus, buffalo, and eagle).

did you know the 21st was world singing day? on this last night in minneapolis, i attended the song circle i had been told about my first night in town. it exceeded my expectations. there were about fifty of us in one big circle of chairs. all ages were represented, from the baby to the grandparents. i learned some new songs and got to share 'rainbow warriors', to which barbara contributed a wonderful piano accompaniment. the spiritual energy that soared throughout the space awed us.

"I have seen the power that music has to uplift, inspire and bring people together. In fact, I think music might just be the catalyst needed to transform this world."
-scott johnson (world singing day)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

madison to minneapolis

hoop left his host's in madison around 12:30 on monday. no ride had come up on craigslist, so it was hitch-biking that would have to get him the 200+ miles to minneapolis. there had been a suggestion from mike, in milwaukee, to ride some of the beautiful countryside north and west of madison. hoop felt out that idea, but decided that it was more important to attend the hoop jam on sunday and then make the trip quickly to minneapolis to ensure that he could attend a sharing circle that was to take place tuesday evening.

the spot he chose to try hitching from was on the shoulder of a lesser highway coming out of madison just before the junction with I94. heading for minneapolis. the bicycle trail that had been hoop rider's most traveled path during this stay led most of the way there. on the way one of the bolts on the front fender of the bicycle fell out, and the chain really needed some lube, so hoop decided to stop in at revolution cycles, which is right on the trail. he bought a bolt and installed it for $3 and the nice shop keeper let him use the house lube for free!
the home of the buddhist nun, where hoop had worked on the cobb oven with periphery, was also on the way, so he decided to stop in, see the oven, and deposit a bag of kitchen scraps in the compost. the decorations on the oven turned out beautifully! a drop of water on the front and a flame on the back. chodin was happy to have some tips on composting, and hoop was glad to have a chance to connect more with this kind soul. she mentioned that she collects hoops... which hoop rider had noticed in the garage during the previous visit. they are for the children to play with.

on the side of the highway hoop waited and waited... and waited. this was one of the longest waits of his whole trip around the country. his arm and feet began to get sore, and after more than two hours he was beginning to consider options for staying another night. chodin would probably be glad to help... but just then hoop noticed a car had pulled over and was backing up behind him!
steve was on his way back from chicago and had been dealing with some car trouble that delayed him in madison. otherwise he would not be driving home at this time in the afternoon. he traveled by hitch-hiking when he was younger. he said he never offered gas money, that it seemed like an insult to the generosity of the driver.
he lives with his wife a little south of minneapolis. they have a small organic garden and want to produce more of their food some day. steve says he dreams of doing it with real horse power!
hoop rider asked if steve would be willing to partner with a young farmer, who could offer labor and knowledge of farming, in exchange for a place to live, and build a little house perhaps. many young farmers don't have land of their own, and this kind of arrangement is something hoop rider hopes will work out for him some day. steve replied, "that would be ideal."

Monday, October 15, 2012

hoops and coops

the main reason i decided to stick around madison until sunday was to attend the hoop jam at the center for conscious living. there were also other events i wanted to attend, but this was the most attractive to me. the weather, dumping rain off and on for the first half of the day, led me to stay in and spend more time with the computer. this was good, though i was getting stiff and sore from sitting so much. i had come down with a cold and i wasn't sure whether staying inside was helping me get better if i was also spending so much time in front of the screen.
so i missed the ecstatic dance, and i didn't get out in time to stop by the potluck at the place where i'd worked on the cob oven... nor to check out the mysterious exciting happening that my friend periphery had told me happens at one end of state street. but by the time i headed out the rain had settled down to the lightest drizzle and i barely got wet on the way to the hoop jam!

there i had a wonderful time and worked hard at learning to move the hoop up to rotate around my chest and shoulders. i never got it up, but made some progress. sarah sparkles and some of the others gave me tips and encouragement. it was great to be among a group of people having fun and also working hard at improving their hooping skills. these ladies are very talented and amazing! another man showed up about half way through, so i want't the only guy in the room then. i was told that the hoop has been an important part of his recovery from injuries incurred in some accidents. i am beginning to see the great healing and consciousness-enhancing powers of dancing with this simple object.

after the hoop jam i went to see if i could join the folks at lothlorien coop house, where it had been suggested to me i might be able to 'crash'. by mistake i arrived one block away at another coop, part of the same group of cooperative houses, called ambrosia. there i was welcomed and fed dinner, even though they had already finished their gathering. i then hung out in the kitchen washing dishes and chatting for a bit.
when i went over to lothlorien i found a few people in the main floor common space. with one of them i got into conversation about my travels and he asked me a bunch of questions about my experience in this 'economy of generosity'. he has been interested in this kind of travel for a while. it was nice to relate to him in this way and be able to give him some encouragement that it is quite possible and in my experience a wonderfully enriching way to live.
before i left i had another good interaction with a girl who was sitting in the library journalling. i interrupted her to say 'good evening', feeling somehow compelled to connect. i told her i was glad she had this time and space to just sit and write in silence, because we often can't find it. i said i was about to head back and do a little meditation before bed. she remarked that she had just been writing about how she wants to meditate more... and so we got into a conversation about meditation and its purpose. i decided to cut our conversation short and proposed we close it with an OM. that was nice, and with a brief handhug we said farewell.

Friday, October 12, 2012

computer time in madison

at this apartment in madison i was given unlimited access to the communal computer. this was a real gift, as i had the chance to explore some things on the web, coordinate the next leg of my trip, and work on this blog.

here are some videos i watched that you would also enjoy i think:

actually an audio broadcast,
piece that was put together at the bioneers conference in 2009.

this video of neale donald walsch and barbara m. hubbard in the south of france with lilou mace exemplifies the spirit of the hoop tour. i love these sweet elders.

it is said in the end of this video that, "the coming together of the hoops represents the world coming together." the world coming together...

these hula hooping videos i found through the blog of danielle, a hooper in madison who went to school with brian, my host.

sunset jam


willy street fair

sarah sparkles

Thursday, October 11, 2012

helmet horns

while riding back to brian's on the bicycle path i passed someone headed in the other direction on his bicycle who had deer antlers attached to his helmet. it made me smile, and when i looked at his face he had a big smile too! maybe he was smiling because of the hula hoop i was riding with. these kinds of moments thrill me.

madison in fall

brian, my host in madison, informed me about this cool farm called FH king student farm. when i looked at their website i found that they have an open welcome for volunteers to come between 11-4 most days. this is the way i like it.
the farm is adjacent to and on the property of a community garden of some 460 plots! close by are another 120 or so and this makes the combined number the most of any community garden of its kind in the u.s. that is what i was told, and i believe it. the bountiful little plots, obviously fed good compost and probably also fertilized by the manure of wild animals who pass through, spread out before me up a slope to the east from the SW entrance. quite a sight.
off in the distance i saw someone working with the compost bins of what i presumed was the farm. just my luck, i'd arrived at just the right time to help turn the compost! axel received me warmly and as we chatted and turned compost from one pallet bin to another another volunteer showed up. she had this huge smile beaming and i remarked, 'you are so BRIGHT! you're brighter than the sun!' (which was wonderfully bright that day). she then began to work beside me at turning the decomposing material, which thankfully was on the dry side.
i'm impressed with the practicality of their compost system. it is a sturdy row of eight pallet bins back to back. each section is two pallets wide and one deep, and the fronts are open. on either end of the row a pile is made against the end wall that is two pallets wide. the new material is piled on one end and digests for a while before being moved down the line.
the material that is recycled in their system comes from the university and residents of madison who participate in their food scrap pick-up program. this is done by bicycle with a huge trailer! the food scraps are mixed at the farm with shredded leaves delivered by a nearby municipality and various materials from the farm. the day i volunteered i brought the food scraps from the place i was staying.

composting side note:
recently checked in on this article on humanure composting i heard was going to be published in dirt magazine. i tried to hook the editor up with my friends who have a bucket toilet in new jersey, without success. it is a fun, short read and gives a hopeful outlook on humanity choosing sane sanitation systems, recycling all materials back into living systems!

a couple things i had hoped to do while in madison were to attend an ecstatic dance and to participate in building a cob oven that my friend, the superhero Periphery, was leading on. both of these i got to do! thursday evening was the wonderful session of ecstatic dance at center for conscious living. Periphery joined me for that and we both had an intimate and expansive, integrating experience. i really enjoy entering this free, accepting space to explore ways of expressing that i don't normally. it is the same with song circles.
the next day i went to the sight of the cob project, the house of a buddhist nun who is sharing her teachings. the project was far along already and i got to help with the fun plastering stage! i mixed plaster (1 part clay to three parts sand, mixed with water and straw)and then helped to apply it to the dome of this beautiful oven. it was decorated with a flame on the back and a drop of water on the front of the chimney. i've never worked with cob before and this was a real joy for me. i'm so grateful for periphery sharing this with me.

cob ovens are being built all over the place these days. one was recently built at a school on the island where i was making my home before this trip, orcas island. my younger brother helped to coordinate the event and build it. you can find pictures here.

periphery encouraged me to check out a project called 'troy gardens', which is part of community ground works. i did not make myself aware of their friday volunteer opportunity, so missed out on it. another example in the madison area of people working for great positive change!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

milwaukee to madison

i'm going to experiment here with writing in the third person...

there was no room for hoop rider with the girls to madison on sunday, and since he had found nothing on craigslist he decided it was the hitch-biking way he would have to go. after a pleasant, relaxing morning with his new friend mike, hoop packed the bicycle, his black dragonfly, and began to make his way out of milwaukee on the route he had chosen. this route included a big section of paved bicycle trail leading from southeast milwaukee to the neighboring city of waukesha. at the golf course where this trail starts hoop was invited to sit at some picnic tables with an older cyclist man who was just about to take his lunch. this man, a retired postal worker(not a currier) was a hardcore cyclist who spoke of motorists as 'the enemy' and has great disdain for 'racers'. hoop leaned into this connection and offered what light he could to the conversation. the two finished eating and rode together into a headwind toward waukesha. hoop continued on when the man turned back for milwaukee, where he lives.

the rest of the trip consisted of a series of rides along highway 18, taking hoop rider closer and closer to his destination of a couchsurfing host in madison. people around these parts proved very kind and helpful in comparison to the rest of the country. many people stopped just to see if they could help, thinking the bicycle was broken down, even if they were heading in the other direction and not able to offer a ride. each time this happened hoop's spirits were lifted a little.

as the sun neared the horizon hoop stood waiting for the ride that would hopefully carry him the last 25 miles into madison. the wind pressed his clothes against his body and threatened his balance. he had to hold the bicycle up while doing the hitch-biker's thumb dance, trying to project his friendliest vibrations and maintain a smile.
one man who stopped was going just a couple miles further on 18 and then turning south to edgerton. hoop rider recalled that there was a farm in edgerton that someone he met in chicago had worked at and thought he should visit. here was a chance to lean into this possibility, but there was a degree of uncertainty... hoop was having a hard time deciding and bought some time by rummaging in his notes for the name of the farm and folks who live there. maybe this guy knows the farm even, and that could be a sign that hoop should go for it! but the information eluded hoop and this he took as a sign that he should not go in that direction. with a kind handshake the man continued on his way and hoop remained on the windy roadside.
soon a woman stopped who said she could take hoop rider at least to the edge of madison, where he could then ride the rest of the way. that worked and so after five rides and some cycling the destination was reached!

at the cozy little apartment by the zoo in madison hoop rider was warmly received and after settling in put his superpowers to work in making dinner from the ingredients available. the rice and eggplant curry vegetable stirfry came out well and all were satisfied.

Monday, October 8, 2012


getting to milwaukee involved an exilerating twenty mile bicycle ride on a cold and drizzly afternoon, mostly on a paved bicycle trail, to meet up with my ride near the I94 corridor at a park in Deerfield. anna, who i'd met at the evanston green living fest, then drove me all the way up to milwaukee. she lives about half way between chicago and milwaukee, so this was extra kind of her. we chatted all the way and upon arrival i was wishing the trip were a little longer. during the drive i ate some of the dinner that her mother had made for us, and some of the rhubarb pie, which she is famous for. delicious of course!

i stepped right in to one of the coziest potluck dinners i have been to in a while. several of us sat around the table and talked into the evening. towards the end we all got together in a game of 'writey-drawy'. it was really fun! i felt so blessed to be part of this gathering.
my host laurel and i rode back to her apartment, which she shares with two other fine young women, and settled in for the night. before i went to bed i had to get something i'd left in the garage with my bicycle and when i went out their cat slipped out too! i felt terrible about letting it happen... but the girls were really nice about it and just did what they could to find him. he was found three days later behind the garage, very hungry, but doing well otherwise.

while couchsurfing with laurel and her housemates there was applesauce and pasta saouce made from scratch. these are two things i love doing in the late summer and fall and it made me feel at home. we shared some meals around the table and even held hands once. all around the country i cherish these connecting moments.

most of the first day in milwaukee i spent writing a letter to the possibility alliance and superheroes who were finishing the permaculture course there. after getting that in the mail i went over and volunteered with the 'burdock brigade' at the urban ecology center (washington park location). this is near where i was staying and is where laurel works. joel had another volunteer and i help out with tidying up a nursery area where many small plants had died from lack of water. mostly we talked while emptying the soil into wheel barrows. it was a simple and satisfying work.

i had thought i might leave the following day, but laurel told me there might be a ride with them on sunday to madison and i decided i was not in any hurry after all. this meant i was able to go to the volunteer orientation at growing power on saturday! my experience there was very positive and valuable. the young folks who work there have a certain quality that i admire... i suppose it comes from the daily work of farming and coordinating volunteers in tasks around the place. there is a grace and confidence that they move with.
after the orientation and tour i got to work with a few others spreading compost material on top of a large 'worm depository' in one of the hoop houses. glad for the heavy work for a good purpose (what better purpose than building soil?) i felt myself glowing with vigor and joy. more conversation while working, always sharing stories...
the end of the shift i spent filling flats with their potting mix of worm castings and coconut coir. they grow micro greens in these... hundreds of flats a day.
it was so great to be there and get the feeling from all the subtle things about the place and energies of the people. the feeling of what growing power is. i don't know if i can explain it, but it feels really good, like good country living, but with an energetic urban twist.

i liked how the compost system at the urban ecology center(riverside location) was situated. a steep slope was utilized by making four large compost bin terraces, between which the compost is turned from the uppermost on down to the lowest. that lowest bin is on the level of the bicycle trail, where the vegetable gardens are on either side. there are private plots and one that is tended by the center and is public. i ran into joel, who i'd worked with the previous day, working near the garden. he gave me the okay to harvest a bit.

i enjoyed riding the paved bicycle trail through a green belt much of the way up to my destination that friday afternoon; the home of a woman i'd found on couchsurfing. she works with sanitation in post-disaster haiti, encouraging humanure composting and helping install these systems for residents or urban areas mostly. at her house she served us tea and we chatted for a while. i assessed the condition of her compost pile, which she said was getting as hot as it should. my recommendation was to increase the mass and cover it thickly with the abundant fall leaves. this cover material would regulate moisture and keep heat in.
it was my pleasure also to harvest and bundle up some of the herbs growing in here garden so that she could hang them to dry. sage, lemon balm, mint, and catnip make a fine mix for tea! i took a little catnip with me.

the last two nights i stayed with mike, who's house the potluck the first night had been at. we have tons in common it turns out. he likes some of the same obscure music i do, from the anticon family, including dosh and clouddead. he currently works with teens doing environmental restoration and urban ecology work. he is participating in a small community garden not far from his house.

on sunday i missed out on what sounded like an awesome mass and feast at the franciscan church. mike said there was great singing and the feeling of all the people coming together was uplifting. i had a headache and felt nauseous in the morning, so i decided not to go, even though i'd really wanted to. i thought it might have been from caffeine withdrawals... but maybe it was other factors. my neck has been feeling really tense. anyway i spent the day just sleeping, relaxing around the house, and reading a bit from a book on deep ecology.